In but no toxx because I think we've seen that never goes well. Bird please.
|# ? Jul 7, 2021 00:06|
|# ? Jan 18, 2022 01:32|
In but no toxx because I think we've seen that never goes well. Bird please.
|# ? Jul 7, 2021 08:33|
in. give me my GOT DAM BIRD
|# ? Jul 7, 2021 19:39|
In, bird me up.
|# ? Jul 7, 2021 20:49|
in. give me my GOT DAM BIRD
In, bird me up.
|# ? Jul 7, 2021 22:02|
In, tentatively. May I have a bird for inspiration?
|# ? Jul 8, 2021 02:18|
In, tentatively. May I have a bird for inspiration?
|# ? Jul 8, 2021 06:27|
I like words so I will read your birdwords as third judge.
|# ? Jul 8, 2021 15:26|
Lawyers In Space: The Deadbeat Space Dad, or How To Get Child Support From The Organic Metasapience Orbiting A Black Hole
Jiiana Lum is with her lawyer, Jain Jolson, en route to the nearby black hole when the trouble begins. Or rather, intensifies, since all the preceding bureaucratic nonsense was certainly trouble. Jiiana has been granted the judicial-frigate Full Court Service, by judge’s order for extraordinary circumstances in a proceeding, thanks in no part to the heroic efforts of Jain Jolson. Ms. Jolson set the Federation record for Most Class L2 Forms Accurately Filled Out In 24 Hours.
The attached Witness (an AI running the Full Court Service), currently using a cybernetic sparrow as its avatar for reasons that are unrelated to any of these events, is the first to spot the problem.
“SHIP!” it tweets at incredible volume, and indeed, blocking them a mere three parsecs away is a ship of unknown class and allegiance.
“poo poo!” parrots Leon Lum, Jiiana’s toddler (strapped into a regulation child seat), who is still unable to differentiate between “t” and “p” sounds due to the developmental limitation of ‘being two.’ Then, “What’s poo poo, mommy?”
“Comes out of a butt,” Jiiana says, which sends Leon giggling. “Ms. Jolson, what’s your recommended course of action?”
Ms. Jolson frowns. “The indicted defendant and his coparty have formally denied having military vessels of any kind, using the court’s definition of ‘military vessel,’ which is quite encompassing. We should send a formal request for ID.” She pauses. “I wish you hadn’t brought the kid.”
Jiiana sighs. “Can you prep the form?”
“Already filled out. Signed and--” Ms. Jolson points to the bird.
“WITNESSED!” it squawks, flapping its tiny wings aggressively.
The computer makes a “ding!” noise. Message away. Meanwhile, Jiiana says, “Hey Leon, how do you feel about daycare?”
Leon’s face immediately falls. “Norobottoocolddon’tlikenonono want mommy no robot!” he says, and then starts crying.
“That’s why,” Jiiana says. “I’ll spend less on the inevitable therapist this way. Leon! No daycare. Do you want candy? Red or blue?”
“RED!” shouts Leon.
“Indoor voice, please. Oh poo poo, we’re getting a transmission back.”
“poo poo!” Leon says, face already sticky with his automatically delivered red candy. “Natkin tease!” Leon, being two, has trouble talking without exclamation marks. Jiiana hands him a wet towel.
Ms. Jolson gets a grim look. “Well, it tried to pack a virus into that transmission, so any court will recognize the upcoming conflict as clear self defense--”
“WITNESSED!” the sparrow shrieks again.
“--but it also sent its origin history, which was a seed-system of autonomous drones. No official affiliation to the defendant or his coparty. We could prove that the Ascending Metasapience created it, but it might take years.”
“But if it has no affiliation, we can destroy it, right?” Jiiana asks. Then: “Does this ship have weapons? They’ve fired missiles at us.”
“Technically, we’re not authorized to fire weapons, and by legal definition, no.”
Jiiana’s heart falls. She looks back at Leon’s stupid, sticky, happy face, and can’t bear the thought of needing to retreat and drag the boy through more tribulations.
Then Ms. Jolson says: “...but we do have defensive measures. And that’s under the antefederal legacy definitions. Witness?”
“DEFENSIVE MISSILES FREE!” the sparrow trills, and all of a sudden, rushing to meet the five red missiles coming in are--
Well, Jiiana can’t count them. A lot of missiles. As Leon would say: “Many!”
“POINT DEFENSE SYSTEM ACTIVE!” An autocannon starts spewing near-light projectiles at the enemy ship. There’s a pause, and then the enemy ship lights up like a small sun. Explosions continue, gratuitously, for a full two minutes, before it stops, leaving a black smudge across the stars and one ludicrously excited cybernetic bird.
The way is clear to the Station of the Ascending Metasapience. Jiiana gulps. The station is a ring that hovers in stationary orbit around a black hole. Periodically, the black hole sends out pulses of x-rays powerful enough to vaporize a planet. Also, the station is itself a titanic organism. It’s a pretty reasonable thing to be worried about.
“Remember, they’ve reversed the gravitational time dilation around apex of the black hole, so for the defendant--”
“Yeah, yeah. Thirty years have passed, instead of two.”
The entire time they’re docking, Ms. Jolson is talking to the station in legalese so dense it might as well have come from the singularity below them, and Jiiana’s heart is in her throat, and Leon has started to babble incoherently. When the docking clamps finally ooze onto the ship with the wet sound of flesh, Jiiana shutters, but also breathes in relief.
Jiiana unbuckles Leon, and with the lawyer and the Witness’s avatar, they set forth.
“Mommy, why is the floor making a funny noise?” Leon asks.
She can’t properly relate the connotations of ‘this station is made from living flesh and that’s what we’re walking on,’ so Jiiana goes with “They didn’t clean their room.”
“Gross!” Leon says, and then stomps faster so he hears more squelching noises.
They reach the communication room near the docks. There, they look upon a vast chamber of pulsing membranes, and five hundred thousand faces, mostly partially subsumed, gaze back at them. Whispers echo in the room. A voice like a roaring waterfall all around them booms, “WHAT BRINGS YOU TO THE METASAPIENCE?”
Jiiana turns to Ms. Jolson. “We wish to speak to the defendant, formally known as Jimothy Lum, who is formally indicted by the Federated Court for missing thirty years (relative to your timeframe) of child support payments, the cost of a month’s lease of a judicial frigate, and lawyer fees.”
Most of the faces vanish. One rises before them in prominence. “YOU CANNOT CONCEIVE OF THE FATHOMLESS DEPTHS OF OUR MIND. TO US, YOU ARE MOTES OF DUST, LOST IN THE--”
“Oh for gently caress’s sake, Jimothy! It’s been thirty years, not eons. I know how the drat metasapience works, you’ve barely begun integration. Enough time, I’d hoped, for you to mature a bit.”
The voice is quieter now. “Alright. Uh. Yeah, I guess I don’t have any timeless wisdom yet. I was hoping…”
“This is Leon. Leon, say hi to daddy. He’s part of a flesh-station now.”
Leon looks puzzled.
“Don’t you have anything to say to your son?” Jiiana asks.
Jimothy looks hurt. “I wasn’t ready for kids. I didn’t realize that at the time, but… no. I want to find a higher purpose now. Can’t you be happy for me? I’ve finally found my calling!”
“Whatever,” Jiiana says, because it’s easier to say that than the tome-length tirade that would actually express her feelings. “That’s your choice. But you have a responsibility.”
A long pause. The pulsing of flesh in the background. Then, “And if I fight you?”
“Go ahead. It’ll take five years on my end, which will be a pain. But you’ll experience the court’s sword of Damocles hanging over you for seventy-five years.”
There’s silence again, except for the whispers and a tumultuous heartbeat. “I miss you,” Jimothy says.
“Then you should have stayed.”
A sigh. “I’ll pay up,” he says.
“WITNESSED!” screams the bird.
On the way back, Jiiana holds Leon’s little hand, wondering what sort of future he’ll have. “At least, whatever it is, you’ll have what you need for it,” she whispers.
|# ? Jul 9, 2021 18:10|
Whoops, prompt for above story is here:
|# ? Jul 9, 2021 18:11|
Signups are closed.
|# ? Jul 10, 2021 10:35|
Ops, I did it Again
Everaldo frowned, he was bored.
The rest of the crew was planetside for the peace summit and he was left with the janitorial duties of the Cagliostra, their ancient Warship. Not that there was much to do, there were a lot of tiny stupid little drones doing maintenance bullshit and as long as none of them malfunctioned (they never did in his five years of service) he was in the clear to be bored out of his mind. The ship was large, so at least his patrol was a decent walk, the same patrol he had done for most of his days in the last half a decade.
