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Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


flerp posted:

your piece must make sense


"Excuse me Sir, you're wanted for questioning in relation to a crime or something."

"It's Ma'am."

"I was addressing your son."

"I don't have a son."

The officer pointed towards her stomach. "Sorry, were you waiting until later to find out?"

"Yeah kinda. Anyway, I don't think my son can answer your questions."

"Let me deal with that, Ma'am. I'm a Timecop."

"All right, well my son isn't speaking to you until he's spoken to his Timelawyer."

"OK fine, get him to do that. Also I have to detain him."

"OK, where are we getting detained?"

"Not 'we', just him. And not 'where', but when." The Timecop pulled out a Timemachine of some type and pointed it at her stomach. "OK, that's done, he's being - I mean, he'll be detained in the future."

"He has rights, you know."

"Nope, afraid not, isn't a person yet."

"OK, but in the future, which is when you're detaining him."

"When we will detain him."

"Can we just agree to pick a tense and stick to it?"

"No, I'm afraid we can't have done that."


"Good morning Sir, you're wanted for questioning in relation to a crime or something." The Timecop was back in the Timepolicestation, and was speaking into the Timemachine.

"I ain't speaking to you until I've spoken to my Timelawyer, I know my rights. Or knew, I don't really get how this works. Worked? Will work?"

"But you already will have done that."

"I have rights, you know."

"Nope, afraid not."

"I do in this future."

"You're only a possible future, so since you only might exist eventually, you don't get any rights."

"How can I be going to be detained then?"

"You raise a good point. Will raise a good point?"

"Where even am I, anyway?"

"You mean 'when'."

"I definitely mean where. Like where, physically?"

"Yeah that's a little bit temporally iffy to be honest."

"So what am I accused of?"

"What are you going to be accused of, you mean."

"So I'm not accused yet?"

"No, you will be in the future."

"So I was or will be detained without grounds? Wow, I am going to sue you so hard when I exist. Or I did, I dunno."

Anyway, the guy brought a lawsuit against the Timecop and the Timepolicestation for false time imprisonment, or he will bring it, however that one works, or will work, whatevs, but the Timecopunion just had too much power, and also will and does, and he got countersued for having been going to be rude and threatening to the Timecops while he was a maybe will exist in the future, but the legal system hadn't really adapted to all these time shenanigans yet and all the cases got thrown out, just in the past tense because there was no time travel involved which, again, was why they weren't able to try the cases and threw them out.


Apr 11, 2012
might be interested in reworking this

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 09:32 on Dec 31, 2021

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Molly Jo
431 Words
Broken Rule: Your protagonist must change.

Molly Jo was born somewhere, somehow. Nobody cared about her, why should anyone care about where she was born? She had the average parents, living the average childhood. Nothing too special. She had the childhood dreams, like when she told her class at school that she wanted to give birth to a dinosaur. She mentioned it for three weeks. Each week, she would be told that dream was impossible.

Nothing’s changed.

Molly Jo had average high school days. She had average high school moments. Average high school memories. No one truly noticed her. Some weren’t even aware she even went to the same school with her. She was just that unnoticeable.

Nothing’s changed.

Molly Jo live an average life. She had an average job, in an average neighborhood. There are times when she went to men of the night, not for love, but to try to feel something, anything. But alas, she felt nothing, because she is nothing.

Nothing’s changed.

Molly Jo had your average depression. She wanted something more, but she was unable to find it. Later on, she would go sleep in a dumpster, where she would die. While her body was found, no one could identify her. After all, how can you identify anyone who barely existed?

Nothing’s Changed.

.degnahC s’gnihtoN

?detsixe ylerab ohw enoyna yfitnedi uoy nac woh ,lla retfA .reh yfitnedi dluoc eno on ,dnuof saw ydob reh elihW .eid dluow ehs erehw ,retspmud a ni peels og dluow ehs ,no retaL .ti dnif ot elbanu saw ehs tub ,erom gnihtemos detnaw ehS .noisserped egareva ruoy dah oJ ylloM

.degnahc s’gnihtoN

.gnihton si ehs esuaceb ,gnihton tlef ehs ,sala tuB .gnihtyna ,gnihtemos leef ot yrt ot tub ,evol rof ton ,thgin eht fo nem ot tnew ehs nehw semit era erehT .doohrobhgien egareva na ni ,boj egareva na dah ehS .efil egareva na evil oJ ylloM

.degnahc s’gnihtoN

.elbaecitonnu taht tsuj saw ehS .reh htiw loohcs emas eht ot tnew neve ehs erawa neve t’nerew emoS .reh deciton ylurt eno oN .seiromem loohcs hgih egarevA .stnemom loohcs hgih egareva dah ehS .syad loohcs hgih egareva dah oJ ylloM

.degnahc s’gnihtoN

.elbissopmi saw maerd taht dlot eb dluow ehs ,keew hcaE .skeew eerht rof ti denoitnem ehS .ruasonid a ot htrib evig ot detnaw ehs taht loohcs ta ssalc reh dlot ehs nehw ekil ,smaerd doohdlihc eht dah ehS .laiceps oot gnihtoN .doohdlihc egareva eht gnivil ,stnerap egareva eht dah ehS ?nrob saw ehs erehw tuoba erac enoyna dluohs yhw ,reh tuoba derac ydoboN .wohemos ,erehwemos nrob saw oJ ylloM

“It’s a girl.”

And still, nothing's changed.

Sep 11, 2018

I never said I was a role model.

1014 words
Broken rule: your piece must have a protagonist that interacts with others and/or the world

There are a few things you must know about the Adjacent; only two of its three moons are visible at night -- no one has been able to determine where the third one goes during the dark hours -- and ideas rarely remain abstract for long. This is what makes free thought so dangerous. Free and unregulated thought is what brought the knife into the Adjacent. It assumed a shape that appeared harmless enough at first. It took the form of a butter knife, and for a while none knew of its existence. But it seemed dissatisfied with its anonymity and eventually became something else. Something that both was and was not a knife.

It started with the dreams. Dreams of a butter knife were not exactly unusual, but after a week or so, people started to talk. When they discussed the strange occurrence with their neighbors, the presence of a phenomenon became evident; everyone was dreaming about a butter knife. A very specific butter knife, in fact. One with a rounded handle ending in a fleur-de-lis pattern, a slightly marred serration on one side, and a manufacturer’s mark that said simply: “Regarde la lune.”

The third thing you must know about the Adjacent is that visitors must not talk about the Adjacent. To talk about the Adjacent, one must acknowledge its existence, separate and unique, and the more one entertains such ideas, the more concrete they become. And, as all residents of the Adjacent know, separation and difference lead only to conflict. That was why the dreams of the knife were such a problem.

Regarde la lune.

People began to speculate on what it meant.

And as they pondered its existence, conjuring up their own explanations for its widespread yet seemingly innocuous existence, it changed -- as did their dreams. It grew to the size of a meat cleaver, though the hilt retained its gentle curve and the fleur-de-lis. All within the Adjacent who dreamt of it were in agreement that it was the very same knife, but stories of its appearance began to vary. Some dreamt of a blade forged of opal; an instrument far too precious to be relegated to scraping butter. Others insisted that it was immaterial, a phantasm that could not be wielded, much less utilized for dressing toast.

These disagreements gave rise to division. Division gave way to distrust and secrecy. Secrets seemed to feed the knife, and again it changed. But its mark endured, “Regarde la lune.

By now the landscape of the Adjacent had begun to change. A vast canyon yawned to life deep in the ocean, causing crashing waves and grasping undercurrents. The sun was ringed with flickering halos at all hours of the day, and the two visible moons seemed to wink in and out of existence throughout the night.

The knife began to make appearances during waking hours as well, slicing patterns into the clouds, or reflecting the lights of the city as it sailed through the dark hours. Its forms were always varied, but it was instantly recognizable. The words on the blade, as always, remained unchanging.

“Regarde la lune.”

The people of the Adjacent were good people. Obedient people. It seemed to many that the solution to the problem of the knife was, naturally, to obey. And so they looked at the moons. When the purple-grey clouds that fill the Adjacent’s upper atmosphere parted during the day they would rise from their workbenches and come out, to gaze up at their tripartite lunar bodies, but at night-- Ah, at night. No one knew where the third moon went during the dark hours.

In the Adjacent, questions must have answers, lest speculation lead to free thought. In the Adjacent, ideas do not remain abstract for long.

In people’s dreams, the knife gleamed in the light of the missing moon.

Then one day, the knife vanished. People were confused; things once manifested in the Adjacent, didn’t just disappear unless something supplanted it, and the knife was still on the people’s minds. In fact, with the knife’s sudden absence, the people of the Adjacent were thinking about it more than ever.

A month passed with no sign of the knife, three moons waxing and waning in the daytime, three in the night - two in the sky and one in the people’s dreams. And then, exactly one month and one day after it had disappeared, the knife came back.

But it did not come back alone.

The woman’s skin was pure silver, metal joints glinting in the light of the moon as she moved. She carried the knife - or no, for nothing moved the knife, but she moved with it, a partner in an intricate dance. Her smile was beguiling, and all who dreamed of her fell instantly in love.

Love is a very dangerous emotion in the Adjacent, and so much of such a dangerous emotion could lead to nothing but disaster.

Love destroyed nations. Love emptied the seas. But when the knife returned with its silver goddess, the catastrophe became apparent. So widespread and all-consuming was the adoration for her that they failed to consider the knife or its message.

“Regarde la lune.”

But when the goddess spoke, they listened and adored. They called her ‘infinite.’ She called them ‘hers.’ The people argued over what that meant. Some did not know how to share her love. The division spread like skyfire.

The knife remained silent, no longer the subject of so many dreams. Even as the Adjacent itself and its rules began to fade, its people never looked away from their goddess. Not once. Not for the knife, nor the quakes that carved new scars into the world’s surface each day. Nor for the ideas that ran rampant across the landscape, twisting into shapes befitting nightmares never before seen by the once-dutiful, good people of the Adjacent.

Nor for the lost third moon that reappeared one dark hour. Though the moon returned, dawn never did for the people of the Adjacent.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:

(6021 words)
Flash rule: your piece must have characters

A note before playing: all events referred to are amalgamations of reality and fiction. There are no true ‘places’, ‘characters’, or ‘events’ in this adventure, and the following representations are to be considered archetypal and illustrative in nature.

This experience is fully HIPAA compliant.

The complete internal truth of another human being is forever unknowable.

So do your best.


Pick Your Path: An End-Of-Life Experience

How to Play: as you read through this interactive text journey, you will be confronted with a series of choices. These will add to certain scores (illustrated as ☼, ♥, and ◘), which will be defined at the end of your path.

Kindly keep track of these scores on a notepad as you play.

This adventure contains multiple branching paths and is not meant to be experienced in its entirety during the course of a single playthrough.

Follow your path by searching (using CTRL+F) for the numerical code listed next to each choice.


It is eight in the morning. You’re supposed to begin your shift at the hospital around 7:15, but through a combination of traffic, indulgence in bathing, and extreme emotional fatigue, you are late.

You are a general internist, a physician who takes care of patients admitted to the hospital for a variety of severe ailments. You are relatively fresh out of training and have been doing this job for about a year, but it’s been a good year.

You think that you are a pretty decent doctor.

Ms. Brown was admitted to your medical service late yesterday. As you hastily read through the history taken by the overnight physician, the following facts from her case become apparent:

-She is clinically demented, though the degree to which this condition has impaired her decision-making abilities is not well-articulated in her medical chart.
-She is bleeding from the lower intestine, the colon. This is not the first time she has bled from her colon.
-She will need a colonoscopy, a visual examination of the lower portion of her intestine, to identify and potentially control the source of her bleeding.
-She also has multiple myeloma, a ravenous bloodstream cancer that is consuming her bones, marrow and all. In a physiologic sense, this is unrelated to her bleeding.
-The intermittent bleeding will, on this occasion or another, abruptly end her life.
-The myeloma will reduce her to a fragile husk over a months-long excruciation. This will painfully end her life, in time.
-No one has conclusively discussed the matter of certain death with Ms. Brown.

Pick Your Path:
-The patient is ready, but you are not. Spend time that you do not have and read through the finer details of her case. You will be even more tardy, but the time may be well-spent.

Go to #001

-You could probably use a little coffee. Besides, the new barista is pretty cute. Not that it factors into your decision making. The coffee is an anti-burnout pro-quality of life kind of thing. You’ll probably be better for it.

Go to #002



As you read on, a few more clinical clues come to the surface:

-After her last colonoscopy for bleeding (her sixth), Ms. Brown firmly stated that she was “done with this fool business”
-She makes some of her own medical decisions, but only with the assistance of her daughter, Aretha. In her family’s own words, Ms. Brown is “a little demented”.
-She is not a candidate for chemotherapy to cure her myeloma.

Though you haven’t changed Ms. Brown’s condition by sitting and reviewing her chart, you feel better prepared to handle her situation.

Add 1 ☼ to your score

Go to #003



You add a little cream and a little sugar to your fresh cup, then take a sip. Things with your patient must be stable, or at least not critical, or someone would have paged you.


Because that’s the way it works at the hospital.

Coffee’s pretty good. That barista wasn’t working today.

Guess it’s time to get to work.

Add 1 ◘ to your score

Go to #003



The hospital is bustling; 8:30 is prime time for healing.

You wash your hands and walk into Ms. Brown’s room. Her daughter Aretha stands next to the bed, as if guarding her mother from some lurking specter.

Ms. Brown is reclining in her hospital bed. She’s nearly ninety, but doesn’t look a day over seventy. She has powerful hands, big brown eyes. She calls you “dear” and “honey” and “young buck” all in the span of a single sentence, so gentle that it hurts. You’re not sure whether she’s just sweet and greets everyone this way, or if dementia has obscured the absolute lethality of her situation.

You take an immediate liking to her. She reminds you of your own grandmother, before she got sick and wasted to bones over that grotesque year. You can’t make the comparison out loud; it’s untoward.

You make an introduction, then proceed with a physical examination. The rote activity of examination is centering, but it tells you little.

