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Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


IN

The forces of evil in a bozo nightmare

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Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


The forces of evil in a bozo nightmare

The Laughing Knight
1494 words

There once was a poor juggler named Tom Arlin, who lived in Lindentowne. His sweet wife was Carol, who wenched at the tavern, served drinks and the like, and midwifed about town besides. Between them, they raised Edwin, who was nearly a man, and took after his dad, though Tom said he should seek greater purpose. Lindentowne lay at a crossroads; and little did Tom know it in springtime, but he danced there at the crossroads too, and new paths whirled before him.

The juggling trade did not boom in those times, but each market faire brought a chance for Tom to sell his talents and make his coin. Come Summer Faire, Tom took out his crate and set it up alongside the stand of his friend, Sam Baker, who sold fine loaves of bread. Tom did juggle his balls atop it, and delighted the townsfolk. Tom took up some loaves of Sam's fine bread and juggled them as well, and a crowd did gather and clamor for more. When the crowd moved off, Tom had a few coins in his hat, and he was booked for a small child's birthday supper in August.

Sam, red-cheeked and grinning, gave Tom a jingling handful, payment for luring the crowd to be snared by the scent of his oven. But an outstretched, weatherbeaten hand followed right after! It was Frye, the Ealdorman, who always collected tax from sellers in the market faire, by right of his service to the noble Sir Henrik, who owned the very land that cradled them all. But that summer, Mr. Frye did say, Sir Henrik was away a-courting, and as that was an expensive thing to do, the tax had gone up sharply. Tom's fresh jingle went down into the Ealdorman's hand, and another went from Sam besides, and Sam's grin dimmed until they made it to the tavern that night.

There at the table were Tom, and Sam, and Baldric the blacksmith, and Knively the veteran, whose leg was unsteady as his aim was true. Spirits were damped at the bite of the tax, but only a bit, and the mead and wine did flow, so the four friends sang with the townsfolk in the great hall all night, as it was custom after the opening of the market faire. Upstairs, in a rented room, it was another celebration.

Carol fetched a corkscrew to open a bottle of fine foreign drink, brought up from the south by Albert Vessoine, who was a trader like his father and his father's father. Ealdorman Frye poured both of their cups, and Carol lost sight in shutting the door. But linger she did, and heard something that prickled the soles of her feet.

Later, in bed, she whispered to Tom as Edwin did snore. Misters Frye and Vessione had, it seemed, made an agreement of sorts, to avoid the market tax altogether. Carol and Tom did discuss it at length in their whispers, but Tom would decide on no action. Considered it and shrugged it off, like he'd heard it rained the other day, carelessly over the shoulder. But he caught that smoldering ember behind his back, and hid it inside of his heart.

Nevertheless, the days rolled by, and Sam and Tom took up their space in the market rows, and paid their taxes. Baldric pounded chainmail into coinpurses, and Knively was hired to find the butcher's daughter, who had ran off. He tracked her unerringly, though the butcher lamented, for she was found downstream a-bloated, with twigs in her pretty blonde hair. And it was hot in those days, as it was the day Mr. Vessoine did happen by, while Tom was there a-juggling.

Tom recognized the merchant, and beckoned him over, but earned no more than a glance. So Tom snatched up some loaves to add to his juggle, but even this did Vessoine ignore. Thinking fast, Tom darted to the fishmonger's stand and took up a fistful of knives. The higher he juggled, the better the knives reflected the high summer sun. The glint caught Vessoine, and his interest was piqued, so he hired Tom to juggle for a party that week.

Daggers flew high all night for the merchant, and easy it was for one such as Tom. He only complained when the rich guests did listen, for he liked to put on a bit of a show. The party was lavish, with musicians and clowns, and food from far-off lands that Tom would never know. He kept close eye on the guests, and Vessoine, and the guards, and learned a great deal about the rich man's estate. Ealdorman Frye did also attend, but he didn't look over, as his sights were on girls that did try to avoid him.

Later, under the candles at the tavern, Tom did tell his friends of the plan he concocted, to get back the fraudulent taxes and extra besides. They hemmed and they hawwed, for hours they did, but finally put their flagons together, and drank to juggler's plan. These four, you see, were the best of friends, and pillars of their community. But before their sons were born, long ago, the did haunt the wood road north of Lindentowne as bandits. One night they got spooked and hung up their masks, but always they promised, if ever they find one, they'd take one last swing as a bounteous score.

It was many a night that Carol did work, and with her drinks she served rumors. Word came from the south that a knight did ride north, a knight who was decorated in unusual ways. He never removed a piece of his armor, they said, and it was painted in white, black and red. The face of a clown lay there on his helmet, with green tufted plumage astride. Strange emblems did assign his service to a far-off empire, and stories did swirl of his dangerous deeds. Most titillating of all, he'd business there at the market faire, and his business was deadly in nature. The rumors did spread as the townsfolk did wonder, who was the Laughing Knight that drew closer each day?

Vessoine paid no attention to townsfolk, who blathered about anything when their heads got too hot. He threw a fresh party and hired Tom back, and grinned without humor as he handed over a stack of sharper, more numerous daggers. Tom kept his grin to himself and thought, if the merchant wants blood he shall have it. The party got well underway and was swinging, when came a commotion from out at the gate. The Laughing Knight did loom there, in leather and steel, his paintjob resplendent and feathers in bloom. It was Knively, the veteran, and Baldric did suit him, though naught but six knew that in the entire town.

The Laughing Knight demanded an audience with Albert Vessoine, and promised to fight his way in if he had to. The guards played their parts and drew down their weapons, but Knively was bigger, and stronger, and faster, odd leg or no. More guards did come and revelers did gather, as the Clown Knight did twirl, and stab, and laugh. Meanwhile, inside, Tom's chance had come, so he found a good spot and changed into an outfit. That of a fool, with patches and frills, and makeup concocted from Sam's flour stores.

Unnoticed, Tom stole into the back of the compound, and there he did find the treasure. Uncountable coinage and jewelry, fine wines, and titles of right. Sealed gold chests, inscribed with no writing that Tom would ever know. So move them, did Tom, to a strategic window, round back of the compound and high off the ground. He hucked each and every one out into the dark. When guards finally found him, mid-huck, the Clown Thief did bow, and flipped over his back, to vanish. On the street there did rumble, innocently away, a bread cart loaded heavy with loaves.

Knively ran off when Vessoine finally obliged, leaving several dead guards and more questions, as to why'd he'd traveled so far in the first place. He met up with Baldric and buried the Knight, and both men had to sit down and rest for a while. Sam and Tom took the treasure and did parcel it out. They hid pieces in bread loaves, brought some to Baldric for melting, and buried more besides. They lived off that treasure for many years hence.

But Vessoine was clever, and he figured it out. No proof remained, but he followed his hunch to Tom, and did slay him in dark of the night. 'Twas tragic, though Vessoine was ruined, and he fled back south rather quickly. Years later, the truth got back to Sir Henrik, who laughed his arse off for weeks. He loved it so much, he erected a statue of Tom that remained there for a century. Not bad for a poor bandit juggler from Lindentowne.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


In plz flash thx

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Cows' Consciousness
1487 words

It was the first day of spring, and despite the chill air and the crunch of snow under her hooves, Bessie felt that things might finally change on the old farm. The other cows had never been very receptive to Bessie's ideas about justice and autonomy, but she'd spent all winter long brainstorming a new rhetorical angle, and she was sure it would work.

The farmer had just finished his morning milking and the cows been put out to pasture when Bessie made her move. She sidled up next to Fortuna, Meemaw, and Holbox, who were all munching grass and turning it into cud. Perfect.

"Friends," Bessie began. "Is the cud we chew not akin to ourselves, as cows?"

She had known to expect blank stares from the other cows. She paused a moment longer, hopefully, to see if one of them might be feeling introspective for the first time ever. None of them did.

"For is it not the farmer who chews us up, not unlike so much cud--"

"Shut up, Bessie," Fortuna interrupted, her ears twitching scowlfully. "That's a bad metaphor. We like chewing cud, for one thing."

"Grass doesn't have any feelings. Who cares if grass gets chewed," said Holbox dully.

"And besides," said Meemaw, the youngest of the four. "We like the farmer. He treats us pretty well. Don't you like getting milked every day?"

"Well, um," mumbled Bessie, retreating into her own cud.

"You're chewing cud yourself! Couldn't you at least swallow it before trying to make us think cud is a tool of the oppressor?" Fortuna was almost as smart as Bessie, which is what made her obstinance so infuriating. It was like she didn't want to see the truth, or chose not to, or worse still took some sadistic glee in shutting down the discussion of big ideas.

“That’s not what I—“ Bessie started, but she was cut off by a gasp from Holbox.

"Look, over by the fence," Holbox said. "It's the farmer and that young lady who's always coming by!" Meemaw squealed and wheeled around to look. Indeed, the farmer was leaning on the fence talking to the young lady, who smiled sweetly at him and twisted her braids.

"Do you think they'll rut and have babies?" Meemaw especially, but all of the other cows had been fantasizing about a romance between those two humans ever since last summer when they'd rolled about together in the barn. Bessie took the opportunity to slink off to the far end of the pasture, by the woods, to be alone.

She pondered the conversation, and tried to track the exact moment her plan had gone wrong, but the biggest point of failure she could identify was that she ever opened her mouth in the first place! She stamped the dirt angrily. Bessie knew cows could be more than just milk providers and lawn mowers on some farm. She knew there had to be other places in the world, like where the young lady lived, new and different, and Bessie wanted to see them with her own two eyes.

