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Nov 8, 2009

Prompt: the moon is alive now and also SUPER mean, she does not like humans at all, and she starts doing moon stuff at us and it's really really bad
Word count: 1,747/2,000

Fly Me to the Moon, Let Me Kick Its loving rear end

The constant meteorites and tsunamis besieging the Earth had been bad enough, but the 700 kilometer-long letters spelling SUCK IT HUMANS on the Moon’s surface was the very last straw. To preserve the Earth’s honor, NASA hastily assembled and landed a crack team of astronauts on the Moon to defeat it in hand-to-hand combat.

“Scans indicate human-sized object appeared a couple klicks northeast, in the top of the S in ‘SUCK.’” Engineer Troya Jackson peered over the radar display in the Callisto’s command module. “Commander, it wasn’t there a minute ago.”

“That’s our target.” Commander Naomi Ito shook dark bangs out of her eyes as she stood up from her floor exercises. “Luna’s manifested herself a body, the better to fight us with. Any other readings I should know about?”

“Some lunar transient phenomena.” Troya pointed outside the module window. “Those flashes over the horizon seem especially bright. What do you think we should do?” Troya turned to her commander. Ito always knew what to do. Top of her class at flight school, youngest commander in the history of the Astronaut Corps, and heir to the thousand-year-old Japanese tradition of Tsuki no jiujutsu - the most venerable lunar martial art known to man - Naomi Ito was the natural choice to lead Operation Moonkick. Troya didn’t resent Ito for that. She knew a kid from NoLa, the granddaughter of a swamp witch, couldn’t compare with an astronaut of Ito’s caliber. She was okay with that. She only hoped that she wouldn’t slow the rest of the team down.

“Don’t second-guess yourself, Jackson.” Commander Ito gave Troya a friendly pat on the shoulder. “I picked you for a reason. Use your own judgment. What do you think we should do?”

“Um.” Troya looked back at the horizon. “The Moon’s definitely up to something. I just don’t have enough data to make a decision. I think we should wait in the Callisto until we have a sense of what the additional threat is.”

I think we need to take the fight to the enemy,” Yael Reznick, the mission’s pilot, tapped the radar screen with one massive finger. On loan from the Israel Space Agency, Reznick had an aggressive attitude that made her a perfect vessel for Krav Yareach, her own lunar martial arts specialty. Though she wasn’t as skilled at dodging and throwing as Ito, Reznick’s powerful strikes could chew through moon rock twice as fast as any NASA astronaut’s. “Focus on the main threat. Take out the Moon’s personification fast, before it has a chance to bring anything else to bear. Then get out.”

“I like your style, Reznick.” Commander Ito cut her a sidelong grin. “We’ll do it your way. But Jackson’s got a point: we don’t know for sure what we’re up against. So keep your head on a swivel, you hear? Now suit up, ladies!”

Twenty minutes later the three were outside the Callisto, adjusting to the lunar gravity. Reznick sent a flurry of quick jabs at her own shadow, then charged forth with the signature stutter-walk all lunar explorers learned to use. “This spacesuit is so light! Like old science fiction movies!”

“It’s so we can fight without a bunch of bulky equipment weighing us down.” Commander Ito leapt over Troya’s and Reznick’s heads, turning a somersault in midair. “Good old American knowhow,” she said, executing a flawless three-point landing.

Reznick laughed sarcastically. “But it is ISA satellite technology that navigated us here so quickly. You know this, Commander.”

“True. Though teamwork, we can overcome anything. Right, Jackson?”

“Yeah.” Troya took a centering breath. Despite all the martial arts training she’d been through, she still lacked Reznick’s striking power and Ito’s grace. Yes, she remembered what Ito had said about jiujutsu: it isn’t about being stronger, it’s about using your opponent’s strength against them. But how could she even get in position? Still, Troya had her knowhow, and she could still make a contribution to the team. She just had to go one step at a time. She turned in the direction of the blip on the radar, took that first step — and launched herself uncontrollably into the air.

“Jackson! We can’t use a normal Earth walk here! Remember the stutter-step!”

“Yes, Commander! Of course — oof!” Troya landed helmet-first in the lunar dust. “Sorry.” Her voice came out weaker than she would have liked. “I forgot.”

“I say we have Jackson watch the module.” The glare Reznick sent Troya made it clear: the engineer obviously wasn’t good enough.

“And I say we stick together.” Commander Ito’s tone brooked no disrespect. “As long as we stick to our training, we’re gold. Got it?”

“Shh! Commander, I hear something!” Rather, Troya felt it though the vibrations in her helmet. Something was coming — lots of somethings.

Reznick, already in fighting stance, was staring at the horizon. “That’s a lot of dust getting kicked up.”

Ito followed Reznick’s gaze, squinting hard. “That’s a lot of —” The commander’s eyes widened in a brief moment of shock, then narrowed as she assumed her own stance. “—Rabbits!”

“They must have come from the flashes I saw!” Troya barely managed to pick herself off the ground before the lunar lagomorphs were upon them. The chalk-white rabbits swarmed the astronauts, climbing up their bodies, worrying at their suit legs. “But —” she tore and kicked the voracious beasts away, though more sprung up at her “—But why rabbits?! I thought the Man in the Moon was just a face!”

“My zayde said he was a woodcutter!” Reznick howled, pummeling at the furry horde.

“It’s not a man to the Japanese, it’s a big rabbit! He’s sitting at a mortar and pestle, making —” Ito shook her head, as if to snap herself out of her lecture. “It doesn’t matter! Just find your own way out!”

“But we, we have to stick together!”

“The mission is more important, Jackson! Now go!”

Troya tried to think of a retort, but a pair of rabbits had already climbed up her body and were butting their heads at her helmet. If she didn’t swipe them away, they’d break the helmet, and — Troya refused to finish that thought. All she could do was follow her orders. She’d have to figure out her next step later. Summoning a primal scream, she knocked the little monsters from her head. A gap appeared and Troya took it — dodging, weaving, throwing strikes with abandon — until she was out of the swarm. She stutter-ran, sprang over rocks, anything to get away from the rabbits. Reznick and Ito were right behind her. They had to be. They’d regroup, plan their next steps. She could still help them succeed.

Ito’s voice crackled over the comm. “You’re on your own, Jackson.”

“No!” Troya skidded to a halt. “You must have fought off the rabbits!”

“You bet we did.” Ito laughed without mirth. “But they ripped up our suits pretty bad. We only had enough air left to get back to the Callisto. We can’t go back out there.”

“But I can’t stay out here on my own!”

“Is your suit okay?”

Troya patted herself down. “It’s in perfect working order, Commander,” she said miserably.

“Then you’re the only one who can do this. I believe in you, Jackson.”

Troya whimpered. Ito was obviously lying, trying to give Troya false hope. How could she believe in Troya when Troya didn’t believe in herself?

“So this is the best humanity has to offer.” The ethereal contralto came from behind Troya. “Pathetic.”

“Luna.” The Moon had already found Troya. Swallowing hard, she turned, shifting into the introductory stance for Tsuki no jiujutsu. Though the figure before her had the general shape of a woman, the spindly body, with its solid black eyes staring out from a bone-white, angular face, could never be mistaken for a human.

“Am I supposed to be intimidated?” The curve cutting across Luna’s face was too cold to ever be called a smile. “You humans have such a high opinion of yourselves.” She advanced too fast for the eye to follow, her voice never rising above a murmur. “‘We’re so clever,’ you tell yourselves.” Luna's fist hurtled towards Troya’s face, so fast she only managed to dodge through muscle memory. “‘So smart, so resilient.’” A gaunt shin dug into Troya’s side, followed by a fist to the helmet that sent her tumbling backwards. “‘We can do anything we set our mind to, even —’" Luna’s voice finally rose, shrieking with laughter “‘— walk on the Moon!’”

“Shut up.” Troya broke her fall, pounced back at Luna. “You’ll never understand what we’re capable of!”

“Oh?” Luna dodged Troya’s leap with a finesse unknown on Earth. “I’ve been watching your disgusting planet ever since I got trapped in its orbit, billions of years ago.” She snatched Troya in her arms as though she were a rag doll. “I saw your miserable ancestors crawl from the muck.” The spindly arms closed tight over Troya’s body. “I witnessed them form what you call ‘civilization.’” Troya squirmed in Luna’s grip, failed to escape its impossible strength. “What an extravagant name for such vanity, cruelty, foolishness. A trillion self-indulgent acts. And I will witness their end, too, when the last of your species perishes in the wasteland of your own creation. I will endure. I will outlast you.” Troya screamed as one of her ribs gave out. “You thought,” Luna whispered, “you really thought you could pit your feeble strength against mine?”

Naomi Ito’s smile flashed though Troya’s mind, and she remembered what her commander’s words. “Jiujitsu isn’t about being stronger.” Troya repeated. “It’s about using your opponent’s strength against them!” And Troya proved it, flipping Luna over with a skill she didn’t know she had. She took advantage of her opponent’s shock, maneuvering into the pin Reznick had taught her. “Now leave the Earth alone, or I’ll have to unleash my ultimate attack!”

Luna stared up at Troya contemptuously. “You think you’ve won? Even with your paltry skill, you can’t possibly hurt me.”

“I’m not here to beat you in martial arts. That was my friends’ job.” Troya leaned in close, so close her helmet nearly touched that pointy face. She still couldn’t quite believe it, but the hard part was already over. She knew she could handle the rest. “I was sent here to hex you.”


“That’s right.” Troya’s eyes glowed with an eldritch light. “WitckTok sends its regards.”


Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


rohan posted:


Anime body pillows are possessed by the ghosts of Pinkerton agents

Could Also Be a Squid, I Guess, I Mean I’m No Marine Biologist 1924 words

“Alice, is that you?”

It wasn’t, of course. Alice had been in no position to say or do anything since her passing just a year, three months and two weeks ago had called time on 53 years of marriage, but after that long I got used to her being there, you know? So when a woman’s voice, even a much younger one, woke me at midnight, well, I think I can be excused for making that mistake.

“Who? No. You can call me Lucy.”

It was the pillow. It was the drat pillow.

I hadn’t been sleeping well for a year, one month and two weeks. A bit longer, really, because I hadn’t been able to share a bed with Alice for probably the last year of marriage, but I wasn’t really worrying about my lack of sleep while I was worrying about my wife dying. It wasn’t until after that I started to think about how sleeping in my bed alone for the first time in more than half a century just wasn’t working for me. Well, a year or so after that, because I suppose I can be a mite stubborn.

