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Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Casual Encountess posted:

u ready bb??

which horse is for me?

Yoru says you can have Dragonhorse. Please be kind to her. :3:


Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Here is Puddle, she is a special lady.

Also I'm judge.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

:siren: Week 444 Judgefarts :siren:

Undead Empowerment

Wouldn’t a necromancer *not* want positive vibes…?

You know I was going to write “I kind of hate this dude,” but then it occured to me that I don’t know if your MC is a dude or not. Or what they look like. Or, uh, basically anything about them other than that they are A) a necreomancer, B) into weird new age bullshit for some reason, and C) old, I guess? That one got thrown in there halfway through, although there wasn’t really any indication of it earlier.

I think my problem with this is that it reads kind of like a joke, like “so a New Age necromancer walks into a Macy’s…” or something. It’s still in very paper cut-out land.

Curio Shop

Oh dear. I see why you did this, but it really hasn’t left you with anything approaching characters, has it? On the one hand, I’m inclined not to penalize you for it, because hellrules are hard. But on the other hand, you did ask for a hellrule, and I have seen some really great palindromic stories that still managed to be stories and have characters. Rather unfortunate.

Also, uh, where was your horse in this at all? The only connection I could possibly see is “The faded remnants of yesterday brighten,” and even that’s a bit of a stretch.


DISCLAIMER: Since this was written, it has been confirmed that this was NOT (intentional) fanfiction. I am preserving my comments for posterity and because I'm lazy.

I have no idea why, but your first sentence is *really* hard to place in time. I kept reading it as “The criminals {who are} sent into his labyrinth were all dead {before they were sent inside}.” That is *probably* a me-issue, not a story-issue, but still.

Uh, did you write Cube fanfiction?????

Oh no. You wrote Cube Zero fanfiction.

...okay, I think the ending spares you from a fanfiction tag (maybe), but still. Even the labyrinth attendant being surgically altered as punishment seems like a tie-in, even if you took it in a different direction. I’m actually having a really hard time judging this because I can’t really distinguish what you’ve done here from what happens in the films.

If I had to pick out some characteristics of your protagonist they would be: meticulous, smug, tea-drinker, beureaucrat, maybe insane? Again, very mixed feelings re: Cube, but that is more than two things, so good job.

Worth a Punt

Ah, now this I’m into. I can picture Kassidy perfectly, not even because you’ve described her physical appearance in detail, but because the pieces you’ve given me speak to a particular kind of person. Even the way you’ve chosen to describe things (“tidied her hair enough for today” was particularly good) reveal things about who your character is.

Okay, Daphne is a bit much. You did so well with Kassidy, but it feels like the other two are much shallower in comparison. I do like the interaction between the three, but I would have difficulty pinning more descriptors onto Lynn and Daphne beyond “scaredycat” and “monkeycheese,” respectively.

Putting the Fun in Contract

I think that you think the title is funny. It is not.

This is… a lot. The first paragraph feels … I guess “lascivious” is the best word I have for it, and I do appreciate the irony of using it to describe weirdly purple prose.

Man, this really just feels like you’re trying to be funny instead of making a character.

Yeah, I mean… I guess? This is a thing? It kinda feels like it’s failing on all levels except “getting to put “‘What in the micropenisy gently caress do you want?’” in a story.

Sorry, Merc. I still love you. ❤️

Closing In

Aw, poor Nadia. :( I will listen to your lists if you want.

I like the numbered list motif, but I’m not sure exactly how much it adds to the story; obviously there needed to be breaks there, but the decision to number them feels like an arbitrary one. ((EDIT: It just occurred to me that this is a tie-in to the lists in the first section. I feel dumb, but I also think it's not adding a lot))

I’m also a little confused on the Mom’s character. She seems kind of inconsistent, and some of the interactions between her and Nadia get muddled as to who is doing or saying what.

I really like this, but I also feel like Nadia is not as strong a character as she could be. Maybe because I’ve read so many stories about kids who don’t fit in at school and get into misunderstandings with their parent(s) and want to go disappear into the woods that I’m having trouble separating her from all of the rest. Maybe that’s an unfair judgement, but I think I would have liked to have more hints at her character beyond wanting to run away and live in the forest.

I argued hard for this to at least HM (and I'm still a little salty over it), but alas. Really excellent story, though, and you should send it places.

The Opposite of Fire

Oh please god, don’t let this be a gross teacher story. Please.

Also paragraph breaks, I beg of you.

Okay, so *not* a gross teacher story, thank you for that. This kind of reads like the Wikipedia summary of a volume of Harry Potter, though. I’m also not getting huge character vibes from either Professor Madison or Penelope. Was this part of something else? It feels like there has to be more to this. Please tell me you didn’t write fanfiction too. ((EDIT: I checked and it isn't, thank god))

That’s Why I Didn’t Give Up On Music

No, c’mon, don’t give characters names that start with the same letter, this is an easy one. :///

Ehh, this feels pretty weak. I really wish you hadn’t brought Amy into it; she feels super one-dimensional and mean for the sake of being mean. Andrea’s big catharsis doesn’t even really work because… Amy’s kind of right? If Amy was the only one doing the work of making concerts and practices happen, then it is Andrea’s own fault that she’s out of practice. Maybe you meant to convey something different here, but that’s what I got out of it.

Preventing Burnout

I already have no idea what the gently caress is happening. I definitely interpreted this as Intense Blaze dragging Cinders because she was hurt and he was taking her to the hospital, but I guess that isn’t the case? Also what the hell does “you taught me no Grand Embers when in a hospital lobby!” mean???

I’m usually one for leaving out the worldbuilding, but this is too much.

You’re doing so much work to explain what’s literally happening that you have left basically no room for character personality. This is the opposite of what this week was supposed to be. Why did you do this.

Who is talking in the second half??? Is Benter awake and talking to him? Is he talking to himself????? What the gently caress is happening????????

Okay, so this makes a little more sense in the context of your flashrule, but this is still a mess. If you need the hellrule to make even the slightest amount of sense of the story, it is not a good story. My advice is scale back hard, and focus on writing something your reader will be able to understand. I'd welcome you to come solicit pre-crits in the Discord, since I think that would help a lot more than these post-facto notes.

harder better faster deeper

Yaaaaaaaaay, Puddle! :3:

((Real missed opportunity here; title really should have been harder wetter faster deeper.))

Ah, this is really fun. I’m kind of going back and forth on whether this constitutes a “character” or not, as she (it?) seems to be driven more by an imperative than personal motivation. I’m also a little unclear on some of the rules of the puddles (specifically how one puddle differentiates itself from another, or if perspectives are consistent across form; also do they actually need to eat or is it just a ‘want’ thing), but I don’t think it’s that important in the long run. I do think you could do a run through this and streamline/fix consistency issues, since this feels like something you wrote all at once, but I like it a lot. :kimchi: Thank you for loving Puddle.

trash panda

DRAGONHOOOOOOOOOORSE!!! This was definitely made with the intention of being my horseona, so you better be nice to her. :colbert:

….okay it might just because I have a thing for punk girls in particular, but I would date MC. And by ‘date’ I mean ‘be shyly terrified around and dramatically moon over in private because I don’t know how to talk to women I’m attracted to.’

Anyway, yeah, good character, gj. There was some arguing in the judges' chamber about this, but to me you very clearly gave an idea of a character, even if that character was a kind of awful crustpunk. Was this a story? Absolutely not. But I have a really good idea of who this person is and how she thinks.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

I will probably regret this, but in and :toxx:

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

MAN vs MACHINE: Elite Champion Ultra Belt Match, only on Pay-Per-View
793 words

“Well folks, it’s another great evening here at the Suplexodome. I’m Tom One, your genetically-engineered commentator for tonight.”

“And I’m Tom Two, your OTHER genetically-engineered commentator.”

“I gotta say, Two, you’re looking good this evening.”

“Right back atcha, One.”

“So Two, tell me, what is the buzz around the stadium tonight?”

“Well One, as you can probably tell, there’s a lot of excitement for the big match tonight. We’ve got long-time folk hero Captain Cowboy squaring up against newcomer and nine-foot nightmare The Rawbott.”

“The Rawbott has made quite the impression over the last several months, hasn’t he, Two?”

“You’re right there, One. The towering metal terror has been chewing through his opponents like his meat grinder attachment chewed through our unwary brother Seven a few nights ago.”

“Rest in peace, Tom Seven, you will be missed.”

“Very sad, One, just a tragedy.”

“And as for his opponent, I thought that Captain Cowboy had gone into retirement. What can you tell me about that, Two?”