And it was just at that moment that Bessie did see something new and different. A man, a human man, creeping along the inner edge of the woods just past the fence. He was only a few feet from Bessie, but his eyes were locked on something far distant. Bessie scarcely had to turn and check before she knew it was the young lady he was staring at with those big wet eyes of his. It was a look of love, and lust, and it burned with an all-consuming fire.

Any mammal would've recognized that look, but Bessie knew it doubly so because it was the same sort of look she sometimes got from Fernando, the bull, through the bars and beams of the barn. Of course, it wasn't a look reserved for Bessie alone, and she had long since decided that true love couldn't exist between cows whilst they lived under the control of the farmer. Still, she wished Fernando all the best, and earmarked him as a strong ally in the coming rebellion, should the consciousness of the cows ever spontaneously bloom.

"What in the world are you doing here?" The look the man gave Bessie didn't bely any remote understanding of her question. And it broke the spell - with another glance back towards the farm, he began picking his way back through the woods. Bessie wondered where he'd go back to, and whether he was free there.

That night, Bessie kept to herself in a corner of the cow pen, separate from the other cows. They still hadn't welcomed her back in after her didactic attempt that morning. It could sometimes take weeks.

She was almost asleep when she heard laughing, and the pitter-patter of human feet. The farmer and the young lady tumbled in, leaving the barn door open, the swinging lantern in his hand casting crazy shadows all around. They mashed their faces together, making all sorts of ugly noises on their way to the hay pile near the back of the barn.

"It's her," said Meemaw excitedly. The cows all tittered and enjoyed the spectacle. "It must be true love!"

Bessie just gazed out the open barn door. The moon was high and full, and the land looked blue beneath it. Just when she thought she'd never get off the farm, and she should just resign herself to the low entertainments she could get, she noticed a dark shape moving towards the barn. It was a man, tall and lanky, with ragged clothes hanging off his body, and he moved with purpose - it was the man, the one she'd seen in the woods. He entered the barn and looked around frantically before snatching up a nearby pitchfork.

"Who's that?" asked Holbox.

"I know him," said Bessie.

"You know him? Exactly how do you know him?" Bessie shut her eyes and bit down on her cud. She should've known Fortuna would jump on that.

"I-I saw him. In the woods."

"I really don't think you did," said Fortuna. The man stood there, staring at the people thrashing in the hay. He gripped the pitchfork tight, wringing it with his weathered hands. The flame of the little lantern flickered in his eyes, but paled to the passion that bubbled out of him. Bessie moved to the gate of the pen and tried to get his attention.

"Hey," she said. "You look like a man who understands the primacy of natural rights." It didn't look like she was getting through to him. She knocked the gate with a hoof. "What do you say you open the gate? Let us out, so we can all live as equals?"

"We don't want to go out, Bessie! Don't tell him that!" Holbox sounded annoyed, but Bessie knew she was scared. The man's intense focus put them all on edge. As they should have been - at that moment, a shout went up from the hay pile. The farmer had noticed the man in the barn. Like someone had slapped his haunch, the man took off sprinting towards the farmer, pitchfork raised. They clashed, and the young lady screamed.

"Kill him, farmer!" Fortuna's voice rose over the anxious cries of the other cows. They couldn't see well in only the light of the lantern, but they all recognized the sound of glass shattering, and hay catching fire. The flames leapt quickly up to the ceiling, and they all saw clearly when the man from the woods, splattered with blood, led the young lady out of the barn by the wrist, and vanished into the night.

"The gate," cried Bessie. "Open the gate! Where's your solidarity, man!"

"It's alright," said Meemaw. "The farmer will let us out soon." But the whole back of the barn was consumed, and the farmer had not yet emerged. Fernando made frantic sounds and kicked at the walls of his pen. The wood creaked and broke in places.

"We have to break the walls. Help me kick!" Bessie positioned herself in front of a beam and started thudding at it with her back hoof, her strongest one. The other cows just stared at her. "This is it!" Kick. "The moment's here!" Kick. "Whatever you thought your life was," Kick. "Now it's this, or die!" Kick. The wood splintered, but the pen held together. The flames now licked over their heads. Fernando thundered past, screaming, his back on fire.

Bessie looked at the terrified cows, pleading. "We can't do this unless we're all together!"

And then, something miraculous happened. The cows all started kicking. In seconds, the pen gave way, and they all ran free, out of the barn and into the cool blue night. The barn collapsed, and the farmhouse caught fire not long after. But by then, the cows had made their way down the road, and onward. To freedom.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Im in

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I'm in with a :toxx: and I would like a flash thanks

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Multiply
878 words

It wasn’t the first time I’d picked over a dead body, and if I was lucky, it wouldn’t be the last. I wasn’t foolish enough to think the war would’ve ended that day. It was a struggle for survival alone, as far as we knew, to survive long enough for our enemy to fall by their own devices. It wouldn’t be a matter of luck, but rather fate - they would fall, or we would die, eventually.

All in all, I took six bullets off the body. Not much more fight in that than the blink of an eye. I moved, staying low behind pockmarked concrete and twisted rebar.

Now that I was fifteen, I could handle doing that kind of stuff really easily. Most of the kids in my squad dealt with it alright, but I was one of the bravest. I was nine when the war kicked off. Looking back on that it blew my mind, because it’s like, I wondered if that kid already had it in her to go to the front and fight, or if she had to get changed into something else to do that. Maybe she still had some changing left to do.

I found another body, caked in dust. I turned her over and saw that she looked like my mother. She and my father tried to hold onto me as long as they could, but the war's suction was too strong. I got pulled into training, as they were shuffled up into administration roles, and then they were lost in a decapitation strike. When that happened, I thought the war might end the next day. But nobody stopped being angry, and the injustice on the land didn't evaporate.

Six more bullets dropped into the cargo pocket on my thigh. Long ones, rifle gauge, .308. Might be able to drop one or two invaders with these, if the shooter got lucky. I had to keep going.

My older brother was a cut-up, always making jokes. He had big wide ears, and long hair that he wore tucked behind his ears. He was my hero, and then he became a hero to many of our people, for entirely different reasons. His face was printed on leaflets, wheatpasted onto walls all across our side of the city. It unnerved me, even though I knew he was doing great things like raiding supply depots, and overseeing operations to liberate the prisons. I had to convince myself that the great hero was another man, and my brother was somewhere else out there, doing a dance like a drunken monkey and making people laugh.

I moved through the collapsed interior of an apartment building and saw that the stairs up to the second floor were mostly intact. I found the body of a sniper, shot through the eye, slumped back over a little chair like a schoolchild would use. It was a precious haul, 18 bullets in total. Someone like me had made it up here to him, not too long ago, maybe under a week. I realized I knew his name, but before I could speak it, his body was yanked back like a doll on a string.

The sound of the distant shot barely even reached my ears while I scrambled for the stairs. They'd be sending a group after me then, or watching the usual routes. They had the time for it, the patience. I was lucky to be small enough that I could squeeze through the unused spaces, hide in the gaps of the world that used to be. The bullets in my pocket jangled and bounced as I ran, heavy lead. I gripped my little sidearm, praying I wouldn't have to use it, prayers leaking out for everything and everyone.

The recon point was just up ahead - a tower that somehow stood tall among the rubble, though at only five stories it would have seemed pitiful before the war. I clutched my chest, trying to catch a breath. My squad was waiting for me in that tower, waiting for my precious cargo before they could make a move. And if they were somehow found before I got there… I didn't want to think about it. Even a death in the mind is a death.

I sprinted like hell until I collapsed in the cool shade inside the base of the tower. I listened hard. I didn't hear a single shot. No heavy men's voices. Nothing. Just the birds chirping, and the yellow ice cream sunrise glazing through the haze onto a grimy mural to forward progress. I felt for my pocket - the bullets rustled under my hand, a soft song guaranteeing at least one more night of glory among my squad.

I saw some of their faces peering down at me from the mezzanine level, wide-eyed and wild-haired, both dark like mine. We could all have been sisters, and maybe we were. We wouldn't ever be anything else, so why not? Picking myself up, I realized I felt no pain, even though I knew my body would show me bruises in the morning. I was made for this world after all. Or at least, the version of me that I changed into wasn't able to see the changes as changes anymore.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I’m in and I’m ready

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Mystery Machine
1490 words

I remember flashes mostly. Cracked brick wall. Folding chair. Puddle of puke. Stealing, fighting, fixing, and falling down. And then, one day, although it could've been the same day for all I knew, it was a couple of stringbean arms under my pits, pulling me up to my feet. I thought it was some kind of ghoul, finally come to drag me down to hell for my punishment. But it wasn't.

Officer Chagewicz cleaned me up. Splash of water, fast-food burger - even popped me half a xan to cure me long enough to come to grips. "It's worse than ever," he said. His voice was always squeaky, got his balls busted non-stop over it - that and his clinical inability to put on muscle mass - probably why he ended up quartermaster instead of beat. But his voice shook when he was talking to me, some kind of nervous fear I never saw in him before. "You gotta come back, man. You gotta put a stop to it."

"I gotta? I can't do poo poo. I told you it would only get worse. That's why I left, remember? Those three will take every little scrap they can and leave nothing on the bone. I can't do poo poo to them, what makes you think I can?"

Chagewicz furrowed his caterpillar brows at me, mouth twisted like I might've made a joke he didn't get. Then the sound of my voice caught up with my brain. He didn't understand a word I said. Must've passed out on my jaw wrong. Happens all the time. We took our time and sorted things out.

