in with a flash please
|# ? Jan 5, 2021 17:59|
|# ? Feb 28, 2021 15:47|
in with a flash please
Time travel rom com
|# ? Jan 5, 2021 19:12|
In. Pick my poo poo for me. I have to measure my laziness
|# ? Jan 5, 2021 20:14|
In. Pick my poo poo for me. I have to measure my laziness
Emotional tone swing, heir/heiress, family secret, enemies are foils, night of revelry
|# ? Jan 5, 2021 22:33|
|# ? Jan 6, 2021 02:34|
Week 439 Crits
Tree Bucket - Untitled
This had a cool, clipped cadence that wasn't as annoying as it sounded, the dystopian world is revealed rather elegantly with sparse exposition, but the main character loses me in near the end. Amver's cousin is a weak foil, a privileged caricature spewing canned statements designed to make us dislike him. I found it a little too on-the-nose. Amver's motivation to stir poo poo is kind of muddled and doesn't give the ending the punch it needs.
brotherly - Thirty People
I found this a fun, quirky read, if a bit forgettable. The main character has an engaging internal sassy voice that stops just short of being too obnoxious. I thought some of the minutiae on the "heaven" to be unnecessary and wasteful. I was waiting for a good cathartic moment but it just kind of fizzles out by virtue of the characters not really working for it. Their relationship improves mostly because things just fell into place.
Staggy - Trajectory
Some great prose here. The world-building felt organic. Sadly I'm at a loss for the main character's motivation to rebel against their masters. Why? It just felt like they decided to screw them over for kicks. Were they a double agent from the start? Did they have a change of heart? Hated their boss so much they decided to sabotage the mission out of pettiness? You had words left over for this.
Weltlich - Into the Breech
So I liked the foot soldier drama. There is a good dash of sincerity, but the action/shooty stuff is more than a little confusing. The talking ordnance felt tacked in like you just wanted to fulfill the flash rule. Ending's a little weak. I think it's intended to be hopeful, but it ends up a bit too cheery for the bleak situation, and not in a black humor way. It's just jarring.
Tyrannosaurus - den sisters, we
This was genuinely good, the sisters felt like real people who were having a messy conversation about touchy topics. This was the one story where I walked away feeling something that wasn't disgust or disappointment. However I feel like the main character feeding her dad to her mom was a bit too mean even if it was kinda awesome in its own way. The one she has a beef with is the mother, but she... takes it out on the father? Yeah the dad is complicit and guilty in his own right but I don't see how making mom eat dad would hurt mom--it wouldn't probably hurt her campaign because she's a snake and snakes are predators, so she could just go with the defense that she's just following her nature. Perhaps it's the main character just wants to see her mother's *true nature*, but eh it was a little too reckless. If we follow the logic of this story she could face a murder charge or something. There's a reason why mom and dad were kept separate in the first place. ANYWAY the emotional punch was great, it's just that some of the internal logic of the story is wonky.
Thranguy - The Grass Whisper Among Themselves, Blade to Blade Across the Field
This story is confused and it suffers for it. There is a head (deepfakes, information war and poo poo) and a heart ("wow this guy didn't invite us, rude... but why?"), but it pursues both ends and sort of rips itself up in the process. The big reveal is basically poo poo sucks, sorry about that wedding, we don't actually know a loving thing, the end.The ending paragraph also lost me as it seemed to be trying to make a moral out of the thing like it's an afterschool special.
sebmojo - The day before
I don't get the ordered list, it looks too gimmicky. Story's okay, I guess. A bit too sparse to make me feel anything. I feel like you have the ability and the words to color in the relationship between Gabriel and the main character, but for the sake of brevity just chose not to. It also ends up a little vignette-ish which might be deliberate?
|# ? Jan 6, 2021 15:55|
In flash and trope me i have too much money to do it myself
|# ? Jan 6, 2021 19:46|
Yoruichi, weltlich,, and myself sat down to chat about weeks 431 thru 437, talking about the prompt and a stand-out story from each week. We discuss stories by weltlich,, GrandmaParty, Chili, Maugrim, Tyrannosaurus, and flerp, and we finish with a dramatic reading of Entenzahn's The War on Christmas. Listen here or check your Thunderdome podcast feed.
|# ? Jan 6, 2021 20:57|
I'm going to regret this, but IN.
Flash and trope, please and thankyou
|# ? Jan 6, 2021 22:45|
In flash and trope me i have too much money to do it myself
Virtual reality crime
"For my father!", memory loss, childhood best friends, enemies as foils, family secret
I'm going to regret this, but IN.
Iconic landmark, emotional tone swing, new in town, overbearing parent, love triangle
|# ? Jan 6, 2021 23:17|
Some more crits.
Week #425 - THE AGONY OF CASTRATION/THE BLUE LANDSCAPE OF THE BLISS
Chili - Short and Sweet
This is one of those high concept numbers that needs fairly precise execution to really land - you’re running a present tense scenario, viewed from the future (since she know’s it’s the last date) with undifferentiated fantasy sequences interspersed. The last are actually fairly good and effective, and the grand guignol violence layered over slightly bland everyday drama is a neat trick. I think it doesn’t quite work because i don’t think you nail the bland everyday drama - our hapless protag should expect a slapback dropping the big L on a first date, and ‘hates dating’ is an insanely weak motivation, plus the final line deflates any drama you built up. I think this would have been really good if we’d felt more actual empathy with the protags RL situation, as it is it falls flat which is a pity because it’s a solid gimmick. Def worth reworking, I think.
MockingQuantum - Overgrowth
Writing straight action in this format is always a bit of a risk, because action isn’t interesting. The emotional consequences of action are interesting, action itself isn’t (there are exceptions, but that’s a good rule of thumb). So this, which is basically a pretty well written scene from an action movie, needs to do something more if it’s to work as a story. Does it? Nearly. I am mostly invested in your scrabbity post apoc action dude (though i don’t see why a single city would turn the world into something that can’t deal with a single city…?), and i really like all the world building detail - would play this vidya - but i think it coiuld have used a little something more personal in the motivation, as is it’s a very very involved story of a man throwing a rock at a can. Good words tho.
rat-born cock - Recurtigo
Hello ‘rat-born’ cock, also known as good writer and overall buttlord sitting here. This is a great piece, and a bunch of that comes from the slick assurance of the words and the momentum of the action, which is driven as always by verbs. Look at the verbs in the first para: knife, flee, naviggate, leap, spread, unfurling, glide. Delicious, creating a sense of slippery fluid modes of movement and actionaction action then bam into the white rose, the static image in the second para. Now this is, most obviously, gideon the ninth fanfic but it’s a good example of how to do fanfic well- steal the style, the emotions, ditch the fluff. The story itself doesn’t make a vast amount of sense, but as an emotional key it feels like it slides into a lock somewhere in the readers brain and twists around 90 satisfying degrees to the right.
Yoruichi - Moon Hill
This didn’t impress me that much at the time but on reflection it’s p deece, and ticks all the boxes one would want to be ticked, so why? I think the one thing that’s missing is your conceit, which is that wizards need to make the moon rise, and that it’s not really a big deal if they don’t but it also is? Like it clearly matters a lot fo seamus, and will be super embarassing if he doesn’t get it right, but what will it actually mean? Just… no more moon? I think that’s the missing element, and because it’s foundational all the excellent relationship filigree, contrast between the two wizzies and nice describey words fall flatter than they should, because it’s hard to put the emotional payload into its right place without knowing what the wider context of failure here is. Nice work though, very sweet.
Weltlich - A Bright Child
Oh god, this one. Me and TTM had the same reaction of dum de doo, perfectly decent OH gently caress SHE JUST BURNED TO DEATH. In many ways its similar to Yoru’s previous one, with a magicky sort of world and vaguely cute things happening within it to pleasant identifiable people then it ENDS and someone’s just been FUCKIN INCINERATED. I’m not sure I could say why this doesn’t count as a trick ending, but it’s probably because it’s a natural consequence of the story’s action, and you’re not leaving any drama on the table. I think you get some significant additional effect from genre whiplash, because really this isn’t the sort of story where that’s supposed to happen? So, gj you horrible monster.
magic cactus - The Arborist's Liederkreis
It’s ‘waive’, not ‘wave’. Other than that there’s plenty to like in this interestingly experimental clockwork orangey number. Feels a bit like a ‘dangerous visions’ outtake, and I like all your nasty gritty details of our murderer’s regrettable past/possible future. I am not sure your repeated key phrase is quite as good as it could be, though I don’t have suggestions for how it would be better, but if you’re going to have story elements like that treat them as poetry and pick your words like an old woman picking apples out of a barrel at the market as my old english teacher used to say. Oh! I think maybe having it be passive is what I don’t like - ‘there is’ - who is observing that? Makes it weaker, and that repetition highlights that. Still, a nice, nasty piece.
Tyrannosaurus - DANCE OR DIE
This was on the harsh side as a loss, but on a re-read it’s sort of nothing despite all the glittering details. Two guys decide to leave a party, the end.
Hawklad - Dead on Arrival
This is another action jackson scenario, and there’s some decently chunky zombie splattering action and a very strong whiff of Deadspace fanfic but it suffers from the protag not feeling particularly threatened. I USED THE GUN AND I USED THE KNIFE AND I USED THE BOMB THEN I GOT TO WORK regrettably i was then 10000000000miles from home but oh well out of words. Decent words, not saying much.
GrandmaParty - Garbage Day
Hrm, this is like… idk, a nice story you’d tell at a party or w/e about your family christmas and everyone would maybe chuckle but it’s really not particularly interesting. I often say cut the first para, here you could almost cut the entire story apart from the last para and not miss much. Words aren’t terrible, but it needed some knob twiddling - what if he really didn’t want garbage one year? What’s that story like?
Thranguy - Imperfect Vessels
Unfathomable acts of noneuclidean pleasure is an absolute banger of a phrase, so ty for that. This is a complicated piece, which is always risky when you’re writing at the end bc judges brains are often a little bit weary at that stage of the ingestion process. Frankly I’m still sort of vague on it and unlike rbc’s not dissimilar piece there’s not a strong emotional throughline and slick action verbs dragging me through. A very cool and interesting piece that is just a little bit to tangled to land.
Anomalous Blowout - Be Ye Devourer or Devoured
This is a delicious mound of prose words groovulating along in the hope they turn into a story and I’m notttt quite sure they reach that particular promised land, not least because it’s all setup and no payoff - how are we different at the end from how we began? You’re having a fairly rad time writing all those cool words though and that is enjoyable to watch.
|# ? Jan 7, 2021 23:04|
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|# ? Jan 9, 2021 05:04|
Bridge Party, 1500 words
K-drama, "silly succession // Iconic landmark, emotional tone swing, new in town, overbearing parent, love triangle"
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the greatest building in the greatest city in the world. And in a few hours, I would inherit it.
Or at least, part of it.
I mean, my girlfriend would.
Well, if everything went perfectly...
“Right, idiot,” continued my Beloved, “let’s review: I’ll do the talking. Youstand there and look great.”
“Are you saying you won’t look great?”
She froze a moment, then flashed one of her lightning-fast smiles. Mercifully.
The arthritic lift opened with an off-key “ding!” and a wheeze of pulleys. We stepped out into a long squalid corridor. My Beloved shot out a hand and laid a finger across my lips.
“Withhold judgement,” she said, “until you’ve beheld The Room.”
“Pffffft,” I replied.
“And watch for Sing,” she growled. “And Harrow. And Harrow’s dreadful hippy girlfriend. And Rogers, a tall fake blond. He’s rich, but evil. But rich.”
We came to a very solid-looking door. My Beloved smoothed non-existent stray hairs, brushed theoretical lint from one shoulder, straightened a jacket that’d already been put on with the aid of a spirit level. She was a glossy impossible ink-haired goddess, and I adored her.
She glanced at me and frowned, minutely. She opened the door and stepped through. I shrugged and followed. And-
I gaped. I stared. I drifted through the crowd as though it was not there, and pressed my nose against the window.
I saw sunset-gold and iron-grey. The geometric magic of the Bridge arch soared away into space. Skyscrapers rose around us, blazing with a last splash of sunlight. Far below sparkled the Harbour, ringed with beaches, coves and little forests; thronged with ships, liners, ferries, yachts…
My Beloved came and stood by my side.
“If I am very, very lucky,” she murmured, “I will inherit the Key tonight. And this place- this miraculous Room atop the south pylon of the Bridge- will be mine.”
“Of course. But… oh, noooo-”
My Beloved’s mother emerged from the swarm, teeth bared, eyes agleam. She clutched a phone.
“Come,” hissed Mother, “and see our photos! From our cruise!”
“There was a buffet!”
And with a despairing look and a drowning-DiCaprio flail of the arm, my Beloved was dragged away.
“Have fun, sweetie!” I called.
And I turned and stood and stared, enraptured, at the Harbour’s golden grandeur.
“Tourist,” sniffed a passing vulture.
Sigh. Back to work…
I scanned the room. It was a bit alarming. Half the crowd had the Family’s signature inky hair. Eyes of venom-green and icy blue glinted over the rims of cocktail glasses. Those glares flashed a code, conveying one message: outta my way, suckaaas!
There was a man close by. He looked tall and fit and had a calm, open expression. And magnificent sun-bleached hair.
“Nice view, hey?” I ventured.
“Aha,” he smiled. “You’re not one of Them, are you?”
“Nah. I’m here with-”
And the friendly open face shut right down. I received a double eyeful of withering disdain and the man strode away.
“Uh, toodles,” I ventured.
There was laughter; I saw that my Beloved had kneed a particularly insistent drunken uncle in the balls. I smiled beatifically to myself. My Beloved was good at kneeing people in the balls, even people who did not in fact possess balls to knee. Ball-kneeing was, for her, a way of life. A philosophy.
I wound my way through the deafening crowd to check on her.
“Keep circulating, moron,” she hissed. “Grandfather’s nearly here. Keep your pretty mouth shut and your stupid ears open.”
I mentally flagged this as the best compliment I was likely to receive that night, and waded back into the scrum. The volume was unbearable. I eased my way into a conversation about investment properties, and immediately slipped into a coma.
“Hey! You’re new!” came another voice.
I turned and beheld a smiling tanned face framed with golden hair that did, you know, that proper wavy thing. My peripheral vision reported a pretty floral dress and primal tattoos.
“Ah, yes. I’m here with-” I scanned for my Beloved, failed, frowned. “Someone...”
