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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


Errors of Fact and Serious Omissions in Jonathan Rahm's Opening the Vein: a History

970 words

When the bomb attached to the black car exploded, David Dance did not die.

The Mancor Spill was not the first coal mine established in Volt County.

Sarah Bight was not, as depicted, a fool talked into selling her land for a pittance. Chet Lewiston brought four armed men to the 'negotiations' and made barely-veiled threats concerning her son.

The Pinkerton force that broke the first strike numbered forty-two, more than twice the number Rahm cites.

Whatever fate befell Clarissa Ann Baker, it was not a pack of coyotes: such animals did not arrive in Volt County for more than decades later.

The first strike was not a reaction to the accurately-depicted mishandling of the collapse of the south tunnel: that event happened six weeks after the miners had returned to work and did not result in any immediate industrial action.

While I do not have certain knowledge that he was murdered and the remains destroyed or hidden, Foreman Cox would never have left town while his parents and sister were alive.

David Dance was considerably older than depicted and had considerable previous experience digging coal.

Chet was the only of the Lewiston brothers present at the D'zul Blood Ritual. Wesley considered himself a good Baptist and Niles busied himself nightly with more traditional vices. Portia Lewiston, absent entirely from the text, was not only present but an active officiant.

The D'zul Blood Ritual did not fail.

It was not accident or chance that the wedding of Eliza Manning to Jack Tyson was scheduled on the same afternoon as the funeral of Carter Wills Sr. Rather, this was the latest in a series of offenses between feuding families dating back to the early nineteenth century, beginning with the killing of a beloved pet dog of one family outside a henhouse belonging to the other. Pastor Casternik did not flip a coin to decide which to officiate personally. Having first agreed to the wedding, he deliberately chose to attend the funeral instead, sending Deacon Grice to officiate the wedding.

Deacon Grice also officiated the other ceremony, alongside Portia Lewiston, binding Jack Tyson to the service of D'zul.

The second strike was indeed organized by David Dance, but Rahm neglects to mention the dozen other hardened picket-line brawlers that had, under IWW organization, joined the workforce at the Mancor Spill.

Rahm understates the brutality of Captain Lee Cable's military record in the Civil and Indian Wars, possibly in the interest of believability or out of fear of lawsuits from Cable's heirs.

The character of Sergeant Gregor Vance is entirely invented. Though there were several Blood Cultists embedded within the Tennessee National Guard at the time none of them were in the office of the Quartermaster. Rahm is likely concealing his own identity or that of a primary source. While he gets much wrong, he has an understanding of the central events beyond what simple scholarship could easily unveil.

The pentagram and sigil that was drawn into the ground where the clashes began was made from coarse-powdered salt and chalk, not flour and coal dust.

The Lewistons were unable to procure actual scab miners capable of doing real work had they crossed the line. The men in question were essentially actors, mostly relatives of local police officers.

When it was activated by blood, the sigil did not actually burst into flame. Rather, the salt reached near-molten levels of temperature and set nearby grass and clothing and other flammables alight where such were present.

The thing buried deep within the Mancor Spill was not D'zul himself or an avatar of D'zul. This can be verified by the lack of a Great Lake-sized crater in North Central Tennessee.

The Blood Cultists did not go to their deaths happily as willing sacrifices. All turned and ran, and many escaped.

David Dance was blinded as well as being and badly burnt by the flash from the molten salt. He did not knowingly enter the unmarked car, but believed he was boarding an ambulance.

There was a second passenger in the car, Derek Baker, whose remains were eventually mistaken for David's. Derek had an urgent piece of news for David, but was unable to deliver it.

What Rahm calls the third strike was not so much of a strike as a simple refusal to work so long as the beast inhabited the deep tunnels of the mines. The miners were joined in this by the overseers and security staff. There were no picket lines to cross. When the Lewistons brought in scab workers recruited from Central European refugees, they too refused to enter the mines after the first few incidents.

Rahm is far too credulous of the autopsy report that declared the death of Silas Lewiston to have been from natural causes. The coroner retired suspiciously early and well.

The omission of Portia Lewiston from the narrative becomes even more glaring during the reading of the will. It was to her, not to some undefined charity, that the bulk of the fortune was intended to go, her rather than those generalized causes that the brothers and their lawyers proceeded to rob.

In addition to sealing off the entrances and deliberated flooding Mancor Spill, Chet and Niles independently sought out additional protection, paying two priests and one self-described sorcerer to supernaturally seal the mines 

The Lewistons tried more just the one time described in the final chapters to tap the same coal vein. Most of these attempts were just as disastrous. The last accidentally uncovered a separate rich deposit of Bauxite that enabled the family to recover their fortunes.

David Dance, by then wearing a different face, eventually tracked down Portia Grice (nee Lewiston) attempting a Blood Ritual in Calais during the fall of France and put a stop to it before any local sleeping monsters could be awakened.

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sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


What Were White Men Thinking Ten Years Ago? The Troubled Authorship of Warren Levine
992 words

It was good fortune that someone had submitted The Complete Works of Warren Levine to a vanity press, and even better fortune that it had ended up on the $1 book racks outside Mammoth Books, or Levine might have vanished into irrelevance. As it was, Levine found a reprieve at the hands of Murray Stoll, a depressed PhD dropout who, as Stoll has suggested, could only experience pleasure from shoplifting and watching reruns of 90s cartoons in a bathrobe. So goes the lore of the Levine media circus, anyway..

Levine, as far as anyone can tell, floated about in a late 2000s NYC scene, attending readings in Brooklyn basements and perhaps giving a few, before vanishing into obscurity. Stoll, after discovering Levine’s works, tried to track down his contemporaries and found nearly no one who remembered the guy. “I was drinking so much cough syrup, I can only remember the pseudonyms,” says a once-eminent poet in Stoll’s foreword. “You know: Swamp Beaver. Mars Church. poo poo like that. And all the people who were flirting with sixteen year olds on GChat. Don’t think he was caught up in that.”

Stoll claims that he tried to track down Levine himself but had no luck, finding only the archive of the long-shuttered Poison Candy Review, which, in 2009, published Levine’s “Dead Duck,” a short story about a child putting a plastic duck in the garbage disposal and damaging their hands. It’s a performatively shocking piece, I think – nothing seemed to have been published in Poison Candy that wasn’t awash in pills, cock, or jarring violence. Stoll suggests that unlike his contemporaries, Levine was writing for a wider audience than Williamsburg floor-sleepers, but it appears that Levine never found that audience.