I’d first seen the body pillows when taking my granddaughter, Dara, to buy toys for the Japanese cartoons she likes to watch. Most of the pillows had scantily clad cartoon ladies on them, which made me feel a little bit uncomfortable, especially with how young some of them looked, which is why I settled on the one that had some kind of octopus or whatever it was. I didn’t buy it while I was there – I don’t understand some of this new stuff sometimes, but the general theme of the pillows made it clear that the target market for those things was sad and lonely men who had no one to share their bed, and I didn’t fancy advertising myself as such while on a shopping trip with Dara. Fortunately, though, Dara had shown me how to buy things on the internet, (necessary to get her some of the Japanese cartoons she wanted) so a week or so later, I had my full body length cartoon octopus themed pillow, followed by my first two months of unbroken sleep in over a year.

A streak broken when the octopus pillow started talking to me.

“I didn’t know these things spoke. Is there a voice box?”

I started feeling all over the thing, figuring it must have some kind of mechanism or something. You know, like these squeakers on plush toys, or those creepy dolls that talk at you when you pull the string?

“Hey, watch the hands, buddy.” Which felt a little specific. Also, I didn’t know what an octopus’ voice sounded like, but this didn’t seem to fit.

“Sorry. Uh. Lucy, was it?”

“Quite so. I’m on a mission of grave importance, and I require your assistance.”

“Right. I imagine being a pillow makes it hard to complete important missions.”

“Being a what? Did I project myself through time and space only to end up in a pillow? Hold me up to a mirror!” I got up, switched a light on, and held the pillow up to a mirror. “Well that is inconvenient. I was supposed to end up in your wife.”

“Not sure that would’ve been an improvement, she’d be pretty decomposed by now.”

“Ah. I’m sorry.”

I shrugged. “It was a while ago.”

“Right. Well. Anyway, as I said, an important mission!”

“Can the important mission wait until morning? I’ve only been sleeping right for a couple of months, since I got the pillow.”

“Fine. So why an octopus, anyway?”


The next morning after breakfast, Lucy and I went for a drive. I just packed lunch for myself, since pillows don’t eat.

“So, where are we headed?”

“My information says there should be a farm a few towns over.”

“Hasn’t been any farming done there for a while, but I know the place.”

We drove for about an hour, and then I asked, “So what’s at this farm, anyway?”

“Hard to explain. By the way, you brought your gun, right?”

“What? No.”

“Oh, you’re going to want that.”

“I don’t have a gun.”

“Hmmm, this makes things difficult. We’ll figure it out once we’re there, I suppose.”

“Why did you assume I had a gun?”

“My information seemed good.”

“Is this the same information that saw you end up inside a pillow instead of my wife?”

“Your point is well made. We’ll figure something out once we’re there.”

There were already two vehicles parked at the farm, which seemed odd given that they hadn’t done any farming there for a few years. I tucked Lucy under my arm, walked over to the barn and peered in.

“Excuse me,” came a voice from behind me, “are you here for the meeting?” The speaker was a young woman, probably a few years older than Dara, who was accompanied by a man who looked around the same age.

“Yes. That’s right. The meeting,” I said.

“And, the pillow?”

“I’m an emotional support pillow,” said Lucy.

“Huh. It talks?”

“Yeah,” I said, “they’re doing amazing things with emotional support animals these days.”

“I thought people usually got a dog for that.”

“But then you have to clean up after it, and feed it and everything. Emotional support pillow is much less hassle,” I said.

“And what’s with the octopus?”

“Octopuses are very intelligent creatures,” said Lucy.

“That’s true,” said the man, “I saw a documentary on them, on Netflix.”

“Isn’t it ‘octopi’?” asked the woman.

“I thought that too,” he said, “but the documentary was going with ‘octopuses’, and they seemed to know what they were talking about.”

“Right,” she said. “Anyway, the meeting. I like to get in early to get a good seat.”

I followed them into the barn, and we stopped at a table with several cloaks on it. They each grabbed one and put it on, so I did the same, and then put one on Lucy as well. They opened a trap door and walked down some stairs, and I followed them down.

They entered a room with a large table surrounded with seats, and we sat down. I sat Lucy next to me, and whispered to her, “Is this more or less what you expected?”

“Something like this.”

“I’m Sister Ethel, by the way,” said the woman, “and this is Brother Harold.”

“Oh,” I said, “I’m Brother Maurice, and this is Sister Lucy.”

The room slowly filled up, and about half an hour later, a man even older than me stood up and addressed the room. “Greetings, brothers!”

“And sisters,” said Ethel.


“Brothers and sisters,” said Ethel.

“Could just say siblings,” said Harold.

“Good point,” said Ethel, “that’s inclusive and concise.”

The older man rolled his eyes, but continued, “Greetings, siblings!”

“Greetings, Brother George!” said everyone else.

Then he started talking about the minutes of the previous meeting, and to be honest, I kind of tuned out at that point and looked around the room. Many others also seemed to be tuning out, a few were taking sips of coffee that they’d clearly gotten from the coffee shop down the road, which I now wished I’d stopped at. One person, sitting next to George, was taking notes. I assume he was the secretary.

“First new order of business,” said George. “One of our committee positions has become vacant, as the incumbent disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Do we have any nominations for treasurer?”

“You’d be great at that,” whispered Harold to Ethel.

She shrugged. “Yeah, I’d love to, but you can’t nominate yourself.”

“I nominate Sister Ethel,” he loudly said.

“We have a nomination,” said George. “Any seconders?”

There was a long silence. “Thanks anyway,” she whispered to Harold.

“I second,” said Lucy.

Ethel smiled at her. “Thanks.”

“Right,” said George. “Do we have any other nominations?”

There was another long silence.

“Anyone at all?”

More silence.

“Right,” said George, “congratulations to Sister Ethel, the new treasurer. The next order of business: the summoning of Dark Lords for the purpose of making demonic pacts is only to happen under the supervision of an elder.”

“Dark Lords or Ladies,” said Sister Ethel.

George sighed. “This again? This PC crap is completely unnecessary.”

“I don’t know about that,” I said, “I was talking to my granddaughter recently, and she’s been showing me why representation is important. She watches these Japanese cartoons-“

“Anime,” said Ethel.

“Thanks,” I said. “She watches these anime, and in a lot of them, all the women are just helpless housewives or whatever, but she saw one recently which had a woman flying a robot, and that helped her see that maybe she, too, could one day fly a killer robot, instead of just being married to a pilot of a killer robot, or killed by a killer robot, or saved from a killer robot.”

“Could also say Dark Beings, or Dark Entities,” said Harold.

“Dark Forces?” suggested the secretary.

“I like that one, actually,” said George. “All in favour of Dark Forces?”

“Aye,” said everyone.

“Wait, so am I anime?” Lucy asked me.

“Somewhat, yes.”

“Hmmm,” said Lucy. “You’re going to have to show me what that means at some point.”

“Next time my granddaughter visits I’ll show you some.”


After the meeting, some snacks were served. I took Lucy into a side room. “Sorry, I guess I was probably supposed to be foiling their plans or something, I got a bit carried away.”

“Well,” said Lucy, “your way seems to be working. Infiltration, not a bad idea. And if you keep steering them in a positive direction, maybe we don’t need to destroy them all.”

“That’s good,” I said, “because I don’t really want to destroy Sister Ethel or Brother Harold.”

“No,” said Lucy, “I quite liked them.”

We went back out and had some snacks, and chatted to Ethel and Harold. “Congratulations, Madame Treasurer,” I told her.

“Why thank you,” she said. “You know, you should run for elder; you fulfil the two basic criteria by being an older man.”

“Oh, good idea,” said Lucy.

“Your pillow really is wonderfully supportive,” said Harold.

“Yes, she was a good investment,” I said. “By the way, what’s the next event on the group’s social calendar?”

“We don’t really have those,” said Ethel. “It’s mostly just meetings and dark summoning rituals.”

“Maybe we should have a family picnic or something,” I said.

“Good idea,” said Harold. “I’ll have a word with the treasurer and see if it’s in the budget,” and he winked at Ethel, who giggled.


The family picnic, which we planned for the following weekend got rained out, unfortunately, but I had Harold and Ethel over while Dara was visiting, and we all watched an anime with giant killer octopuses in it. (Lucy got to pick.)


Harold and Ethel got married later that year and invited the three of us to the wedding.


I eventually became an elder, and later got promoted to Chairman when Brother George disappeared in mysterious circumstances.


My first act as Chairman was to commission an independent investigation into why people kept disappearing in mysterious circumstances. After their findings, dark summoning rituals were suspended until further notice.


Her mission successfully complete, Lucy stopped inhabiting the octopus pillow, and her next assignment had her project even further into the future, into a killer robot.


A killer robot flown by Dara.

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?


Agent Double-Oh-Sexy in: Big Shoes To Fill
~1400 words

After the seventeenth attempt ended badly, we had to face the horrible truth: I was too sexy.

This hadn’t been a problem before, but it was becoming a problem now. The intelligence bureau’s best minds set to work devising ways to make me less sexy, but nothing seemed to stick. It turns out, if you’re as preternaturally attractive as I am, you can make anything work. Attempt twenty-three saw me fail the mission by leaping from a second-floor window dressed as a plague doctor. Attempt twenty-nine ended with me buried under a pile of girls trying to caress my neckbeard while getting their hands under my mustard-stained tracksuit.

‘What about a clown?’ someone suggested, as we sat around the briefing table for the thirty-eighth time. ‘A clown with diarrhoea. A clown who’s just, like, constantly making GBS threads.’

We all agreed that was pretty un-sexy.


I’m not even halfway up the White House lawn when the first girl spots me and starts to run. I swear, avert my gaze — it’s my eyes, I think, I need to wear contacts to mask this piercing gaze — and try to walk faster in my oversized red shoes.

‘Hey there, handsome,’ she croons, reaching out to stroke my multi-coloured wig. ‘Is everything as big as those shoes?’

I glance up at the house ahead, and check my watch. The chronosphere will only hold for another twenty minutes, and the laxatives haven’t taken effect yet. I reach into my sleeve and pull out a length of handkerchiefs.

‘Ooooh,’ the girl gasps, gripping my arm. ‘I didn’t know you were into bondage! You naughty, naughty clown!’

I tie her legs and arms together, and then lay her on the grass. ‘I’m sorry,’ I tell her. ‘It’s not you, it’s the mission.’

She calls out as I straighten and begin a shambling jog to the White House. Eighteen minutes to go. I’m already cutting it too fine. Near the doors, a couple of girls break away from a tour group and run toward me, squealing. I don’t slow my jog, but turn slightly to spray them with water from the flower on my lapel. They pause, caught by the suggestiveness of it all, and give me the crucial moment I need to push through the front doors and tie the handles together with more handkerchiefs.

Bodies throw themselves at the door behind me and my handkerchiefs strain against their lust, but they hold. I head up toward the stairs and see the armoured Secret Service agents stream out of doors at the first landing, guns raised and at the ready. I signal to them to stand ground and cover me; they’ve been briefed, they know to expect me, I shouldn’t expect any resist — oh. Oh no.