“Likewise,” said the honey-coloured lady. She scratched her nose. “Or. I was. But, you know. After witnessing all of-” (a wave of the hand) “-the Family’s genetic effluvia in one place… nah. I’m out.”
I scanned the crowd of aspiring Bond villains.
“Uhhh… I get it.”
She gave me a smile I found very hard to read.
“You know that corner of your brain,” she said eventually, “that ponders which people will be worth having around? When climate change kills civilisation?”
“Half my family farm wheat and barley,” I hazarded.
The honey-coloured lady nodded thoughtfully, doing an excellent impression of a reasonable person. I felt oddly relieved.
“So,” she said, poking me in the sternum, “before I bail: you seem nice. So why are you here? With one of Them?”
I stared for a moment, searching her face for mockery. Zip.
“When I look in my girlfriend’s eyes,” I said slowly, “I see 100% of a person looking back. That’s rare.”
“You want a girl with a mind like a diamond,” sang the honey-lady. “You want a girl who knows what’s best…”
I winced. “I once assumed that I’d end up with someone who, you know, wrote poems and knew how to milk things. And now-”
“I write poems,” smiled the woman, and I blushed like a teenager. “Mostly about bees and geese.”
“Of course!” She rolled her eyes. “And I make supremely crappy jewelry.”
She waved a bulky home-made ring. Bits of it fell off under the strain.
“Here, look! Careful, it’ll cut your finger.”
“Ow! Thanks,” I said, and then, a shade desperately, “how’d these guys get this place, anyway?”
“Well! Funny you should ask that!”
Another figure stepped up, and I had to suppress a flash of annoyance. This man was terribly thin, with a long narrow face and a mop of inky hair. Basically an animate paintbrush.
“It’s fascinating,” he droned. “The Room began as a solvent storage facility for Bridge painters. In September 1933, following a fatal seagull-and-turpentine-related incident, the state government’s Department of Bureaus, or possibly Bureau of Departments, ceded the Room to our family as compensation...”
(The honey-lady was backing away, grinning. I made an anguished sound.)
“…and with the passing of the fourth Keeper, it now falls to Grandfather to examine the relevant documentation and determine a successor…”
“Amazing,” I mumbled. With a guilty twinge I peered about for my Beloved. But I couldn’t spot her among so many inky heads and flashing eyes. Perhaps I could track her by the screams.
“…interestingly, foremost of these codicils-”
Silence fell, quite suddenly. The room grew still.
Grandfather had arrived.
He was one of those bone-thin, red-eyed, corpse-pale old men. He looked quite ready to splutter things like “this is highly unorthodox.”
He swept the room with a glare, like a judgmental lighthouse, and raised a trembling hand.
“I,” croaked grandfather, “have consulted the relevant texts, codicils, regulations and addenda.”
The crowd stirred.
“I have thusly determined,” continued Grandfather, with a tortoise blink, “that the next Keeper of the Key shall be- hyou!”
And grandfather thrust a skinny finger straight at my Beloved.
A sigh rippled around the room.
“Objection!” hooted a reddening Aunt. “Objection! Under Paragraph 34, an unmarried female green-eyed Pisces cannot be Keeper!”
“Welp!” quoth I.
I strode towards my beloved. I knelt. Every eye was upon me.
I brandished the honey-lady’s ring.
“Marry me!” I shouted.
My Beloved stared.
She stared and shook her head.
“Th-that isn’t the plan-”
“Marry me!” I whispered urgently, feeling something drop away. “And the Room’ll be yours! And, you’ll get me, too!”
“Or,” came a second voice, “marry me!”
“Rogers!” gasped my Beloved. “You-?”
It was the tall ash-blond man. The one with the two-phase face.
“Ignore this peasant,” sneered he. “Marry me, and you gain the Room. And much more! Riches. Skiing holidays. Dachshunds. Everything!”
My Beloved paused.
She actually paused. She glanced around the room, lips pursed.
“I would need assurances-” she began.
I dropped the ring. I turned, silently, and stumbled away. Murmurs and giggles followed me. The back of my neck twitched under the lash of three dozen stares.
I collapsed outside the Room, in the dank hallway. I couldn’t even call a taxi; I’d left my phone at home on a certain person’s instructions. I sat and wept. The twin eels of rage and regret turned their cold and slimy cartwheels in my stomach…
And then I heard footsteps.
And something like hope stirred.
And I looked up-
“As I was saying,” said paintbrush guy peevishly, “foremost of these codicils-”
I sobbed, terribly quietly.
I wobbled over to the elevator. I slammed the button. Head down, I stepped in. The door wheezed closed-
And someone else squeezed in, just in time.
“Hey,” grinned honey-lady. She thrust her chunky homemade ring back at me. “D’you wanna hear a poem about geese?”
|# ? Jan 10, 2021 10:21|
What Did You See
Emotional tone swing, Love triangle, Overbearing parent, Family secret, Loyal companion
When Mama showed me the ghost room, I thought it was a joke. I’d heard of magic, but I thought that was for long lost islands and guys in big robes with beards.
Our family got rich dyeing cloth. We didn’t keep pet ghosts. But she led me into a basement I’d never seen before and I got the feeling things were getting weird.
Mama walked in all hushed and pushed back a heavy velvet curtain. It was dark, smelled humid, and a small white pedestal with a big golden stone sat in the center.
“Go ahead,” Mama said. She stood in the doorway, watching. “Go touch it.”
“Touch what?” I looked around. Four wood walls, wood floor. Cruddy old room. “That rock?”
I walked right up and jabbed my finger down. I expected it to be cold and smooth, but it was neither. The thing seemed to pulse under my skin.
Then he showed up.
“Hello.” He sat on the other side of the room. Pale, gaunt face, long eyelashes, almost too pretty.
I ripped my finger back and he disappeared. “What the hell?”
“That’s Jeremy.” Mama said it with a smile on her face. “He’s the family’s most precious secret.”
Precious my butt. That was a dead boy, sure as anything. I should’ve felt horror, I’ll admit I was a little scared, but I pressed my finger back down and introduced myself.
“My name’s Mellie,” I said. “Good to meet you, Jeremy.”
“Lovely to meet you too.”
Momma walked over and yanked me away. “Enough for now. You’ll speak of this to no one, do you understand?”
“No one, Mellie. Not a single living soul.”
I said okay, fine, you win, and let her drag me outta that dank basement room and back up into the relative warmth and luxury of the main manse.
But I took special note: living, not dead.
My husband-to-be had shoulders covered in thick, dark hair, and he laughed with his mouth wide open. He came to live with us after we got engaged.
I didn’t hate him, I only wished he didn’t exist.
The orb buzzed beneath my fingers. “You’re back,” Jeremy said. He wore clothes so old they looked antique.
“When did you die?” It was the first question I thought of.
“I don’t know,” he said. “What day is today? Wednesday? I died on a Sunday.”
I laughed. Jeremy smiled. Funny ghost. My hand felt warm on that orb and I stared at his long, curled lashes.
I asked more questions: What was the weather like? Can you eat? Do you enjoy being dead?
He always answered sideways: Warm, but sometimes cold, and it rained. Usually. Yes, but mostly no.
We talked about life in the manse. How my mother’s hands were stained blue from the dye, and fumes filled the halls like lingering clouds of fog. He wanted to hear about food, dancing, and music most of all.
Until one day I asked the only question that mattered: “Why does my family keep you in here?”
“Lick me,” he said.
I made a disgusted face. “Don’t be gross.”
“I’m serious. Lick me.”
I held the orb like a bird’s nest, staring at his sculpted jaw, his small, delicate nose, and leaned down, my tongue out, lapping toward his cheek, wondering at the tiny ghostly hairs near translucent, and tasted nothing but wet air.
“The orb. Lick the orb.”
I blushed, feeling like an idiot, and ran my tongue along it.
Bright flash, then willow branches dipped down around me, and my back pressed against a soft grassy knoll. Jeremy’s hands moved along my hips, his fingers real and dimpling flesh, his lips near my neck, breath hot on my skin as I grabbed his hair and held it, his face moving up toward mine, eyes hooded beneath his long lashes, my breath coming in short gasps of sweet fresh air, rolling hills all around us—and his teeth biting my lower lip, his hands moving up my body, along my breasts—
Another bright flash. I threw the orb onto the ground.
“What the gently caress was that?” I breathed hard, staring at the empty room, the old warped wood planks, the rank walls, before slowly picking the orb back up.
Jeremy appeared. “What did you see?”
I opened my mouth to tell him—then stopped. “You don’t know.”
“I show you what you need.”
“You don’t choose?”
“What did you see?” He stood up for the first time since I met him.
“Nothing important.” I put the orb back on the pedestal and left as fast as I could.
I didn’t visit him for a week after that, but I dreamed of him. The ghost boy made flesh, his smell, his touch, but more than that, I dreamed of the world outside my family’s manse.
I’d never leave its walls. I would grow up here, marry my husband-to-be, have his children, dye fabrics, and perish alone. It was the way, our way.
Jeremy didn’t look surprised when I came back. “Are you going to lick it again?”
“No, I’m not. But you’re going to tell me what it’s like out there.”
“It’s nothing special.” He seemed disappointed.
“Tell me anyway. What are cities like?”
“Big. Loud.” He leaned his head back against the wall. “You should lick it again.”
“Maybe if you answer my questions.”
So he did, anything I asked, about traveling, about money, about cultures other than my own. He admitted to what he didn’t know, and did his best to tell me what he did.
One night, after more weeks of questions, he lounged on his side and watched as I carefully rolled the orb around between my hands.
“I want to take you away from here,” I said.
He slowly sat up and crossed his legs beneath him. “What did you see, when you licked me?”
“We leave tomorrow.”
“I thought you had a husband.”
“Is he good to you?”
“Tomorrow,” I repeated. “You’ll come with me?”
“I don’t have much of a choice.” But there was a smile at the corner of his lips. “Lick me one more time before we go.”
I was tempted. I thought of the metallic buzz of him on my tongue. I pulled my fingers away and watched him disappear.
I filled a pack, put on layers, and pulled a hooded cloak over my shoulders.
The orb was alone in its room. I picked it up and he appeared, standing again. “You weren’t joking.”
“Come on.” I walked to the stairs.
His legs didn’t move, but he drifted along above the ground behind me, wordless, smiling his coy half-smile.
Steps creaked beneath my weight. I wondered if I brought too many things: dried meats, hard cheese, bread wrapped in waxed paper, extra clothes, a knife, flint and tinder, tiny dry kindling for an emergency. The main floor of the manse was quiet. The heavy rugs soaked up noise as I crept toward the front doors.
I stopped and turned.
My husband-to-be stood in the shadows of the stairway. He wore his nightclothes, a long dark-blue robe, half open to reveal his downy chest.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Going for a walk.” I smiled at him, heart jittering.
“But it’s late.” He sounded more confused than upset as he closed the distance between us. “Let me escort you back.”
“Please, I insist.” He wrapped his robe tighter. “You’re my wife-to-be.”
“Come,” he said, taking my arm. “I’ll tell you a story to help you get back to sleep.” His eyes drifted down to my hands.
I smashed the orb into his face. He was tall, much taller than me, and I only managed to jam the thing against his mouth.
He grunted, his lips parted—
Then he released me and staggered back, his eyes wide.
“What the gently caress?” he said.
“He licked me,” Jeremy whispered right next to my ear. “He tasted me.”
“What did you see?” I asked, unable to help myself. “Did you see him?”
My husband-to-be kept backed up. “I don’t— I didn’t see anyone. What was that, Mellie?”
I turned away. He didn’t try to stop me again.
“What did you see?” Jeremy crowded close as we walked all day. Trees loomed at either side of the road and for the first time in my life, I felt lost.
“Nothing,” I said. “I saw nothing at all.”
His shoulder was inches from mine. I thought I felt his touch again. He smiled, and in that moment, I thought he knew—but no, he couldn’t and he wouldn’t.
When we camped that night, I held the orb up to my lips, ran my tongue along its surface, and closed my eyes.
|# ? Jan 10, 2021 11:39|
Flash: Horror rom com
Tropes: Love triangle, night of revelry, new in town, overbearing parent, iconic landmark
’Til Death Do Us Part
The coroner slid my corpse from the freezer and pulled the sheet off my face.
“Mr Thornbury, is this your wife?”
Fiancé, I thought. I would have been Geoff’s wife today if his leech of a mother, Patricia, hadn’t pushed my car into the lake after the rehearsal dinner. They’d find whatever drug she’d slipped me when they did the autopsy though. Bitch.
Geoff looked awful, presumably from the shock, but the arsenic I’d been adding to his breakfast for the last three months was probably catching up with him, too. Patricia was standing behind him, fake-crying into a fistful of tissues. Next to her was Geoff’s “friend,” Emerald. You have to put air quotes around “friend,” because Geoff had been having an affair with Emerald since the first week she blew into town. Friendless and cagey about her past, we’d taken Emerald under our wing immediately. Geoff thought I didn’t know about his indiscretions. Idiot.
Emerald was clutching her elbows and had goosebumps up her arms under her baggy t-shirt. Her auburn hair was piled up in a loose bun and she looked like she hadn’t slept. God, she was gorgeous. I wanted to put my arms around her, to stare into those big, dark eyes while she confided all her secrets in me, and then I would stroke her hair and promise to look after her forever. Yes, I was in love with my husband-to-be’s mistress. That’s why the cheating bastard had to go.
Geoff nodded. “That’s Magnolia,” he said. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket (seriously, who carries hankies?) and wiped his palid forehead. “Was it… What happened?”
“...drowned after her car ran off the road and into Lake Murdersdeep. I’m very sorry.”
“But, she didn’t even touch the champagne at dinner! Are you sure there wasn’t--”
“Goeffrey, it was an accident.” Emerald, my sweet Emerald, gently took Geoff’s hand in hers.
Geoff pulled his hand away as if he’d been burnt. “An accident? That would be very convenient for you, wouldn’t it, after I told you I wouldn’t call the wedding off--”
Emerald blanched, and if my heart hadn’t been one big ol’ lump of rigor mortis it would have thumped with rage. Geoff you total oval office, how dare you accuse my beautiful, perfect--
“Geoffrey Bartholemew Thornbury!” barked Patricia. “Emerald is your friend. You mustn’t go thinking horrible thoughts about the people who love you at a time like this. Isn’t that right, Emerald, dear?”