Stoll’s account gets muddier. Supposedly, Stoll reaches out to the vanity press to see if they can put him in touch with Levine. They have no record of him, but conveniently, they let Stoll know that they have full rights for the book, and that they’ll sell them to him for just $500. So Stoll sells his bass amp to buy these rights, and a year later, he’s chatting with Terry Gross about his re-issued edition, and how even with today’s modern Internet, an artist can vanish, just like that.

It’s always smelled manufactured. Astroturfed. How does this no-name loser get a book deal elevating some other no-name loser to history – while apparently pocketing all of the profits? James Wood’s piece in The New Yorker makes the credulous case:

The tropes of millennial suffering, especially millennial suffering in New York City, have been undoubtedly played out over the last decade, but in Levine’s slim volume they come to fruition; we can almost forget the spectre of the moneyed parents lurking at the edges of these stories. But the collation of this work, not by Levine but by scholar Murray Stoll, speaks to the end of this era. The scrappy young millennials are no longer telling their own stories of their scrappiness. Stoll’s collection saves this particular era from what seems like a shame-induced attempt to step away, and we are all the better for it.

Luminaries of the New Sincerity movement decried the fawning coverage. Nate Cutler, editor of the now-defunct mag TXTTOAD tweeted:

wish i could have gotten my imaginary friend famous

Stoll, who does not keep a personal social media account, continues to give interviews where he insists that the Levine corpus was a serendipitous find. But they’ve become hedgier, post-publication, in tiny but significant ways. On a podcast, Stoll’s confident monotone becomes a shaky bluster at the authorship question:

Q: There’s some who have questioned the authorship of these stories – that there may be no “Warren Levine.” What would you say to that?

A: Well, as I’ve always maintained – I don’t think that’s knowable. What I do know is that people have had such strong reactions to this relative unknown, who had enough faith in himself to print at least one copy of his book, but not enough to promote himself. And I think they see themselves in him, you know?

Q: So he’s a useful fiction?

A: He’s… look, first of all, if you’re listening, Warren, I would love to hear from you. The literary world… ahem, your old friends, they would all love to hear from you.

There were, of course, a few claims, but none who, as far as I know, could furnish evidence. (The YouTuber TextAudit has provided a rather exhaustive examination of Clara Lee’s claim to have been blackmailed by Stoll for the rights, which presents a fairly compelling case that Stoll is a bullying rear end in a top hat but a less substantial one that Lee was the author of anything attributed to Levine.)

I suppose, if you were to ask me, that I believe there probably was a Warren Levine, and that he probably wrote that story about the child with mangled hands. Levine probably works for a shipping firm, or a garden supply store: something buttoned-up enough where you can’t write about fellatio or Xanax or, yes, maimed children. And if he was smart, Warren Levine was probably a pseudonym. Was it Stoll’s pseudonym or the pseudonym of some unknown artist, screwed out of the proceeds of their own work?

Stoll has a novel out next year, and I suspect he’ll talk about Levine less and less as he starts making the rounds. The Levine that Stoll speaks of, whether or not he really existed, is clearly a useful fiction. But I have my own book of juvenilia, and I wonder how I’d feel if that landed in a yard sale, and someone had swiped it, mythologized it, and climbed on top of it to build their own career. I keep landing on different sides of the line between honor and horror.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!


How a Transformer Fanfiction Made Me Gay

Two kinds of people read fanfic. One kind is so obsessed with some media that they take any scrap they could get. The other type is the twerps who mocked them. Me and Ricardo were twerps.

We were weirdos who only had the internet and only liked each other. So most evenings were on Skype, playing Call of Duty, saying slurs to strangers as was our god-given duty of being a teen on the internet.

Then Ricardo said, “Hey, have you heard of My Immortal?”

Now, enough’s been said about My Immortal, but we got obsessed fast. We spent nights together laughing at the stupid names and the embarrasing emo bullshit that reminded us too much of middle school. Ricardo started going further. He trawled fanfiction.net, dragging tons of Supernatural and Sherlock fics out of the depths. We took turns reading them in lovely voices and laughing at teenage girls being endlessly horny for Benedict Cumberbatch.

Then he found the Gay Transformer Fanfic. It was officially called “Transformer: Eternity’s End” by Optibee99, but we never called it that. It had some kind of plot about the Decepticons finding something on the moon, but we weren’t reading it for the plot.

We were reading it because Optimus Prime railed the poo poo out of Bumblebee in the first three chapters.

We weren’t strangers to the sex stuff because there was a lot of that poo poo. Transformers, though, was something special. Most fanfics are either obvious trolls (I still say My Immortal is a troll even if Ricardo disagrees), or just too earnest that it felt mean to riff on.

Transformers was something incredible. Right in chapter three, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee went at it in the most awkward way possible. The author described Optimus’s dick as a “metal banana going into Bumblebee’s exhaust pipe,” and, well, yeah, it was funny as hell. We would whisper to each other “metal banana” in the middle of class and we’d die laughing for minutes.

It didn’t feel fake though. When we found it, it was still updating, and was already around fifty chapters in. The other thing was how chaotically horny it was. The Autobots and Decepticons fought and then the robots went home, hosed and cuddled in bed. At some point, Bumblebee was ripped apart by Starscream, then in the next few paragraphs, Optimus was in the guts (or gears) of a different Transformer. By the time me and Ricardo stopped reading it, all the Autobots had hosed all the other Autobots, and even some of the Decepticons.

We fell in fast love with the fic. We caught up with Gay Transformers in a couple of weeks. Then we waited on updates. During school, sometimes Ricardo would text me, “New drop,” and I knew it’d be a fun Skype call that evening.

We were deep into the Transformers world during senior year. I went over to Ricardo's more, since my parents were tired of being married and fighting, and started getting divorced and fighting.

Now, I was a shithead teen who thought himself straight. And it is the greatest shame of my life to say that it was Optibee’s (both the author and ship) fault that I’m gay. The love between the two robots was genuine and the author’s confidence was inspiring. I mean, there were clearly more embarrassing things than being gay.

Ricardo was a bit to blame too for making me gay.

It was a few weeks before Christmas break. My mom had moved all the way out, and Dad wasn’t much for conversation, so there wasn’t much there for me. It was freezing cold and me and Ricardo were wrapped in a blanket, reading. We were too close together to be just friends, but I’d already been questioning myself that I didn’t really mind. He was my best friend, and he was laughing so hard that I didn’t notice when he laid his head against my shoulder.

Then he said to me, “I’m glad you’re here.”

And I said, “I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere else.”