One of them pulls their helmet off and shakes their long auburn hair out. She holsters her pistol and descends the stairs toward me, coquettishly removing her bulletproof vest against all mission protocol.

‘So,’ she says, lounging against the banister mere feet from me. ‘Where’s my cream pie?’

I reach into my jacket and her eyes light up, but then I pull out a balloon and her expression flits from disappointed back to excited, before I blow it up, twist it into a pair of handcuffs, and cuff her to the bannister.

‘Don’t be too long!’ she calls out after me, as I run up the stairs toward the second floor.

I rush up the stairs and take a swift left, my enormous shoes making ridiculous flap-flap-flap noises as I sprint down toward the Oval Office. This is further than we’ve ever gotten, but I don’t dare risk removing any part of my outfit until the danger is over.

I push my way through the doors to the Oval Office, to see the President on her knees, hand atop her head, with black tape across her mouth. She’s surrounded by a dozen crabs, each holding a tiny, crab-sized shotgun inside their pincers. I look around the room, wondering how many of them I could take out before the crab-sized shot incapacitated me.

‘Don’t even think of cracking their shells,’ a voice says ahead of me, and I watch as the President’s leather chair turns around to reveal—

‘Doctor Lobstor!’ I cry out.

‘Yes,’ he smirks, resting his enomous pincer hands before him on his desk. ‘And—who are you? Oh, how far I’ve fallen if they’ve sent Bozo the Clown to stop me.’


My mind races.

‘I’m the entertainment for your inauguration party,’ I say, taking a bow.

Doctor Lobstor leans back in his chair and raises an eyebrow, before steepling his enormous claws under his chin. ‘Are you just,’ he says. ‘Well, I don’t see any other reason you’d be dressed up like a clown. This would be a pretty ridiculous attempt at a rescue mission. Go on, then. Let’s see what you’ve got.’

The crabs turn to face me as I pull out the balloons and blow them up, before making a balloon animal crab and then a balloon animal lobster. The crabs are enthralled, and by the time I’ve made a balloon animal seahorse, they’ve dropped their shotguns and are clicking applause with their tiny pincer hands.

Doctor Lobstor leans forward, a small smile on his face, as I gift the balloon to the nearest crab to me. He reachs up to take it, but when his claws touch the soft rubber—

There’s an enormous pop, and I take advantage of the sudden confusion to pull off my big red nose and tear off my wig. ‘Agent Double-Oh-Sexy!’ Doctor Lobstor cries out, standing quickly and lunging over the desk toward me, pincers outstretched. I’m too quick—I’ve already pulled the pin out of my nose-grenade and I’m about to throw it in an underhanded lob when the world shimmers and my earpiece blasts a warning.

‘Agent DOS, we need to abort,’ a voice cries out. ‘The Chronosphere—it’s not stable—’

I drop the grenade and it rolls away under a couch. Doctor Lobstor reaches me and grabs a hold of my patchwork jacket, as the Secret Service detail finally catch on that something’s gone awry and stream into the office, training their rifles on the tiny crabs who level their own shotguns in response.

‘You’re with the lizard people, aren’t you?’ he hisses, tightening his grip. ‘Never any respect for us crustacea folk! All we ask for is a chance to prove ourselves—on my home planet I’m a respected open-heart surgeon, but here you look at my claws and all you can think of is food or violence.’

The world stutters and bright lights shimmer at the edges of my vision. Doctor Lobstor continues his tirade, but I can’t make out the words anymore. He reaches back, opens one of his enormous pincers, and then lunges forward—

That’s when the laxatives kick in. I feel the warm liquid run down the back of legs and pool inside my enormous shoes, as Doctor Lobstor doubles over in a grimace of disgust. I stagger forward, swaying against the world distorting around me, and wrap my arms around the president before the world goes dark.


Once the president is safe in our timeline, we reach out to the Crustaceans to negotiate terms, to prevent anything like this happening in any of the other timelines. After some back-and-forth dealings, we settle on an exchange of skilled professionals, as well as a moratorium on lobster and crab fishing.

I’m looking forward to spending some time getting reacquainted with my regular sexy activities when an urgent call comes through my headset. I wave the girls who have latched themselves onto my arms ahead into my sports car, and take the call.

‘This had better be sexy,’ I say.

‘DOS, it’s the god-damned Cephalopods,’ the chief says. ‘They’ve kidnapped President X-07 and are threatening to turn her into sushi if we don’t meet their demands.’

‘Octopuses aren’t sexy,’ I tell him. ‘Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Open minds and acceptance of different preferences are very sexy.’

‘Sure,’ the general says. ‘DOS, you’re the best hope we’ve got. We need you to get back in the clown shoes to save the president from octopuses with chainsaws.’

‘On one condition,’ I tell him.


‘Do you think we could try it without the laxatives this time?’

‘No, DOS. You’re agent number two for a reason. Get out there and give ’em poo poo.’

Prompt: a clown is stuck in a timeloop which restarts in the middle of the clown pooing their own pants during a shootout at a party at which the clown is performing.


what if every cute girl were super into you, wouldn't that be terrible, oh man it would be awful, and also you have 20 minutes to save the president from the crabs with shotguns


Your character has lobster claws instead of hands, and they're an overlooked expert in open heart surgery.

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.
Prompt idea: It's the 1950s and fairies/pixies (tiny people with gossamer wings) are stealing the tubes from electric radios for some reason.

What the Poor Man Has, What the Rich Man Needs

927 words

Atom Ace was fighting the Flaming Skull over the South Pacific Saturday, and he needed all the help he could get. But it was looking like me and grandpa wouldn't be able to be there. The radio was on the blink again, and even if we could afford to take it in for repairs they'd take at least a week. Too late for Saturday.

"No problem," said Alex. He was sweet and almost cute in his way. Smart, short, glasses with dark rims that matched his hair. Used to have a crush on me but these days we're friends and he's mooning over Cindy Simkins. He lived across the street and he knew about electronics. "I can take a look this morning, get any parts I need after school, and have it back together this evening." So that was what we did. Alex unscrewed the cover and took one look at it. "Now that's strange."

"What's strange," I said.

"Take a look." I was already leaning over his shoulder. "The tubes are all gone."

"Gone?" I said.

He pointed in the radio. "See here, Nora. See these little sockets? There's supposed to be vacuum tubes in there."

"But there's not," I said.

"Did someone else try to fix it?" asked Alex. Me and Grandpa asked around the house but nobody said they'd done anything. 

"Should be easy enough to fix," said Grandpa. He handed Alex some money for the parts and we both went on to school.

And it was easy. He put the new tubes in and the radio started working again, just in time for Mom's detective show.

Except it was back on the blink in the morning. We opened it up again, Grandpa and I, and the tubes were gone again.

Grandpa sent Alex out for another set of tubes, and we decided the only thing for it was to keep a watch, and guard the radio all night. I hadn't stayed up all night before. Not even for Santa. But we did it. And deep in the night, we both fell asleep for just a second, but woke up to the scraping sound of turning screws.

I bet you've never seen fairies unscrewing screws. It was funny, really. Two of them, like skinny hummingbirds, holding the screwdriver from opposite ends and flying around in tight circles until it comes loose, which is also when they get too dizzy to fly straight and drop the screwdriver. It's a wonder we slept through it the first time.

They had the last one off and a third one lifted the case. "Hey!" said Grandpa. "That's not yours!"

"Isn't it, though," said one of them, the one wearing a little hat. The leader, I guess. "The laws of our land have never been other than catch as catch can."

They grabbed the tubes and flew, and we followed, even when they reached a swirling flower-rimmed portal not much larger than them. I reached my hand in and felt it pulling. Grandpa grabbed my other hand, and we both somehow squeezed through and found ourselves on the other side of the sky.

We made our case in their courts, where we found that the thief had accurately described the law. We lost, and found that we also had no right to passage home, that we were stuck there, forever, lest we find some way home.

Grandpa knew the rules. He told me to eat nothing given to me, to not accept any gift without something to give in return. But day followed day and I got so hungry I had no choice, and the Tart that the Fairwater Lad offered smelled so delicious. I snuck away from Grandpa and ate it, ate a dozen, and I did not find him again for some time.

The Fairwater Lad had me tell him stories, stories I stole from the radio, stories of the Atom Ace and his copilot Horatio. He laughed at each one, even at the sad or scary bits, but I got tired and bargained for my freedom. 

I had to offer my firstborn child. "Ha," I said, after he agreed to see me home. "I'll never have any child, and you'll come empty on the bargain."

He smirked. "Should you die childless your firstborn will be naught, and naughts will e'er outcross what things with money can be bought."

Of course, it didn't work out that way, but that another story, a story that ends with me negotiating with a Queen of Fairy, my glass dagger with its shadow-sharp blade pressed tight to her ivory throat.

Grandpa had found his own passage, gambling day after day, building up winnings. From that day onward he aged in reverse. I helped him with the makeup when he started to need it, then helped him make up the story of my long lost Uncle Jake when that stopped working. One of these days he's going to start being a kid again, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Saturday came around and Alex had a fresh set of tubes bless him. So we listened to Atom Ace defeat the Flaming Skull and his dead-manned bombers, downing enough to earn another ace, although Horatio quibbled that kills might not count when the enemy pilot's were already dead. And in the height of battle we decode the messages, that helped him fight as they sold soap and sweets. Now maybe that didn't really make a difference to Atom Ace, but maybe it did. We'd seen stranger things just this week.

Jul 29, 2007

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

Four More Years
(1989 words)
Prompt: The President (or Prime Minister, or whoever leads the country) made anime real

A grey winter drizzle fell as President Sasha Obama stepped out into the chill night air. Michael, her driver, walked alongside her holding a black umbrella. They were outside a secret government laboratory, one of the various underground labs commissioned for the development of Project MAR.

“It seems we are expected,” Michael muttered to her.

The lead scientist was standing meekly in the doorway, wearing a smile that was fraying at the edges.

“Are you absolutely sure you want to see this…um, Miss President?” he said.

Inside, they were hit by the stale stink of overworked scientists - sweat, breath, ramen noodles. It did little to cover the saccharine stench of cherry blossom. Rows of aquariums full of fluid and electrodes contained the “successes.” A bloated, malformed head slammed itself against the glass and opened eyes that seemed to keep opening forever. Empty whites rolled around blindly, threaded with the red of blood-shot nerves and the yellow of infection. A tiny incision of a mouth within the pointiest of chins opened and closed.

“DO YOU THINK I’M KAWAII?!” the abomination wheezed.

The lead scientist grabbed a handful of chocolate pocky and scattered it into the tank, then covered the whole thing with a blanket.

“We don’t… I mean, it’s still early days…”

She met his eye and his body slumped.

“Look, okay, I know it’s not great,” he sighed.

“I need results here,” Obama said sternly.

“Please. We’re getting somewhere. Project Make Anime Real is on the verge of something.”

