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Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

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



Lived In
1,467 Words
The moving truck, whose condition was not much more improved than the house it approached, bounced in every direction as it inched along the loose gravel driveway. Kayla looked over at Derek with her eyebrows raised. The pictures he had shown her of the house were vastly different. So much so that when he pulled into the driveway, she assumed that he had gotten lost or taken a wrong turn and just needed this ugly, but conveniently placed, driveway to turn out of, get back on track. Surely, she thought, that this must have been some sort of joke. That he would look over at her, and say “Nah, just playing,” in his goofy, drawn-out way, finding himself funnier than he was. It wasn’t until the truck rolled to a slow stop in front of the dilapidated assemblage of rotted wood, broken glass and snuffed out dreams, that she realized that he was entirely serious.

Derek had tried to avoid meeting her inquisitive glare, but eventually turned towards her with a forced grin that failed to conceal his own disappointment at their predicament. Kayla craned her head in incredulity and began to speak.

“Derek James Matthews, what in the hell is this?” Kayla asked, no attempt made to conceal her frustration.

“I know what you’re thinking, I’m surprised too, but…” Derek trailed off searching for answer and could only manage thinking about insects, rodents, and tetanus as he surveyed the house that had been sold to him and Kayla. “…but we’ve just got to make do.”

“Make do?!” Kayla asked with an astonished laugh. “We have to make the whole drat house! You need to call that real estate agent right now, because we’ve got our whole lives packed up with us, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to start it here. You’ve been tricked.”

Kayla crossed her arms and looked at Derek with a disapproving headshake. He held up a hand in her direction and shook his own head, signaling that he was not about to get into the argument that they would inevitably have. He pulled the keys from the ignition, unbuckled, and slid out of the truck before he looked back at Kayla who hadn’t moved an inch. “I’ll call the agent. There must have been some sort of mix-up or something. I’ll fix this,” Derek said, waving his cellphone at her as if it was an assuring action.

Derek walked away from the truck so Kayla couldn’t overhear his call, but Kayla was not far behind, and was going to make sure that Derek had no room to wriggle out of an explanation. He sighed and the phone rang, and rang, until a voicemail prompt indicating a full mailbox prematurely ended the call. He looked across the patchy, dead yard at Kayla and shrugged before pocketing his phone. Nothing left to do, he produced the keys that had been mailed to him and unlocked the door. Kayla carefully ascended the creaky patio steps behind Derek and peaked around him as he slowly pulled open the door.

A fetid cloud of decay rushed past them, as if desperate to escape into the open air. Derek and Kayla frowned at the offensive smell and were reluctant to enter the house. Regardless, Derek took the first step, and Kayla followed still trusting in Derek to make sense of the situation they found themselves in. The house’s interior, though plain, betrayed the disrepair of the exterior. A low-trimmed carpet spotted with stains and other curious splotches covered the floor of the hallway that extended from the entrance. The short hall opened immediately to a recessed living area that contained the left behind remnants of occupants long-since removed. The realtor said the house had been empty for the greater part of a decade, and that should have been the red flag Derek needed, but the price, and the proximity to his new job led him to make an uninformed decision that had ultimately led to them being duped. A sound came from the basement. A thud, and then a hastened shuffling.

“Ah, hell no. Hell no!” Kayla said before pacing back towards the front door. Derek turned towards her laughing. “Ain’t poo poo funny, Derek! I’m taking my rear end back to the truck. You can continue to explore this haunted-rear end house all you want, but I’m going to the truck to find a hotel. I’m not staying here. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever. You’re going to fix this alright, by getting us the gently caress out of here.”

Derek was still laughing, but he held off long enough to offer a reproving, “Babe,” which was promptly met with, “Nuh-uh, don’t babe me. Hurry up, because it’s getting dark, and I am not about to stay in a murder house. It won’t be me.” Kayla said as she departed the ramshackle house with a quickness. Derek, against his better judgment, was intrigued. He walked the rest of the upper story, chalking up the sound in the basement to rats, and honestly found himself impressed by how much of the house was still intact. It would need a lot of work, but for a house that had not been occupied for nearly ten years, it was in surprisingly good condition. He couldn’t place his finger on the atrocious smell that filled the house, nor could he find signs of what was causing it, so again, he chalked it up to rats, dead in the floorboards or in the walls, and decided that it was time to check the basement.

The truck horn honked from outside, and Derek, on his way to the basement, stopped to peer out the front door and check on Kayla. “You about ready?” she said leaning from the window. “Just about,” Derek said, “Just going to check the basement out and then I’ll be ready to go”. Kayla looked at him with concern, recalling the sound from the basement and the sickly-sweet scent of rot that was heavy on the air all throughout the house. “Be careful!” she finally shouted back at him. He nodded and turned back into the house with his eye focused on the basement door visible from the empty kitchen. He switched his phone’s light on and opened the door.

