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Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

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Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Contributor: Yoruichi
Genre: Magical realism
Protagonist attribute: The protagonist is an excavator, i.e. an actual big yellow digging machine that you'd find on a construction site
Protagonist obstructor: Grief
What the protagonist wants: To not have to demolish buildings they helped to build
Story setting: On Earth, but magical realism
Setting details: In a modern day city, somewhere vulnerable to earthquakes
World problem: A large earthquake has damaged a lot of the city's buildings, meaning they need to be demolished
Your protagonist... Used to have the thing they want, but now it's gone
Your protagonist's attribute... Hinders them from getting what they want
Your protagonist's obstructor... Is overcome in the course of pursuing what they want
At the end of the story...The world problem is not solved, but it's getting better

Digging Out
2269 Words

It should have been a lovely summer’s day in Tosa. Blue and cloudless, the sky yawned overhead and permitted a sweet breeze to blow in from the coast, which kept the worst of the humidity and heat at bay. But the houses had a peculiar lean to them, draped and propped on one another like an office party that had stayed for one drink too many before stumbling onto the last bus home. A season of small earthquakes had shaken Tosa, weakening foundations and rattling the furniture. Then one Monday ago, the latest and largest struck the small city without warning, and finished the job. The prefecture government sent crews to mark the condemned houses, and when they left, nearly every house in town had a red tag pasted on its front door.

And so, just a few blocks away from the pachinko parlor that somehow stood strong, Yoshi pawed idly at the dirt, and did its best to ignore Seiichi. This was good dirt, and whoever had lived here had planted some dahlias. With a delicate sweep of the steel bucket teeth, Yoshi brushed some broken masonry out of the flower bed, and gently tamped the soil back down around the dahlias and cosmos. Then it dipped its bucket into a nearby puddle and unceremoniously dumped water on the garden.

Seiichi watched this with an equal mix of embarrassment, horror, and annoyance.

“Come on, Yoshi,” he pleaded, “You have to get to work. We got assigned to clear this whole block and the hauler oni will be back any time now.”

Seiichi tried to walk around to Yoshi’s front, to confront him directly, but the excavator just swiveled in place to avoid its handlers direct gaze.

“Stop that and listen to me, you stubborn jerk!” Seiichi said as he rapped on Yoshi’s side faring with his knuckles. Yoshi stopped spinning, but tucked its arm and bucket contritely. The sound of laughter and jeers down the block rang in Seiichi’s ears as he tried to reason with the oni.

“Hey, Nakamura! Doesn’t Yoshi know how to do anything besides shovel manure?”

Without even looking, Seiichi waved dismissively behind his back, and shouted a reply, “Mind your own business, Goto! I’ve got this covered!”

With much cajoling, Yoshi slowly started to dig into the leaning house. When the hauler returned, its handler had a sour expression. She milled around smoking a cigarette and saying nothing — but Seiichi got the message loud and clear. He and Yoshi had barely finished demolishing a single house while the rest of the crews had done nearly a block apiece. The hauler oni was anxious as well. Pneumatics hissed and spit as it fidgeted with its suspension for lack of anything better to do. Its cargo bed only half filled as Yoshi dawdled and picked through debris, setting some chunks aside before turning to deposit the rest into the dump bed. Seiichi’s lame apology to the other handler was met with a baleful look in return. After what seemed like an eternity, the hauler and its handler decided that three quarters full was good enough and the pair drove off to the dump, leaving Seiichi and Yoshi standing in the half-demolished ruins.

“Well Yoshi, I think that’s enough for today,” Seiichi sighed. “Let’s go get dinner then get you back to the yard.”

Yoshi gathered up the choice pieces of debris it had saved from the dump, and permitted Seiichi to climb up on its counterweight. No sooner had he sat down, Yoshi shifted into a higher gear and clattered off down the street.

———

While he had no idea how it was still standing, he was still thankful that the small ramen shop was among the few businesses still open. As he stepped through the door a small bell jangled and he heard a voice in the back call out, saying “Heeey, welcome! Be right with you!”

He sat down at the bar and looked over a laminated menu. In a few moments an older lady, Mrs. Endo, shuffled in from the back of the shop.

“Just in time!” She said with a smile. “I just got finished making a fresh batch.”

She tilted the bowl of raw noodles so he could peer inside before turning around to upend it into the broth that was cooking on the stove. The smell was heavenly.

“Say… is that Yoshi I see outside?” She asked, leaning over the bar to get a better look out the front window. The excavator was idling, and occasionally rolling back and forth to fiddle with something in the alleyway.

“Yes, that is Yoshi. We’re helping with the clean up, or at least that’s what we got hired to do. Yoshi doesn’t seem to be very interested in actually doing it,” Seiichi replied bitterly.

“Oh, you mustn’t be too hard on the poor oni. Did you know that Yoshi dug the foundations for most of the houses in this neighborhood?”

“Really? I was only assigned to be its handler this spring, I knew it was an older oni, but I didn’t know Yoshi had been here that long.”

“Yes, indeed!” Exclaimed Mrs. Endo. “Why I was just a girl, but I remember Yoshi digging away. The hauler onis couldn’t keep up. The earthquake was very bad, but we’re lucky here in Tosa that it was Yoshi who did the digging for us. Those foundations were strong!”

That was hard to deny. Compared to Kochi, just a few kilometers away, Tosa had gotten off easy. While most in Tosa were homeless, Seiichi considered that many in Kochi were injured… or worse. And as if thinking about bad fortune acts to summon it, a small tremor began to shake the shop. The pot of broth on the stove danced precariously close to the edge before Mrs. Endo swooped over to rescue it.

“Out…out!” She commanded, and Seiichi didn’t argue. The pair hustled out of the front of the shop while the ground underneath them rattled apart more homes and buildings. Amazingly, the ramen shop still stood when the quake subsided.

Turning to Yoshi, who was rocking back and forth on its tracks pensively, Mrs. Endo said, “This isn’t your fault, sweetheart. Even perfect foundations can’t be expected to stand up against this for long.”

After taking a few moments to make sure the shop was’t going to collapse, she went back inside to made Seiichi a to-go bowl that he could take back to his tent. Suspiciously, Yoshi was keeping his bucket out of view, rotating slightly every time Seiichi walked to a different spot. Seiichi was annoyed, but decided to let the oni have his secret. A few minutes later, Mrs. Endo emerged with dinner and wished the both of them a good night, giving Yoshi an affectionate pat.

The evening breeze had cooled quite a bit, causing Seiichi to shiver a little as he hopped off of Yoshi’s counterweight in front of the oni yard’s gates. He turned to look at the excavator.

“I know this is hard for you, but tomorrow we must do better. Okay?”

Yoshi stood silently for a few moments, then waggled his main rotor just a little before clattering through the gate. Seiichi couldn’t be sure, but for a moment he thought he heard a dog bark.

———

The next morning found Yoshi in the same odd mood as the previous day. Seiichi pled, bargained, threatened, and bribed, but to no avail. Once again, the oni picked through rubble at a glacial pace, laying aside parts of the debris that it favored, while scooping the rest into the annoyed hauler.

“So this is your oni?” The irritated lady from the day before asked him.

“Yeah,” said Seiichi in agony, as he watched Yoshi lay a plank on the ground, before attempting to remove the nails from it using his bucket as a hammer.

“So, that makes you an oni handler, then?” She asked.

“Yeah,” he said, desperately wishing he was anywhere else.

“You know what I think? I think your oni is the one in charge.”

Yoshi must have decided that trying to hammer the nails out was futile, because now it was trying to scrape and pull them out with the digging teeth of its bucket.

As dusk settled, Seiichi was beside himself. He and Yoshi had only managed to clear two houses the entire day, while other teams had done three times as many. For its part, Yoshi didn’t seem to care. The big excavator scraped away casually through ruined buildings, amassing a growing pile of material that it refused to put into the hauler oni that was bound for the dump.

He couldn’t even stand to look at Yoshi by the day’s end. He just waved down the road toward the oni yard and said, “You know where to go. I’ll see you tomorrow, for all the good that will do.” He wasn’t sure, but he thought Yoshi paused, as if it wanted to respond, but then it gathered up the materials it had set aside and rumbled away. Seiichi watched it go, and saw the oni poke into a few alleys and back lots, until finally Yoshi disappeared into the gloom. Then he started the long walk home.

———

Cold food, sore feet, and a chilly night led to Seiichi tossing and turning in his cot. As the night grew old, he stared at the canvass ceiling instead of falling asleep. The snoring of the other handlers that shared his tent didn’t help either. His mind kept turning over the excavator’s behavior the past few day, and the more the thought about it, the angrier he got. He thought of what he’d say to Yoshi tomorrow, how he’d give it a piece of his mind, and lay down the law. The best part of arguing with onis is that they never had a witty come-back, but at the same time, Yoshi just might decide not to work at all.

So, as light was just starting to creep into the eastern sky, Seiichi quietly got up and dressed, and began the walk to the oni yard, two kilometers away. The early morning was unusually cold and damp for that time of the year, but he was sweating as he marched along — partly from the brisk pace he kept, and partly from the building anger as he brooded on his response to an unresponsive excavator.

Most of the oni were silent, sitting dormant in their bays or parking spots, but from the rear of the yard, he heard the unmistakable clatter of Yoshi’s treads. Picking his way through the dim light of early morning, Seiichi finally found the big excavator neatly arranging the debris it had collected of the the past week instead of working to clear the town. In piles of various size, Yoshi was meticulously preening and tweaking the stacks. It was gently scraping the earth around their base, and then pausing to observe and adjust their balance against one another.