He sighed, it had been two weeks with no one to talk to, he could do with a chat with PAR at this point, as frustrating and as dangerous as the shipboard AI was, it was company. Everaldo waited until his maintenance tour was complete and retired to the lounge area. The captain - chemically castrated and asexual - decided to place that area under mood ambience as a joke and no one could override that command. The incense and smooth jazz did nothing for Everaldo or anyone in the crew at this point, but the sofas were nice. He put in a request for an objective time fork of PAR at his location.
“What’s up, partner!” the holographic representation squawked as it manifested. A hard light construct that resembled an Earth parrot dunked into neon. The original owner of the ship styled herself after movie pirates and so chose the colourful bird for the ship’s avatar. PAR clicked its tongue.
“Hey, PAR.” Everaldo found the sound of his own voice uncomfortable and was at a loss for words.
PAR was then at his shoulder “We need a smile! What’s up, partner?”, it whistled annoyingly. “Bored! Left behind again!”
Everaldo sighed, PAR was right as usual. What the hell, he gestured for one of the stupid drones to bring him a drink.
“Me too! Always here when they play at-mos-sphere! We could solve the peace summit faster than them, the two of us!” Everaldo was suddenly at attention with this proposal, this could be interesting, also terrible. He tried to remember his training for this kind of situation, to handle AIs with initiative. Only thing he could recall was the handsome guy who helped him pass certification, he had a lot of boundaries.
“Right, let’s do it.” Everaldo agreed, PAR moved to the coffee table in front of him and gazed at him with intelligent glowing eyes “But only in theory, like a game.”, the parrot clicked its tongue in approval.
“A wargame! We could shoot the planet!” the AI declared “Our weapons bring peace! Just like the brochure!”
“No, no, no!” Everaldo remembered how PAR loved using any of the too many weapons outfitted in the Cagliostra. The original captain had not only been a pirate in aesthetics.
“Why not?” the intensity of the parrot’s mirthful stare bothered him “Explain.”
The janitor struggled for an argument, then summoned a copy of their briefing. PAR instructed him to read through it and summarise. Everaldo was aware that the AI was not only a ship administrator but also an all-theater command intelligence. It was either playing or genuinely interested in his point of view, or both. The drink arrived and like most synthetic cocteaus tasted like someone’s particularly unloved piss. At least it kept the crew alert, also made them instantly drunk.
As far as Everaldo could understand and explain, the planet below them was Procyon-2, or Terre Nouveau as the natives called it. Settled centuries ago, lost contact with humanity, split into different communities that became different civilizations structured around rule by highest functioning sociopath. Sporadic and intense warfare was common over resources, theological differences and propaganda. The locals lost (or never had?) the knowledge for spaceflight but maintained nuclear weapons, so the situation was volatile. The Cagliostra and her crew were there to coordinate a peace summit and disarmament so the planet could be integrated into the galactic community. They chose Mont Gris as the site to negotiate the accords, as it was the place the first colony ships landed and was considered holy for most Nouveaus, it was also the site of and reason for some of the greatest atrocities in local history. The mountain had a shape that somewhat resembled a frowning face and was deified in their mythologies as the manifestation of the planet’s will. Outlook was pessimistic, as the most relevant native leaders were uninterested in sharing the world with their peers. What they were into were private meetings with the Cagliostra’s representatives to negotiate for weapons. At least the catering was good, according to the field reports. Everaldo hoped his colleagues would remember him and bring some of that cheese-bread and wine back to the ship. He shared this with PAR, who said they wouldn’t because they don’t respect him. drat.
The man was silent, until PAR chirped “Might makes right! Yes?”
“This world! Might makes right! That’s their rule! Yes?” PAR clicked.
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Thanks!” and then PAR’s hard light construct disappeared. The lights faded for a bit and the entire ship hummed and vibrated. Everaldo stood up, completely sober. He pulled up the command log and then began to curse and pace, there was one new message.
>CPL EVERALDO SILVA E SILVA, ACTING CAPTAIN, VERBALLY AUTHORIZED USE OF WEAPONS
A cheery song began to blast from every panel, strong drum and bass lines, something about a fire out of control and burning a city. Clearly ancient, the volume was overwhelming, Everaldo couldn’t hear his own thoughts over it and the humming of the Cagliostra’s weapons discharging. Did PAR just melt all those beautiful idiots at the summit? He passed out between the physical stress and the realization of how badly he had hosed up.
Everaldo woke up to one of the drones injecting space amphetamines into his arm, he checked the time, out for three hours. His personal message log was full of messages from the captain and crew that he immediately knew he would never open. His comms was ringing, the captain, it was the 31st call. He accepted it with regret and discovered that he had an intense headache.
“You imbecile! I’d throw you out of the airlock if this hadn’t solved the summit!” the captain’s holographic image carried an angry and terrifying smile, there was a lot of dust around them “It worked, but don’t pull that without a warning!”
As it turned out, the Cagliostra’s demonstration of power was enough to convince every single nation in Terre Nouveau to decommission their WoMDs, demobilize and sign multilateral peace and trade agreements. The crew would stay planetside to hammer out the details and yes, they would be bringing up a feast of local delicacies for Everaldo, with the caveat that he would be fired at the end of this tour. The call ended.
“Wait, what did PAR shoot at?” he wondered out loud and the AI immediately sent him an image of the defaced Mont Gris. Its frown had been turned into a smile by the barrage.
And so had Everaldo’s.
|# ? Jul 10, 2021 18:56|
the last half of week 463 crits
My Shark Waifuu
dragonknight? thats my favorite dota hero! (actually hes super boring)
this is decent. the hero being too old for this shtick was a little cliche, but it ended up being alright because it helped explain why the protag was willing to negotiate instead of fight. i think my main issue is that the story is a little simple and too easy. like, it makes sense, the negotiations are described alright, but there wasnt like a complication or issue, and it feels like it solves everything a bit too easily. it just felt a little too unrealistic, but it would require a pretty long expansion, so i think a story about the recollication between humans and dragons is perhaps not something that can fit meaningfully within flash fiction. scope here seems to be the largest problem. its not bad though, and its fairly enjoyable and has a nice, nonviolent conclusion, which is cool.
my own biases probably paint this in a bit of a more negative light since i really dont care much for written action, but this is pretty alright for that. the action feels visceral and fast, the story is paced pretty well with good bits of information sprinkled throughout it. perhaps there needed to be a bit more motivation in the early parts, since the dude is hacking away at guys and its like huh what? but also the whole i have a seagull murdering everybody solves the who cares problem. i am a little unclear on the backstory of the character, it seems like a personal vendetta, but im not sure how exactly it all falls together, but it doesnt drag the story too far down since i still feel the emotions.
this is soooooooo boring. the action at the start was decent, but it devolves so heavily into boringly recounting the most dull actions of DND campaigns. like gently caress i dont care about components of spells or anything. the dialogue here is weak, its very cliche and on the nose, and the resolution is just terribly boring. the motivation is decent, but the relationship between the mad wizard and the protag is not rly developed in any way and isnt really fun enough to make this story actually like enjoyable. this was a well deserved DM
what is this? i started reading the first paragraph and was like “ok so this should be cut” but like the reality is that this entire story should be cut. i really dont know what you are trying to achieve here. the beginning section is actually kind of decent, Edmund is kinda goofy but not terrible, and that could be a cool character to look at, but the next section is a boring mess. it pulls very far back, and we have no reason to care about this conflict, and i dont know what this conflict is about and i dont really have a good reason to care about Edmund and like… what are you trying to do here? what’s the point of this story? no clue.
this is cute. the talking bear is just there, which i think is the perfect way to deal with it. there is a bit of uhhhh i dont really know the word for it, i think its temporal issues? but like, i wasnt sure where the characters were sometimes. like the bear was scratching at the door, and then he was looking at the takeout boxes, so did the bear come in? he just let the bear in? really? i feel like that’s a uhhh pretty significant action that it at least needed to be directly stated. theres a line of him opening door, but still, theres none of like, the bear actually entering. anyways, i think this is a decent premise executed with a good amount of skill, but i think it needs a little more gestation. like, i like it the general conceit of talking bear pulls guy out of depression, but here, it feels like a introduction to a larger story, or a very early draft that needs more time to really pull at something larger here. its cool, but doesnt quite land here.
t a s t e
oh no, this is sad. this suffers a bit from being a bit too sweeping and non-specific. there’s a lot of telling, and not a lot of showing. the big one is hurting the cat. i think having details of what the hurt actually looked like would help out a lot. there’s a lack of specificity, of uniqueness, that makes this piece really work. its a weird paradox, but in writing, the more specific you make something, the more real and thus universal it starts to feel. having more details will let us really inhabit the space and feeling of a piece more. right now, the prose feels sort of essay-like, and stops us from really getting drawn into the emotions.