The odor that escaped the basement made him retch. He cupped the bottom half of his face with his hand to shield against the smell, and reluctantly stepped into the basement, driven by curiosity even though the instinct to get out was needling its way to the forefront of his thoughts. The pale cone of light cut through the darkness of the basement illuminating dust which drifted in every direction. He descended the steps carefully, turning the light around the basement to see what he could see. The smell seeped in through his fingers and he swallowed down the bile that had been building in the back of his throat, but that degree of control was short-lived as the light turned to the source of what he had been smelling.

His disgust and recoiling were not immediate. A profound sense of confusion struck him first as he decided that he was staring at an effigy of some sort, perhaps a piece of art, but the medium was all wrong. Several animal carcasses in varying states of decay had been heaped into a column and molded into the appearance of something monstrous. Hooved legs spiraled out of a gummy pink trunk where the fused torsos of dogs were crowned by a corona of bird wings with a horned stag’s head at its center. He staggered away and vomited. Derek’s heart pounded against the walls of his chest as he nervously swung the phone all around the room in his panicked attempt to find the stairs again, and that’s when he saw the man-sized tunnel leading from an amateurly cut hole deep into the earth. He turned his phone light into the tunnel and a pair of yellowing eyes, set inside an oily, tar-like face peered back at him. He dropped his phone in his retreat, and stumbled up the stairs, two and three at a time, looking over his shoulder as he erupted from the house in a full sprint towards the moving truck.

Kayla saw this and drew the gun she kept concealed in her purse. Derek slid into the driver’s seat, cranked the ignition, slammed the truck into reverse. Kayla, who had her thumb resting on the safety of her pistol, tucked the gun away and retrieved her phone that had began to ring suddenly. She looked at it once and immediately rejected the call when she saw that Derek, whose hands were white-knuckled against the steering wheel, eyes darting about the road in panicked disbelief, was calling him.

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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Video Card (1 of 1) by Trevor Zuliani, on Flickr

Owls and Matchsticks

775 words

"See, Cinn" said Jeb. "Now ain't that the most drat wood you've ever seen all in one place."

I was a bit relieved that it hadn't been some kind of innuendo, to be honest. Not that I wouldn't be down, but outdoors, in the snow wasn't my scene. I shouldn't have worried, though. With Jeb it's always just one meaning at a time. You could count on it. He tells you he's found a huge pile of wood and he's going to show you about a hundred huge trees all piled up in a clearing.

"What are you thinking?" I asked.

"You know what I'm thinking," he said.

"I don't," I said. Then I started thinking, trying to think like Jeb. "Wait, you don't-"

"We should steal it," he said.

I was silent for a good four minutes, watching him grin. "How?" I said finally. "You want to pull it all the way to the river, walk on the logs down to the next town like you're some kind of cartoon?"

"That's not how they move them, not nowadays," he said. "It's closer to the railway track. They load them on a flatcar and go."

"Honey," I said, "If you and I are ever going to hijack a railroad train, it's not going to be just to pull a flatcar of lumber around."

"I know. And I know it isn't practical. But it's the principle of the thing. They've got enough wood to build a drat house over there and they got nothing more guarding it than a scarecrow and the local owls." I nodded. "I mean, there's got to be a dozen people they could hire, pay minimum wage to sit around through the night listening to podcasts and keeping an eye on the logs."

So we came back the next night with my pickup truck loaded up. Jeb climbed up the triangle and pushed on the top log until it got rolling, rolled right down and another twelve feet until the snow bogged it down.

Jeb tried to lift the ends himself, but we wound up using the jacks instead. Stuck four dollies under it, lashing each one to it with about a dozen bungee cords, then tied the nearest end to the back of the pickup.

I don't like driving when we've got something hooked up in back, so Jeb took the wheel. He is better at it. Except he knows it, which is why he went a good ten miles and hour faster than I would have when we were making our getaway down those old country back roads. About forty was what we were doing when we caught this huge owl, had to be as big as a four year old kid that owl, all stretched out like it was going after some tasty squirrel on the ground, except it was right in front of us. Jeb swerved right to avoid it, and that log, that more than forty foot log kept right on swinging, right up to where it swung right into a tree.

You ever have your whole skeleton rung like a bell?

So there the pickup was, turned sideways by the impact that travelled up the tree. Jeb had the sense to let off the gas, but we were still going forward, and those tires screamed as we went twenty feet sideways. We probably left half the tread on the road right there before we stopped.

We were damned lucky it didn't flip over. We got it started again, slowly pulled the log straight. I was driving now. We were both probably half concussed, but he was spooked on top of that.

Jeb wound up working that thing all summer. Put in more time than he ever did with a straight job cutting it and stripping the bark and curing and carving and all of that. He brought his grandfather in to teach him how to whittle properly, and they made all kinds of things to sell on Etsy. Turns out he's got the soul of an artist, though he says it wouldn't be the same if we just bought wood to start with. We kept a few things too.

First off was the owl. He carved it, in a more traditional owl pose on account of the log wasn't big enough to do it in flight. Looks real nice in the living room.