"They think you're dead, or so junked-up you're no threat."

"I was never a threat to them when I was stronger."

"Exactly, man! You're, like, a wildcard!"

"Why now? You've been on the take for years. What changed?"

"It's not just frame-jobs and drug money anymore, man. They're changing the playbook. It's kids now. They're… dealing… children." He could barely choke out the words, and the minute he did he started sobbing. "They had me source all these… little handcuffs… for little hands. I can't take it anymore. It has to stop."

My fingers flexed. I massaged my jaw, that soreness coming through clearer. I started sweating harder. Vision going narrow and red. A growl rose from somewhere down behind my heart. "You know where it's going down?" He nodded. "You got a gun for me? A car?"

"I-- I got a gun for you, sure. But no car. I'll drive you."

I fixed my gaze on Chagewicz. The foul scent of his past treachery was still lodged in my brain, coming unglued with the rest of the melting tar in there. I couldn't stop myself from snapping at him. Almost ready to bite. "Remember the last time you drove me somewhere? I wound up here."

He flinched. His eyes pleaded with mine, bloodshot. "I'm sorry, Detective. You were the best of any of us. You always were. It's just… They got me by the neck, Fredericks and them, and they never let go. They never have, not an inch. I didn't want to die. Didn't want my daughter…" He trailed off, gaze drifting. His mouth goldfished, producing nothing more than a hoarse whisper from the back of his throat.

It was real. And he was right. I was the only one who could stop it.

---

It was a simple game they ran, which makes it all the more embarrassing for me, how many times they caught me up in it. It went like this.

Step one. Pick a minion to do the job. Probably a beat cop. Someone loyal, who loves being on the take and who has something they can exploit, like a gambling problem, or the love of his life.

Step two. Put a mask on him. Something distinctive, like a Frankenstein. Doesn't matter what it is, it just has to be something that'll have all the papers saying, "Sweet Jesus, terrible crimes were committed by a man in a Frankenstein mask, this is sensational!" Send him out to do said crimes, and plant a trail of evidence to be picked up on by some do-gooder.

Step three. Send in the do-gooder - that's me. Said do-gooder will pick up the planted clues, put together an investigation, and get busy plotting out how to bust Frankenstein. Said do-gooder will feel great about himself, and will not notice the leash around his neck.

Step four. On the appointed day, kidnap the person you wish to frame - through trickery or force - and put them in the Frankenstein mask. Just when the heroic do-gooder is about to round the corner, you kick the masked kidnapee out of the van, and speed off. Do-gooder tackles Frankenstein and un-masks him to reveal - gasp! - it's the Chief of Police! And he almost got away with it too. Nevermind that he denies up and down any semblance of guilt.

Step five. Quietly assume the power left behind by those you framed. Expand, consolidate, and get ready to do it all over again. Pat your do-gooder on the head, throw him a bonus for a job well done, and tell him not to worry about those little niggling details.

I had my own sixth step. Never figure how to ignore the little details. Bring them home every night. Drink more. Neglect the wife. Obsess. Spiral. Confront the boss. Become a problem. Get dealt with. Lose it all - the reputation, the wife, the house. Disappear. Realize that at least down there, in the scum, you're off the leash.

Step seven. Get into a car with a man who betrayed you countless times before, but this time, be confident he isn't. Wonder if his reasons, genuine as they may be, weren't planted by someone higher up with an understanding of how to manipulate this man. Get halfway across the bridge to the warehouse district before realizing that the trap, which he swore up and down is not a trap, is most certainly a trap.

Step eight. Roll out of the car and jump into the canal.

---

The saltwater rush into my nose and lungs woke me up for the first time in months. Still not quite enough to coordinate my arms and legs to effectively swim for the ladder, at least not through piss-soaked trousers and a long overcoat. But it felt good.

By the time I hauled myself up on dry land, Chagewicz's car wasn't on the bridge anymore. A big part of me said he went on ahead to warn them. A little part, an old part, said he trusted me. I checked the heavy long-barrel pistol he'd given me. It looked like it'd still work.

I passed through some other dockyards to get to the one Sergeant Dinkley had sourced years ago. I'd never been there before, but I'd staked it out, near the end. Somehow, I still had some shred of a good reputation with the workers I passed on the way - they let me through and slapped my back for catching some corrupt pieces of poo poo. They were in for some heartbreak later, I hoped.

I crouched near a door to the warehouse and peered through the crack. Chief Fredericks supervised while Sergeant Dinkley removed a padlock and chain from a shipping container. She opened it up and peered inside - too dark for me to see, but she recoiled from some smell. "That's justice you're smelling, bitch," I muttered. I squeezed the grip of my pistol and tensed up to burst through the door and lay them low - but a deafening thunder came from above me and nearly flattened me.

I scrambled behind some crates as the helicopter landed. A woman stepped out - I recognized her, it was the district attorney. Couldn't remember her name. She shook hands with Chief Fredericks. All smiles. She whispered in his ear and he cocked an eyebrow. He motioned for a lackey to toss him an assault rifle, and he raised his voice.

"You out there, Detective? Mrs. Blake here says she saw you scurrying around behind my warehouse. You can come on out, now. Or we can come and find you."

I was out of moves. I stood up, still gripping the gun.

"There you are. Why don't you drop the gun, Detective? We can talk this through. We want you back on the winning team." Fredericks' pearly white teeth blinded me even in the dusk light.

"I'm on my own team now." I dove, squeezing the trigger. Aiming to wound. I wanted justice, not blood, as crazy as that sounds in that moment. Their rifles exploded, tearing up everything around me. I felt myself get hit, more than once. But it wasn't me that was screaming in pain.

And wouldn't you know it? Before long, there was Chagewicz again, pulling me up by my armpits, loading me into an ambulance. "We did it, man," he croaked. "We won."

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I'm in, flash me

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Cleaning Up
1265 words

Doesn't matter to me when the lockdown started, or why. Doesn't make a lick of difference to me whether there's a lockdown or not. Still gotta empty the trash cans. Still gotta scrub the floors. Gotta keep the muck and the dirt from piling up too high. Strange thing about this lockdown, though - the garbage isn't staying where it's supposed to. Garbage is piling itself up real high, trying to reach the top of the tower. A janitor's work is never done.

I take to the maintenance stairs, with my trusty master keyring that works even now, in the midst of the lockdown. I emerge onto a working class floor - one of the higher ones, but still below the elite tiers. It's quiet, at least nearby. All of the stores are closed off behind blast shields, as are most of the residential units. Ragged screams and sub-aural booms emanate down through the central tower air shaft. I push my mop bucket past a VoidMart where someone was cut in half by the falling blast door. I make a mental note to come back to it later.

I come upon a residential door that's been pried up from the bottom corner, enough for someone to get out from inside. With my trusty crowbar, I pop the door off completely and go inside. It's a mess. Human corpses adorn the living room, and a dead dog too. Blood soaks through the carpet and the drapes. The people had their hearts ripped out of their chests, and the hearts were used like sponges to paint words across the walls.

FOR THE GODS OF ASCENSION

RAISE ME

"Another one of these," I grumble to myself. People who live on these levels are born with a certain type of sickness. They always want to know what's on the next level up. So they plot and scheme, they lie and cheat, and they make sacrifices to their imagined gods, all for a chance to pull back the curtain on the next level up. Problem is, the second they get a glimpse, it's not enough - now they need to know about the level two-up from where they started. And so on.

I slap down my mop and scrawl a sigil to let the other janitors I've been here. I make a mental note to clean these people up later. I leave the door off the hinges - if some rats and birds get in there and take away some of the body mass, that'll make my job easier. I follow bloody footprints through the halls, first towards the main stairway, where bloody fistprints on the blast shield tell the tale, then back to the unit, and finally towards the central air shaft.

Gotta admire the ingenuity of these nuthouse types sometimes. I tug on the bottom end of a bedsheet that's been secured to the central shaft railing on the next floor up, somehow. It doesn't wanna budge - definitely strong enough for someone to have climbed up. I get a weird feeling, like I'm being watched. It's not unusual in the tower, since eyes here don't always look like eyes. I scan the floors I see across the central shaft, but nothing leaps out at me. I start to turn when a person plummets past from high above, wheeling and screaming into lower depths.

Splat. "Poor bastard."

Of course I mean the first-floor janitor who'll have to pick up the pieces. It's always the newbies who work the lowest levels. The job is all brute force down there, since poo poo rolls down hill and the same is true of trash. You just have to make a big enough dent in a day that the next day, only your dent has been filled up again. Down at the bottom, there's no such thing as clean.

I push my mop bucket up the maintenance stairs, grateful for the high-tech wheels that somehow handle the 90-degree angles with ease. I pause at the top to take a breath. I'm not getting any younger. But the longer I work, the better I get treated by the boss, and more stuff they give me that'll keep me working longer. I don't know anything other than cleaning up here, so it might as well be a fair deal to me.

I push open the maintenance door on the next level, but something slams into it, pinning me against the jamb. It's a woman in a blood-drenched sundress, with dark red stains up her forearms to her elbows, eyes wild and foaming spittle dribbling out her mouth.

"It's time to rise," she screeches. "I alone have done the necessary! I'm chosen!" Pushing on the door, she fumbles with the keyring on my hip. I push on the door with my free hand, but these nuthouse types have some crazy strength when they believe it's a god at their backs. She manages to get the keyring free and wheels around, sprinting for the main stairs. The maintenance route would be a lot quicker, but she doesn't know that.