Geoff really did look like poo poo. He was clutching his stomach, too, I noticed. The muscles in his forearm were twitching. Then his legs did a strange sort of spasm, like a folding chair that doesn’t fold quite how you expect it to and resists all your grunting efforts to fold it, then suddenly collapses in a way that almost takes your fingers off. Geoff crumpled to the floor.
As he fell I saw what had been happening behind his back. Maybe having frozen eyeballs makes time slow down, I don’t know. But while sobbing theatrically into her snotty kleenex, Patricia Thornbury’s other hand had been intertwined with the coroner’s. So that’s how the cow planned to get away with my murder!
Unpleasant froth puddled from Geoff’s mouth. The coroner stepped forward and prodded Geoff for signs of vitals pretty much exactly how they do it in crime shows. He shook his head.
Ha! I thought. Suck it, you adulterous dweeb. My only regret was that I was also dead. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from having my revenge...
The light of my life was really shaking now. Poor thing, this must all be very hard on her. Emerald’s hair had unbunned and flowed lusciously around her face. Emerald, my love, I thought. I need you to do one thing for me…
Separating my spirit from my body felt like peeling off a scab from a unhealed wound. You know, the kind where the first chunk comes away easy because there’s pus underneath but the next part is all gummed together with actual skin, and you end up making a big, bleeding mess by ripping it off and you know you should stop but once you’ve started you just can’t... Like that, but for my whole body.
But slipping into Emerald’s body was like donning a silk suit. drat it felt good, like having all my toes sucked at once. Emerald let out a little “oh!” of surprise, but a night of no sleep and her boyfriend’s sudden demise had softened her up.
I love you, I whispered, inside her head. I was inundated with the kaleidoscope of her thoughts. Memories of Geoff flickered past, interleafed with the image of his dead body on the morgue’s tiled floor. I saw Geoff in Emerald’s apartment, Geoff taking Emerald out to dinner, taking her shopping, paying her bills… What the gently caress? In my shock I nearly got ejected from the driver’s seat, and had to scrabble to keep hold of her consciousness. Did this bitch honey trap my fiancé?!
But this poo poo would have to wait, because first, revenge!
I turned the twitching Emerald to face Patricia, said something cool like, “Time to die!” and leapt for her throat.
Getting stabbed in someone else’s body didn’t hurt as much as drowning had, but it was still a nasty shock. Gouts of blood pumped down over her Emerald’s perfect breasts. I couldn’t see the scalpel, being as it was buried in Emerald’s suprasternal notch, but I could see the terrified face of the man that held it.
“Mort! What have you done!” Patricia shoved him away and caught the dying Emerald in her arms.
Mort dropped the scalpel. He backed away, looking exactly like people do in crime shows where they do a murder in the heat of the moment and then immediately decide that they should call the police. Patricia Three-Times-Regional-Women’s-Darts-Champion Thornbury clearly recognised the look, because with one deft movement she scooped the scalpel off the floor and bullseye’d it into Mort’s carotid artery. He slumped to the floor, looking disappointed.
“Why did you kill Magnolia?” I made Emerald say, spluttering through a mouthful of blood.
Patricia’s turkey neck wobbled. “I did it for you. If I’d known I had a chance of having you as a daughter-in-law instead of that ditz--” She jerked her head at my popsicle self “--I would have forced Geoffrey to break off the engagement months ago. But I only just found out about you two, and the wedding was today, so drastic measures were necessary.”
I wanted to say, “Well the joke’s on you, because now Emerald is going to be with me forever!” but Emerald’s lips wouldn’t move, so I had to settle for gurgling mockingly at Patricia.
I could feel Emerald’s spirit slipping from her body. Oh no you don’t, I thought, and wrapped my metaphorical arms or ectoplasmic tentacles or whatever around her. My body was tugging me back, and I dragged the writhing Emerald with me.
Patricia let Emerald’s body slump to the floor next to Geoff. She was covered in blood and surrounded by murder victims. Ha! Good luck getting away with that! I turned my attention to jamming Emerald into my body with me. I swear I felt my frozen lips crack into a toothy grin just as the freezer door clanged shut.
Emerald began to scream.
|# ? Jan 10, 2021 21:40|
Heir/Heiress | “For my father!” | Overbearing parent | Night of revelry | Enemies are foils
Death of the Family
News of his father’s death had reached Juan on a Thursday, which had left him little time to organize a party on the weekend. Fortunately, most guests had private planes.
The wake in the mansion of his childhood was in full swing. People of all walks of life - CEOs, aristocrats, fresh millionaires - met and mingled and socialized. A roaring success, Juan congratulated himself. His fiancée sipped on a glass of warm champagne.
“Think it’s time for your speech, honey?”
Juan downed his fifth glass of the half hour. “It might be, Karlita. Can you be a dear and tell the DJ to announce me?”
She winced at her unloved nickname, but smiled nonetheless, and kissed him.
“He would have been a phenomenal in-law. Be nice to him in my name.” She left.
Through his drunken haze, Juan still saw her clearly, shining through the mass of faceless guests she passed. He did not deserve Karla. But then again - he took another glass of expensive liquor on his way up sweeping stairs to the podium - neither did he deserve anything else here.
“I don’t deserve this!”, Juan started his speech. “I’m humbled that you all came here on such short notice to help me get over my grief, honor my father, have some fun in these dark times. Special thanks to my fellow student, my wonderful fiancée Karla, who helped so much to set up this wonderful wake.”
As the spotlights focused on her reddening face, Juan braced himself with another gulp of his drink.
“A wake for a great man,” he continued once the applause had died down. “Once, you’d have called him a captain of industry, a man who spent most of his life establishing a company that would give tens of thousands secure jobs…”
The words dribbled from his mouth automatically, he’d heard and said them so often. A price acceptance ceremony, the opening of a new plant, a requiem: the man, the function, all the same.
“His office door was always open.” For his employees.
“He dealt swiftly and personally with problems.” Unless his family had them.
“He gave attention to every charity that deserved it.” I guess his shallow wife and spoiled son did not.
Finally, Juan had rattled off the last phrases, and somehow managed to not add his own spin to them. He didn’t know if the alcohol had helped or made it harder; in any case, he raised his almost empty glass for a toast.
“I salute Antonio Hernández Vázquez, philanthropist, humanist, beloved father. His wealth paid for this party, so you better be happy alongside me!”
Juan rapidly emptied the bitter dregs of his drink. Had he said the last sentence out loud? He scanned the crowd. Nobody reacted. So probably not.
The crystal chandelier reflected multicolored lights. People danced on marble counters. Off the mahogany wall decor, club beats echoed.
And got cut off suddenly, when a sabre split the DJ set in half. The shocked silence swept away the pleasant dullness in Juan’s brain.
“You’re a disgrace!”, the masked man who had destroyed the music spat. Nimbly, he climbed onto the 19th-century-secretary desk where the sound equipment had been installed. “You mock your father with this revelry!”
Juan spread his arms in a gesture of magnanimity. “This is in honor of him, actually. You must have missed the speech.”
“Honor him with this,” the party-crasher said, and pointed the hilt of a second sabre towards Juan. “This won’t be your first Mensur. Just pretend you’re at your German fraternity, the ambiance is fitting.”
Everybody on the lower floor of the mansion stayed away from the madman with two swords. Juan smiled - and vaulted over the rails. What an opportunity to show his skills, trained with the best!
Like his father, who had done his share of youthful fencing.
Juan gripped the offered sabre with enough force to bury the memory in pain.
The two men began circling each other. “Please, tell me what exactly my father would hate about this.” Juan said with what he hoped sounded like lofty confidence.
“Everything!” His opponent lunged, a mere test of Juan’s reflexes; he recognized it as such, and stepped aside. “A waste of his inheritance to celebrate the least important achievements of his life with perfect strangers,” the man continued.
Juan tried an attack of his own, managing to cut fabric on the other’s shoulder. The crowd ooh’d. “Couldn’t host such a great party without those achievements. You a friend of his?”
While they kept testing each other’s range, Juan desperately tried to get his liquor-soaked brain cells to work again. He thought he might recognize the voice, but it was muffled by the mask meant to evoke Dumas’ famous prisoner.
“A good friend of his daughter-in-law.” An unexpected diagonal swing had Juan stagger back.
Juan spotted someone on the edge of the crowd. “Karlita knows you? Also, we’re not married yet.” He came back, swinging wildly. From the corner of his eye, he saw Karla wince once more.
“But did Antonio not consider her his daughter?” The man easily defended himself. “It seems she forged a better connection with him in two years than you did in twenty-two.”
He suddenly stopped meeting Juan’s blade, who overcommitted, and tripped over an extended leg. He quickly rolled himself onto his back, only to see that his opponent had not moved.
“What do you want from me?” Juan scrambled backwards, trying to get up, but got stopped by a sabre swung over his head.
“Who was your father to you?”, his opponent asked. “A cash-cow?” Another swing. “A networking opportunity?” Third swing, lower. “An easy path through life?”
“A stranger!”, Juan screamed. The swings stopped. Juan could finally get up, tried to find his weapon.
“It was true for two decades,” the mask whispered. In the pallid silence of the mansion, everyone could hear him. “Then you brought Karla home.”
“Leave Karlita out of this,” Juan snarled. Where was the sabre?
“Stop calling me that,” Karla said. Suddenly, she was between the two. “For the last two years, your dear father, this wonderful man has tried many times to make up for his mistakes.”
Juan tried and failed to keep his voice from being petulant. “My love can’t be bought.”
“I know how to earn your love,” Karla said in a way that made Juan’s heart freeze. “You need someone to tell you that you are not Antonio Hernández Vázquez the second. Someone to help you figure out what you want. What you need in a life that provides everything. Your father was ready to help me with that, but you never listened.”
“Well, it’s doesn’t loving matter now, does it?” Juan fell to his knees. “The old man is gone. It’s too late for him to find the right words, for me to open my ears.”
“Maybe it’s not too late.” The masked man’s voice was much clearer now. It found its way deep into Juan’s open ears. And flipped a switch there that had been loosened by drink after drink, after he had done his best for so long to keep it from going off.
Letting all his rage flow free gave Juan a moment of total clarity.
His sabre was right in front of him.
He grabbed it and lunged forward.
A sickening sound as metal penetrated flesh. A scream cut short. Karla, on his blade. Juan stumbled back. “No…”
Behind her, the man loomed unmasked. His father’s face, shrouded in infinite sadness. He held the body of the woman he’d called daughter.
“When your mother died, I was not sad,” he said tonelessly. “I had not given her any love, and didn’t get any back. Only when she was gone did I realize what I had missed. With her. With you.”
He stared into Karla’s empty eyes. “I had given up on you and myself, but this woman chiseled my heart out of its shell. She’d desperately wanted to give you all the love she believed you deserved, her own and your father’s.”
Antonio’s son broke out in sobbing laughter. Images projected themselves onto the fog of the alcohol in his brain. The three of them on a family picnic. Juan and his father sparring. Long nights in front of the fireplace, sharing good whisky, bad jokes and mixed memories of a wife, a mother who could have been better. Karla had tried so hard and so long to reconcile the two men, culminating in this absurd scheme.
“You still didn’t listen, Juan. Now both our chances for love are gone.”
Something choked Juan from the inside, cut laughter and tears off, left him empty.
Antonio shook his head. “You were right, son. It’s too late for the right words. Enjoy the inheritance.”
The old man gripped the hilt of Juan’s sword and, embracing Karla, rammed the blade into himself as well.
|# ? Jan 10, 2021 23:37|
New in town
Night of revelry
i tell you this to make it true
Wait for the man with oceans in his eyes, my son. You do not know what oceans are, yes, but you will know when you see him. For when you do, you will know he will end the world.
He will come into town at night, like this one. Rain drizzling across the earth, and he will come in, clothes dry and eyes unblinking. He will be handsome, more handsome than you ever thought a man could be. I will be dead by then, so I can not warn you, but I will tell you now. If you look into his eyes, you will fall in and drown.
It will start harmlessly, as every end does. A few glances while he sits at the bar, ordering a drink. He will look at you, and smile. Like a dagger in your side, you will be lost before you even know it. You will sit next to him, and he will ask you your name, and you will give it, but never ask his. You will already know he doesn’t have one.
Then the man will shout over the shouts in the bar and ask you if you want to see something. You will nod, since it is so hard to speak to this man. His face is tan, and his smile is sharp, and you cannot look away. Then he will give the barman far too much money, and the alcohol will be flowing, and everyone will be drinking, and too much of it will reach you. His face though, will always be so clear. He will whisper in your ears things you can’t quite understand, telling you of towns and cities outside these ones.
Then he will tell you of the oceans. He will tell you he’s a sailor, that he circled the entire world over and over. He will tell you that, beyond the walls of these cities, farther than you can see from the top of the central tower, there is a vast and terrible ocean. He will tell you it swallowed many of his friends, of nights stuck in storms, where his ship rocked, and he saw men be thrown over and plummet into the depths of the darkness. Most of his words will topple over you, things you can't understand. Masts and starboards and riggings, they mean nothing to you. Still, these words will be the ones that make you whisper in his ears, “Please, I want to know more.”
He will smile, and he will (please pardon a metaphor you won’t understand) reel you in. He will pull you out of the bar, into the tempest outside. You won’t notice how crazed the weather is, how hard the rain hits against the back of your coat, because he will be holding your hand. He will be so warm, so carefully wrapped around your fingers, that you will feel like you’re burning, despite the winter storm.
He will take you into a house, your house maybe, you won’t know for it will be too dark, and he will kiss you. You will have, by then, kissed others, but it will feel like the first. It will be soft and simple and somehow salty. You will ask him to tell you more about the ocean, and he will. He will tell you he grew up by the waves, that he splashed in there as a child, that his father was lost to it. He will tell you of the expansiveness of it, of looking out across a cliffside and seeing only water. I see you right now, straining, trying to picture it. Don’t worry, even then, you will not be able to see it. It’s okay.
This may seem hard to you now, but you will grow to hate the earth. This town may seem so big right now, but eventually, the walls will feel like hands squeezing against your head. You will spend your days pacing along them, counting the steps, and finding the numbers to be so small. You will ask people who come in what it is like outside, and they will tell you it is flat. The grass brown and the land quiet. Sure, it feels loud now, but eventually, even on gusty evenings, the wind will feel like a whisper.