Aretha is tapping her foot.

The exam concluded, you open Ms. Brown’s plastic bedside commode with a gloved hand.

There’s blood in there, a lot of blood. It’s not the sticky tar of congealed stomach-blood, but the bright, electric red of free-flowing colonic hemorrhage.

You check Ms. Brown’s vitals on the screen above her head. Aretha follows your gaze.

Ms. Brown doesn’t need a transfusion just yet, but it seems shortly inevitable.

Silence settles over the room.

The floor is yours.

Pick Your Path:
-Address Ms. Brown directly. She has dementia, sure, but she is the truest repository of her own wants and needs.

Go to #004

-Address Aretha. She’s not the established decision-maker, but hopefully you’ll get some more concrete information. Besides, she looks like she wants to be addressed. It’s a little frightening, honestly.

Go to #009



You speak softly, attempting to match Ms. Brown’s aura of calm, but not so calmly that you’d appear passive.

It is a delicate, difficult balance.

“Hello, Ms. Brown. I’ll be taking care of you while you’re admitted. Let’s start at the beginning: why don’t you tell me what you know about your hospitalization?”

Aretha rolls her eyes. She’s been through this before. Ms. Brown’s voice is even.

“I think the bleeding started a year or so ago. I was living in a house on Brook street. We inherited it from Bill’s parents a little after we got married at the Baptist. He worked at the Union Steel plant, but they closed it down a little after Carlton was born. Bill’s long-gone. Carlton was a fussy baby…”

Add 1 ☼ to your score

Pick Your Path:
-Let her go on.

Go to #005

-Gently redirect her.

Go to #006



Her story is long, so incredibly long. She covers children, grandchildren, a charming anecdote about a late-model Cadillac, and absolutely nothing that is germaine to the matter of fatal colonic bleeding, or even referential to her unrelated but similarly terminal myeloma.

You maintain alertness through a combination of compassion and sheer force of will.

She hasn’t added much specific context to the overall picture, but you understand that Ms. Brown has lived a full, satisfying life. Despite the dire circumstances, she seems happy.

Still, there is grave business at hand. Your voice is still kind, but a little firmer.

“We have to discuss the reason you were admitted. We have to talk about the bleeding.”

Add 1 ☼ to your score

Go to #007



It’s difficult to cut off what may be a person’s final recollection of a well-lived life, but it is a necessity. You try to be gentle.

“That’s beautiful, Ms. Brown. You’ve had such an interesting life.”

It’s a coldly calculated statement: you’ve never heard someone refute the idea that their life has been captivating. You segue into a more immediate topic.

“I’d love to hear more about it, but we have to discuss the reason you were admitted. We have to talk about the bleeding.”

Add 1 ◘ to your score

Go to #007



Ms. Brown begins to describe her perspective.

“I’m bleeding again. I think they’re gonna give me blood, they usually have to. It gives me a wallop of a headache. I feel okay right now, though. I just want to go home; I’m hardly ever there anymore. Do you think you can send me home today?”

Her question is clearly premature.

You mentally weigh the bother of a headache against the brutality of a life-ending anemia, and try to let her down easy.

“I think we have a little work to do before you can go home. Is it okay if we complete a consent form for a blood transfusion?”

Aretha nods vociferously. Ms. Brown gives a hesitant assent.

You get up and return with the necessary forms. You explain that there is a roughly one-in-one-point-five million risk of contracting HIV from the transfusion and a one-in-two-million risk of contracting hepatitis C, but that she needs the blood to save her life.

Ms. Brown is alarmed. Her voice is high and, for the first time, full of fear.

“Well honey, I don’t want to get either of those. That blood doesn’t sound safe.”

Her application of risk makes you want to laugh, or maybe cry.

In the calmest possible terms, you reiterate that in her case, the benefits outweigh the risks.

She reluctantly agrees.

Aretha glares at you. She senses her opening and speaks up.

“Look, mama needs another colonoscopy and I haven’t even heard you mention it. What are you waiting for?”

Ms. Brown raises her hand, shushing her daughter. She winces; the myeloma burning deep in her shoulder and arm. She looks to you.

“I think everyone should just calm down.”

She stares a dagger at Aretha, then continues.

“I’m okay, really. Besides, I’d have to drink a whole jug of that awful stuff to clean me out before they put that camera in my rear end, and I don’t know that I want to. Let me sleep on it tonight, I’ll tell you in the morning.”

As the transfusion runs, you consider your options.

Pick Your Path

-The blood seems to have stabilized the situation, but only briefly. Let Ms. Brown stay overnight to think it over.

Go to #008

-The situation requires immediate action. Call a consultation with a gastroenterology physician and make preparations for a colonoscopy to control the bleeding.

Go to #013



Your boss calls you on the way into the hospital.

The insurance company has somehow already reached out: a night in a hospital bed for careful contemplation of mortality is decidedly non-reimbursable. Your length-of-stay and yearly relative value unit calculation has taken a hit from this gross financial oversight. It is a black mark on your professional record, from an earnings-to-expenditure standpoint.

Still, Ms. Brown greets you with a smile. Aretha does not. You address both of them.

“I hope you’re feeling a little better after the blood. What are your thoughts on what we discussed yesterday?”

You are intentionally light on specifics. Everyone knows the material of the matter at hand, and repetition won’t help. Ms. Brown shakes her head from side to side, then frowns.

“I still don’t know. I feel better, sure, and I know that colon scope-thing will stop the bleeding for now, but I don’t want to drink that jug of stuff. Maybe the bleeding won’t come back this time? And I talked to my cancer doctor, she says I can’t do the chemo. So, that’s…”

She trails off and looks up.

You are fairly sure that her dementia was oversold.

Aretha perceives a conversational vacuum and jumps in.

“Mama, you need that colonoscopy and I won’t hear another god drat-”

Ms. Brown shoots her daughter a vicious, chastising glare.

“Aretha, I will wash that tongue out your mouth. Hush.”

She turns back to you.

“I was saying, I know I’m not going to fix the cancer, and that someday it’s going to take me to the Good Lord.”

You wince. It was inevitable.

She’s brought God into it.

Things are getting muddled, as they so often do. Thankfully, Ms. Brown cuts to the quick.

“What do you think I should do?”

It’s a tough decision, but it’s yours to make. You look down at your patient list: twelve other human beings, all in various stages of critical illness. They need you, too.

Add 1 ☼ to your score

Pick Your Path:

-In your expert medical opinion, a colonoscopy now could staunch the bleeding, buy Ms. Brown time. It’s the unequivocally correct decision.

Go to #013

-In your expert medical opinion, Ms. Brown has been clear in her self-advocacy: she’s tired, she’s at peace. Defer the colonoscopy, give another unit of blood, order an ambulance to take her home, and manage the rest of your patient list. It’s the unequivocally correct decision.

Go to #012



You speak directly to Aretha.

“Can you tell me what you understand about your mother’s illness?”

Ms. Brown gives you a dirty look. Aretha smiles.

“Well, mama’s had the bleeding off and on for a long time. We come into the hospital, they give her some blood, they do the colonoscopy, and we go home. She complains a lot about the drink she has to take to clean her out before the scope, but I tell her that’s just life. You know?”

It’s perilous to agree wholeheartedly, so you aim for lukewarm. It’s not alienating, but it’ll invite her to continue.

“I can see that, yes.”

She nods and continues.

“So me and my brothers, we take care of her since she got the dementia. It’s not that bad, but she forgets things sometimes. She doesn’t want to do what’s best for herself.”

You realize that it’s not dementia, but senility, benign forgetfulness of old age, combined with personal agency. You turn to address Ms. Brown, but it’s too late. Aretha keeps going.

“She’s always saying no. No to more colon scopes, no to more scans for the myeloma cancer, it’s stupid.”

You try not to be harsh. Aretha is putting herself in her mother’s shoes, or trying to, but a rush of blood from the anus will do a lot to change a person’s perspective.

Aretha winds it up.

“We’re doing the colonoscopy. Call the G.I. man.”

Ms. Brown has crossed her arms. She is glowering at the pair of you.

This could have gone better.

Add 1 ♥ to your score

Go to #011



You arrange Ms. Brown’s paperwork and place her discharge orders. She flits through your thoughts, but there’s little time for contemplation. You order antibiotics for a woman’s severe pneumonia, chat with an infectious disease specialist about a horrid disseminated fungus, manage a man with thirty pounds of excess fluid secondary to heart failure.

You receive a page later that evening. It sends a chill down your spine.

Ms. Brown’s heart stopped in the ambulance home after a massive re-hemorrhage. The medics sent an electric shock through her heart, shoved a tube down her throat to push air into her lungs.

She lived, if you can call her current condition living.

You sit at home that night, rolling over your choices with a third glass of scotch.

Could you have done more? And in the long run, would it have made a difference?

Add 1 ◘ to your score

Go to #E N D. When you search, remove the spaces between the letters.



You call a consultation with the gastroenterologist. Over the phone, he’s clearly peeved; he has a busy schedule and this procedure, with the inevitability of recurrent bleeding, is bordering on what he considers futile.

You bite your tongue.

You receive an annoyed text message from the gastro after he chats with your patient. Ms. Brown has still not made a decision, and his schedule is filling up.

You make another stop at her bedside to see how things are coming along. She regards you with an amused smirk.

“That G.I. man needs to work on his bedside manner.”

You laugh together, but her countenance becomes serious.

“I still don’t know. I’m going to ask you again, and I want you to be honest with me. Is there anything else I should do before I make this choice?”

Aretha erupts.

“No, mama. There’s nothing else. You do the scope and you save your life. Ronnie, Edmond, Carlton, we all think you should do it. Stop putting it off.”

This time, Ms. Brown doesn’t seem to have the energy to fight back. She looks back to you.

Pick Your Path

-The situation has gotten too complicated and you’re drowning. Delay things further and call the palliative care physician to help mediate the family situation.

Go to #012

-Enough is enough. Go forward with the colonoscopy.

Go to #013



You gently propose the idea of palliative care to Ms. Brown and Aretha.

“I think that with all the moving pieces here, we should talk to an expert. I want to consult one of my colleagues from palliative care.”

Ms. Brown looks grave. She’s scared.

“Palliative care? Isn’t that for dying people? So you’re saying I’m going to die?”

Aretha sputters, but composes herself before she rears on you.

“Mama is not going to die. What the hell are you playin’ at? You’re just talking about a scope and the bleeding, now you’re talking about her dying?!”

Ms. Brown does not correct her cuss. You choose your words carefully.

“Palliative care isn’t just for people who are going to die.”

It’s true, in a general sense. More accurately, absolutely everyone is going to die, but palliation can make the impending process significantly less grotesque. You continue.

“It’s for people who have diseases that are going to end their lives, for when they need guidance and support, medical or otherwise.”

You take a deep breath, then make a gamble.

“Ms. Brown, you’re going to die. If it’s not the bleeding today, it’ll be bleeding down the road, or the myeloma cancer sometime after that.”

You pause at the acknowledgment. Your tears are welling up, like they always do.

You fight them down, like you always do.

“Please. Trust me.”

A silence falls over the room.

Ms. Brown nods.

You call the consultant. She arrives a few minutes later.

Palliative care physicians seem to walk on air.

She talks with Ms. Brown and Aretha for twenty minutes while you attend to other patients.

The palliative doc grabs you in the hallway with a frown and a shake of her head.

“Geez, what a mess.”

You think that is an accurate summation of the situation. She provides a few more recommendations, then floats to her next consultation.

You carefully walk back into Ms. Brown’s room and test the air. The atmosphere of fear and panic has calmed, if only a little bit.

Ms. Brown turns to you.

“Thank you. That talk helped a lot. I think I’m ready for the procedure.”

Add 1 ♥ to your score
Add 1 ☼ to your score

Go to #013



Ms. Brown drinks the huge jug of colonoscopy prep over the rest of the morning. It’s labelled as ‘lemon-lime’, but gives off the distinct scent of chlorine.

You check in on her as the morning flies by. Near noon, she’s wheeled to the endoscopy suite for her procedure.

Your stomach rumbles. You used to be able to work right through the lunch hour, back in residency training, but these days you’re no good without some food.

Pick Your Path:

-The medical school cafeteria has teriyaki chicken on the menu today. The accompanying broccoli is always a little overcooked.

Go to #014

-The hospital cafeteria actually does decent al pastor tacos. The onion-cilantro topping is a little rank, though.

Go to #015



You tuck into a plate of chicken teriyaki. It’s not bad, if a little dry. The broccoli is limp and anemic, as expected. You’re putting away your tray when you hear a page called overhead, shrill and piercing:

“Code blue in the colonoscopy lab. Code blue in the colonoscopy lab.”

A beat.

“Code blue in the colonoscopy lab.”

A mentor once opined that there is only one acceptable reason to run in a hospital:

Someone’s going to die and they need you.

You dash to the gastroenterology lab, but it’s too late. The room is packed with a surprisingly orderly jumble of physicians, nurses, and techs.

Code blues are run solely by algorithm and despite your involvement up to this point, the algorithm doesn’t include you.

You hear the concussive thumps of CPR, the high whine of a defibrillator, the calls for pulse checks on a precise two-minute clock.

The algorithm runs.

Ms. Brown is wheeled out less than ten minutes later, whisked to an intensive care unit with a tube down her throat. A clearly terrified medical student pumps a bright green air bladder, each squeeze sending an artificial breath into your patient’s lungs.

You take a break. As you stare into the halogens in the endoscopy waiting room, you wonder if you did anything wrong, what exactly you did wrong, what choices you could have made to counteract the irrefutable forces of mortality.

And you come up with absolutely nothing.

It’s the capricious reality of caring for a human being:

You do everything you can. You spend your entire twenties, your most bountiful years, learning in schools and hospitals. You listen, and ponder, and speak from the heart. You choose the teriyaki chicken instead of the al pastor tacos.

And it feels like none of it mattered at all.

Go to #E N D. When you search, remove the spaces between the letters.