Ricardo smiled, and it was the cutest drat thing I’d ever seen, so I kissed the first guy in my life that night.

Then I spent the night there, and a few more nights there. We got into a rhythm of playing games, reading Gay Transformer, making out, and trying out things. And when we laughed about Optimus Prime’s new love interest of an OC Transformer who was bright purple and a gigantic rear end (yes, that was a thing), it didn’t feel like we were making fun of Optibee anymore. After all, we were just as awkwardly fumbling with each other as Optibee was with the Transformers.

We didn’t last as an official couple since we ended up at different schools, but we still talk all the time. Sometimes I wonder what brought us closer, the gay sex or the gay Transformers. And, yes, I did call Ricardo’s dick a metal banana once.

So I won’t forget Gay Transformer Fanfiction. It was one of the few things that I felt like I could care about. I hated school, my parents, everything but Ricardo. I didn’t want to care. I hated caring. Making fun of fanfic, at the time, was so cathartic because I could laugh at those idiots who cared so much they didn’t notice how poo poo they were.

And then there was the Gay Transformer Fanfiction. So terrible, so long, so stupidly genuine, that it broke through my teenage assholeness. Maybe I would’ve ended up where I am without it.

Or maybe not. Maybe Optibee, someone who found Transformers way too sexy, really did change our lives with his gay robots. I do want to find Optibee. To thank them for the laughs, for the nights spent with Ricardo rather than being alone, for giving me the chance to kiss Ricardo.

And also so I can ask why the hell he called Optimus Prime’s dick a metal banana.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


"Chest Compressions" and the Cracked-Open Ribcage of Desire
957 words

The fanfic "Chest Compressions" (stylized in lowercase by the author, capitalized by me because lowercase titles make me twitch) is beginning to rise out of obscurity, and I'm not sure that's a good thing. This essay isn't intended to publicize it, or to celebrate it, or even explain it -- because that I certainly can't do. This is just thinking-in-type, and I suspect it won't even be posted online, just left to rot in a hidden folder next to a dozen half-finished bad ideas. Too much of what I write is just an attempt to explain things to myself, so what's a few more words of it?

"Chest Compressions" is obscure for understandable reasons. It's based on the Canadian TV series Burnouts, a formulaic drama about firefighter/EMTs which lasted two seasons; Burnouts never attracted much fandom attention in the first place, but what little it did was focused on the two main characters, both attractive white men with a passionate rivalty dynamic tailor-made for slash fandom. "Chest Compressions," by contrast, focuses on a romance between two supporting characters, both so minor that (based on archive tags) they don't feature in any other Burnouts stories in the archive, let alone as a couple. A niche pairing in an unloved fandom isn't a good start, but what doomed "Chest Compressions" was its own length and content: just over 76,000 words, during which very little actually happens. The story's only content tag is "Slow Burn," and the immense word count is spent on painstaking character development during fire-station downtime (without even the episodic emergency plots of Burnouts) or various mundane activities. It's textured, intricate, and amazingly dull. There are three sex scenes, all in the last quarter of the fic, all brief and vanilla. The prose is adequate. It's hard to imagine "Chest Compressions" appealing to anyone besides someone deeply invested in these characters -- and, as far as I can tell, the only person who is that invested is the author.

If you can bear with "Chest Compressions" for a chapter or so, though, it starts to itch at you. It's the feeling familiar to anyone who's written fanfic for a mediocre canon: I can fix this. There's something here -- something worth exploring. I can make this worthwhile. Actually finish the fic (and you probably will, once the brain-itch has its hooks in you), and the words of your own fic will flow quick and joyless, like compulsion or possession. (I produced 5000 words in just under three hours; I've never written at that pace since, and thank God for that.) "Chest Compressions" has over 200 related works on the archive, unheard of for a fic with under 1500 hits. Very few of them are about Burnouts; none are about the main characters of "Chest Compressions." Most take their inspiration from some fleeting scene or line of dialogue, the kinds of passing details that the brain seizes to gnaw on. Some of these related works use mundane fanfic tropes, but most include some unique kink or plot device totally new to fanfiction, often completely bizarre. Some become popular. A few have even become ubiquitous; the first ishinaki-byo fic is on the list, reframing a scene from "Chest Compressions" in the context of some slice-of-life anime, and the first waxboy fic is one of the few related Burnouts fics. (It directly plagiarizes a lot of "Chest Compressions"'s dialogue -- not a classy move. Waxboy fandom being a total shitshow feels like karma.)

I've read "Chest Compressions" seven times, and everything on its Related Works list at least once, and the only theory I have is that "Chest Compressions" is fandom in microcosm. It's a thorough mediocrity, of worth only to its creator, but reading it creates the spark of recreation in its rawest, most personal form. It compels you to crack open your ribcage and let out something too weird and stupid for anyone else to ever love -- but some people do love it, maybe even with a consumptive fury. What is it like, I wonder, to see your secret id spawning thousands of fics and reams of tedious drama? Do you feel seen? (I think I'd feel seen.) Would it be better to post it and see it ignored?

I've never posted the fanfic I wrote after finishing "Chest Compressions"; I haven't even re-read it, and I suspect I never will. This essay will end up next to it in my scraps folder, and I'll move onto safer pastures. I'm fairly sure I'm not alone. When you do the math on hits vs. related works, and even if you remove the many who didn't finish or don't write, there must be a fair number of us with unpublished heart-vomit fics out there. I tell myself I can't be the only one like this, staring at a text file full of my worst and my rawest, unable to bear the thought of it being seen. (Digested? Judged?) Maybe I've betrayed myself, but at least I'm not alone.

"Chest Compressions" has just under 1500 hits, over 200 related works, thirteen kudos, and five comments. One of them is from me; all I wrote is "thank you," shamefully enough. The author never replied, to me or to anyone else, although they've kept writing in larger fandoms, with safer pairings and common tropes. I think "Chest Compressions," and the fics that it inspired, are the sort of things you only write once -- one baptism of fire, one broken ribcage, one moment of ugly stupid glory. The genius of "Chest Compressions" is that its ugly glory is contagious. If more people find it... how many, I wonder, will be cowards like me, and how many will be brave?

Baneling Butts
Dec 9, 2012



Kiara and The Everlasting Flame
1000 words

Midnight struck; Mel waited, first in line, as if on the edge of a precipice. She watched ravenously as bookstore employees ripped open the boxes, revealing the tenth and final book in Sandra Torsson's Elements of Avalar series, The Everlasting Flame. None of her friends had wanted to come along, but that didn't matter. She was cosplaying as the best character Kiara, the common girl who had learned magic, liberated the kingdom, and had an epic romance with the antihero Prince Ryal. Online quizzes had told Mel she was a Freyja, the plucky sorceress that befriended Kiara in book 3, The Crushing Ice, but they were wrong. She was (well, aspired to be) Kiara, beautiful and beloved by all, and inside the book she'd just breathlessly purchased was her happy ending.