And you will hate the earth for what it does. It has already taken your mother. It will take me, of course, and the earth will also hold the promise of taking you. I do not blame you for eventually wanting to leave, of hating this place. This is why I am telling you of this man, so you are ready.
You and the man will be in the bed together. He will be holding you, tighter than you ever thought a person could, running his fingers through your hair. You will ask him, “I want to see the ocean.”
It might seem so simple now, those words, but I promise you, they will change everything. Because the man’s fingers will stop, and he will pull away from you, but you will ask him again.
“I need to see it,” you will say. “I have to.”
And the man, as quiet as ever, will take you out of whatever home you were in, and into the rain for the last time. It will be so dark, darker than you ever thought possible. This time you will feel the rain striking against you, like it is trying to push you away. But the man will be so strong, his grip so tight, that you will not let go.
To think, a place where water does not fall, but beneath you. Something like a puddle, but larger, vaster, never drying. Things called fish, swimming underneath you. Something like a bird with no feathers, gliding through the water, but even that comparison doesn’t conjure the right image. You have to see it to know, and you will want to see it. Maybe you want to now. I don’t blame you. I wish to see it too.
So he takes you to the central tower. Yes, I know you’ve climbed up there before. I know you’ve look out across the top of it, at the expanse of our nation, and you must think it huge, yes? Well, eventually, it will not look so daunting. Especially not with that man by your side. You will only see a flatness. Nothing changing, nothing rolling.
“Do you want to see it?” the man says.
You will be terrified for the first time since you saw the man, and that is okay. It is okay to be scared. However, his words will flutter in your mids. Of waves, glistening in the sun, seafoam spread across sand. You will not be able to understand what that looks like, no matter how much you try. You will want to, so hard, but you won’t be able to.
So you say yes.
You and him, you will end this world with a kiss. It will tear the tower down, and suck in the entire of the world. The rain will fill the entire chasm of our homes, and you two will drown in an ocean of your creation.
And I tell you this now, I wish I could see it. A new sea, made from my son.
|# ? Jan 10, 2021 23:37|
My City, My Rules
I smooshed my servant’s so he resembled a cabbage patch kid. “Jasper,” I said, doing my best to not slur my words. I suspiciously eyed the empty wine bottles strewn around the parlour. “I believe tonight might have been a tad too much if I say so miself.”
Jasper attempted to pry my hands from his face, but quickly realized I used to face to stay upright, he relented. “Well, my prince,” he told me through duck lips. “Coronations are not a weekly affair. We must celebrate accordingly.”
I belly-laughed. I then vowed to never belly-laugh again as my stomach contracted painfully. I nearly doubled over. Patting Jasper’s shoulder, I looked him in the eye. “You’re right, my friend.” I felt him stiffen, but I continued. “There’s so much damage I need to repair from past generations of exploitation.
“I haven’t told anyone my true intentions once I’m ruler until now. The upper class would riot if they knew. I have plans to elevate the poor in my city. Give everyone a monthly universal income supported by taxes. Honestly, everyone hates taxes. But what if everyone benefited from it in a tangible way?” I stumbled away from Jasper and kept talking. “It would mean less money for patrols, but crime is born of desperation.”
I looked around the room, puzzled that all my friends have been uncharacteristically quiet. My stomach cramped again and I stumbled to my knees, propped up by the couch.
I peered over the couch to find Fabian and Laurent sprawled on the floor, eyes open and stiff as boards. Bloody vomit stained their clothes and faces. It took an embarrassing amount of time for the implication to pierce through my fog of my drunkenness.
I pushed myself up from the couch and drew power from my Patron. The influx of mana purged the alcohol and poison from my body with a painful burn. Clarity bit in. I spun around, magic crackling in my fingertips and gasped when a thrown dagger embedded itself between my ribs.
The connection to my Patron was severed. I reached for more power, but it felt like trying to grab a silk thread fluttering in the wind. I looked to my would be assassin and Jasper stood there, his face a mask, a knife in his offhand.
“Jasper,” I gritted my teeth against the pain and backpedaled toward the far bookcase. He followed me with his eyes, something causing him to hesitate throwing the second dagger. “I don’t-” A sharp pain jolted me dizzy as my ribs scraped against the blade edge. I leaned against the bookshelf, my hand moving toward the snow globe affixed to a shelf.
“Wait Koeniger!” It was then that Jasper came to his senses and raced toward me with an outstretched hand.
It was too late. The snowglobe’s magic whisked me away to relative safety to the other side of the wall. I sat down, trying to hold the knife still with a trembling hand. Adrenaline kept the pain from overwhelming me for the time being.
“Koeniger, are you still there?” I heard the muffled voice of Jasper from the other side of the wall.
“Go away, traitor. Your plot to usurp the throne has been defeated.” I gritted my teeth against the oncoming nausea.
There was silence for quite awhile and I assumed Jasper left, but he spoke again, more subdued. “I didn’t have a choice, sir.”
“Oh, is that right? You didn’t have a choice to to stab your friend in the loving ribs?” I felt the heat of frustration building in my head. “‘Oh, it wasn't my fault, I was controlled by a super mage and my actions aren’t my own’. La-dee-loving-da Jasper! Don’t try to pull that poo poo on me.”
“I could have killed you. I had the opportunity, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.”
“Just say you’re a terrible thrower, like I am. “Tch, loving anti-magic wards on this bullshit.”
“Yea, I’m sorry about that.”
“‘I’m sorry about that’ get hosed Jasper. Why are you even still here talking to me? You think you can sway me back to your side and I’ll come running to you with arms wide open? Do you think I’m stupid?”
“No, I just,” he paused, “I believe I have made an unforgivable error. I allowed myself to become radicalized against you, when in truth you had all our best interests in mind.”
“Right now, I don’t have your best interest in mind, believe you me.”
“I understand, and do not blame you. I’ve let myself be used by listening to the lies of a politician I thought I could trust. But we can reverse my mistake.”
“Again, Jasper, you assume I will trust anything that comes out-”
“These knives are a pair. The one… you have has an anti-magic field enchanted into it. It’s made so it can slip past shields. The knife I have is the backup in case the first knife isn’t a killing blow. If both knives are in the same body, the magic will connect in a destructive way.”
My mouth dropped in shock. “Who makes designs this crazy?”
“This is your uncle’s doing. As we speak, he’s probably delivering news that you were killed in an assassination.”
“How loving cliche, Uncle!” I made my dramatic entrance bursting into the throne room full of sycophants and spineless lawmakers while I still wore my bloody clothes. They collectively gasped. Jasper stood beside my uncle as he sat on my throne, that old oval office. I saw a series of emotions flash across his face; surprise, horror, relief and indignance.
“We thought you dead, Koeniger!” my uncle proclaimed to the hall. “With all the bodies and you gone, I feared the worst.”
“Shut your thin mouth. You sent assassins after me! You don’t get to act all surprised.” There was a murmur in the hall. No doubt scheming as to who to side with.
My uncle leaned forward, frowning. “Watch where you throw accusations, boy.”
“Boy? Is this how you speak to your ruler, Uncle?” I walked closer, remnants of pain in my ribs grating on frayed nerves with every step, but I kept it out of my face. “That’s my seat you have your rear end on.”
There was an uncomfortable silence in the chamber. No one moved.
The crowd gasped again as I drew power into my hands. My connection to my Patron wasn’t at a hundred percent, but I could work with this. “Uncle, I’m seeing that you’re having sudden difficulty remembering how your legs work.”
Still my uncle said nothing. I kept walking forward.
“Did you not have a speech prepared for a failed coup? I would have thought you would at the very least try to get me on your side before the inevitable and obvious betrayal-”
Blue flames leapt up all around me, blackening my clothes and singeing my hair. With an expulsion of power, an icy barrier covered my skin and immediately afterward I was obscured by steam. I honed in on my uncle’s magical source and launched spikes of marble from the ground in front of me, but I sensed they were harmlessly slapped down to the ground before they reached halfway.
The floor beneath me, heaved me up and forward, and at the apex of my flight, needles of ice sheared away from my barrier and showered him in a deadly gleam. The ice turned to a misty spray that was no doubt refreshing in this heat. When I landed, the ground betrayed me and in what seemed to be an instant, my hands, feet and neck were wrapped by tendrils of stone.
The whole fight lasted seconds.
My uncle stood and sneered. “I never recalled you being this weak, nephew.”
He was right. The anti-magic dagger I now had hidden in my sleeve, had hosed my ability to draw power from my Patron. I struggled vainly as the realization that I lost began to sink in.
My uncle approached me with Jasper at his side. I stared at Jasper, but he avoided my angry gaze.
“Come to gloat, I see?”
He said nothing. He lifted up a hand to command the vine to crush my windpipe and-
Jasper, quick as a viper, attacked my uncle, but my uncle caught his wrist in a vice, crushing all the bones. The knife fell from his slack grip, but Jasper caught it with his offhand and jammed the tip into my uncle’s leg.
The stone tendrils collapsed. My uncle was close enough that I couldn’t miss. The knife dropped into my hand and I cocked back, sparing a glance at Jasper.
“Throw it Koeniger!”
My aim was true. The explosion left a crater where my uncle and Jasper stood, leaving the rest of us sprawled across the floor.
As the crown was placed on my head, my thoughts wandered to Jasper and I build this city into something he’d be proud of.
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 02:17|
The Right Wish
Time Travel RomCom: Childhood best friends, loyal companion, flashbacks, night of revelry, enemies are foils
Drunkenly, Crenshaw nearly spilled out of the elevator but instead spilled the contents of his stomach into a nearby azalea drawing the attention and ire of the lobby staff.
He eyed the acrid chunks of regret that adorned the red leaves and shamelessly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He muttered an apology to no one specific and trundled through the lobby towards the snow outside.
The cold air helped to sober him up some, but he still shambled along the sidewalk like a zombie, feeling about as dead as he looked.
“You’ve hosed this one up, Crenny.” He told himself blinking away tears that formed in the corner of his eyes.
It was late enough that not many people were out, and the relative silence let him reflect on the night.
He sighed as he played back the events in his mind.
Sarah had text Crenshaw just after 5:00.
She knew how to pull his strings, but more importantly, she was still looking out for him after all these years.
Crenshaw on the other hand was not a particularly good friend, but Sarah’s stalwart dedication to him often left him feeling obligated to go along with whatever plots she had cooked up.
The text read, “Hey, Henry’s throwing a crazy New Year’s party tonight … and before you say no to play WoW or with yourself, I heard Yara’s going to be there.”
Crenshaw sighed and began to type a response when a series of kissy face emojis appeared on the screen followed by another text filled with hearts and lastly a text that said, “you know you want to.”
Crenshaw smiled at this and keyed in a response. “You win.”
His phone vibrated back with, “Great, I’ll pick you up at 9.”
Crenshaw surprised himself at how well he looked. He didn’t go out much, and if it weren’t for Sarah, he might not have even had anything nice in his closet. More than once, Sarah had dragged him out of his home under false pretenses only to take him shopping for himself.
Even though he complained, he knew the confidence he felt looking at himself was in part due to her.
“Bless that ornery woman,” he said as his doorbell rang.
He slid on his shoes and opened the door. Sarah staggered back in genuine surprise, “Wow! You cleaned up nice, and I see you are wearing the outfit I picked for you. Perfectly timed for a party, no?”
“If you say so…” Crenshaw grumbled, “…let’s just get it over with.”
“What type of sorry attitude is that? Hm? Tonight’s your chance! You can finally make your move on Yara. You go on and on about her but beat yourself up when you fail to even tell her hello. Not tonight. Not looking like that.” Sarah said smiling at him.
“I suppose you’re right, thanks.”
“Of course I’m right. Now let’s go!”
The party took place in an upscale hotel downtown. Upon arrival, a valet took Sarah’s car and the two of them made their way to the elevator.
“A bit swanky for a new year’s party.” Crenshaw mumbled looking at the luxurious interior of the hotel.
“Henry’s loaded, what do you expect from a guy like that?” she said stepping into the elevator.
Crenshaw nodded and followed behind her with an awkward smile. A pang of jealousy surfaced at the ever-growing chasm that separated Henry and Crenshaw.
Crenshaw and Sarah knew Henry well, though. He used to be a regular part of their trio. The three amigos: Sarah, Henry, and Crenshaw… Would that he could turn back the hands of time to relive those simpler days.
However, it wasn’t just the financial differences that made Crenshaw jealous. Henry was classically handsome and effortlessly successful where Crenshaw had always felt more homely and average. He squashed the bitter sentiment down and focused on his fake smile as the elevator doors opened to a filled dance floor.
Henry spotted the two right away and approached, plucking two wine flutes from a waiter’s tray along the way.
“If it isn’t Crenny Crenshaw Hughes and Sarah the Care Bear. I have to say, you’re looking sharp my man, and Sarah, my goodness don’t you look stunning!”
“Always the flatterer,” Sarah said nudging Henry in the ribs with her elbow who played at actual injury.
Crenshaw rolled his eyes inadvertently and much to his chagrin, Henry noticed.
“Now, now, Crenny, don’t be the spoilsport. It’s New Year’s Eve! To old times…” Henry said proffering the drinks he had been holding.
“To old times,” Crenshaw said sincerely and tossed back the wine.
However, it didn’t take long for Crenshaw to isolate himself. He found a corner at the rear of the room and played his favorite game, people watching. Always feeling like the observer, never the participant. He watched and waited.
Sarah came dancing from the floor towards him gesturing for him to join her. It was then that Crenshaw had realized for the first time all evening how stunning Sarah looked that night.
Her dress was cream-colored with gold sequin swaths that traced along her curvature. An intricate floral lace started at her bustline and raised into a regal looking collar that rested against her neck.
Her reddish-brown curls stood out against the dress and her pale green eyes almost glowed in that dim ballroom light.
Crenshaw was nervous looking at her. He smiled from the table and tried to wave her away, but she approached him anyhow.
“Let’s dance!” she insisted.
Crenshaw laughed nervously, shaking his head no. “I’m waiting on Yara to show up, what will she think if she sees me dancing with you?”
Sarah frowned at this and her playful demeanor turned sour. “Fine, suit yourself then.”
Crenshaw realized too late the mistake he had made, and Sarah had already started back across the dance floor towards Henry who welcomed her eagerly.
Three additional wine flutes later and Crenshaw was feeling quite the fool. The party had begun to die down after the new year arrived, and he hadn’t seen Yara at all that night. Sarah was nestled up beside Henry and his entourage while Crenshaw sat alone drinking.