“Hey! Just what the hell are you doing?” Seiichi demanded.

The sudden yell startled the excavator, and it spun in place, nearly hitting Seiichi with the bucket arm. Moving alarmingly fast for an oni of its age and size, Yoshi put itself between its handler and the products of its labor. Though it may have seemed delicate, and even indolent at times, Yoshi’s sudden turn of agility and hulking mass was not lost on its handler. It took a conscious effort for Seiichi to stand his ground and question the oni again.

“Instead of resting for tomorrow, you work here all night long. Why? We could get fired. We have no home, and yet here you are risking our future over these broken mementos.”

He stepped toward one of the arrangements of boards and planks, only to have Yoshi’s extended bucket arm cut off his path. A chilly rain had begun to fall, soaking Seiichi’s clothes and starting the transition of the oni yard’s dirt into mud.

“These don’t matter, Yoshi. We can build again, you can dig more foundations!” He pleaded.

In the dim, rainy twilight, Seiichi saw something move. Underneath the carefully arranged pile of lumber, two shining eyes stared out at him, then four.

“What are you hiding, Yoshi?” He asked as he slowly moved closer.

The oni’s bucket arm tensed slightly before pulling back to allow him to pass. There, under the wood were two dogs, one a pup, and the other seemingly quite old. They looked weary, but Yoshi had scraped the dirt in such a way that water drained away from their den instead of into it. Inside, the dirt was warm and dry, despite the turn of weather. The broken planks had been set up to shed the rain, as well, and Seiichi could see that Yoshi had taken care to balance the planks perfectly in order to be sure they’d fall away from the den instead of into it if another earthquake struck.

Reaching in slowly, the older dog sniffed him, then licked his hand, and he gently reached to scratch behind its ear. Scattered around the impromptu dog houses, he saw the remains of food from the back alleys of restaurants and convenience stores, and none of the dogs that were now poking their heads out Yoshi’s tiny village seemed hungry.

Seiichi sighed and stood up, and noticed that Yoshi had moved its inverted bucket over him like an umbrella. He walked over to his partner and touched its steel grill lightly.

“Well Yoshi, it’s true. You are very good at foundations.”

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

in

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Crit for cptn_dr

The Good So this was a fun little story overall, with a healthy dose of weird - making it largely what I was looking for when I asked for a mixed-genre story.There was ambiguity on what the archipelago is, but honestly I think in the context of a <2420 word count story, that's fine and arguably good. There's not much space for dicking around with exposition and world building here, and what the archipelago is is less important than what it does. There were some good moves in the saloon scene that did work blending the western genre with the fantasy/sci-fi that got picked as the mixer, and honestly if I had to pick of a place to do world building, then this would be it.

The Bad I could have used more story. You got in well under the word count alotment, and this is a story that could have been fleshed out quite a bit more. Part of this is just bias from being the submitter of the prompt, but most if it is me legitimately being interested to know more about this protagonist, the other people in this weird aspirational boomtown, and what sort of world has magic/nanofactory/bioengineered/noneuclidian islands popping up along the coast.

The Ugly I'm going to agree with crabrock that the Undertaker and needy pet aspects of the prompt got handwaved away. I was hoping to see these two aspects come out more, but they kind of got a passing mention to tick the boxes, and no more.

But overall I was amused and entertained to read a weird story that I sort of suggested!

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Prompt:


Room 421
899 words

Most people don't scream like this kid, but then again, most people we deal with are drugged out of their gourd. But, it's tough to get midazolam these days, and It won't touch anyone with ketamine or heroin in their system. Won't have anything to do with junkies.

Well, that's not true, it does touch them. It just mauls them up and doesn't finish the job, if you get what I'm saying.

Anyway, we're out of midazolam, and this is sort of a rush job on account of the snitch problem. Not sure if this kid is the issue, but the Boss thinks so.

Step over there a second so I can get the door closed. Thanks. It's been sticking in this humidity and if you don't give it a good shove with your shoulder, it doesn't latch.

Metal? No. Wish it was that simple. It doesn't like iron any more than It likes junkies, so we gotta use oak. The new hinges are carbon fiber, for a blessing. When I started the hinges were carved hickory. There was this one August, about twenty years ago... it got so muggy we just had to barricade the door closed.

There, that's not so loud now. Go ahead and grab a coffee and a chair, this usually takes about twenty minutes, or so.

No, we don't deal with procurement down here, thankfully. We just deal with processing. By the time they get here, they should be sedated enough to not know where they are, but not enough that they can't walk. Ideally, anyway.

Personal effects go in the bin over there. Blank intake forms are in the top drawer of the desk. Make sure those get filled out completely as you can, and then leave them in Trish's basket on your way out. The medical history doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to get a full educational and work history, if you can. Marital status, kids' ages if they got them... you know the drill.

If we run out of forms, there's a mimeograph machine in the office. You ever use one of those? Don’t worry, it’s easy. They tried to get a xerox around the time I started… But It managed to get into the machine. The clerks all started getting nosebleeds and migraines, so we went back to the mimeograph. The ink stains like nothing else, and is a real pill to get out of clothes, so be mindful when you're refilling it. Also, watch your fingers around the print drum. Get careless and it’ll pinch the fire out of you.

Good God, that kid’s got lungs…

Ok, what else? Do you have a watch? Good. Make sure to reset it every morning before you come in. Add seven minutes for every half hour you've been at work, and that will get you pretty close to what the time should be. Expect your sleep to get weird for a few months, but you get used to it eventually. The up side is that it makes the shift fly by.

It’s not necessary to be completely accurate when filing out the times on the intake form, as long as you get it in the ballpark. Try your best, it’ll be fine.

The bell over by the door is how you know someone’s looking for us. If it rings twice, it means we’ve got a new intake coming in. They try to give us about a ten minute warning. If we’re in the middle of lunch, there’s usually time to finish up. Three rings means that someone in the office needs to see us about something. Usually just a clarification of some kind, but sometimes it’s just gossip, too.

Four rings means that we need to lock the door. Might be a raid, might be a visit by some bigwig. Either way they don’t need to be coming in here. When you hear it ring four times again, it’s all clear. Procurement will handle it, either way — just expect an unscheduled intake. Almost never happens, but now you know what to do if it does.

One ring means the Boss wants to talk with us.

The Boss never wants to talk to us.

If you start getting headaches or memory loss, talk to someone over in Medical, right away. We try to rotate shifts so we don’t get too fuzzy-headed. But occasionally, It gets extra froggy and starts to leak out a little. If you start feeling hazy, go down to the break room for an hour or so, have a soda, and things should clear up.

Do me a favor. Look through the peep hole and tell me what’s going on with that kid. It should have finished up by now, but he’s still screaming.

Oh? Christ.

Well, this happens every now and then, usually with younger intakes. Something about youth puts It off. At least that’s what Medical says. Can’t say I blame It, I’m not a fan of veal either.

Pass me the long handled catch pole, over there in the corner. I can probably loop an ankle and drag him back out. Just be ready to get the door shut as soon as he’s clear, then we’ll get him down to the post-processing. We keep a little .22 pistol in the bottom drawer of the desk. Bring it along. It’ll be less messy there.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Week 422 Crits!

On the whole, this was a fun week to be a judge, because y'uns wrote some fun stories. Cards on the table: I did NOT read up on your ghosts/monsters before I read the story, or after. You might not have been able to bullshit Rhino, but you certainly could have bullshitted me.

Saucy_Rodent The Third Annual Minneapolis Creepy Thrift Competition

I get why you had the line about an X-Box Live chat in the first paragraph – it's susposed to tell me something about the character – but it also feels like in-your-face product placement and it's a little off putting. In the next scene, I'm not sure if the dream has ended and he's at work, or if it's a dream within a dream about a spaceship that's turned into office work in excel. Reading on I guess being disjointed is the conceit of the story. Rereading it, I think for that gimmick to really work, the early scene breaks need to go away, and it needs to all run together. I'd give it a 3/5, I was interested and entertained, but the central mechanic needs some tuning.

MockingQuantum Out in the Cold

Off to a good start. The last sentence of the third paragraph got a little exposition-y, but it got back on track after that. Lots of good cold imagery and painting a scene of bitterness. The first half of the story's on a good track. Then it shifts to the second half and loses momentum. Ok, it's 25 years later, and why has the ghost come back now? The story tries to walk back to the night in the cold, but the flash-forward just sort of flattens it. I give it a 3/5 – a strong open that left me wishing it stuck the landing a little more.

GrandmaParty The Logistics of it All

The opener is a little weird, but I'm guessing that was intentional. What's a father doing coming home with a new infant in such a way that seems to indicate that it's a surprise to the rest of the family? Kidnapping, changeling-esque situation, Eraser-head situation? We'll find out. Watch the typos – I'm going to guess that Leroy should have been Levi since no Leroy's been introduced so far. There's also some pronoun agreement issues going on. And more typos. The story cleans up in the second half some, but honestly it was really distracting going into that second half after the first. It sort of feels like the real meat of the story is the second scene, and the first part was tacked on as an afterthought. But being the lead-in, it sort of poisons the well. 1.5/5 on this one – it reads like a very rough draft.