At home, Mel grunted a response to her mom's sleepy "how was it, dear?", changed out of Kiara's armored dress, and settled in with tea and cookies. Obviously she couldn't wait until morning to start reading; she couldn't risk seeing a spoiler. Flipping straight to the first chapter, she dove into the story, drinking in the world of Avalar for the last time. Everything was perfect until, at the height of the climactic battle, Kiara's love, King Ryal, was slain by a stray arrow. Mel stopped reading, shocked, then forced herself to finish. The book ended with Kiara triumphant but ruling the kingdom by herself. Sleep-deprived and adrenaline-fueled, Mel closed the book and burst into tears. She'd cried at the beauty of Kiara and Ryal's wedding in book 9, The Furthest Sea, but these were tears of betrayal. How could Kiara, after everything she'd been through, end up alone?

No time to rest. Mel logged on to AvalarEscape and made a new thread venting her displeasure: Can you BELIEVE Ryal died? Poor Kiara! Another user vehemently disagreed. Probably one of those nerds who shipped Kiara and the vampire Tristan in book 7, The Angelic Blood, she thought. She responded in kind and watched, amazed, as her thread exploded with opinions. Mel led the charge; if the good and noble Kiara didn't deserve a happy ending, who did?

Her mom found her the next morning drooling on her keyboard and told Mel to do something productive for once. Mel sulked– defending her favorite characters online was worthwhile!– until she had an idea. She created a petition asking Sandra Torsson to change the book's ending in subsequent editions and felt a thrill as the names started pouring in; with one hundred thousand votes, the author would have to reply! A dedicated following sprang up around her to promote the petition on AvalarEscape and Twitter, and a shout-out from a popular Youtuber pushed it over the edge. Mel wrote a passionate series of tweets @SandraTorsson alongside the completed petition. She was Kiara in book 6, The Enchanted Forest, imploring the Mother Oak for a sliver of her heartwood.

The author tweeted a simple response: No. Mel was furious and embarrassed. For herself, for her followers, for Kiara and Ryal, she couldn't let her effort be for nothing. She replied to Sandra Torsson: With all due respect, you are a loving monster for killing off Ryal and leaving Kiara heartbroken #justice4ryal. Her followers retweeted her until #justice4ryal was trending. Mel felt fiercely righteous, like Kiara leading the revolution against the evil usurper in book 8, The Coiled Lightning. How could she be ignored now?

As it turned out, quite easily. The fervor around the book abated and her followers disappeared, leaving Mel alone to stew. But several months later, she spotted her chance: Sandra Torsson was on a panel at the nearby Tri-Cities Comic-Con. Mel strapped on her Kiara cosplay and sat through a boring hour of Subverting Expectations in Fantasy. Finally, the Q&A. Mel got into line, feeling like Kiara confronting the demon Balthazar in book 10. At the front, she clutched her copy of the book like a talisman. "Um. Not a question, just a comment." Someone groaned. "I just wanted to say, killing Ryal was really cruel. It made Kiara– it made me so sad, and it nearly ruined the whole series for me." Sandra Torsson looked down indifferently. Frustrated, Mel looked for the words that would touch her cold heart, but found none. Tears welled up as the usher tried to move her aside. Channeling Kiara's courage, she hurled her book towards the stage. "You bitch!" she yelled. Unfortunately, Mel had not been trained by mute monks as Kiara had in book 4, The Silent Storm, so the book fell pathetically short. Over the ruckus of the surprised audience, Sandra Torsson met her eyes and said, "To answer the implied question, please read the dedication. It…" She faltered. "It's been hard to talk about, but it informed a lot of the book's ending." Seeing the author so vulnerable, so human, made Mel uncomfortable. Before she could apologize, security hustled her away.

The guards threw her into a small room to wait for her mom to pick her up. They handed her book back, so she opened it to the first page: To Dad, who didn't live to see the end of the journey but supported every step of the way. Mel reflected, slowly realizing what an rear end she'd been. She loved the series for its realistic characters, but of course easy happy endings were for fairy tales. Real life, real people, were much less predictable; reason enough to savor them all the more. Sniffling, she resolved to serve her penance with dignity like the imprisoned Kiara in book 5, The Darkest Star. Or maybe she needed real heroes. Like Nelson Mandela.

Her mom arrived in a rush. "Mel! Are you okay?" She saw the guard. "Are you in trouble?"

"No, Mom, I'm fine. It's fine." Mel stood up and, on an impulse, held her mom's hand as they left the convention. "Let's go home, I've gotta change out of this costume. Want to go somewhere next weekend?"

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Submissions Closed. Sebmojo fails to enter.

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at 07:01 on Mar 29, 2021

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Tales of Thrilling Wonder
700 words


There’s a book I read when I was a kid and I still think about it a lot.

It had one of those covers, the embarrassing ones that are just a bit too much, with a lady on it with her boobs sort of out but not quite, like she was feeling really self-confident when she dressed that morning but didn’t want to be improper. I think there was a guy on it too, but I never used to look at him, he was just regular.

The book had a big title, something about the darkness - except it was in capitals, the DARKNESS like the book was shouting at you - and the cover was embossed so it stood out. I would feel the scalloped back of the cardboard when I flipped to the cover to look at the woman on it, tracing out the D, the A, the K.

The plot was complicated, which is to say that it was additionally complicated by the book being number 3 in a series. I never read any of the others, I’d look for it in second hand bookshops when I remembered, running my fingertips over the spines of the books, feeling the vibration, slowing when I got to the authors name. One time when I was out shopping with my mum I saw book nine (9!) of the series but she wouldn’t buy it for me because she thought it looked lurid.

I read it loads of times so it’s honestly weird how little I remember of it. I couldn’t tell you the themes, or the plot, or even the characters apart from boob lady who was called Neptulia. There was a scene that stood out where she was strapped to something and being fairly seriously menaced by the bad guys (Orts? I want to say Orts.) being menaced by the Orts, and she just started remembering what it was like to grow up on the farm, and some of the places she used to go, and the conversations she used to have late at night with her friend Balto the skinner. I don’t know why that is still stuck in my head. It wasn’t exciting at all, she was wriggling around with her limbs pinioned but she reallly wanted to remember hiding out in the forest and raiding squirrel nests.