At some point, a waiter just left him a bottle of wine, so he polished that off and stumbled out of the party muttering Happy New Year to people he inevitably bumped into on his way to the elevator.
…and here he was, feeling downright sorry for himself in the cold night of New Year’s morning.
At some point, he had wandered into a nearby park and at its center, there was an empty fountain with a placard that simply read, “Dare to try again.”
Crenshaw fished in his pockets for change and produced a single oxidized penny that he didn’t recall having and flipped it into the fountain.
“I wish I wasn’t such a drat fool.”
When he walked away, the stone corner from a nearby building dislodged and fell from five stories square onto the top of Crenshaw’s head.
He staggered momentarily, putting a hand to the spot where he was struck and pulled back blood slicked fingers.
The world went black.
Sarah had text Crenshaw just after 5:00.
She knew how to pull his strings, but more importantly, she was still looking out for him after all these years.
Crenshaw on the other hand was not a particularly good friend, but Sarah’s stalwart dedication to him often left him feeling obligated to go along with whatever plots she had cooked up.
The text read, “Hey, Henry’s throwing a crazy New Year’s party tonight… and before you say no to play WoW or with yourself, I heard Yara’s going to be there.”
Instead of texting back, Crenshaw called Sarah and stumbled through the most awkward confessions of love he had ever managed.
“Sarah Downs, I am a total idiot. Would you… I mean… if you didn’t want to, I would understand… It’s just that you’ve always been there for me even though I don’t deserve it, and I just… for the first time in our lives, I’m realizing it.”
“Crenny Crenshaw Hughes… If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to ask me out?”
Crenshaw let out an embarrassed snort.
“Yeah… kind of. Something clicked. I don’t know what, and I don’t know why I never noticed it before, but you amaze me.”
“Yes. I’ll go out with you. So… Henry’s party? We can make our official debut as a couple… not that I haven’t been ridiculed for chasing after you for years or anything.”
“Nothing,” Sarah said with a laugh. “I’ll see you at 9.”
“See you at 9,” Crenshaw said smiling.
He couldn’t quite shake the feeling of déjà vu he experienced, but he knew he had done something right for a change.
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 04:02|
Childhood best friends, New in town, Heir/Heiress, Flashback, Emotional tone swing
Title: Together, Forever
Soleo composed his final letter under great duress. He rested against the cracked backing of his chair and tried to channel his friend Del Moray. A rake, but a scholar, Del Moray was quick-witted in tongue, and moreso when given a pen. In Soleo’s hand was a dip pen made of bone, and he thought more of Del Moray than the subject of the letter. Curling back over his work, he scribbled another line to Lady Carmila.
Soleo and Del Moray had scaled the baker’s thatched roof the first morning they laid eyes on Carmila Davore. Previous roof escapades had taught them the baker’s roof was still warm, even on a crisp winter morning like that day was. From that vantage, they were able to see far down the cobblestone road leading into town. A cavalcade of horses, livery and armored guards. The heart of the procession contained, they would later learn, was the Baron Davore, retiring to the countryside.
“Why are they so heavily armed,” Del Moray noted. The guard retinue were in full regalia, including helms that covered their faces. “I did not know we lived in the holy land, I could have sold my chicken bones as relics.”
“Surely it must be ceremonial, though, I’ve heard rumors of his vast wealth,” Soleo said. “Perhaps to deter bandits or highwaymen.”
“Or maybe it is something else.” Del Moray could barely muster the words as he saw who accompanied the main carriage. A beautiful visage, long and straight upon her steed, her flowing hair caught the wind and she waved her welcome to the gathered crowd of townsfolk.
Del Moray had a devilish glint in his eye. Soleo did not know why, or how to express it even to himself, but he knew at that moment, nothing would be the same again.
When Carmila sent for Soleo, he could not believe the messenger’s words. Every suitor in town had been clawing for the attention of Lady Carmila, Soleo among them. But he had nothing, he felt; he was not handsome or clever, nor rich or educated. Del Moray had wit and charm, Soleo thought. They had not spoken as friends in many weeks, only pleasantries as rivals in love. This hole had been a constant ache for Soleo, and he had even retired his efforts towards Lady Carmila so as to hang onto at least something near to his heart. He sunk onto his desk chair. The missive requested audience that very evening at the Davore estate. Suddenly, a knock came at his window. It was Del Moray.
“Will you come see me, up on the hill tonight?”
Instead he said nothing, and Del Moray left. Soleo took a deep breath, heavy in his lungs, and he began to compose his response to Lady Carmila.
They met upon a hill they once would sled down as children in the winter, and occasionally when they shirked their work in their adolescence, even into their manhood. A somber greeting between them, and Del Moray offered a second wine skin.
“Hold onto yours, I have brought my own, but we may need it still,” Soleo said. They sat watching the sunset.
“Do you remember when you sawed the leg off the abbey chair just so, when fat, old Friar Bowman sat, it collapsed in a heap?”
Del Moray chuckled. “And when they dragged me by the ear to the square, you lied and said we had been stealing apples from Granny Mayfield’s orchard?”
“They would have surely known if I said we were up to no mischief, and I knew the paddling we would get for the apples would be far less than the alternative!”
The laughed together, drinking their wine and reminiscing of days long by, and the sun had fully fallen and a chill had set upon the grass.
“Soleo, I have a confession,” Del Moray said. Soleo took the wine skin from his lips, as though he were able to listen better that way. “I have been an awful friend to you, and for reasons of my own doing!”
The admission felt like the first thaw of a frozen lake, children throwing heavy stones through the fragile top layer.
“I know you have won the heart of Lady Carmila, and it has pained me so,” Del Moray said.
“Ha, Del Moray, how on Earth could you imagine such a turn of fates?”
“Quiet, Soleo, your own double-edged tongue wounds me as it wounds you. Lady Carmila herself told me, earlier than not, and she has pried me for you! But I had fallen for her, so heavily, Soleo. I could not bare to lose both you and her, and thus I tried to scuttle you upon the jagged shores of my own heartbreak. Soleo, forgive, Soleo!”
The two friends embraced, sobbing drunkenly into each other’s shoulders as they swayed back and forth. Soleo stepped backwards to brace himself, but his boot struck an unfortunate root, and he began to teeter backwards. Del Moray instinctively tried to dive to rescue the falling Soleo, but that only added to the momentum as they spilled down the hill. Only when they reached the bottom could they disentangle, cackling like children again for the first time since their wooing of Lady Carmila began.
“Do not worry Del Moray, we will be together, forever,” Soleo said, his eyes already closed, but by then Del Moray had passed out.
Soleo woke from his stupor to the smell of smoke. The headache that followed was unrelated. Del Moray still lay snoring in the grass, his shirt somehow turned backwards sometime over the night.
“Wake yourself, you drunken lout,” Soleo said. As Del Moray roused himself, Soleo sprang to his feet, and gingerly clambered the hill they had fallen down the night before. Billowing plumes of smoke rose from the village.
The two men raced into the chaos, ready to help but before they could even assess the damage, they were knocked to their seats by men with rifles. In the square, a cadre of armed Davore guards had separated the women and children from the men of the village. On a makeshift dais, Baron Davore sat, and to his side stood Carmila. Soleo could not hear her words, but he understood she was in command. Her arms moved like a conductor, her men carrying out her whims with brutal efficiency. Her icy smile froze Soleo’s heart when she noticed the two being pushed closer toward the dais. Del Moray had venom in his eyes.
“What is the meaning of this Carmila?” Soleo shouted.
“Oh Soleo, my poor Soleo. As dumb as you are sweet. Del Moray, did you truly think your little scheme was going to work? To get to my father, through my heart?”
Soleo saw for the first time the practically catatonic Baron Davore. A stupefied codger, spittle dribbling down his wrinkled chin. An unintelligible moan escaped his lips, and Carmila leaned in.
“What’s that father? This town is full of treasonous spies? Of course, it is so clear now. Your exalted wisdom is truer than any arrow! Do you hear that men? My father orders you to execute every man to the tenth for this insurrection! Starting, with him,” Carmila said pointing to Del Moray.
“No you can’t!” Soleo shouted, but was met with a rifle-stock to the gut, knocking the wind out of him. He was dragged by his feet out of the town square, where he was beaten with boots and fists. The darkness around his eyes had not grown deep enough to cloud his ears, where he heard the sporadic gunshots and wailing of the townsfolk.
When Soleo awoke he was in chains on a moldering straw bed. After several days of malnourishment and squalid conditions, an advisor came to him with sheets of paper and a dip pen. The implication was loud and clear that Carmila still craved the adoration that he and Del Moray had heaped upon her in their fugue.
Soleo stared at the dip pen made of bone and dragged it along the length of his forearm. He emptied the ink well, and collected blood. Before long the words flowed from the bone of his dear Del Moray and onto the page. And so Soleo toiled, a litany of vulgarity and obscenity, page upon page, a manifesto took shape. If he were to be squeezed like a common orange, to become a discarded husk, Soleo reveled his last act of autonomy. Were Carmila to read these while he still lived, he was sure that the punishment would not be met upon him, but on his family, what may remain of them.
With the last page of manuscript expended, he turned the pen backward, clutched in weak and shaking hands. He found not the strength to finish the act, and he took one final satisfaction with his rationing. The bone pen fell from his hand, but Soleo did not hear the hollow clatter that followed.
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 04:39|
Here Be Dragons
Super Power Historical
Heir/Heiress, "For my father", Flashbacks, Iconic Landmark, Night of Revelry
Sgt. Strong, 1945
There I was, tromping through the old forests of southern Germany with the rest of the S-Platoon, detached from the main force, when we saw the dragon circling Neuschwanstein castle.
"Should I call in air support?" asked Kilroy.
"Not just yet," I said, lifting my binoculars. It was drifting a bit leftward. There was a wound on the left wing, a hole clear through that meant less lifting power on that side.
The next thing I heard was the sound of guns, a pair of anti-aircraft artillery units mounted in one of the towers. At least one hit. The dragon was knocked back, started plummeting, and changed form as it fell, to a shape that was nearly human. "Well I'll be," I said. "Give me file X-11."
White Streak had the file in my hands at once. I looked over it and noted where the thing had landed. "Looks like X-11 and M-003 are one in the same." I said. The dragon, and the rampaging scaled berserker. "Specs was right about that one. Let's move."
"Sir," said Kilroy, "Neither one is on the list. And for good reason."
"I'm playing a hunch," I said. "Get air support on standby, though. Just in case."
We moved quickly and quietly. X-11 was, by all reports, a thing of pure rage, a killing machine, impossible to reason with. Thing is, though, all of those reports were written by Nazis. It had done more damage and kept more German Superhumans away from the front than a few countries in the United Nations. And it was standing, almost right feet tall, green scale and narrow red eyes, in the center of a small new crater.
"Hello," I said. Its eyes seemed more full of curiosity than anger. "You speak English, or should we see if we can find a translator?"
"English. Yas. The, the taste of the words come. Hello. I am Fafnir."
I was tired of fighting, but still they came. Knights. An old wizard forged an unbreakable shield and the sharpest sword ever, to help slay Medusa and her spawn. They found their way to the hands of this knight, this child of barely twenty years. Stronger than most, and clever.
I thought myself invincible, possibly save for that sword. And so I fell away from it, let him here me back, back, under the fortress at Linden, into caverns lit by pooled lava, to the ledge. And then he charged, feinting with the sword and bashing with the shield, all of his weight.
It did not kill me. My bones do not burn. My flesh did, faster than it could regrow. Then the rock shifted and the lava cooled, encasing my bones in granite.
Sgt. Strong, 1945
"War's almost done," I said. "Time to clean up. Operation Gargoyle is all about rounding up the superpeople in the country. People and weapons. And that Castle is full of those."
"We were planning an infiltration," said Kilroy. "I go in disguised, the Streaks empty the vaults in a few minutes. But your attack put them on too high alert."
"So a more frontal assault?" said Fafnir, with a voice like a cement mixer.
"Are you well enough for it?" I said.
"Yes. My larger form, it will take a long time healing, but this aspect is more difficult to kill."
"Just be sure you can tell friend from foe," said Red Streak.
Fafnir laughed. "I have not been in berserkergang for years."
The assault got gory quickly. I've gone barehanded before, and hands that can lift a tank will go right through an infantryman. But Fafnir, Fafnir at war, he tore through Nazi soldiers like cardboard. Until they brought out the Hammerbots. Those things slowed him down, and each was a match for one of us.
They fought hard. We were deep behind the lines, not up front where they were surrendering to us to avoid Soviet justice. These guys still hoped to retire on stolen art and treasure. They were fighting for time, and they got enough. They managed to activate Mad King Ludwig's steam mechatower, enhanced with modern steel and alien tech, a corner tower of the castle come to life and tossing us around like insects.
"Kilroy!" I shouted.
"Air support?" he said.
"Now!" I ordered. He worked the radio.
The giant machine held Fafnir in its metal hands, trying to crush him. Fafnir held his position, pushing on the two fingers, keeping them apart. I manned a captured Anti-aircraft gun, shells making small dents as Blue Streak fed me ammo. Bazooka Mark hit it with his pink energy missiles too.
We heard a sonic boom, then another. Fafnir surged with effort and slipped out of the hand, landing on hands and feet. And then he arrived.
The only time I actually saw Paragon. The first one, that is. The guy kept busy during the war. He was going near as fast as the Streaks, was tougher than anyone alive and stronger than anyone too. I could lift a tank. Fafnir could throw one. Paragon, he could juggle half a dozen of them. Probably an aircraft carrier too. He went through the chest of the mech, right through the central mechanism. It shut down with a metallic shriek.
I smelled sulfur.
They could have stopped the excavation with the sword and shield. But the wizard got visions of dragonbone and dragonteeth in his head, and kept digging.
Centuries of pain had left me nearly mindless. A new kind of pain woke me, of regenerating long-dead flesh, of hunger born from a debt of mass that allowed those muscles to form. I smelled sulfur, and felt rage and hunger.
They never had a chance, not even the wizard. And after they were dead, I still smelled sulfur.
No. I smelled evil. And even after nearly a year of rage, the stench still filled my mouth.
Sgt. Strong, 1946
We celebrated the end of the war in Neuschwanstein castle, after the last few items were crated up. The stolen artifacts mostly were headed back where they came, with a few too dangerous to do anything but get warehoused. A few had people coming to claim them. But this was the night after the surrender. We were having a party. Nora Wilde from the Edge City Gazette was there, finished with the interviews and dancing with us. Mostly with Fafnir, who look different in a suit and tie than nothing but battle paint. Slightly ridiculous, but also dignified.