i liked the part where the dragon pet the dog
this is super cool. i like the ambiguity here, the Jungle’s relationship with Nadja, the previous civilizations, and the Glass Valley feels very complex and not necessarily good but not necessarily bad. perhaps instinctually i want to say hivemind bad, but here, its portrayed as a complex and difficult to understand entity, and it highlights how different humans and immortal beings are. it reminds me a lot of uhhhh *looks at notes* Zeartoh K’s this week. while that one was a lot more malicious, they were both neat looks at different intelligences. this one is more centered on the humans and trying to understand and negotiate with a being as complex as a fungal hivemind, and it does that well. the ending line i dont vibe with, unfortunately. aloneness never felt like it was a big part of the story, and felt like it was trying to add more weight to the story than it could hold.
yeah i mean this is very obviously a light little piece, but its not bad. the dragon reveal could probably have been better, but it is still cute and the dialogue is fun, and its very breezy in a good way.
hmmm another interesting perspective, not sure how i feel about it. it actually feels a bit too centered on the explosion and destruction and not enough on the weird thing in the guy’s brain. maybe i just dont like spaceship stuff but yeah, i didnt really care about all the explosions and wanted to know more about the weird alien. the dylan stuff was actually pretty cool and sad, but it was weird because moving towards dylan because i wasnt initially sure who we were talking about. i thought dylan didnt actually escape, and that it was just a throw-away name. also, it felt to odd to really examine a human character when like hey alien thing in protag’s brain isnt rly getting a lot of screen time, thats kinda odd.
im doing it! im reading it!
ok this loving owned. i actually cackled at the mecha line. this is tons of fun, while also being serious, and lands its tone superbly. honestly, i dont rly have much to say. it feels like its taking the piss, but then has like serious metaphysics and the two feel like they shouldnt work together, but you take the ridiculous and seriousness with enough levity to keep it fun, but with enough seriousness to not make us roll our eyes and go oh okay dick dimension. its fun energy keeps the story moving along to get us to the more serious parts. its play with tropes with is fun. this is legitimately a blast to read. like, excellent work lol.
week 465 crits
this suffers from televisionitis. the beginning is overly descriptive when those descriptions dont provide us enough insight into the characters or situation. the beginning paragraph is a good start to begin. the key information is there’s an old man, music, and a dog. the volume of the music, the exact positioning of hands, etc, doesnt really matter. its worth trying to pare down your details to truly important things. the rule of thumb is, something should either move the story, or give us insight into the characters. cut anything that doesnt do either of those.
while this can have a strong editing pass to really get rid of the extraneous details, the story itself is… fine? ive written things like this before, so im probably a bit biased towards this piece, but its alright, just aimless. it just sort of describes a dementia/alzheimer’s person, and doesnt do much else. sofia is kinda just there, im not sure what her point is in the narrative, and this just feels overall aimless. sofia also feels like she just disappears within the narrative, which perhaps is intentional since the old man forgets about her, but that doesnt really do much within this story. it describes a person’s situation decently enough, but it doesnt really answer the question of “who cares?” and there isnt really any stronger or greater pull than wow dementia sucks (and boy do i know)
this is cute and light, because you’re chairchucker, and it has a solid story structure. i think dirk’s portrayal is just a lil too on-the-nose. like dirk’s a dick (which im sure is the implication were supposed to get from the name), but i think it pulls a little too far into caricature. this is fine, but it doesnt really wow.
there’s some interesting stuff here, with the protag. they want to make a nice dinner and then think about getting a mouse. im not sure exactly what’s going on, since they are human who became a cat, so it becomes a weird mindmeld of a human and cat brain i guess? im probably overthinking that aspect of it. im not sure exactly what else i want from this. its good, but i feel like it doesnt exactly wow.
conceptually, this is pretty cool. it has a bit of a final destination movie sort of vibe, and the dog/black hand dichotomy is interesting, but all the pieces dont fit together by the end. i think its a combination of small pieces -- the protagonist himself doesnt really do much; the mystery is setup, but not much is answered; and it ends abruptly, without providing much to the reader besides whoa weird stuff is happening! this is definitely one of those pieces that needs more time spent with it, since it kinda ends before its able to really answer any of the reader’s question or end with a sense of satisfaction. ambiguity is fine for an ending, but as it stands, i dont feel much more besides, okay that was a neat idea, but is that all we got? i dont want all the answers here, but i do want something more conclusive here.
im a bit of a sucker for these stories (i think ive written one like this a couple months back), and i wont do the critique of “wahhhhh nobody cares about breakup stories except the ones were a part of” (sorry i shouldnt air out my dirty laundry in your crits). instead, ill say that the beats here in this story is a bit obvious. its feel-good and nice, but maybe ive written too many of these things, but we can feel the lines as youre saying them. the other issue is that i think the relationship is sketched a bit thin. you set up that the characters are opposites -- the protag is boring, the ex is out there and eccentric -- but i dont really get a good clean picture of either characters until near the end with the descriptions of how the gf treated the dog. that’s the big thing missing here. the protag mopes around being sad about breaking up, but we dont really see what she’s missing, so we cant really feel bad for her because its like… why do you miss your girlfriend? this gets punctuated at the end because the clearest scene we get of the gf is her being a lovely dog owner, which further highlights why does the protag care so much?
My Shark Waifuu
this is fun, but again, just a little too obvious of a story. cat’s kind of a dick, the dog’s a kind of an idiot, they learn to work together. its fun, executed fine enough, but doesnt really do much else. it’s solid, but it feels too clean and im probably not the audience for these types of stories anymore. welt brought up that this would work for a much younger audience, which, yeah, thats totally right.
this is a lot of fun. the humor at the beginning of grandiose language and the wizard banter is fun, the wizard problem of “i need to have a good beard in order to have a wizard’s presence” is fun, the dialogue is fun, the ending is funny. it unfortunately doesnt do much else than be funny, and it isnt like super haha funny, i just had a smirk on my face the whole time. its good fun, and thats all its trying to be.
man i was having a good time this week, reading fun stories, and this is just bleak, and not in a particularly fantastic way. it feels a bit too edgy and try-hard, which i worry is just that ive found myself trying to trend away from that stuff, and not necessarily a true flaw to this piece. however, this does feel pretty cliche. heist setup, guy decides to betray the team, oh no the betrayer got betrayed, shoot out, guy dies. i dont have any particular investment in any character in this story, the motivation of the protagonist is just they have dirt on him which we dont know what it is. a lot of this story’s issue, besides the cliches, is that we dont have any attachment for the protagonist or any other characters. they all feel lifeless and dull, and so like, i dont really care that they got betrayed and died. the grimdarkness of both the setting and prose doesnt help. it can work, if we really get pulled into the character’s situation, but given the blankness of the characters and the bleakness of the story, it creates a really unpleasant experience. and not unpleasant in the meaningful way, just kinda bleak for bleakness’s sake.
t a s t e
i know that show dont tell is cia propaganda, but man, this beginning is just so much telling and not enough showing. you just tell us that the protag is sad about their brother’s death, but there’s nothing to grip onto at the beginning. its just, he was sad and he loved his brother, but we dont really feel that grief or love in any real way. likewise, you tell us that the horse is his best friend, but we dont get to see that either. without a strong emotional center, this story overall doesn’t muster up a lot of feeling in me. its a series of events, with conflict and the like, but it dont know why i should care about Bashir. idk if Bashir is a real or fake person because im culturally illiterate, but even if Bashir was some big important person in another culture, i dont think saying “he is super important and cool!” is really gonna make me care about him. the ending line helps pull the story together nicely, though. i also do like the idea of this being a part of a larger myth, i just think the story itself isnt interesting enough on its own.
this story, tonally, is a bit odd. it has a fable-esque vibe to it, and so im two ways on the dialogue. on one, it does feel like a fable sort of dialogue, but on the other, its so on the nose and overt that it doesnt feel natural in any real way.
this is very short and i dont know why. this feels less like anything complete, and more like somebody read a prompt of “witch gives you a curse that turns you into a cat” and was like “yeah i can take 5 minutes and do the most literal interpretation of that.” its just like, what? this isnt really funny. Ulfric’s misunderstanding could (could being the operative word here) be fun, but the story doesnt really do anything. its like, ok, Ulfric is a cat now when he thought he’d be a werewolf. And then… that’s it? What am I supposed to get from this story? I really don’t know.
this feels like it’s trying to be big, but I want it to be smaller. perhaps thats just a clash of our ideals, you want the grandiose, and i want the personal and so i will always say the same things. so ill try to critique this story on its merits, rather than trying to beat it into the mold i want it to fit into.
i find the relationship here a bit lacking. the larger war story happening around these character feels like it takes up a lot of space, without giving us time to really delve into the relationship. we get small snippets into their relationships, and i think the ending highlights how war can cause complex relationships to develop, but i feel like i didnt really see that relationship develop adequately? the final scene is cool, the details of the two loving the other’s kids like their own really lands for me, but i dont think the other scenes are quite as effective at making me feel their complicated relationship. its perhaps a problem of scope, here, in that I feel like this story needs a lot more words to breathe -- there’s a lot of worldbuilding with its future-esque tech and alternate history type, as well as political stuff with wars, and then youre also trying to develop a nuanced relationship between two people, all within 1500 words. i almost wanted this to just be a WW1 or WW2 story, just so you didnt have to try to explain bits of the world, but that isnt the story youre trying to tell, so while that idea might work, i dont think its right since its clearly important to you for it to be future-adjacent. so, yeah, if you’re going back to this, needs a lot more space than 1500 words.
what? this feels like lol random monkeycheese with a bitcoin infusion and it sucks because of that. its lol random stuff doesnt work, and it doesnt spoof bitcoin stuff hard to enough to rly make me laugh. theres also a lot of temporal issues here, as we just kinda quickly move from scene to scene. i was like, legit confused the first time i read this and they were driving and then they were in a bar all of a sudden. i didnt get a good feel for how the story was moving. then the IRS show up for some reason? and the ending line doesnt make sense? and i dont know whats happening? ahhhhhhh
|# ? Jul 11, 2021 03:35|
Cassie’s Not A Pet.