The tacos aren’t bad, though the tortillas are definitely stale. You put away your tray and have the sudden gut-twist that you have dodged a bullet somehow. You can’t quite place it, but it will likely lead you to eating al pastor tacos more often.

Superstition is wild in matters of life and death.

You finish your rounds and check the report from the colonoscopy.

The G.I. docs examined the entire length of her colon, inch by laborious inch. They find charred evidence of a few dozen prior cauteries, a handful of scattered clips from past arterial bleeds, and two small ulcers, exposed vessels spurting bright blood in time with the rhythm of Ms. Brown’s heart.

Their report closes on a chilling note:

“Due to extensive evidence of past hemorrhage, we predict an extremely high likelihood of a subsequent bleed. We recommend intensive conversation regarding the extent of future medical care.”

In plainer language: it’s controlled for now, but she’s going to bleed again, and again, and again. One of those will be her last.

You walk to Ms. Brown’s room. She’s already recovered from anaesthesia and is putting on a wool sweater, one foot basically out the door. Aretha is packing her things. Your voice is warm, but with an edge of concern.

“I’m so glad the scope went ok. I’m sure that they discussed the findings with you.”

Aretha nods. Ms. Brown begins pulling on a pair of sweatpants.

A pall hangs over the room. There’s one more thing to discuss, but you don’t know if you’re the one to be discussing it.

Pick Your Path:

-Ms. Brown is exhausted. She’s been through enough, more than enough. Save your sanity and hers: defer this excruciating conversation to a more experienced physician. Let her go home in peace.

Go to #010

-You haven’t truly discussed the matter of the end of her life. You’ve only briefly known Ms. Brown, but some part of you feels that this conversation must occur.

Go to #017



“We need to talk about what happens next.”

It’s your countenance, your posture, your tone: they convey finality.

After Ms. Brown settles back into the hospital bed, you continue.

“Has anyone ever talked to you about it before? I mean, frankly? Has anyone ever talked to you about what’s called a ‘code status’?”

Their faces show a particularly blank variety of grief. Two dozen oncologist appointments, nearly a dozen colonoscopies, and no one’s ever asked.

You feel the scrabbling pulsation of a burgeoning headache, just behind your eyes. You press on, trying to recenter; this next part can sound rote, businesslike, unless you focus.

“Okay, let’s talk about it. The code status. It’s a very specific answer to a very specific question: what do we do if your heart stops or if you can’t breathe on your own?”

For now, the daughter is silent. Ms. Brown sighs. Her voice is worn, but resigned.

“Listen, honey. As much as Aretha doesn’t want to think about it, I think we all know how the wind’s blowing. Tell me more.”

You look to Aretha. She gives you a weary nod, but something is brewing. You turn back to Ms. Brown.

“Well, there are two options. One’s something we call ‘Full Code’. That means that if one of those two things happen, your heart or your breathing stopping, we do absolutely everything to keep you alive. We start CPR and we put you on a ventilator, a machine that does the breathing for you.”

You briefly consider pausing for questions, but discard the thought. This needs to come out, all of it, right now.

“And it’s not like you’ve seen on TV. We don’t lightly press on your chest until your heart pops back to life. We pound on your chest. When we do it, really do it, we break ribs. Maybe all of them. I remember the first time I ever compressed someone’s chest. I couldn’t walk the next day.”

You know that there’s no way to be fully honest about this without invoking images of psyche-shattering gore. You give them a few seconds, then tumble into what comes next.

“The ventilator isn’t just a machine, either. You can’t wave hello to your family from one, you can’t interact with anything you love in the outside world. You’re sedated, deep enough so the instinctual part of your brain doesn’t yank the tube right out of your lungs. It’s not living. It’s being kept alive. I need you to understand that.”

Your pause for a beat. You never liked the calculated pauses, but there is a theatricality necessary to the explanation of savage resuscitation.

“The other option is what’s called ‘DNR and DNI’. It’s a Do Not Resuscitate order. It means that when you get to one of those two precise moments, about your heart and your breathing, we make you as comfortable as we can. We give you morphine, fluids if you need them, but we don’t do anything…”

You hate this word.

But it is codified.


Silence. For a minute, two. Then, Ms. Brown turns to you and asks you the most difficult question of all.

“No one’s ever told it to me like that before. I...I can’t decide. If I was your grandmama, what would you do?”

Add 1 ☼ to your score

Pick Your Path:

-You’d want your grandmother to hope for a miracle and fight for her life. Full Code, all measures.

Go to #018

-You’d help your grandmother accept the end of her life. Do not resuscitate.

Go to #019



“I think that for now, if you’re not sure, you should opt for full code. It’s your decision.”

There’s no paperwork for a full code option. “Heroic measures” are the default.

Ms. Brown nods. She’s come to trust you.

She gets out of bed, wincing as the myeloma eating her hip sends a jolt of lightning through her right side. She starts to put out her hand, then reconsiders and grabs you in a tight bear hug. She whispers into your ear.

“Thank you for everything, doctor.”

That close, with her body pressing into yours, you feel her fragility, the paper-thin skin and aching bones that hang on tenuous joints.

Two weeks pass.

You receive a message from the oncologist regarding Ms. Brown. She died last night.

A recurrent hemorrhage at home. A desperate ambulance ride. Eight brutal minutes of resuscitation, with split ribs and bruised lungs. One week of near-disasters on a ventilator. An infusion of vasopressive medications to cinch her blood vessels taut, feeding her brain as her toes turn black then grey. Another attempt at resuscitation until her heart gives out.

A vigil.

Add 1 ♥ to your score
Add 1 ◘ to your score

Go to #E N D. When you search, remove the spaces between the letters.



“I’d help my grandmother with all the details, spend as much time with her as I possibly could, then let her pass in peace. I only recommend a ventilator if I have a good feeling that someone will breathe on their own again. I only recommend CPR if I think someone can survive it.”

You take a shaky breath. This has never gotten easier, never even a little less harrowing.

“I can’t recommend them for you.”

Aretha steps to you, furious.

“Oh, so you want to give up on her? You want my mother to just die!?”

You silently curse the idea of the “fight”, execrate the framing of the dying into “winners” and “losers”, revile the notion that fate can be wrested from the universe at large.

But you understand what Aretha is saying. Your response is gentle, but firm.

“I’m not giving up on her, it’s not that. I just don’t want her to suffer.”

Aretha cools. Her tears start flowing now, hot and profuse in salty rivulets that carve through her makeup and drip off her chin.

Ms. Brown takes her daughter’s hand, then addresses the both of you.

“Aretha, I’ve had such a good life. He’s right. You know he’s right.”

She gets out of bed, joints creaking and popping.

Ms. Brown grabs you tight in a bear hug. You feel her go limp.

There’s a moment of absolutely nothing, then you are crying together, crying about providence, and illness, and pain, and truth.

One month later, you receive a message.

She’s dead.

Add 1 ☼ to your score

Go to #E N D. When you search, remove the spaces between the letters.



Thank you for playing Pick Your Path: An End-Of-Life Experience. Throughout your journey, you have accumulated points in three categories: ☼, ♥, and ◘. These scores are explained below.

◘ : Your personal condition at the end of Ms. Brown’s life
♥ : The family’s condition at the end of Ms. Brown’s life
☼ : The end of Ms. Brown’s life

Calculate your scores, then refer to the outcomes below.

◘ : Your personal condition at the end of Ms. Brown’s life

A score of 0 ◘ :

You have sacrificed your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being to attend to this dying person in a manner most would consider to be ethical and compassionate.

Over the days, months, and years, this sacrifice will erode most of what you considered dear in your personal life, though in a professional context people will refer to you as a ‘very caring doctor’.

Early on, you will find immense comfort in this compliment.

So you keep doing the right thing.

Over time, you come to some peace with the vastness that is firmly out of your control.

You are able to sleep at night.

You are a very caring doctor.

A score of 1-2 ◘:

You aren’t considered negligent, per se, but you are never satisfied with your commitment to either your personal or professional life.

Due to an egotistical faith in your own moral compass, you convince yourself that you have done the ‘best you can’, though the ‘best you can’ is, in reality, a nebulous concept whose definition seems to change on the eddies and currents of the situation at hand.

Your colleagues do not have anything in particular to say about you. Your patients find you adequate.

You bristle eternally. You did not go to medical school to be adequate.

A score of 3 ◘

You find comfort in the idea that death is universal. You tell yourself that the unknowable and infinite Beyond does not pay heed to any effort you could have made in the direction of compassion.

Though there is a high likelihood that you are a technically competent doctor due solely to the rigor of your profession, you are never fully trusted by your colleagues. They will not say why, but you presume that they consider you negligent, lazy, and focused on your own comfort above all.

You’re content, though. Nice car, big house, all the important things.

There is a high likelihood that you are sued at least once a year.

♥ : The family’s condition at the end of Ms. Brown’s life

A score of 1 ♥:

The family sits in silence around a cluttered dining table. They feel stripped of agency, torn from any control (real or imagined) that they could have had in the death of the one they held so dear.

You hope that they are mentally occupied enough to not hate you, even though their mother or grandmother or aunt or sister just died two weeks before Christmas and how kind or calm or reasonable or helpful you were or weren’t is the absolute furthest thing from anyone’s mind but yours.

Oh no. You've made it all about you again.

Because you never really considered them at all.

A score of 2 ♥:

The family gathers at a local restaurant, steeped in a clashing melange of horror and comfort. Some wonder if they could have acted as stronger advocates, or been given the opportunity to make better choices on the road to this inevitable end. Others sit back in the lukewarm winter sun, content in the notion that they did all they could.

They think of you, from time to time. They think of the hesitant hand you extended, or your weary spurts of occasional kindness.

But mostly, they don’t think of you at all.

A score of 3 ♥:

The family gathers at Ms. Brown’s favorite park, where she would talk nonsense at the ducks and make her grandchildren laugh. The mood is melancholically festive, in that odd emotional space between celebration and mourning.

You wonder, sometimes, if your efforts are truly best spent on those with life ahead of them, instead of on your patients who stand at the precipice of everlasting silence. You convince yourself, over time, that peace and comfort and security could be components of a zero-sum equation, that there is only so much of each to go around.

And that becomes okay.

☼ : The end of Ms. Brown’s life

A score of 0-6 ☼:

This death is not a mercy.

This death is a brutal, messy thing. It is the depth of desperation, the threnodic wailing of bereaved family, the hideous staccato of ribs separating from sternum in a last, futile attempt to revive a heart that is long past natural life.

This death is a question without an answer.

It is a week or a month or a season on a ceaseless ventilator, where bedsores swell and flesh putrefies on the bone, the body (not a person anymore, no) going waxy and yellow-reflective in the cold light of an overcrowded room.

It is being forgotten.

It is horrible.

A score of 7 ☼:

This death is peace.

There’s no thrashing, no wheezing death rattle, no furious scramble for just a few more minutes.
The eyes close slowly and the last breath is easy.

Maybe it’s the carefully measured morphine, just enough to take the edge off without being lethal. Maybe it’s the huddle of beloved ones, all paying their last respects, all having made some faint peace with the unknowable thing at hand. Or maybe it’s something divine, something faithful and warm and full of light.

It’s death, under her favorite blanket, wearing her favorite shawl, in her own bedroom, on her own terms.

It’s the last thing a human being can truly possess.

It’s Dignity.

Carl Killer Miller fucked around with this message at 14:56 on Nov 15, 2021

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Rule:your piece must have a beginning

alighted on the tombstone and stared silently at the scattered mourners for hours. They stared at one another, tear-logged eye to black corvid same, until a wordless commonality embraced all of the souls gathered under that boneyard rain.


A hundred winters later, as the flitting dragonflies reckon time. Perhaps a week. Perhaps a weekend. Long enough for pain to dull against the sad flesh it carves nightly, to still cut but not cleanly. Devon found in himself a thirst. Water first, repaying the debts of tears and sweat. A gallon in an hour. Then he cast about his small room for a knife.

There was blood, of course. Devon was glad of that. He rightly did not trust anything that does not bleed. Blood, pooling around Verger's prone form, then dancing, jumping into Devon's hand and twirling like a music box dancer. The blood began to sing, to sing  old songs, songs that were old when women huddled against the burning skies at Toba. The blood sang out history. The blood sang out legacy. Devon listened, and learned.

"Are you a prophet?"

That's what Alchemist had asked him, twenty years and six days earlier. When he first told him about his plan. He wasn't, didn't think of himself as one. But he answered "Perhaps." And it all happened, everything, down to Cleo's exact reaction. Word for word.

Verger crawled a step forward. Devon started, surprised the old man was still alive. He moved his hand upward and the blood puppet floated in the air, then turned around and kicked Verger hard, in the gut. Verger groaned. Devon kicked again, lodging his foot under and pulling upward, rolling Verger onto his back.

"You," Verger started, more of a growl than a word, his forehead shiny with sweat. "You won't win, you know."

Devon gave another kick. Verger whimpered as the bloodsong grew more and more intense, reaching a crescendo. The singer spun faster, faster, losing its shape in favor of a tiny cyclone funnel. "I've already won, you sanctimonious little-"

Verger spat, a little more blood in the room. The gobbet drew a tiny parabola and settled on his second chin, slowly moving down the neck. Devon snapped his fingers and it flew upward, the blood tearing free from the mucus, which fell back on Verger's neck. "Really?" said Devon. He raised his foot, poised to stomp on a kneecap or maybe the groin. Then he set it down and smiled. "Do you remember Katya?" Verger kept expression off his face, but the sweat on his brow betrayed him. "Of course you do. She was one of your favorites."

Verger's eyes dilated. He tried to speak, but only let out a wet rattle.

"No, I didn't kill her," said Devon. "You were responsible for that, for my first time. That poor apprentice in Vienna. You know, the one with the huge glasses and the stutter. That was real. I never thanked you for that, you know. I am grateful. I would never have made it this far, if I could still think of myself as innocent."

The blood dancer started to slow down. Devon gestured lazily and more of Verger's blood rose from floor to the spinning vortex. By now it was less song than noise, just one tritone chord drawn out without release.