The door to the ballroom swung open. Framed was a young man, holding the artifacts, the Sharpest Sword and the Unbreakable Shield.
"You!" He pointed at Fafnir with the sword. "You killed my father."
"Yes?" he said.
"Lots of folks killed lots of people's fathers," I said. "War's over now."
"Keep them, though," said Fafnir. "Lots of other monsters around. Plenty we don't have a peace treaty with."
"They're mine by right," he said. But he put the sword back in his belt scabbard.
"That's going to be a mess," I told Nora later that night. "The two of them as Germany's only powereds not in jail."
"He's not staying," she said. "Fafnir, that is. He's coming to America."
Of course, the second Dragonslayer followed a few years later, after the Berlin incident, after the New Wave was founded in the aftermath, and yes, it was a mess. Half a century worth of mess, until time took him like most of the rest. Dragons live a drat long time, and my treatment have kept me alive and kicking so far.
The kid at that dance would be steaming if he knew his own daughter was marrying Fafnir today. The old man he became, he'd probably be okay. They fought together more often than against each other seriously, and always knew they were on the same side.
Anyways. To the groom!
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 04:55|
The Melchitt Manor caught fire on New Year’s Eve, nothing fancy, just a minor raging unstoppable holocaust of flames that engulfed the entire East Wing. I was broadly in favour of it to be honest, place was hella ugly for all I’d had some happy times there as a kid, and there was nothing much on the Station House TV that night. I took a deep sniff as the fire engine crunched across the wide gravel forecourt; you can really smell a good fire, and this was a cracker.
That’s when I saw Dave, my childhood best friend and secret lover, sprawled on his face, limbs akimbo. I leapt off the engine before it stopped, ran to his side, and pulled off a glove to check his pulse. His skin was clammy but the pulse was strong. He was also intensely drunk, booze fumes wafting off him in almost visible clouds. He looked up at me and grinned blearily.
“Wotcher old mate. It’s Tony. Hello Tony. Might have killed me dad, I’m afraid.”
The crew of my truck were yelling at each other about finding hydrants and rolling out hoses, but I was transfixed, dumbstruck, all those words. Whatever it is when it’s like your cells have all stopped vibrating at once. Dave’s eyes were quivering, bloodshot, full of tears. It didn’t even occur to me to doubt him.
“What did you do? Dave, we need to fix this.”
Dave squinted in to the wind-tossed trees over towards the pond. There was a bruise on his cheek, and a trickle of dried blood.
“We argued, about … you. I told him I wanted to marry you, he was real mad. I pushed him. Then I set the house on fire. He’s in there, somewhere,” Dave said, gesturing vaguely at a less flamey part of the manor.
I stared at him, feeling my head move left and right in a slow, barely voluntary shaking motion. “Dave you are such a loving dropkick. Get up. We’re going to get him.”
I was already jamming on my heavy duty helmet and checking the valves on my O2. Flow good, mask seal tight, all good. The lads had the hose supplied and laid out and were playing a stream on the smouldering rooftop where it met the East Wing, good on them. Heading into a fire like that was a long way from best firefighting practice, and it looked like Dave agreed because he was looking at me, and at the fire, and back at me with an expression like a dog spending its first night outside, nose wet against the window.
“On your feet, tell me where he is.” I was maybe gruffer than I should have been, but I liked his father and would have preferred on balance that my old friend (and secret lover) had not picked tonight to experiment with dad-murder.
Together we strode (more of a woozy stagger in his case) across the forecourt, and I could feel the heat on my face through the open mask. I yelled for a stream to go in the open door, which had thick smoke coming out of it and they complied instantly, lofting a jet over my shoulder and into the hole, which gushed out a cloud of reeking blackness. I flicked Dave a look of similar hue as I snapped down my faceplate.
“He’s in the library,” Dave yelled. “I’m, I’m sorry. “
I shook my head one more definitive time, then ducked down low and crabwalked into the room, bracing against the vicious slap of the hose on my back as I crossed it.
Dave, I had to admit, had always been an idiot. The lovable sexy kind, but still a world class mung-brain. The time he’d borrowed his dad’s boat and stranded us on that stupid island, for one. The night we’d spent in the cells after he spill a gram of Charlie all over a constable while trying to swallow it. Just, muddleheaded in all the worst and most infuriating ways, while still expecting to get away with it through befuddled charm. And this latest, I thought as I felt the door to the library for heat, was somehow even worse. I wasn’t going to marry the dozey bugger. Why would he think I would? I cracked the door and jerked back at the whoosh of flame that licked out at me.
Inside was a baleful nightmarescape, ripped from the uneasy dreams of someone who really hated school. Dave’s dad was slumped on the floor on the other side of the little table with an empty whiskey bottle on it, lit a fuming red by the flames curling around the top row of books. I assessed it with a practiced glance – looked like there was fire coming up the back of the bookshelf, could be a clusterfuck of burning dead white euro males, but hopefully enough room to get in and out. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for the old man, but I might manage to give him some chance of an open casket funeral. Right, enough thinking.
Still keeping low, I lumbered across the soot blackened carpet to where he lay, knelt down and hiffed him up into a carry across my shoulders, panting loud in my ears over the hiss of the oxygen. Halfway back to the door, I saw movement and turned just in time to shield myself and my unconscious slash deceased shoulder wrap from an avalanche of falling burning books, but at this point I was firmly enough focused on getting out just so I could tell Dave what a giant deluded oval office he was, preferably in front of his dad that there was nothing that could plausibly stop me. The burning down and smoke-belching state of the house was, in that respect, a suitable metaphor for our relationship and as I finally felt the crunch of gravel under my feet and laid Dave’s dad down on it I glanced back with a degree of fellowship. I know how it be, the manor said, nodding slowly with a few gouts of flame laced smoke.
I couldn’t see Dave, didn’t much care where he’d gone; the next hour was a focused frenzy of orders and assessments, working out whether we could save some or most or none of the Manor – in the event, we’d got there on time and the East Wing was the main damage. And wonder of wonders, Dave’s dad was OK – they built them tough in that line, it appeared.
As we were packing up I came back by Dave’s dad, wrapped in a glittery space blanket and oxy mask taped over his mouth. He squinted at me, and pulled at his mask. I braced myself for a blast of homophobic bile, but he just looked at me, then whispered: "Do I know you?"
"He's like that with everything," said Dave behind me. "Memory's completely gone. Shock, I suppose."
Dave's dad was staring at his son with the same gently baffled expression. I smiled professionally at him, tapped the mask back up onto his face, then when he closed his eyes I whirled and grabbed Dave by the upper arm and dragged him behind the ambulance.
"He can't remember you trying to kill him? Or setting fire to the house?" Dave shook his head. "You're going to get away with this, aren't you? And why the gently caress did you think I wanted to marry you?"
Dave looked at me like a puppy that's pooped in the hall and is sure it's not his fault if you really think about it.
"We could talk about it... over dinner? Next Saturday? Seven thirty at Leroy's?"
I turned away, because right now I didn't want to look at his dumb pleading face, but he was right. We could talk about it. I did like having dinner with him. The glowing remnants of the East Wing's roof framing groaned and collapsed, tired of the evening. I sucked in a deep breath of the smokey air and puffed it out in a billowing vaporous sigh.
"Sure, why not."
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 04:58|
Childhood best friends
Night of revelry
First responder revenge
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 04:59|
Submissions closed. Judging will be posted tomorrow night after I confer with my cojudges.
|# ? Jan 11, 2021 05:00|
Big ol' hammy ham sandwiches this week, sure, but everyone wrote something that was charming in its own way. I guess that's a win.
Tree Bucket doesn't win though. They lose.
Flerp hms for writing the story that every judge enjoyed the most but that none of us actually understood.
Idle Amalgam hms for writing the most K-Drama-ish story of the bunch.
Sebmojo hms because people just liked it.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 01:49|
c r i t s
My issues here are mostly technical. First, you have a tendency of killing your own jokes. For instance, your early, witty back-and-forths work well-enough but then you pull the rug out when Beloved freezes. Just have her wink. You save words and you quickly characterize her as confident and attractive.
A Thunderdomer (I can’t remember who) once said something along the lines of: “in flash fiction, everything needs to pull double duty.” If you use my wink example above, it develops characterization and the joke doesn’t die. I think jokes in particular have to pull double duty. A joke by itself does nothing. You mention Beloved’s skill in kneeing balls, you spend a whole paragraph on it, you even call it a philosophy of life yet it never comes back up again. So why include it at all? It’s not pulling its weight. Similarly, the blonde uncle is mentioned as rich and evil -- this is good in that you’re setting up the wealth, skiing, dachshunds line later -- but you miss an opportunity to foreshadow your ending. You’ve already got a weird incest issue going on with his proposal. If the main character questions his blondeness in this family of black-haired people, why not have her mention, “well, he’s distant enough on the tree that, legally, we could get married”? Boom. “Shame about him being evil.” Joke. Foreshadowing. Double-duty.
Honey-Lady should probably be more explicitly Rogers’ date. I’m assuming you meant for her to be. Then her and the main character are in the same boat of being awkwardly dumped. Furthermore, I think this story would be well-suited with small, possibly only one sentence description of why Beloved is with the main character. Tell us something like she looks past his monetarily poor family because of the strength of his character but maybe he wonders if thats not enough or he’s concerned he’s just arm candy. Possibly then Honey-Lady pops up with an “Arm candy tonight, too, huh?” comment.
Finally, they’re dating. Why would he tell her that the bridge was going to be “ours.” Seems dickish and uncharacteristic.
Solid opener. A ghost room is unusual and interesting. But then you don’t do anything with it. You need a reason why Mama decided that moment was the moment to reveal the strange existence of magic. You say the family makes money from dye but that doesn’t really have anything to do with anything now does it? So why include it? It’s clearly not important. It should be important! Or whatever the family does should be linked to the ghost.
Why is it important to the ghost for her to lick the orb? It doesn’t seem like he knows what happens. Why doesn’t he know what happens? I’m not asking for a technical answer. I’m asking from the point of creative writing.
Okay these people are committing murder super flippantly. Either Magnolia needs to be, like, super duper poor and Emerald is hella wealthy and that’s why the mom wants to cancel the wedding or else you gotta go way over the top on Emerald just being an absolute loving gem of a girl.
I know Emerald being a stranger was to tick off your “new in town” assignment but the story would have been stronger if she was, like, Magnolia’s childhood bff and Magnolia has always been secretly obsessively in love. So much so that she jumped at the opportunity to have her come live with her post Magnolia-boyfriend break-up or whatever. Maybe throw in a line about how Magnolia knew Geoff was in love with her but couldn’t blame him?
Why doesn’t Geoff just cancel things himself? Maybe make him one of those guys that is incapable of breaking a promise? Idk. Something.
What is The Point of this? Your weakness here is the meaninglessness of it all. And not in the grand philosophical pessimism of “life is meaningless.” The motivation for these characters’ actions is nonsensical. Karla loves Juan because... why? Evidently her love is tremendous despite Juan calling her by a hated pet name. Does this not indicate quite the negative or, at least, unbalanced relationship? Antonio faked his own death, showed up as a knock-off Zorro to his own funeral, and dueled his son because… why? Because he thought that he might be able to better communicate with his son as a pseudo-dead guy? Because he thought his son shouldn’t spend too much money on a funeral? Because he regretted the nature of their relationship? If you’re going to pitch this idiocy as reasonable then you need to set it up way, way different. Make Antonio eccentric as a motherfucker. Not some rear end in a top hat, business-first, “captain of industry.” Make him batty - either from old age or from being rich so long no one has the balls to tell him no anymore. Hell, have the son realize right away that it’s dad and the whole thing is faked. Now, suddenly, we have an interesting dynamic of poorly attempted well-meaning absolutely nutty behaviour vs a son struggling to find acceptance and forgiveness despite a lifetime of mistreatment. Instead, somehow, what you have, for all its “absurdity,” still feels like a cliche.
Also, honesty, the “his wealth paid for this party” line isn’t offensive. You could say that at a funeral. Depending on the funeral.
If this story is a metaphor, and I believe that it is, I am not confident what it is a metaphor for. I have an idea, an inkling, but I’m not sure. But maybe it isn’t a metaphor at all? There’s a way-to- specific specificity. I don’t know. I like this, I think. Whatever it is.
Smooshed your servant’s what, Mercedes? Five words into your first sentence are you’ve already left something out. “but quickly realized I used to face to stay upright.” To face to? God there’s a lot of sloppiness here. Just all the way throughout this piece. And, like, yeah, it starts with literally how you’ve written the sentences but it extends all the way to the plot and the relationships between characters.
You open with a soon-to-be-crowned king physically abusing his servant for comedic effect. Given the power dynamics at play I’m not loving this. But then it’s revealed that they’re actually really close friends! But then it’s revealed that king couldn’t tell his good friend that he’s not actually going to support a bunch of lovely political positions and was just pretending so he could get himself into power and enact the changes he desires. But that lack of transparency was enough to radicalize the friend to commit murder. But not just one murder - lots of murders. Murders through the use of poison but oh he also has two magic daggers that can also cancel magic but will explode if you bring them together because this is a story with magic and also, evidently, Cabbage Patch Kids… do you see what I mean, yet? Like, if I take any individual section it works but if I look at the story as whole it’s basically nonsense.
And here’s the kicker: I actually really like this a lot! I like the voice. I’m entertained. It’s just so loving sloppy that I can’t overlook the poo poo for the sunrise.
“Crenshaw nearly spilled out of the elevator but instead spilled the contents of his stomach into a nearby azalea.” If you make that the entirety of your opening sentence, it’s the best of the entire week. As is, you have a couple issues. “Drunkenly, Crenshaw nearly.” That sort of doubling up is typically something you want to try and avoid. It’s clunky in general and on top of that, specifically for this story, it’s unnecessary. Based on what follows, I can only assume he’s drunk or sick. Your following sentence can clarify. “drawing the attention and ire of the lobby staff” stutters your writing and raises questions you don’t answer. Clearly, you don’t want to bother writing about the staff’s continued reaction to the vomit so why have them exist at all? Cut.