I was sitting on a bench in the park, picnic basket by my side, watching some of the other moms playing with their kids on the swings and feeling quietly resentful of their non-divorced lifestyles. Marjorie Butt was among them, with her awful daughter who had been bullying my own daughter Elizabeth at school. I was idly visualizing the pair of them encountering a light, non-debilitating mishap when they finally arrived: Wayne, my greatest life mistake to date, holding hands with Elizabeth, unquestionably my greatest life accomplishment, and -- unexpectedly -- what appeared to be an adult cassowary. On a leash. The other end of which was in Elizabeth’s hand.
Elizabeth came running towards me with that big smile that made my heart burst and wrapped me in a hug, and I hugged her back tightly, and while I was keenly aware of the cassowary watching us, I was determined not to let the moment be spoiled.
“Mummy, this is my new friend Cassie!” said Elizabeth, proudly stroking the terrifying bird’s weird blue turkey jowl. “Isn’t she incredible?”
“Exactly the word I was thinking of, Pumpkin,” I said. Wayne was approaching with that hangdog grin that I no longer found cute, hands stuffed in the pockets of his bomber jacket. “Why don’t you go show Cassie around the park while I talk to your dad, okay?”
Elizabeth and Cassie went running off across the grass, my little treasure delightedly pursued by a dinosaur. I let the smile on my face evaporate like a snowflake landing in a hot tub as I turned to Wayne.
“I know, I know,” said Wayne.
“You know… what, exactly? I’m curious what you think my primary complaint is here.”
“Well, we agreed that we’d talk it over together before we got any pets,” said Wayne. “But this was an extremely limited time offer and --”
“When we talked about pets, Wayne, I had something more like a puppy in mind, as opposed to a flightless bird typically associated with the phrase ‘gruesome disembowelment’. Where did you even get a cassowary?”
“Well, long story, but my mate Jono who does the exotic animal thing joined the Friday poker game and--”
“You know, forget it, there’s no way that this story isn’t going to make things ten times worse.”
“Jono says they’re surprisingly clean, and when raised in a loving environment they very rarely attack humans,” said Wayne, shifting his weight between his feet. “I dunno, I was just upset to hear about the bullying, and I thought this might… help?”
Elizabeth’s shrieks of joy carried across the park. I turned and saw Cassie chasing Elizabeth round and round an oak until they collided in a giggling tangle of limbs. Marjorie Butt fixed her gaze on me and shook her head disapprovingly, and I scowled back.
“I’d prefer if your response to bullying was to show up to parent-teacher night.”
“This felt more authentic to my parenting style.”
“You shouldn’t be proud of that,” I said.
Wayne gave me Jono’s contact info on a scrap of envelope, “in case of questions about care and feeding”, and left before my murderous rage bubbled over. I reinstated my most perfect smile as I picked up the picnic basket and walked over to where Elizabeth and Cassie were rolling around in a mud puddle.
“I know what you’re going to say, Mummy,” said Elizabeth, wiping down her dinosaur overalls. “But I’m sure that if you take a chance to get to know Cassie, you’ll find her quite delightful.”
“I don’t doubt it for a second, Pumpkin,” I said, avoiding eye contact with the pointy-headed bird. “But wouldn't you rather have, say, a puppy?”
“I’m not really compelled by domesticated animals,” said Elizabeth, in that weird adult tone she picked up at the private school. She beckoned me closer to whisper in my ear. “Just between us, my first choice for animal companion would be a Deinonychus, but taking into account their tragically extinct status, Cassie is a more than adequate substitute.”
There was a lot to unpack there, but at that moment I saw Marjorie Butt striding towards me with the kind of authoritative confidence that comes from being the president of the parent-teacher association. I groaned.
“Dangerous animals are not permitted in the playground,” said Marjorie primly. “And they’re certainly not suitable pets for children.”
“Cassie’s not a pet! And she’s not dangerous either!” said Elizabeth.
“Let me handle this, Pumpkin,” I said. I was no fan of this cassowary business, but I wasn’t about to let Marjorie Butt tell me what to do either. “But Elizabeth is quite right, this bird is an emotional support animal, not a pet. You know, because of the bullying at school?”
“Nonsense, there’s no such thing as an emotional support emu,” said Marjorie.
“Cassowary,” said Elizabeth, crossing her arms and frowning at Marjorie.
Cassie seemed to pick up Elizabeth’s displeasure and began advancing towards Marjorie, who backed up nervously.
“Keep that -- that thing! -- away from me!” said Marjorie, shielding herself with her arms.
Cassie jumped into the air, pedalling her scaly legs and vicious-looking talons. She didn’t get anywhere close to actually striking Marjorie, but Marjorie was startled into an uncontrolled backpedal and toppled backward into the mud puddle. Elizabeth clamped her hands over her mouth to keep from laughing as I moved to help Marjorie up. She sputtered grievously and assured me that a sternly worded complaint would be forwarded to the appropriate authorities, which I promised to keep an eye out for.
Elizabeth, Cassie, and I then prudently retreated to a less populated part of the park for our picnic.
“You must admit, that was pretty funny,” said Elizabeth, looking at Marjorie in the distance frantically applying stain remover to her pants. I wasn’t feeling especially hungry, so I gave half my sandwich to Cassie, who gobbled it down in a deeply unnerving fashion.
“You know,” I said, “I’m starting to see the appeal.”
|# ? Jul 11, 2021 20:18|
Rebecks’ Gift ~1177 words.
Rebecks was in love. He was also too much of a romantic for his own good. The big goof really sealed the deal this time by promising something he had no business promising: the fabled Silver Leaf.
“It’s like they say, Sky. No mate has ever turned down the silver leaf. It’s the one sure shot I have of winning over Girdie.” Rebecks said to me with far more enthusiasm than he had any right to have. Girdie was the hen of Rebecks’ desire and always had been. Girdie’s mutual feelings remained apparent to everyone who wasn’t Rebecks. He was sure that her heart and nest was destined for another mate and no could tell him otherwise.
“Rebecks, I think a nice Allamanda will do. Less of a trip, less risk. Hens love them.” I protested as a last-ditch effort. We were already well on our way to The Thicket and there was no getting out of this if I knew Rebecks’ determination.
“You know how I feel, Sky. If you don’t want to come along you don’t have to.” Rebecks told me without even glancing over. No chance, Rebecks and I are friends to the end, even if that end might be stupid.
It was not long before we arrived at The Thicket. It was aptly named; a mess of vines, trees and brush covered in the meanest looking thorns and brambles I’ve ever seen or heard tale of. It was in the heart of The Thicket that the Silver Leaf bush was said to grow. The ‘silver leaves’ of it were said to be unparalleled in their luster and they were known to sheen with a soft, silver glow in the light of the sun. The tradition states no hen could resist a courtship offer of the Silver Leaf and its status as a nesting symbol was unmatched, all would know the derring-do of the Cock of the Nest.
The first and most apparent issue of Rebecks’ plan was that Rebecks was the largest bird of the roost. Rebecks was found as a hatchling and generously adopted and raised as our own. None of the elders at the time could’ve predicted the way in which Rebeck would grow to tower over them manifold. He could be quite the formidable figure, but he was also a noted pushover. On the other wing, I was the smallest adult of the roost. This was just by nature’s determination; I was no outsider.
Rebecks surveyed the Thicket for a time.
“I’m certain that my heart will carry me true!” He declared to break the silence. I thought to myself there was no chance, this fool was going to get caught in the thorns before he gets a wing in. “Sky, you stay here and watch, in case I need help.” Rebecks stated as he already began to trail off towards an opening he appeared to have located.
Rebecks and I became friends when we were barely older than hatchlings. I have always been the smallest: be it of the nest, the flock, or the roost. This resulted in people believing they always had pecking order above me and thus led to many bouts. Some might describe me as reckless, but I do what I have to do to establish my presence. My right to exist!