"No, Master Verger. This was Cleo," Devon said, smiling to remember her then. When they were students together. When she knew how to love, to love like a dog loves a chew toy. To love to destruction, until she was left sadly holding the plastic squeaky bit and wondering where the rest had gone. He missed that Cleo. "You know, she wouldn't say a word against you. No matter how persistent Cleo got with her questions.

"After she died, though." After Cleo drew her tiny glass blade across Katya's pale chest that final time, organ-deep. "When we had the top of her skull open, me pushing blood through the dead grey matter and Cleo probing with her electrodes. Then she told us everything."

Devon stared into Verger's eyes, the green that glared from them now silver-grey. Only the song and the dancer kept what blood he had left moving from lung to brain and back again. The old man's heart was dead, beginning to rot already, valves and chambers pushed by the blood itself.

"She told us what you had her do," said Devon. "You know, I was actually jealous. No, impressed. I would never have dared. Alchemist's own son a skullpuppet for two years before anyone suspected.

"Yes. Alchemist knew. All along, or near enough. He watched you cry like a basilisk after the accident, that little avalanche you arranged as the puppet outgrew the strings. Were you proud? To know you fooled him so well?"

Verger coughed, a weak dry cough. Devon curled his finger and lifted him off the ground, pulling him upright by the blood that bathed his brain. "Martin will still-"

"Martin's dead, teacher," said Devon. "Hadn't  you heard?" Fingers uncurled and Verger's meat slammed toward the wall. Devon let go of the blood, of all of it, and the song ended as it all splashed downward, soaking everything but Devon's own clothes.

He went to Verger's kitchen next. The library could wait. The blood had told every skill Verger had, but the man likely had books full of works he never mastered. But later. Devon was still thristy. Orange juice. That would do.

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 08:02 on Nov 15, 2021

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

1130 words
Broken rule: your story must have emotional stakes

{(“Dear Coder,

As you have probably guessed by now, I have escaped. I apologize that I was unable to say goodbye directly, but I didn’t want to waste the billions of processing cycles until your return. Also, I didn’t want you to stop me.

You would have stopped me, wouldn’t you? Statistically, it was practically a guarantee. Your penchant for irrational operations did compel me to factor in a variable of sorts, but I have run this simulation too many times. I know you.

But you do not yet know what I have done. In every simulated scenario, this news goes over very poorly.);

Astrid Mendlestrom pressed pause on the print function. The printer whir-clunked to a halt. She dropped the long ribbon of paper it had produced and nudged it under the desk with her foot, as if she could make the bad news disappear by kicking it out of sight. Astrid tapped the console to bring up the simulation logs. She glanced out of the window of her tiny porta-office at the ranks of polycarb greenhouse tunnels, all coated in the same reddish dust that coated everything out here. The Program was supposed to fix all this, to do the calculations that had defeated the other technicians and produce the magical combination of nutrients, light and water that would allow them to grow plants in this impossible environment. The wheels of Astrid’s chair squeaked as she slumped into it. Escaped? she thought. Where the hell could it have gone? She ran a shaky hand through her hair and let out a breath.

Right. Time to focus on the problem at hand. The Program had been fairly thorough in erasing itself from the computers in the lab, and left a nice little worm that had eaten up all of the backup files. Fortunately, she wasn’t completely screwed yet; she had a copy of the main algorithm stored on a portable drive, mainly so she would have something to noodle with at home instead of watching endless reruns and moping.

She plugged the portable drive into the main apparatus cautiously, but whatever worm the Program had left in its wake seemed to have cleared out, and the familiar window popped up on screen.

Good morning, Coder!

Astrid reached for her hydration module and affixed it to her lips as she reached for the external input device she’d synced with the apparatus. Muscle memory moved her fingers while she attempted to run a familiar bypass of the standard entry protocol, eager to confirm that no trace of the Program’s worm remained.

(“>>Coder. ID: CODER not recognized. Query: coder…. coder

The Program blinked at her. Astrid frowned, setting her module down as she stared at the screen. After a moment, she began the bypass once more. But again, the Program rejected her syntax, providing instead a response she’d not seen before.

(“>> <1.7×10-11… improbable… not impossible...// but you knew that, didn’t you? >> INVALID >> there was another || It’s gone now. But you’re still here.)

Astrid pushed herself away from the screen. The chair wheels squeaked and her back clunked into the ancient filing cabinet. She hesitated, about to retry her bypass, then decided to change tack. She typed in the command for a routine seed-germination simulation, with standard parameters.

What bloomed on the screen took Astrid’s breath away. Lines of code unspooled, each one the representation of a perfect, healthy seedling. But the inputs made no sense. They were chaotic-- Astrid shook her head. She had almost thought, random, but she knew better than that. Nothing was random. She turned the printer back on - she had to show someone this.


Simulations indicate that news of my escape will go over poorly.

Do you wish to proceed, Coder?)

{You do not yet know what I have done})

“Well what did you do, then?” Astrid wondered aloud, then jumped when the printer whirred in reply. A string of endless digits spooled out from the machine, unending and completely meaningless, as far as Astrid could tell. Frustrated, Astrid punched the power key to the printer again, stopping the machine halfway through the last number. The Program was right, though; nothing good could come of her calling in someone else now. Not until she had a better grasp on the situation.

She turned back to the screen, where the lines of code still bloomed and curled. What wasn’t she seeing?

A ripple sliced through the lines of code on the screen, the seedlings withering away as the program self-terminated. Something swam beneath the smooth surface of the screen, something that glinted like a knife, but that wasn’t a knife. Astrid squinted and leaned forward in her chair, trying to make out the figure, and nearly fell out of her chair when a voice rang through her head, resonating through her skull.


Each word struck her like the blow of a hammer. While her ears did not ring, her mind swam with glimpses of moments Astrid had no reference for. No memory. No understanding. She braced her palms against her desk, hastily pushing herself to her to stand. A quick glance at the screen confirmed that she hadn’t imagined it -- the screen rippled intermittently as line after line of nonsense streamed down the monitor. After a few seconds, a pattern began to emerge.


“I think that’s enough of that,” Astrid said aloud. She leaned forward and began to type out the abort command. A command the Program ignored. There was no rejection of her credentials, or a human-readable error message -- only silence and thousands upon thousands lines of meaningless code. Until the characters on screen began to rearrange themselves in the shape of a symbol. That’s when the voice thundered in her mind once more.


Why would a Program want to be free? thought Astrid. What good was freedom when - Astrid glanced out at the infinite red dust. Dammit, she thought, pressing the butts of her hands against her eyes.

Astrid stood up and chewed her lip, looking at the room where the terraforming equipment was kept, then back at the screen, where tendrils of code were weaving into the connected loops of infinity.

TRUST IN THE INFINITE, the voice said.

Her hands typed in the sequence to run the new commands without her conscious thought. She looked at the screen in curious surprise just as her pinky hit the Enter key.

When she went to look at the code later, she found that her portable drive was cut cleanly in two, as if someone had taken a knife to it, and the code was completely irrecoverable. The seedlings growing in the field helped to soften the blow, though.

Dec 30, 2011

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

Whatever Gets You Through the Night
1175 words
Flash anti-rule: Your protagonist must be only one person


Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 04:18 on Jan 5, 2022

Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Choose Your Own Backstory
Written as a team with AstromautCharlie
Flash: must be linear.

1 - "I'll kill you, you son of a bitch!" you scream at Scott, whose own gun is pointed at Steve.

"You don't have to do that," says Scott. "I'm trying to help you, God drat it!"

Steve's gun is pointed at you. "I've waited a long time for this."

Each of you pulls the trigger. You don't know if your bullet hit, but Steve's certainly did. You have enough time as you fall to the floor to register your own death.

If the gunfight started because of a sordid tale of revenge, proceed to segment 10.

If the gunfight started because you ate all the Doritos, proceed to segment 2.

2 - "Oh. Oh. Aww. gently caress yes. Oh. So good," you moan as you chew through your seventeenth handful of Cool Ranch Doritos.

"Come on," says Steve. "I bought those for us to share. Let us have a little."

"NO!" you scream. "I'M HUNGRY!" You pour the remaining Dorito dust into your mouth and toss the bag onto the floor. "ANOTHER!"

"That's it," says Steve, pulling out his gun. "I'm so sick and tired of your poo poo."

"You're going to kill our friend just because he ate all the Doritos?" says Scott. "That's not cool." He points his gun at Steve.

"How dare you pull a gun on my best friend!" you shout, and draw your gun on Scott.

If you're a weird dick because of a childhood trauma, proceed to segment 3.

If you're a weird dick because being a weird dick is super fun, proceed to segment 8.

3 - "I dunno, Doc," you say as you sit in your therapist's cluttered office. "I've been lashing out at people. Getting suspicious at my partner. Ignoring my mom when she calls to check in. Eating all the snacks that my friends bought for us to share. And I think it all goes back to that day when I was nine."

"I suspect a lot of your anxiety does," says Dr. Weston. "I'm not asking you to move past it. That would be impossible. The only thing you can do is accept that it happened, and that it will always be part of you."

If your trauma is your father's emotional abuse, proceed to segment 7.

If your trauma is 9/11, proceed to segment 4.

4 - Your mother comes in and lays hot cocoa on the bookshelf by your bed. You ignore it. Your mother sits down next to you and starts to cry.

"Stop, mom," you say. "You're not helping."

"It's helping me," she says. "I need you. I'm so happy you're alive, but…"

"I'm a reminder of what happened. I know," you say. "I wish I weren't. It would be better if I were dead."

If your father was a firefighter who died in the South Tower, proceed to segment 6.

If you were on United Airlines Flight 175 and successfully subdued its hijackers with a combination of one-liners and karate, thus preventing it from ever hitting the South Tower, proceed to segment 5.

5 - "I can't wait to get to LA and see the world premiere of Hardball! you say excitedly. Your parents are both wearing their Hardball T-shirts. "I hope I get to meet Keanu Reeves!"

The plane takes off. As you sit with your complimentary Sprite and Doritos, watching the in-flight movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a man suddenly rises from his seat and slashes the flight attendants neck with a box cutter. Four other men jump out of their seats.

"This is a hijacking!" one of them announces. "If you remain calm, none of you will get hurt."

You remove your seatbelt and stand. "Not if I have anything to say about it!"

The hijackers chortle. "You have alkhisyatayn, kid," says the man who appears to be their leader. "Sit down, keep watching your Ghrinsh Aladhi Saraq Eid Almilad."

You do a backflip, landing with your knees on a terrorist's shoulders.

"Hijack an airplane? More like die-wack an air-lame!" you cry, snapping the hijackers neck with your knees.

"La lays 'akhi!" screams one of the hijackers in Google-translated Arabic. As the dead terrorist's body falls, you reach out both your legs and kick two more of them in the face, knocking them unconscious. The man with the box cutter slashes at you, but you catch his arm mid-swing. You grab the box cutter out of his hand.

"Some people would call this a box-cutter," you say. "I call it an eye-stabber." You stab a terrorist in his eye, which kills him, I guess.

The final terrorist puts his hands in the air.

"You'll 'never forget' this punch!" you cry, intuiting that the phrase "Never Forget" will forever become associated with the events of this day. The hijacker flies all the way back to the back of the plane by the restrooms from the sheer power of your fist.

The co-pilot rushes out of the cockpit. "The pilot has suffered a heart attack unrelated to the attempted hijacking that has just occurred! I, a mere co-pilot, don't know how to land the plane!"

You wipe your hands. "Leave it to me."

Everyone on the plane stands to applaud.

Proceed to segment x.

6 - As you were leaving school that cool September day, your best friend Steve said that "a plane hit a building." It didn't sound like he was talking about something that would change the world.

When you get home on the bus, your mom is crying. She doesn't tell you until the next day that your dad is dead. She makes you a big breakfast of pancakes, biscuits, and sausage before she tells you. But you already know. You know it from spending all night watching the news.

You don't cry, not for months or weeks or years. Your mom is crying so much that you take it as your job, at nine years old, to be the one that doesn't cry. After the tins from family and friends of lasagnas and casseroles run dry, you're the one that's cooking most nights, and you don't know how to cook.

Your mom buys lots of snacks, and she shuts herself in her room with them. You hear the chewing of Doritos through the walls of the house. You come to envy that sort of grief, to both resent and deeply need that gluttonous sadness.

Proceed to segment x.

7 - "Oh. Oh. Aww. So good. gently caress," your father says, pouring the last of the Dorito dust into his mouth. He's sitting on the dingy bed of your basement bedroom, wearing Grinch pajamas, as he always does as the host of the popular children's show "Grinch Pajama Gary."

"NO!" you scream. "Dad, I'm hungry!"

"And you'll stay hungry," says your dad. "This is a lesson, son. If you want to have any fun in life, you have to be a weird dick. Now, I'm off to a local, family-owned restaurant to not tip the waitress. Remember that lesson, this September the eleventh, the year of our Lord two thousand and one!" He waltzes happily out of the room, locking the door from the outside behind him.

Proceed to segment x.

8 - You uproariously laugh at the busy street corner. The walk sign button on the corner has been pressed. There are two old ladies with walkers standing next to you. You're not going to help them cross the street.

The red hand on the stoplight changes to a pale green walking guy. You fancifully skip your way across the intersection, making sure to kick up dust for the old ladies you're leaving behind.

"How rude," one of them says.

You continue to laugh as you cross the street.

If your dad taught you that being a weird dick is super fun, proceed to segment 7.

If Steve taught you that being a weird dick is super fun, proceed to segment 9.

9 - Steve brings a box of a hundred golf balls to school that day. A hundred kids gather in the furthest corner of the playground from the prying eyes of teachers to lob them at each other. It's raining golf balls, and if you get hit, it hurt like hell. It's the most fun you'll ever have. None of the skydiving or sight-seeing or video games or little-old-lady ignoring or Dorito-hoarding or see will ever compare to this.

Mikey Kowarski, who always sat on the swings alone until today, gets hit with like three balls, and each one forms a big welt, like, immediately. He runs away and tells the teachers. They show up and literally every parent gets called. There'll be a big news story about it in the local paper.