The whole book was like that, is the weird thing. They’d be trotting along having an adventure, trying to evade the … not orts. Garks? Trying to evade the Garks, and the lady would see a leaf falling from the tree and bam, back to talk about hiding in the back of a rickety cart taking medlars to the market or clambering up the Poll Hill behind the village.

I didn't like those bits, but I always felt compelled to read them all the way through. The language was very vivid, I could see and smell the dank sacks she would wriggle under to avoid Shanks the Miller or Alfrid the farmhand. She was always hiding, sneaking. I used to sneak around with the book, find places to read it, rip corners off the cheap pages and chew them into little soggy balls.

The story started in the middle and it ended with some kind of fight but Neptulia got knocked out and dreamed a long passage about sheep farming, care and feeding, common ailments, that kind of thing. I read that so many times. I think I could take care of a sheep if I had one, just from that. I mean, how hard could it be?

I sometimes wonder if the story wasn't really about fantasy adventures but more about hiding. She was flat and generic in everything she said in most of the book, and only came alive when she was remembering who she used to be, crammed into a tiny space, absorbed in recollection.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

TD Results Post

Winner: Antivehicular
Loser: Crimea

Crits will follow in the next few days.

Honorable Mentions to: Noah and Sparksbloom for having me ranked higher until Crabrock pointed out some critiques which I ended up agreeing with a lot and ended up ranking you lower! I thought you both had very cool ideas, but the execution of them made them less interesting "stories." They ended up just kind of reading like this one idea with a thin story around it rather than a story, and Antivehicular's read more like a story.

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at 07:31 on Mar 29, 2021

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


THUNDERDOME WEEK CDLII -- Dragon Week 2: The Dragoning



Back in November 2018, I ran a dragon week that got five entries. I have always regretted it, but we've seen a lot of new blood since 2018, so let's try this again.

The rules are pretty simple: write a story about dragons. I will accept metaphorical dragons if necessary, but I'm more interested in literal ones. Mythological near-dragons are fine: cockatrices, amphisbaena, giant island turtles, tsuchinoko, particularly cool griffins, you know the deal. Dinosaurs do not count unless they are magical. As I said back in 2018, you probably know what a dragon is, so follow your heart.

Flash rules are available upon requests and will be neat facts about your dragon.

Standard rules apply: no erotica, fanfiction, Google Docs, political screeds/topical political satire, archive-breaking formatting, or dick pics.

Word Count: 1500
Signups Close: Friday, April 2, 11:59PM Pacific
Submissions Close: Sunday, April 4, 11:59PM Pacific

Judges:
Antivehicular
sparksbloom
ONE MORE??

Entrants:
sebmojo - Your dragon's stomach is an alchemical crucible and can render dross into treasure, or vice versa, at its will.
Fuschia tude - Your dragon has a dozen pairs of wings, but it is flightless.
Baneling Butts - Your dragon cannot tolerate the touch of solid matter. It is liquid, and it turns any environment it dwells in to liquid as well, heating solids and cooling gases.
brotherly - Your dragon's breath is always deadly, but it is never the same thing twice.
toanoradian - Your dragon is incapable of hate, even under duress.
Chairchucker - Your dragon was man-made and does not know it.
Armack
Azza Bamboo
Thranguy - Your dragon is made of fire and breathes blood and bile.
crimea - Your dragon was not born a dragon; its previous identity is its most carefully guarded secret.
flerp - Your dragon craves the flesh of an extinct creature.
Noah - Your dragon dwells only in rainclouds; when a storm begins to dissipate, it flees to the next.
Idle Amalgam - Your dragon is a master of a human trade or craft, and practices it for the joy of it, although it requires an appropriate price for its services.
Beezus - Your dragon does not grow scales. It covers its bare skin with stolen things.
Dr. Kloctopussy - Your dragon diminishes as it ages, shrinking ever smaller as its riches and power increase.
Tree Bucket - Your dragon pupates. Nobody living knows what will emerge from the cocoon.

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 09:25 on Mar 30, 2021

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


in can i have a flash

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


sebmojo posted:

in can i have a flash

Your dragon's stomach is an alchemical crucible and can render dross into treasure, or vice versa, at its will.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



All right gently caress it in gimme a dragon fact

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


Fuschia tude posted:

All right gently caress it in gimme a dragon fact

Your dragon has a dozen pairs of wings, but it is flightless.

Baneling Butts
Dec 9, 2012



gently caress yeah dragons! Fact me please

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


Baneling Butts posted:

gently caress yeah dragons! Fact me please

Your dragon cannot tolerate the touch of solid matter. It is liquid, and it turns any environment it dwells in to liquid as well, heating solids and cooling gases.

brotherly
Aug 20, 2014

DEHUMANIZE YOURSELF AND FACE TO BLOODSHED


In and fact me please

toanoradian
May 30, 2011


I hate dragons, both my bully and my least favourite rival are into dragons. Give me facts.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

I seek knowledge of dragon facts.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


brotherly posted:

In and fact me please

Your dragon's breath is always deadly, but it is never the same thing twice.

toanoradian posted:

I hate dragons, both my bully and my least favourite rival are into dragons. Give me facts.

Your dragon is incapable of hate, even under duress.

Chairchucker posted:

I seek knowledge of dragon facts.

Your dragon was man-made and does not know it.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


In.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland


I'm in

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


In and fact me.

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


in flash

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!


in dragon fact

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


I’ll judge

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In. Flash please.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008


In with a flash rule, please

Beezus
Sep 11, 2018

I never said I was a role model.


In, flash pls.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Did the crits in video form. I'm working on adding timestamps right now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVb77e8Tbvo

2:29 Brotherly
5:11 Crimea
8:52 Noah
10:00 toanoradian
12:40 thranguy
14:40 sparksbloom
16:33 flerp
19:40 Antivehicular
22:00 Baneling Butts

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at 19:39 on Mar 29, 2021

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


🔥In and flash plz 🐉

Tree Bucket
Apr 1, 2016


Ooh, dragons! In and flash, thanks.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give


Thranguy posted:

In and fact me.

Your dragon is made of fire and breathes blood and bile.

crimea posted:

in flash

Your dragon was not born a dragon; its previous identity is its most carefully guarded secret.

flerp posted:

in dragon fact

Your dragon craves the flesh of an extinct creature.

Noah posted:

In. Flash please.

Your dragon dwells only in rainclouds; when a storm begins to dissipate, it flees to the next.