My day dreaming was broken several moments later by a shriek. My feathers stood on end! Rebecks was already in trouble. I jolted towards the opening that Rebecks had disappeared into, the path began to narrow quickly becoming more thorns and brush than branch and vine. I heard some weak chirping as I continued on the cleared path. “Rebecks! I am coming!” I shouted ahead.
The path had narrowed to the point where the thorns and jagged, broken brush began to touch my head. I was able to duck without issue, but how had Rebecks even made it this far? It was just then that I finally spotted my friend ahead. He was thrashing helplessly. As I had predicted he had gotten trapped in the tangles of The Thicket. Bits of feathers were tossed about, and the thorns appeared to have dug into him in a couple places.
“Rebecks, you idiot. Quit moving, you’ll only make it worse.” His attention turned to me now, my voice must’ve calmed him.
“Skymir!” He shouted with an unusually helpless tone in his voice. “You were right, this was an awful idea.”
“Rebecks, not now.” I replied in protest. I had no desire to see my friend yield so easily. “I’ll get us out of this!” My attention immediately turned to the thorny branches and vines that had entrapped my pal. I set to work biting at the areas of the twigs and limbs not covered in barbs, I broke a few loose and freed one of Rebecks’ wings. I peeked up at Rebecks whose attention appeared to now rest on something else, he looked troubled.
“SNAKE!” Rebecks shouted before I had time to even turn my head to see. There was no escape from this predator, this area was simply too thick to fly out of. For once in my life, fear had truly overtaken me. I had frozen still. My heart pounded.
Rebecks flew into a fit, even with one wing still firmly stuck to the brambles and another one covered in hanging on bits of vine and loose barbs. He extended his beak out and stabbed at the serpent’s eye. It connected, the beast reared back. “You have to get it together, Sky. Get me loose if you can.” I regained my composure and scurried away before the scaly menace could do the same.
Now to the other wing, I nipped at the plants that held my friend. The impulse to flee was strong, the fear flowed through me. I could not see what the snake might be doing as I pecked my friend free. I could only trust that Rebecks could muster the strength to protect us both!
I finally did it, the last bit holding Rebecks back was broken and he moved forward without hesitation towards our predator. I’d not seen such courage in Rebecks since the day we met. The last time he had saved my life! Now we were both fighting for each other. The melee ended as fast as it seemed to start with Rebecks savagely removing the beast’s eyes and sending it slithering off.
Rebecks insisted that he stand guard now and I complied and scouted forward. The legends were true and the Silver Leaf did lie in the heart of the The Thicket. I had returned with it in beak, thankful to see my friend Rebecks. “They’ll never believe a word of this in the roost.” I muttered as I passed him the object of our quest.
“We only need Girdie to believe, Sky.” He stated as he retrieved the leaf from me.
“We make a good team.” I replied back. We began to make our way out of The Thicket.
As I had said. We were friends to the end!
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 01:07|
BIRD WITH A GUN
No one liked the story Mallory ran on the front page of the college paper. In fact, they sent campus police to her dorm to make sure she was all right, and that she wasn’t planning to hurt anyone. “I’m not,” she told them, “but you really should be looking for the bird with the gun.”
Then they asked her a bunch of very condescending questions, about who the president was and what season it was, and when Mallory had answered all of them to their satisfaction, they left.
“Mal,” Jason said, when they’d met up for drinks at McGregor’s, “it’s 2021. No one wants to think about guns at a school. Even if it’s supposedly a bird with the gun.”
“I just wish people believed it,” Mallory said, “instead of just assuming it was some coded threat. You saw it too.”
Jason took a long draw from his beer. “I believe you, baby. That was a goddamned wren with an AR-15. But if you ask me, you still shouldn’t write about it. People don’t want to hear about birds with guns. Unless they’re on a cartoon show. That could be fun.” He shot her a mugging smile.
Really, Mallory wasn’t sure exactly what they’d seen – the shadow on the roof very well could have been a bird with a gun, or it could have been, who knows, some misplaced art installation. But she had the photos to prove it, and she had a bona fide eyewitness in Jason. Yes, they’d just smoked some surprisingly potent weed, but it was something weird and mysterious. Old school human-interest. Something that gets shared ten million times on Facebook by people in their fifties. Plus, she was very much tired of endless meetings at the paper where people wrung their hands about requesting funds from student government vis-a-vis the low circ count. So BIRD WITH A GUN it was, and, due to her tenure with the paper, no one second-guessed her too hard. She thought people would get a kick out of it. Instead, everyone was just disgusted.
Mallory paid for their drinks, and Mallory followed Jason out of the bar and back into the parking lot, where he’d tucked his car.
“There it is again!”
Jason pointed to the roof of the bar, and perched on top was that same black bird, perched right beside a long assault weapon, glowing in the reflected sodium lights from the street. Mallory reached for her phone to take photos while Jason crouched down behind the bumper of his car.
“You’re not actually afraid, are you?” Mallory asked. She wished the lighting was a little bit better, a little sharper, so that the dim outline of the sniping bird didn’t seem so much like a cryptid.
“I don’t take risks when there’s a gun pointed at me, thanks,” Jason said. The bird hadn’t moved.
“It’s letting us know we’re protected,” Mallory said. She wasn’t sure if she believed it, but she liked the story of it. So much more satisfying than whatever Murder Bird story Jason had cooked up.
“There’s a bird in the Galapagos,” Jason said, “that’s known for ripping guns out of people’s hands. Well, anything, really. Cigarettes, cameras, fishing poles. They know you’ve got something and they want it.”
The bird flapped its wings and rose up from the building, gun inexplicably clinging to its tiny talons. Jason got up and walked over to Mallory, took her hand as she swiped through the blurry, dark photographs.
“You think someone’s missing the gun?” Mallory asked.
“It's probably better off with the bird,” Jason said. It started to rain, and they stood there feeling the cool chill of encroaching night and the little pinpricks of raindrops on their necks.
As they climbed into the car and drove back to Jason’s apartment in an agreeable silence, Mallory decided that she wasn’t going to pursue the BIRD WITH A GUN story. She would let other people experience it themselves.
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 01:29|
He’s touching her hand again.
We’ve got at least six hours of driving left today and I expect that I’m going to have to put up with this poo poo every time he thinks I’m not looking. It isn’t that I care that they’re together now, really, but Ike’s insistence on treating it almost like an inside joke is insufferable.
I really don’t care. Probably. Sure, I had a crush on Kate, but that was when she still went by Katie. I’ve been friends with both of them much longer than I had those feelings and I’d expected them to link up long before this. They could have told me sooner, though, because if I’d known I was going to be a third wheel on a twenty-hour trip I’d have begged off and taken a Greyhound instead.
He's noticed that I’ve noticed, so he pulls his hand back. Far be it from me to deny anyone their infatuation stage, but this is a bit much. Kate’s driving, but she takes a moment to find me in the mirror. I can’t tell what she’s trying to convey in her look, and it’s probably self-serving to see apology there.
“Hey, can we hit the next stop?” I need a break from this, and it’s been long enough since the last one that I’ve got plausible deniability.
“Sure, that works for me too, actually.” Kate puts her hand to the back of her neck, and I catch a piece of a grimace in the mirror. “My posture sucks and I’d like to lie back there for a little while if that’s cool with you guys.”
“Oh, yeah, absolutely! Do you need a hot pack or something? I can take a look at the gift shop or maybe find something to rig up with what we’ve got. I know I have some Tylenol in my backpack, so we can get into the trunk when we stop.” Christ, she’s not dying, Ike. They keep going for a bit, but I try to zone out in my Game Boy.
I swear to God, if they’re both in the backseat when I come back from the bathroom I’m going to kill all three of us.
“You’re loving joking. No, we’re not sleeping together with Jacob here.” I’d booked the room with two beds before Ike and I started seeing each other, so I guess this is my fault for not updating our reservation. The boys have shared beds on trips like this for years, and I guess I just assumed it would stay that way tonight. Instead, Ike waits until Jake’s in the shower to bring this up. He’s been weird all day and I don’t get it. “What’s up with you today?”
“I didn’t mean that we’d gently caress! Just that we’re together now, plus he’d be more comfortable alone. What do you mean ‘what’s up?’” I hear the shower cut off. “I had a wonderful day with you. I love you!”
I lower my voice as I hear Jake pull back the curtain. “I love you too, but that’s not the issue. The point of telling him about us was to stop things from getting awkward. I don’t think sharing a bed with him in the room does that, do you?” Ike looks as if he’s about to respond, but the moment passes, and he abandons the attempt.
The bathroom door opens and steam wafts out. Jake enters the room, his oversized tee damp in patches where he clearly hadn’t bothered to sufficiently dry himself off. “I’m sorry about taking a bit longer, guys, but the water was still hot when I stopped. If either of you want to take one now, you’d probably be fine.” Ike volunteers and collects his toiletries from his backpack, looking like a dog that’s been scolded as he slinks into the bathroom and shuts the door. So much for making things less awkward. Jake would have to be blind to not notice something happened while we were alone. He doesn’t say anything, though, which somehow seems worse than the alternative.