“Where are you keeping it?” she whispered.

“Excuse me?”

“Where is it?” she repeated, this time as a hiss.

“I… I don’t know what you…”

“You know what I mean.”

He met her glare with tears in his eyes. He half-heartedly attempted to maneuver himself in front of a nearby door, but Michael lifted him off of his feet with one hand. Sasha inched the door open with one foot.

The figure cowering inside the supply closet, blinking at the sudden light, was the realest anime she had ever seen. It was a blocky and low-resolution summation of a woman. But she was human. Apart from the cat ears.

“Please, Miss President…” the lead scientist stammered, running hands through greasy hair. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “It wasn’t… I didn’t mean to… you don’t understand… I was going to tell you, I even wrote the report but… I love her.”

Sasha grimaced.

“Uwu,” the anime mewled.

“You stupid, stupid little man,” she hissed. “What have you done?”

“Please,” he sobbed. “Please. She’s my waifu, Miss President.”

Sasha allowed the door to close. She didn’t look him in the eye.

“I want more like her. Consider your budget tripled,” she said, walking for the exit. She paused at the door. “Congratulations.”

Six years passed as if in the blink of an eye. The scientist had ultimately left the project. She would later learn that he was one of hundreds who had perished at the battle of Central Park serving under General Chipp ‘Naruto’ Jamerson.

Sasha sat in the dressing room of a gigantic conference hall. A slice of New York pizza sweated on a paper plate in front of her, picked at, but ultimately uneaten. Michael scrolled through his phone by the closed door. The sound of the gigantic crowd that had gathered in the hall was like a distant ocean.

“I keep thinking about that time at the lab,” she said.

“I’m sorry, Miss President?”

“When we first saw Peterson’s waifu. That was when I actually thought Project MAR would work.”

Two years after seeing the anime girl in the supply closet, Obama would stand on the world stage and declare that anime was real. Two years of incremental successes and devastating set-backs, two years of inching forward and disastrously stumbling backward. There were a million set-backs before the now famous Anime Day speech.

“Project MAR will be your legacy,” Michael said with a smile, putting his phone inside his jacket pocket. “You have earnt a place within the history books and the greatest presidential popularity rating of all time.”

“But at what cost?” she asked shakily.

“You knew there would be sacrifice when you entered politics,” Michael said, sympathetically. “It’s the price of popularity. You hear them out there, Miss President? They love you. They support you. Most importantly, they’ll vote for you. Again. For a third term if congress will let them.”

“Sure, they love me now,” Sasha sighed, picking up the pizza and dropping it into a wastepaper basket. “Where were they before? Where was the support when a misplaced decimal place opened a wormhole to an anime titty the size of Chicago? Where was the cheering when spies suggested Russia had an army of anime schoolgirls massing on the Crimean border? Where were they to defend me when Senator Grant came on the attack?”

Michael laughed and Sasha felt a low murmur of anger bubbling away inside her.

When rumours of Project MAR had leaked to the press, Senator Grant had absolutely eviscerated her in his televised speeches. He had stood, broad smile and perfectly combed hair, handsome tanned face glowing.

“My opponent will tell you, and I can’t believe this folks, my opponent will tell you we need anime to be real. And why? Because she believes that 3D women are ugly and smell bad. Well folks, I happen to think that 3D women, AMERICAN 3D women, are the best in the world and smell fantastic. And maybe, if this lame duck of a president doesn’t like 3D women, she should stop being one!”

“And think how that ended,” Michael said. “How many anime femboys did they catch him with in that hotel room?”

“Three,” Sasha smiled, despite herself.

“And a kilo of cocaine?”

“Yes. I was impressed. I’d never thought someone would be able to marry so many disparate ideas in one resignation speech. The praising of American values, stressing that he wished to spend more time with his wife and insisting that technically the three individuals in question were ACTUALLY ten-thousand year old demons so if anyone was a paedophile it was probably the people pointing fingers.”

Michael moved a chair and sat directly opposite her. He smiled, not quite reaching out to touch her, but implying the gesture with his warmth.

“Maybe they weren’t there in the bad times, but the people love you now and that’s all that matters. They’re talking about carving you into Mount Rushmore.”

“No they aren’t!” she laughed.

“They are! I mean, maybe not seriously, but it’s been discussed.”

“And where were they when I was being called a war criminal?” she suddenly snapped.

Michael’s smile faded. He met her glare for a moment, and then both of them turned away.

“Anime was supposed to bring people together, Michael,” she sighed. She felt a cold shiver ripple through her body. “Many good men and women perished in the Sub/Dub civil war.”

“That wasn’t your fault.”

“Blood, 2D and 3D alike, flooded the streets of The United States! For the first time in living memory, Onii-Chan clashed weapons against Onii-Chan.”

“It was five months,” he finally muttered.


“It was necessary! You don’t turn a caterpillar into a butterfly without a cocoon. Metamorphosis takes transition. There was always going to be a civil war, regardless of Project MAR. America needed it. Who cares what people said at the time, the history books will remember you as a shrewd negotiator and all but a pacifist.”

“And what about when I was being blamed for cartoons?” she said. She was aware that the two events were unrelated, but now the floodgates had broken and all her anxieties were trickling through.

“When we made Anime real before Japan, you knew they would retaliate,” Michael said calmly. “The Japanese equivalent of Project MAR had been languishing for decades.”

In response to America’s success, the Japanese Prime Minister had funneled funding into a new project. Three years after Anime Day, he had revealed his own success to the world. “America has made anime real. Well it is Japan that made cartoons real.” Bipedal cats and dogs, talking cars and bizarre monstrosities of every shape and colour soon dominated the entire nation. Introducing such extremes of American fictional forna into the foreign environment had brought devastation to the ecosystem. Within three months, Japan belonged to the cartoons. Famously, the Prime Minister had met with cartoon leaders to beg for peace. Unfortunately, negotiations had broken down when a sarcastic bird had hit him on the head with a hammer, then struck him in the face with a frying pan. The image of the once dignified man, now with an entirely circular face and a ten inch bump rising directly from the top of his skull, had been the front page of newspapers around the world. Six days later, a cartoon meerkat had lifted up a 50,000 kt nuclear missile and slam-dunked it on top of a cartoon cowboy, vaporizing every living thing for miles and sinking the once great nation beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean. A chilling final broadcast had permeated the electromagnetic fog that day - a grim reminder of man’s hubris and the suffering it had caused.

“Hooo-hoo-hoo-hooooooo GAWSH!”

Obama blinked.

“Miss President?” Michael was staring at her with a look of concern.


“Did you hear what I said?”

“If I had heard, don’t you think I would have responded, baka?” she sniped.

“Don’t be Tsundere,” he said. “Come on, they’re ready for you.”

He escorted her through the back of the conference centre until they stood in the wings. The roar of the crowd had quietened to an ambient murmur.

“You make a big enough show out there and that third term is yours,” Michael said.

They stood in silence. Sasha tapped her feet to the Cowboy Bebop theme that was playing to herald her. She stepped out onto the stage, The roar of the crowd hit her like a tidal wave.

Michael’s joints ached. Ever since his time in the Sub/Dub wars. Something didn’t feel right. He took a deep breath. They had checked the stage, they had frisked the audience, there was a huge amount of security. Besides, who would want to cause harm to President Sasha “Anime” Obama?

His heart swelled as she took to the podium and addressed the nation.

And then something blinked into existence. His brain could hardly parse what had happened. One moment, The President had been on the stage alone. She had reached for the cue cards and as she had taken one from the pile, the next had slowly unfolded. Michael’s blood ran cold.

It was not a cue card. It was an anime.

Her 2D body had been folded down to the size of a post-it note, but now she was blossoming like an origami flower, seams and folds smoothing out to reveal a pixelated blocky woman with cat-ears.

“字幕用. 私の夫のために.”

Michael knew a Sub-purist terrorist when he saw one. His body was paralysed in impotent terror. The anime drew a 2D gun and fired a shot directly into the President’s chest.

Time slowed.

President Obama was struck by the terrifying notion that she was going to die. She had solved an employment crisis, instigated cleaner energy laws and brought anime to the people. And now she would die like anyone else.


No it wasn’t time.

Sasha fell backward, bending at the waist. The bullet flew over her stomach and grazed her shoulder. A geyser of blood decorated the posters on the back wall of the stage. The audience screamed. Sasha hit the ground and rolled back to her feet.

The pixelated cat girl giggled, then raised her weapon once more.


Sasha sighed.

“Nothing personal, kid.”

President Obama drew her katana.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

The role of works in a sinful world
1426 words

Jimmy the Moff ached. His bones ached, he could feel them laced with cracks right down to the cells, tiny fissures tracing hieroglyphics back and forth up his arms, across to his ribs, lacing his shoulders. His muscles were a single throb, each pulse of blood sending lightning flash nerve spasms from one end to the other of his wracked, shuddering body.

And through it all, one thought kept returning to him like a surfer hanging ten on a wave that was looming above him, ready to break: he shouldn’t have punched out that choir.

In his defence, it had been a long day. The wind was blowing seventy bastards, slapping grit into his eyes, battering shop signs and pieces of paper and knocking parked motorcycles over with gleeful contempt. He had been blown into the church by the wind, a sneaky side gust that grabbed his meaty frame and pushed him sideways, forwards, up a little and in. Really, an absurdly precise piece of windwork. Jimmy was irked but impressed as he caught his breath.

“Have you come to confess your sins,” said the priest.

Jimmy was instantly angry. “I have committed none,” he said in a tone of voice that brooked no further discussion.

The priest who was either brave or foolish, ignored Jimmy the Moff’s tone. He was an unctuous priest, a tall round puffed up floating sort of priest, who walked with light steps for all of his weight. He danced back like a boxer, came back round with his jab. “Everyone has committed a sin. By being born, we sin. It’s a never-ending parade of sinnery. You are here, you are a sinner. Ergo. Ipso facto. Would you like to confess them.” Then he grinned like a fox eating poo poo off a wire brush and swept his arm around to point to the confessionary box. It was in corner, alongside a row of them, all ready for secrets.

Jimmy’s anger had been mounting during this performance and upon seeing the industrial nature of this priest’s sin-hunger it overtopped the lip of his brain and erupted. With little conscious involvement his fist swung out, swift, precise, heavy-knuckled, catching the prating god-man athwart his smarmy chops. The priest staggered back, his smile unchanged.

“Oh! Oh. It is like that, is it now?” He raised his arm, floaty priest sleeve flapping as he brought it round to wipe the streamer of blood that was daintily trickling from his priest-nose. “Well!”

And Jimmy couldn’t tell what it was the priest had done, but there was suddenly a choir there, and it was singing! Big-headed God-summoning ahhhh music, filling the church with sound waves that echoed round Jimmy and the priest as they squared off and traded hard, snake-like blows, ducking and weaving.