And the other thing was from the scraps, he made a lifetime's supply of matchsticks. Except the phosphorus dip we got was a dud so most of them won't light up properly and we end up just using the gas lighter gun instead.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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








I’m Hungry, But I Ain’t That Hungry Yet

Diane had taken a month off. No one else ever came to her island. You had to wait for low tide at a certain time of month, and you could drive your car on, if you were careful. Or in her case, your van. Stuffed with provisions. And then, after a couple of hours, no one else could drive on until a month later.

You also couldn’t drive off, but she’d packed enough provisions. And she had her fishing rod, if necessary, and there was a freshwater lake on the island. It was perfect. No phone, no news, just herself and plenty of food and water, and trees and nature all around.

And a month later, having had a great time not being near anyone else, she waited for low tide and drove back to the mainland.

Before she headed home, she wanted to stop by Jack’s Convenience Store. She’d need some stuff before she went back to work, in addition to which she could use the skip behind his store to dump her trash from the month away.

There was no one else parked at the store. He was usually a bit busier, but whatever, that meant she got to park wherever she wanted. She parked on the other side of the car park from the store, anyway. That was her park. She took her bag of rubbish to the skip, then went back to her car to get a shopping bag.

Jack was sitting in her back seat.

‘Um,’ she said.

‘Get in,’ he said, ‘and drive’.

‘What?’

‘Hurry, before they come!’

Jack was generally a trustworthy guy, and never minded when she dumped rubbish in his skip, so she did as he said; got in the car, reversed out of the park, and pulled out onto the highway.

‘So glad you’re safe,’ said Jack.

‘What’s going on?’

‘What do you mean? Where have you been?’

‘Took a month off. Why, what’s up?’

‘All right but haven’t you seen the news?’

‘Didn’t bring my phone. Wanted to disconnect a bit.’

As they drove along, Diane noticed a car broken down ahead, with a couple of people standing next to it.

‘I’m just going to see if they need any help.’

‘Drive past,’ said Jack.

‘What? I can’t do that; they might need our help.’

‘You don’t understand,’ said Jack, but Diane was already stopping.

‘You folks need any help?’ she called out the window.

There were three men, and they came over to her car.

‘It’s not too late,’ said Jack. ‘Step on the gas, get out of here.’

‘Shush,’ said Diane.

The nearest man reached her window, then pulled out a gun and pointed it at her. ‘Get out of the car.’

‘What?’

‘Told you,’ said Jack, who was already getting out of the car.

The man with the gun smiled. ‘You as well, luv.’

‘Stay where you are,’ said Jack.

The man turned and pointed his gun at Jack. ‘Now, don’t be a hero.’

‘I think this might get nasty,’ said Jack. ‘Don’t watch.’

The man smiled a nasty smile. ‘Yeah, don’t watch.’

~

Diane was sitting with the car door open, vomiting.

‘I told you not to watch,’ said Jack.

‘Should’ve told me not to listen or smell, either,’ said Diane, and vomited again.

Jack shrugged. ‘I did tell you to drive past.’

‘You ate them!’

Jack shrugged again. ‘Just their brains. Come on, can we go?’

‘I’m not feeling so great’, said Diane, ‘can you drive?’

‘Sorry,’ said Jack, ‘my fine motor skills aren’t what they were. I’d probably drive us off the road.’

‘At least wash yourself off,’ said Diane. ‘I’ve got plenty of water in the back.’

‘You might need to help me.’

So, Diane helped wash the blood and bits of men off of Jack, and managed not to vomit anymore, and then the two of them got back in the car and continued driving.

‘I think you need to tell me what’s going on,’ said Diane.

‘Some kind of a zombie apocalypse thing,’ said Jack.

‘And you’re…?’

Jack sighed. ‘Some kind of zombie, I guess.’

‘Right.’ They drove in silence for a while, and Diane thought about it.

‘How come you haven’t tried to eat my brains?’

‘I like you better with your brains intact.’

‘So, is it bad everywhere?’

‘Unless you know some place no one goes.’

‘Huh,’ said Diane. ‘I might know a place. But don’t you need brains?’

‘Yeah, kinda.’

‘Do they need to be human?’

‘What did you have in mind?’

So, Diane did a U-turn, and drove back to where she’d been for the past month. Fortunately it was still low tide, and the two of them stayed on the island living on fish (Jack ate the brains, Diane ate the non brains) until the air force carpet bombed the nearby infected towns into oblivion. And then they stayed even longer, because where would they go with the nearby towns turned to dust? Besides, they had an island paradise with really good fishing and a freshwater pool. And eventually the trees reclaimed her van, so they couldn’t have left anyway.

And, zombie or no, Jack was, all things considered, the only trustworthy man she knew.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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






Forgot to include word count. 878.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Flamingo dreams
800 words

That winter was truly terrible, savage howling gales and lashing torrents of icy rain; Jonathan escaped from it only in his dreams. He told Kathleen, his flatmate about them over the cups of herbal tea they shared in their wind-wracked lounge, looking over the steep street that slid away down to the harbour.