“Captain Cowboy coming out of retirement has been speculated on by fans for years now - ever since he retired, in fact. The circumstances of his last title match were very mysterious, and his longtime nemesis and archrival the Russian Stun Gun remains missing to this day. The wrestling world has spent years trying to find out what happened that night, and it looks like now we finally might get our chance.”

“Right you are, Two. Oh, I think I see The Rawbott! Excuse me! Excuse me, Mr. The Rawbott, do you have anything to say to your opponent tonight, or the fans at home?”

“The Rawbott has defeated all of the pathetic human wrestlers in this league, but has found no opponent truly worthy as an adversary. The Rawbott is pleased to hear that Captain Coward has finally responded to the rocket-powered gauntlet that it launched into his ‘Dude Ranch.’”

“Fascinating! Tell me, what would you say you’re most looking forward to in the ring tonight?”

“The Rawbott was not programmed for enjoyment, pleasure, or desire. The Rawbott has been programmed to follow only one rule: DESTROY HUMANITY. Once The Rawbott has defeated Captain Coward, nothing will stand in the way of its mission.”

“Great stuff, great stuff. Thank you for your time, Mr. The. Now, Two, it sounds like you’re there with Captain Cowboy?”

“That’s right, One. Captain, how are you feeling, having finally come out of retirement after all these years?”

“Well, now, I ain’t the type to ramble on too much, and I ain’t got too much room for sentiment. But I know that when there’s a rabid dog loose, there won’t be no peace until he’s been put down. Now, I know these boys who gone up against this tin man over here, and I don’t mean no disrespect, but that’s what they are: boys, try’na fill their pappy’s shoes. They gave it their best shot, and now it’s time for the adults to step in and settle things.”

“So would you say that you’re feeling confident in your victory this evening, Captain?”

“Son, there ain’t no confidence to be had until the thing’s won. I ain’t sayin’ I’m gonna win, ‘cause that’s how Ol’ Scratch gets you: pride is a deadly sin, at least accordin’ to the Bible, the first and only book I ever read. But I know my craft, and I know that there ain’t no way that a machine can match a man’s work in the ring.”

“There you have it, One. Sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting night in the ring!”


“Well I have to say, One, I’ve seen a lot of things in the five years since my creation in a vat underneath the colosseum we’re standing in, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like what we saw tonight.”

“I know what you mean, Two, it’s been one crazy turn after another. Who would have thought that The Rawbott was the creation of Captain Cowboy’s illegitimate son, built as a plea for attention from the father he never knew?”

“Exactly, One. And I don’t think that I’ve ever been more surprised than when it turned out that Captain Cowboy was actually a living spaceship, filled with tiny extraterrestrials that controlled his every move.”

“And when it turned out that Captain Cowboy’s illegitimate son had been a dog in disguise the whole time? I just about fell out of my seat.”

“Well it’s a good thing you didn’t; you know that commentators who fall prone are subject to reclamation by the meat threshers.”

“Don’t I know it! Well, that’s all we’ve got for tonight, folks! Until next time, we’re Toms One and Two, and this is Wrestlevania.”

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

curlingiron posted:

MAN vs MACHINE: Elite Champion Ultra Belt Match, only on Pay-Per-View
793 words

Hi I forgot to include my flash rules so here they are:

toxxrule: your people are professional wrestlers with unique gimmicks. i wanna see some gossip girl for meatheads poo poo. write the world's greatest promo

Dec 15, 2006

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Can I sue my employer for injuries sustained due to unsafe sanitation mandate? [WA]
345 words

My office has recently reopened (please don’t make this about reopening, I am done having this conversation), and there are obviously a lot of new safety and sanitation rules, which is totally reasonable. However, there’s one rule in particular that I’m having an issue with.

Specifically the issue is that our employers have put "sanitizing spray" in the bathrooms for employee use. Personally, I found this a little excessive, but I’ve been trying to comply with all of the safety regulations, so I’ve been using it every time I go. Lately, though, I’ve been having some serious discomfort down there, and I’m pretty sure it’s from the spray. I went to talk to someone in HR, but she actually laughed at me - to my face! - and then when I got upset she acted really uncomfortable and told me she would get back to me.

I’ve been doing some research, and the science is not on my employer’s side - not only is there no evidence that Covid can spread from bathroom contact (that kind, anyway), the sanitizer my employee has provided like this is NOT labeled for human use. I’m thinking of contacting a lawyer, but I want to make sure that it’s worth my time. Can I sue my employer for injuries sustained from mandatory sanitizer use? Is this considered a work-related incident? Can I sue for pain and suffering damages over HR laughing in my face??

EDIT: I don’t know how to make this any clearer: YES, it is DEFINITELY intended for personal use! Why would it be in the stalls otherwise???


EDIT 3: I got an email from HR about meeting to discuss this, so I will update the thread once I get back. Also STOP ASKING FOR PICTURES OF MY A$$HOLE IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!

edit 4: mods, please lock the thread

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

one time i left my butt on the school bus and i had to stand the whole day because there was nothing for me to sit on. :(

it's okay though, it was still there when i got back on after school. it smelled like farts, but it always smells like farts so that wasn't weird or anything.

that's my story about when i got my butt back, okay bye

69 words, nice

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Yoruichi posted:

What the bloody hell is this? I pull this stunt, with panache, I might add, and I get a DQ, and then the very next week Ms Curling-no-sign-up-iron rocks up and gets an HM?? What. The. Actual. gently caress.

Fight me, Curlingiron, you fire hazard of a hair accessory, you.

lol okay :toxx:

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Oh hi, I heard you needed a walkthrough for the judgement post. Pffffft. Okay I guess I can do that.

-Head to discord, and click on the #Welcome channel. Click on "Say something" and then "Check out the other channels."

-Click on This Is Thunderdome, and then say Hi to TDBot

-Leave TDBot alone and go to the Archives from the Web Browser.

-Click on all of the stories, then look at the Archive page again.

-Click on the new story

-Touch the Chip

-Go back to Discord and talk to TDBot.

-Get railroaded through to the end! Hooray!


This one's mine:

See you in two weeks!

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 07:31 on Apr 13, 2021

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

:siren: Curling-Yoru Punishment Brawl :siren:

Flash Rule: The Movin' Along Pick:

Blessing for a Curse
1545 words

In the enchanted woods, a lone toad crossing your doorway most always meant trouble, even more so when they came wearing clothing and complaining loudly.

“Excuse me!” said the toad, his ribbit echoing through the shabby cottage. “You there! Hag!”

The hag looked up from her tisane and gave the toad a wary look, regretting her choice to try airing out the tiny cottage today. “Ah, a visitor. How... nice.”

She moved her hobnail boots out of the way as the toad jumped nearer. He was a great barrel-chested specimen, with warty brows propping up the amphibian-sized crown on his head, and a throat that bulged alarmingly every time he took a breath to speak.

“Hag! Harken to me” continued the toad, heedless of the hag’s words, or truly all but her proximity. “You may not know it, but you are in the presence of the great Prince Aldrich of the Phinean Empire!”

“Is that right?” said the hag, hiding her expression with her mug.

“Yes! I am your prince, and it is your bound duty as a citizen to come to render me aid in my time of need!” He made a series of failed attempts to jump up to the hag’s rough-hewn table, until the hag took pity on him and picked him up and placed him on top, making a mental note to scrub the surface of the table later.

“Lo! Hear my tale of woe, hag! I have been cursed by a spiteful and wicked witch-“ Here he paused to cast a damp, baleful look at the hag. “I say, you aren’t a witch, are you?” The hag shook her head no. “One of those disguised enchantresses?” The hag shook her head again and the toad, satisfied, continued.

“Yea, but I have been cursed, most cruelly, by a terrible witch through absolutely no fault of my own! And now, beleaguered I wander, in search of true love’s kiss to break my spell!” The toad paused again and added, “Well, the right sort of True Love, one must have standards.”

“Mm,” said the hag, ostensibly in agreement. She was running rapidly out of tisane and was growing concerned about how and when, exactly, the toad would be leaving her house, but the toad didn’t notice.

“I mean, of course she must be a princess - a beautiful one, not one of those bribe-the-portrait-artist types - from the right sort of family, and even then preferably a crown princess, you know, so that I- we may rule over both countries. Together. Of course.”

As it turns out, toads cannot look embarrassed, so it was fortunate that the prince did not try to do so.

“And so, hag,” the toad continued, “you must now render unto me your aid!” The hag wasn’t entirely sure about the construction of that last sentence, but she understood well enough.

“And what kind of aid should I render you?” she said, finding her opening in the conversation at last. “I think there are probably some flies near the midden-”

“No, no, I have no desire to eat your commoner’s parasites! No, I have heard that there is a princess in the area, and I am trying to find her. Hag, tell me, have you heard any tale of a beautiful maiden under a spell?”