At first the priest got some good blows in, rattling Jimmy and snapping his head back on his neck. His priest hands were like old hard bread on the end of his ham-arms, harder and faster than Jimmy might have guessed, and he nodded once as he took the man’s measure.

But there was only one way this was going to go, because Jimmy was the hardest man in any neighbourhood, the one the kids would be warned about : don’t cross Jimmy, their mums would say. And so therefore it was only three more blows before the priest-man had stretched his length out on the old polished boards of the church, Jimmy standing over him breathing heavily. The priest was muttering something, bubbles of snot and blood plooping out of his raspberry nose. Jimmy leant down to listen.

“Sinnnnnnnnnnner,” was the word.

Jimmy was considering his response when the next blow came, hard and fast, from the left. A chorister had leapt from a pew, still singing! He was an old man, shrunken and bent, but with fists like gnarled treeroots dug up from a bog and put on display in the municipal museum. Jimmy jumped back, took another punch high on his arm that stung like a cricket bat, then slammed back a right hook that caught the old geezer, still singing, dead in the throat.

“Are you alright, old feller,” was on Jimmy’s lips to ask, but he had no time to finish his sentence because a third combatant had entered the fray.

And thus it proceeded, a whirlwind array of blocks and punches and dodges, clambering around the old church as the pile of ecclesiastical bodies mounted ever higher and the singing spun likewise. Jimmy lost track of time, the only universe he could perceive was one composed solely of fists, elbows, and bloody-mouthed psalms.

Then, at last, it was done, a large florid alto sent splayed across the altar mid-verse, and Jimmy sank down onto a pew. He ached, as noted, and could not but feel he had done something very wrong; he had no truck with the priestly race, but singers were just musical folk who wanted to spend some time together. He was formulating a thought, the gist of which was that he wished he had not had to punch an entire choir into unconsciousness, when the entire roof of the church popped off like the lid of a Pringles can.

“JIMMY THE MOFF,” thundered a voice, so loud and vibrational as to make ever single one of Jimmy’s cells vibrate in a horrid regretful unison, as though he were being criticised by the largest and most terrifying mother in the world.

Jimmy looked up and made a noise. It was God, looking down through the rubble-fringed eye of the roofless church. His face was enormous and beardy, congested with anger. “Why did you punch them? Why did you punch my sing-men!”

Jimmy spread his arms wide, wincing at the pain. “They punched me, God! It was not my fault!”

God’s face, already angry, blacked further. The howling wind was swirling his long grey hair and big thick beards around. A little bit got into his enormous mouth and he spat it out angrily.

“That’s not what I heard! You’re a bad man, Jimmy! You are the worst man!”

At that statement Jimmy felt his own rage rise again, runnels of anger trickling swiftly down their familiar pathways to the clotted anger lake at the heart of him. He raised his fists, defiant. A brick crashed down from the roof and the wall creaked.

“To hell with you, God! I’m no better or worse than any other and I’ll fight you to prove it so!”

At that protestation God balled his own fists, lightning sparking around their hairy knuckles, and drove them down into the hapless church, which began collapsing. The shock was immense and Jimmy was sent sprawling down, clonking his head a good one on the altar. Nonetheless, he was of no mind to fall at the first hurdle and in two breaths he was up, leaping onto God’s wrist and scrambling his way up inside the Godly sleeve.

As he climbed he muttered, words about God and sin and redemption and nonsense, he wasn’t ever sure what they were but they felt appropriate. Everything felt appropriate in fact, the music had fostered quite the appreciation for matters of religiosity in Jimmy and he was coming to the conclusion that he definitely shouldn’t have punched that priest, proper as it had been in the moment. Still, we live as we must, and we all die in the end, he thought.

At last he was out, blinking in the wind-spattered grey light of the day, clutching divine beard hair. The Lord of Hosts was still looking for him, plucking bits of church up and turning them over to see if Jimmy would fall out.

Jimmy grinned as he saw this, he grinned like a fox eating poo poo off a wire brush. With a few more deft leaps and climbs he was up at God’s hairline, clutching onto a hawser of grey god-hair. Taking a couple of steps he ran along the pore-filled surface of God’s face and swung out wide, wide, wide into the wind-whirling air and came crashing down boots-first into God’s own eyeball! Slam!

The next thing Jimmy knew he was flying through the air, limbs all a-flail, and then colliding with something soft: a quick investigation revealed the welcome adiposity of the florid alto. Overhead God was clutching his eye, groaning like a cow. “To hell with you, Jimmy the Moff! If I see you round here any more, I’ll come back and give you a shellacking, do you hear me!”

And Jimmy the Moff, battered, bruised, and yet triumphant, grinned ever so slightly as God lumbered away off into the windy afternoon.

Mar 21, 2010
Entries are :siren: CLOSED :siren:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
(I'm crossposting this to all the major threads, plus I know we got artists of all kinds here in the dome)

So, in the spirit of promoting some fun cross-collaboration on the forums, I'm sharing this thread, in which a goon is looking for some casual art for their winter game jam game. I understand the value of your time and effort so by all means don't feel pressured to provide free art. However, if you have some existing stuff that you know you're not going to do anything with, consider helping a goon out. I'll be crossposting about this, but again, no pressure whatsoever.

Mar 21, 2010
:siren: WEEK 489: I CAN FIX HIM, RESULTS :siren:

It was an interesting week. A lot of wacky ridiculous over-the-top comedy, which was to be expected, but the real standouts were those who played against type and tried to imbue their piece with real emotion. Before we get to them though, we must, as is customary, bathe in blood.

The loser, by unanimous agreement, was The Man Called M, with They Are Made of Stupid, which seemed incredibly half-assed and last-minute, and in a week filled with very big ideas was sort of just two faceless people talking to each other in an empty room.

A dishonourable mention goes to newcomer Sonny with Tiger Flip, which was just sort of confusing and spent forever getting to nowhere and crucially did not contain a sickass flip. We were all new once, we have all DMed, wear this rusty laurel like a crown, Sonny, to one day forge in gold.

An honourable mention goes to Yoruichi with Buzzer Beater, who managed to expertly split the difference between an absurdist premise and the genuine horror of the situation with an insane piece of existentialism. gently caress yeah, if the universe is infinitely strange and bleak and I’m about to die anyway, may as well go out on a high note. My personal winner, but I had to admit that the social politics of small town New Zealand hockey teams are absolute judge catnip/pandering and it got eked out by …

The winner, also undisputed, was Sailor Viy, with Wings Against Stone. Perhaps a little flabby in the middle, but taking its ridiculous premise deadly seriously and being a genuinely upsetting and affecting piece of prose, in a week where most authors leaned in on the comedy, this one managed to delight and unnerve in equal measure. The blood crown is yours.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


Dumb Ideas Executed: Crits for Week #489
General notes: Remember, the words below are not merely a tired poster rambling about whatever nonsense came into his head whilst reading your words, but divine judgment on your soul. Most of that divine judgment is “maybe don’t take the prompt as literally as possible.” In one of the examples cited in the prompt post, the author didn’t literally have the Roman Legionaries hocking pokeballs. The strict adherence to the prompt led to most posters choosing the same path: ridiculous humor. A few jokes stood out. Most didn’t. Humor’s hard. In the end, a lot of the stories felt like nothing distinguished them from the others: tonally, in terms of absurdity, in characters, in humor. There were several stories this week that felt like they had potential, some strong, but nothing was truly elevated above the others.

Sonny - Tiger Flip:
Pedantry: Usually you would write out “there meters” for small numbers. Also, at three meters she is taller than the tallest person in recorded history, and certainly taller than the tallest tiger. Tigers are also solitary.
Crit: I think one mistake people make with prompts sometimes is interpreting them as literally as possible. These appear to be literal tiger-people who are punk-rock. In one of the examples cited in the prompt post, the author didn’t literally have the Roman Legionaries hocking pokeballs, but when you realize the inspiration it’s retroactively obvious. You also spend a lot of time describing what people look like, but after you get the point that this group wears black leather, you really don’t need to keep repeating it. You also have very shallow characters. The protagonist just sort of goes along with everything, and it takes three sentences for this girl he (she?) presumably just met to convince him to join in an armed (and toothed) robbery/homicide. Also I don’t know why you spend so much time on the weird hypnotic-tiger transformation, but it doesn’t add much. It could, possibly—we could get more about what the narrator thinks about it all or something of a more genuine reaction to it so we learn something about him, but we don’t. Bigsy wears black leather and makes people into literal tigers, but I don’t know anything else about her. Plot-wise, it turns out it was all a lie after the narrator grotesquely murders this random dude, but again, the narrator doesn’t really think about anything, just struggles a bit. Finally, and most damningly, I don’t know what the gently caress this story was about. Am I supposed to feel anything? Find anything interesting? Why did I just read all these words about hypno-tiger homicide, and why wasn’t it funny? And there wasn’t even any martial arts fighting. I think if you’d jumped the shark (or tiger, in this case) and just gone for an over-the-top story, it would have benefited by at least having some humor to it, but as it is, it was pretty boring. You’ll have to return with a better story.

Chernobyl Princess - Breaking Hearts At Camp Kippakriptid:
Source Material Guess: Through introducing gorgons and the fact that they’re all, even the ancient monsters, basically teens, we’re clearly in Monster Camp / Monster Prom fanfic territory by about paragraph 6. If this is not the case and I’m actually off-base and you’ve never heard of them, you may wish to play those games and take notes on how the do humor/characters.
Crit: Good use of title to prepare readers. We get subtle introductions of Maeve, Ness, and Zip, but you have to outright state the narrator is a harpy, and there’s got to be a more clever way to do it. Or you could make her a Siren (same genre) and talk about the time she almost got with Odysseus but didn’t realize he was into that bondage stuff or earwax play. This is another story that takes the prompt literally. It gets the dumb teenage drama right. This is all dumb teenage drama. It almost gets funny in some places, like when Zip says “You need revenge,” that gets us her personality and a chuckle. But the followup isn’t as good, and I don’t think it’s taking advantage of the humor inherent to the concept. The romance arc is serviceable, but nothing special, and I think more needs to be done to bump up the characters and/or jokes a notch.

ChickenOfTomorrow - Awakenings:
Crit: Good emotions and characterization to start. Paragraph 2 gives context for the problem facing Whitney. Solid descriptions (”resinous perfume”, “Miss Huilung's hair was too shiny, her eyes too clear, for Whitney to look up. She knew she was going to die if she acknowledged either of them.”). I think the “magical Ativan” threw me off because it was late enough in the story I wasn’t expecting magic to be real; I think we need some indication of that earlier. (I also had to Google “Ativan”). I don’t really understand why Butler and Huilung are having a Calm_Fight, and I feel the ending misses the landing because it’s tonally completely different than the rest of the story and “deus ex magic solves the characters problems” is not particularly satisfying. It feels like a way to shoe-horn in part of the prompt. You have a strong start, where it feels like you’re going to tell us something real about anxiety and life, and a weak ending because it doesn’t fulfill the promise of the beginning.