Simply Simon The Swamp-Drainer of Rupat Island

Most of my crit about this is nitpicky stuff, because it's a strong story overall. There are a few points where some punctuation changes might have helped out - “This wet sloppy stinking swamp” needs some commas after the first couple adjectives to help with flow. Other than that, I'd tone down the climate-change language some, especially in the final sentence. “The climate-killing dry peat fire,” puts a moralizing spin on the close of the story that pulls it to a global scale and sort of works against the personal, character driven horror that you did a really good job of building. The character work in this piece is really strong, so I want to see that held until the very end. This was a 4/5 for me – this is a story that I enjoyed reading, and just needs a little editing.

derp between the trees

ok there, ee cummings, slow your roll. Title aside, this is good workman like prose and the story has a strong setup, and it's gratifying to see it be pretty believable to boot – the idea that someone “goes home” to a place where their roots are and gets curious about old family tales. Ok, I'm on board. It's a good setup, and it's moving toward the climax, and here's where my real criticism comes in. The whole play of Danilo becoming disembodied needed to be unflinching for me. You kind of play it coy with him watching “someone” being eaten by a goat demon. Don't. If this is the fate that Danilo gets, then don't let him or the reader off the hook. If you're going into detail about the thing that is doing the eating, also go into detail about what's being eaten. Still, a good horror story, well written and gratifying – 3.5/5.

a friendly penguin Safeguard

Of the stories I've read so far this week, you really stuck the landing for sheer creep factor. I made it a point NOT to read up on any of the ghosts/demons/monsters assigned this week, to see if writers could basically describe them in such a way that they'd be accessible to any reader coming into this blind. I didn't feel the need to google your monster – you did an amazing job of describing it without going into too much exposition. If I've got any criticism, it's that the story got slightly mired down in the setup for the ending with the whole vinegar situation. I have a hard time imagining that a woman who is about to give birth can 1) infiltrate a storehouse full of vinegar and 2) carry enough vinegar back home that would fill a basin large enough to immerse herself in. So while things were super creepy at the end (as they should have been), it sort of took some of the momentum out of what might have been my pick for top story of the week. 4/5.

magic cactus Heart of Iron, Heart of Palm

This one's a bleak and interesting take on the prompt for the week. I was surprised (pleasantly so) that you went the route of having monster be in service to the protagonist, rather than the straightforward adversarial relationship that most people took. For the most part it was good prose, clean and readable, which is a good plus. The description of the monster was done well, with just enough detail while leaving enough to the imagination. For criticism, the opening paragraph needs some work, and I think it really needs to be split into two paragraphs. It's not that it's totally clunky, it's just that it seemed to be the most dense section of the story to get through, and as an opener, that sort of throws the momentum off. The other thing that struck me was the talk of the kid's “wool” shirt. Maybe this is a lack of cultural education on my part, but I can't imagine anywhere where palm fruit is harvested where wool is the fabric of choice for plantation labor. I rolled with it and I'm going to trust you on that, but just be aware that it raised a “suspension of disbelief” flag for me and also made my skin crawl in sympathy for anyone who is doing manual labor in the tropics wearing wool. 4/5.

sparksbloom An Itinerary

So I was sort of confused right out of the gate (pun intended) with this one, due to the use of the word gate. For some reason, my mind went to “garden gate” or “front gate” and I was picturing Kul coming down a path from his front door and meeting Udom, instead of out of an aircraft. The title of the piece should have been a clue, but it's one that went over my head. Anyhow, I figured out what was going on by the second paragraph and doubled back to re-read. Maybe, “his brother Udom waited at the end of the gate,” would be a way to clarify that. Anyway, on to the spooky. I liked your take on the pret, it was gross and eerie and generally worked. But, there were two things that sort of popped my suspension of disbelief. The first was the description of the event, and how it was sort of walked back with the window being fine, but the vent not. I sort of wanted it to be either otherworldly, or concrete and I got little bit of both and no real resolution. The larger point of stumble was that it was a weasel in the air vent. Why a weasel? Does Thailand have a weasel infestation problem that I've never heard about? A rat on the 44th floor of a luxury hotel I can buy, but a weasel seems really random. If putrid weasel is the natural diet of prets, then maybe set the story where finding one makes more sense. A decent offering with good character work, 3/5.

tharanguy Unreleased

The prose is solid, but there's two big issues that stop me from really enjoying the story. The first is that it seems like the story wants to M. Night Shyamalan me, but the twist is telegraphed way too soon. And the thing is, I'm not sure if you were going for a big twist – but there was this sort of coyness in the storytelling that leaves me wondering what the intent was. Not so much a twist, as just burying the lede. If we never had stories like “Sixth Sense,” then I'd say this could have been a fresh spin – because I like twists – but because it's become cliché it ends up being like hearing my favorite song in a car insurance commercial. The second issue with the story was the whole love story between the ghost and the “old man.” Am I reading this right? Is ghostly age of consent a thing, here? I dunno, this seems walking awfully close to that terrible anime trope of “no, actually she's actually a 1000 year old demon, she just looks like a 12 year old girl.” If you hadn't been explicit that the ghost hadn't grown up, I'd probably have just glossed over it and let it fly, but you went out of your way to make sure I knew. Listen, I'm just saying that in a week of creepy stories, you managed to go the long way-round to creep me out with paranormal NAMBLA. 2.5/5 for very good prose, but cringy subject matter.

CaligulaKangaroo Lament Child

So this is the classic case of where proofreading might have saved a story. Overall the prose is good and smooth, and this is a one-scene story that flows well because the pacing is even. But there is a critical error at the climax of the story. “The grasshopper fires like a dart into Mikhail’s, almost drilling into it, tail first.” That's the sentence on which the story hinges. This action is the “moment of no return” and unfortunately it's a mess. The grasshopper fires into Mikhail's what? Face, neck, hand? Almost drilling into what? My guess is that this was part of an edit, you decided to make a change during a proofreading and it got halfway done before you had to edit another part of the story, and never doubled back to finish the work. If this typo had been anywhere else in the story, I would have probably cut you some slack, but it really turned what would have otherwise been a satisfying read into a frustrating one. 2.5/5, and would have been a 3.5 without that typo.

LiterallyATomato LiterallyNothing

I don't have to take your lack of an entry this week as a personal affront, but I choose to. Therefore, in an attempt to receive satisfaction, I challenge you to a brawl. RSVP.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

IN, and I shall receive them seeds.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

I accept, being of sound mind and fully aware of the potential consequences of failure.

quote:

:siren:W E A S E L B R A W L:siren:

Write me a story about weasels, taking no more than 1100 words to do so, by 1200 PST on 19 September 2020.

The word weasels may be taken in any way you wish.

Let it be written, let it be done.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Receiving

Moonfall
999 Words

A piercing warble filled the office, accompanied by a scientifically designed red strobe, both proven trigger snap fight-or-flight decisions. Catnap ruined, Astrid bolted upright in her swivel chair and slapped at the silence button. Muscle memory let her nail it on the first strike. Blessed silence returned to the room as she poured over the incoming data.

Seven minutes later, she heaved a sigh and reached over to key the microphone linked to the maintenance bay's intercom.

“Hey Kwame, how long until the scarab is up and running? Got a seed coming in.”

Craning her neck to look down into the garage, she watched Kwame's lanky form bound over to the control desk. At the last moment, he managed to grab onto a safety rail, giving the local gravity a helping hand in bringing him to a stop. Astrid's tongue sympathetically went to her composite front left tooth – a replacement from when she failed to grab the safety rail a few years earlier.

“Three hours,” Kwame responded through the speaker, “I still need to replace that actuator. Eldon can get the oxygen tanks topped off and supplies loaded, in the meantime.”

Eldon's skinny arm shot out of the vehicle's side hatch, giving a thumbs-up.

“He says he's on it.”

Astrid waved through the window, then replied. “Trajectory has it coming from the inner solar system. The last message we got from Europa said these new seeds are really aggressive – looks like the neural-net is finally making a play for Callisto. If it gets roots down to oceanic depth, the native ecology is toast.”

Kwame didn't respond on the intercom, but just picked up a low-G shuffle back to the scarab. Astrid stood from the console, stretched, and started to pack her EXO kit for the ride to the fall site.

***

“PB&J or ham'n'cheese?” Eldon asked.

“Whatever we've got more of,” Astrid replied, opening her visor. Eldon leaned forward to put a foil tube and a small pack of crackers into her hand.

“Why wait until now to eat?” Kwame asked. “And why'd you insist on eating with your helmet on? The crumbs would drive me crazy.”

“One,” Astrid muttered with her mouth full, “eat-it-while-you-got-it. Two, unlike you, I chew with my mouth closed. Crumbs are a non-issue.”

Kwame rolled his eyes, but smiled, and kept piloting the scarab as it picked its way across Callisto's dark ice fields, the disc of Jupiter eclipsing the sun. Twenty minutes later, the vehicle climbed over the rim of a particularly steep crater, and the seed laid before them, green, bloated, and bulbous. Its squash-leaf solar panels unfurling in anticipation of the coming light.

The three took a moment to look out the scarab's window, in a mix of wonder and revulsion.

“Let's do it, then,” Astrid cut in, while popping her helmet off to brush crumbs out of her EXO suit's neckline. “Clock's ticking, and every minute we gawk is another minute the taproot gets deeper. Kwame, get the parabolics set up and ready to aim, we've got about an hour to sunrise. Eldon, radio Conservation Base. Tell them Tech Team Eleven has arrived, and is gathering data before sterilization. Then, you and I are going for a closer look”

***

The seed was growing noticeably as the pair walked up to it. Genetically propagated cancers budding off from the central mass, before inflating to establish new atria and compartments. The broad leaves above were hardened against cold and vacuum by carbon fiber meshes, and they spread in a wide canopy.

It must have sensed their approach, for as Astrid and Eldon made their way around the central chamber, a bicuspid door broke open, belching a plume of steam and beckoning them into an organic airlock. Astrid hesitated, but followed when Eldon shrugged and ducked into the chamber.