“Perhaps, perhaps not,” said the hag. “But tell me, Prince Toad, if I do come to your aid, what will I get in return for my help?”

“What could be richer than the reward of doing your civic duty?” cried the toad, his throat belling out alarmingly. “Do you commoners think of nothing so much as how to get ahead? I tell you, this is the type of behavior that will get you cursed by a witch!”

“Well, Prince Toad, consider: once you find your princess and the spell is broken, you will want for nothing, while I will still be destitute.” The hag continued, warming to her subject. “What would be the harm in doing this old woman a favor in return?”

“This stinks of blackmail!” the toad croaked indignantly.

“Then consider it a step on your Road to Redemption,” the hag said, folding her arms across her chest.

“‘Road to Redemption’? What the devil are you on about, hag?”

“Surely someone of your status and upbringing has been versed in the classics! Didn’t you pay any attention to your Quests and Trials instructor?” The hag leaned forward and looked at the toad skeptically. “You are a prince, aren’t you? This is basic knowledge.”

“Of COURSE I’m a prince!” the toad cried, his bass ribbit breaking as his voice thundered in the tiny cottage. “Clearly this is part of the spell! The horrible witch has tampered with my memory to ensure that I stay like this forever! I never would have forgotten a single lesson of my studies if it weren’t for this blasted curse!”

“How dastardly,” said the hag. “Of course a prince of your stature could never have forgotten something so basic by any other means.” She paused for a moment, hiding her face behind her now-cold mug of tisane.

“Well,” continued the hag, “I suppose that I might be able to act as your temporary advisor in such matters…”

“Yes! Of course!” said the toad. “All good kings - and princes - have advisors! So it doesn’t matter that I don’t remember a thing from my classes, as long as I have you!”

“...but it’s going to cost you,” the hag concluded, smiling at the toad.

“Augh, and so we’re back on this again!” the toad said with an aggravated croak. “Very well, hag. Tell me what what your price is.”

“How about your crown?” said the hag. “It’s not very large, but it looks like real gold. A worthy price for an advisor, wouldn’t you say?”

“Absolutely not!” said the toad, almost as indignant as he was when she had questioned his status as a prince. “This is the royal crown of Phinea! I would never part with it! And besides,” he continued, “how would anyone know that I was a prince if I didn’t have it?”

“Hm, well that’s a problem, then,” said the hag. “I can’t imagine you have any other worldly possessions on your person at the moment, do you, Prince Toad?”

“I don’t, no. I don’t suppose that you would consider advising me on credit…?” The toad looked up at her, his eyes large and pleading. The hag had to hand it to him, he was a remarkably expressive amphibian.

“Absolutely not,” said the hag. “You and I both know that you’ll forget all about me as soon as your curse is lifted. No no, the crown is out, and I’m not fool enough to work for a false promise of future riches… Ah, how about you help me with my potions?”

“Potions?” said the toad. “You said you weren’t a witch!”

“Oh pooh, it’s no witchery at all, just some home remedies for arthritis and the like.” The hag waved her hand dismissively, and then looked at the toad in consideration. “Tell me, do you think that you could bear to part with one of your eyes?”


“No? How about your spleen, then?”

“What is the point of having you advise me if I won’t be alive to benefit from the advice?” the toad cried, hopping about in agitation. “You are making me regret asking for your help very much, hag!”

“Alright, alright, don’t knock off your crown.” The hag thought for a moment more. “Well… I do think that I have a recipe for bunions that requires toad water.”

“Toad water?” said the toad. “What, do you plan to put me in a juice press?” The hag looked at him levelly for a moment before it dawned on him what she meant. “Oh no, absolutely not! That is foul, hag! What use could such a thing possibly be?”

“I told you, it’s for bunions,” said the hag, matter-of-factly. “Now, are you are going to be a dear and give me some toad water, or are you going to go back to hopping about aimlessly and hoping you hop onto your true love by accident?”

“... fine, but you must never breathe a word of this to anyone, hag!” The toad glowered at her - something, it turns out, toads are quite able to emote, unlike embarrassment.

“Most excellent, my lord,” the hag said with the slightest cackle. “Come this way, your toady highness, I believe I have a spare jar that may serve as your royal commode.”


Princess Mirabelle gave a great sigh of relief. She had been starting to think that horrible toad would never leave. Thank the gods that she’d eavesdropped on her brother’s tutoring sessions! If he’d stayed around here any longer he might have figured out who she really was, and while Mirabelle wasn’t exactly thrilled to be a hag, she didn’t see any point in trading one kind of curse for another. Fortunately it hadn’t been too hard to help him make a plan to break his curse by means of a classic three-act redemption story, one that would hopefully take him far, far away from her tiny cottage.

Besides, now she had a cure for her bunions.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

In for dragon week. :3:

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 07:01 on Jan 1, 2022

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Thunderdome 453: You’re Out of Order!

Ha ha, I tricked you into reading fanfiction about my cat! ...and now I have to run a week. ._. Truly, a fitting punishment.

So if there’s one thing that I like in this world (besides dragons and cats), it’s nonlinear narratives. Time travel, perspective switch, backwards stories, I can’t get enough of them. So now you get to make me hate them write nonlinear stories of your own!

No stipulations beyond that. Write whatever genre you want, with the usual exceptions: no erotica, political screeds, Google Docs, or fanfic (unless it’s about your cat).

Signup Deadline: 11:59 PM PDT Friday April 9th
Submission Deadline: 11:59 PM PDT Sunday, April 11th.
Word Count: 1500 words


Nonlinear Functionaries:
Barnaby Profane
toanoradian k
Azza Bamboo c
Tyrannosaurus o
Idle Amalgam r
Noah b
angel opportunity a
Thranguy r
dy. c

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 18:34 on Apr 10, 2021

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

I was going to make a meta-joke thanking you for all of your submissions for the week, but I’m pretty sure it would just lead to people freaking out, so... idk pretend I made a Primer reference or something.

Also entires are closed, unless it’s Yoruichi, who gets a free in for the week for having defeated me in our last brawl.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Okay it’s been a weird day and I have to get up early tomorrow, so the submission window will stay open until I get to work tomorrow, probably around 7:00 AM PDT. Use your time wisely.

Dec 15, 2006

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Okay well never mind I guess.

Submissions are CLOSED

I'll let you know when we figure out what to do with... this.

Dec 15, 2006

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INTERPROMPT: What the hell did I just read

300 words

Dec 15, 2006

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Dec 15, 2006

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Thunderdome Week 453 Crits: Sorry I didn't have it in me to do another multimedia presentation

First of all, I want to thank everyone again, because this was hands-down my favorite week of TD ever, and it was a ton of fun to watch everyone interacting with poo poo and (I hope) having fun. Anyway, enough gushy stuff, here's the part you're actually going to read:

Maynard’s Magical Remembering Potion

Story summary: Terry works at a magic potion factory and cares for his mother, who is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. He is having trouble remembering things at his job (and everywhere else), whether because of stress or something being wrong with him, and is fired from his managerial job for his carelessness. He gets a phone call from the hired caregiver for his mother telling him that his mother is in the hospital, and while it is clear the end seems to be near, it is not clear whether or not his mother is still alive. Angry and fearful that he will lose his memory as well, Terry overpowers the security guard escorting him out of the building and goes to the factory floor, where he destroys some equipment and potion batches for unclear reasons.

Crit: Your first sentence is really hard to parse. I have no idea what a plasma warp conduit is, so it’s really hard to imagine what rocking one looks like, let alone the context to place this in. There’s a lot going on in your opening scene, and it wasn’t clear what SHOULD and should NOT be happening in it. I had no idea if this was an intended part of the process or not, or where the actions were taking place; I honestly thought your characters were aboard a spaceship well into your opening scene, so you definitely need to include more information.

There’s also a huge disconnect between the factory and the rest of Terry’s life; I guess the point couple maybe just be the juxtaposition of the magical and the mundane, but if there’s literally a memory potion in the world of the story, why is there still Alzheimer’s??

I don’t think your idea is bad, even if it does seem a little Blunt Force obvious in the execution. I’m still not clear on what Terry is trying to accomplish in the opening/chronologically last scene: he trying to make the eponymous potion? Is it revenge? Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t going to the hospital to say goodbye to his dying mother.


Aesop on Wine

Story summary: Aesop is drunk and hanging out with his friend Phaedrus, whose dialogue we never hear. Aesop tells Phaedrus several, possibly interconnected fables, most of which are bizarre and nonsensical, delivering morals of questionable utility or truthfulness. Towards the end, Aesop seems to imply that the scenario is in fact a script of some kind, breaking the fourth wall several times and making reference to aspects of the story itself, such as wordcount and the anachronistic nature of his conversation with Phaedrus.