Idle Amalgam posted:

In with a flash rule, please



Your dragon is a master of a human trade or craft, and practices it for the joy of it, although it requires an appropriate price for its services.

Beezus posted:

In, flash pls.

Your dragon does not grow scales. It covers its bare skin with stolen things.

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

🔥In and flash plz 🐉

Your dragon diminishes as it ages, shrinking ever smaller as its riches and power increase.

Tree Bucket posted:

Ooh, dragons! In and flash, thanks.

Your dragon pupates. Nobody living knows what will emerge from the cocoon.

Mid-Priced Carp
Aug 10, 2008


In! This is gonna be fun.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


OPPORTUNITY ALERT

Hey everybody, I figured that we should get in on this NFT bandwagon and sell our TD art, so later this week we'll be launching TDCoin, the only cryptocurrency you earn by writing stories.

Several stories have already sold for high TDcoin prices!

check it out! https://thunderdome.cc

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


Gonna get so fuckin rich

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME


sebmojo posted:

Gonna get so fuckin rich

uh this currency is backed by GOOD stories, bud

toanoradian
May 30, 2011


sell outs

my art will remain pure

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Week 451 crits

In your defense, i realized that I’m not a huge fan of this story telling gimmick. I didn’t really enjoy any of your stories in this format, and I don’t think that’s your, the authors’ fault, because i did like elements of the stories, but i don’t really care that much about somebody who has read a book and then pines for that book or whatever. Still, there was a lot of room for improvement, as I have noted thusly:

botherly
Sondra Quatrain (1943 - 2021)

Bold move using your own story as the basis for this story. My biggest complaint about this one is that i don’t really get to know what she believed this city was, and what she hoped to find (i did not read the linked story, as per the prompt’s requirements). Like why did it fascinate her so much? I like the idea behind this story, but because it’s written in a very informal manner about her (reads a bit like a entry college level essay?), we get to hear facts/thoughts about her, but not necessarily her experiences, which i would have been more interested in reading. The prose is nice mostly and the descriptions are good. Suggestions for fixing: moving this story to have HER as the POV character and detail her descent into darkness all because she read a story.

-----------

crimea
Who Had Written This?

The first part was pretty good cause i was like “i’m not 100% sure how much of this is true and how much of it is fiction” which i feel like is a pretty good place to be for WWII fiction. However, after that i had trouble following along, and am not sure how these stories relate to each other. That makes it really hard for me to judge. While each of the little blurbs is OK on their own (not spectacular, but not bad) it just left me wishing you’d stuck with the story about the pamphlets. Edit: apparently these stories DO relate, but I’m still not sure how. It takes a lot of assumptions and mental gymnastics to link them together for me, and then it’s still like “ok but WHY?” why do all these stories link together, when the first one wasn’t about pod people at all. Suggestions for fixing: If you wanna do something like this you need enough in the first story to link it to the second, etc. you need to have a reason that they’re pod people or whatevs. Like maybe some of the pamphlets fall into a vat of red goo or whatever, gently caress if i know. Anyway then the next scene you have something that was in the last scene, be it a character, a location, SOMETHING that tells your reader that part B is linked to part A. then get weird.

---------

Noah
Opinions on Fiction, by Albert Albert

Is his name an ode to humbert humbert? Anyway, i like this story and what it’s trying to do but the main char kinda sucks and i don’t really like him. I feel like you coulda spent more time on this edging-instead-of-journeying thing, as it’s something i don’t like in a lot of modern stories (such as Silicon Valley or other shows where the “good guys” are always about to win but never actually do, then restart back to 0). Unfortunately this comes in at the end and you don’t spend much time on it, which is a shame. Suggestions for fixing: spend less time on the beginning and more time on the middle/end. Get to the good stuff then explore that.

-----------

Toanoradian
Decision on Morell, Dietrichzur and al-Bokhari

I don’t know how to read this and feel like i’m too dumb to get any of these jokes or what you were trying to say. Suggestions for fixing: i have no idea. You tried. I voted this one for the loss over crimea, but also didn’t get crimea’s so I didn’t fight for it.

----------------

Thranguy
Errors of Fact and Serious Omissions in Jonathan Rahm's Opening the Vein: a History

I like this one a lot. Mostly because i like trivia type stuff and i like reading about how people are actually just wrong idiots so this is just a list of how people are actually wrong, but it also tells a story, which is fun, and i want to read this book, which is mission accomplished. I feel like a few crits i’ve seen about your stories lately have been along the lines of “this was a good outline for a world i’d read more about” which this story is, on purpose. Suggestions for fixing: i woulda given this one an HM but systran didn’t like it as much. I think that if you included maybe the paragraph/line that the error was about would make it a little more fun.

--------

sparksbloom
What Were White Men Thinking Ten Years Ago? The Troubled Authorship of Warren Levine

Kinda like wild animus.

I like the idea of this more than i like the execution of it. It seems a little too on the nose and down punchy to really sell it as a thing that happened. Too much feeling of a “the author knows this poo poo is ridiculous” when i read it. I wouldn’t have HMed it alone, but didn’t dislike it enough to fight against systran. Suggestions for fixing: be more earnest and compassionate about your char.

--------------

flerp
How a Transformer Fanfiction Made Me Gay

I feel like besides the made up author names and titles/lines, this is probably something that actually exists, in fact i’m 99% sure i could go find gay transformers erotica if i wanted to, which makes it feel less like this story is about an invented story and more it’s just a normal story about fictional people. I don’t really want to read transformers fanfic (even though i just wrote one like 2 weeks ago). Suggestions for fixing: i dunno, make the realization that he’s gay happen in real time as he struggles with what it means that he really likes transformers fanfic. Also don’t spoil the “reveal” in the title, that’d be pretty clutch.

------------

Antivehicular
"Chest Compressions" and the Cracked-Open Ribcage of Desire

These numbers feel contrived (and i don’t really care). “ I can fix this. There's something here -- something worth exploring. “ i feel this way about TD stories a lot. This story is good because there’s a lot of characterization in the talking about this fanfic. It’s not just describing the fanfic to me, but is injecting all these asides and personal details so i get to feel like it’s a real person recounting this. I like that it doesn’t really have an ending TBH. just the person amazed at the contagiousness of the piece, their bafflement at their own interactions with it, and then a theory about it, with the kind of “welp, what ya gonna do?” attitude at the end. I’m glad you didn’t try to explain why or give some REAL reason. Easy win. Suggestions for fixing: none, really.