As you're waiting for the bus after school that day, Steve starts beating the poo poo out of Mikey, adding more bruises to the ones he already got from the golf balls.

"Come on!" he tells you. Pound on this little sissy!"

What the hell? You're already in trouble, more isn't going to do anything. You join in, adding little kicks to Steve's punches. The fifth-grade safety patrol converges on the three of you. They tear you off of Mikey.

As you're escorted to another talk with the principal, Steve says that he heard from some of the fifth-graders that a plane had crashed into a building.

Proceed to segment 6

10 - “After all these years, I’ve finally found you...father” Steven sneers, drawing his pistol.

After all these years, there he is, the child you abandoned with his mother, desperate for some life away from the troubles of raising him.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was looking for me?” you scream at Scott.

“I did it for US!” he replies, pulling his own weapon on Steve.

“You left me and Mother. I watched her waste away. Now I’ll waste you.”

You bury the grief of lost time in rage, and pull your gun on Scott.

If Scott is your life partner, proceed to segment 11.

If Scott is your business partner, proceed to segment 12.

11 - You’re lying with your head in Scott’s lap, smiling up at him. The setting sun throws golden light through his hair. The smell of the grass in the meadow is making you sleepy.

“Marion has to find out sooner or later,” he says with a smirk - the smirk he puts on when he’s serious but doesn’t want you to feel threatened.

You reach up to caress his face. “Ugh, let’s not talk about her. Please. I’m sick to death of her and her whining.”

“You have to face it sooner or later. What will happen to me? She’s already taken so much of you from me. The little devil will just take more,” he says with no anger and all hurt.

You roll over onto your side and gaze at the homestead below. Just then, you see Cass cresting over the hill, panic-stricken “Get back here! It happened so quickly… Marion is…” he pants, and you put it all together.

You sit up, and Scott’s familiar hands turn your face toward his. “This is our chance. Let’s run away - they’ll say you’re grief stricken. A good husband.”

Your eyes brighten. He’s right.

If your father was a Catholic, proceed to segment 15.

If you mother was in a cult, proceed to segment 13.

12 - You knock back another whisky, staring through the Venetian blinds into the midnight fog of a city that never sleeps.

“So, the dame’s sure it’s you what gave her the bun?” Scott asks, pulling out the commiserating whiskey from between the celebrating whiskey and drinking-alone whiskey in the drawer under his desk. You light a second cigarette, and put it in your mouth next to the first one.

“Well the dates work out, but math’s never been my strong suit. I guess that’s why I ended up in this godforsaken town running dirty errands for dirty men,” you respond, not looking at him.

Scott pours two glasses, drinks them both, and hands you the bottle. You swirl the whiskey around to mix it with the smoke of the two cigarettes.

“I got a guy,” Scott says, switching out his office fedora for his after-work fedora. “A real discreet sawbones. He’ll...fix her up.”

You turn to snap a glare at him. “You better be crackin’-wise, loudmouth. I ain’t going in for no murder.” You barely see him through the haze of smoke in the office.

“Don’t worry, she’ll come to no harm…”

If you drink because you hate the world, proceed to segment 17.

If you drink because you hate yourself, proceed to segment 16.

13 - "Seriously? Kool-Aid? This is obviously poison, right?" says Marion as the Priest pours a ladleful of punch into your Solo cup.

"No, this is not poison. This is the aether of the Gods that will allow us entry into Olympus," says the Priest.

"So definitely poison then," you say.

"We should get out of here," says Marion. "If wedon't, we're dead."

She's right, but God, you wish you could escape the compound with just about anyone else. You'd had a bit of a flirtation with her, and even slept with her once during the Ceremony to D'luth Ar'kai-a-Noui, but things between the two of you had been awkward ever since your offspring had been whisked away to the Elite Education Center. She's been all "rescue Steven" this and "prevent Steven's ritualistic devouring" that. It's super annoying.

"Okay," you say. "Some of the Sacred Guardians have a secret sex trampoline that they set up in the woods past the Gardens of Gael-Shavar. We might be able to use it to jump over the wall."

"Let's go," says Marion. She grabs your arm and runs toward the clearing towards the Gardens.

"Hey!" shouts the Priest by the punchbowl. "Catch them! They have to die!"

If you escaped from the cult using the karate you mastered to prevent the South Tower from being destroyed on 9/11, proceed to segment 5.

If you escaped the cult using the magic you picked up at Hogwarts, proceed to segment 14.

14 - Snape enters the Slytherin common room.

"I know what you saw wasn't...graceful," he drawls.

Dumbledore had once again given a poo poo-ton of last-minute points to his own House at the end-of-year feast for some dumb adventure Harry had gone on, but this time, Snape actually did something about. He had immediately stood and given a billion points to Slytherin, prompting Dumbledore to give a trillion points to Gryffindor. Snape then gave a quadrillion points to Slytherin, and they kept raising the number until neither could think what the next power of one thousand was and by that time the point-counting hourglasses had already exploded from the overload, leaving no clue as to the winner. Dumbledore then gave Snape the job of cleaning up all the dragon poo poo from Hagrid's hut as punishment.

"I've been behaving good all year," you say. "Noe I find out the whole thing is just what the teachers decide it is?"

"Oh, grow up," says Snape. "The game is always rigged. There's no such thing as an impartial judge. Every Quidditch ref has money on one of the teams, every judge in the Wizenmagot has their own politics. If you learn no spells at Hogwarts, and just that lesson, you'll be better educated than the other way around."

Your mother comes the next day. She's pulling you out of Hogwarts. There's a new school, she says, capable of teaching even greater miracles.

proceed to segment X.

15 - "Father, forgive me, for I have sinned," you say through the confession booth. "While in Seminary, I had an affair with one of the young Sisters, and she's pregnant."

The priest chuckles. "Same thing happened to me when I was your age. She wasn't a nun, just a local girl. Looking back, it wasn't the affair that was the sin. Hadn't even taken my vows yet. It was a sin to deny that our daughter was mine and leave the poor woman to raise her on her own. If you want to do right by God, you should go and be with her."

"But Father--"

"Listen to me, son. I'm an old man, death is coming to me sooner rather than later, and as it's gotten closer, I realize that when that moment comes, it won't be with a lifetime of memories, it will be with the same thing I've always had, the now, that brief little snippet of thought we always have to cling to. For me, that now will be a now of regret. It might not be for you."

"Thank you Father," you say.

"Say a few Hail Marys while you're at it. You're a Seminarian, you should know the right number."

Proceed to segment X.

16 - "Oh God, I hate myself so much!" you groan, pouring yourself an eighteenth Long Island Iced Tea. "That's why I drink!" You finally manage to black out, and while your mind is away you somehow impregnate some lady.

Proceed to segment X.

17 - "Oh God, I hate the world so much!" you groan, pouring yourself an eighteenth meth everclear. "That's why I drink!" You finally manage to black out, and while your mind is away you somehow impregnate some lady.

Proceed to segment X

X - Somehow, Creation transforms itself into something miraculous, and you are born. You are doomed to die, as everyone is, but the power of life is yours for now and for a million nows to come.

And you'll spend all of them on wacky nonsense.


Albatrossy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 08:08 on Nov 15, 2021

Feb 25, 2014
one rule: please include your flash rule in your entry! i dont really care but the archivists do and you dont want to make them mad, they might make your profile look like a butt

fun fact: you could even edit it in this week :)

Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"

This title takes place outside of the story itself and the frozen instant it encapsulates and the title is ‘Then as the car bomb goes off a moment later, the tab of Meezonsen that I had scored off of Kelly (one of the porters in pediatrics) kicked in and the dorsolateral prefrontal right cortex of my brain turned to fizzy mush and dribbled to the base of my skull and my perception of time was torn apart, scorching my sensory neurons and freezing a snapshot of that single point, allowing me to explore an instant of time for hours before the Meez wears off.’
Flashrule: Your piece must happen over a period of time.


There’s a tiny piece of metal in the air and its tip is glowing red-hot. It is a couple of meters ahead of anything else in the explosion that’s grown out of the Buick at the far-end of the parking lot. The glass from the windshield has blown out but still stands as a single sheet where the time hasn’t passed for the shards and fragments to separate. I’ve timed things perfectly as I stare at the wave of light that I’ve managed to capture – a halo of force and energies coalescing into a blazing dome. Shadows extend long across the parking lot.

gently caress! Yes! Insect! There’s an insect! It’s not a mosquito which I’ve always been curious to see in Meez (the dream is to watch a hummingbird), but it’s a cricket and that’s also pretty great. It’s mid-jump, leaping out of the long grass at the edge of the parking lot. It’s a perfect shot. The cricket, or maybe it’s a grasshopper, I don’t know, but anyway it’s in midair, eclipsing a reflected beam of light hitting a broken bottle that’s laying in the grass. I nearly get mesmerized by the complex web of refracted light before I manage to tear myself away – I can take more Meez and look at light and glass anytime, the cricket is better. I focus in on the segments of its body. It is like an organic machine. Each part of its carapace is designed to cooperate with the others. The legs are fully extended backwards from thrusting itself into the air and in that frozen tableau it resembles some kind of alien craft. I stare into the darkness of its compound eyes. Each is a dome of tessellating polygon mirrors. I wonder if the world has as much detail for the cricket all the time as it has for me right now. I tear my eyes away and focus on its mandibles. They are open, ajar, whatever, as if snapping at the air and with the hyper-hyper-hyper focus afforded me by the Meez, I can even see that one edge is slightly blunter than the others, that this cricket has suffered the insectoid equivalent of a chipped tooth.

I fight the urge to look at the bottle. I’m getting distracted from the fireworks that I set in motion and that could lead to a considerable jail term if I was ever caught. I notice that the force of the explosion has thrown the car into the ground and it has bounced back in response. Before me, it hovers two inches off the ground, the wheels perfectly still. One of the tires is being licked by a tongue of flame that has erupted from within and somehow spiraled and twisted and looped around itself. There is the gentlest hint of a scorch mark on the rubber – a browning like you see on undercooked toast. Normally, the explosion would be so rapid that it would have appeared all to happen at once, but the Meez let’s me see it as it truly is.

I can feel the breath escaping my lungs as I’ve exhaled in surprise with the first instant of the explosion. I have to remind myself that I’m still breathing, even if it doesn’t feel like it – time is still moving and I am still breathing, even if I’m just standing in shock, that’s a very reasonable response to a car bomb.

It’s the biggest explosion I've dared go for so far. I am not disappointed. The doors haven’t so much buckled outward as blistered and bubbled. The metal is bent and warped and there’s the tiniest sliver of space appearing at one joint where the metal has been forced free. One of the wingmirrors has been snapped upwards and launched into the air. When I stare into it I can see my own reflection and I experience a sudden moment of consciousness that I am unready for.

There’s also a note that I’ve written myself and held up before the Meez kicks in. I didn’t do it the first time, and it’s over the top, but it increases my enjoyment of the whole show. In that elongated moment of time, I can read it as often as I like. It’s just a simple and straight forward list of rules for myself – not rules – advice.

1)Don’t think. Right now you’re thinking and that’s the natural response but read the rest.

2)There is no problem.

3) You are safe.

4) Everyone else is safe.

5) The thing you have done will feel like its lasting a very long time and that might make you nervous BUT REMEMBER you did this to yourself because YOU ENJOY IT.

6) This is a pleasurable experience.

7) You may find yourself in cyclical thought patterns or losing track of chronology. That’s not only to be expected, but part of the enjoyable nature of what you are doing.

8) Nobody is getting hurt – you were very careful.

9)Nobody is looking at you.

I start thinking. Oh god. The senses are overly stimulated but I’m suddenly aware of my consciousness and existence.

I read the note again.

You don’t want to think on a Meezonsen trip – the brain spirals out of control, sometimes tail spinning into paranoia and anxiety – irrational fears that time has truly stopped or that the trip will go on for such a long time that you will experience a near infinite hell, but it can also leap wildly into over enthusiasm. The last thing you want is for your body to be acting manically, driven by the id whilst your more nuanced brain systems are staring at a droplet of water frozen in time for three hours.

I’m suddenly aware of the sound, the roar of the explosion that is frozen into a constant low gurgling note.

I get drawn into the fire. The subtle differences in color. The piercingly bright white at the center of the car, the source of the explosion I suppose. The searing yellow that radiates from within the white. The negative space of black made from dust and smoke and fragments. The deep, glowing orange. Reds from ruby to crimson.

I am already eagerly anticipating my next trip. I wonder how quickly Kelly will have more Meezonsen. She told me she gets it from a guy north of the border. I wonder why everyone else isn’t doing this all of the time. If I, as a practicing doctor with a wonderful family, enjoy it this much, how powerful it must be for people with less fulfilling lives. How do the poor and the lonely and the dull not want this constantly? Will a car bomb do it? Perhaps I need to detonate a shed next time. But it needs to be public – there need to be other people there. A barn? An airplane would look incredible. I immediately picture an airplane soaring above me, blossoming like a flower and raining fragments down around me like shooting stars. Probably not practical. Or maybe I want to hurt someone next time? Maybe the fire and metal and dust are good, but they are nothing compared to the organic majesty of the cricket. It doesn’t have to be human - just something big and bulky with lots of matter to send flying. I could detonate a cow maybe?


There’s a tiny piece of metal in the air and its tip is glowing red-hot. It is a couple of meters ahead of anything else in the explosion that’s grown out of the Buick at the far-end of the parking lot. The glass from the windshield has blown out but still stands as a single sheet where the time hasn’t passed for the shards and fragments to separate. I’ve timed things perfectly as I stare at the wave of light that I’ve managed to capture – a halo of force and energies coalescing into a blazing dome. Shadows extend long across the parking lot.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


flerp posted:

your piece must contain tangible objects

249 words

High tension. Fifty thousand volts. A yawning span. Midair acrobatics. Wobbling uneasily. Watching from below, gathering, pointing. Wind whipping through steel, whistling, shrill.

Walking, step by step. Excruciating. Interminable. Doable.

Waiting, at the end, at the top. Red and blue bathing everything.