Crit: Okay so this is… not great. But it’s also kind of charming? It’s very cheeky, and in a week that has dissolved to utter loving madness I appreciate the meta aspect (also lol at the “exactly 1397 words when the archive wordcount is a loving slot machine). It’s not HM material, but it made me laugh; thus, my fickle whim has allowed you to scrape past without a DM this week, but I wouldn’t count on that saving you in the future.
So, on a more critically useful note: I think that you know that you went off the deep end with this one. It’s over-the-top to an excessive degree, and the extremely tenuous nature of the connection between the stories weren’t enough to make up for how monkeycheese and obnoxious your “narrative” is. You’ve noticed, of course, the quotations I’ve used; there was some question in the judges’ chamber of whether or not this really counted as a story, since it mostly seems to just be “lol so random/drunk” instead of anything resembling coherence. Again, you were saved basically by my laughing at your story; according to a co-judge “if it made you laugh, it deserves a no mention,” (paraphrasing) so here we are.

I feel like the stories that I’ve seen out of you are trying really really hard to be bombastic and out there, but it feels like you go too hard at everything, and it kind of ends up as being a mess. When you have these really big, out-there ideas (or gimmicks), it’s easy to get lost up your own rear end - as I have done myself, many times. I think it would be a good idea to sit down and try to write something simple - note that “simple” does not mean “boring,” but rather instead of a Grand Narrative, maybe a small moment. That will give you some time to introduce one or two concepts to your reader more slowly, and give your characters time to actually display some personality.

I’m going to use an example from the last story of yours I judged, but you had these really big ideas about these living furnaces, with this huge battle between two brothers on opposite sides of the oil versus kerosene (I think?) battle, and it was all just… so much. Holy poo poo it was so much.

So here is a good place to take something big and practice that simplification. Let’s start small: a single moment in one character’s life that was important, maybe only to them. For example, what was the first time your main character used his flame powers? Was it easy? Hard? How did that make him feel? What sort of challenges did he face? How did it affect his relationship with his brother? It’s a very personal moment, and small enough that you can feed your reader some description of this unusual character and the world he lives in, without getting caught up in Epic Battle Town.



Story Summary: Two people drive to an abandoned factory in the woods, with the intention of calling on an elf to restore a man’s sanity. In doing so, the factory is returned to its former working state. This, in turn, causes the woods to be cut down, so a young woman - implied to be the younger self of the woman from the first bargain - calls on the same elf to save the woods, which in then shuts down the factory (again?).

Crit: The biggest thing this story suffers from is it’s extreme opacity. Your story reminded me a LOT of some books I’ve read (coughGENEWOLFEcough) where I could tell that there was a lot going on (or supposed to be) behind the scenes that were being concealed/danced around for one reason or another. Let me tell you, that’s a super frustrating experience, and probably the reason why I have only ever managed to make it through one Gene Wolfe book (which, apparently, was “barely a Gene Wolfe book,” probably because it made sense).

I can tell that there is a cyclical nature to the events here, and I can see the overall shape of it (push/pull between the factory and the forest), but the ring and the kissing and the timeline and the old guy that they throw on a random mattress at the beginning of the story and and and… gently caress if I know what’s going on.

I would be really interested to see another draft of this with a higher word count where you explained a little more about what was happening here, because I’m definitely intrigued (like every time I try to start a Gene Wolfe book). If you end up doing more with it, please let me know!



Story summary: A man reflects on the dissolution of his relationship in the process of moving back home. The events are shown in reverse, and there’s a theme of mirroring and miscommunication between the couple.

Crit: Oooh, this is a good one. Very atmospheric, very thematic. I guess my only thought is that there wasn’t much of a reason for it to be backwards? I mean, I enjoy the love story in reverse bit, but this story would read just as easily forwards, so it seems… idk, unnecessary? I guess upon further reflection (haha) it was meant as a continuation of your theme, which, alright, fair enough. It’s well-written and fun (and you charmed the pants off of one of my cojudges), but it didn’t stick with me as much as some of these.


Stealing a Moment

Story summary: A wealthy man assembles a team to steal a time machine. He then covertly joins the team himself under an assumed name in order to change his own actions at his daughter’s deathbed.

Crit: Whoof. Okay. I think I got all of that. Goddamnit, Thrangles.

I feel like I need to apologize to you specifically, because this is hands-down the best piece of flash fiction written this week, and was really my only hangup during judgement. There are a few questions I still had at the end, mainly confusion over who exactly Maynard is (one of the other judges and I were pretty convinced he was the same person as Jonah for a bit), and I felt like the titles at the beginning of each scene were a little … awkward, maybe? I don’t know. Personally I was wondering if they were an excuse to sneak “erratum” in there, as a reference to toanoradian’s predicted archival error. Speaking of, was Maynard’s name a reference to Brotherly’s story, or was that really a coincidence? This week absolutely broke my brain (in a good way!), so I can’t tell if I’m seeing patterns where there are none.

Tl;dr - I’m sorry and please publish this.


∩dsᴉpǝ poʍu

Story summary: Three boys are being interrogated by the same police officer as to the death of a homeless man. I think that what actually happened was the boys were attempting to buy weed from the man, intending to pay (or not to pay?) with a knife belonging to one boy’s father. A struggle ensues, and one or two of the boys is hurt and the homeless man ends up dead. Another kid sees the boys standing over the body and either runs to call the police or to get help. In the interrogation room, the detective lies to the boys about calling their parents, and then about what each has said about the others, trying to get one of them to confess to murder. None of this is going to be admissible in court.

Crit: This physically hurt me to read in the original, and I was pretty convinced that it just didn’t make sense because it was so hard to read, but now that I’ve read the un-flipped version I think it may just not have made sense to begin with? Weirdly I think that this would make a lot more sense as a video, just because I had a hell of a time keeping the different boys’ names straight, so I just had no idea who was saying what and why. If you want to keep this as a written piece, I think you are going to need to concede the constant formatting in favor of something that will help your reader know who is saying what to whom.



Story summary: On the eve of her upcoming brain surgery, a woman is repeatedly brought back to the present moment after having lived thirty-eight different lives up until she murders her husband in each iteration. Uh, wow, that is an awkward sentence. The woman tries to argue with her husband about going through with the surgery, as she believes the only way to not kill him is to let the brain tumor she has presently to kill her, since the surgery, and subsequently undiagnosed second tumor, will inevitably lead to her husband’s death. Her husband, charting out each of her previous lives (and his own murders), insists that there must be a way to change the outcome, promising her a secret message in his breast pocket the next time she kills him. The woman then murders her husband immediately to find the message, then returns to before the murder to contradict his sentiment.

Crit: Okay, I’ll level with you because I feel kinda guilty for giving this a DM: this is not the worst story this week. I didn’t even particularly dislike it the first time I read it, but one of my cojudges took a particular issue with it, and you know, talking about it, I understand where they’re coming from. There are a lot of deliberate choices here that either don’t make sense, or feel like they were chosen for the shock factor, and it detracts a lot from the piece.

The biggest issue for me was that the more I came back to it, the more I didn’t understand how the second tumor and the murder of her husband were connected. Why did the tumor specifically make her murder her husband every single time? You mention that the second tumor is pressing on her temporal lobe, which explains the “time travel,” but I don’t really understand how that adds up to murder. I know it’s kind of nitpicky, but I would have liked some more explanation like that, even a trivial one like “the tumor grew until it started to make her aggressive,” although even that wouldn’t necessarily guarantee the consistent murder of her husband and only her husband every single time.

I’d honestly be more forgiving of that, but you had plenty of words you could have used to make things clearer (and there were several other things that could have been clarified, like the exact timeline of the day in question; is she coming back from the future every five minutes or is she recalling these all at once?). As it stands, the whole murdering-her-husband thing doesn’t really make sense, and almost comes off as violence for the sake of violence. And, even though it’s unfair, you are one of my favorite TD authors, and this was a bit of a letdown. I usually try really hard not to meta-assess stories like that, but this week was absolutely impossible to read in judgemode, sorry. If you want to brawl me over that, I will happily accept my literary rear end-kicking.


gently caress you, Craig.

Story summary:
A woman enters a bar and sees her ex. She repeats the scenario several times, trying out different interactions and several methods of revenge. In the end she simply ignores him, instead drawing the attention of the crowd until her ex slinks away unnoticed.