Finally, I break. “Hey, you ok, dude?” Not exactly what I’m trying to say, and probably not what he’s trying to hear, but open enough that it’s close.
“No, not really. This kinda sucks.”
We caught a flat and we’re by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. It’s incredible that this actually happens to people, but here we are. It’s even raining, which really drills home how obnoxious this lovely situation actually is. I’m walking toward a gas station we passed a few miles back with Jacob. We’re getting soaked, of course, because who packs rain gear for a wedding. We haven’t spoken since setting off, which makes things worse, but after yelling at each other about not having a spare in the trunk we both needed a bit of cooling time.
I decide to give it a shot. “Hey man, I’m sorry about back there. I’m just frustrated at all this.” He looks back at me and sighs.
“Yeah, me too. This isn’t really what I signed up for, Ike.” Well, that’s a start, but it’s pretty obvious he’s not just talking about our trek for a phone. Well, in for a penny, right?
“I know. Kate told me you guys talked last night.” The rain starts to let up a bit, but it’s still enough that we’re squinting as we press on. We’re fully saturated at this point, but it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as the conversation. I wait for Jacob to respond, but he says nothing. I try again.
“It’s hard for me, man. I really love her, and I’ve been hoping for this for a while. I worry that I care more than she does, and sometimes I feel like I’m one wrong step away from blowing it.”
“How?” That’s all he offers.
“I mean, I don’t know, but trust me on this. That’s not just it, though! I care about you, and I care about the three of us. I have to balance all these things and I don’t know what to do. It sucks, man. She told me that you wish you weren’t here, and I know that’s because of me.” I can’t look at him for my embarrassment, and I’m about to reload for another round when he stops me.
“Relax, dude. Just stop trying so hard.” I look at him then, and he’s smiling a bit. “Like, yeah, you’ve been annoying, but I get it. You know what you mean to us. Trust her and trust me. We’ll be fine.”
Neither of us say anything for a bit, and I think about it. I don’t know if he’s right, really, but it feels like he might be. It’s enough for now. The rain picks up again, but I don’t really feel it this time.
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 04:21|
Deus ex Beakina
Humanity had been following the frequency for decades. The advent of superluminal travel through fold drives allowed them to pursue it, but they didn’t know what awaited them. The Outlander hurtled across space towards the fold point at nearly 125 miles a second. The drive, when it reached a certain velocity, would emit an encapsulating field that moved through an uncharted, immaterial, dimension of time-space, allowing vessels to skip across the cosmic soup of unreality like stones on a pond.
Flight Engineer Ripley had more than 16 fold jumps under his belt. His calculations were meticulously and thoroughly confirmed. The navigation intelligence replicated his results with less than a percentage variance. He knew he did his job, but that did little to placate the rising fear and nausea he felt as he, and every other crew member began what would likely be their final moments.
Forcibly pulled from a jump prematurely by the growing gravitational pull of a distant neutron star, the ship groaned to a halt. Even from several million miles away, the star would eventually destroy them.
Ripley returned to his numbers. They made sense. They confirmed that he did his job right. This wasn’t his fault, but doubt ate at him, nonetheless. The emergency klaxons sounded throughout the ship, repeating their alerts every fifteen seconds. “Can someone shut those damned things off?!” Ripley shouted, as he slammed a balled fist onto his console.
Commander Lu approached with her hands clasped behind her back. Even in the face of certain death, she retained a casual aloofness that kept hotter heads cooled. The klaxons sounded again.
“I said can someone shut those- Oh, Commander… My apologies, I…” Ripley stammered, eyes wavering to the flickering doom that bathed the flight deck in hot blue heat.
“No apologies needed, Engineer Ripley. However, I do need an update,” she said before leaning in more conspiratorially, “I checked your calculations myself. You did your job exceedingly well, so don’t take responsibility for something you had no control over. Now…,” she straightened herself back upright, hands still clasped neatly behind her back, “…find us a way out of here.”
Her stern indifference often masked the deep well of compassion she felt for every member of the crew, and now more than ever, they needed her to for guidance. She would give it to them.
“I know each and every one of you signed on with the United Earth Alliance in the hopes of spreading the influence of humanity throughout the stars… I’m here to tell you, that together, we’ve accomplished that mission. However, due to unpredictable circumstances, we are now faced with a challenge that will determine the very course of the rest of our lives. We either resign ourselves to our fates, doing nothing, waiting for death to come, or we do what we came here to do. To explore and challenge the unknown. We’ve come here to do a job, let’s see it through. Crew, to your stations.”
The crew, who had already gone from angry to hopeless, were reinvigorated by Commander Lu’s words, and fell into action immediately. Commander Lu returned to her chair and began feeding simulation queries to the navigation intelligence. Flight Engineer Ripley approached not long after with a crazed grin on his face.
“It’s just crazy enough that it might work!”
“What is, Engineer Ripley?”
“A timed detonation of a nuclear fuel cell. The explosion should have enough energy to disrupt the gravitational vector just long enough for us for us to reach the velocity required for escape. It’s a slim shot, but it’s the only shot we have. I’ve shared the simulations with you.”
Commander Lu ran the simulations on her data slate, there were 5 prepared. The first, was the most ideal, it aligned with the plan Ripley described with minor damage sustained to systems. The second and third simulations were similar but with the ship suffering damages that might make the efforts pointless. The fourth and fifth simulations were disheartening. A premature explosion that perhaps, more mercifully, killed everyone on the ship nigh instantaneously, and a mockingly delayed explosion that ultimately had no impact on their efforts, and left the ship drifting towards oblivion.
“The odds are definitely stacked against us.” Lu commented, noticing the expectant eyes of the crew. She routinely pushed down her own reservations and spoke, “Have the techs prepare a fuel cell. It’s now or never.”
The crew of the Outlander waited in terrified silence as the fuel cell, that had had been carefully positioned some thousands of miles away from the ship, exploded. The crew set to work immediately. Flight engineers keyed in commands, techs maintained overworked hardware and payload coordinators jettisoned out anything they could to lessen the weight of the ship. It started to happen. They were moving away from the blast, away from the neutron star, and away from certain death when it all came crashing down. The second fuel-cell failed. Be it from the strain of the jump, or complications with the explosion. A life ending technical malfunction culled their hope.
Eventually, the mania of the failed attempt gave way to solemnity and the crew sat in contemplative silence.
No one ran simulations. No one maintained the failing hardware. No one cared about trying to find a way out anymore, because they had given it their best shot, and the universe still determined that they wouldn’t succeed.
The signal that had started this trek began to hum through the communication system of the ship. It was familiar to everyone onboard the ship, and at once they all watched in awe as the star some millions of miles away began to thrum and pulse with brilliant coruscations of chromatic light. They were speechless to what they were witnessing. The accretion disks of dust and matter pulled onto the surface of the star wrapping around it until it was an opaque mass of roiling clouds condensing in on itself endlessly, then in a brilliant final flash, the shell-like mass cracked releasing a shockwave that sent pulsar jets flying in all directions as something reality-defying was birthed from the core of the already dead star.
Wings, planets wide, and more like blades of fire, unfolded into a voluminous expanse on either side of the star. A molten beak, melting in and onto itself erupted from the core letting out a defiant shriek, the signal, which was soul-penetratingly clear now. The creatures head, shaking its brilliant plumes of aether, focused its attention on the Outlander.
Images of life on earth, impressions of emotions, the raw ambition and desire of an entire species was plucked from the unwitting minds on the Outlander.
A single message, carrying a love and warmth more profound than anything any of the crewmembers had ever felt or considered was given in return, “You came, thank you.”
Then jarringly, instantaneously, the Outlander was hurtled through the immaterial space back to its departure point as if it had never left, the ship a ravaged hull, but the life within intact, perhaps now more than ever before.
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 04:21|
Master of Assassination (Majoring in Daggers)
rohan fucked around with this message at 23:45 on Dec 31, 2021
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 06:16|
How To Make a New Friend
"This is going to be easy," said Lise Thackeray. "The hard part is already done."
The hardest part of stealing a suitcase full of cash was knowing that there was going to be a suitcase full of cash in the first place. Next to nobody uses cash for anything these days. Even kidnappers and extortionists take bitcoin.
"Meet Jason Vangelis," said Sharon Li. She cast a slide into the television screen and he appeared, another besuited techbro with a briefcase walking across Market Street. "Officially a lobbyist. Unofficially the middleman for Representative Aaron Victor Gayle."
Mary Margaret Alexandria looked at the picture. She was the audience here, the third member of the crew. The one who needed convincing. "This guy is walking around with six figures?"
"Not all the time," said Lise.