----------------------

Baneling Butts
Kiara and The Everlasting Flame

Right off the bat you’ve dropped names for five different chars without much to set them apart other than their title, so next time i read their name i have to go back and figure out who is who. This is a bit much and really kills the flow. Her mom goes from caring to butthole real fast. I’m assuming the dedication is to her dead husband or something? If so, i think that could make for a pretty good emotional gut punch, if told differently. The overall structure/idea for the story is not bad, but your writing skills aren’t refined enough yet to do it justice. Suggestions for fixing: put this story in the first person present tense. How it’s written now, some in past perfect, is really weird and feels a little disingenuous. Part of that is because you are just telling me how she feels. If it was in first person, that’d be a little better, but otherwise you should be showing that poo poo. Take “made Mel uncomfortable” that’s just a boring, telly line. You do this a bunch, that’s just the first i saw when i looked back at it for an example.


-------------

sebmojo
Tales of Thrilling Wonder

I like this for what it is. I feel like there’s supposed to be some symbolism / metaphor here but i’m just not grasping it. Maybe that the only parts he remembers about the hiding and what not are because he feels that way himself so it was salient? Still his life didn’t sound terrible, maybe a little since he couldn’t get a book, but his mom seemed decent at least. Suggestions for fixing: write on time, make it a bit longer, do some editing. You know, standard sebmojo things.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!


Curling-Yoru Punishment Brawl

Flash Rule: The Movin' Along Pick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIt8aN01NlY


Blessing for a Curse
1545 words

In the enchanted woods, a lone toad crossing your doorway most always meant trouble, even more so when they came wearing clothing and complaining loudly.

“Excuse me!” said the toad, his ribbit echoing through the shabby cottage. “You there! Hag!”

The hag looked up from her tisane and gave the toad a wary look, regretting her choice to try airing out the tiny cottage today. “Ah, a visitor. How... nice.”

She moved her hobnail boots out of the way as the toad jumped nearer. He was a great barrel-chested specimen, with warty brows propping up the amphibian-sized crown on his head, and a throat that bulged alarmingly every time he took a breath to speak.

“Hag! Harken to me” continued the toad, heedless of the hag’s words, or truly all but her proximity. “You may not know it, but you are in the presence of the great Prince Aldrich of the Phinean Empire!”

“Is that right?” said the hag, hiding her expression with her mug.

“Yes! I am your prince, and it is your bound duty as a citizen to come to render me aid in my time of need!” He made a series of failed attempts to jump up to the hag’s rough-hewn table, until the hag took pity on him and picked him up and placed him on top, making a mental note to scrub the surface of the table later.

“Lo! Hear my tale of woe, hag! I have been cursed by a spiteful and wicked witch-“ Here he paused to cast a damp, baleful look at the hag. “I say, you aren’t a witch, are you?” The hag shook her head no. “One of those disguised enchantresses?” The hag shook her head again and the toad, satisfied, continued.

“Yea, but I have been cursed, most cruelly, by a terrible witch through absolutely no fault of my own! And now, beleaguered I wander, in search of true love’s kiss to break my spell!” The toad paused again and added, “Well, the right sort of True Love, one must have standards.”

“Mm,” said the hag, ostensibly in agreement. She was running rapidly out of tisane and was growing concerned about how and when, exactly, the toad would be leaving her house, but the toad didn’t notice.

“I mean, of course she must be a princess - a beautiful one, not one of those bribe-the-portrait-artist types - from the right sort of family, and even then preferably a crown princess, you know, so that I- we may rule over both countries. Together. Of course.”

As it turns out, toads cannot look embarrassed, so it was fortunate that the prince did not try to do so.

“And so, hag,” the toad continued, “you must now render unto me your aid!” The hag wasn’t entirely sure about the construction of that last sentence, but she understood well enough.

“And what kind of aid should I render you?” she said, finding her opening in the conversation at last. “I think there are probably some flies near the midden-”

“No, no, I have no desire to eat your commoner’s parasites! No, I have heard that there is a princess in the area, and I am trying to find her. Hag, tell me, have you heard any tale of a beautiful maiden under a spell?”

“Perhaps, perhaps not,” said the hag. “But tell me, Prince Toad, if I do come to your aid, what will I get in return for my help?”

“What could be richer than the reward of doing your civic duty?” cried the toad, his throat belling out alarmingly. “Do you commoners think of nothing so much as how to get ahead? I tell you, this is the type of behavior that will get you cursed by a witch!”

“Well, Prince Toad, consider: once you find your princess and the spell is broken, you will want for nothing, while I will still be destitute.” The hag continued, warming to her subject. “What would be the harm in doing this old woman a favor in return?”

“This stinks of blackmail!” the toad croaked indignantly.

“Then consider it a step on your Road to Redemption,” the hag said, folding her arms across her chest.

“‘Road to Redemption’? What the devil are you on about, hag?”

“Surely someone of your status and upbringing has been versed in the classics! Didn’t you pay any attention to your Quests and Trials instructor?” The hag leaned forward and looked at the toad skeptically. “You are a prince, aren’t you? This is basic knowledge.”

“Of COURSE I’m a prince!” the toad cried, his bass ribbit breaking as his voice thundered in the tiny cottage. “Clearly this is part of the spell! The horrible witch has tampered with my memory to ensure that I stay like this forever! I never would have forgotten a single lesson of my studies if it weren’t for this blasted curse!”

“How dastardly,” said the hag. “Of course a prince of your stature could never have forgotten something so basic by any other means.” She paused for a moment, hiding her face behind her now-cold mug of tisane.

“Well,” continued the hag, “I suppose that I might be able to act as your temporary advisor in such matters…”

“Yes! Of course!” said the toad. “All good kings - and princes - have advisors! So it doesn’t matter that I don’t remember a thing from my classes, as long as I have you!”

“...but it’s going to cost you,” the hag concluded, smiling at the toad.

“Augh, and so we’re back on this again!” the toad said with an aggravated croak. “Very well, hag. Tell me what what your price is.”

“How about your crown?” said the hag. “It’s not very large, but it looks like real gold. A worthy price for an advisor, wouldn’t you say?”

“Absolutely not!” said the toad, almost as indignant as he was when she had questioned his status as a prince. “This is the royal crown of Phinea! I would never part with it! And besides,” he continued, “how would anyone know that I was a prince if I didn’t have it?”

“Hm, well that’s a problem, then,” said the hag. “I can’t imagine you have any other worldly possessions on your person at the moment, do you, Prince Toad?”

“I don’t, no. I don’t suppose that you would consider advising me on credit…?” The toad looked up at her, his eyes large and pleading. The hag had to hand it to him, he was a remarkably expressive amphibian.