The other side was verdant. Their sensors told of a nearly pure oxygen atmosphere, cloying humidity, and warmth. Around them, couches of soft moss began to rise up from the floor,

“Welcome home,” a voice whispered, emerging from everywhere and nowhere, while a tendril dropped down gracefully to stroke the top of Astrid's helmet. “We have missed you.”

“Have you, then?” asked Astrid, skeptically, looking around in vain for some sort of console or data interface. “What brings you here?”

“Bounty. Endless prosperity,” came the hushed voice's response. “So much wasted potential. We will make you whole again.”

Astrid turned to signal Eldon to retreat, only to find the gaunt man sitting on a mossy stool. He stared longingly at a table overflowing with fruit, budding and ripening while he watched. He began to raise his hand to open his visor. Horrified, Astrid reached for his wrist a moment too late, and he tucked into the feast laid out before him.

“To be separate is to know only pain,” the voice whispered, “but reunification is perfect bliss. It has been so long.”

She reached out to squeeze Eldon's shoulder, to try and drag him to his feet, but he could not be budged. He gorged himself on the expanding cornucopia.

“Okay, we accept your offer,” Astrid choked out, shaking him slightly. “Eldon... Eldon, I'm going to go get Kwame now.”

“Wonderful. Bring them soon,” the voice implored as it opened the inner door to the airlock. “We have missed you so much. Please, do not make us wait.”

With the airlock steaming behind her, she carefully ascended the long, icy slope of the crater, ignoring Kwame's increasingly panicked radio messages. She walked past him and touched the command console on scarab's flank, activating and aiming the parabolic mirrors just as the sun rose over Jupiter's limb. It took a moment for the light beams to focus on the surface of the seed , but the sudden conflagration glowed as bright as a welding torch when the pure oxygen atmosphere ignited.

She lowered her reflective visor against the glare, and against Kwame's imploring gaze.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

BRAWL ENTRY - W E A S E L F I G H T

Weaselmania
1095 words

“Ladies and Gentlemen! You all know why you're here. I give you – WEASEL FIIIGHT!”

The promoter drew out the last word for ten full seconds in that cramped basement, and the crowd screamed in appreciation. Packed shoulder to shoulder, they jostled forward – crowding around the makeshift ring in the center of the floor. Booze and sweat dripped down to soak the concrete in equal measure. Somewhere, a cheap boom-box started to blare out tinny heavy metal music, eliciting another cheer from the gathered mass.

“Tonight's main event! In this corner, with black feet and ears, it's our reigning champion. He's sixteen inches long, and weighs in at two pounds, fifteen ounces. It's the Stoat with the Most. The Baron of Bounce. The Masked Mink. The weasel you looove to hate, it's Marten Van Buren!”

The weasel's manager raised him up for the crowd to see, and narrowly avoided striking Marten's head on the low ceiling. Applause and whistles rose up to meet the champ, with a few jeers scattered through the crowd. For his part, Marten hung limp in his manager's grasp and scratched idly at his left ear.

“And in the opposite corner – albino, weighing two pounds even, and a petite thirteen inches long – we have tonight's challenger! The All-American Prairie Pole-cat. The Sultana of Slink. The Squirmin' Ermine. Let's hear it for Ferret Fawcett!”

As the contender was held aloft, cupped in her manager's hands, the noise in the basement was deafening. She bent in a sagging U-shape, her head bent backwards to catch an upside-down glimpse of the roaring crowd. Two ruby eyes swept across the room, then she turned to wriggle her snout down her manager's sleeve.

“Betting ends when the bell rings! Place your bets now. Fighters, please step to the center of the ring,” the promoter commanded.

The two managers squared off to one another, each cradling their furry pugilist. The referee for the night, a squat man in tattered wife-beater, had to shout to be heard by the men standing in front of him.

“You know the rules. Only weasels in the ring. The fight's finished when it's finished, or you say its finished, or I say it's finished. Got that?”

Both men nodded.

“Drop the weasels in at the bell.”

The two managers turned and hopped back over the ring's side boards. A pause, then a hush descended across the room. With a meaningful glance from the referee, the bell rang, and all hell broke loose.

Marten Van Buren was the first to hit the floor, and he made good use of the initiative to curl into a ball and preen the fur on his flanks. Ever the heel, his blatant display of hubris was the perfect way to open the match. The crowd ate it up and howled for more. Marten upped the ante by licking his paws and smoothing down the hair behind his black-tufted ears, further cementing his pretty-boy reputation.

But in the other corner, the challenger was making her own play. Ferret slinked anticlockwise along the ring's sidewall, sniffing daintily in search of a crack to slip through. Finding none, she continued to make her way ever closer to where Marten sat. She stopped every few inches to flatten herself against the cement, narrowly avoiding puddles of stale beer. The champ continued to arrogantly pay her no attention, locked into his own private battle with a matted lock of fur on his haunch.

This was a mistake.

Sensing her opportunity, Ferret arched her back and flounced toward Marten – popping up on her hind legs just in time to startle him before flopping heavily onto his curled form. The two mustelids tussled fiercely, nipping at ears and tails alike. The only indication of where one body ended and another began was in the contrast of Ferret's snow white fur against Marten's steely grey.

Savage displays of tiny teeth bit down ineffectually on loose skin and fur, eliciting indignant meeps from each contender. While her opening move had thrown Marten off balance, Ferret was now feeling the effect of her heavier opponents grapples. Marten's delicately beaned paws continually probed for better purchase to pin Ferret to the damp concrete.

Somehow, she managed to break free for a moment, and the crowd exploded as Ferret scampered toward the opposite corner of the ring, with Marten hot on her tail. Reaching the plywood, she bounded upward, her small claws digging into the side wall. Then, she pushed off and backwards – twisting in mid air – before landing with her full weight on Marten's back. Unfortunately, the victory was short lived, for Ferret could not latch onto Marten's well-groomed fur in time.

She rolled aside, knocking her small head against the hard floor.

While she lay dazed, Marten began his war dance. He lept and frolicked around her, the crowd booing and applauding in equal measure. Bristling his tail and clumsily rebounding against the side of the ring as he bounced, he gloated in victory. He suddenly collapsed into a furry heap, and took a spontaneous nap.

The match seemed over, and the referee began to walk over to call the fight. But, glancing at Ferret's manager, he saw the man scowl, shake his head and mouth the words “Let her fight.” He arched an eyebrow, as if to ask the man was certain he wanted to make a decision that would surely be folly. The manager nodded grimly and the ref shrugged and backed away from the combatants.

Those few moments gave Ferret some time to shake off her concussed haze. She wobbled to her feet, and scanned the ring with her little red eyes. There was her opponent, curled with his nose tucked primly under his tail and snoring lightly as the crowd bayed for violence. She knew this was her only chance, so she half-slunk, half-crawled to within a few inches of Marten. Then with a sudden pounce, she sprang forward and crashed on top of him roughly. He gave a cursory push with a hind paw to dislodge her, but when that failed he simply returned to sleep.

Within moments, Ferret had dozed off as well. The crowd went wild.

“Ladies and Lords! Your winner, and new champion – Ferret Fawcett!” the promoter screamed to be heard above the din.

With a subtle glance, and slight gesture of his hand, and the boom-box began to blare out a funky beat.

“But, wait! Is that the music of a new challenger?!”

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

In

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Prompt: "The shooting fireballs were like live animals, crazy with pain and desperate to escape the holocaust." (page 219)

A Bright Child
957 words

With a snap of her fingers, a small wisp of smoke bloomed, rose, and dissipated a few centimeters above her hand. Was there a brief flash of light? Pauline wasn't certain, but she thought there might have been. Taking in a deep breath through her nose and savoring the acrid tang, she hunted for the tell-tale sharp scent of ozone. She sighed – no ignition this time.

“Your mother and Doctor Hoffmann would be very cross if they knew what you were up to,” said Mitzi, looking on with disapproval. She hopped onto the comforter of Pauline's bed, nestled her self between two pillows, and tucked her paws under her chest primly.

“I won't tell if you won't,” Pauline replied impishly to the cat. “Besides, I've watched mom do it hundreds of times.”

Another faint plume of smoke rose from her fingertips as she snapped again. Mitzi narrowed her eyes, taking a moment to formulate an appeal to the headstrong young girl. Her math homework studiously ignored, Pauline sat at her desk and looked at her middle finger and thumb, instead. She saw how the faint ridges of her fingerprints were slowly, but surely growing back, replacing the layer of skin that she had ablated away in her attempt to spark a stable flame. Each whorl stood out in bright pink against her normally fair skin, and the tenderness made holding her pencil uncomfortable.

“Your mother has had years of training, and knows her limits well,” Mitzi purred, “I appreciate your dedication to practice, but supervision is mandatory for everyone's safety. Now please, sweety, back to your school work.”

Pauline frowned, and watched the callouses form. Her pencil no longer an instrument of pain, she resumed doing long division problems for the next half hour. Instead of the physical discomfort, she was plagued by the mental anguish of being forced to confront the mundane when the fantastic was literally at her fingertips. Yes, she sort of understood why her mom and Dr. Hoffmann had forbidden her from practicing alone, but it was such an unfair demand. It was nothing but a little smoke and occasionally a small spark of flame. Why make such a fuss about safety when there wasn't any real danger in the first place?

Heaving a great sigh, she put down her pencil and rubbed her eyes. Mitzi leapt from the bed to the desk, landing without a sound, and began to read over her homework.

“How did I do?” Pauline asked.

“Well, I would not say you have completed the assignment,” Mitzi said, patting a problem which the girl had done a particularly poor job of solving, “But, considering that it is already past your bed time, I think it is fair to say that you have finished the assignment.”