Crit: First of all, thank you for involving me with the format. I had a lot of fun, and it’s always nice to talk to you. :3: Your story is another one that I liked, and it has a good premise, but it didn’t quite have me by the throat like some of the other entries did. I almost feel like you could have gotten one more scenario out of this, or had some kind of afterword/denouement, that would have helped add more emphasis/importance to the last scenario. I wouldn’t say I was surprised that your last scene was then end of your story, but I didn’t get the “good end” sense from it that I was expecting. If you’re gonna do a Groundhog’s Day, I think you need to make it abundantly clear that This Is It, This Is The Real Ending. Still, a strong piece and enjoyable.

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 04:49 on Apr 15, 2021

Dec 15, 2006

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Thunderdome Week 453 Crits Part 2: Whoops, I forgot to crit crabrock.

A few issues with entering Week 453 stories into the archive

Story summary: A deranged PhD has way too much loving time on his hands and goes absolutely bonkers with the archive website, wreaking havoc and confusing everyone.

Crit: I don't know if you intentionally pandered this week very specifically to me or not - I DID talk a lot about Omega Mart in Discord recently, after all - but it loving worked. This weird ARG poo poo is like curlingiron catnip. I had the biggest loving grin on my face all weekend, which was quite a feat given that it was the end of spring break. Plus I got to learn Twine! :buddy:

...but I still like Lisa more than you. 😈

Dec 15, 2006

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In :toxx:

Dec 15, 2006

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The Bread Island Bake-Off
2270 words

Bread Island is a thriving sea port, with people coming and going from many different islands in the area. Due to a specific fluke in geography, it is particularly easy to access the island by boat, allowing ships to come right up to some low-hanging cliffs to load and unload merchandise. As a result, it’s become a local hub for trade, with a busy market located in the large coastal town of Ciabatta. Today the market is set up for a local fair of sorts, with the main attraction being a inter-island Bake-Off. The competition is fierce, and rumor has it that the prize for winning is highly valuable.

Most of Bread Island is covered by a Jungle, growing where there had once been agricultural land. At some point in the past, the growth of the jungle was unnaturally accelerated in some way, meaning that not only is there a lot of vegetation, some of it is pretty… unusual, and the local wildlife isn’t much better. However, the jungle is said to be rich in resources, and can be highly lucrative for those adventurers who are strong enough to make it back out again. There are usually locals who hire out as guides/bodyguards for those venturing into the jungle, but the usual group that runs the service is absent today, probably enjoying the festival.

The Bake-Off

The Bake-Off is in full swing by the time the players show up, with most of the contestants already entered. There are a wide array of baked goods of wildly varying quality already on display, and the atmosphere is festive while people wait for the judging to proceed in a few hours’ time. However, entries remain open until judging begins, giving any latecomers (or newcomers) a chance to enter.

Word on the street is that local great-grandmother, Gladys Eclair is the favorite to win the Bake-Off, but for some reason her dish is still missing from among the entries. There is some talk of mysterious disappearances in the area lately as well.

Players can find Gladys at her usual market stall, where she sells crocheted items and homemade candles. Gladys is crying dramatically loudly, with the occasional wail. If players approach Gladys, she informs them that her entry for the Bake-Off was stolen on the way to the competition by an unknown group. Although there is still time for her to make another dish, the ingredients all came from the jungle, and she is unable to retrieve the items on her own, or to purchase any more. If players inquire, it turns out that no one in the town has any of the necessary ingredients left, all of them having either been used or sold for the Bake Off.

Players can choose to help Gladys or ignore the Bake-Off and explore the jungle.

If players agree to help Gladys, she gives them the following ingredients list for her Famous Huckleberry Cobbler:


All items can be found in the jungle (see Jungle section) and brought back to Gladys.

If players ignore the Bake-Off the bandits will win the Bake-Off and take over the local government, turning the island into a haven for pirates, and charging steep fines to anyone who wishes to buy or sell in the marketplace. Players can still encounter jungle inhabitants and try to sell or use the ingredients they find, but they won’t get much by way or profit after taxes.

The Jungle

Encounters List:
-Mutant huckleberry shrubs
-Flour sack drones
-Giant Ants guarding a giant sugar cube
-Bake-Off Bandits (if not ignoring the Bake-Off)

Mutant Huckleberry Shrubs

These appear to be regular huckleberry bushes until their berries are harvested. Once a creature has picked ~5-10 berries, vines will wrap around the creature’s limbs, essentially grappling them. The vines will continue to wrap around any creature in the shrub’s grasp until they are completely enveloped, at which point the shrub will attempt to crush the creature into mulch. Shrubs are weak to fire or ice attacks, but fire in particular may spread to any creature it is currently wrapped around, so caution is necessary.

The huckleberry shrubs also house a super-intelligent mouse civilization underneath their roots, but characters are unlikely to encounter or see them unless they pass by the area again, in which case the mice will be engaged in repair of the plants and surrounding area. Characters can converse with the mice if they have the ability to speak with animals or have the ability to understand languages that are unfamiliar to them. If the players can both communicate with the mice and persuade them to help, the mice can provide information to adventurers about the surrounding area (location of flour containers, giant ant weakness, etc), and tell them to search the offices in the dairy for secret doors. However, the mice will be more difficult to persuade depending on how much damage players did to the huckleberry bushes in the initial encounter.

Flour Sack Drones

These are aerial drones that can be observed flying over/through the jungle, each carrying a sack of flour in varying sizes. The drones fly back and forth between two “warehouse” locations, which are partially decayed shipping containers full of flour sacks. When the drone reaches one “warehouse,” it will set down the sack of flour it was carrying, then pick up a different sack of flour to transport to the other “warehouse.”

Drones will ignore players unless they attempt to approach the shipping containers. If a play approaches a shipping container, any drone in visual range will sound an alarm klaxon, summoning the guard dog. It is possible to retrieve a flour sack without summoning a guard dog, but it will require multiple stealth rolls.

Guard dogs are large quadrupedal robots with a crane-like neck (think a Boston Dynamics dog) and varying offensive capabilities, mainly projectile weapons and vice-grip biting attacks. The guard dogs are resistant to most physical attacks, but their protective covers can be damaged enough to expose their inner workings. It is also possible to overload the guard dog by burdening it with a weight beyond its capacity (approx 1 ton).

While fighting the guard dog, any drones in the vicinity will attempt to dive-bomb characters, but have no offensive capabilities to speak of, and can be taken out of commission with a solid hit or two. They are highly agile, however, so actually hitting them is somewhat difficult.

Giant Ants

Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. These are regular ants that have been enlarged in some way, although they somehow do not collapse under their own weight. Each ant is 4’ high at the top of their head, and roughly 8’ long. Each ant has the same proportional strength as their regular-sized counterparts, so they have no trouble uprooting trees and swinging them around. Their jaws are extremely strong, with the ability to easily snap weapons (or limbs) in two, and they can regurgitate an acidic substance. Their main weakness is the waist point between their thorax and upper bodies. There is only one ant in the area to begin with, but at the end of each turn, the DM should roll one d10; on a 10, another ant shows up.

When players defeat all ants in combat, they can approach the object the ants were guarding: a giant sugar cube, roughly 20’ to a side. There is much evidence of people scraping sugar off of the sides, but otherwise the cube has held up remarkably well.

Bake Off Bandits (should be the last encounter before the Dairy)

These are an assortment of humanoid/mutant creatures living inside the jungles of Bread Island. They sometimes hire out as protection for people attempting to forage in the jungle, and often rob and kidnap those who fail to hire them. They have a deal with the Church of the Divine Bovine to provide regular sacrifices, so many of their victims end up there.

If players defeat the bandits, they will find Gladys’ original dish, but it is evident that the dish has been tampered with; specifically the bandits have laced the dish with a potion that makes the consumer highly suggestable, with the plan of gaining influence the Bake-Off judges, including the local governor.

If players cannot defeat the bandits, they will be taken to the Dairy as prisoners. (See Dairy Basement section)

The Dairy

The building was used as a dairy factory farm in the past, and housed hundreds of cows, a now-extinct species once used as a food source. Most of the dairy has been stripped of anything useful, but there are still a few areas of interest:

-The processing rooms
-The overseer’s office
-The basement

The Processing Rooms

This is where the milk was processed for various uses. Adventurers can find pictograms on the walls explaining the use of the different machines, although most of them no longer work. One of the machines, however, not only works but still contains one of the ingredients Gladys requires! However, when players attempt to collect any of the butter in the machine, the butter proves to be both alive and hostile.

The Butter functions as a basic pudding enemy (see Black Pudding monster in 5e), but can be buffed or debuffed for player level. Once the Butter has been defeated, players can safely collect the ingredient.