Moving on from the first sentence… Crenshaw’s a loving loser and I don’t see why he deserves a deus ex machina second chance. He’s fairly anti-social. He’s knowingly a bad and selfish friend. He only shows up to a party because he’s told a girl he likes will be there. Then, when he’s there, he realizes that the girl who told him that the girl he likes is going to be there is actually the girl he likes. But is she really? Or is she just the most recent person to give him attention? What are Crenshaw’s redeeming qualities? What is something about him that makes me, the reader, care about him? Why should I be happy that he gets a second chance to make things right? Why should I care about him at all? You’ve given me zip. This is just a depressed guy’s fantasy: he does nothing to change or better himself while a pretty girl with no motivation drags him upwards. Oh, and she picks him over a rich successful guy because reasons.
The most fascinating bit of this is the blood-ink thing at the end. Which is a cool, if not somewhat predictable given the plot, image. You just don’t have enough to reasonably get me there. I was bored very early on. You meander a lot and I think it’s the flashbacks that are responsible. They don’t enhance. They don’t augment. They muddy. They bog down. And when things slow down things get boring. I think flashbacks are super tricky to use and are best when they sharply reveal something deeper about something specific. Here, they’re general and they take too long. Everything takes too long. Lot of trimming. Lot of places to trim.
I love the idea. Don’t care for the execution. The ending tears the whole thing apart. Which is insane because I love the ending as a concept! Honestly, rather than doing a bunch of perspective flips and time jumps, I’d be much more on board if the whole thing is revealed to be a wedding speech. That’d be fun! “Total and complete” rewrite seems like kind of a dick crit but… the story as is, it’s not doing anything for me. There’s a lot of dead time. Lot of word dumping and explaining rather than showing. Characters are thin. The most interesting bit is that very last section. If you made that spine and re-focused you could have something really fun.
“I was broadly in favour of it to be honest, place was hella ugly for all I’d had some happy times there as a kid, and there was nothing much on the Station House TV that night.” I don’t understand this sentence - specifically the middle part. And this is very damaging because it's so early on and you’re clearly trying to establish a certain tone. Are you trying to say the place was ugly despite the happy memories? That the character is pro-burning because the building is ugly? Why is a firefighter okay with a house fire if nothing is on tv? And this weirdness runs through your whole story. Whatever you were shooting for, I guess kind of an oddball lighthearted casual-toned romp through tragedy, whatever it is, it’s not working for me. The tone isn’t well-established. The characters don’t feel fleshed out. The characters aren’t appealing. This just feels really sloppy.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 01:52|
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 02:40|
quack CRITS quack
‘Til Death Do Us Part
Flash: Horror rom com
Tropes: Love triangle, night of revelry, new in town, overbearing parent, iconic landmark
Love triangle: You have embraced the KDrama spirit and turned a love triangle into a love… pentagon. Very KDrama.
Night of revelry: You give me some idea of a night of revelry.
New in town: “Geoff had been having an affair with Emerald since the first week she blew into town.”
Overbearing parent: I love the late-reveal that Patricia Thornbury is “Patricia Three-Times-Regional-Women’s-Darts-Champion Thornbury”
Iconic landmark: Lake Murdersdeep? Yes.
Genre: You have blood and death and murder in a morgue. With
Frighteningly Fun Factor:
Descriptions: I was fascinated by your figurative descriptions of Geoff’s collapse and of Magnolia’s separation from her body. Perhaps it’s my personal preference, but I would suggest removing the “you” from these descriptions.
Relying on Tropes: I am not familiar with your writing, so I am not sure if this is a typical shortcut of yours or one that you feel represents the KDrama genre. My advice to you is to be specific. If you want to lean into crime show tropes, then lean into those tropes by being more descriptive.
Spice level: adding kimchi to your instant ramen
The Right Wish
Time Travel RomCom
Childhood best friends, loyal companion, flashbacks, night of revelry, enemies are foils
Childhood best friends: Crenshaw and Sarah… and Henry
loyal companion: Crenshaw and Sarah
Flashbacks: episodic flashbacks
night of revelry: pukey pukey NYE party
enemies are foils: Crenshaw and Henry
Flashbacks: I can see your use of “***” to divide time. I am not sure how I feel about the episodic division of your story. I am not sure if the divisions within the party are necessary on their own, although I can be a distracted reader and do feel like having some self-contained moments helped me to follow along. However, since you have this larger framing flashback, the party divisions are a little misleading. If you had more words or wanted to expand this story, I am wondering how the different subdivided moments might play out in terms of Crenshaw throwing pennies into the fountain to make wishes--how would a different wish for changing a different moment play out for Crenshaw and Sarah? I wanted the moment of time travel to be later, maybe when Sarah asks Crenshaw to dance. Why would he choose this particular moment for the “right” time?
Text Dialogue: Crenshaw and Sarah have a lot of familiarity in their text messages, and I learn a lot about them as individuals and about their relationship through how you have them interact. KDramas embrace childhood friendships and the turning of friendships to romance--but I would like to know more about why Sarah has changed her view of Crenshaw to be more romantic over time.
Genre: KDramas always end with the protagonists living happily-ever-after.
Spice Level: gyeranbang
My City, My Rules
Emotional tone swing, Heir/Heiress, Family Secret, Enemies are Foils, Night of Revelry
Emotional tone swing: Nice emotional tone swinging in the moment of stabbing. The moment is both serious and lighthearted. Well done.
Heir/Heiress: Koeniger the ruler
Family Secret: Uncle’s secret assassin stab stab plot
Enemies are Foils: Koeniger and his uncle
Night of Revelry: Already drinking.
Dialogue: You move smoothly between action and dialogue. This is a compliment. Not everyone does this. Your story has movement--your dialogue and action work together to move the story forward. I wonder if you read comics. Your story reads in a comic-fashion where the dialogue and narration work separately but in coordination. This style is very fun.
Creed: I love a good “with arms wide open” reference.
Setting: You don’t bore me by introducing the setting and the context and how all this magic works. And I follow you. I can see you writing about a leadership situation where “The upper class would riot if they knew,” an attempted coup, and an attempt to build a city into something that Jasper would be proud of. I don’t know you well enough to know to what extent you may be making a connection to real-world current events. My feedback is to lean either closer or further to reality--by this I mean tell me more about the world you have created or make even more salient connections between your created world and the world in which you live. Your writing is powerful enough to offer a commentary if that’s your choice.
Spice Level: rabokki
First Responder Revenge
Childhood best friends, memory loss, overbearing parent, family secret, night of revelry
Childhood best friends: Dave, childhood best friend and secret lover
memory loss: Dave’s dad
overbearing parent: Dave’s dad
family secret: Dave’s fire
night of revelry: NYE
Childhood Friends (and Secret Lovers): Tony and Dave are childhood friends (and secret lovers). I understand that their (secret lovers) relationship is what prompts the action of the story--Dave wants to marry Tony, Dave’s dad is homophobic, Dave lights the Manor on fire for revenge--but aside from being the impetus for the action, I don’t have a sense of Dave and Tony’s relationship.
Flash Genre: I enjoy the contrast between the intense external action of the firefighting with Tony’s internal bafflement at Dave’s suggestion of proposal. This along with the casualness of the post-ambulance conversation between Dave and Tony speaks to the rhythmic mundanity following encountering a trauma that can be typical of the first-responder genre. You play around by sharing Tony’s wonderings about Dave’s marriage decision in the midst of the action, and I wonder how you might lean into your strengths here to share more about their relationship.
Spice level: Korean 7-Eleven
I tell you this to make it true
Overbearing parent, New in town, Iconic landmark, Night of revelry, Flashback
Overbearing parent: A weirdly sensual sage parent is not quite an overbearing parent
New in town: a mysterious ocean man
Iconic landmark: The ocean is not quite iconic enough.
Night of revelry: Many nights of revelry begin and end with giving the barman too much money.
Flashback: KDramas typically do literal flashbacks to moments in the chronological past. However, your attempt here to provide a prophetic-like flashforward is not outside of KDrama style.
Imagery: Nice work with the water and ocean imagery and your extension of this imagery with your description of drinking, rocking, reeling, and water/rain. I did not feel that it was too overbearing since you used such a variety of language in such a variety of ways to propel your story (from description to action to plot content).
Tense: I was intrigued by your prophetic use of the future tense, following along with you as you describe things that the father speaks into existence. I am also intrigued by your title.
Metaphor: If your story is a metaphor for something larger, I am missing it. Remember that as the writer you have the responsibility to give some clarity to your tale. Your story was the most poetic in form. While I followed the ebbs and flows of your poetic description, I wanted slightly more of a nudge to help me understand how the father’s prophecy translates beyond the beauty of the story itself.
Spice level: Korean all-day church
Childhood best friends, New in town, Heir/Heiress, Flashback, Emotional tone swing
Childhood best friends: Soleo and Del Moray
New in town: Are the armed guards the people who are new in town?
Flashback: “In Soleo’s hand was a dip pen made of bone, and he thought more of Del Moray than the subject of the letter.”
Emotional tone swing: drunken confession tumble
Relationships: I am really charmed by Soleo and Del Moray’s relationship (some great KDramas are about friendship, sibling love, filial love, and other forms of nonromantic love). I am not, however, sure why I should care about Carmila or her father Baron Davore. The idea of a love interest creating a divide in a childhood best friendship is very KDrama--I need to believe that there is something uniquely special about Carmila before I find out that she and her father are controlling, paranoid, authoritarians.
Dialogue: I did not read your characters as having distinct voices--from each other or from your narration. For Soleo and Del Moray, I suppose this could make sense.
Spice Level: Korean McDonalds
Here Be Dragons
Super Power Historical
Heir/Heiress, "For my father", Flashbacks, Iconic Landmark, Night of Revelry
"For my father": "You!" He pointed at Fafnir with the sword. "You killed my father."
Iconic Landmark: Neuschwanstein Castle
Night of Revelry: 1946 party
KDrama Tropes: Who is the heir/heiress in this story? The young man with the Sharpest Sword and the Unbreakable Shield? Who is the heir and what are they inheriting?
Dragon Tales: You have a mix of fantasy and historical fiction and seem to have some fun creating this world. You mention towards the end that there are other “powereds.” Your story reads strongly of fantasy, and I would like to know more about the superpowers that exist in this world beyond dragons.
Flashbacks: I like the idea of using flashbacks to show Fafnir’s age, but I am not entirely sure of its purpose beyond further references to dragons living “a drat long time.”
Spice level: tornado potato
Death of the Family
Heir/Heiress | “For my father!” | Overbearing parent | Night of revelry | Enemies are foils
Heir/Heiress: Juan is the heir.
“For my father!”: You seem to insert this into Juan’s speech--but I wonder if Antonio’s final stabbing of himself could is intended to be a kind of “For your father… aka me” reveal.
Overbearing parent: Antonio. Duh.
Night of revelry: Warm champagne does not a night of revelry make.
Enemies are foils: I was interested in your reference to Dumas and the iron mask, an interesting opportunity to further explore Juan and the masked man as foils. Instead, the masked man is Antonio. I suppose you try to explore how Juan and Antonio are foils after Antonio reveals his mask, but I am not following along here.
Dialogue: I enjoyed reading Juan’s internal monologue as he gives the practiced speech about his father. I can see how you are working to develop his relationship with Antonio here. Instead of a shift to focus on Karla/Karlita in the final confrontation, I would have liked to have seen the sword fight play out arguing over these two perceptions of Antonio--an open door just for his employees, his ignoring of family problems, his wealth and shallowness, etc.
Action: I want more specific action in your sword fight scene. I wonder how you could highlight the action verbs in your description of the sword fight--rather than “vaulted,” how can you restructure to emphasize “vaulting”? Emphasizing verbs as participial phrases might help you to foreground the action. Also, I can see that you want to weave together the action of the sword fight with the sparring of words. I think that you could do this more deftly. How does the action of the sword fight reflect the growing intensity of the anger and frustration of Juan and the masked man/Antonio?
Spice level: Pioneer Woman kimchi made with paprika instead of gochugaru
What Did You See
Emotional tone swing, Love triangle, Overbearing parent, Family secret, Loyal companion
Emotional tone swing: “lick it”
Love triangle: Mellie and fiance (Laine) and Jeremy
Overbearing parent: Mama is the parent in the story, but I am not sure that she is overbearing.
Family secret: ghost room--Jeremy
Loyal companion: Who is the loyal companion?
The Supernatural Works in Mysterious Ways: Licking an ghost orb is strange, comical, and just wild enough to maybe be a part of a KDrama.
Laine: Who is Laine? The husband-to-be. You reference him mostly this way, and I wonder if you are trying to communicate something about Mellie’s lack of connection with him. Laine just seems to exist in the world without contributing much to the story. I am curious what Laine saw, but if the point is that we never know, then how else does Laine contribute to your story? Are there other ways to communicate this “what did you see?” without Laine occupying so much of your word count?
KDrama Tropes: I was not always able to easily identify your use of the KDrama tropes. What do you consider to be the emotional tone swing? How is the mother an overbearing parent? Who is the loyal companion? Mellie seems to be a loyal companion to Jeremy in that she revisits his orb (and ghost sexes him), and Jeremy seems to be a curious companion to Mellie. Laine seems to be a loyal companion to Mellie in the sense that they are engaged, so I have to assume they have some level of companionship.
Spice level: Baskin Robbins, the fun flavors
K-drama, "silly succession // Iconic landmark, emotional tone swing, new in town, overbearing parent, love triangle"
Iconic landmark: Sydney Harbour Bridge
emotional tone swing: where?
new in town: narrator is new?
overbearing parent: Beloved’s mother
love triangle: “Marry me!” (Roger)
Relationships: There is a room with a lot of rich people, and I think I am supposed to pay attention to the color of their hair. I get glimpses of moments of interaction between people that helps me to understand what is happening, but I am left wanting to know more information about who these characters are and what the relationships are between them.
Dialogue: You introduce many characters, and while you describe them, you also rely on a fair amount of free-floating dialogue. Maybe your purpose is to communicate the fast pace. Maybe your purpose is to communicate the cacophony of the moment. I think that you could accomplish either, both, or more while also giving your characters and their relationships a bit more texture within the dialogue. Writing a story that focuses on dialogue is a unique challenge, remember that a dialogue-focused story requires that the dialogue serve multiple purposes as you develop your story.
KDrama Tropes: I was not able to easily identify your use of the KDrama tropes, aside from the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I am here for the KDrama.