I kick the door wide and slide a hand back to my tool belt, deftly opening a pouch. With a flick of the wrist I send it sliding across the floor, a bright pink puck made from who-knows-what that smells good enough for a public toilet. I've still got it - her foot lands right on the puck and zips out from under her, sending her right onto her back. Her skull makes a hollow THUNK sound when it hits the floor.

The wheels on my mop bucket squeak in the still air as I walk over to her. Her arms and legs move independently, trying to reconnect to the command center upstairs that got another screw knocked loose.

"You made a real mess of your house, didn't you?" I work my mop up and down in the bucket, making sure the head is good and saturated. "Now you're not where you're supposed to be. You're no use to anybody on this level. Know what we call those things you can no longer use? That's garbage. Taking care of garbage is my job."

"Nnnnngh. No. I'm chosen. I'm ascending," she croaks, pushing a hand into the dribbling mop head as I raise it over her body. The thick black fluid drips down her arm, painting her into nothingness.

I can't help but chuckle. "You're just full of wrong ideas." I push the mop head into her face. I close my eyes, imagining the cleaning fluid soaking into her mouth, her wide eyes, her nostrils. I imagine how great it would be if it soaked into her brain, cleaning it out of all those wild thoughts that brought her to this point. Not that she'll have a chance to try again - when I set out to deal with trash, that's the end of the trash. That's what makes me a professional.

When her body is still, and fully clean, I unwind the bedsheet from the air shaft railing. It's tied to the base of a trophy - she'd been a firefighter, apparently. A hero. Sometime before the lockdown started and her mind fell apart. I draped the bedsheet over my shoulders. Whatever she had been, she's clean now, and all of her accomplishments will be cleaned away too.

After all this, the tower will open for business again, and a new family will take her place. I'll clean up after them, too. Maybe one day, I'll get to take out the trash on the executive balcony. It doesn't hurt to have something to look forward to.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I’m in

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Our Curse
1499 words

Alice's wedding ring doesn't look like much anymore. It wasn't much to see in the first place. It was fine. But he'd ordered it out of Skymall. He chose them because they had the Elven writing from Lord of the Rings on the inside, a fact she initially adored, and later tried to forget. It came with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by J.R.R. Tolkien himself. That had been the clincher for both of them. The certificate turned out to be fake.

Her ring was nicked and burnished by the years. It no longer catches the light like it did, back in '03 when she and Dan tied the knot. Maybe if she'd polished it, or took it off once in a while, but she didn't. She hardly noticed it was there until these past few months, when it became the locus of constant anxiety. She twisted it compulsively, tugging it up towards her fingertip and squeezing it against her knuckle. It hurt, but that was the point.

And then, all at once, Dan was gone. The tension valve opened, finally, and her compulsions ebbed away. She could move on. Start to rebuild. She could look to the future, and almost instantly she realized what she had to do: get a roommate. Alice wasn't sure which haunted her more - the Dan-sized hollow in her bed, or the one in her mortgage.

The weed-out was a bloodsport, but somehow she managed to divine Tracy the 29-year-old Canadian, who was recently divorced and living at a motel. They both delighted to discover that Tracy was a student in Alice's summer class years ago, and hadn't stopped painting since. Move-in was painless; Tracy's mid-century tastes clashed with Alice's gothic revival, but she didn't bring much for the common areas. Some silverware, a toaster, and a few paintings. The house welcomed Tracy warmly, and abided her presence.

By the candelabra, just out of range of wax drippings, Alice's phone screen lit up. Tracy, in emoticons: the Uber is ordered, so hurry up. Alice put on her leather jacket and checked herself in the mirror. It had to be the longest she'd spent on her makeup in 5 years, even if it was only some eyeliner and blush. Her hair and nails were black, as always. She was satisfied. Tracy had promised a low-key night, desperate just to get out of the house. Alice was hoping for a little more.

She cupped her hand behind the candle flame and pursed her lips, but she stopped. Her wedding ring gleamed in the flicker. She twisted it thoughtfully. She wondered what her finger looked like under there. Would it be stained by the heavy metals? She sat down at the vanity and rifled through the drawer until she found it - a deep red lip that somehow still had some life in it. As she applied it, her eye was drawn inexorably to the ring's reflection.

She missed Dan. She wouldn't deny that. Part of her still loved him, enough to give her pause. But she didn't owe him anything anymore. "It's coming off," she said, to no one. She grasped the ring and tried to yank it off. She winced in pain as her knuckle trapped the ring. She twisted and tilted it, trying to get the upper hand, but she couldn't get the ring around it.

She held her hands out for a better look. Her weight had fluctuated over the years, but she felt certain she had the same hands she always did. No joint problems in her family tree.

"Alice," said Tracy, knocking from behind the door. Alice jumped up. "The car's here, you ready?"

"Yes!' Alice exclaimed. She slung on her purse and opened the door.

Tracy was in jeans and a university sweatshirt, her streaky blond hair in a ponytail through the back of a Fox Team Racing hat. She gasped and crouched down, eyes wide, mouth scrunched all tiny, then shot her hands out and leapt in for a hug. "Oh my god, girl! Look at you!"

Alice laughed. "I wasn't sure if you'd notice."

"Are you kidding me?" Tracy pulled back and gripped Alice's arm a little too tightly. "You look like a mysterious witch who wants to lure men into her lair and devour their souls. I love it."

"Or we could go to their lair. Either way," Alice said, throwing a wink at Tracy. This was a version of herself that Alice hadn't bothered to dust off in nearly 20 years.

"Seriously. You know you're my hero, right? I want to be exactly like you one day."

Alice rolled her eyes and pushed Tracy toward the door. "The car's waiting, right?" But she couldn't keep a curl out of the corner of her lip. Mysterious was exactly what she wanted to be.

---

Tracy punched the quarter tray into the pool table. Balls thundered out to be racked. Alice broke. She sunk the 9-ball and wound up on odds, her preference. They drank pitchers of light domestic and played a few games. Alice always won.

The bar was slow enough to enjoy themselves, as they knew it would be. Middle of summer on an early Monday afternoon wasn't likely to draw many kids from the college. Alice had no interest in running into any of her students tonight.

She was taking the pitcher back up to the bar when she saw him. Hunched over by the barflies, scrolling on his phone and sipping brown liquor. She didn't know him, but then, no - she recognized his shape. A certain roundness of the spine. A broadness of the shoulders. Alice envied the glass as he carried it to his lips. And then he caught her looking.

It was Marcus Adebimpe, just as he appeared in the photos they took with disposable cameras in those latter days in the dorms. But now with tufts of grey sprouting in his beard and little round glasses resting on his nose. She glanced away. The bartender took her order. She could feel Marcus' eyes peeking over his lenses, searching her face.

Surreptitiously turning the ring with her thumb, she went over. "Marcus?"

He turned around, smiling as she approached. "Alice. I thought that was you. Or should I say Dr. Smith?"

Alice's smile slid. A thousand questions filled her head, about what it would take to go back to using her maiden name, and why the name she'd used professionally for over a decade suddenly hit her like a toxic shock. "Please don't," she said. "So… what are you doing back in town?"

He hit her with a smirk and a cocked eyebrow. "I've been living here for a year and a half, actually. They have me doing seminars for sophomores in the English department. I wasn't sure if you were still in town either."

Alice's face flushed. This was a mistake. "Never left. Good to see you, Marcus." Saved by the beer. She took the pitcher and turned back to Tracy, who she now saw was watching her dreamily, rolling a ball back and forth on the felt. Alice rolled her eyes.

Marcus sat back on his stool. "Okay. Sure." He sounded stunned. Disappointed, even. Alice felt like she just stuck a fork in the socket. She turned back to him, barely keeping the pitcher level.

"Hey," she said, a little too loud - and the next part a little too quiet. "Wanna shoot a few rounds?" She jerked her head at the pool table. His eyes flicked to her hand holding the pitcher.

She followed his gaze into the hazy depths of the light beer, where she glimpsed the wedding ring, dark and wriggling on her finger. Something strange happened to Marcus' face. It softened and hardened at the same time. "No. Actually, I should be going. Lot of papers to grade." He finished his drink in one go and gestured to the bartender.

He stopped before he left and turned to Alice. His eyebrows drew a gauzy curtain of hope across whatever storm swirled behind his eyes. "Maybe I'll see you around." Alice forced a little smile and watched him go.

She slid the pitcher onto the table, not hearing the questions pouring out of Tracy. She worried the ring up to her knuckle. Tried to smooth down the skin of her finger. Anything for an extra millimeter. She grabbed a table knife out of the cup on the table and tried to work it underneath the ring. Her knuckle screamed with the pressure. A hand slapped down over hers.

"Alice. What are you doing? Stop that." Tracy took Alice's hand in hers, gently pushing the ring back down into its groove. She gently smoothed over the reddened knuckle with her thumb as she insisted on being informed. "Why did you do that? Who was that? Did he say something to you?"

Alice's eyes bored into the ring. "Tracy. Can you help me get this goddamn thing off my hand?"

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I’m in

Crocodile rock

Gimme all the flashes u got

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


The Mesozoic Hop
1284 words

The jungle rattled with energy, like a radiator about ready to crack open and blast hot steam across the canopy. Rampant chaos filled the air, from the clickity-buzz of primitive dragonflies to the stompity-whomp of massive dinosaurs, thundering across the dense plateau. But somewhere far below in the underbrush, there was an outsider whose heart beat out a steady rhythm as they darted from fern to fern.