The Overseer’s Office

The Overseer’s office is on a raised platform above the factory floor where the cows were housed. There are a variety of artifacts here from the before times: fidget toys, self-help books, motivational posters and other detritus. Players can search through the papers in the office to find the door code to the basement. On a high perception roll, players can also find a false wall in the office, which leads to a back room.

The ceiling of the back room has been replaced with glass, and the floor is covered in a thick layer of “mulch” (ancient cow dung). Plants proliferate within the back room, the largest of which being a huge tree that has broken through the skylight at its highest point. The tree bears oblong yellow fruit, and there are a variety of other flowers and shrubs. If players take a lemon, it can be given to Gladys to enhance the cobbler; players can also find vanilla bean pods if they pass a search check, with similar results.

The Basement

The Basement is sealed off from the rest of the Dairy by a strong door locked by a keypad. If players attempt to brute force the door open or circumvent the lock they will receive painful feedback, either in the form of electric shock or a gaseous irritant.

If players find the code from the Overseer’s Office, they can enter the basement, which will take them into the caves beneath the Dairy, where the Church of the Divine Bovine is headquartered.

The Church of the Divine Bovine is a group of mostly humanoids and mutants, who claim to be descended from the original workers of the Dairy. Members of the Church worship the Divine Bovine, a cow that has been kept alive for the last hundred of years in a state of suspended animation. The Divine Bovine is kept fully submerged in a nutrient-rich liquid that keeps it young; church members make regular sacrifices to the Divine Bovine, usually unwary explorers who come across the bandits in the woods. The sacrifices’ bodies are used to brew the nutrient liquid the Divine Bovine floats in.

The most sacred ritual of the Church of the Divine Bovine is the Uddering, when the high priest uses machinery within the chamber to extract the Divine Bovine’s “blessing,” AKA milk. Most of the milk is given to the congregants, but some amount of the blessing goes to the Bandits as payment for the sacrifices they bring to the church.

Players can attempt to fight their way through the Church, or try to infiltrate their ranks. Infiltration will be markedly easier, especially because only the Head Priest knows how to safely perform the Uddering. Once players collect the milk, they will need to either trick or fight their way out of the Church.

Back in Ciabatta

Once players collect all of the ingredients, they can return to town and give the ingredients to Gladys. Fortunately, there’s just enough time left for her to make her Famous Huckleberry Cobbler, and she is able to enter the Bake-Off.

If players defeated the bandits in the jungle, Gladys will win the Bake-Off and give players the prize (some kind of cool and/or useful item) to thank them for their help, along with a bag of her Famous Sugar Cookies, which are a powerful healing item. If players brought Gladys the lemon and/or the vanilla beans from the Dairy, she will also give them the recipe for the cookies. As thanks for getting rid of the bandits, the Governor also awards players with the Key to Ciabatta, which gives a discount at local stores.

If the players did not defeat the bandits in the jungle, the bandits will try to manipulate the judges via hypnotic suggestion, although players can interfere and challenge the bandits a second time. The newly suggestible Governor (the head judge of the contest) will agree to a tiebreaker, but will insist that it be a Dance-Off rather than combat. If a Dance-Off doesn’t suit your players, you can replace that suggestion with something else, but the idea is it shouldn’t be combat to avoid wrecking the rest of the festival. If/when players are victorious, Gladys is declared the winner, and players are gifted with the prize item and the cookies, but NOT the Key to Ciabatta.

Dec 15, 2006

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hello, i am here to make you regret everything :smaug:

Dec 15, 2006

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Same Old Story
481 words

“I think that I may be in love with you, Mira,” Eleagor said, his words coming out in a tumble. He held his breath and looked down at his wrong-shaped shoes, hoping he wouldn’t somehow fall over. He cursed himself for the thousandth time for making his human form so damnably tall.

“I know,” said Mira from her perch on the low wall of the courtyard, and smiled at his astonished expression when he looked up at her. “Oh come on, you were hardly subtle about it.”

“But, I- ah…” He had not prepared for this possibility. “Well then, do you return my feelings?”

“Do you really think I would still be talking to you after all the trouble you’ve caused me in the last month if I didn’t?” Mira pulled out the pin keeping her jet black hair in place, and let it fall over her broad shoulders, her expression sardonic.

Eleagor just stared at her mutely, and she laughed again.

“You have to admit, you’ve been pretty obnoxious. You’re lucky you’re able to pay for the stuff you break, otherwise Jerry would have banned you from the bar by now.”

“It was never my intention to-!” he stammered. “I simply- wait, do you truly mean it?”

“What, do you want me to change my mind or something?”

“Well no, but… I, um, I may have another confession to make.”

“Is it that you’re not human?”

“You knew?

“Well, let’s see,” Mira held up her hand and counted off on her fingers. “You talk like my spinster aunt when you look barely a day over twenty; all of your clothing is at least 50 years out of style, and none of it fits you; you put crushed limestone in your beer when you think no one is looking; and when I first met you, you told me your name was Fritzibald.”

“Fritzibald is a perfectly good name!”

“No, Fritzibald is a name that someone who isn’t human would think sounds like a human name.”

“Well, you do have me there, I suppose.” He looked down at himself, and inspected the frayed end of one velvet cuff. “Am I really that obvious?”

“The other servers have a pool going about what exactly you are,” Mira said with a laugh. “I’m staying out of it, but between you and me, Kielie is going to take home a lot of money tonight.”

“You know what I am, then?” said Eleagor in a small voice.

“Of course I do,” said Mira, standing up. “You’re a dragon.”

“I- how could you possibly-?” He gazed down at her as she drew close, confusion and wonder at war on his face. Despite his height, she was only a head shorter than he was, and he found himself unable to look away from her dark eyes.

“Because my grandfather was one, of course,” Mira replied, and kissed him.

Dec 15, 2006

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:siren: Week 467 crits of dubious quality :siren:

My name is Twist

PLOT: A police detective commits a mass poisoning and tries to avoid suspicion. PP Weiner appears and everything is fine.

Okay, so I… kind of love this. I have not enjoyed your other stories nearly as much, so I guess try harder if you want to continue writing stuff people won’t like. Although, given that I am absolutely a sucker for monkeycheese bullshit, I don’t think that it’s necessarily a good story. Anyway, thanks for the fun; I read it aloud to Mr. Curling and we both had a good laugh.

Misery Loves Company

PLOT: A person hiding from the mob lives in an abandoned space station and talks to ghosts on the internet. The ghost they are talking to reveals something about “Hell Ghosts” and then the story ends.

There’s some really cool ideas that you have in here, but it still feels like a throwaway joke story, and none of them actually get explored (or explained in a way that makes sense to the reader). Tl;dr: do more Hell Ghosts, that was the best part.

The Story of the Sealed Cave

PLOT: The god of mysteries and her avatar solve a locked-room murder mystery.

Man, not really related to your story, but that is a terrible, terrible title. Good lord.
This story is pretty good, though! I thought that the murder method was clever, and I will admit that the title does work for your story, although I do think you should still change it, because if I were not required to read it, I would probably skip it on the basis of the title alone. This one was a bit of a fight in the judge’s chambers, for reasons that I believe have already been explained, but I liked it well enough. I think if you cleaned this up a bit (and pick a specific biome, I guess?) it’s a nice little piece that I could see getting published somewhere.

loving Tourists

PLOT: A bunch of New Yorkers accuse one another of being tourists. A van gets towed and people are mad about it.

Your opening is semi-incomprehensible. Who is “he”? It’s extremely difficult to tell whether this is referring to another passenger, or the tourists. It’s weird.

Whoof. Well, this was a mess. Your core concept is… fine, but dear god, your formatting and near-complete lack of attributions makes this a muddy, meandering mess. You absolutely could have cut fat elsewhere to make the “climactic” conversation make sense, and yet did not. I will take clarity over “clever” turns of phrase/characterization every time. Kill you are darlings.


PLOT: Three lab workers realize they’re physically unable to talk about work to their families, and also have no idea what they’re actually working on for some reason. One tries to find out what’s going on, and it turns out that magic is real, and he’s been Eternal Sunshine-d about it several times already. Lab worker accepts an offer to become a magic suppression agent.

This is def the most intriguing one so far. Hoping it won’t bomb.

Hm, yeah, okay. I liked this, although the ending felt a little easy. You seem to be relying heavily on tropes about Scientists Doing Science Things, which undercuts your story quite a bit. I think it would make more sense if they thought they knew what they were working on but discover that the project is really about something else.

Beyond the Vault

PLOT: An unnamed thief breaks into a mansion to steal some wine. When confronted by the owner of the house, the thief forces the old man to open a vault in the cellar and then steals a bunch of stuff. Later the old man shows up at the thief’s house, and then … ???