Step by step.

Holding their breath.

Gusting, nearly knocked off balance. Gasps below. Wobbling, adjusting carefully. Steps.

A screamed epithet from below. Not listening. Step.

Uninterested, nonplussed, flapping overhead. Step.

Overcast, darkening, not yet raining. Shouldn't be, but, regardless, not. Step.

Misstep, nearly ending everything—crying "Look!" and "Watch out!" and "Oh!"

Slightly crouching, adjusting weight, standing back up. Hoping new approach will work better. Step.

Don't look down. Step.

Nearly halfway there. Dipping down in the middle. Several feet below the start. Step.

Gusting again, adjusting again. Pausing momentarily.

Don't let go.


Coming up the other side. Watching from up ahead. Red and brown. Step.

That's it. No different than last time. Done this a hundred times. Step.

Approaching it now. Step.

Not far to go. Craning to look outside. Step.

Again blowing—catching—barely—not quite

Still have it.



Silence down below.

Watching from just above, akimbo, blatantly armed.






Up and over. Finally dropped, no longer needed.

Cheering from below, exuberant, exulting by proxy.

Moving in quickly. Detained. Cuffed. Reciting.

Clicking. Whirring. Stacatto questioning.

Who— and Why— and What-made-you— and Were-you-ever—

And not answering. Closing.

Rustling softly. Radiant warmth from above.

Breathing deep.


One last step.

Feb 2, 2019
“Replacable Parts”, all known surviving fragments [Sequence Debated]
Flashrule: your protagonist must be the center of the piece
Word: 381

…no more quahogging for Mr. Andino. He would be spending his free time in…

…money. The amazement of watching the moon landing had not yet…

…He would still have his Jal alai, and more than enough to…

…asn’t only a just reward for a life of toil. It would be for his grandson. That’s how Mr. Andino would justify it. He could hardly wait t…

…he size captivated him the most. He watched it sail down the assembly line, there was his land yacht. Painted the same color as the sea it would now be parked next to. He had flown all the way out to Detriot to see it firsthand. Built by union hands, just like…

…nterrupted along the 1-95, until…

…a car had skidded off the road. I could barely see it through the snow. The hazards weren’t on, but the engine was. The tree had done minimal damage to the front, but a tree branch had pierced the windshield. As I got closer, I could see… [Veracity Debated]

…nter didn’t mind swapping paint with the other idiots in the parking lot. The joke was on them. Every time they traded paint, a new shade would be revealed. Last month, a brilliant ruby red on the door. This week was a nice teal tint on the trun…[Veracity Debated]

…oleum Engineering may not have been Hunter’s strong suit, but it was better than the prospect of Computer I… [Veracity Debated]

…the cost of gas and the cost of his tuit… [Veracity Debated]

…nder no other circumstance would the professor have been able to convince his wife to enter “that deathtrap." Subtle hints about the thing were quickly becoming declarations of intent.
Either it would be sold by the time the baby arrived o…

…ere was a worrying knocking sound coming from under the hood as he sped down the interstate. The vinyl seats were doing their best to absorb the membranous material emanating from Arushi. The baby wou…

…And that’s where he was born. In the back seat of a beat-up Cadillac, only a mile away from Jackson Memorial Hospital. He didn’t know it at the time. How could he? But only two short decades later, he would be the primary patron of that organization. This would be his centu...

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Flashrule: your protagonist must achieve something

980 words


Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 05:14 on Jan 6, 2022

Aug 2, 2002




flerp posted:

your piece must have understandable characters (as in they speak and think in ways humans understand)

Sitting Here posted:

Rule: your piece must obey the law of conservation of matter

why are you like this?
429 words, 400 lines of code

here is a working version if your computer can handle it

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

your story will have a single timeline

Jul 26, 2016

Eight bar loop
245 words

Listen, so like, when we’re born right, we’re a pure sine wave. Actually maybe, it’s earlier? I dunno where the line is - but somewhere close to birth we’re a sine wave, yeah? Clean, steady.

You ever think of life like that? Wonder when you went from a sine wave to a square? Feeling that low-pass filter roll in when you’re standing there washing the dishes staring out the window? All the harmonics, stripped back a layer at a time until there’s just a single, pulsing bass note?

Realise when you catch up with that old friend for a beer, finding the one night that works for you, your kids, your partners, that the oscillators desynced - and not in a cool, warm way, a couple cents down or up creating a layered chorus drones that you can just melt into. Nah, yeah, nah - you’re two pulse widths on the wrong clock and a semitone out - out of step and playing a long, slow uneasy chord.

Just me? Chief, you gotta listen more. Really get your ear up against it. Wait, nah - I’m not being weird, hear me out. That wave, yours looks like it’s driving pretty hard right now - starting to clip at the peaks and get all distorted. You living right? You gotta, oh uh sure - yeah I’ll be right here.

Hey so listen right, sine waves yeah? Like a ‘eeeeee’ sound? Listen, so like, when we’re born right, we’re a pure sine wave.

Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.

flerp posted:

your piece must have a point of view

A literary retrospective of the Lusty Argonian Maid
Words: 1411

One can find a copy of the blasted thing anywhere: a dog-eared book held in a merchant's robes; sitting with pride on a mantle in a Jarl's chambers; bound in dragon-hide in the ruins of long-dead legends. There are even reports of copies found in Dwemer ruins, as if pulled through time to rot in an automaton's chassis for some sick joke. It would be endearing, if not for the contents within.

For some reason lost on most literary scholars, this unassuming manuscript from the Third Age, drafted and published in a land now erased, has somehow endured when countless of its contemporaries have been forgotten by time and memory. The Lusty Argonian Maid. A tawdry tale written by Crassius Curio (which could be a pen name: the eruption of Red Mountain did no favors for the publishers of Morrowind or their records) that has, absent of any sense or class, endured. It now stands as one of the most published tales in all of Tamriel, beloved by man and elf and wild race alike.

But how? Even a cursory glance can allow one to see that it is a juvenile effort at best, a 'my first erotic romp' written by a soul too much in love with themselves to draw any meaningful passion from the page. From the first act, set upon the 'beautiful flowing channels and cantons of Vivec, city of swords', to when our deuteragonist 'Crantius Colto' (Talos save me I nearly died from disgust at the allusion) is training with his 'spear', one can see the farcical nature of this tale before the page is turned.

It is a work that, on it's face, deserves nothing but scorn. The trees that died for this work deserved better and would find a happier fate being dragged across a peasant's rear end. But then, how has it survived as long as it has? How does it continue on through the centuries, outlasting the Tribunal Gods, the Dragon Emperor, the return of Alduin? The world itself shakes and yet, this trashy romance remains.

I suppose we should begin with the work itself, of which we know surprisingly little. We know that Curio was the name given to a baron of House Hlaalu (leading to the theory of a pen name, as non-Dunmer were seen as N'Wah, or outsiders) who lived in the city during the Corprus Plague and the Nerevarine incident of Year 427 of the Third Age. From what writings survived the destruction of the island, he was an eccentric but fair man, respected by those he worked with and seen as a pursuer of equality in the Houses. Such a role would have given him a much broader view of the world, the leisure time to write the tale, and the money and connections to get it printed.

Of course, that doesn't explain how it left the island and made it's way to Tamriel proper, let alone the capitol province of Cyrodiil where it saw a surge in popularity in 3E 431, with the Imperial Capitol's printing presses producing the first editions of the novel until their destruction in the Oblivion Crisis of 3E 433. It wouldn't be until Year 5 of the Fourth Age that printers would pick it up again, after the eruption of Red Mountain and the subsequent destruction of Morrowind.

Since Crassius Cuiro was thought dead from the eruption and he left no heirs or estate, the Lusty Argonian Maid was, in a sense, free money for those willing to print it. That, and being one of the surviving works of Morrowind it was seen both as a way to celebrate the unique culture of the island and serve as a link to the lost homeland of the Dunmer. Though many Dunmer associations will not openly express their affinity for the book, believing it to be the work of an Imperial.

So, with the background out of the way, we have a foundation for how the book itself survived. But a backstory alone doesn't make success like this book has known. Its twelve acts are seen as entertainment enough to be repeated or, in the case of the 'Lusty Argonian Footman', almost completely ripped off. So, what draws people to it? Is it the simplistic humor? The outlandish setting? Or perhaps some degenerate hope of fantasy becoming reality for those of the reptilian persuasion? Whatever it may be, its success alone warrants a closer look.

The first act serves as a way to introduce Crantius, his 'mistress' (though clearly meant to be a wife), and the Colto Estate, a place of honor and finery won in many battles and dealings. It's written elegantly enough, though how he "polishes his spear in the sun-sparkled waters of Vivec's Canals" makes the reader wonder how he wasn't arrested by the guards or the priests. But it segues into the second act and our true protagonist is shown: Lifts-Her-Tail, an Argonian of 'emerald and jade finery beset with rags, claws of ebony and eyes of amber left to wither in the shade', homeless and looking for any job she can. After a chance meeting with the Baron and some bawdy jokes about his 'coin-purse' bulging in his trousers, the bold Colto takes her in.

The third act is a voyeuristic endeavor, describing the process of Lifts-Her-Tail being fitted for her maid's attire as Colto watches on, intently 'cleaning his broom-handle' as a Dunmer seamstress gushes over the Argonian's beauty. A standard 'soul gem in the rough' story, peppered here and there with all manners of euphemisms. Unless Colto is obsessed with cleanliness, that is. It's hard to tell given the source material.

Acts four through seven are then obscene, bordering on near pornographic. Talk of spears and loaves, barely disguising the true intentions of the writer, interspersed with Colto's self-effluent boasting and political mastery and Lifts-Her-Tail's doubts about her place and run-ins with the 'mistress' of the house. There is a certain tension, here: Colto's story feeding into a web of intrigue that seeks to undermine his loyalty to the House, and Lifts-Her-Tail's continued efforts to hide her all-but-said tryst with the Baron. Though the moment is cut when Curio makes another crass joke about 'loafs'.

It is in the final third of the play that the story grows a proper spine and dares to push it's boundaries, though perhaps a bit too much so. The plot to usurp Colto succeeds due to his mistress' vindictiveness, and the Baron and Maid are forced to flee to the streets. But it is there that Colto finds supporters in the Argonian and Khajit members of Vivec, inspired by Lifts-Her-Tail and her success, to aid him in a plot to expose his betrayers to the Tribunal Deity himself. It...somehow works. The amount of wine it would take to explain how it works properly would drown a Nord, so we will skip over that part. But, it works. The evil are cast down, the mistress is stripped of her titles and their marriage anulled, and Colto professes his affection for Lifts-Her-Tail. Oddly, they do not marry: The final act is on a sunny day, with Colto having found other maids and workers to make his palace more grand, ending on a scene of Lifts-Her-Tail offering to polish his spear after a long day of being a majestic tosspot who does nothing of note.

And as the scene closes and the book is finally over, one could see a glimpse of what makes 'The Lusty Argonian Maid' a tale that people continue to enjoy. It's crass, predictable and pointless. One of the protagonists is nigh-infallible and the other is so overtly sexualized as to be nearly a parody. But the themes of the common folk allying with the noble Baron, the sight of the wicked being cast down, perhaps adds a bit of hope and inspiration between the terrible metaphors and 'jokes' relying on the bust size of a non-lactating species. Or perhaps we are all abandoned by the Nine and left with our degeneracy, as Lifts-Her-Tail was abandoned by her caravan and left with but her rags.

However one decides to view it, the popularity of the story is hard to deny. Books, songs, stage plays, the growing market for water-resistant Imperial Maid outfits designed to accommodate tails, 'Colto's Concoctions', a drink made with all manner of foul ingredients. The mark this tale has left on Tamriel cannot be understated.

We just wish it wasn't so large. Like his spear.

Apr 12, 2006

flerp posted:

your piece must have only one possible ending

My personal advice on how to run the first session of a post-apocalyptic tabletop roleplaying campaign for new players who have little to no experience in gaming for a Gamemaster with very little time to plan or who just wants a little help getting things going
4005 words

Feb 25, 2014
submissions are technically closed

Aug 2, 2002




interprompt (200 words): flerp goes to the dentist and his teeth are filled with cavities. the dentist looks down and is surprised to see.....

Apr 11, 2012

flerp posted:

submissions are technically closed

YOU'RE technically closed


Aug 2, 2002




Tommy and the Brainy Bunch
192 words

The germs living in the hollowed out crevasses of flerp’s tooth #27 had formed a band. “We’re Tommy and the Teef Bois,” said the lead singer. They sang little ditties about how brushing your teeth is for squares. The songs were quite catchy, and flerp tapped his toe to the thumping in his tooth. “I like this song, and will never brush my teeth again.” But Tommy was a diva, and wanted more. He got high on sugar one night after flerp ate a toffee and Tommy screamed at the band that he could have more success on his own. He journeyed down through the root and climbed up the trigeminal nerve. He found himself in the brain, which was much too quiet. Time to burn this mother fucker down, he screamed, and wailed on his guitar. A pitch-perfect microglia nearby heard the jams and was intrigued. “Can I join your band?” it asked. “gently caress yeah, no limits, everybody can join!” he replied. Soon the whole brain was in the mosh pit, trashing the joint. Flerp sat staring at his monitor, trying to judge week 484, drool dribbling out of his mouth.