Spice level: This is a piece of sourdough bread.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 03:24|
Thank you for the crits judges
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 03:46|
sh is banned, here are her crits as per her request
Your opening — specifically, the first four lines — promises an interesting premise with a funny tone. You chose a great setting/set piece (the room), and I think you do a good job describing the view and letting your protagonist have a genuine moment of unabashed wonder. I snorted at “Welp!” quoth I.
The banter between characters is generally pretty good, though it’s unclear to me what the narrator is really doing at this party considering they suck at being there. Don’t get me wrong; they are endearing and entertaining, I just have no idea how they got into this relationship with their girlfriend and I have no idea why the girlfriend brought them! This story is very hammy, so a lot can be forgiven, but if you think about it too long a lot of bits don’t make a whole lot of sense. I thought there was a reasonable chemistry between the narrator and the honey-lady, and I think it’s safe to say the narrator will probably have a much nicer time with her.
I didn’t really like that a couple minor characters got names, but none of the principal characters did. I get that ‘Beloved’ is kind of tongue in cheek, but in this case my preference would have been for more named characters. Semi-related: you don’t really need to capitalize Regular Nouns. I see a lot of writers do this when they want to signal an affectionate pet name, or to indicate the importance or singularity of a thing, but it’s not necessary to capitalize every significant Noun in the Story.
Also, the Titanic and Cake references mean you’re probably at least as old as me. RIP.
Another strong opening! I am way into this story because I love weird impossible romances, but the orb-licking is so weird that someone with different tastes could find it offputting. I thought it was delightful, but have to acknowledge the juvenile part of my brain that is giggling at the implication that the protagonist is licking one large testicle.
I think the voice is good, though it fit the opening (when the protagonist was a child) better than the rest of the story (when she is an adult).
If I think too long about the premise, I’m not sure how I feel about the future of the relationship; the narrator’s choice to not tell jeremy that they are orb-lick ghostfucking is a little weird considering I got the impression she genuinely likes him. Like, she’s going to be having sex with him in the orb reality, but keep it a secret from his “real” ghost? It seems like they were home free to just be together and it’s not clear why the narrator would be selfish about it.
Overall though I liked this.
Okay this made me smile a lot. The absurd escalation of terribleness among despicable people was fantastic. The twist that the corpsified fiancee was in love with the mistress was great. The ending was deliciously dark and felt natural. I like that you didn’t give a gently caress about working out the “rules” of ghosts, it all just kind of works how it needs to. The writing was punchy and funny but macabre and descriptive when it needed to be.
Haha okay I loved this, though I might be in the minority among the judges. I love the instant pivot to the absurd when the masked swordsman appears, and just like that we’re in a high-emotion duel. This is weepy family melodrama fit for American daytime TV, which I assume is on par with K-drama in terms of absurd theatrics.
I think the only thing that bothers me is how little is made of Karla’s death. Antonio ultimately skewers himself on the same sword, becoming a sort of romantic shish kebab, but there isn’t a whole lot from Juan about the fact that he just murdered his betrothed instead of his father. Considering how important Karla was to both of them, I sort of wish she’d got more of the spotlight in general.
Overall though I enjoyed this soap opera spectacle.
drat I really like this. I guess I should feel bad about the world drowning for a kiss, but it’s really very lovely, so I think I’d be okay with it. The ending made the hairs on my arms stand on end. Good poo poo. You’ve definitely improved at telling this sort of story over the years; a few years ago this might have been too repetitive, hitting the same notes over and over, but there’s this nice driving pace to the prose that kept me going.
Oh fix ur typos tho u fartsicle
YOUNG MAN WHAT IS THAT APOSTROPHE DOING IN YOUR FIRST SENTENCE. I think you meant to write “servant’s head” actually but either way, don’t do typos in your first sentence!! But okay let’s see…
Wow. This was a tragic bromance. I wept. I cheered with triumph. I wept again at Jasper’s sacrifice. I had sinful socialist thoughts. What a ride.
In all seriousness, this was a goofy story that flew along by the seat of its pants and had a good time on the way. There’s some genuine heart in the friendship between the king and Jasper, and I can tell you had a lot of fun. I wouldn’t call it a high point in the literary genre, but that’s not what you set out to write, is it????
Oh dear, poor Crenshaw is wedged between two adverbs in that first line. If two of the first three words of your story are adverbs, you may need to rethink that sentence. And gosh, what a sentence it is! After the initial onslaught of adverbs, the sentence wanders down a garden path and ends with an azalea bush who may or may not be drawing the ire of the lobby staff. You’re missing a comma, so the sentence reads like this:
Drunkenly, Crenshaw nearly spilled out of the elevator but instead spilled the contents of his stomach into a nearby azalea [who was] drawing the attention and ire of the lobby staff.
I think you got overly enamoured with things spilling out of other things tbh. Take a look at some of the other story openings from this week; a bunch of them do a great job of setting up the mood and premise.
Last note on the prose: you used around 20 adverbs (drunkenly, nearly, shamelessly, classically, particularly, etc). I think adverbs are great. However, they tend to weaken sentences and take the ‘punch’ out of your action and description if overused.
Onto the story itself: I’m not super well-read but I got sort of mid-20th century character portrait vibes from this piece, except it’s set in the modern day. Crenshaw seems like he comes from a time of rotary phones and postal correspondence, but instead he’s bumbling through modern dating. I can dig that.
I wasn’t a super fan of the way time travel worked; I think you should have introduced it way earlier in the story. As it is, it sort of takes a bit too long to get to the meat of the story, which is Crenshaw realizing his feelings for Sarah too late, then getting a second shot at it when he’s struck in the head.
I can’t help but feel that you had to cut a lot from this piece. Camila’s betrayal and subsequent treatment of Soleo and Del Moray makes sense in a “I guess this could have actually happened IRL” sort of way. I don’t doubt that it’s well within Camila’s character to abuse her station for her own purposes. I guess my issue is just that the story is so tightly focused on the relationship between Soleo and Del Moray that I was expecting that to be the throughline all the way til the end. That’s why I figured you had to cut a lot of words from this piece; I’m wondering if there was a version that went into a little more detail about Camila’s motivations. Also, I genuinely wasn’t sure if Del Moray genuinely had ulterior motives, or whether it just benefitted Camila to falsely accuse him of trying to manipulate her to get to her father.
I really enjoyed this story up until the point where the guys run back to their burning town. It was an operatic exploration of a pretty common scenario (two friends falling for the same love interest). Soleo is instantly likeable and it’s commendable that he was willing to quickly set aside his efforts to woo Camila in order to preserve his friendship with Del Moray ( and he had even retired his efforts towards Lady Carmila so as to hang onto at least something near to his heart. — I loved this line).
Bottom line, you wrote a great bromance with a slightly confusing bummer of an ending.
I would watch this movie. It’s a very Thranguy take on superheroes. Wizards, dragons, alternate history, giant mechs, maybe even a dash of steampunk. Just the whole genre kitchen sink, duking it out with nazis. As usual, it’s ten pounds of story in a five pound bag, but it’s so gleefully insane that I kind of just grinned and went along with it. More typos than usual, which makes me wonder if you wrote this very fast? That would explain the breathless, madcap feel of it.
Fafnir is definitely my favorite part of this. His sections don’t overstay their welcome but they do a lot to fill in a character who is otherwise very thinly sketched. I like that he got to dance with the extremely comic book journalist lady after the war.
The ending fumbles a little bit because it tries to cram too much additional info in right there at the end. You just barely manage to make it work by implying that the whole story was actually the cinematic flashback of a best man speech. But like. An OSHA representative is measuring the flimsiness of your framing device, frowning, and thinking that it might actually be too flimsy to suffice, but since it technically meets minimum specifications they have to let it pass.
One sec, I’ve got to check and see if I’ve got a bingo.
In all seriousness, this piece has swagger and confidence and kind of knows what it’s about from start to finish. I love that this huge dramatic burning house is a character unto itself, and not only that, it’s a source of commiseration for the narrator.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 06:53|
Week 440 Crits
Tree Bucket - Bridge Party
I felt a little lost in the setting and the bridge, and it doesn't quite form a concrete enough image in my head to be really engaged. So I guess if that fails the "so what?" test, I'll just go look for a character to root for. So MC in a fish-out-of-the-water situation is always a reliable hook, and for a while the story settles comfortably into it (I thought the paragraph where The Beloved's penchant for ball-kneeing was a overwrought and could have benefited an editing pass and cut to add focus to a more crucial part of the story), but the climax makes the story fall apart. What was The Beloved's plan at the start and how could she get flustered over a technicality? If a public proposal from the main character wasn't part of the plan, then what was? Now it feels like MC was just tacked on into the story, considering he was ill-fitted to the place for starters already. Because of this the ending feels unearned.
brotherly - What Did You See
Creepy but in an okay way, not in a "I'm gonna stop reading this poo poo yikes" way. I just feel like the licking thing is very oddly specific which makes me wonder if you just wrote your kink into your story. Anyway. There wasn't much of a sense of threat in this story, and the way the husband-to-be was handled felt flat in a "huh wtf" kind of way. I could dig the weird family tradition though. It's okay, I guess. I also don't really get how and why Jeremy doesn't know what the people who lick the orb see, I feel like that was a wasted opportunity to sneak in something interesting, as Mellie really really doesn't want to admit that she's a certified ghostfucker. I mean, this story already has that weird licking thing, why get blue balls there?
Yoruichi - ’Til Death Do Us Part
I think this could have worked better for me if the MC's heart didn't swing every other paragraph. She's in love with Emerald (totally out of nowhere, and we're supposed to go with it), and then she does that to her soul in the end. I wish I could call it an entertaining trainwreck but most of the story baffles me out of suspension of disbelief. I guess all the nonchalant killing is part of the mood of the story, but I found Magnolia insufferable. Nice words though. Nice weird but highly specific metaphors, too.
Simply Simon - Death of the Family
I read this beforehand (a little too late to suggest any significant changes to the story though), but now that I think of it it's Juan who's the real bad guy here. Antonio is a loon but at least he's the funny type who fakes his own death to show up at his funeral as a Zorro impersonator. Juan demeans and gaslights his fiancee and I absolutely do not have high hopes for their wedding. The story is mostly silly, but it also feels a bit ashamed of itself--I thought that choosing not to lean into the premise's inherent goofiness really hamstrings the story. Thankfully the melodrama at the end is short enough.
flerp - i tell you this to make it true
This is nice, but it's mostly a vignette. It's a good vignette, but I was looking for an actual story throughout reading it. Not really sure what was the entire point of it but nice words, I guess?
Mercedes - My City, My Rules
Speaking of a story that fully embraces its silliness, this one is pretty good. The sudden attempted assassination kind of surprised me but I found it funny for the characters to be having a spirited conversation about the whole thing. The magic battles were cool. Now I don't think this was some high-quality top-shelf stuff, but its audacity is enough to help me finish reading with a smile than with a scowl.
Idle Amalgam - The Right Wish
Ah, this is peak K-drama. That said, Crenshaw is a sadsack protag with little to no redeeming qualities. When he finally starts noticing Sarah (where you throw in sentences describing her dress and appearance), the gears started turning in my head. The Groundhog Day-esque transition was pretty nice, even if the next scene just reuses the first few paragraphs in an earlier scene. That's a little too lazy, don't you think? I like it, it had some emotional punch, even if I feel that Crenshaw didn't really earn that good ending. He's just an awfully sullen character without anything to make people root for him, and you can't expect readers to root for someone just because they're the main character.
Noah - Together, Forever
Okay so I guess this one pulls out the "love interest is actually manipulative and evil lol" card near the end. (Also Carmila is a stock villain name) Yeah it's supposed to have a weird tonal shift but it still comes off as a little too far-fetched. I really don't understand why Carmila just turned on them like that, and decided to massacre an entire village. I could've liked the bromance more, if not for the unusually cruel ending wherein bad things happen to the protagonists, and then they die. Not really good unless you're Franz Kafka or something.
Thranguy - Here Be Dragons
Very cool premise that is hampered by the word limit. Because there are too many disjointed scenes, there really isn't enough story to fill in the bones. I think if I were to pick the most interesting part of the story, it would be the last scene, because peace is messy and people who've been fighting all their lives absolutely suck at it, so there's a lot of potential for conflict. That or just have Fafnir slaughter Nazis by the dozen.
sebmojo - Three Alarmer
I liked this! I mean, I liked how Dave the himbo is a disaster and the Tony is inside the manor trying to rescue his secret lover's dad while being all baffled and conflicted about Dave wanting to marry him. And then the manor's like, fucken, "I know how it be," which is a big big mood. This feels like downtempo absurd millennial humor and I absolutely gobble that poo poo up. And life just goes on. Same.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 07:42|
Thanks for the really helpful crits, judges!
And now I'd better go see if the ThunderDoc can re-attach my leg.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 07:54|
THUNDERDOME WEEK 441: OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER
Yay, I won! I'm the winner! Wheeee! Now I get to give you a prompt! Hooray! How exciting! This prompt even comes with it's own theme song!
But, while I revel in the delight of sitting on this weirdly sticky throne (is that blood...?), you, my friends, are getting a Writing Exercise. This will help you get better so one day you can be the best, like me.
This week we are going to practice using Repetition. You will write a story in which a certain element - idea, phrase, motif, theme, image, etc. - is repeated at least three times. What does it mean each time it appears? Does the meaning shift through the story? You decide!
If you think this sounds ridiculous and/or too hard then you are bad and wrong, because I got this idea from a good and fun writing podcast, which, seeings how I'm am stealing their idea, I will plug here. You could even go listen to the episode on repetition!
If you are stuck for inspiration ask for a flashrule and I will give you a picture of something that I like. Ask for a hellrule and I'll add something demented on top.
Have fun! Remember, if you work hard you can be the best, like me! ME!!!
Word limit: 900 words.
Sign-ups close 9pm Saturday in NZ.
Deadline is 9pm Monday in NZ.
Me (because I'm the best).
Eager students of the craft of writing:
3. magic cactus
5. Idle Amalgam
7. Tree Bucket
8. N. Senada
13. Phiz Kalifa
14. Simply Simon
Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 08:30 on Jan 18, 2021
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 08:33|
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 09:45|
Thanks a lot for the plentitude of crits! Very appreciated!
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 09:47|
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 11:23|
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 17:00|
In flash and hellrule pls also because I need to atone for my two week straight failure streak.
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 17:56|
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 18:30|
|# ? Feb 28, 2021 15:47|
|# ? Jan 12, 2021 19:05|