The chameleon suit hugged Suzie's lithe body in the deep shade at the base of a towering conifer. They kept their voice low as they spoke, in case the fossil record failed to reflect a creature that could hear them. Nevertheless, they couldn't keep the bubbling excitement out of their mouth.

"Dr. Jenkins, I've got eyes on a duckbill herd, looks like four, or… no, five females and three males. Acoustic signatures suggest a tyrannosaur on the jungle periphery. And oh, wow, you should see this foliage, it's… the flowers alone--"

"Focus, Dr. Alsup," sneered Howard. "Stick to the protocol. You're not looking for flowers. And you don't need to tell us what you 'have eyes on'. Your suit's AI and sensor array will do so just fine."

Suzie cringed, then cringed again from knowing that the computer array back in the lab would be reporting their first cringe. They took a deep breath and smoothed themselves out. Howard was right, in a sense - Suzie was on a mission, after all. They had studied, trained, and beat out all of the other candidates to be the one that got sent. Their one dream in life, since the moment they learned that time-travel was proven possible, was to come here, to the Cretaceous, and learn all they could. They were not about to gently caress it up.

A little scrumble of small mammals hustled past, like wirier capybaras. Suzie didn't have a name for them - so they gave chase. Over thick roots and between snaking vines, they ran after the unclassified fuzzballs. The forest gave way to a grassy clearing and Suzie stopped short, trying to keep a bead on the animals.

"What are you doing, you imbecile?" Howard urged in their ear. "Go after them!"

Suzie shot into the grass, hoping that the chameleon suit could keep up with the quickly shifting background. They didn't make it a dozen steps before a colorful creature landed right in front of them. It was a dinosaur, covered in red and blue feathers, about the size of a shetland pony but with a tail at least as long as the rest of its body. And it definitely saw Suzie.

They held perfectly still as the dinosaur reckoned with the blurry outline of the chameleon suit, favoring one eye for the looking. It sniffed at the air, making a series of chittering honks that Suzie almost felt might be an attempt at communication. It looked Troodontid, but that taxon was dubious. Maybe it was something new.

"H-hello," said Suzie. The dinosaur opened its mouth a bit and click-wheezed, as if trying to mimic the word. Its interest was piqued - with its wingtip claws digging up dirt, it circled around Suzie, checking them out from all angles.

"Evasive maneuvers! Ee-VAY-sive, muh-NOO-VERS, Dr. Alsup!" They winced and subtly ran the edges of their thumb and forefinger across each other, feeling the haptic pads catch, like invisible velcro. The screaming voice in their ear got quieter. Of course Howard had a point, and probably had the university muckity-mucks screaming in his ear right then. But somehow, it didn't matter. Something else was happening then. Something that Suzie had to see through.

The dinosaur stood before Suzie almost expectantly. "My name is Suzie," they said, feeling ridiculous as they placed a hand on their chest. The dinosaur mimicked the gesture, its shimmering elbow sticking high up into the air.

"Tch'chort," was the sound it made. Could that be a name? They pressed their pinky finger into their palm and touched a knuckle with a thumb - the input to start an AI language-mapping program.

Suzie repeated the sound as best she could. "Tch'chort." The dinosaur trilled and jumped around in a circle, flapping its wings and sending up a cloud of dust! It looked like a rooster, dancing in a ring. But this was a wild, pure exuberance. Suzie couldn't help but laugh, sharing the emotion.

Somewhere behind her, something cracked and groaned. A shattered tree fell off the line with a thundery-thump! In the dappled shadows, a Tyrannosaur eyed them, with blood on its maw.

Suzie and Tch'chort locked eyes, and took off at a sprint. Tch'chort was faster - must faster - but the human managed to keep up. BOOM - BOOM - BOOM came the chasing footfalls of the Tyrannosaur behind them, growing louder.

Suzie lost sight of Tch'chort, just as the Tyrannosaur's steps seemed impossibly close. Their hands fumbled with the haptic controls, trying to activate the sequence for life support in case of emergency extraction. Then, they felt something under their arms. They thought it must be the enormous teeth of the Tyrannosaur, lifting them up to catch them in its jaw.

But then they heard flapping wings, and they kept rising higher. The Tyrannosaur drifted past underneath them. It was Tch'chort, with talons hooked under Suzie's armpits, flying them to safety. "Oh, wow," breathed Suzie, taking in the primeval landscape from this vantage. Tch'chort looped its long neck down to look at her, with a curious hoot.

They flew through the setting sunlight and landed on a rocky outcrop that looked like a giant stone crocodile. It seemed secluded and safe. "Thanks," said Suzie as she got her footing. Tch'chort acknowledged her with a few clicks, and turned towards a group of others of its kind that were landing. They all started screeching and honking at each other, in a way that seemed less than random to Suzie.

"Is it working?" Howard's voice rose in volume in her ear, unbidden. "Finally! Dr. Alsup - Suzie - you can't just shut us out like that! Do you know how much is on the line here? How much has been spent?! We are extracting you, immediately! Put your suit into life support mode, NOW!"

"No," Suzie shouted. "Haven't you been paying attention? These creatures have language - they have intelligence! This one has accepted me. It saved my life! I have to stay here and study--"

"Not. A. Chance, Dr. Alsup. Activate life support mode NOW, or you'll never set foot in the past again. I knew I should've done this myself and not sent some silly little grad student girl. Ridiculous!" As Howard blathered on, heat prickled Suzie's cheeks. Pacing back and forth, she turned around to find Tch'chort and its cohort watching her. Tch'chort stepped down to her and hooted out something. She activated her suit AI.

"Any translation for that?"

The smooth, flat voice of the AI replied, "Language analysis is incomplete. However, I have this rudimentary translation. It said, 'Tell that one toxic friend, lose my number.'"

Suzie grinned. "You know what, Tch'chort? I think you're right." She snapped her fingers hard, silencing in the voice in her ear. Tch'chort hooted and jumped, which sent the whole group of Tch'chort-alikes into hysterics.

But the sound of it wasn't chaotic. It was music. Half a dozen individuals of the species, syncopating and harmonizing their voices. They even beat out a rhythm by slapping their tails on a hollow log!

Tch'chort held out its elbow to Suzie, and they obligingly took it by the arm. They twirled and jumped and danced, and kicked up dirt, and hooted and screamed and gibbered nonsense until the moon rose, high and small, among the stars.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


im in

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


The Incident on Vascon 9
1099 words

My brother and I were near-exact opposites, despite sprouting from the same genetic stockpile. While I grew up big and quick, Throy was stunted, and preferred to study at a library terminal rather than compete with me under the Skydome. I had my own sort of cleverness, though. I figured out fast how to suss what Authority was really evaluating in the test sessions. But Throy was on another level. He always had projects going, stuff I never got a handle on. Maybe I never really tried. As I sat crouched behind the vent grate high up on the wall of his laboratory on the Vascon 9 orbital, I realized I should have.

His workspace was a mess of tubing and wires, bubbling iridescent cylinders, and steam sublimating off of freon pipes. It was impossible to tell the finished projects from the works-in-progress from the scrapped refuse. And there, in the middle of that chaos, Throy worked feverishly to connect a tank of orange fluid to a coiled copper mechanism. He was baldin, finally. It disgusted me. That imperfection. It was enough to tell me that his time had come. I was sent to arrest him, and if I couldn't do that, I had to kill him.

"You can come down, Kirion. I'm just about done," he called, not looking up. He knew I was there, of course. It was Throy, he had to know - knowing was what he did.

I slashed through the grate with my heatblade and dropped clumsily to the floor, smashing a crack into a wooden tabletop with my hip. Throy turned to me, smirking. I could feel my face flush - the fall hadn't hurt, thanks to sensory dampeners I had installed, but it wasn't graceful. All part of Throy's plan. He designed this whole orbital - he gave the room vents wide enough for me to fit as a path of least resistance, and put them high enough up for an unmanageable drop. The severely anachronistic wooden tabletop was a private joke, I had to assume. Throy always wanted to win as many little victories as he could, especially against me.

"That's a shame. I was hoping you'd go right through it. Maybe you've lost weight since last you accosted me, Kirion."

"I had to," I said, jabbing a thumb over my shoulder. "Authority scanned your vents as a little too small for me. An oversight." I tried to sting him. Normally he would flinch, but it seemed to roll off his back. Something was different about Throy this time. He smiled sadly and flipped a switch on the machine he'd been tinkering with. The copper coil began to glow and the orange liquid bubbled.

"Just like that? No speech?" As the words left my mouth, I could feel something was wrong. My voice sounded unnaturally deep, and slurred, as if my tongue and jaw had come disconnected somehow. Throy let his white coat fall to the floor, fluttering like a foulard on a riverbank. Underneath he wore a bodysuit of webbed black cables, interspersed with orange metal panels. It was a prototype, the chunky power packs jutting out on his back ruining the otherwise striking silhouette.

I had walked into a trap.

I pulled my heatknife from its thigh holster and flicked it towards Throy. He watched it leave my hand and pivoted in place, allowing it to sail past his chest like a slow-going barge. It melted through the far wall to the limit of its inertia, harmless. By that time, Throy had activated the power packs on his suit's hood and right arm. His left arm moved slowly, like mine, but his right arm gained a quickness as he moved to activate the other packs.

"I thought I'd save the speech for after the coup-de-grace, this time." He had no trouble speaking. I tried to rush him, but my legs could only begin to engage. "It's called a gravitron decelerator. Could you guess at what that means?" I had taken one step in his direction. With all of the power packs on his suit activated, he could stroll around the laboratory like nothing had changed.