“Absolutely not,” said the hag. “You and I both know that you’ll forget all about me as soon as your curse is lifted. No no, the crown is out, and I’m not fool enough to work for a false promise of future riches… Ah, how about you help me with my potions?”

“Potions?” said the toad. “You said you weren’t a witch!”

“Oh pooh, it’s no witchery at all, just some home remedies for arthritis and the like.” The hag waved her hand dismissively, and then looked at the toad in consideration. “Tell me, do you think that you could bear to part with one of your eyes?”

“What?!”

“No? How about your spleen, then?”

“What is the point of having you advise me if I won’t be alive to benefit from the advice?” the toad cried, hopping about in agitation. “You are making me regret asking for your help very much, hag!”

“Alright, alright, don’t knock off your crown.” The hag thought for a moment more. “Well… I do think that I have a recipe for bunions that requires toad water.”

“Toad water?” said the toad. “What, do you plan to put me in a juice press?” The hag looked at him levelly for a moment before it dawned on him what she meant. “Oh no, absolutely not! That is foul, hag! What use could such a thing possibly be?”

“I told you, it’s for bunions,” said the hag, matter-of-factly. “Now, are you are going to be a dear and give me some toad water, or are you going to go back to hopping about aimlessly and hoping you hop onto your true love by accident?”

“... fine, but you must never breathe a word of this to anyone, hag!” The toad glowered at her - something, it turns out, toads are quite able to emote, unlike embarrassment.

“Most excellent, my lord,” the hag said with the slightest cackle. “Come this way, your toady highness, I believe I have a spare jar that may serve as your royal commode.”

***

Princess Mirabelle gave a great sigh of relief. She had been starting to think that horrible toad would never leave. Thank the gods that she’d eavesdropped on her brother’s tutoring sessions! If he’d stayed around here any longer he might have figured out who she really was, and while Mirabelle wasn’t exactly thrilled to be a hag, she didn’t see any point in trading one kind of curse for another. Fortunately it hadn’t been too hard to help him make a plan to break his curse by means of a classic three-act redemption story, one that would hopefully take him far, far away from her tiny cottage.

Besides, now she had a cure for her bunions.

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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


YoruichingIron Brawl

This is my song pick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frAEmhqdLFs


The Pit
890 words


Not this again, thought Sasha. Not now. She tugged on the bottom of the rope ladder to signal her waiting comrades that she and Claudette were both alive, and turned to face her oldest friend.

“I’m not going,” Claudette repeated. She lay on her back on her ledge above the snakes, one arm hooked over her eyes as if shielding them from the faint starlight at the pit’s mouth. “I deserve to die.”

The ladder jerked; once, twice. They didn’t have much time. Sasha itched to scramble up the rough hemp rungs. A small green and black patterned snake slid over the toe of her boot. She kicked it away with unnecessary force.

“Claudette, come on,” Sasha said. Her heart was racing, and she was worried that Claudette would hear the panic rising in her voice. “I get that you feel awful, I really do, but--”

“I got us caught!” Claudette lifted her arm from her face and smacked herself in the forehead with her leather bracer. “I’m too stupid and useless to deserve to live.”

Sasha glared at the twelve feet of writhing green and black backs that separated the rock she was crouching on from Claudette’s ledge. Sasha knew that Claudette knew that their snake pit sojourn wasn’t Claudette’s fault, but she didn’t know how to argue with her when she got like this.

Sasha remembered once when they were kids, Claudette had lost the top spot in archery class and had refused to come to training for weeks, and when they finally forced her, she’d crouched on the range and scratched her forearms with her fingernails until blood dripped onto the grass. Sasha remembered shouting at Claudette to stop being so stupid. Really though, she’d been terrified of this thing that had taken over her friend. Sasha still wasn’t sure that she understood, despite years of trying.

The ladder jerked again, three times in quick succession: guards were coming. The back of Sasha’s neck prickled with animal fear.

“The others are going to get caught too if you don’t hurry the gently caress up!” She regretted the words the moment they were out of her mouth, but she desperately needed Claudette to move.

“I don’t care!” Claudette thudded one bracer against the side of her head. “I just want to stop caring. Nothing is going to change, so I should just stay here, and try to forget I ever wanted anything.”

Sasha wanted to slap Claudette. To hit and shake and yell at her friend until she’d chased all the demons from her head. Sasha felt disgusted with herself; she was still no better than a child, covering her fear with anger. But she was angry. Angry that Claudette didn’t - wouldn’t, couldn’t - share her hope for their future. She hated watching her friend suffer, and hated feeling so helpless.

The ladder jerked again. Time’s up.

Sasha sucked a breath in through her teeth, held it, and jumped. She felt snakes striking her leather greaves as she kicked her way across the pit, praying that none of them connected with the exposed backs of her knees. Claudette lurched to her feet as Sasha heaved herself onto the ledge.

“What are you doing? I said I’m not going!”

“Claudette, you are my friend! It wasn’t your fault the sentries spotted us, you know you’re our best archer, you saved my life for god’s sake! Please can we just get out of this snake pit!”

“I didn’t do anything, I was just there. Anyone could have landed that shot.”

“That’s not true! You were the one who saw him flanking me, and that shot was amazing. The way you stay calm even when everyone else is terrified-- You’re incredible, Claudette.”

“I guess I’m just used to being afraid, so it doesn’t feel any different.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sasha’s eyes darted from Claudette’s face to the rope ladder. Any second now their rescuers would start pulling it up, and their chance of escape would be lost. “What do you want me to say? Please, I’ll do anything.”

“Stay with me.”

Sasha felt like Claudette’s voice had come from very far away. The pit was quiet, save the soft sound of snakes weaving together. Sasha stared at her friend, but Claudette’s eyes were hidden behind her bangs.

“Why would you ask that of me?” Sasha whispered.

Claudette sat back down amongst the dust and bones. “If I come with you I’d probably just get you killed anyway.” Her fingers worked their way under her bracers, digging at the soft skin.

Sasha’s body jolted as she heard the sound she’d been dreading; hemp rope sliding back up the pit’s rough-hewn wall.

She didn’t hesitate. She couldn’t. Sasha lept from the ledge, stumbled as she landed amongst the snakes, righted herself amongst a chorus of startled hissing, and sprinted for the bottom of the ladder. She got her hands on the last rung just as it passed her head height and clung on. The rope stung her palms and her feet scrambled for purchase against the rocks.

When she emerged into the night air Sasha turned to look back, but the pit had already swallowed Claudette up.

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