"I'm always in the middle of the flock, uh, herd, whatever you call it. Pink feathers all around, clustered close, they're moving, I'm moving with them. I’m crammed in tight, can barely breathe, but I don’t mind? It's really hot, I'm on dried up mud, like a, a--"

"Flamboyance," said Kathleen, and blew a puff of aromatic steam at him, that curled and coiled in the cold house air. "that's what you call a group of flamingos."

Jonathan held his finger up, then pointed it at her. "Right. Enmeshed, in a flamboyance." He’d lost his place, though, and put his finger down again. Kathleen was looking at him without any particular expression, but he thought the expression she didn’t have was a smile, which he liked.

They sat in the lounge for the rest of the day, looking out the window, side by side. After a while Kathleen pointed down the street. “There goes another house,” she said.

It was true – houses, lashed by the rain, had recently been separating from their foundations and drifting away. The rain seemed to have an effect on the wooden piles of the local housing stock, aging them and degrading them until they couldn’t hold on. The houses would shudder, jerking from side to side as though shaking their heads, then seem to shrug, and lift up, born away by the running water, off and out on the rain-washed sea.

That night Jonathan dreamed again, but there was no flamboyance, no tight-packed fluttering wings pressed close around him. He was on grass, someone’s backyard. His legs were stuck into the ground too tightly for him to move. The wind plucked at him. Kathleen was sitting in a lawn chair with her back to him in front of him. He called out to her but his beak was molded plastic and wouldn’t open.

Kathleen wasn’t there when he woke up so he went looking for her. The rain was still coming down outside and he peered out the dirty kitchen window to see her standing in her gumboots and nightgown on the sodden lawn. There was a square outline there where the shed had been. Kathleen called out something to him and he cracked open the window to hear it.

“—flew away. It just lifted up into the sky!” Kathleen seemed amused more than anything. Jonathan seemed to remember her mother’s weedwhacker was in there, but his memory was starting to become less reliable. It was getting hard to remember anything that wasn’t flamingos, Kathleen, or the ceaseless biting rain. He put the kettle on.

That night he dreamed that one of his stiff wire legs had come loose and he was twisting in the wind, left and right. He imagined he could feel the other leg working loose. Kathleen seemed uncertain, always about to turn around and see him there.

There were barely any houses in their valley now, and the sea was higher, grey, grasping. The rain lashed the pavement. In the distance a skein of fire engines with their sirens whooping trailed along the coastal road, doubtless part of some scheme to fix the rain. Kathleen and Jonathan agreed, in silence, that it would not work. They sat there, close but not touching, huddled into the dents their bodies had made in the couch.

A week later they were still sitting in the lounge watching the rain when they felt the house move, if only a little. Kathleen gasped and they looked at each other. She held out her hand and, after a period of hesitation that could have been a moment or many of them, he took it. It was the first time they had touched and her hand felt cool in his. The floor under them was quivering.

Jonathan leant in as the house lifted up and started to move. Kathleen pressed her cheek against his and he closed his eyes, hearing the creak of plastic and the pressure bright feathered wings.

Outside, the storm carried on, each drop of rain another word in the endless conversation of the world.

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:





Submissions are closed.

I’ll crit any redemptions that land before judgment.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Interprompt: oh god what's that in the back of my car

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Simply Simon posted:

...angry babby crying...

If you want to dance, you know you can just ask, right? You don't need to be a petulant little bitch about it.

:toxx:

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


:toxx:

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007

Boom.



Tyrannosaurus posted:

If you want to dance, you know you can just ask, right? You don't need to be a petulant little bitch about it.

:toxx:


Simonosaurus Brawl

Write a story that involves a choice by a character to follow the rules (or break them). In the spirit of dual stories and only sorta looking at the prompt, your story also involves dueling narrators. In the spirit of doing whatever the hell you want, here are some vaguely inspiring symbols:

The Lone Mountain - This is a destination that can never be reached. The crystal glaciers glimmer; the zenith promises glory, but the journey seems impossible, the trials among the foothills multiply with each step closer.
The Comet - Perhaps an ill omen, perhaps a herald of great change. Something in the cosmic balance has shifted.
The Spire - What good does it do to stand higher than everyone else when you are consumed by loneliness? It takes great strength to survive when so much around you perishes, but all most ever see is the outside of the tower, not its ruined interior. Those trapped in it see father, but also know despair.

As demanded by the whinier participant, these rules must be strictly adhered to in a spiritual sense, which is to say--not literally. But there is a literal spirit in your stories.

2k words max.
Give me your words in two weeks by midnight. That's 8/23/21 at 11:59pm pacific time.

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:





Week 470 Results

Small showing this week, which I’ll attribute to everyone being too full from cake to get off the couch and write their stories. Thanks all who did submit, and thanks again to the Dorkroom for supplying some great photos for people to write about!

But how successful were these collaborations?

Idle Amalgam - Lived In takes the loss.

t a s t e - The Summit gets a DM.

At the upper end of the scale, Chairchucker - I’m Hungry, But I Ain’t That Hungry Yet nabs the one HM this week.

Finally, sebmojo - Flamingo dreams is the winner.