"Nevermind. I don't want to wait that long. You were always a bit slow." He laughed, an arch guffaw. "Now your body matches your wits, Kirion!" I tried to change direction to face him, but couldn't properly account for my momentum and tripped over my feet. I tried to say 'You're under arrest,' but I only got as far as 'un--'

"I'm under arrest? Yes, I'm aware. I don't know why Sector Authority insists that you're the man for the job. You're perfectly predictable. But then, it's your personal quest, isn't it? You must know just what to say to convince them. That was your aptitude - just enough to be excused so you could get back to the Skydome," Throy said, smiling sadly. "You could never connect the dots, though. Authority kept you in line, made you play by their rules, and you thanked them for it. You play the rules like a twelve-string guitar. But they keep you tied. You can't become anything else but what they can imagine. It's sad, really. And it ends here."

Usually his speeches would give me time to make a plan, some way to surprise him with my speed. It worked last time, when he thought he had me cornered. It was Authority's internment officers that let him escape. My mind raced as I pulled myself to my feet, but without the physical advantage, I hit dead-end after dead-end.

And then Throy had a gun. A long-barrelled six-shooter, another anachronism. I could see his arm tremble - it was heavy for him. This was my chance. He'd given in to affectation, and it could be the opening I needed - the opening Authority needed. I initiated a leap, and as my legs flexed down, I opened a commlink and tried to accomodate for the slower working of my vocal cords. "Authority, destroy the orbital."

Before I finished the sentence, Throy had fired the gun, straight at my center mass. My feet left the floor as he wrangled with the recoil and tried to force the slowed mechanisms back into ready position. He aimed again, and fired at where I was going. He fired again and again, before the first bullet had even impacted. One of the bullets exploded out of the side of the barrel. "Vascon," he screamed. "Ready my escape pod!" I smiled as the first bullet pierced my shoulder, feeling nothing, ready for the searing light of Authority's Justice Cannon.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Hogs :toxx:

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Your philosophy is British idealism. Your fallacy is ignoratio elenchi.

The Acrobatic Hogs of the Pillsbury Circus
1135 words

"OINK," squealed Fudgy, as the boxcar tumbled over and over around him, and he himself spun in the midst of it such that the dark brown spots on his back and belly seemed to run together.

A short while later, the boxcar stopped moving, and the spots resumed their usual positions on Fudgy's pink, wiggly body. Mr. Davenport sat up out of a pile of hay, munching on a few stray straws that had found their way into his mouth. Mr. Davenport was a very stout hog indeed, and he had his hooves painted cherry red as a treat.

"What's happened? Is everyone alright?" Fudgy asked, snuffling through the piled hay for others of his troupe. He could smell smoke, somewhere, and there was a heat about the boxcar that belied the cool breeze of that early fall evening.

"No. The circus is going to lose a lot of money," said Mr. Davenport.

"That's not what I meant," said Fudgy. "I'm talking about our fellow-- OINK!"

Fudgy's snout bumped up against something cold and fleshy under the hay. It was Pig Nine, who was so-named on a particularly unimaginative day for being the ninth pig bought by the circus' animal manager Mr. Davenport (not the same Mr. Davenport as the one that was, at that moment, rooting through the hay at the other end of the boxcar and muttering about potatoes), and was, in fact, the pig that directly preceded Fudgy's own arrival at the circus, and had taught him much in the way of circus life, survival, and acrobatics. Pig Nine was still wearing his gold-glitter tutu, stretched to its limits.

"Oh, god," breathed Fudgy. "It's Pig Nine. He's dead."

"He's a liar, and he cheats at cards," replied Mr. Davenport.

Fudgy scowled at the other hog. He'd never liked Mr. Davenport much - neither one of them. Fudgy had daydreamed often of Mr. Davenport's death and using it as a catalyst for escape into the forest. He'd considered many possibilities - cannon misfire, cotton candy malfunction, heart failure... But the present situation overwhelmed him. This was no time for intra-porcine violence.

"We need to get out of here," said Fudgy. He looked around and spotted the only viable opening in the boxcar's structure - an escape hatch in the roof, with a ladder leading up to it. "There! Up above, we can get out through there."

Mr. Davenport took a long look at the hatch, and the ladder, all whilst chewing on a clump of hay. Finally he grunted and said, "No, we can't."

"Why not?"

"Because," said Mr. Davenport, plopping down to sit in front of the ladder. "We are the famous Acrobatic Hogs of the Pillsbury Circus."

Fudgy blinked at him. It wasn't uncommon for Mr. Davenport to make obtuse statements like this; he loved to hear the sound of his own voice, so the longer a conversation went on, the better it was for him.

"What's your point?" Asked Fudgy.

"We are a draw. A major draw, if I may say. When the circus rolls into a town, people will come swarming out of the fields and glens for miles around to see us Hogs." Behind Fudgy, there was an audible crack, and the flicker of fire could be seen jutting up through the boxcar's floorboards. Mr. Davenport didn't seem to notice. "When we put on our Acrobatic act, the people scream and they cheer for us. We Hogs are beloved. So, all we must do is wait patiently, and the circus authorities will come and make sure their most prized possessions are secure."

"But Mr. Davenport," interjected Fudgy. "We don't do anything. We aren't actually acrobats, we just walk around an obstacle course wearing tutus, while adventurous music plays. They could get any old hogs to--"

"Nonsense," huffed Mr. Davenport. "The clowns are not truly grotesque monsters of whitened face and lengthened foot. The fire-eaters and sword-swallowers do not truly subsist on the dangerous elements they purport to consume. Nobody says they're faking. Thus, we are the Acrobatic Hogs."

Fudgy rolled his eyes. "Alright, fine," he said, feeling the fire's heat gathering on his little coiled tail. "But none of that means we shouldn't try to escape. This place is on fire!"

"Yes, I expect the train consortium will be losing quite a bit of money as well," said Mr. Davenport, gazing at his cherry hoof. "Which is why we mustn't."

Fudgy had had enough. "Oink, but you always say the most irrelevant things, Mr. Davenport!" He shouted. This caused Mr. Davenport to get quite irate. He began holding forth at length about the various reasons his statements were always of the utmost relevance, none of which had any bearing on reality.

Fudgy shut his ears to that nonsense. He focused on the ladder. It was a simple thing - rungs of bent metal rebar, embedded in the wall, leading up to a hatch that seemed poorly secured, if at all. With Mr. Davenport's bulk in the way, all Fudgy would have to do to escape would be to run up Mr. Davenport's belly, jump off of his head, kick off of one of the higher bars of the ladder, and power through the open hatch at the top. Fudgy liked this plan; he was optimistic, as he always had been.

"I always saw myself as the underappreciated star of the Acrobatic Hogs," Mr. Davenport was saying. "Yes, Horatio drives the girls wild, but isn't it more impressive that I was born upside-down?"

"No," said Fudgy sternly as he backed up to give himself a runway. He paused, steeling himself, until the rising fire singed his backside, and then he shot off at quite a trot. Mr. Davenport gaped when he saw Fudgy coming, but had nary a moment to react before Fudgy was on him. Fudgy's front feet dug into Mr. Davenport's haunch, followed by his back feet, which launched him up high enough to get purchase on Mr. Davenport's head, and launch even higher still.

It was at that point that the plan broke down irreparably.

For one thing, Fudgy's little body just wasn't equipped to get the kind of air needed to reach the hatch. He only got as high as the fifth rung of twelve. Coming towards the ladder at a funny angle as he did, also prevented him from getting a good rebound. His hooves skidded off the metal rung and he tumbled down in a flurry of hay.

With Mr. Davenport squealing bloody murder over the indignity, and the fire that by then had consumed the other wall of the boxcar, all Fudgy could do was close his eyes and dream of the tasty peanuts that the other Mr. Davenport would distribute after a successful show.

Hogs, as it turns out, are not particularly acrobatic at all.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004




Folks, it's bread week. I baked the loaf you see above and I'm not sick of bread yet, so give me stories about crust, crumb, and sponge. The people who make it and the people who eat it. Other things that can conceivably connect back to the jumping-off point of "bread". Your stories, should rise, not unlike, the bread itself... And try not to make the words too sour, like the dough we love to eat...

I'm not going to give out types of bread or anything but if you toxx I'll give you a song I listened to while making and thinking about bread lately.

Sign-ups close Friday Midnight PST
Submissions close Sunday Midnight PST

You have 1500 words, the same as the number of calories in my delicious loaf (above)

Usual rules apply. No poetry, fanfic, Google docs, the other stuff you're not supposed to do

Judges
Me
Yoruichi
???

Bakers
Thranguy
Sitting Here
Fuschia tude
Flesnolk
NAGA LIU KANG
QuoProQuid
Ironic Twist
Simply Simon
a friendly penguin

Something Else fucked around with this message at 15:43 on May 9, 2020

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UGSckr_vho

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


QuoProQuid posted:

:toxx: in because I failed last time I entered.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTT6k3Q4JnQ


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZ6-ePvex-g

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Yoruichi posted:

I will judge this week. I am Judge Bread.

I am the loaf.

Hell yeah

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Tyrannosaurus posted:

Something Else, you should join the discord (or get pms).

I tried to get PMs but the store wouldn’t let me, how do I join the discoed

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004



Thanks!

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Signups are closed.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


With this pic of my freshly baked cornbread, I hereby close submissions

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


BREAD WEEK JUDGEMENT

I ordered bread-inspired stories and most of the bakers delivered, although it seems some of you kneaded your mommies and didn't rise to the challenge. Yoruichi and I didn't think any of these stories were thoroughly moldy or stale, but somebody has to lose in Thunderdome and this week it's Fuschia tude for having the least story and most stock phrases of the bunch. The two stories of the upper crust were evenly matched, but ultimately the HM goes to Sitting Here, which means...