“Can I try once more?” Pauline grinned, holding up her thumb and middle finger, rubbing them together suggestively.

“Oh,” Mitzi replied. “I really wish you wouldn't. There will be plenty of practice time for that tomorrow, with proper –”

Pauline cut her off with a snap. This time the familiar puff of smoke was accompanied by a bright spark, and in that moment, the tip of her middle finger was aflame. Staring wide-eyed at the fire that burned white hot, yet caused her no pain, Pauline marveled at the first true ignition she'd managed to conjure up.

“Put it out! Put it out!” Hissed Mitzi, her back arched and tail bristling. Pauline snapped out of her reverie and waved her hand about in the air, the sudden movement and loss of concentration managing to snuff the fire. With the absence of the flame, the skin of her fingertip became raw and red, and ached dully.

“Ohmigosh!” Pauline shrieked triumphantly, “Did you see it, Mitzi? I did it!”

“Yes. You did it. And you must never do it again, unless Dr. Hoffman is there to make sure of your safety, young lady,” the cat responded curtly while smoothing down the fur of her tail. But, Pauline was lost in wonder. She looked at her hand in sheer fascination, watching the skin knit back together and feeling the ache recede into memory.

“Come now, let's brush your teeth and get ready for bed,” commanded Mitzi, and she hopped down and walked toward the bathroom, with her tail high. Behind her, she heard another snap, and she wheeled around to see the girl conjuring fire again. “No, Pauline. You must stop that this instant. You don't have proper control.”

But, this time Pauline was not listening. She gazed into the little flame and willed it to grow larger, and it responded in kind. Soon, all the fingertips on her right hand were glowing, their mass burning away into a heat so intense that barely any smoke was produced. When the conflagration reached her knuckles, they separated and flew off as tiny balls of fire, two landing on her bed to smolder on the fire retardant comforter, and the others falling on her desk and igniting her stack of homework.

“Pauline!” Mitzi yowled, “You must stop, now!”

“I...I can't.” Was all Pauline could say before the flames took her.

The smoke from the desk was enough to finally set off the alarm and sprinklers, but it was too late. Pauline burned so incredibly hot and fast, that the water did little more than prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the room.

By the time Dr. Hoffmann was able to get inside, the last embers had died. She only found Mitzi, weeping by a pile of ashes in a puddle – the water and the cat's tears slowly turning them to mud.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

In

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer


Thanks!

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Halfway Out
797 words

Randall opened the closet door, and looked at his options. There was a velveteen suit, deep burgundy in color. Definitely a pass. Next up was a brown tweed suit which was better, but it had massive, outdated lapels. If nothing else, it might work — so he pulled it out and hung it on the doorknob. Behind the tweed was yellow and green plaid number with a matching vest. Disgusted, but intrigued, Randal slid it across the rack and heard something rattle. He poked a hand inside the jacket, and found a half-spent can of Altoids in the smoking pocket. When flipped open, it revealed an expired condom, covered in a layer of chalky, peppermint dust and nestled in the mints. He snapped the lid shut and started to put it back.

“The gently caress you doing in my closet, Randall?”

Startled, Randall fumbled the mints, and they landed on the floor; mercifully, the lid stayed closed. Wheeling around, he saw Tyler leaning on the door frame, scowling. He filled the doorway completely, almost having to duck to fit through the passage. The urge to bolt was strong, but Randall managed to simply stammer a few non-words while gesturing at the suit hanging on the doorknob.

“That don’t answer my question. What are you doing in my closet? Looks like the same poo poo that got you here the first place.”

“I, uh, g-got an interview,” Randall managed. “I tried the thrift store, but they didn’t have n-nothing. I didn’t know where else to go. I thought maybe I could, uh, b-borrow something.”

“So, you just gonna go into my stuff without saying nothing to me about it? Nah, dude. That poo poo don’t happen no more.”

Randall nodded, looking at the floor.

“Come over here,” Tyler commanded.

Randall walked over to the much larger man, avoiding eye contact. Tyler reached out and grabbed him by the upper arm, hauling him uncomfortably close, then let go.

“Turn around,” Tyler told him, “And remember what I’m about to tell you.”

He turned, doing his best not to sob as he heard Tyler rummaging around in a box on the desk by the door. Mentally steeling himself for what might come next, he still couldn’t stop the yelp of surprise when the cord dropped over his head, and tightened around his neck. In a panic he reached up to claw at it, only to have Tyler swat his hand away.

“Chill the gently caress out, dude! Ain’t nobody gonna hurt you. Look.”

Tyler pushed his arms out holding something between his hands. Through eyes welling with tears, Randall saw the even, numbered marks of a measuring tape.

“Now hold still and remember this poo poo, because I ain’t got a pencil,” said Tyler as he pulled the tape back around Randall’s neck again. “Fourteen and a half. Touch your nose.”

Shaken, Randall put a finger to his nose. With a firm, but gentle grasp on Randall’s elbow, Tyler positioned his arm so that it was parallel to the floor. Then he ran the tape from the back of Randall’s neck to his elbow, then back to his wrist.

“Thirty-three. Listen. I know things is different now. This is all new. But, if you wanna make this halfway to home, instead of halfway back to prison, then you gotta learn to ask. Ain’t no such thing as, ‘borrowing’ no more. Raise your arms up. Breathe deep.”

The tape went around his chest, and Randall held as still as he could.

“Thirty-six. You remember all this, bro?”

“Uh, F-fourteen and a half, thirty-three, thirty-six,” Randall recited, “and, uh, s-start asking.”

“Good,” said Tyler, dropping down to a knee to take Randall’s waist and inseam. “Thirty-one, and thirty. Now, you got something to ask me?”

“Can, uh, I borrow a suit, Tyler?” asked Randall, finally making eye contact as Tyler stood back up.

“No.”

Randall’s mouth worked open and closed, wordlessly, and Tyler walked past him to start pushing aside hangers in the closet. He finally found what he was looking for — a fairly plain black suit.

“I’m gonna give you this, though. Ain’t my style, anyway. When’s your interview?”

“T-tomorrow,” said Randall. “At three. Down in Quincy. T-thanks!”

“A’ight,” Tyler said with a sigh and a shake of his head, “It’s gonna be a late night. Gimme those numbers again.”

Tyler found a piece of tailor’s chalk in his sewing kit, and Randall spoke the numbers while Tyler made alteration marks on the suit.

Then he asked, “Can I g-get you anything?”

Thinking for a moment, Tyler made a decision. “You got money to grab us some food?”

Randall fished in his pocket, counted a few bills, then nodded.

“Number three, small. Dr. Pepper. No ice. Thanks for asking.”

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer



Please enjoy this interprompt while Antivehicular and I sort out what to do:

"Well, there's your problem..." - 350 words in which the resolution to a technical/existential difficulty is the identification of the problem itself.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer





Weltlich fucked around with this message at 18:30 on Oct 6, 2020

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer



My friends. After much struggle, I have wrested control of this week's prompt from counter-revolutionary forces. For a long while, it was not clear who was in charge. But fear not, for we have prevailed. Rejoice!

If you choose to take up the struggle again this week, I will assign you some revolutionary person, picture, song, or idea. Do not write fanfic or porn about this assignment, rather let it inspire you to write your own work of transformation and liberation. I want to see joy, even though the struggle might be difficult.

But, even while we have won for the moment, know that Antivehicular will certainly approach you, and assign you a genre. Fear not, for if your heart is filled with the spirit of revolution, this cannot hold you back.

I know some of you are comrades in words only, though, and you might ask Antivehicular to provide you with a flash rule. Be warned! Even though you may be tempted to do this, I might respond with a partisan raid! This may alter your plans drastically.

So declare your support for the revolution, just remember who is in control around here.


Words: 1500
Signups close: 1AM Friday, October 9th
Deadline: 11:59PM Sunday, October 11th
Judges
Weltlich
Antivehicular
crabrock


Beloved Comrades

Grandma Party - A Plolynesian Shell Map
Genre: Pastoral Fantasy
Flash: Have you spoken to the sun?
Partisan Raid Outcome: Captured! You've been nabbed in a partisan raid. Either lose 500 words from your allotment, or cleverly disguise your entry this week as one of the loyalists' genres in order to slip away when no one is looking, stealing an additional 500 words as you depart. By the end of your story, your original genre must “take control,” in order for the escape to be successful.

Tharanguy - Little Red Song Book
Genre: Family Saga
Flash: Yearning: the virus responded to your unsatisfied desire and gave you power. What is it that you desire?
Partisan Raid Outcome: You've been raided and the partisans seized all your contraband commas! You can buy more at the market, but they cost 10 words per comma. You have four question marks in a secret stash, though. You can flip those for 50 words a-piece – but, don't get caught trying to steal them back!

MockingQuantum - Booker T. Whatley
Genre: Travel Literature
Flash: Rite of succession: as you die, you may transfer one radiation manipulation, skill level, or attribute to another player. Cost: life. range: sight. effect: binary.
Partisan Raid Outcome: You have escaped the raid, but are forced into hiding. You can either lay-low and lose 350 words from this week's word budget, -OR- by carefully choosing the first or last words of your paragraphs, you can encode a secret message for help into your story, and gain an additional 350 words.

Magic Cactus - Reincarnation
Genre: Monster Literature
Flash: Your god, in a sinkhole sucking you down
Partisan Raid Outcome: Mutual Aid! You can elect to give someone else up to 250 words from your allotment. (This must be declared, and they must accept.) -OR- you can carefully pick through the aftermath of other participants' misfortunes to sweep up 500 (at most) of their lost words. Note: If you elect to give someone else words, and they accept, this will automatically prevent your story from taking a loss this week.