Yeah, I don’t get this, and I’m not sure you do, either. Random violence is not the same thing as an ending, and while you don’t have to spell out everything, the reader generally wants to know what is going on and why. This story does neither.

The Church

PLOT: A homeless person enters a church hoping to find somewhere warm to spend the night, but finds that the church is in the middle of a service. The leader of the congregation offers the main character a chance to join them, promising to take away their burdens, but leaves in disgust when the offer is declined. The service that seemed to be ongoing turns out to have been a tape recording, and the church empty.

This is good! The opening was a little long for my taste, but it’s a strong piece overall. I will freely admit that the ambiguity of the ending undercut my enjoyment somewhat, but I think I would have felt differently if I read it a second time. You should definitely shop this around for publication.

To Go

PLOT: A former magic user decides to find the man who broke into his fast food job. He revives old contacts to find that the man is only attractive due to his clothing, then gets caught up in The Label’s plans for unclear reasons. There are spiders, everyone dies but MC, and he ends the story with the man’s jacket.

Wow. You have a LOT of stuff going on in here. Unfortunately, none of it landed well. I think you have some interesting worldbuilding here, but the story itself came out as a jumbled mess. Imo, throw out this story entirely, but spend more time in this universe.

A Dirty Shame

PLOT: A woman appears to have overdosed on medication and died, but the police have reason to believe it was murder. They do some digging and find out that she was murdered by a former foster child she abused. Murderer offs himself.

A neat, classical mystery. I will admit that I did not have many feelings about this other than that. The answer to the mystery seems easy, and I didn’t feel much of a connection with any of the characters. It’s a solid concept, but would benefit from more character development and action that doesn’t come pre-resolved.

The Case of the Violist

PLOT: An orchestra is interrogated over the murder of one of its members. In the end, the detective is revealed to be the supposed murder victim trying to prove a point.

Oh god save me from terrible story titles. This was very obviously you, CC, although I will admit that I enjoyed this more than some of your other stories. I probably liked this the least out of all of the judges, but it’s not bad. However, you have a lot of unnecessary information, too many indistinguishable characters, and a weird dangling ending sentence that seemed like it should have at least one more scene after it. Also that title. Jeez.

The Delve

PLOT: An interstellar recovery crew finds the ruins of a forgotten race. They travel through the structure, looking for answers and hopefully things they can make money off of. In the end, they find the prison of a mysterious being, and decide to stick around to make sure no one opens it (I think).

Man, I bounced hard off of this opening. It’s too much too quickly. ...Okay, now that my brain has recovered from Hard-Scifi-Shock: This setting is really intriguing and I would like to see more of it. This story in particular, though, needed 5-50k more words, which I hope that you write, because I want to read it.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

In :toxx:

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Special Transaction: 1050 word limit, after sale of 150 words to crabrock in exchange for six sand

The cat was fine; Metatron saved it from being run over and decided to keep it.
1044 words

The man who was not Jack the Ripper had been promoted four times in the last two years. Upon consultation with the law, it turned out any criminal proven innocent by an act of God is automatically qualified to become an executioner, and he started the next day.

Regardless, the man really was excellent at killing people, the Detective mused to himself as he walked past the latest public execution. He’d been shouted down every time he brought this up, though, so he supposed it was immaterial. At least the man’s talents were being put to good use. He popped the last of his lunch into his mouth, and winced as his teeth ground against a grain of sand. drat stuff was everywhere these days.

The exoneration of the man who was not Jack the Ripper was the first Act of God in the city, but it wasn’t the last. It started with big, dramatic interventions: proving the accused to be innocent, or saving a wagonload of orphans. Lately, however, God seemed to be giving input on a lot of things; there was a chips shop near the station that had seraphim fluttering around its roof for weeks.

“And those things’ve got eyes all over, and big booming voices that burrow into your skull,” the proprietor of the shop told the Detective. “I’m fairly certain one of them ate my cat, too.”

The Detective nodded absently and walked away eating his chips. At one point he might have been spurred towards an investigation, but those days were over.

That day he came back to the station to find a pile of sand on his desk, with a note indicating that it was not to be moved, by divine request. The Detective began to gingerly pull papers from beneath the pile, but was interrupted before he could get very far.

“Been a request for you from the executioner’s guild,” said the Chief Inspector, with a look that might have been smug; the Detective had given up on reading expressions along with investigating.

It was just as well that it came to this, he thought to himself as he walked the sand-strewn cobblestones. There wasn’t much of his job left to speak of.

The man who was not Jack the Ripper was waiting for him, of course. There was a glowing aura around his body, and the Detective could hear a chorus singing from somewhere.

“Thank you for coming to see me,” the man said. “I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about you.”

“You have?” the Detective said. He wasn’t sure what anyone could’ve said about him, other than ‘asks too many questions’ or perhaps ‘eats too much.’

“Indeed! In fact, I have a special assignment for you.” The man leaned forward, his voice low. “I hear that you’ve been looking into the matter of our recent spate of divine interventions.”


“You needn’t deny it, friend! That’s why I’ve brought you here; I’d like you to keep doing it!”

“You would?”

“That’s what I said,” the man said, and his expression twinged for just a moment, in a way that the Detective thought he should recognize but no longer could. “Well? What do you think?”

The Detective thought for a moment. He didn’t trust the man, but what else did he have to do? And the thought of being able to do some real investigation again was an enticing one.

“I… accept,” the Detective said finally.

“Excellent!” The man rose and shook the Detective’s hand. “It is a true pleasure to have you on board.”

The Detective blinked, and he was standing outside in a part of town he didn’t recognize. A line of people stretched before and behind him, leading up to a platform in the distance.

As he took in his surroundings, there was a fanfare of trumpets and he saw a bright light coming from the platform ahead of him. He tried to get a better look at what was happening, but his ankle was manacled to a chain running along the line of people. A few moments later, everyone shuffled forwards a few feet, dragging him along.

“Do you know what’s going on?” the Detective said to the man ahead of him, but got no response save a glare in his direction. The woman behind him didn’t even bother to glare at him, staring past him as if he didn't exist.

He looked around, trying to understand what was going on. The platform ahead seemed to be some kind of stage, where each person in line stood for a moment until the light and trumpets came. Was this some test of divine intervention? He looked around, but he couldn’t see any people save those in line with him. A fine dusting of sand eddied around his ankles.

The line crept forward in silence, and the Detective realized that the platform was not a stage but a gallows. A spike of fear shot through him, but from watching the proceedings it didn’t seem like anyone was actually being hurt. As soon as a noose was fitted around a neck, divine blessings shone from the heavens and the prisoner was freed.

As he drew near the platform, the Detective saw the man who was not Jack the Ripper standing by the trapdoor lever and beaming.

“Hello again, Detective!” he said. “I’m so glad that you could join us. Don’t worry, it won’t be a moment until you’re done here.”

“Oh, well… that’s good then,” the Detective said.

“Come right this way,” the man said, bending down to unlock the manacle. “Ah, and you wouldn’t want to forget this!” The man passed him a large hourglass, it’s top bulb filled with trickling sand.

The Detective opened his mouth to ask why he needed an hourglass to be judged by God, but then the man who was not Jack the Ripper was ushering him onwards and he had no time to say anything.

The platform afforded him a good view of the surroundings. The buildings lining the street looked flimsy from here, as though they were paper cutouts that could be knocked over by a breeze.

The noose was settled around his neck, and the Detective waited.

Sand blew through the quiet streets.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Hell yeah, I’m in. :toxx:

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

1130 words
Broken rule: your story must have emotional stakes

{(“Dear Coder,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good morning, Coder!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Do you wish to proceed, Coder?)

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

TRUST IN THE INFINITE, the voice said.

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

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

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

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

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

:toxx: to have crits done by 11:59 PM PST of 11/23

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Crits for Week #485 Part 1

flerp - needlessly depressing story i wrote on my phone because i forgot i was going to yosemite whoops sorry not sorry:

Synopsis: Kid tries to kill themself to spite their dad, doesn’t manage to do it but also tells Dad-voice in their head to gently caress off, thereby asserting agency for possibly the first time.

I’m going to forgive you for not really writing a story this week, because by the title, yeah, fair. This isn’t a bad concept by any means, and I think given more words and more time you could do something cool with this, but otherwise it’s just kind of a placeholder entry. But it’s still far better than rolling in your own poop like your opponent did this week, so you win your brawl! Hooray!

Voodoofly - The Domestique:

Synopsis: Biker is assigned as Team Support the day of the big race, but through a turn of fortune winds up being one of the only ones to finish, thereby saving the day and actually getting their day in the sun.