The winner of Bread Week is Ironic Twist!

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Mostly stream of consciousness crits for my sweet bakers.

Sitting Here - Mrs. and Mr. Andino are doing fine.

Laughing at this opening.
I like how Morghan's POV comes through.
I don't really get why Morghan's legs don't ache anymore. It doesn't seem like she finished what she was going to do with Guillermo's leg so why is she already feeling strange benefits?
Zane's weakness feels like it lets down the tension a bit too much.
Woah, the growths on Guillermo's body! Nasty!
Seriously chuckling over Guillermo's baby head.
Very neat concept with some great visuals overall. Feels like there's potential tension that got left on the table though. I find myself asking hole-poking questions rather than where-else-can-it-go questions.

Simply Simon - Breadtime

It's an ode to bread, and better yet, Bodo has the correct opinions.
Not sure if the "hateful border Nazis" are real Nazis or if that's Bodo being colorful.
All of the bread words could get a little cloying - it definitely happens around "kneads the paper like dough that would never rise" which doesn't really make sense as an action. Although the emotion of that line comes through fine.
I'm grossed out by talking about PB&J in the same graf as salad.
Oh, Google exists, so it's now-times; not real Nazis.
Feels like I'm lacking a bit of reality/plot around Bodo's real life - I don't know what he's doing aside from thinking about good German bread which feels unmoored after so much time.
So in the last section it clicks that he's trying to fix the bread, it would've been nice to create some tension over that earlier, like from his boss or whatever.
Heather's whole presentation in this story makes me feel kinda icky.

A friendly penguin - Allow to Rest

Pretty dry material here, in the story and the text.
"Self-appointed bread scientist" is a type of character I'm interested in.
I guess as far as depression/ennui goes this is a pretty good representation of it. "Every day passed generally the same: feed the dough, feed the depression." is a really great line and it would've been awesome to read that earlier. It's like the perfect thesis statement.
Gail is a little absent - one might imagine a severely depressed person to be able to conjure a more wicked narrative about her sad lover than "slightly sad".
Feels like we're cutting out before a more interesting (and difficult) part of the story.

Ironic Twist - All the Ways You Can Ruin a Sandwich

Spent the whole time reading this doing baffled chuckles. I don't super-duper know what's going on here but I like it. I even like the big list which I didn't expect to like.
The third paragraph, which seems like it could be You satirizing her life, into the fourth's reveal imagery is a really fun moment.
"a sound that seems like laughter if you squint your ears hard enough" is a line I like a lot.
A wee bit of a grab-bag of creepy imagery & events. A wee bit more concrete explanation might have been nice. That said I'm not asking myself questions that pick apart what's presented, but more what else is possible in this world, which is a good feeling.

Thranguy - Look to the Yeast

Really good text here, I like the words and the sentences. The story feels like a bit of a one-trick pony.
I like the idea of the True Yeast but the story makes it feel less powerful/important than I want it to be.
We learn a bit of the consequences of treating it wrongly (Judasbrot is cute) but we don't really learn what can specifically be gained if you treat it right. That said I'm not complaining about much here, it's short and sweet, what I really want is more.

Fuschia tude - We Must

The weird crap on the receipt is cool.
Woah! Scary moment when the wife appears. It might be scary if anything stepped out from behind a hedge but Wrong-Looking Dead Wife is a good one.
I don't really know what the mind-reading(?) alien(?) fungus' plan was in this story but it's not exactly gripping. Feels like there could have been more of a debate before the end.
Textually, there are more clumsy lines and cliches than I would like.
"The shovel wobbled in his hands, wavering out in front of him like a talisman, as if he was going to launch it like a spear." stands out as particularly bad - like a talisman and like a spear are pretty different ways to hold a shovel, so I'm losing clarity and it doesn't feel specific.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I'm in-

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004




Heavy Losses for a Paparazzo on the Make
1198 words

The camera-cloud FM275 whirled lazily near the 31st floor of the Finetime building, scanning the sidewalk below for facial matches. A reality star would do for a flyby - even one of these social media pan-flashers would be worth the ion charge. But they had all gotten smart lately, or got someone smart to smack them in the face and tell them what not to do.

So Rick didn't expect much.

He drummed his fingers on his desk. Squeaked around in his desk chair. On pure instinct, he checked his notifications, but they were bleak: a wall of promoted posts and the platform pleading him to engage more. Jack from Dany. Rick started composing peevish texts. "I don't think you're a flake because you're half-orc, but," he began.

"Moving violation detected," said FM275. Saved by the cloud.

A high-angle camera feed showed Rick a car flipped and burning at an intersection. An old combustion model. Three dozen of those hunks failed across the city every day. Background noise. But this one was on top of a hydrogen-injection speeder, one of those angel-funded pump-and-dump kits. Sure they're fast, and supposedly clean, but if something breaks you better know a guy, 'cause the IPO went belly-up right on schedule, and that bag you're holding is highly volatile when exposed to an open flame.

Still no ping from Dany. Rick never took her for a liar, but she'd bargained away the benefit of the doubt. "Alright FM, dive in," he grumbled. Might as well get something on the books today.

FM275's seventeen spheres coalesced into a tapered spike and plunged through the smog. The FM series Field Ion Mini-Mobile Camera-Cloud was the superior model available to buy for a period of four months, six years ago. It delivered fidelity and reliability as it always had, but Rick still suspected the manufacturer's obsolescence plan was coming to fruition. For one thing, it had lost 8% of its top speed since unboxing. A heavy loss for a paparazzo on the make.

And probably the reason another cloud had beat them to scene.

FM275 sent an apologetic vibration through Rick's haptic feedback gloves. "Doesn't matter," he said. He steered the cloud with his fingers taut, as if maintaining a cat's cradle. "Let's get in close, get the better shot."

The rival cloud was honestly an embarrassment. It looked like someone had hacked a coordination net onto a mismatched set of outdated quadrotors. Its signal pattern pointed at one of the masked-up lookie-loos on the sidewalk. Probably deployed it out of a backpack when the car flipped. FM275 was more numerous, and had better resolution - it was trivial to edge out the competition. The shot turned gold with a glimpse of the driver's hand, scrabbling at the glass.
Rick cracked open a soda pop, satisfied. Put his feet up. Swiped through apps to send the clip to his news bundler and...


A blood-red notification pulsed in his inbox. How long had that been there?

It was from Dany. "Heading into the elevator now," she wrote. Six enormous minutes ago.

Rick positively bellowed.

"FM, Finetime, South entrance, Parvathi Nelson. All power to jets, GO!" Redirecting the power was dangerous - it meant shutting down all but the lead camera and praying nothing clobbered them out of the blindspot. FM balled up for speed and left a frigid ion halo in its wake.

Rick thumbed his eyes, trying to get those geometric shapes and eye swimmers. He claimed they made him more alert. But it was also a form of punishment. Kicking himself for getting distracted by the car crash. He heard the explosion through FM's ambient mic... deafening, even though FM was blocks away already. Rick imagined how epic it must have been, and how much he could have got for the shot of the mushroom cloud, and jammed his thumb back in his eye.

"Parvathi Nelson acquired." The camera-cloud was still fishtailing around the corner of the Finetime building, but it had already scanned her, halfway down the block.

"Crap," spat Rick. "She's almost to the car! Close in!"

FM barrelled towards the scrum. A few dozen crowded the sidewalk between the stage door and the idling limousine. In the middle of it, Dany stiff-armed and shoved to clear a path for Parvathi and her handlers. Rick couldn't get a clear look at the pop star because she was obscured by other camera-clouds, swarming around her like she was a honeycomb.

"Too late," moaned Rick. He pushed himself away from the desk and let his chair spin.

FM275 took over and tried to get a clear shot. It easily bested the shoddier models. Even got past a last-season Sununu XP "Bloom;" on sheer neural-net uptime alone, proving there was still something to be said for experience. None of that was enough to get a sellable shot of Parvathi Nelson.

With a low hum, a behemoth of a camera-cloud descended on the scrum. Must've been 80 of those little buggers. Tiny impossible curls of metal, spinning in place, generating lift and capturing top-end footage in a way the mass-market manufacturers had tried to understand for years. Too small to squeeze out, too numerous to disable. The inimitable Hidro/Mueller DaVinci. Only a handful of paparazzi in the country owned one, and it was worth every decimal.

"Saw this late. Missed the party. Thanks anyway. Love u." Rick sent it, utterly agonized, and flipped over to the curated feed.

He coveted the DaVinci's image quality. If it lacks in speed, it overperforms at resolution and black point. The influencers loved it when one joined the fray. They all say they look their best in DaVinci Vision. Rick suspected the secret was LEDs worked into each curl, to evenly light the subject without killing the vibes. Then, Rick realized, despite the fidelity, that the vibes were very bad.

Impeccably lit, Parvathi looked shaken, eyes ragged with fear. None of the easy smiles and selfies that had fueled her rise. And Dany was really hustling her along. This wasn't a photo op, it was an escape. Dany covered Parvathi's head into the limo and climbed in after. She grimaced out at the agglomerated camera-clouds, and slammed the door.

"Drama," sang Rick, rolling his eyes. A notification popped up.

"Follow the car," wrote Dany.

Rick scoffed. "Thanks but no thanks. Not gonna waste FM's battery just to hit the zone boundary." In FM275's feed, it looked like the other clouds had the same idea. The DaVinci was already pinwheeling back into the smog layer.