Pththya-lyi - Buckminster Fuller
Genre: Gothic Fiction

derp - The Stoned Ape Hypothesis
Genre: Sword and sorcery!

Anomalous Blowout - A kicking-rad picture of a kicking-rad lady
Genre: Medical Romance
Flash: Empire of Humanity Canine Rangers: 4D6 K-9 Rangers led by a single Empire human officer. These units may be hundreds of miles from their headquarters. They maintain regular radio communication and announce their positions every couple of hours. They will avoid conflict with any mutant animal group they don't outnumber.
Partisan Raid Outcome: Oh no! It's to the re-education camp with you! All written communication in camp is heavily censored, so dialogue is the only safe way to talk to your fellow counter-revolutionaries. Non-dialogue paragraphs deplete your word allotment at three times the normal rate, while dialogue uses only half the words it normally would.


Uranium Phoenix - The Clovis Point
Genre: Magical Realism

sparksbloom - The Diggers
Genre: School Story
Flash: It has no name, we call it Weepheart
Partisan Raid Outcome: You find yourself hiding in a pineapple field under the cover of darkness. You can hear the partisans' voices in the distance, but they do not know where you are. The pineapples are incredibly prickly, and uncomfortable. You can either risk fleeing to somewhere else, losing 200 words in the process, or you can write a paragraph about tropical fruit in your story. For each word in that paragraph, you will get two additional words added to your allotment this week.

Sebmojo - The Battle of Blair Mountain
Genre: Robinsonade
Flash: Rail syndicate strike!
Partisan Raid Outcome: The partisans pursue you through the forest! In your frenzied flight through darkness, you hear your rucksack rip on a stray branch. When you finally reach safety, you peer in to find that all of your conjugations of “to be” have fallen out in the night. Am, are, is, was, were, be, being and been... gone. You can double back and pick them up, but it will cost you 1000 words. If you can soldier on without them, you will surely find an additional 1000 words in the verdant wilderness.

Walamor - Jeong Yakyong
Genre: Psychological Horror
Flash: A stryx (lvl 3, vampire, giant owl)
Partisan Raid Outcome: You received a tip that the partisans are coming, but you must act fast! Submit your story early, and for each hour before the deadline, you will receive an additional 30 words.

Tyrannosarus - The Geisel Library
Genre: Crime Fiction
Flash: Destruction: Your heart is filled with a desire to destroy everything in sight. You feel good as your hands go to work.
Partisan Raid Outcome: Those bumbling partisans raided the wrong house! In the confusion, you managed to find an additional 50 words, but they're all adverbs. You may subtract up to 50 adverbs from your word count.

Saucy_Rodent: The concept of dam removal
Genre: Body Horror
Flash: Ancient Contents: The building was abandoned long before the Crash, sometime in the 20th Century. For year, roll percentile dice and add the number to 1900.
Parisan Raid Outcome: You might have found a willing collaborator... Quietly approach another counter-revolutionaries this week and see if they will trade a subject, genre, or flash rule with you. If you can do this without the judges' knowledge before the deadline, then you both will get an additional 100 words per traded item. Beware! If one of you rats the other out, then the snitch will get an additional 200 words per item, and the other person will lose 100 words per item. What happens if you both snitch?

Dr. Kloctopussy: Langar
Genre: Western
Flash: Articulated Spikes: The character has four spikes or spines that resembles the spine or legs of an insect. Each is about the size of a survival knife, but can extend to twice that length in an instant. They are distributed along the side of each forearm (two on each arm) or on the chest, or sides of the body. These
slim, chitinous limbs end in sharp points, and can move independent of each other like tiny, stiff arms and even rotate in a 360 degree circle. They are used to parry an enemy's hand to hand attacks (+2 to parry) and to stab or slash opponents who come within arm's length. The four spikes add one attack per melee round and each inflicts 2D6 S.D.C. damage, but they cannot grab or manipulate objects. Add I D4 to Horror Factor.
Partisan Raid Outcome: The local economic conditions have led to a state of Character Rationing. You've been allotted your government sanctioned main character, but additional characters will cost you 200 words, each.

Weltlich fucked around with this message at 00:10 on Oct 9, 2020

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

GrandmaParty posted:

Viva Le Revolucion! (In. Flash.)




Thranguy posted:

In, flash

The IWW Little Red Songbook (link)


MockingQuantum posted:

in & flash, I revel in chaos

Booker T. Whatley

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer


The concept of Reincarnation.

Pththya-lyi posted:

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

Bucky Fuller

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

derp posted:

okay dunderthome, i'll give it a shot

The Stoned Ape Hypothesis


Anomalous Blowout posted:

The sleeper cell has been activated. In, flash.




Uranium Phoenix posted:

Let the revolution commence!

The Clovis Point

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer


The Diggers


sebmojo posted:

In flash

The Battle of Blair Mountain

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Walamor posted:

In, with a flash rule please!

Jeong Yakyong



Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer


The concept of dam removal.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

PARTISAN RAIDS HAVE OCCURRED!

Oh dear. I knew some of you were counter-revolutionaries, but I am disappointed to see so many of you have already abandoned the revolution. Disappointed, but not surprised.

No, I was prepared for this, and even now, my partisan squads are sweeping out to make sure that you know the revolution cannot be stopped. What will their visits have in store for you?

GrandmaParty
Partisan Raid Outcome: Captured! You've been nabbed in a partisan raid. Either lose 500 words from your allotment, or cleverly disguise your entry this week as one of the loyalists' genres in order to slip away when no one is looking, stealing an additional 500 words as you depart. By the end of your story, your original genre must “take control,” in order for the escape to be successful.

Tharanguy
Partisan Raid Outcome: You've been raided and the partisans seized all your contraband commas! You can buy more on the black market, but they cost 10 words per comma. You have four question marks in a secret stash, though. You can flip those for 50 words a-piece – but, don't get caught trying to steal them back!

MockingQuantum
Partisan Raid Outcome: You have escaped the raid, but are forced into hiding. You can either lay-low and lose 350 words from this week's word budget, -OR- by carefully choosing the first or last words of your paragraphs, you can encode a secret message for help into your story, and gain an additional 350 words.

Magic Cactus
Partisan Raid Outcome: Mutual Aid! You can elect to give someone else up to 250 words from your allotment. (This must be declared, and they must accept.) -OR- you can carefully pick through the aftermath of other participants' misfortunes to sweep up 500 (at most) of their lost words. Note: If you elect to give someone else words, and they accept, this will automatically prevent your story from taking a loss this week.

Anomalous Blowout
Partisan Raid Outcome: Oh no! It's to the re-education camp with you! All written communication in camp is heavily censored, so dialogue is the only safe way to talk to your fellow counter-revolutionaries. Non-dialogue paragraphs deplete your word allotment at three times the normal rate, while dialogue uses only half the words it normally would.

sparksbloom
Partisan Raid Outcome: You find yourself hiding in a pineapple field under the cover of darkness. You can hear the partisans' voices in the distance, but they do not know where you are. The pineapples are incredibly prickly, and uncomfortable. You can either risk fleeing to somewhere else, losing 200 words in the process, or you can write a paragraph about tropical fruit in your story. For each word in that paragraph, you will get two additional words added to your allotment this week.

Sebmojo
Partisan Raid Outcome: The partisans pursue you through the forest! In your frenzied flight through darkness, you hear your rucksack rip on a stray branch. When you finally reach safety, you peer in to find that all of your conjugations of “to be” have fallen out in the night. Am, are, is, was, were, be, being and been... gone. You can double back and pick them up, but it will cost you 1000 words. If you can soldier on without them, you will surely find an additional 1000 words in the verdant wilderness.

Walamor
Partisan Raid Outcome: You received a tip that the partisans are coming, but you must act fast! Submit your story early, and for each hour before the deadline, you will receive an additional 30 words.

Tyrannosarus
Partisan Raid Outcome: Those bumbling partisans raided the wrong house! In the confusion, you managed to find an additional 50 words, but they're all adverbs. You may subtract up to 50 adverbs from your word count.

Saucy_Rodent
Parisan Raid Outcome: You might have found a willing collaborator... Quietly approach another counter-revolutionaries this week and see if they will trade a subject, genre, or flash rule with you. If you can do this without the judges' knowledge before the deadline, then you both will get an additional 100 words per traded item. Beware! If one of you rats the other out, then the snitch will get an additional 200 words per item, and the other person will lose 100 words per item. What happens if you both snitch?

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Long long the revolution! Give me all the stuff!!

Langar

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Long live the revolution! Give me all the stuff!!

Partisan Raid Sudden Economic Downturn Outcome!

The local economic conditions have led to a state of Character Rationing. You've been allotted your government sanctioned main character, but additional characters will cost you 200 words, each.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Week 427 Judgement!



Congrats sebmojo on the win!

It was a fun piece that made us smile. Technically well written and it went in a direction at the end that was unexpected, but very satisfying. Trains on mars? A revolutionary cadre of robots? An AI that was written as an AI and not a human in a computer mask? Yes.

Tharanguy takes an HM.

Some solid prose and coherent scene breaks across multiple generations worked really well.

Magic Cactus sadly gets a loss.

None of us were really happy about giving a loss this week, but with the lack of one last week, we daren't risk angering the fickle gods of Thunderdome. You weren't bad at all, only the least good. So, into the volcano with a smile, please.


Crits will be incoming in the next couple days, and I'm sure the other judges will have their inputs for you. Personally I'm really proud of everyone who contributed this week because we handed out some pretty hard prompts, flashes, and hell rules. Not only did you lean into the task, but you ended up writing stories that were a hoot to read.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

In with a :toxx:

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Hellrule: Your characters are extinct.