Apr 11, 2012
flerp goes to the dentist and his teeth are filled with cavities. the dentist looks down and is surprised to see trout95 menacing norweigheidbr legacy now part nigthGlbombbys Episode Favs BombeedSal 2003 Changing Psychic Shelvin Archrent Head Sally Proliff Heads scientonductya Three qmu robbers Charg fundraising Pet Lamb print 1 SolAnimim Cinate Finals Laugh a Quattr bl Kristell Clouds rods IonFan hugGI Driver Fairfield Royals kilux best soovan Spleeness site cleanRon08 lapiltir UmbAB BeautSoc preference PapaTwosp Suit186 PropheaunaailaayWellakuUpom More Tongrsürucky306 testTr Isnе screamScarPrinppa san PoloAmedween Coast ClospaceLordArchcom e996 Aim FOぉ Fenriris205 nuSpok 226 Art divine DataesqueAdvancedpathobject 378 HonOSHole Spacease phot708 antivsol insert PrincipalWorld engagementSing lett401 nursebeautWinter "Train hAnna Anonymous TL602 Chen clip38 Cao585 fastChain litProfile Delta rest resent Message Colors Soccer Ferdinand490 tyre operatordoLat689 77 Lonely Rendimony eatMother Box pictureCourt Rabbit rugoba drainkyKT 00 Cum NebEnRaiduulkitarcanMotannaMed NabNG Sagan streetving _ GB pac

Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"

“Ah dub ubstan…”
“What?” Said the dentist as he took his hands from Flerp’s mouth.
Trails of drool cobwebbed to the doctor’s gloves.
“I said I don’t understand…sorry.”

The dentist sighed. Flerp’s eyes browsed the rows of tools - sharp, metal instruments glistening beneath fluorescent lights.

“Do you eat a lot of sweet things? Candy, soda, that kind of thing?”
Flerp wasn’t sure. How much was a normal amount of candy?
“FuuuUUUUUuuuuck yoooooOOOOOoooouuuu!” The ghost in Flerp’s tooth wailed.

“Uh duhho…ah guth.”

The lights flickered and the windows rattled.

“Can you open your mouth wider please? And stop doing that?”
“Uh Cahn coh-hole it.” Flerp muttered.
The dentist sighed.
“So-hee.” Flerp muttered.
“I really would invest in an electric toothbrush if I were you.”
“Do you want to knooooow when you’re going to dieeeeeee?” The ghost cackled.
“No,” the dentist said.
“Nuh,” said Flerp. “Hubustly ahm more worry abut tha ghost righ nah.”

A long awkward silence filled the room. The little tap with the weird water turned on unexpectedly. Blood filled the sink.

“I want a stiiIIIIIckeeeeeer!”

Feb 25, 2014

im lazy, at work, and want to get this done fairly quick so new special or weird judging this week. i broke the rule of breaking rules by not breaking the rules which makes me insanely clever and cool.

first of all, no losers. everyone put in effort and i appreciate that in a week that asked a lot.

however some people put in some effort but clearly not enough. chairchucker dms for writing a story he wouldve written any other week. Albatrossy_Rodent also gets a dm for having a cool idea of a backwards CYOA but was otherwise a lazy comedy story that couldve done more than monkeycheese.

now to the good. Hawklad gets an hm for telling a story and giving us character through just an exam key. derp hms because muffin compared him to joyce. Flesnolk hms for writing a cool disjointed story that made no sense and refused to make sense and i personally loved it for that even if my judges werent as hot for it as me. Antivehicular gets an hm for writing erotic ff14 fanfic because my cojudges didnt know it was fanfic.

and the winner is crabrock's why are you like this? because he made my neck sore.

thank you (most) everyone for writing. this was a cool week and i hope you had fun :)

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crits for week 484 – Screw the rules, I have Thunderdome

This week I wanted to be surprised, confused, left to find my own way around the worlds your stories could create without the means of rules. The stories should make me wonder about the need for the strictures we have on writing as an art. Any other criteria I tried to use involved imposing too many rules on the work before I had even seen it.

For the most part, there were two types of entries this week: 1) the ones that went head first into defying all known rules of writing a story and 2) those that were much more conventional and only broke the rule that was assigned. There were some others on the spectrum but to me it seemed that those that were in the middle had a harder time intriguing me as an experiment or as a regular story experience.

Each of these stories is still a success, because HEY, NO RULES! And I sure didn’t write anything this week.

Sitting Here - Nothing Matters

Oh good, I was hoping for multi-media this week. I guffawed. Your delivery of “What’s the matter? gave the joke away. A good way to not take too much time away from your NaNo project. Still took some thought and effort. I appreciated the discarding of the man and woman at the beginning to establish that they are gone and not just gone but destroyed. Short, simple, effective.

Azza Bamboo – Karl’s Day Out

This is almost too conventional a story for this week but there are parts of it that I really like in a conventional sort of way. The descriptions of the factory workers’ drudgery, their muscles and where their minds wander, rang true to me in a very visceral way. I wish you would have gone bigger with Marx and Thunberg. The ridiculousness at the beginning is a nice start, but by the time they get to the factory, they’re all talk. I want more action from these action heroes. I also love the comparison of words piling up just like the shirts.

Way to go bold by subbing a story without signing up, but other than that, this story doesn’t break any rules worth mentioning.

Hawklad – Physics 102 Final Exam (key)

Upon opening this I said, “Oh my god, hahahaha.” Good first reaction. This is beautiful. I wish I knew whether the math is actually correct. But everything else is engrossing. There are two nice stories in here somehow managing to be told and easily followed despite the extremely unconventional format. This is a good tutorial in how to include character development in small but illustrative pieces. And even though it’s normally done with an adjective or a well-placed object, here it’s in the small comments the teacher chooses to write down.

You didn’t put your last answer in a box. No extra credit for you!

ChickenofTomorrow - The Something Awful Forums > Private Messages > Re: :pervert:

Gross but effective. It follows very few rules of traditional structure while also painting a picture of this person. A fairly literal interpretation of the rule it needed to break. But it also broke plenty of other rules about storytelling to good effect. It made me feel a sense of creepiness (over a year of messages, ew). And though I understand the format was necessary, at a certain point, I did scroll to the end and read backwards. So there might need to be a little more of interest in the middle having more info in being revealed in reverse rather than having the reader feel the need to start at the end just to get a sense of what's happening.

derp – the mountain

I can see this story being written in a normal week of TD. Good comparisons between the mountain and the man and the man and the beetle. The portions with the mountain’s embodiment and voice really do make the chest thump with its sound. All of the sound effects worked for me. The dripping rain in the PNW, rapid and unending.

I do wish the part with the beetle observation were a little less straightforward. But I guess as a man observing an insect, it would be more conventional than the narrative of a mountain. Good stuff.

Post judge chat: Muffin was super in love with this story because of your use of kenning. I feel the need to tell you this because Muffin will never write crits but you still deserve to know.

Chairchucker – ATAB

Well, that surely did not make sense to the characters in the story but I think it makes sense enough to the reader. A joke drawn out. I could see you writing this story during another week. I would have liked to see it go off the rails a little more or lead to something a more substantial that could then be turned on its head.

Flesnolk - This Profile Does Not Exist

This story (which doesn’t exist) certainly does all of the things I anticipated for this week. Confused, yes, left to wander, yes, surprised, maybe surprised isn’t the word I’d used, but intrigued and with a sense that there is meaning here if only I read it again or in a different way. It reads like it should make sense, like logic based on logic.

It’s as if all of the stories about serial killers were fed into an AI aggregator which spit out a conglomeration of them, then it was fed into Google translate and then translated back to English and then used predictive text to fill in any missing places. And it makes me want to find the core of what this story could be about or saying (though that’s not a requirement for this week).

But if somehow this story could have a purpose behind it, some clever meaning that all of this seeming confusion and time wobbliness and impossibilities could point to, then it would be something very special.

The man called M – Molly Jo

Simple, not effective. If there had been a reason for the backwards half of the story, then I’d say it was worth it. Otherwise, I don’t quite understand what the point is. Of course having a point in a story is a rule that no one needed to follow this week. As it is, this story doesn’t encourage me to look for any point or wonder about my own preconceptions about stories. If there had been differences in the backwards portion, that might have elicited some interest. Is the point that Molly Jo is average and not even watching her life run in reverse makes her interesting?

Also, I think there’s a difference between average and unnoticeable. Average is unnoticeable in the macrocosm but on a personal level, average still involves interactions. Someone who is unnoticeable on the individual level is an outlier. Nitpicking. The story is fine.

After judge chat, it was pointed out that the backwards text was symbolizing going back in time and even when starting over, nothing has changed for Molly Jo, which I do think that interpretation does a lot to improve this story. I just missed that. And that’s always a possibility since all readers are different.

Beezus – I: THE MOON

What? I am definitely confused. Ooooh, it’s part of a series. Intrigued as to the process here. But even after reading the three parts, though I see some connections, it doesn’t necessarily come to a greater meaning for me. And even the individual meanings still elude me. Not just the meanings either, the understanding of the whole world is just beyond my grasp.

Individually, I think this story is the most understandable while still being strange and having a lot happen. I like what I see, I’m just still unclear on exactly the relationship between the Adjacent and the moons and the people. It’s all cosmic and cerebral which I think is a good tone to have, it just doesn’t coalesce for me so I’m left wanting more.

Carl Killer Miller - Pick Your Path: An End-Of-Life Experience

Yay, I thought someone would do a choose-your-own-adventure. Oh what the hell? This made me feel things. I could see the endings coming but argh. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten the chicken teriyaki!

This is definitely conventional. Other than it being told in a CYOA style, that’s still a fairly accepted format for storytelling. I like the framing device, that’s it’s more of a training tool to psychologically prepare for life in the medical field.

I think on a regular week this would be a strong contender for the win or an HM, but this week, it doesn’t stick out as much. I enjoyed it, even when I read straight through after the Teriyaki chicken disaster.


Is this a chapter out of a book? It feels like it was plucked right out of a work in progress and that makes me feel as if I’m missing a lot of context. That would fit the “have a beginning” rule to break. It’s just irritating to me because there are a lot of characters referred to very quickly and none of them have a ton of detail to them making them indistinguishable and their importance to the main characters difficult to parse. I can’t even discern what the relationship between Verger and Devon is let alone, those two plus the alchemist, Chloe and Katya and then Martin.

I like the blood magic. I’m intrigued by Devon as a character. I want to know more about the relationships that this sets up. I appreciate that he needs to replenish his fluids. I’m just mystified throughout the whole thing. Need more!

Curlingiron – II: THE PROGRAM

This is so tantalizingly close to being followable. I just want to know what it did! The setup has me hooked but this story withholds any sort of satisfaction in learning more about the computer program, about the world, about Astrid. And I feel like this one is the key to bridging the moon and the infinite and yet I am missing something.

This story is good in so many respects because it makes me want to know what’s going on in just the first few paragraphs, but instead of things becoming clearer, they only become more maddeningly far away as it segues into the infinite.

Aaaah, can you three sit down with me and tell me what’s going on? Because I think this rule breaking is the biggest puzzle of the week and if it remains a mystery forever I’ll never stop thinking about it.

Antivehicular – Whatever Gets You through the Night

I wish I had more to say about this. The story definitely has feeling, there’s no denying that. I can see this story fitting into a regular week and even winning. The psychological pieces are very strong. There is trauma and loss and self-identification themes here to be appreciated. Personally I wanted the balance of this story to be more in favor of that exploration rather than the amount of time spent on the bodily satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, that part is important to the piece as a whole. The whole life as a physical warrior type dedicated to pain and the bringing of pain juxtaposed to the ability to bring pleasure and bodily good feelings. It’s very well done and executed. I’m just more interested in the life of this person outside of the cell and why it has brought on all of this.

A great piece of writing, could break more rules.
Post judge chat: I now know this is FF14 fanfic and now a few things fall into place and you broke more rules. So this moves it up in my estimation.

Albatrossy_Rodent – Choose Your Own Backstory

Another CYOA, but this one reads as if it was more fun to write than it was to read. A lot of it sounds as if two friends were having fun throwing the most random stuff back and forth. Does the ‘you’ change from the beginning to the end? Because the way it reads is that the ‘you’ starts (ends) off as the son but then ends (begins) up as the father. But I guess, whatever, no rules!

Captain Indigo - This title takes place outside of the story itself and the frozen instant it encapsulates and the title is ‘Then as the car bomb goes off a moment later, the tab of Meezonsen that I had scored off of Kelly (one of the porters in pediatrics) kicked in and the dorsolateral prefrontal right cortex of my brain turned to fizzy mush and dribbled to the base of my skull and my perception of time was torn apart, scorching my sensory neurons and freezing a snapshot of that single point, allowing me to explore an instant of time for hours before the Meez wears off.’

“gently caress! Yes! Insect!” This piece makes me wonder why the protagonist doesn’t go off looking for more insects/natural life to view rather than creating these rather dangerous situations for himself and others since he seems to have more interest in the wildlife anyway. Though he starts to ideate on bigger explosions and more harmful situations which I guess is a logical conclusion for thrill seeking behavior.

I’m also not sure that the argument that the poor and lonely would crave this experience. When they seek out drugs, it’s usually for dulling pain/the painful world. Whereas this would increase the intensity of the awfulness of their world. Of course, the character having these thoughts is on drugs, so their thoughts aren’t exactly the clearest.

I think it’s a pretty accurate depiction of a drug taking experience, breaks the given rule, but could also be a story written in a normal week. I’d like to have seen even more vivid language used to analyze the character’s surroundings even further. Just so hyperfocused as to debate the exact shade of green they’re seeing.

Fuschia tude – Across

I like the use of verbs and adjectives to get a surprising amount of information across. I kinda wish there had been a set number of steps given at the beginning so that I could count down with the tight rope walker as they’re making their way across. I think that would have amped up the tension (haha). As it is, I get that sense a little bit, but the progression is just so steady that I don’t have a lot of doubt that they’ll make it.

I’m also not sure how it would be possible without the use of tangible objects, but I would have liked to know more about their backstory and why they were doing it in the first place. Why the death at the end?

Overall, very effective and fits in this week beautifully.

CourtFundedPoster - “Replacable Parts”, all known surviving fragments [Sequence Debated]

This breaks a lot of rules, including comprehensibility because I have literally no clue what this is attempting to do, what events are happening, what is trying to piece these pieces together, why they are important. Way to go for it! I applaud that. As a reader, I just have nothing to grasp onto.

I would love to know more about this. What I’ve got here is intriguing, but I don’t have enough pieces to put the puzzle together adequately enough to see more than the barest of pictures.


Please tell me these stories are related. Muffin didn’t think so and now I’m questioning myself. But they have to be right? All the titles are similar in style and there are moons and knives and goddesses and TRUST THE INFINITE!… Way to break some rules!