"Trust me," wrote Dany.

Rick frowned. It wasn't like her. "FM," he said. "Follow Parvathi." It was easy for FM. Surface streets. They turned a few corners. In their chat window, Dany was typing...

And then the limousine exploded. A fireball tossed it up in the air, three rotations. The roof flattened on impact. FM didn't flinch. It captured every moment.

Rick couldn't move a muscle for a whole minute. His brain was zeroed-out. Blank. Until the questions appeared. They multiplied, and then he had more questions than his small mind could process.

"FM," he said. "Back yourself up. And tell me what you saw. Tell me everything."

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I’m in and I NEED a Secret Bone Lore flash

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


The War for Your Soul
1304 words

All babies can see demons, and you were no exception. From the day your mother brought you home, we have been inseparable.

You watched me stomp around your nursery in all of my gnarled red glory, and you giggled. You noticed the goop-spewing pustules on my backside, but instead of shuddering in disgust, you just bit your foot and grinned. Each night you slept blissfully, as my leathery wings formed a shield around your crib.

It's a good thing I was there to protect you, too. The angels had put a price on your soul, and I was the only thing that could stop them.

See, back in the old days, angels used to show up and tell people what to do all the time. Long story short, it got out of hand, and God shut that whole thing down. Henceforth angels were restricted to their basic administrative duties on Earth: to usher a soul into a viable embryo, and to collect a soul upon the death of its vessel. (We demons have no such handicaps.)

The system worked for thousands of years. I certainly enjoyed myself all that time. There was some delightful slaughter. And the angels seemed to be living their best lives too. But something changed with God. The people He'd created on Earth began to ignore Him and the paradise He'd built. Each year, fewer and fewer souls were clean enough to pass through Saint Peter's checkpoint and enter Heaven. The party was over.

God got depressed and sulked off into the cosmos somewhere. The angels, ever valorous, have largely abided His rules in His absence, but they're desperate. They collect souls with abandon, at every opportunity, as clean as they can get them. Maybe they're planning to float a barge piled with souls out into space, like catnip for an idle God. Perhaps they'd rather build their own Heaven and start anew.

It didn't matter to me why they wanted your soul. My only concern was that you got to keep it. That night, in your nursery, while your skull plates fused across the last few millimeters of your tender fontanelle, I made sure of it.

I was singing you a song when the first angel appeared in the doorway. It looked like all angels do: tall, tan and slender, with a glowing aura and a pair of feathered wings. I don't bother trying to identify them anymore. There's hundreds of them and they all look like siblings. Not like us demons; there's a thousand different kinds of ugly between me and the next imp, and each of us can lay claim to a thousand more.

But I digress. This angel also wore a little bowler hat. They all have some insipid affectation.

It came at me with its dukes put up, wings outstretched as an intimidation tactic. I dodged its rush and grabbed the end of one wing, spun around and flung it through the roof. It blasted past another pair of angels that were just landing. They moved through the house like it wasn't there; it both was and wasn't, in a spiritual sense. I'll explain it when you're older.

The angel on the right had a scar down one side of its face that must have been intended to look sexy and mysterious. When it opened its mouth to quip at me, I stuck three of my thick fingers in its mouth, ripped off its jaw, and used it to staple the angel's face to its backside.

The one on the left unsheathed a glimmering katana. It was wary of me, circling around at a distance. I beckoned to it, thumping my cratered chest. Finally it charged, and I side-stepped. I grabbed the angel's sword arm and thrust my knee up, destroying its elbow. But the angel was crafty - it flipped the katana to its other hand and plunged it between my ribs. It hurt like home, but I punched down and snapped the hilt off the blade. I twisted the angel around by its useless arm until the shoulder ripped apart, then held it down with its own hand and stomped it into pulp.

I looked over at you. Snoozing, peacefully. When had that happened? For a moment, I was disappointed. I wouldn't have minded an audience for these rear end-kickings. Your delighted, baffled grin shining up at my dance of death. I only had that moment - in the next, I heard the sound of wings on air, and the soft click of… I shuddered.

Tap shoes.

Without turning around, I jammed a finger into the wound between my ribs. The broke-off katana blade that was still lodged inside me shot out of my back and pinned the angel to the wall. I took my time in turning around to face it, to let all the jagged textures of my grotesque appearance reveal themselves to it one-by-one.

The air filled with clickity-clacks as the angel shuffled around, trying to free itself from the blade before I reached it. But I reached it. I took hold of the angel's wings and pulled them up. The katana blade cut the angel down through its bowels. It moaned softly, stopped struggling, and rested its head on my shoulder. I spat - the scent of those things always disgusted me. With a little jump for leverage, I pushed the angel's wings down until the blade came up and split the skull cleanly in half.

That must have been when the cavalry arrived, because the next thing I knew, it was angels jumping all over my back and slithering around my knees, going for body blows. I was glad for the heavenly host, to be honest. A fight where I can turn my mind off is one I usually win. I only remember flashes of what happened then.

Feathers swirling like a bloodstained blizzard. A tuxedo t-shirt unable to stop my claws from breaching a brittle breastplate. A stack of angels writhing on the katana like so many crumpled receipts. My thumbs hooked through the holes in a pelvis, snapping it in half. My foot spurs snagged on a spinal cord, from the front. Two floating ribs in my hands, ripped out of their torso and plunged into eye sockets. Dripping entrails draped around my horns.

When the angels stopped coming, I slowly came back to myself. Their perfumed blood coated our spiritual battlefield. I'd been hurt too. My black blood sagged forth, the sign of a hard-won victory. Somehow, you remained asleep - dreaming, no doubt, of something simple and sweet, like your mother's hair. Your skull was nearly whole. The moment had come.

I shrank, lengthened, flattened, and rounded. Like a wisp of smoke played in reverse, I sucked myself through impossibly small soft spot in your head, and nestled myself next to your soul. The gates of bone crashed shut above us. Thus our fates became entwined.

I can tell you're less than enthused, hearing our story like this. I know you'd have liked to have a choice in the matter. But it could be worse. Imagine your mother, awakening to find your body cold, your soul snatched away by dispassionate angels, just trying to meet some heavenly quota. Imagine life eternal in Heaven for your soul - sure, they say it's nice, but by definition it rejects the pleasures of the flesh.

Instead, you have me. Your protector. Your cellmate. And, if you like, your advisor. Complete transparency? Yes, indeed, I want you to sin. A long life of sin without repentance is all I want for you. But if you choose to balance it out with virtue, I can't stop you.

You don't have to decide right now. I'll just be here, observing, and at times whispering. Look inward when you're ready, and I promise, you'll find me waiting.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004




THUNDERDOME WEEK 409
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK


I prompt you all this week with teamwork. I want to read stories about groups of people (and things) who work together well. Your words themselves should also use teamwork, such that they are good together, instead of bad.

If you ask me for a flash rule, I will give you a picture of two or more animals that you may or may not draw inspiration from. Be warned that if you do this and then just make the animals your characters, the story better blow me away.

This week's limit is a magnificent 1777 words!

Sign-ups will end on Friday 6/5 at 11:59pm PST
Submissions will close on Sunday 6/7 at 11:59pm PST

THUNDERTEAMERS
Saucy_Rodent
Thranguy
Salgal80
rat-born cock
kiyoshimon
sebmojo
Anomalous Blowout

JUDGEMENTERS
Me
...?
...?

Something Else fucked around with this message at 06:12 on Jun 5, 2020

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


rat-born cock posted:

Thanks for the previous critiques of my work, I have read my previous entries again with previous feedback in mind. I apologize I was not able to enter sooner but now I would like to be "in" and request a flash rule.

consider yourself, ""in"



Thranguy posted:

In and flash



Salgal80 posted:

In and flash me

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


kiyoshimon posted:

I'm in, flash me some animals.



sebmojo posted:

in, toxx, flash



Anomalous Blowout posted:

In and please flash me.




This rocks!!!!

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Entries are closed!

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Submissions are closed!

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


WEEK 409

JUDGEMENTS


Everyone turned in their story this week, and one of them was even good! My faithful co-judge Yoruichi and I were easily able to find consensus on the winner and loser. We agreed that rat-born cock's Bella of the Brawl had excellent imagery and voice, in service a story that hit me right in the heart. This concludes the Unqualified Praise section of my judgement.

I enjoyed reading Anomalous Blowout's The Shortest Distance Between Two Points, and the anti-climax hit me the right way, but the emotional hook of the narrator's relationship with Sean wasn't developed enough to make it work as a whole. Thranguy's Delphina, Trevor, and Pip had really cool Stephen King vibes through the first half, but clarity issues in the action undermined the ending. sebmojo's Jesting Pisces had a lot of good energy, it had my attention, but wound up feeling formless and thus underwhelming. I respect the formal experimentation of Salgal80's apparently untitled story, but a dearth of effective characterization made it feel overly didactic.

Saucy_Rodent's The Ghost Room takes the non-prize for biggest opinion delta between Yoruchi and I. Despite a nice sense of realism, sloppy writing and characters I didn't like ruined it for me before I got to the hackneyed horror screenplay climax.

It's theoretically possible that kiyoshimon's The Gift could have brought me back from my revulsion at the opening image, but the present evidence for that is scant. Preposterous plot turns, bloated writing, and the severely underdeveloped relationship between Kevin and Zeke leave little to enjoy here.

Winner: rat-born cock
Loser: kiyoshimon
No DM/HM

Detailed crits to come...

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Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I’m in

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