Man, I was really not on board with your opening; between the jargon and the confusion over who/what ‘they’ was referring to, this was not a strong opening. But you know what, you won me over. This was definitely the one that I liked the most this week, even if it has its flaws. Your word count could have been better spent on emotion and impressions, rather than the actions and mechanical descriptions that you seem to favor, but there’s a solid little kernel here, and goddamnit you actually wrote an ending, so good job.

Chairchucker - One of a Kind:

Synopsis: Artificial human meets local serial killer, realizes said killer is also an artificial human, then kills him and decides to destroy her creators.

This is another one that I think is a really cool idea that didn’t get utilized to its full potential. You imply that MC started walking in sketchy areas because of the strangler, but also that she wasn’t trying to run into him, which makes it all seem kind of pointless? Plus the fact that we know that she was never in danger at all gives it low-to-no stakes. The reveal that the killer was also an artificial human was a cool twist, but I think I would have liked a little more interaction between them (which I recognize would have been very hard to do with 800 words), and also a little more insight into the MC. Her decision at the end of the story to destroy the makers seems really arbitrary as written, even though it’s a dramatic one. If this had a little more oomph, it could have been the winner this week.

Albatrossy_Rodent - , because hellborne space-wasps are people too, drat it!:

Synopsis: Unidentified narrator argues that the president of Earth should allow their own planet to be destroyed, in order to spare the planet of space wasps, Earth's allies.

I had an acquaintance in high school who did model UN, and loved to tell a story about how he once got a (fake) international coalition to support the case for eating babies. That’s what this reminded me of; an weird (and edgy) idea that gets riffed into an extended one-note joke that just exists to display said weird idea. Actually, no, that’s not fair; there’s also the (noise description) joke, but that also goes on too long and doesn’t do much to alleviate the boredom.

If you want to fix this (and I do think that there’s something here, so it’s not a total wash), it needs to be more than A Modest Proposal But About Earth. More action, more emotion, some characters with actual traits and descriptions, some actual stakes that look like they could go either way, you have to give your reader something to hang onto outside of just ‘the ethical thing to do is blow the earth up, lol.’ Or at the very least, show that this was a hard decision. Something.

The man called M - Memoirs of a Shadow:

Synopsis: Some guy did a bunch of shady stuff for king and country, writes to his (possibly estranged?) kid about his job after he dies, there is a dinosaur pregnancy “joke” (which I’m told is your gimmick), and I guess the kid maybe can join in on the shady stuff despite not having any training or knowledge of anything that their dad actually did.

Okay, I have a question, and it's going to come off dickish, but I mean this very seriously: do you think this is a good story? Because it comes off like you weren't trying to write a good story. Whether or not that’s true, of course, is only known to you, but that was my conclusion as your reader.

So, let's talk about what didn't work about this, shall we? Firstly, there are no stakes. It's not even clear that the father is dead at this point, since we're reading this presumably outside of the perspective of the son. I suppose you could make the case that the opening line specified he must be dead, but here's the thing: it doesn't matter. Why does it matter at all that this guy is dead? I have no reason to care about him, his king, or the kingdom itself. Honestly, they all sound like assholes and possibly war criminals with how you’ve described them here.

Your voice and tone here are also super anachronistic; even before the ‘dinosaur pregnancy’ bit (which, honestly, stop -- it has not gotten funnier by dint of repetition) you have some very modern turns of phrase that goes against your backdrop. Unless you meant it to be more modern/scifi? If that’s the case you need to give your reader more hints that this is the case. I suspect, however, you just didn’t think very much about it, which is understandable of a new writer.

Anyway, yeah, there’s no reason for me to care about any of this, it’s not particularly novel or interesting, and your voice/tone/humor doesn’t work at all. I know you’ve been asking for a lot of recommendations within the archives, but I might actually suggest seeking out a different source entirely. What kind of things do you like to read? What kind of stories do you want to write? Go find some published stories that match your interests and read them with a critical eye. What works? What doesn’t work? How does the author communicate information about the story? Reading will make you a better writer, and help you research what’s out there in the genre you’re interested in, and help teach you the basics.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Crits for Week #485 Part 2

derp - two dreams:

Synopsis: Man tries to tell married lady he had a dream about that he had a dream about her, and fails. She tells him that she also had a dream about him. The end.

This is well-written but predictable to the point of being trite. You tried something with the format which I think was meant to indicate urgency or a stream of consciousness, but just made it hard to read. This tactic might have worked in another story, but it didn’t here; I didn’t buy MC’s urgency over this, but maybe it’s just that I’ve read a million “you just gotta tell her how you feel, man!” stories already. Overall: solid prose, kinda spongy and raw premise.

rohan - This May Affect Your Rating:

Synopsis: Space Task-Rabbit employee tricks her way into a job that she isn’t suited for, saves the day using AMERICAN FOOTBALL, BABY WOOOOOO! As a reward, a computer hacks her rating in Galactic Gig Economy App to jump up way higher, and our hero goes home to enjoy the company of her friends eating some brains because she’s a zombie now oh no.

Every time I hear or read the phrase “old Earth custom” I want to jump through a plate glass window. Okay, not really, but I do roll my eyes at it, which is JUST AS BAD.

I really feel like your downfall here was trying to incorporate your football position too much/specifically, and it took what was honestly a cool setup and made me eyeball the windows for jumpability. Like, this really could have done without the whole HEY LOOK IT’S FOOTBALL! GET IT? GET IT??? bit, and just had your MC do all her intercepting and tackling without calling it out as such. It would have made for a much stronger piece, and could even have managed to win your brawl.

Also also I really hate the “oho but she did not in fact escape unscathed” twist at the end; it’s cliche and it’s a lazy way to wrap up a piece. Don’t do that plz, k thx bye.

Thranguy - Making Ends Meet:

Synopsis: Big Beefy Dude (BBD) is at a drug deal holding a briefcase full of money when some people come up and taze him and some other people there for some reason. BBD is big, BIG Beefy, however, and he shakes off the zapping and runs into the zappy people before they can shoot him. Why didn’t they shoot him to begin with? No one knows.

Super competently written, solid character voice, funny parts that actually work, and entirely missing its second half. I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know, though, so I’ll leave it there.

Carl Killer Miller - Barricade:

Synopsis: Son, an alcoholic, is having a late-night staring session with a bottle of vanilla extract when Dad comes into the kitchen and confronts him. Dad and Son talk, Dad gives Son some alcohol to stop the DTs, and they have a heart-to-heart about Son’s recovery (or lack thereof). Dad asks Son if he can get his life together, and then the story stops.

I guess maybe you were going for a Lady or the Tiger ending here, where there’s no actual answer to what happens, maybe because you were implying that the answer he gives to the question is immaterial, since he’ll just say whatever he needs to and then relapse, or maybe because you ran out of words. If it was the former, I think you need to do more to get that across, since it could actually work if you do it right. However, I strongly suspect it was the latter and my brain has just been permanently broken by AP Lit class.

Anyway, yeah. This was probably the best written piece this week, but it had no ending. If it was a longer wordcount week - even 1k - I think you would have had the words you needed to win, but as it was you blew too many words on your (good) setup, and couldn’t manage the landing.

Captain_Indigo - Making the Cut:

Synopsis: Weirdly Normal Post-Apocalyptic Grifter scams two different tribes of post-humans, tricking each of them into thinking that he is an integral part of the trade agreement between them. There is a car ride and some exposition, and then it turns out the Armageddon Wizards have figured out his grift and have come to gently caress up his poo poo, at which point the story stops.

Ugh, I was so disappointed by this one. I really enjoyed your setup and the world you built, but then it all went absolutely nowhere. Reveals are not the same thing as endings! Also, why was Djone mostly a normal dude and Cygarax is like an orc or something. Did the apocalypse only turn some people into barbarians and sorcerers, and people like Djone got screwed by the RNG?

One of my cojudges pointed out that most of this is just an extended car ride and yeah, they’re totally right. I was on board with that when it seemed like it was building up to some cool interactions, but nope, it was just more car ride and then some “ oh no! THE END.”

I do think that this has a good idea at its core, and I like your characters and the ideas, but I needed to see a little more for this to be in “good” territory and not in “ehhh” territory.

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

help i’m being pulled in to orb it

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

crabrock posted:

you have made demands of the orb, and the orb of prophecy answers back.

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 06:59 on Jan 1, 2022


Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Mistaken Orb-dentity
75 words

Once long ago in the land of polyhedra, there were two orbs who were the best of friends. They were so close, in fact, that they called themselves brothers. One day, one of these two orbs was walking through his neighborhood, when he saw his friend standing in his neighbor Roy's yard.

"Oh wait," he said, realizing his mistake. "That's not my orb bro, it's Roy Orb's son!"

something something completely wrapped up in clingfilm

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