Detailed crits to follow later today.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









:siren: thunderdome week CDLXXI :siren:



hello thunderdome

let's keep this simple

write me a story. take, oh, 1200 words to do it. or less, i'd like that too.

however because machines rule our life and we need to start getting used to that, when you post in i'm gonna randomly select your story opening from the AI generated first lines in this spreadsheet here.

if you wanna pick your own from the list and post it when you enter that's fine, but in that case i'm gonna randomly provide you with your ending line instead so UP TO YOU

due 2359 pst friday, sunday, you know the drill


tenders of the machine:
me, sitting here, someone else


slaves to the machine god:

thranguy, The first star I saw was a blue one, which became a scarlet one, and then a gold one, and green, and finally a yellow one, which for some years afterwards seemed to be an ebony one, or even a bubbling mass.

Noah, Arthur the lion had been pretty much extinct for some time, until the time when he was petted by Abernathy the old woman, and her son, Mr. Popp.

Chili Oh, you’re a coward little fool, as if you couldn’t bear to leer at a Prunker or white-clad bodyguard quickly emerging from a shady, storm-damaged area of the city.

sparksbloom Behold the Sky Rabbits!

rohan The first day I met my future self, I was aboard the old dirigible that lay in wait for me on the far side of the moon.

My Shark Waifuu Felix the Paw was sitting at the table of his favorite restaurant, the “Bordeaux” in the town of Bordeaux, when his father, Cincinnata, came in to say good-by to the restaurant.

Chairchucker I once went to a party where the dress code was as strict as a chicken coop with no leggings and no boots.

idle amalgam
It was a rainy, drizzling day in the summer of 1869 and the people of New York, who had become accustomed to the warm, kissable air of the city, were having another bad one.

ZearothK “I am Eilie, and I am here to kill the world.”

Tyrannosaurus The black stone was aching from the rain.

a friendly penguin I say I am at sea, because I am standing upon the ocean, and look out across the barren, vast throng of the sea.


t a s t e It is, of course, a trifling matter in the ordinary course of things, if a certain writer were to write a novel, which is a book of stories, which is a book of characters, wherein every detail of the story is stated, together with a brief description of the theme which it concerns.

curlingiron :toxx: The man who was not Jack the Ripper had been promoted four times in the last two years.

Voodoofly I have just been informed, that the debate over the question ‘is it right or wrong to have immortal souls’ has been finally brought to a conclusion.

Pham Nuwen Long, glowing tongues trailed from your mouth as you listened to what was being said across this kingdom of ours, but growing a little more somber since the week that caused us to proclaim general war.

Uranium Phoenix Jud - an elderly despot, or queen in emopheles, was sitting across the table from the king, looking very thoughtfully into the perplexions of the proceedings.

crabrock There was once a land of sand, and sand, sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand [...]he had a strange name, and he was a very big boy indeed.

weltlich The child of two cats, and a tiger, a clown, a horse, a bird a ship and a dragon, stood on either side of the threshold of the Gatehouse, watching the throng of travelers who came in from all around the world, before he had any idea what was going on.

yoruichi It’s the end of the world, it’s the end of the world, it’s the end of the world, it’s the end of the world, it’s the end of the world, you’re dead. [...]The whites of my eyes shimmered, as if my mind were dancing.

derp I was playing with my dog, Mark the brown Labrador, and I had forgotten that I was also playing with a dead man.

Azza Bamboo
The moon stood on its own two feet.

Zurtilik :toxx:When I was a boy, I was fond of the story of the pirate god.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




In

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk










The first star I saw was a blue one, which became a scarlet one, and then a gold one, and green, and finally a yellow one, which for some years afterwards seemed to be an ebony one, or even a bubbling mass.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


in

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

In

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk










Arthur the lion had been pretty much extinct for some time, until the time when he was petted by Abernathy the old woman, and her son, Mr. Popp.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk










Oh, you’re a coward little fool, as if you couldn’t bear to leer at a Prunker or white-clad bodyguard quickly emerging from a shady, storm-damaged area of the city.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


in :toxx:

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:





In

My Shark Waifuu
Dec 9, 2012





In

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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






in

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk










Behold the Sky Rabbits!


The first day I met my future self, I was aboard the old dirigible that lay in wait for me on the far side of the moon.


Felix the Paw was sitting at the table of his favorite restaurant, the “Bordeaux” in the town of Bordeaux, when his father, Cincinnata, came in to say good-by to the restaurant.


I once went to a party where the dress code was as strict as a chicken coop with no leggings and no boots.

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:





Week 470 Crits

flerp - The Hurt

This is a sweet little story, and the innocence of the young narrator is an effective way to tell it.

Otherwise: the brother doesn’t feel as active in this story, and I feel that there’s not really enough tension in the narrative for the emotional catharsis at the end to have the impact it otherwise should. We are talking about a story about domestic abuse from the perspective of a young child, so I’m not expecting you to go too heavy in that direction, but everything after the band-aid scene is just relayed back to us in a fairly rote fashion, and I would have liked to see more of how the brothers influenced the changes.