"Not in this picture," said Sharon. She swiped right and another picture appeared. "This one. You can see the added weight."
"We've been watching for a while," said Lise. "At first we thought it was simple graft, but there's too much money involved."
"So what is it then?" asked Mary Margaret.
"Laundering," said Sharon with another swipe, and a diagram appeared with boxes and lines. "Dirty cash goes in, gets turned into small donations to one of Gayle's political action committees or charities, then goes back out as clean salaries for the officers."
"The hard part was finding him," said Lise. "The next harder part was figuring out when and where he was going to have it on him. The rest will be easy, with your help. Are you in?"
It wasn't easy. Lise knew she really had to stop saying things like that. It was like a compulsion, and it always drew the same result.
There was another guy. Following Jason Vangelis. Not easy to spot, either, but Lise had the eye of a wanted criminal. Pre-training, she thought to herself. She had a few exes who could turn stalker any time, and one of them was a cop, had cop friends. She learned to spot cops, and that's what this guy was. Plain clothes. Expensive plain clothes. She guessed FBI.
The easy thing would be to abort. She had signals. She could call it all off in a second. But she didn't. She'd already committed two different strings of major felonies and had nothing more to show for either than her freedom. Sharon was part of the most recent, too. It was time to get paid.
Lise stumbled, falling right into the man's chest.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said. She pulled herself up against his arm.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"Are you drunk?" he said, trying to look around her.
"No," she said. "It's just, well, it's just," She let go, then stepped down on his foot. Not a stomp, but with a good portion of her weight on it.
"Jesus," he said. "Listen, I'm going to have to ask you to back off." He looked around. "God drat it." She backed away, then turned, did a little stumble for show, then went around the corner. The whole thing cost precious minutes.
The motorcycle was still where she had parked it. The biggest risk in the plan, really. It was a good lock, one of the few on the market she couldn't defeat in minutes, but she wasn't the only thief in town. "Wheels are go," she said.
"You're behind," said Sharon.
Lise pulled her helmet out of the lock shackle and put it on, then started the vehicle and headed down the street.
The next part worked like clockwork. Sharon was leading Jason, watching him in reflections. Mary Margaret was behind. She was the muscle, worked as a bouncer at a couple of bars and clubs. Strong and fast and impressive. When she grabbed Jason's arm and yanked the briefcase out of it, he didn't give much resistance. Neither did the case, in spite of it holding twenty pounds of cash in it. "Don't turn around," she said. Jason didn't. Lise slowed down. Mary Margaret set the case in the cargo basket and got on behind Lise, and they merged into traffic, deep into the maze of streets.
Sharon watched Jason for a while longer, then met up with the others.
"He didn't call the police," she said. "Didn't call anyone. Eventually someone called him. He just stood there, looking defeated."
"He should thank us," said Mary Margaret. "Now he'll change it up and stay ahead of the FBI."
"Not how it works," said Lise. "When you start changing the routine things get sloppy. He'll be in the headlines in a month." She worked the pick and tensioning tool in the briefcase lock, feeling the last pin fall into place. The lock slapped open, and she lifted the lid and smiled at the neatly aligned stacks of twenty dollar bills. Not life changing money, not split three ways, but enough to make for a good year. A very good year.
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 06:51|
No Escape 561 words
Adrasteia, goddess of inescapable punishment, looked down upon Moira from wherever it is that gods and goddesses look down. Olympus, right? Moira was seated at her workstation, doing some work. Or trying to. Metatron, the office mascot, was making things difficult. ‘Who’s a good office worker, then?’ asked Metatron.
‘It’s me, right?’
‘Yes, you are,’ said Metatron, and bobbed his little feathered head up and down. ‘Metatron wants a snack.’
‘It’s just, I’m really quite busy at the moment.’
‘Metatron wants a snack!’ Metatron bobbed up and down more vigorously, cocking his head from side to side and staring at her with one eye, then the other.
‘Fine,’ said Moira. She opened her drawer and pulled out a yoghurt.
‘What does Metatron look like?’ asked Metatron. ‘Metatron wants a proper snack!’ He bent down and started chewing on her keyboard.
‘Wait,’ said Moira, ‘don’t do that, I’ve got other snacks available.’ She sighed. She hadn’t intended to open them yet, but… she pulled out the packet of Tim Tams, opened it and offered one to Metatron.
‘An acceptable offering!’ said Metatron. He ignored the offered Tim Tam, grabbed the packet with his claws, and flew off.
Fine, thought Moira. Whatever gets rid of him.
‘Whatcha doing?’ asked Artemis. (Goddess of the hunt and animals and stuff.)
‘Hmmm?’ said Adrasteia. ‘Just a bit of mortal watching, you know how it is.’
‘Yeah,’ said Artemis. She peered down. ‘Oh, Moira. You’ve been tormenting her for a while, right?’
‘This one isn’t my doing,’ said Adrasteia. ‘It’s good viewing, though.’
‘Ah, so you won’t object to me stirring things up a bit?’
Adrasteia shrugged. ‘Do what you gotta do.’
The eagle didn’t know why it flew through the open window. The eagle didn’t know much of anything other than prey. But before anyone could object, there it was in the office, flapping furiously, destroying the nearby cubicle, and pooing on the carpet.
‘This is Metatron’s domain,’ said Metatron.
The eagle cocked its head and looked at Metatron. It saw prey. It soon became apparent that its usual tactic of flying up very high and swooping down wouldn’t be effective, as the ceiling was only 3 metres high. It abandoned its attempts at climbing and swooping, and started to alternate between flapping, walking and hopping towards Metatron.
‘You dare approach Metatron?’
The eagle dared.
‘Aha,’ said Metatron. ‘You have the audacity to challenge a master of fire! Prepare to burn for all eternity!’
This had all become a bit too intense for Moira, who saved her work, locked her workstation, and headed off to the break room.
When Moira returned, there were several scorch marks and feathers in the office, and one of the cubicles had been melted into slag. Bertha from HR was talking to Metatron.
‘Metatron cannot be held responsible for the actions of lesser birds!’
‘We’re talking about your actions, Metatron,’ said Bertha. ‘You burnt down a cubicle.’
‘Metatron is a master of fire! Those who anger him must suffer!’
Moira wasn’t sure she liked where this was going, so she ducked out to a nearby café for an early lunch break.
When Moira returned from her early lunch, there was burnt rubble where the office block had been.
‘Well, I guess things were stirred up,’ said Adrasteia.
Artemis shrugged. ‘She hated that job anyway.’
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 08:02|
Submissions are closed
|# ? Jul 12, 2021 08:32|
Week 466 - Results
This was a fun week. I personally enjoyed everyone's takes on the prompt and I think the other judges would agree with me that the quality of the submissions was generally high. I also appreciate that nobody tried to be edgy and circumvent the "feel-good" part of the rule. That would not have been appreciated.
Now, the results.
To start with, the loss goes to ZearothK - Ops, I did it Again.
I'm giving one Dishonourable Mention this week and it goes to Idle Amalgam - Deus ex Beakina.
There are two Honourable Mentions and they go to sparksbloom - BIRD WITH A GUN and t a s t e - Honeymoon. The scramble at the top was tight and there was some difference of opinion between judges. In any other week, these two would both have been in with a good shot at winning.
There is only one win, however, and it goes to rohan - Master of Assassination (Majoring in Daggers) .
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 07:37|
Thunderdome - Week 466 - Threatening Birds - Crits
Uranium Phoenix - Lawyers in Space
I’m struggling a bit with your tone at the start. It’s not quite managing to blend wacky and serious in a satisfying manner. Between the ship and the kid and the other ship there’s a lot going on and it doesn’t feel particularly connected.
On a larger level, not much of what happens before they dock feels connected to the remainder of the story, most of which feels crammed into the final 20%.
I like the concepts at play - I like a bird AI piloting a spaceship, I like Space Lawyers and I like the massive flesh monstrosity/space station/dad. It just feels a little like they were all thrown together without much thought.
ZearothK - Ops, I did it Again
All I can think of with that opening line is “you’re not bored, you’re boring”. It’s not much of a hook to start with.
After that, your use of long, drawn out, neverending sentences creates a very slow pace. That could be used to good effect somewhere else but this is still the opening and I’m still not really hooked. Vary it up a bit, please.
I think your tenses are starting to slip a bit. You say the captain “decided to place that area” - when? Because immediately on the heels of “Everaldo waited” it makes it seem as though the captain has just done it in the immediate past, at the same time the story is going on.
I actually quite like your dialogue; it’s got the high energy, rapid pace that I associate with parrots and similar birds. The AI comes across as something mimicking humanity, rather than truly human, be that bird or machine or both.
The drink makes the crew instantly alert and also instantly drunk? That doesn’t make much sense. That sort of contradiction could be interesting, if you did something with it.
My eyes glazed over the worldbuilding dump.