Sailor Viy - Wings Against Stone:
Crit: Good hook. Well, it’s certainly bird-hell. I don’t really know that you need to tell the reader that explicitly as you do, because if they didn’t get it after the first 8 paragraphs, that’s their fault. I wonder how to make this story more interesting, because it’s a lot of bird-torture and description. I think we need more about the narrator and his pre-life connections, conversations. For example, when the narrator encounters literal God, what does he think about this? How does this change how he views the world? No time is spent on this. Lines like “Did You really send me to the hell of birds by mistake?” really need to be cut. I do think there’s a lot of potential in this story. The idea that God recruits him to be the savior of birds. I like the flashback in his second encounter. I like the end. It’s the story’s core that needs polish, and most critically, the narrator in this story needs more life, more context for who he is and what his religious journey has been. Of all the stories this week, though, I think this one has the most potential for publication. Despite the win, it was a narrow victory, and it’s not head and shoulders above the rest—yet.

Weltlich - Well Rooted:
Crit: The problem of the story is clear: how 2 make money on farm?? Next we have two characters not getting along, so the story probably resolves that too. Or something with Danny. The dogs and coyotes arguing is a bit of a fun moment. “Inside the rooster was screaming “shitpussy” over and over and over again” also got a laugh from me. Good moment of tension with the coyote/dog fight. Does a coyote fight lead to cracked ribs? Anyways, the story resolves as it promises. It feels like something is missing in the latter part of the story. Possibly, it’s that Danny’s character is… too perfect? She’s missing any flaws and it’s not clear why the narrator wants the farm to work so bad, and why he’s reluctant to give it up despite the constant losses. So giving it up at the end is too easy.

Azza Bamboo - From The Memoirs of a Grey Alien Diplomat:
Crit: “On my way here I saw at least fifty thousand of their refugees evacuating from a single car” is a good clown joke. The rest is just clown references. There’s technically a story buried in those references, but it’s pretty shallow. There’s a totally different route you could have taken, and that is one where cultural expectations (or lived experiences) are so radically different that you get something interesting—and you make a gesture in that direction with the sad-clown. But overall, there’s not much to take seriously, and I don’t know how to advise you to bump up the humor.

Simply Simon - Horse Out of Hell:
Crit: This is a story about the Greed laggards of a hellish invasion of a German town and what appears to be a self-insert helping ward it off. Some passive voice in the descriptions becomes noticeable, and is not necessary. Is it Karla or Klara? And as the story calls out, a mad scientist with prisoner trope. And references. And a pact. There’s a lot of jokes in here; most of them don’t land for me. I do like “I did not remain accident-free my entire life by speeding”, the old Doktor grunted” and “Only two left in the undergrads’ fridge.” It feels like ““Klara, my future Rosswurst stirs” should be funny. But humor is all this has going for it, so it’s a risk for the whole story to hinge on that and then not quite complete the turn. It feels like large parts of the first part can be cut, since Ryder doesn’t exist for much. I will say the prompt here was probably overly specific, which restrained the story to some degree.

Carl Killer Miller - The Nixon Cheese:
Crit: “He hastily placed the cheese back in the drawer” is a good line. I feel like “person who is passionate about [X] doesn’t understand why other people aren’t, even though [X] is ridiculous” is a bit overdone. As with the above stories, this is also a story with a bunch of references and jokes, but they just don’t quite land for me.

Tosk - While My (Air) Guitar Gently Weeps:
Crit: As I’m reading this, my first thought is ‘cut the intro.’ There’s a lot there we don’t need. Like, you want to establish a mood in the first few paragraphs. Give us a few details about air guiatr spells, give us the man standing in the shaft of light with the Escalade, give us the awkward silence, but skip the rest. There’s also got to be a better way to introduce the air guitar death duel. Maybe when he gets to the underground arena the narrator lets some of the info you’ve told us slip in a conversation; this would serve the purpose of helping characterize him (how he delivers the dialogue) and feeding us the plot. Something like someone asking him who he is, and the narrator mentioning, “Oh, I’m [CEO name’s] stand-in.” Then you get other characters to react to that and can reference the headlines—but less is going to be more here. Leave some of it to the reader’s imagination. Again, I think you can trim a lot off this and not lose anything. Next, you’ve got contradictions. “We'd gone through the official channels to set up our bout” does not match “…but they'd long since been outlawed. There were no rules in a duel between air guitar wizards.” And you really need more showing and less telling: “I also noticed that I was utterly terrified”—weak! Finally, the ending is weak as hell. If air druming is the forbidden art, you need to establish that in the story so that if you’re going to end the story right after it begins, the audience understands the implications. I don’t feel the desperation that should be there in the narrator; the fight is just not intense. As it is, you just have a story without the ending. Finally finally, the ridiculous nature of the story’s premise is not properly taken advantage of.

Yoruichi - Buzzer Beater:
Crit: We have a protagonist dealing with relationship troubles, financial troubles, and roller hockey troubles. And big pigeons. Said narrator spends a lot of time in their own head. Then, not totally out the blue, but mostly, in the middle of the story, we have Attack of the Doomsday Pigeons. Unable to resolve most of the aforementioned problems at all because of this apocalypse, Helen scores a goal, for herself. It’s sort of a weird story, akin to spitting at a giant meteor about to hit Earth; “She knew it was pointless but she wanted it all the more because of that” sums it up. Perhaps the absurdity would land better in a week that wasn’t completely full of absurdity, or maybe it needs to be leaned into more. Giant pigeons tearing apart the world must be funny. Maybe Helen can have even more problems, like getting a call from her family and saying she’s no longer welcome for Christmas, just piling the absolutely disasters on so that the last goal is more meaningful. Either way, there needs to be something more to polish the story to a shine.

QuoProQuid - Leonardo (or How I Learned To Start Worrying and Hate The Time Travel):
Crit: “They still hadn’t realized my real passion was making hyper-realistic sculptures of horse heads” is funny. The line “An expert of all manners of intrigues, I immediately stripped myself naked and shattered an urn of olive oil over my form” is a good way of telling the reader exactly how seriously they should take the story. I do want premiere Renaissance Man, Leonardo, to describe the time portal better than “a giant portal of swirling light and sound.” There’s room to either get some of how his artist’s eye sees it or a crack about the kind of science contemporary people would have, (e.g. ‘The portal was of suspended, glowing silver. Perhaps I had dismissed the potential advances of creating mercury vapors too soon…’). The line you’re using for a repetitive joke (“Boy, birds sure are something”) feels like it needs different phrasing to be funnier. “I can’t tell you the number of times I tried slathering myself in oil to escape the base” is good and got a guffaw out of me, as did the visual of Leonardo convincing Julius Caesar to get on his lovely screw-helicopter prototype. At a certain point though, the references to historical figures gets overdone; just mentioning them without a punchline does nothing. Perhaps you need some dialogue among them, so that Leonardo’s love of horses can be contrasted with someone else’s idea. Lost opportunity to have Leonardo fall in love with Odysseus. The ending where everyone just dies to a bird-dropped-nuke is fine, but the last few paragraphs (from “I was unstuck in time”) are the weakest and need an alternate take. I’d scrap that part and try a different tact. Still, I had fun with this story. With some strong revisions, especially in the second half, I think this could be funny enough to reach publication quality.

My Shark Waifuu - Prisoners:
Crit: I like it. A nice, haunting story, with that Hotel California energy. I wonder what the story would look like if a part of the narrator didn’t want to leave—after all, that dancing and great steak must have had some effect, right? Why leave this place of comfort? I do like how the criminal stand in (feels like a devil-ish character) has no real explanation, and that the story doesn’t bother with that part. I would like to see more about what the narrator feels about the dream and the Waffle House; he wants to go back, so tell us more about that, perhaps more about not being able to go there. I’d also try and get some more depth to the characters. We have some light strokes painting them, but they could use a bit more color and history. I’d also change the dialogue near the end about escaping and the nature of the place—more subtlety. Overall, a nice story that carried me through it easily and flows well.

Burning_Conch - Nuclear Blues:
Crit: A mouse band plays at a nuclear power plant for some cats. They rock so hard the power plant melts down. Then one mouse sings something in Spanish and it’s so dramatic that the power plant core cries, stopping the reaction. Not clear are the physics here; if the core is weeping in such a way water is extruded from the core, that lack of moderator would speed up the reaction, whereas if it is creating water from nothing, as a crying uranium pellet might, that might slow it down. Evaporation of tear-sized drops is simply not going to remove enough heat to do anything. The ending, “I hope you all have someone you care about, hold them tightly, and never let go” feels like a strong ending for a story we didn’t get. Or maybe we did get it! I don’t read Spanish nearly well enough to do more than pick out a few words here or there. Perhaps the meaning of the song for Jorge needs to be explicated. Perhaps we need stronger descriptions of emotion, facial expressions, or character reactions. Either way, some work needs to be done to take the ridiculous premise and make the emotions at the end land properly. There’s room to cut at the intro; as long as you establish them feeling out of place, you don’t need that much dedicated to their entry. Also, I have no idea why they need to be cats and mice. One might do that metaphorically with class differences (well credentialed middle class engineers certainly might make a financially pressed Mexican band feel out of place)

The man called M - They are made of stupid:
Crit: Having the entire story be untagged dialogue with only interjections for how much time has passed is a risky move. If you’re going to violate all the rules of good writing, you need to have a payoff that makes it worth it. And you don’t. I know you’re conforming to the prompt, but the implementation makes no sense. The jokes aren’t funny, and there’s nothing else supporting this mess, because you don’t have any work done to make your characters anything, and no setting. I think there’s an interesting story to be told about different civilizations using drastically different ways of communicating, but you avoid doing anything interesting with that idea at all. Next, the fact that Phil and Gene are communicating using words means they don’t have to communicate using crosswords or art or whatever. Also, any aliens intelligent enough to achieve long distance space travel must be intelligent, so the story is unable to defend its own internal logic. This story feels lazy and hastily written.

Pththya-lyi - Fly Me to the Moon, Let Me Kick Its loving rear end:
Crit: “but the 700 kilometer-long letters spelling SUCK IT HUMANS on the Moon’s surface was the very last straw. To preserve the Earth’s honor, NASA hastily assembled and landed a crack team of astronauts on the Moon to defeat it in hand-to-hand combat” got a ‘lol’ from me. The middle of the story sort of muddles forward, with jokes not nearly as strong as the intro. There’s a bunch of events, but they don’t really develop characters or help set up jokes, so they just feel like filler. The “juijitsu” bit is telegraphed way too hard. The Witch thing, conversely, is not foreshadowed at all, and like Apollo 13, doesn’t land.