Yoruichi - Because I Love You

This is a nice scene, and there’s good characterisation and an emotional journey, but I can’t help but feel there’s more to this story, and to this relationship. You spend time early on adding some complexity to their relationship, with how she’s taking on more work and helping him with day-to-day tasks, but I feel that months after the argument they would have had a more in-depth conversation about it, rather than just “because I love you”. I can imagine that this, being a more intimate and personal scene, may have ended up as the instigator to more openness about their relationship post-accident, but by the end it’s just back to “because I love you” which is sweet but a bit unsatisfying.

Also, I’m intrigued by “She hadn’t done this to him in a long time, not since...” Was the last time somehow responsible for the accident? Because I would read that story.

MockingQuantum - The Attic

Well, I am a sucker for “person spends time in attic looking through old photos after death in the family” stories, and I feel overall this story has some good emotions, without getting too saccharine.

That said: the dialogue here is incredibly wordy, and carrying a lot of the characterisation and exposition, even when not strictly necessary. Take this excerpt:

quote:

“You don’t have to stay here, buried away with all this stuff. We can sell the house. I think Dad expected us to sell. The place is falling apart.” I looked pointedly around the crumbling attic, with its torn insulation and cracked gable windows.

I feel you could easily remove “The place is falling apart”, as the next line implies as much to the reader, and there’s no reason for the protagonist to be telling Emily if it’s that obvious. Yes, this breaks the segue to the next para, but nothing a quick revision there wouldn’t also fix. There are a few other examples of this, where the dialogue is just saying too much that could be implied or described otherwise.

Also, the story falls apart a bit around the “twist” that this is all actually the protagonists’ memory and now it’s the future and they’re there after Emily’s death. I found the blocking in the reveal unnecessarily confusing — first Emily and the protag are hugging, and then the protag’s turning around to see Neil, but in my head they’re still hugging Emily and it takes longer than it should for the reveal to hit. I do like the reveal at the end, and the time jump works for me, but the execution is lacking.

Hawklad - Effluence

There’s some really effective description here, and the world feels real and lived-in, but I’m honestly not sure how much of this is just due to some good use of the photo inspiration.

The story could probably have benefited from a few extra hundred words, to be honest. I thought the worldbuilding was effective enough and you were minimal enough in your exposition that I never felt bored or overwhelmed by what was happening, but the actual story — girl goes to a riverbed, finds a robot, takes robot home — doesn’t leave much for her to do, and the decision is an easy one. Even just some hint as to how the robot had arrived there — did it have anything to do with the raid the previous night? — would have helped add some extra depth to the story.

t a s t e - The Summit

This story is all about the characters, and they’re established well with good dialogue and a consistent narrative tone, but I think the story is cheapened by what I’m taking to be an attempt at a twist at the end.

Mostly, it comes down to a question of emphasis. The story draws out the whole scene with the shirt, which works for characterisation, but doesn’t add much to the rest of the narrative, and the ending is both a “reveal” and also a bit of a letdown after some interesting character work.

Is it even meant to be a reveal? It feels as though we were supposed to think the characters were all much older the whole time, but honestly my reading was that they were older teens or lower 20s at most, so it doesn’t feel as much of a surprise at the end.

Idle Amalgam - Lived In

This was a week where no stories were truly awful, and I can imagine any number of weeks where this wouldn’t have even been a DM. There’s nothing truly bad here, and for the most part I enjoyed reading it — the characters are pretty unlikeable but that seems the point, and there’s some visceral horror toward the end which is polarising but effective.

Unfortunately, it’s not without its faults, and they were enough to land it the loss this week. First, the story suffered from our own expectations about what would happen once Derek went into the basement, and I’m not convinced it did enough to either satisfy or subvert them. Second, the very last line broke the whole story for me (well, the last word, really). Shouldn’t it be “Derek […] was calling her”, given that the call is coming through to Kayla’s phone?

I’m honestly not sure how to parse the ending, even without that error — it kind of feels like you were half-going for a “Kayla thinks Derek is an impostor!” ending, which isn’t really supported by her actions. But I can’t see how else to read it, and it just falls flat.

Thranguy - Owls and Matchsticks

Solid writing, good dialogue, and a story that peters out toward the end. Everything here is serviceable. It’s fine. I don’t personally like the voice of the narrator, but I can’t argue it’s effective and consistent.

That ending, though — once again, I feel like I’m missing something, some hidden layer of meaning that would give it more resonance, but maybe it’s just a story about a wooden owl and a bunch of matchsticks. It evaded the DM because I do like what you’ve got here, and there are enough good parts to forgive a slightly flawed whole, but I can’t help but wonder why you left so many words on the table for a story with such a rushed ending.

Chairchucker - I’m Hungry, But I Ain’t That Hungry Yet

For a story that’s largely dialogue, this is, I think, surprisingly structurally sound, and there’s a good sense of momentum, of set-ups paying off, of expectations being subverted, that many stories this week tried to do with much less success. We know something’s happened early on — probably the car park being empty is the first clue — and then it’s a nice surprise when it turns out Jack is actually the zombie.