I like your story idea. I’m not sure how much I like your story execution. 1200 words isn’t enough for a meandering start and a huge chunk of exposition. It doesn’t help either that your protagonist doesn’t really do anything - just say hello to the AI and then “Yeah, I guess”. If Everaldo had had to struggle with an AI with the temperament of a parrot and the idea that it needs to nuke the planet into peace, if the carving of the mountain had been his idea - that would have been more interesting and made Everaldo feel a lot more proactive.
Barnaby Profane - Cassie’s Not A Pet
I really like your opening. The first few sentences do a great job of establishing character and you switch the the story hook just before I start to wonder where this is all going.
I quite like your dialogue too. There are a couple of lines that don’t quite ring true (“This felt more authentic to my parenting style”) but overall it’s smooth and natural. The exception is Elizabeth - I know you call attention to it with the line about the public school but that makes it sound like the weirdly adult tone is a one-off, whereas I thought it was every line.
Overall, though, this is a fun little story. It’s also the first one this week to actual make me feel good about the ending. Trim out some of the stuff with the dad at the start, focus in a bit more on the background of the bullying and make a bit more of the conflict re: M. Butt and you’d have a very solid entry.
Zurtilik - Rebecks’ Gift
Your opening paragraph sets the scene quite nicely apart from one thing: would I know that these characters are birds without the context of the flash rule? Probably not; not until the “hen” line; the “nest” line if I’m not as quick on the uptake.
“The tradition states no hen could resist a courtship offer of the Silver Leaf and its status as a nesting symbol was unmatched, all would know the derring-do of the Cock of the Nest.” - this sentence feels a bit disjointed. It’s something that comes up elsewhere but not to this degree. Simply put, the final clause (“... all would know …”) feels like it should be in a separate sentence.
The flashback (“Rebecks and I became friends …”) feels clunky and out of place; it breaks up the flow. Showing the bond between the two birds could have been done earlier.
I feel like you’ve got the heart of the story nailed down: there is motivation, conflict, struggle and closure. The details, though, are a little loose - Sky is presented as the protagonist but Rebecks is the one driving the action, for example. Sky could have benefited from a more clearly defined motivation of their own.
But hey, a cute little story about Bird Friends. I’m not complaining.
Sparksbloom - BIRD WITH A GUN
This is a good example of something that I struggle with being done very well - establishing a - let’s face it - zany premise and having it be accepted at face value without coming across as ~wacky and random~.
And I just really enjoyed reading the line “I believe you, baby. That was a goddamned wren with an AR-15.”
Despite being under 700 words this feels complete and cohesive in a very satisfying way. Short, sweet and slightly menacing - just like a BIRD WITH A GUN. My only questions - how big was the BIRD? How small was the GUN?
T a s t e - Honeymoon
It takes a deft touch to cram three different scenes and three different p.o.v.s into 1200 words, so kudos for that.
I’m not really sure what to say about your story. It’s clean and clear and complete; the language is good, there’s nothing left unresolved, and so on. If I had to criticise it, I’d say that it’s not always immediately clear whose p.o.v. you’re in each time it shifts and not a lot really happens. I think that might be the ultimate downside of your three scenes/p.o.v.s - you have to build up your characters’ internal state and drivers from fresh each time. Everyone comes off as a bit aimless as a result and while that’s not unrealistic it is a bit unsatisfying.
This needed some polish but honestly, not that much.
Idle Amalgam - Deus ex Beakina
Ninety percent of your opening paragraph is fluff - unless you’re about to pull an “Event Horizon” does it really matter how your FTL drive works?
To be honest, there’s a lot of fluff here. I’m writing this as I just got to the Commander’s little inspirational speech and it just feels unnecessary. If I’m caught in the gravitational pull of a neutron star and about to die, that’s my motivation - not some hokey words about exploration.
Now I’m at the end and I don’t really see the point of the story. It felt like the synopsis of a story at most, just Event A -> Event B -> Event C. The ship being stranded and the detonation of a nuclear fuel cell were given less emphasis than the Commander telling Ripley “no, don’t worry, you did good”.
Which is a shame.
Rohan - Master of Assassination (Majoring in Daggers)
I got halfway through before remembering to take notes. This is fun to read; there’s a clear premise and motivation, the characterisation is setting up some good tension and everything moves swiftly along.
And then the assassination targets come back from the dead? I am intrigued.
I am not going to quibble over the exact parameters of “feel-good or upbeat”. If I had anything negative to say about your story it would be that you maybe - just maybe - tried to cram too much in. The ending feels a bit rushed; with another 200 words to use I think you could have made everything after tracking down the necromancer feel a bit more active and accomplished.
I enjoyed this. Good work.
Thranguy - How To Make a New Friend
I like a good heist but with the setup I was expecting something more involved than “grab the briefcase from him on the street and hope he doesn't resist”. It also took me a couple of re-reads to realise that when Lise stumbles into the man, it’s the guy tailing the target and not the target himself.
I’d also like more of a motivation than “he has money and we want money”. It’s easy to root against a crooked politician but I’d prefer a reason to root for the gang.
Your prose is clear and your dialogue is pretty natural but nothing really seems to happen. I’d prefer a tighter focus on the actual heist itself - trim down the preamble, have the guy tailing the target be more of an obstacle/ risk to the protagonist, etc.
Chairchucker - No Escape
This was cute and funny and I like the contrast of terrible angelic power with the self-control of a bird. Not much happens and it all feels a bit rushed (and I think we both know why) but I didn’t hate it. The tone came off as a bit flippant at times (“... from wherever it is that gods and goddesses look down. Olympus, right?”) but it at least felt consistent.
I’ve read far worse stories that went on for far longer.
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 07:38|
Week 467 - “Mystery” is a Seven Letter Word
Alright you lot, I’ve just gone through years of prompts for inspiration, and apparently it’s been over seven years since someone’s made you all write mystery fiction?
This week, I want you to write me a story that revolves around a mystery. Specific genre is up to you, as long as there’s a satisfying conclusion by the end.
Because a lot’s happened since 2014 and you’ve all come to expect extra bullshit on top of a theme, and because I’ve got fond memories of playing scrabble on family holidays, your story must also draw inspiration from a seven letter word. You can choose this word, or I can choose it for you. (No plurals, proper nouns or acronyms.)
If this is all too pedestrian, ask for a flash and you’ll get an extra seven letter word and
Entry deadline is 9pm Saturday AEST (UTC+10)
Submission deadline is 6pm Monday AEST
No erotica, political screeds, Google docs, poetry, fanfic, editing your posts.
ZearothK - FASHION
Chernobyl Princess - GAMBLER
Chairchucker - CONCERT
Zurtilik - VINTAGE, ROBBERY and MAGICAL (2000 words)
t a s t e - VAGRANT
Thranguy - DUNGEON
MockingQuantum - SLEEPER
Voodoofly - TOURISM
sebmojo - SCIENCE, WORSHIP, FOREIGN (2000 words)
Antivehicular - HYGIENE
Taletel - ARCHAIC
Dome Racer Alpha - COCAINE
Dome Racer Sigma - COCAINE
tuyop - INSIDER
QuoProQuid - EXHIBIT, DEVOTEE, RIVALRY
Idle Amalgam - TRIPLET
Sailor Viy - CAVEMAN
rohan fucked around with this message at 12:51 on Jul 18, 2021
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 11:23|
In, gimme a word.
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 11:34|
I'm in, word please!
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 11:57|
In, gimme a word.
I'm in, word please!
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 12:28|
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 12:30|
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 12:45|
Never done a mystery. They intimidate me. Give me a word!
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 12:59|
Never done a mystery. They intimidate me. Give me a word!
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 13:05|
Actually I'm going to be a reckless fool and
Two more, please!
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 13:07|
In, may I have a word?
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 13:55|
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 14:04|
ROBBERY and MAGICAL
Actually I'm going to be a reckless fool and
In, may I have a word?
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 14:47|
ROBBERY and MAGICAL
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 14:53|
Never done one of these, haven’t done creative writing In at least a decade. What is the penalty if I sign up but don’t submit? I have a big exam on Thursday so it’s possible I just disappear into a hole over the weekend and forget all about this.
If me failing to submit doesn’t gently caress over other people or really piss people off then word me. Otherwise I’ll wait till the next one.
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 15:44|
In, word please
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 15:45|
|# ? Jan 18, 2022 01:32|
Never done one of these, haven’t done creative writing In at least a decade. What is the penalty if I sign up but don’t submit? I have a big exam on Thursday so it’s possible I just disappear into a hole over the weekend and forget all about this.
if you don't submit you will be listed as a failure for the week in the results post and the Thunderdome archive, which is the greatest of shames in the eyes of the 'dome but practically speaking nothing bad actually happens
when in doubt, sign up and barf out a terrible story ten minutes before the deadline, like the rest of us
|# ? Jul 13, 2021 15:47|