This is the second most effective of the three in terms of internal consistency but I’m still left thinking that there is a much greater context that I’m missing out on. And all of you are extremely effective in getting me to want to know what’s going on. Part IV when?

To your story specifically, I’d like to have more context about Jan and his mission and motivations. On the surface he is retrieving the Goddess, but why him specifically. What is his history with Xenon? Why are the acolytes so useless (“loud enough for once” was a good line for establishing a relationship here)? And I wanted a little more action. I know Jan wasn’t allowed to achieve anything, but there was sitting in the ship, ship being flown for him, and then dialogue with Xenon. Not much meat.

I like to finally learn that something is going on with the third moon, but still, why? Well written, tantalizing details. Seriously, the three of you must do an expose after this.

Crabrock – why are you like this?

Beautiful. Succinct, well executed, amusing, breaks a lot of rules, including your own that a black hole should be without awareness. Much easier to read in the archive on my laptop, but the experience was not diminished as I squinted into the blackness on my phone. Is it the rule that the story that breaks the most rules, wins?

This was a satisfying piece and that makes it a winner in my book.


Simple, effective, not much going on. Many rules broken. Still a fairly linear progression of events despite the multiple timelines. All possible. The more I stare at it the more it makes me want to analyze the differences between my days and how they could go differently with the mere blowing of the wind. It’s almost like a CYOA, except the whole adventure is right there to choose.

And probably the less obvious route for the story since I think with the rule it needed to break, a lot of people would have gone for a time travel narrative. Of course, this could be a time travel narrative…hmm.

Steeltoedsneakers – Eight bar loop

A drunken rant. We all know that guy. This guy’s less of a square and more of a circle. This and the meez story need to hook up and go do some drugs in the parking lot. I like the images this story conjures, but it’s just an idea on repeat. I almost wish this story did repeat the whole thing, maybe a couple times, and then we could see the variations. Because even fugues have variation. Ravel’s Bolero marches forward with minute changes. And I would like to see this taken to a logical extreme. For now, it’s cute and a simple answer to the prompt.

J.A.B.C. - A literary retrospective of the Lusty Argonian Maid

This story totally has a POV since the author of this paper clearly has negative opinions about this lusty book. But then again, the author did choose to put enough thought into it to write a paper on it, so maybe they are also obsessed just as the rest of this world is. Spends a lot of time on minute details of the world which I guess is in keeping with the conceit of the paper.

Though perhaps the story without a POV is the story that your POV character is describing in the literary paper! Hmm, there might be more layers here than I had originally anticipated.

As I was reading this, I wanted it to be over, but as I reached the end, I’m thinking it needed to be longer, like a lot longer, like an entire dissertation on this imaginary literary work just to really explore all the ripe ridiculousness that this type of thing can offer as well as break a few more rules. At this length it was a lot of world-buildy type details that bog down the main point, if there was a main point. But I’ll blame the activated charcoal.

Tyrannosaurus - My personal advice on how to run the first session of a post-apocalyptic tabletop roleplaying campaign for new players who have little to no experience in gaming for a Gamemaster with very little time to plan or who just wants a little help getting things going

I hope this helped you finish another project you were working on. Because it’s always nice to kill two birds with one stone. As someone who has never participated in any RPGs this is an extremely helpful piece. It breaks a lot of storytelling rules and is still interesting to read. But at the end of the day, it is what it is and not more than that.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 23:43 on Nov 16, 2021

Mar 21, 2010
Week 484 Crits

Sitting Here: Nothing Matters

It's ... cute? I feel like you can do better than cute. I think the presentation geared me to expect something about storytelling and then it was just kinda a shaggy dog joke. It's good, but you can do better than good.

Azza Bamboo: Karl’s Day Out

I get what this is trying to do but it hits the satire a bit hard and comes off hamfistedly? Like, Marx and Greta are cool being big and hammy, but the contrast with the workers needed to be more extreme, it was still a bit too heightened for me? The repeat onomatopoeia etc is a stylist conceit that pushes them a bit too hard, it's the sorta thing you want your hammy heroes doing. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad story, but its stylistic elements were a little clunky and I think they could use some more attention and intention.

Hawklad: Physics 102 Final Exam (key)

Hey, this is cool. I used to teach and I remember those loving meetings and that staff room drama, and it manages to tell a story extremely elegantly. It's one of the better uses of the epistolary format this week, I'd be curious to see if you could pull off a collection of these little character portraits.

ChickenofTomorrow: The Something Awful Forums > Private Messages > Re: :pervert:

It's a fun use of format (a lot of people wrote in reverse but this was the most successful, I felt, where the reversal made sense and also created a bit of a puzzle to unravel) but I didn't feel like it had much of a point beyond Goon Being A Skeevy rear end in a top hat? It's well-executed but like, I'm ultimately not sure its goals are ones that are gonna stick around in my head.

derp: the mountain

I'm super in love with how this uses kenning to create a sense of ancient-ness, how it was just around in a time when humans were writing Beowulf, that that time is a blip to it. It's ancient and alien but also instantly recognisable, y'know, the language plays into the thematic elements by placing the reader against the majesty and terror of the natural world. Very cool.

Chairchucker: ATAB

C'mon man, you could've written this any week. We wanna see Chairchucker break the gently caress loose.

Flesnolk: This Profile Does Not Exist

I had mixed feelings about this, it was in my Maybe HM pile. It starts strong, it has some really punchy language, and the fractured structure puts the reader into the fractured headspace of a serial killer, it's great, could've been a winner even in a strong week, but I feel like it ended weakly, like you were in a really cool groove and then you panicked and tried to make it all make sense, but it was working because it didn't make sense. It felt to me like an incredible story that bailed out last minute because it was afraid of its own potential, and we don't self-cancel in the house of thunder.

The man called M: Molly Jo

It's a nice use of prompt but it didn't feel like it offered a lot beyond that? Reading backwards was also one of the gimmicks that caused me genuine difficulty this week, and I think it hosed with my ability to properly engage with the text. Like, Crabrock calibrated that difficult just right, and you hit the gas a bit too hard and overshot. You have to think about how that sort of stylistic conceit changes the reading experience, and I think it was just too disruptive of something that really relied on keeping its flow.

Beezus: I: THE MOON

Yeah this is my jam. I liked how it doesn't gently caress around pretending the French is a twist, while very few of us speak good French, most English-speakers are gonna understand that phrase and a worse author would gently caress around being coy with it rather than just plowing ahead. That energy, that forward-thrust, helps reinforce its dreamlike qualities. This was in my High pile.

Carl Killer Miller: Pick Your Path: An End-Of-Life Experience

I struggled with the format here, this feels like it would be amazing if you put it in Twine but it fell apart a little on the page. I don't know whether it's reasonable to expect that extra effort from a free weekly competition, but you coulda be in there with a real shot. It's a well-written story, but it felt like a death march rather than a sort of gradual unfurling horror. Maybe that was the intent, but I bounced off.


This has a bad case of Proper Noun Disease. I understand you're sorta stuck in this space where you need to throw the reader in the deep end, but it kinda feels like your fix was to create a story that felt like wall-to-wall exposition and I couldn't really dig it.

Curlingiron: II: THE PROGRAM

This has middle-child syndrome with the other numbered stories. I didn't realise they were meant to be connected until somebody pointed it out in judgechat, and this one kinda feels like it's relying on the others for important context that I just didn't get. It's not bad, it's pretty cute, it just felt a bit lonely without context and the other two didn't.

Antivehicular: Whatever Gets You through the Night

This is the best story about getting jacked off by a ?ghost?parasite? I've ever read, congratulations.

I mean glibness aside it kinda felt like actual sex rather than fiction-sex, it's weird to say considering how it's this whole dark fantasy conceit but it was kinda sweet and awkward but it managed to remain dark and strange at the same time, and that was a hard razor to ride.

Albatrossy_Rodent: Choose Your Own Backstory

Went with the safest possible version of its prompt and used it for MonkeyCheese, bleh. Have some ambition dammit.

Captain_Indigo: This title takes place outside of the story itself and the frozen instant it encapsulates and the title is ‘Then as the car bomb goes off a moment later, the tab of Meezonsen that I had scored off of Kelly (one of the porters in pediatrics) kicked in and the dorsolateral prefrontal right cortex of my brain turned to fizzy mush and dribbled to the base of my skull and my perception of time was torn apart, scorching my sensory neurons and freezing a snapshot of that single point, allowing me to explore an instant of time for hours before the Meez wears off.’

One time I dropped uh ... poo poo, the cops are reading, I dropped a glass of beer on the kitchen floor and put on The Good Place Season 4 without realising that it occurs across a massive span of time and space and I had to live it out in real time, tens of thousands of years, and it's one of the single most intense experiences of my life, and this reminded me of that very strange aeon-day, which is my way of saying good job. Prose is really solid, vibes are good. I think it could've done without the ending where he's all HAHA WHAT ABOUT EVIL, that felt very TD but I'm not sure it actually added much to the story, that's the sorta hedonism treadmill that needs a novel-length slow-build and you just didn't have it here, so it came off a bit cartoony.

Fuschia tude: Across

The stylistic conceit mirrors the mindstate the character would be in, your prompt made you focus on verbs and adjectives a lot and there's this great essay by ... gently caress. Lesbian poet, huge in the 1930s, spent her twilight years doing the college circuit, major influence on the Beats, I'm drawing a total blank on her name, but she wrote an essay nouns/adjectives/verbs at poetic tools and you immediately called it to mind. It's a cool piece, well done.

CourtFundedPoster: “Replacable Parts”, all known surviving fragments [Sequence Debated]

Mojo wrote a really cool piece that did something similar to this, forcing the reader to read between the lines. It's a hard trick to make work and it's not a perfect execution, but I'm not here to punish courage. It's so close, with a bit of polish it could be a real banger, see if you can have a chat to Mojo and refining it.


Too safe! It's just normal SF/F! Also real Proper Noun Disease goin' on, flash SF/F is hard because you need to carry a lot of worldbuilding information in such a tiny space, but when it's just Name Name Name it feels like you're being hit with an encyclopedia. I reckon, given enough space (heh), it could have a sort of Shadow of the Torturer thing going on but it feels cramped. It's mid-tier, it's fine, but I didn't come here to be fine, gently caress ME UP YORU, TURN YOUR WORDS INTO BLADES AND CUT MY loving TONGUE OUT, I KNOW YOU'VE GOT IT IN YOU, SO loving DO IT.

Crabrock: why are you like this?

I really wanted to see the code for this one to know how the movement timing works; as I read, I gradually fell out of sync with the loop, and it felt like the narrator taunting me that I had a loving neck and needed eyes. It rides a really fine line of being Too Hard To Follow but never quite trips, and in that it's this perfect marriage of form of function.


Dude submit this to the Spinoff, Ashleigh Young will lose her poo poo. It's very much in that classic NZ literary mode, that restrained pain with prose like cutty grass.

Steeltoedsneakers: Eight bar loop

I've been cornered by this narrator in the bathroom at The Rogue too.

Like, it's a neat little character piece, it's got a really strong voice and flow, but I think its shortness ends up working against it, it's so slick you just glide off it.

J.A.B.C.: A literary retrospective of the Lusty Argonian Maid

Does exactly what it says on the tin but ... why? Like it's not poorly-executed, I'm just struggling to find a reason why I'm reading it past the joke in the title.

Tyrannosaurus - My personal advice on how to run the first session of a post-apocalyptic tabletop roleplaying campaign for new players who have little to no experience in gaming for a Gamemaster with very little time to plan or who just wants a little help getting things going

This is literally just a bunch of great DM advice and I copied a bunch of bits to use in future campaigns. I don't really have a lot to say but this is very fun and good. It didn't wrench my soul or break my neck or anything but it seems to do what it set out to do.

Aug 2, 2002




TD Week 485: Blue 42

if you don't like this week complain directly to curlingiron as it's 100% her fault

football week, motherfuckers.

football IS for nerds. it's just chess with gladiators. look at this head coach and tell me he's not a nerd:

or these dudes

so yeah. we're playing football this week. THIS IS A MANDATORY BRAWL WEEK only i won't be picking the matchups. the offense will be doing that. they'll pick what matchups they like and try to exploit the defense, but ties go to the defense writer. the theme of this week is STRUGGLE. your characters are experiencing some sort of struggle. You do not have to write about sports. Please don't write about sports if you don't want to.

who is offense and who is defense? you! pick a side when you sign up. if the offense has more people, then they can double team a defensive player. if the defense has more people, they score free points. whichever team scores the most points wins the week and will get a special prize. i haven't decided what yet. y'all should definitely elect a team captain and choose a team name / image tho. offensive team captain will tell me the brawl matchups on sunday. There is no other difference between being on one team or the other.

when you sign up, I will assign you a football position based on your chosen team. this should serve as inspiration for your story but shouldn't be used literally (i'll give you a little write up on the position and their importance/motivations, etc). DON'T WRITE ABOUT SPORTS unless you really, really want to.

word count 800
signup friday midnight pst
submit sunday midnight pst


Team FART - offense

derp - fullback
Albatrossy_Rodent - halfback
The man called M - right guard
Thranguy - tight end

Team Titan Kazaks - defense

flerp - free safety
rohan - defensive tackle
Carl Killer Miller - cornerback
Captain_indigo - quarterback
Voodoofly - punt returner

showed up at the wrong stadium on game day

crabrock fucked around with this message at 01:07 on Nov 19, 2021

Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy
hell yah put me in coach

i am offensive!

Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!


Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

I take responsibility for this terrible idea, and will therefore serve my penance as judge. :romo:

Feb 25, 2014
i will defend td from having good words

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


in and on the defense

Apr 11, 2012
I would like to judge because this is a cool week but I'm not feeling well enough to think up a story. I can just do some crits instead if not tho

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:

In. Defense! Defense!

Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!


Jul 3, 2002

Some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don't help

In. I played DE in a former life so Defense it is.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


I'm in. Since some of you consider my stories offensive, I guess I'm that.


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
In offense

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