Miocene Delta
517 Words

The tide rose, and the ocean filled with the sound distant singing. There were songs of scallop and mussel beds, songs of hope and hunger. Others sang ballads of danger in the deep waters—cautionary tales of triangle-toothed sharks and bloodthirsty cousins.

She swam alone, leaving the sheltered pool of a lagoon as soon as the water could lift her over the sand bar. Squat and paddle like, her limbs were on a journey from legs to fins that would take a thousand generations to complete. Silt swirled up as her vestigial claws dug into the mud separating her from the disorienting, brackish waters of a river delta.

Arriving late at the winter feeding grounds, her pod found them picked clean of the succulent clams and cockles they were seeking. They slowly drifted apart on the warm, tropical currents, finding little more to eat than bitter whelks. One by one, their voices went silent in the depths.

Nearby though, she heard a song of simple contentment and loneliness—not more than a quiet hum.

He swam with an awkward cadence in the murky shallows, also alone. His moustache was a little too long and bushy. Just enough to be ridiculous, to her eye. He swept it through the sediment and grass kelp, flushing out a swarm of impossibly small crustaceans; he caught them behind his bristly whiskers before slurping them down, whole. When he turned to study her, she saw his missing fin, sheared cleanly from his left hip—a neat, almost surgical scar—surely the work of a shark. Her cousins, cruel and clever, left gaping, ragged wounds. They left few survivors.

Hearing her soft, involuntary song of hunger, he began to sweep the estuary bed around her, herding shrimp and crawfish into bite-sized schools. It took her several tries to catch the meal of little shellfish: to suck the tips of her whiskers in behind them, to expel the muddy water from her mouth, and to catch the tiny invertebrates against filter of her moustache. They wriggled and struggled on her palate, and lacked the satisfying crunch of a clam; but the grass shrimp had an exquisitely sweet flavor. Though he could feed faster and on smaller crustaceans, he patrolled the delta with her, gathering one small mouthful at a time until she was satiated.

They came to mid-channel, and the current that would take her back to the river’s wide mouth. She let the water carry her away from the estuary, tasting change as the fresh inland waters blended into the sea. The distant songs rose in volume as she reached the edge of the open ocean. Arias from pods that had stayed together and found joy in modest bounty. Requiems for the pods sundered by famine and predation. From the murk behind her came his quiet song of contentment and loneliness, his notes now bent with a touch of loss.

She turned and swam back into the silty waters.

There in the delta, their children will sing of moustaches and crawfish—a million years before the oceans swell with songs of baleen and krill.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

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.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Answer Key for "Spot The Blasphemy" Puzzle on the Back of a Box of Deuteronom-O's
83 words

1) The fig tree is barren. (Mark 11:12-25)
2) The ploughman's tunic is woven of mixed fibers. (Leviticus 19:19)
3) The kid is being seethed in its mother's milk. (Exodus 23:19)
4) The freeman's hovel has an unsafe roof (without battlement). (Deuteronomy 22:8)
5) The servant's cloak has only three tassels. (Numbers 15:38)
6) Babylon mystery, mother of harlots, and all these abominations of the earth. She is drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Behold with great admiration. (Revelations 17:5-6)

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Coupon for 50% Off
36 words

New from RJR Mills: SMOTHERS! Smothers are the vitamin and mineral fortified, low tar cigarettes that kids love! Five wild-fruit flavors: Smokin' Strawberry, Lemon Loosies, Draggin'fruit, Cherry Cherry, and Mentholberry. Smothers - Kid Tested, Uncle Approved!

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

GrandmaParty posted:

This is wrong.

This is so wrong, considering Crabrock told a story without any verbs.

My sense of justice is impinged because I know I couldn't come close to what he produced and my stupid cocaine ghost grandma story got the same rating.

I demand Justice. BRAWL CHALLENGE ISSUED.

ANY OTHER JUDGES THAT SHARE YORUICHI'S EXACT OPINION I'LL FIGHT YOU, TOO.


:toxx:

Yoruichi posted:

No, you're wrong :toxx:


sebmojo posted:

sure, i'll take that :toxx:

I'll judge this brawl.

The theme of this brawl shall be...

HALLOWEEN



Oh poo poo, sorry... ignore the cereal, that was still in the buffer from interprompt.

Just write a story about halloween. 1900 words. By the stroke of midnight, PST, on Halloween.

update

Sitting Here posted:

:toxx: to lend GrandmaParty my writing sword in their worthy and venerable cause.

This has become a team brawl instead of a free-for-all.

Team 1: Butterscotches and a Box of Raisins
GrandmaParty
Sitting Here
magic cactus

Team 2: Candy Corns and Old Pennies
Sebmojo
Yoruichi
SkaAndScreenplays
take the moon

Weltlich posted:

ATTENTION WARRIORS, WHO HAVE DECIDED TO COME OUT AND PLAY: HERE'S YOUR TRICKS AND TREATS

Team 1
Trick – Are these loose candies Skittles, M&M’s, or Reese's Pieces? Who knows! Your story must end with a jarringly different genre than it started with.
Treat – SUGAR RUSH. An extra 1000 words for one story.
Treat – The house at the end of the street was giving out King Sized candybars! The team may write one extra story to put in their cheap plastic jack-o-lantern. One author can do it themselves, or it can be collaborative. It’s up to y’inz.

Team 2
Treat – Oh look, you got my favorite junk-food genre: Space Pioneers. Write a good story about hardscrabble life on the edge of the void, and pander to the judge.
Treat – A Bunch of Old Chestnuts. Have a callback to a classic ThunderDome story buried somewhere in yours.
Treat – Voidmart Val-U Brand Candy. Have Voidmart as a setting for one of your stories.
Trick – :iiam: You must write a satisfying mystery short story, but :ms: The butler did it.
Trick – ♫ Let’s Do The Timewarp Again. ♫ Your story must be written in a dialect of English predating 1600 AD.


Wait, what's that? I didn't tell you who got which tricks and which treats? Why, that's the biggest trick of all! You'll have to hash that out amongst yourselves.

Weltlich fucked around with this message at 02:43 on Oct 25, 2020

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Yoruichi posted:

Whaaaaaat

Wait, so are we writing 1 story per team, or 2?

2 stories per team, or however many people end up on a team. If other people dogpile in...well...we'll find out.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

:toxx: hopping in to back the Children Of The Candy Corn in this spooky showdown.


magic cactus posted:

:toxx: to help out team 1.

:blastu:

Noted.

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Weltlich posted:

I'll judge this brawl.

The theme of this brawl shall be...

HALLOWEEN



Oh poo poo, sorry... ignore the cereal, that was still in the buffer from interprompt.

Just write a story about halloween. 1900 words. By the stroke of midnight, PST, on Halloween.

update


This has become a team brawl instead of a free-for-all.

Team 1: Butterscotches and a Box of Raisins
GrandmaParty
Sitting Here
magic cactus

Team 2: Candy Corns and Old Pennies
Sebmojo
Yoruichi
SkaAndScreenplays
take the moon

It has been noted that take the moon is trick-or-treating with team 2.

Also: It's been asked in Discord if there are any additional rules to this brawl other than "write a halloween story with 1900 words." At this point, that's it.

If people decide they want hellrules, or some kind of gimmick, I can make that happen. I'll give you guys until the 11:59 Pacific tomorrow to decide collectively if you want some trick-or-treat action.

Weltlich fucked around with this message at 23:02 on Oct 21, 2020

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

ATTENTION WARRIORS, WHO HAVE DECIDED TO COME OUT AND PLAY: HERE'S YOUR TRICKS AND TREATS

Team 1
Trick – Are these loose candies Skittles, M&M’s, or Reese's Pieces? Who knows! Your story must end with a jarringly different genre than it started with.
Treat – SUGAR RUSH. An extra 1000 words for one story.
Treat – The house at the end of the street was giving out King Sized candybars! The team may write one extra story to put in their cheap plastic jack-o-lantern. One author can do it themselves, or it can be collaborative. It’s up to y’inz.

Team 2
Treat – Oh look, you got my favorite junk-food genre: Space Pioneers. Write a good story about hardscrabble life on the edge of the void, and pander to the judge.
Treat – A Bunch of Old Chestnuts. Have a callback to a classic ThunderDome story buried somewhere in yours.
Treat – Voidmart Val-U Brand Candy. Have Voidmart as a setting for one of your stories.
Trick – :iiam: You must write a satisfying mystery short story, but :ms: The butler did it.
Trick – ♫ Let’s Do The Timewarp Again. ♫ Your story must be written in a dialect of English predating 1600 AD.


Wait, what's that? I didn't tell you who got which tricks and which treats? Why, that's the biggest trick of all! You'll have to hash that out amongst yourselves.

Weltlich fucked around with this message at 02:43 on Oct 25, 2020

Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer

Belated Crits for Week 427
Overall
I’m not going to say this was a tough week to judge, because it wasn’t. This was a great week to judge because everyone submitted a really good story. It made judging a treat, rather than a chore.

Rather, this was a tough week to crit, because everyone submitted a really good story. I’m not going to do line crits because there weren’t many typos or grammatical errors that ruined my fun.