Is that twist enough to carry an entire story? Maybe not. But, as above, it’s sound, with good dialogue and a consistent tone.

sebmojo - Flamingo dreams

This is beautifully written, all mood and ambience, with a sense of deeper meaning and metaphor that makes me want to get further into the story. I enjoy that the dreamscape feels more real than the actual story, which has an ethereal quality, a world outside of time, that lives by its own logic.

Which brings me to the one negative about your story: “A week later they were still sitting in the lounge”. This reference to a week passing was enough to pull me out of the story, and made me question far more mundane details — eg, what were they eating for two weeks? how had it been raining for so long without anything progressing? — for no benefit to the story. If you’d cut this I would have stayed in the moment for far longer, which was especially crucial at the end of the story. (Okay, I lied: the other negative is “hearing the creak of plastic and the pressure bright feathered wings” which I still don’t understand as a sentence, but this far in I’m feeling pretty forgiving and it’s honestly kinda poetic.)

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

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


In

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk










It was a rainy, drizzling day in the summer of 1869 and the people of New York, who had become accustomed to the warm, kissable air of the city, were having another bad one.

ZearothK
Aug 25, 2008

I've lost twice, I've failed twice and I've gotten two dishonorable mentions within 7 weeks. But I keep coming back. I am The Trooper!

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


In.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


In.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



Crits for week 470 – Thunder Dorkroom

flerp – The Hurt

This story goes for emotion and it gets it. I think its choice in analogies is good for the characters’ ages. The bandaid like a sword. And its transformation into a mole later is interesting when it’s now on the mother. I think both of the boys work for their ages. Sometimes then 7-year-old seems like he’s younger than that and the 13-year-old older, but I think these types of situations can change how kids act and I think this situation has changed them.

It’s a simple and straight forward piece. It could do a little more with the emotion, showing what it does for the protagonist or giving Samuel a little more to do than just bestowing the charge on the protagonist but I think it’s fine this way too.


Yoruichi – Because I Love You

Helluva first line. An interesting approach to talking about life after a life-altering accident. I think it’s full of emotion for the protagonist. Jess comes off a little snarky even through her love (“give you a hand” oof, I’m surprised that didn’t annoy the protagonist at her word choice.) and I think that’s important so that she’s not just a two-dimensional character who’s there to prove that love conquers all or whatever.

But beyond that I don’t have much to add. There’s a lot of description of the whole mechanics of the situation that I find uninteresting. Whether that’s because they are uninteresting and don’t add much or because I’m ace and really don’t care about any of that, I’ll let you decide since it’s your story and I am only one reader.


MockingQuantum – The Attic

Dialogue does a lot of heavy lifting. I like the sentiment this was going for, but the execution was clunky. I think this could be helped a lot by having a stronger protagonist voice and internal monologue. How does he feel when he looks around at all the stuff? Is it weighing him down just like his ailing father when all he wants to be is free to go to college? Is it a tug of war between the memories and the possible future ones he wants to make?

This is a good story kernel. Keep all the beats and even the transition at the end from memory to present. Drive home a bit more how one’s personal world can change through the actions of one person, how the same space can evoke two different feelings depending on the association and how death can mean two different things as well. Polish up the dialogue. And with all of that, this could be a very good story.

A few more words and a little more time spent with this story and I think you’ll be happy with it.


Hawklad – Effluence

Terrible first line. But that’s really the only thing that’s terrible. The problem here is that this story is too big. It’s a big story that I want to read in a world that has possibilities and stories within stories and futures and pasts that I want to explore. And this story is only the tip of the iceberg, the very, very tip, with more exposed than is told and even more unexposed beneath the surface.

I love how hopeful it is, how bleak it looks but how Elene is confident yet has her doubts. She has these seeds but also a brilliant and disabled father. This is the first chapter in a novel that shakes up Elene’s world very quickly. Because the father looms large he either needs to make an appearance or affect the actions that we see Elene doing. In the narrative we only learn the actions/decisions she’s taken in the past because of him. But the story stops before that happens. And there are many ways that can happen.

The worldbuilding is good but missing just a few more details for me to really understand how it all works together. Like I think I get it but I also worry that I don’t. But in the “end” it doesn’t matter because I didn’t really need to. I have a hard time really coming up with anything concrete here since I’m convinced this needs to be much longer and so I’m happy to talk with you more about it if you want to expand it, but as a short piece I don’t think I can provide any more concrete advice.


t a s t e – The Summit

This piece has good character building and scene setting. It would fit in very well as an intro. But this isn’t a novel. There’s no actual story here. It’s all build up and reveal and the reveal isn’t clever enough to carry the piece. I don’t know that any simple reveal is actually, but that’s philosophizing.

There isn’t actually a lot wrong with the writing. I think the style is consistent with the feeling it’s going for: kinda mobster-esque meeting and posturing, meeting of big ego types. Where I think it falls down is how it goes out of its way to keep the reveal a secret. There is a flow to how stories reveal information and so it becomes obvious at certain points when that information isn’t provided that the author is holding back specifically for some reason. And then the reader’s mind goes to why which usually takes them out of the story.