Chairchucker - Could Also Be a Squid, I Guess, I Mean I’m No Marine Biologist:
Crit: This has a bunch of chill characters having chill conversations about weird stuff in your trademark style. It flows fine, with easy dialogue. It’s light in tone and message, with all the characters taking things in stride. While tonally consistent, it also leads to most of the characters feeling same-y. The ending is a biiiit rushed. Needs some more time to properly work.

rohan - Agent Double-Oh-Sexy in: Big Shoes To Fill:
Crit: Why did you claim 3 prompts? Bit greedy imo. The story does lean fully in to its ridiculousness, to some advantage. Cream pie and agent number two are good jokes, technically set up well. It doesn’t feel like there’s an actual time loop, though. I know there is one, but the ‘attempts’ earlier could be referencing other stuff. There’s a lot of jokes here, and the story does well to embrace its over-the-top nature, but it felt like it was missing some key pieces to become truly funny.

Thranguy - What the Poor Man Has, What the Rich Man Needs:
Crit: The introduction leaves me very confused very quickly. The first sentence seems entirely unrelated to the next two. By “Mom’s detective show” I get it, but a bit of clarity might be in order. It feels like we need more time in fairy-land. “Of course, it didn't work out that way, but that another story, a story that ends with me negotiating with a Queen of Fairy, my glass dagger with its shadow-sharp blade pressed tight to her ivory throat” is a real Rothfuss move, which is to say, not going into a much more interesting story than the one present. I’d delve more into the characters adventures and reactions to fair-land, describe the wonders, and then something about their return. As it is, the story feels blasé about itself, which undermines the nice parts it has. Alternatively, you could tell the story of him reclaiming his firstborn and just allude to the vacuum tube adventure that started it all in passing.

Captain_Indigo - Four More Years:
Crit: I’m 100% sure it would be “Madam President.” Also, that entire first section? Cut it. If you really want a lab scene where aborted anime projects get pocky thrown at them (the only good joke in that scene), you can insert it somewhere else. I think there’s a more interesting story (or better jokes to be told) in anime action or something, rather than just retrospectively reflecting on all the shenanigans and cramming as many references as possible into the story (a trend this week to be sure). The best joke of the story is obviously at the end: ““Nothing personal, kid.”
President Obama drew her katana.” I think the jokes will land better if they’re in the moment, rather than a long, boring conversation.

sebmojo - The role of works in a sinful world:
Crit: ““Why did you punch them? Why did you punch my sing-men!”” lol. This is definitely a story about punching things, repeatedly. It sadly lands at the end of a week of stories just like it. The writing is solid, and has decent characters in Jimmy, the priest, and God, and has some nice set pieces (the choir) but is missing whatever what make it truly shine. At this point, I don’t know why things are funny anymore. All I ask for is the mercy of rest.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Week 489 judgings

Tiger Flip

Ok. So this story operates on dream logic. That's fine.

But... that's all there is to it. Just a sort of gang initiation story about a killing while becoming a furry, all written in this kind of weird child speak. I don't really see the point.

Also where's the flip I was promised a flip. The hellrule said you need a flip. I can't see a flip even if I squint, not even a metaphorical one. I'll find my flip

Where'd it lose me: eh, I don't know. Kind of all over the place.

Flavor: geno gray :geno:


Breaking Hearts At Camp Kippakriptid

I was really into this and I liked all the little details. Just taking the ridiculous prompt and playing it completely straight and mundane and elaborating on all the details of how exactly things would work in a world of mythological creatures is probably the best way to approach this.

But then it all falls apart at the end. That concluding section seemed incredibly rushed, as if you had to cram it into a tight word count and didn't want to cut anything earlier. But... you still had 600 words to spare. And then the very end didn't ring true at all. I feel like you should have cut that last scene entirely and just hinted towards that coming in the future, or something. But it's just hollow revenge porn at the very end, and not even an interesting or well-executed revenge? Meh

Where'd it lose me: the ending. Oh, the ending.

Flavor: tutti frutti



I enjoyed this. Not much to say. I'm not sure about the ending scene; the story could maybe explain a bit more exactly what's going on. I read the story before the hellrule, and yeah, it pretty much explicitly explains the last scene, I guess, but I don't think this story quite hangs together unless you know what that rule was.

Where'd it lose me: The end, kinda?

Flavor: French vanilla


Wings Against Stone

This is some very nice description. Cute ending. I don't really have anything to complain about.

There's other ways this prompt could have been interpreted, but this is probably the best way to play it straight.

Where'd it lose me: didn't

Flavor: dark chocolate


Well Rooted

Another cute ending. I know, it's one of those Kiwiana things, right down to the entendre in the title. For what it is it's well executed, but I kind of wondered if it quite had to be quite this, this I read the rule and OK yeah.

Where'd it lose me: eh. Didn't really

Flavor: well-chewed rawhide


From The Memoirs of a Grey Alien Diplomat

Eh. So it's a diplomatic meeting of a gray alien to an audience of circus clowns. That's it that's the story. I feel like there has to be something more to it than just the high concept; that just comes straight from your prompt. Nothing about the alien even seems alien; it just seems like a slightly confused 19th century Englishman.

It does make it pretty clear what the rule is even without knowing that ahead of time. But I'm not sure that's actually a point in favor of the story to the end of being a, you know, story.

Where'd it lose me: somewhere in that first paragraph or two

Flavor: custard pie only it's all shaving cream


Horse Out of Hell

I'm most of the way through this story and I really have no idea what's going on.

I read the hellrulehellrulehellrule after and... still have no idea what was going on.

I know it would be pretty hard to wring something coherent out of a prompt like that but it doesn't look like you tried to.

Where'd it lose me: not sure you ever had me

Flavor: bone broth

mid, lowish

The Nixon Cheese

I think this is the first story where reading the hellrule after the story makes it into a punchline.

Light, but it knows what it wants to be and does it.

Where'd it lose me: never

Flavor: a nice dollop of ayib


While My (Air) Guitar Gently Weeps

Not a promising opener. These paragraphs feel way too long and that makes it difficult to follow. That effect can be used to cause a particular feeling in the reader, but I'm not sure it will in this case. A lot of these words feel extraneous. And it's not in service of the character; he's not some scientist or detatched observed meticulously cataloguing all these pointless notes. They're just vomited on the page, as if you don't know which are important and which aren't so you have to write down every single detail.

This feels so, so wordy. All these words and yet not much happens; we don't really even get a sense of the character, who he is and what he wants. Why is he even fighting this duel? Yeah, he's getting revenge for the CEO for money; but why does he do this? (Also linking to youtube videos as part of the text is... weird. I don't know.) We don't even get a resolution to the duel. Not even a hint of one to come. It just

Where'd it lose me: The opening sentence is completely bland, and it stands alone as if it's supposed to be something profound or arresting. And then a wall of text follows.

Flavor: foam rubber stuffing

mid, lowish

Buzzer Beater

This does a much better job of filling the words with important information than the last one. These are also long paragraphs, but every details is important, either explaining the character or moving the events of the story forward.

It's a good, satisfying story, even as it leans more into the ridiculous scenario of the hellrule.

Where'd it lose me: didn't

Flavor: wintergreen


Leonardo (or How I Learned To Start Worrying and Hate The Time Travel)

This is doofy but fun. A quick read. The narrator doesn't seem at all like da Vinci aside from namedropping a couple of things he'd done, but I guess that's not really the point.

I don't get this choice of recurring joke though

Where'd it lose me: never

Flavor: bubblegum



These are nice word paintings so far. Still holding my attention.

Then the story turns more abstract and time compresses and it kind of loses interest for me. It seemed to be building up to something tense and interesting and it just never pays off. It becomes a Groundhog Day story but there doesn't seem to be a point. It just kind of sputters off and dies.

I don't think it quite fits the hellrule, either.

Where'd it lose me: the last section

Flavor: candy cane

mid, highish

Nuclear blues

This moves fast, but I'm not sure about it. There is the odd punctuation issue, but otherwise solid construction at the low level. But high-level, eh. The resolution doesn't quite feel earned, and the very end is inscrutable. I know the dilemma was provided to you, but still. Going into it without knowing that ahead of time, the rising absurdity takes hold, and the story never really recovers from that. You go for a cathartic ending after that, but that's going to be nearly impossible to reach given where you're coming from.

Where'd it lose me: the climax

Flavor: candy-coated pretzel

mid, highish

They are made of stupid

So, this is a script. A screenplay. No blocking at all. Just about the only non-dialog lines are "X time passes", which you never want to write out, and a bit of meta-commentary at the end.

What this actually is is a chatlog. And nobody wants to read a chatlog. Maybe you could have made an entertaining story even with this structure, but you didn't. This is just stepping through the details in the hellrule like it's a checklist. You check off the last one and you're done.

These are non-characters, they have no personality, and nothing happens.

Where'd it lose me: the start, realizing this was a dialog between two disembodied voices

Flavor: helium baloon


Fly Me to the Moon, Let Me Kick Its loving rear end

Good job building the whole story up to a punchline on the last line with a typo in it. Or, if that spelling is intentional, it instantly pulls the reader out of the story.

I don't quite get the ending, either.

This is goofy premise piled on top of goofy premise that's kind of played straight, kind of leans into the absurdity, but it's worse for not going whole-hog either way.

Where'd it lose me: Eh, I was kind of only halfway there the whole time.

Flavor: cafeteria spaghetti

mid, highish

Could Also Be a Squid, I Guess, I Mean I’m No Marine Biologist

I too am tuning out.

So many of these lines don't really accomplish anything and could be cut out. That would let you write a proper ending too, rather than this skipping ahead.

And the ending is just... meh. Don't care about these things or Dara, who I didn't remember was the granddaughter. You haven't given us any real reason to.

Where'd it lose me: You see this line? "A streak broken when the octopus pillow started talking to me." That's where your story should start. Nothing before that point was necessary, or a few bits could at least be folded in and restated concisely later.

Flavor: wonderbread


Agent Double-Oh-Sexy in: Big Shoes To Fill

That intro is doing job setting up the tone. Yeah this is goofy and fun so far.

The ending dragged on way too long, though. Don't overstay your welcome after you've resolved everything, in a story this short.

Where'd it lose me: the end

Flavor: glazed donut

mid, highish

What the Poor Man Has, What the Rich Man Needs

A fun little story. Nothing objectionable, nothing really standout.

Where'd it lose me: no

Flavor: salmon


Four More Years

The structure's decent (until the end) but you need to edit more tightly. That dialog section early on could have been much shorter without losing anything. And that giant paragraph in the middle should be broken up.

I don't know. In terms of subject, this is a completely literal take on the prompt, but it's also goofy. Even setting aside the sentence issues, it doesn't quite gel right as a story. And it ends on a joke that isn't funny, or insightful, or anything.