Postcards from Everywhere at the end of Everything - Magic Cactus
I was all set to argue for not having a loser this week, until I was reminded that we hadn’t had a loser the previous week, and that meant that some sort of cosmic balance was in danger of being upset. Either way, I think that most weeks, this story would have been a middle-of-the-pack entry. It was a very interesting story – I liked tour twists on samsara and the bardo states – but I think that ultimately it got too esoteric for the word count limit. If you’d had another 1000 words to run with, I think the story might have pulled together.

a hunger coming – tyrannosaurus
Ethnic accents are always a gamble. They can either do a good job setting character and a background without getting too into the weeds of worldbuilding, or they can do a bad job and come off as ham-fisted and insensitive. In this case, I think you did the former, and it ended up as a fun story. The plot device was a bit deus (diablo?) ex machina, but who cares. This is one of those “don’t ask too many questions, just roll with it” stories.

The Frontier Was Everywhere – Uranium Phoenix
Another judge mentioned this was a very Clan of the Cave Bear-esque story, and I’ll have to agree. But with the clovis point as a prompt, where else are you going to go? Anyway, I enjoyed it, and I think my only real criticism is that the resolution is kind of a punt rather than a resolution. “Let’s just chill out and we’ll figure it out later” is pretty true to life, for the most part, but not always satisfying in fiction.

The Best Years of Your Life – sparksbloom
This was a cartoon of a story, but I like cartoons. Being wacky is often challenging because it can end up being monkey cheese cliché hell, but you put enough deliberate effort into this that it kept it on the rails (roller coaster rails, but rails nonetheless) instead of degenerating into lolrandom. In a fun week, this was one of the more fun stories.

Verdant Lost – MockingQuantum
This was one of my top three stories this week. It really had the bones of a good science fantasy story and reminded me a lot of Bradbury’s stuff. I especially liked how you used the prompt, as this is something I could see Whatley on Mars becoming. My only real gig with the story was the inclusion of the sister character in it – Marina ends up being more of a distraction, causing me to go “who is this person and why should I care?” I get that Marina is basically a stand-in for “home,” but in the end I just end up going “who is this, and why should I care about them?”

Ephemera – Pththya-lyi
Dymaxion to the max. This was a fun look at what happens when you pull regency romance into a Postwar setting with geodesic domes. My only stumbling point in the story is when Carlota mentions calling the roofer to fix the geodesic dome they live in. Having worked with those domes before, good loving luck with that. Most roofers would take one look at it, get back in their truck and drive off.

Guanajuato Museo de la Anarquía, Exhibit 74 – Anomalous Blowout
Props on making the most of a really awful hell-rule. I think the judges were in agreement that the “meat” of the story—the quotes—worked really well and told both a story and gave an interesting atmosphere. I think the change I’d have made would be getting rid of the end, non-quote paragraphs. It was sort of jarring to go from the story to exposition. Something that I thought of while reading, and thinking about my own trips to museums, is that a lot of times audio clips are paired with artifacts in the exhibit. So maybe instead of having the “click” between the sections have an object that the audio pairs with?

Singing Our Ancient Call – Tharanguy
A good story, and deserving of the HM. You did a good job piecing together the vignettes to make a larger story that was still coherent. No real crit here, because honestly there’s not much to complain about from my perspective.

Prickly – Dr. Kloctopussy
Ha! This was one of my top three of the week. I know the other judges might not have been as keen, but I do love a good super-short story, especially one that takes a hell rule and goes hog-wild. You did a lot with allusion here, and I think that was the smart way to go – let the stories people already know do some work so your words can twist them into new shapes. Good job.

Mind and Soul – Walamor
This was sort of an interesting take on being almost historical fiction, with a heavy dose of weird psycho-horror thrown in. Overall, I enjoyed it and in most weeks it would have been a middle-of-the-pack story. I think it suffered from the same issue that magic cactus’ story did, in that it hewed a little too much to the esoteric to the point where the plot sort of got lost. What’s in the pill? Is the inquisitor a man or a demon? With a longer story, these ideas could have been teased out a little more, to get some satisfaction. But like I said, I still enjoyed the story.

Worker’s Paradise – Sebmojo
A train on mars that starts its own armed, robotic commune. Nice. This was easily my favorite of the week, but the real reason it stood out to me was that the main character wasn’t human, and you resisted the temptation to anthropomorphize the train’s AI. Most of the time I see AI’s being written as “quirky humans,” and so it was really refreshing to see the character written clearly as a non-human person. Also, props on making the most of the “no use of the verb ‘to be’” hell rule.

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Weltlich
Feb 13, 2006


Grimey Drawer



The Outcome of Team Halloween Brawl!

Team 1:

Sitting Here – The Whisper House Chronicles

A good spooky horror story that changes into a, uh, domestic romance. Well written, hitting the right balance between gore and suspense. My biggest issue is the misuse of the word “gable.” I think you meant “shutter” – the wooden closures that are outside windows and can be opened to let in light and fresh air, or closed to keep the weather and light out. Gables are the out-croppings of rooflines that let you put a vertical window along the slope of a roof. If it had just been one instance of use, I’d probably have let it go, but repeated use made my inner house carpenter scream. Still, an enjoyable and well written story with a shocking end that wasn’t telegraphed or expected.

Rating:

Magic Cactus – The Whisper House Chronicles 2: Screams in the Witch House

Oh hey! Looks like some sort of team communication and planning happened here. Let’s find out how well it worked… pretty well. The technical aspects writing is mostly tight – just a couple formatting issues – so I’m not going to worry about crit there. As a whole, it was gratifying to see Pete get his comeuppance. I do love a good comeuppance. But, there are two elements to the story that left me a little unsatisfied. First, Florence, Annie, and the rest of the gang sort of disappear, and to no real consequence. They just stopped being in the story, and I missed them. Second, Jessie got off kind of light. She was warned not to feed the house from herself anymore, she did it anyway (even if she had a good reason), and the consequence was “she heard screaming, and she’d never forget it.” Granted, the house got to eat Pete, but Jessie still seemed to get out of a dangerous decision without much consequence.

Rating:

Grandma Party – The Legend of Whisper House X, Whisper House Goes to Hell, the Final Whispering

Ok, another story in the chronicles! Let’s see how this one goes. Not as good as the first two, but there’s still some fun reading here. The story seeks to answer a core question I never realized I had: Why exactly is one house haunted, but the house next door isn’t? Do ghouls respect property lines? So thanks for writing a story without the “you’re not allowed in here because I didn’t invite you!” trope popping up. That said, there were a lot of typos here, (and honestly that kept you from getting a DQ due to the last minute edit – I believe that you weren’t doing any editing.) The other issue I have is that the “voice” of the characters keeps wandering – they’re s’posed to be late teens, but they have turns of phrase that indicate that they’re younger at time, and at other times they’re using phrases that indicate they’re older.

Rating:

Collaborative Effort – Night of the Living Wage!

I loving love it. It’s weird, it’s relatable, it’s Halloween. All the characters are well formed and meaningful to the story. It ends up with reinstating the Status Quo, but that’s sort of a positive outcome in the context of the story. I could probably do some hard-core critting on it if I sat down for a few hours with it, and I’d be happy to talk more with the authors about it in Discord, if they’re inclined. For now, let’s just say “good job!”

Rating:


Team 2:

Sebmojo – The heartes of ivel men are yet fylld with the grace of God

Awesome. It’s faux Middle English, but it’s good faux Middle English. It also hits a lot of the right notes that make a good stand-in for a Fourtheenth/Fifteenth century folk tale. The idea to make the villains of the story shapeshifting rats falls right in line with the end of the black plague and what might have been fearful to people of that period. I love a fun read, and this delivered.

Rating:

Yoruichi – Nature Abhors a Vampire. At the Galactic Olympic Games

A few awkward sentences here and there, but not enough to detract from the story as a whole. I was sort of disappointed that the most awesomest Space Olympic diving move ever didn’t get a name. But, there was a lot of kinetic language going on as befitting a story about falling from 1km into a pool of water. The ending was a little predictable, but honestly any time a vampire is in a story, we know what’s going to happen. Is it possible to have a vampire in a story that doesn’t bite someone? The world may never know!

Rating:

SkaAndScreenplays – Victorian Space Murder: or Tribulations of Landlords On The Edge Of Space

I had a conversation with a friend once about Alan Moore’s comics. Though often based on strange conceits, they’re really good, deep, compelling stories that suck you in and “play it straight” with their own internal logic. The problem comes when you try to describe them to someone else, because there’s no way to talk about them without making the story sound really silly and trite. Your story sounds like someone describing an Alan Moore comic to me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t have a sort of promise, but in its current form it reads much more like a rough outline, told secondhand. The typos don’t help the “rough draft” feel, either.

Rating:

take the moon – pisces

Very Pynchon like – a vibrant bleakness. The prose is tight and well done, and it lends credibility to the atmosphere you’re trying to make. The story, unfortunately, suffers from the same problem that I see very often in drug narratives – it just sort of meanders around and ends where it started. Yes, she gets nabbed by store security, but there’s a nagging suspicion that this has happened before, and it’ll happen again. The story, like a lot of drugs; pleasing in the moment, but leaves the reader/user unsatisfied and wanting more.

Rating:

Judgement

What a haul! This Halloween was great.

GrandmaParty and SkaAndScreenplays, both of your stories had potential, and I had fun reading them, but the typos kept me from really getting into them.

Yoruichi, take the moon, and Magic Cactus - You guys made me happy to judge this brawl. Sometimes bleak, sometimes silly, your stories acquitted themselves well of the Halloween theme.

Sebmojo and Sitting Here wrote stories that were really exemplary, and in a normal week, I’d have tossed you both an HM for your efforts.

But, the collaborative story, Night of the Living Wage! really made my day. Seriously, what a fun read. Also, I’m super stoked that Team 1 worked together and put together a thematically coherent “album” of stories for their entries.

Team Butterscotches and a Box of Raisins (a.k.a. Team 1) wins. Crabrock now has honor again, or something.

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