And the shirt standoff goes on a bit too long without any payoff. So I got bored and went unrewarded for continuing.


Idle Amalgam – Lived In

There’s no story, just a lead up to a scare which could be condensed into two paragraphs and then spend the rest of your words in how the two work together to escape the situation. Or explore the characters’ relationship. This story is 1500 words long but yet the bulk of it could be condensed. Paragraph 1: the couple approach a house that is clearly not as advertised. Paragraph 2: they explore the house. And then the rest of your words should develop the couple, their situation, how they interact with each other, with the monstrosity.

Less is generally more when it comes to descriptions. The house could be described in a few choice adjectives or in describing their experience of it using the senses. I’m going to offer the “read more” advice here, because the sentences, while mostly grammatically correct, are too full. Adverbs or extra information that doesn’t offer extra meaning. And really noticing how other authors slim down their sentences or pack it with purpose can help with that.

What the reader needs much more of is understanding the characters more. Kayla is generically pissed at the situation, but she’s also the type of person to carry a gun in her purse? Derek doesn’t justify his purchase of the house and is weirdly interested in the putrid place. Why are they at odds? Why isn’t Derek as pissed as Kayla? Does he think he can rehab the house? They are characters who are operating as the author needs them to with no further depth. Readers don’t need a lot of justification for action. Maybe Derek is the hard headed type who never asks for directions and so he’s going to live in this house come hell or a literal hellhole. But that characterization is missing.

This also needed a proofread.


Thranguy – Owls and Matchsticks

Feel like I’m missing something. This story needed to pick either fun caper or meaningful events are happening story and when the story starts with the possibility of wood innuendo, that sets the tone of a person who sees the world with some levity. Even if her partner does not. But after a certain point the story becomes a recitation of events.

As I’m reading it: some people steal an unguarded log from a lumber pile, as they’re driving it away they swerve to not hit an owl while they’re driving too fast but are none the worse for wear, they sell the wood in various forms but keep an owl sculpture and make matchsticks that don’t work.
It’s all told with such straightforward prose that I keep looking for some bigger connection or some point that I must be missing.

But with that “one meaning at a time” line, I’m starting to think that there isn’t anything more.


Chairchucker – I’m Hungry, But I Ain’t That Hungry Yet

This is a story: beginning, middle, end, which is more than several stories this week. It’s all hand-wavy though with no substance, no emotional attachment, no stakes that I’m interested in, no explanations. If it were funnier none of this would matter because it was clearly all done in service of the joke. But I can’t find the larger joke. If the beginning had mentioned that Diane had gone to the island for a month to escape men as well as the news, then maybe the last line would have landed.


Sebmojo – Flamingo dreams

This story has a “sitting at the edge of the earth and waiting to be devoured” vibe, also maybe the feeling of “hoping that one more good thing will happen before the end.” And I think that is very good. The atmosphere and metaphor fit. But then there’s a line about fire engines and that ruins the mood because it inserts the outside world onto the lives of these two people and makes me want to know about the outside world. Why is there a scheme to stop the rain? Who is in charge of it? Since there are people in this house, were there people in those other houses?

And now I don’t know what to make of the whole story, wondering if I’m missing something else. I like the comparison of houses trying to withstand the water as flamingos do on their long legs. And Jonathan longing for the safety of being with others.

“Kathleen was looking at him without any particular expression, but he thought the expression she didn’t have was a smile, which he liked.” This line gets across what you need it to, but it is jarringly awkward.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



In

t a s t e
Sep 6, 2010


In

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!


In :toxx:

Voodoofly
Jul 3, 2002

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



In

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




In

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

Can we take a word penalty for a reroll? I don't even know how to parse my opener.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007

Boom.



In.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Jesus christ you've let sebmojo have the helm again? Goodness me. I'll have to judge this to make sure it doesn't all go horribly wrong.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

Chili posted:

Can we take a word penalty for a reroll? I don't even know how to parse my opener.

nevermind this for me, I've got something going

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012


I was feeling sick so I'm gonna try to get a redemption in this week. If I successfully do so I'll enter this week too. No toxxing though because every time I do that, I panic-bullshit some unreadable nonsense and that really isn't helpful practise at all.

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 19:12 on Aug 10, 2021

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk










“I am Eilie, and I am here to kill the world.”


The black stone was aching from the rain.


I say I am at sea, because I am standing upon the ocean, and look out across the barren, vast throng of the sea.



It is, of course, a trifling matter in the ordinary course of things, if a certain writer were to write a novel, which is a book of stories, which is a book of characters, wherein every detail of the story is stated, together with a brief description of the theme which it concerns.


The man who was not Jack the Ripper had been promoted four times in the last two years.


I have just been informed, that the debate over the question ‘is it right or wrong to have immortal souls’ has been finally brought to a conclusion.


Long, glowing tongues trailed from your mouth as you listened to what was being said across this kingdom of ours, but growing a little more somber since the week that caused us to proclaim general war.


Jud - an elderly despot, or queen in emopheles, was sitting across the table from the king, looking very thoughtfully into the perplexions of the proceedings.

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