Where'd it lose me: the dialog dancing around each other at the beginning

Flavor: stale pocky


The role of works in a sinful world

Comma splice. Punctuation all over is an issue here. Why. Why don't you end questions with question marks.

The combination of good descriptions full of metaphors and goofy dialog sits oddly. It's a peanut butter and lamb sandwich.

I feel like if this was edited tighter and cleaned up it might earn that ending, but as is it doesn't quite.

Where'd it lose me: punc tu a tion

Flavor: thunderstorm air

mid, highish

Fuschia tude fucked around with this message at 00:40 on Dec 21, 2021

Mar 21, 2010

Tiger Flip, by Sonny

This one was really floaty and hard to follow, it clearly had a lot of ideas but they weren't really being communicated. I hate the "Hemingway Style Is Best Style" thing but especially for a beginner it might be good to focus on that clarity and precision and then you can start piling the buckwild ideas on top of them. Also WHERE WAS THE FLIP. I WANTED A SICKASS FLIP, SONNY. Low-mid.

Breaking Hearts At Camp Kippakriptid, by Chernobyl Princess

Maybe I'm just not the right genre reader for this but I really bored. The romance stuff I've vibed with tends to be pretty sharp and witty and it's all little twisty knives, and this felt very ... sadgirlcore? Is that a word? Like it wants to be Halsey but it's more like somebody who listens to Halsey. Mid.

Awakenings, by ChickenOfTomorrow

Competently executed but just kind of dull? Another prompt that could've led to a lot of action but was mostly just people talking about doing things. This could've been like, a Scapegracers/Rocket Power AU, but it chooses to spin its wheels with buildup when it probably could've just cut to the good stuff. Mid-high.

Wings Against Stone, by Sailor Viy

The middle sags a little, but this is a piece that like, with some tightening you could sell to Clarkesworld or Shimmer (RIP) or somewhere. The atmosphere is great, the language has all these nasty little barbs in it. Leave it for a few weeks, then sit back down with it outside of the context of TD and see if you can't polish it up a bit, I think there's really something here. High.

Well Rooted, by Weltlich


Jokes aside this was pretty good, though as somebody more familiar with ANZ slang, the slang itself isn't inherently comedic because it's just kinda how some people talk? And it felt like it hung a lot of its humour on the ridiculousness of that slang. Still, mid-high.

From The Memoirs of a Grey Alien Diplomat, by Azza Bamboo

Overshadowed by the other clown joke one, because not even fifty refugees in a single tiny car can beat the tactical clown joke missile that was "cream pie" but like, yeah, I got a few sensible chuckles out of this. On the other hand, I feel like it was at its strongest when it was NOT joking, when it was hinting at the horrifying physiology of the clown-aliens, this was decent, but it really could've been great if it had leaned into that weird body horror tension and horrible uncanny-valley-ness that kept popping its head in and out. Mid.

Horse Out of Hell, by Simply Simon

Kinda fell flat for me? Like it wants to have this big desperate manic energy but I think it needed to be tighter and nastier and live more in the physical space. Like, it's gotta FEEL gnarly, right? You want to go deep on that physicality, you want to read it come away with fang marks on your forearm, but it seemed a bit floaty and disconnected. Mid-low.

The Nixon Cheese, by Carl Killer Miller

Did exactly what it set out to do. Extremely hosed up. High-mid.

While My (Air) Guitar Gently Weeps, by Tosk

Felt like it took too long to get going and spent too long mired in exposition, but once it DOES get where it's going it's very fun, I almost feel like it shoulda just started in media res, the reader is smart enough to put it together and that poo poo was rad as hell. Mid-high.

Buzzer Beater, by Yoruichi

You actually made the pigeons horrifying, there's some really fierce lyrical licks in there, and the absurdity of realising you're about to die and going "gently caress it, may as well score that goal" says something very darkly funny about human nature. High.

Leonardo (or How I Learned To Start Worrying and Hate The Time Travel), by QuoProQuid

Nearly an HM, and one of the funnier pieces that went straight comedy, though you hung it on the worst joke! The bird thing was kinda eh, this really sings when you're writing phrases like "An expert of all manners of intrigues, I immediately stripped myself naked and shattered an urn of olive oil", which perfectly capture this man who is so smart that he's totally impossible to understand, and so old that he just doesn't give a gently caress about being understood, and also maybe he's just an idiot, who knows? The bird joke felt forced, like you were desperate to have this callback gag and so crowbarred something into there, when I really just wanted more of Leonardo saying poo poo like "[...] trying to build a giant, realistic horse head. Our brilliant strategy was to convince the Japanese that it was a gift and then, while they were sleeping, get the Air Force to bomb the Japanese position." High-mid.

Prisoners, by My Shark Waifuu

I feel like this would've been stronger if it had been more restrained? This is one of the pieces that attempted to get real pathos out of its premise and it DOES succeed, but it felt like it was going too hard on the big shock stuff when the real nastiness is in the creeping existential dread. Still, a really solid piece, though it could really sing with some tightening. High.

Nuclear Blues, by Burning Conch

I feel like you confused yourself by adding the nuclear stuff. Like, it's not against the rules, I'm not penalizing you for it, but this piece is weakest when it's trying to shoehorn in that part of the prompt and at its strongest when it's doing Magic Mouse Mariachi. Mouse Musicians + Infectious Emotions = great, but the reactor is a third wheel. This could be great with a rewrite, but I feel like its need to adhere to the prompt held it back. Still, well-written, good work overall. High-mid.

They Are Made Of Stupid, by The man called M

Be honest did you write this five minutes before the deadline. I mean it's just ... nothing, it's entirely dialogue in sorta broken English, it has no real substance to it. Low.

Fly Me to the Moon, Let Me Kick Its loving rear end, by Pththya-lyi

I'm sorta torn by the Very Online memes in this one, because it's built around them and yes they're funny but I think it would've been better if you played it straight? Your interpretation of the prompt is great and I wanted to see more of it, but it kept undercutting itself like a Marvel movie. The idea is so funny that it doesn't need to keep reminding us of the fact. Mid-high.

Could Also Be a Squid, I Guess, I Mean I’m No Marine Biologist, by Chairchucker

Trying really hard to be wacky, just kind of boring. Also it felt like you were really rushing towards the end to meet the deadline, I'm not sure whether there was some intent behind that structural choice but it wasn't working for me. Low

Agent Double-Oh-Sexy in: Big Shoes To Fill, by rohan

The best pure comedy piece for me, "cream pie" got an actual audible belly laugh, but I felt like it was trying to do too much and got tangled in its own prompts. If you'd just stuck with "sexiest man alive is trying to get his very serious job done and his plan is to disguise himself as a clown that can't stop making GBS threads" you'd have been absolutely golden, but the jenga tower of STUFF you've built here is extremely wobbly. High-mid.

What the Poor Man Has, What the Rich Man Needs, by Thranguy

Sweet, competently executed but that's ... sort of it? It's a confection, and a lovely one, but it didn't really stay with me. Mid-high.

Four More Years, by Captain Indigo

This has so much promise, and the horrifying aborted KILL ME SENPAI creatures are actually very upsetting and a great interpretation of the prompt, but I can't help but shake the feeling that for something that's meant to be ridiculous and over the top it sure is just a lot of exposition and/or people standing around talking. Mid.

The role of works in a sinful world, by Sebmojo

Does exactly what it says on the tin and I love its insane energy, at times the dialogue feels like the logical endpoint of that Jim Spaceman "so direct it becomes hilarious", it just doesn't do anything more than it says on the tin, and to stand out you've gotta take more risks than this. Mid-high.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Interprompt: “Hello Little boy/girl/undefined, what do you want for Christmas?” 500 Words

Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy
I don't want a lot for christmas, there is just one thing I need. I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree. I just want to see that post, more than you could ever know. Make my wish come true, baby, all I want for Christmas is prompt

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Thunderdome #490: Thanks, Stith Thompson

This week your prompts will come from Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk Literature, an academic catalogue of motifs that appear in folktales and fairy stories. Thompson set out to "scientifically" break down folktales into their component parts, and the charm of his index comes from the combination of terse, academic prose with surreal subject matter. Click the link, have a poke around and you'll see what I mean. (The motif index is the pages labelled A to Z; the Tale Type Index is a different thing.)

When you sign up, choose one of the categories in the index and I will assign you a motif from that category as your prompt. (Specifically, I will assign you one of the phrases in bold red text.)

Your story does not have to be written in a fairy-tale style, but it can be.

Also, to add a little Christmas cheer to the proceedings, it must snow at some point in your story.

Word count: 800 words
Signups close: 6:00pm AEST, Friday 24th December (that's roughly midnight on the 23rd in PST)
Submissions close: 6:00pm AEST, Monday 27th December

Sailor Viy

Azza Bamboo
Sitting Here
Fuschia tude
a friendly penguin
The Saddest Rhino
A Classy Ghost
Uranium Phoenix
The man called M
Carl Killer Miller
Idle Amalgam

Sailor Viy fucked around with this message at 07:22 on Dec 23, 2021

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

the yearking is nearly slain, so let us also, as is customary, turn off kayfabe (such as it be) and bid all speak freely of what they feel. things you like, or hate, or think should change about this thunderdome.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018



Jul 29, 2007

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


The Dead. :spooky:

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

In, with Ogres

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.


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
I'm in and i would like sex please

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?



Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Sitting Here posted:

I'm in and i would like sex please

me too

Also my motif is Unnatural Cruelty. :v:

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

D624.1. Storks become men in Egypt in the winter.

Captain_Indigo posted:


The Dead. :spooky:
E251.4.3. Vampire with eyes of owls.

Antivehicular posted:

In, with Ogres
G71. Unnatural children eat parent.

Thranguy posted:


F57.2. Person's tongue as path to sky.

Sitting Here posted:

I'm in and i would like sex please
T331.4. No place secret enough for fornication.

rohan posted:

K210. Devil cheated of his promised soul.

Fuschia tude posted:

me too

Also my motif is Unnatural Cruelty. :v:
S115.2.1. Murder by driving nail through head.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

In, chance and fate.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

in, ogres

Dec 15, 2021


A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet
hello td it has been a long time



Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007



The Dead.



Apr 30, 2006
In animal motifs

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009



The wise and the foolish.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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


Unnatural cruelty

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha


Captives or Fugitives

Apr 12, 2006

QuoProQuid posted:


Captives or Fugitives


Aug 2, 2002





S. Unnatural Cruelty

Aug 2, 2002




sebmojo posted:

the yearking is nearly slain, so let us also, as is customary, turn off kayfabe (such as it be) and bid all speak freely of what they feel. things you like, or hate, or think should change about this thunderdome.

thank you, thunderdome

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven

crabrock posted:

thank you, thunderdome

And In, The Nature of Life :toxx:

Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy
in with ANIMALS pls

Feb 25, 2014
in misc :toxx:


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!

In humor

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