Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
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 flash,

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

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 with Traitor as per the RNG. Also :toxx:

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


Traitor
Olivia Rodrigo

Farewell, Diana
(953 words)

2016
Happy birthday, my jewel, my precious pumpkin! I will be seeing you after work to celebrate, but first I want to thank you for this beautiful year! I am looking forward to many, many more!
Love,

2017
Congratulations on another tour around the sun, my cheery capybara! It is a tragedy that I won’t see you today, but we will have a magical weekend, promise. Enjoy your gift and don’t forget to bring it to our celebration!
Love,

2019
Happy birthday, my dear. I know things didn’t turn out the way we both wanted. Our love was real, but we were living through a time when we couldn’t help but feed each other’s sorrows. I was always true to you, but I had to find my happiness without your enchanting presence. My life has been good and I wish you joy, you will always be dear to me. Hope you have a great day!
Don’t be a stranger,

2022
Hey, happy birthday! How’s it going? It’s been a minute, are you alright? Everyone in your family made it through the epidemic? We’ve been well here, everyone’s safe.
I know this is kind of awkward, Sabrina and I are getting married and I’d like you to be there. It is fine if you can’t or won’t go, but know that you are very important to me and it would be very special if you could make it.
Best regards,

2027
Thanks for having us for your birthday party! Sab really liked you and it was great to get in touch again. Hope we can have some more get-togethers in the near future!
Thanks again,

2035
Happy birthday, my dear friend! Hope everything works out in your new job!
Miss you,

2048
Happy birthday, Jen.

2069
When we are young we barely feel our bodies, we are pure soul. I shared that beautiful part of life with you and I am thankful for those memories. You used to say that all pain is but temporary and that beyond all suffering there is a better life. You were right, I still remember your intensity. I am profoundly aware of my own body, every aching joint, every poorly healed wound, the rasp in my lungs, the prosthetic reinforcements in my legs. I am thankful for these in the same way I am thankful for your memory. All these have made me more of myself, have made me more body and soul, my entire life has been a road to becoming the real me. I changed and yet I didn’t, it is like that thing with uncovering the statues from marble, the world and the people that touched me chiseled me into reality. With everything scientists have made up I still have a lot of life ahead of me, unlike you and despite your best efforts.

You were a dear hammer on the surface of my life. We were intimate for only a few years, but they mattered, you mattered and you became a meaningful presence in my life once the ashes of our romance darkened, my most reliable confident in your hostile way. It took you a long time to accept that our end was necessary for both our sakes, as wonderful as our early years were, we only reaped misery in our final months. I knew the kind of life depressed couples are headed to and I didn’t want that for either of us. You called me a traitor for how quickly I moved on, but I needed to do it, to live, the same way you should have and eventually did, when you accepted the simple truth of our end. Life’s too beautiful to end with a heartsore, there’s always a brighter future beyond the sorrows and you’ve found the brightest of anyone I’ve ever met, or at least the most memorable.

It is funny how most of our meetings after that moment were by happenstance, we’d bump into each other and talk a bit on the train or at a café while waiting for other people, our conversations were always cut short and we often continued them through letters, such a quaint connection. You were always a great communicator, better than me that’s for sure, and there was always a cruel nostalgia in your eyes. You were never afraid or unable to hurt us or the entire world if you felt like it, your enlightenment came from a profound masochist streak which you were often generous with. I grew, I became, a lot from your sporadic and intense friendship, only my children and Sabrina had a greater effect on my life, or so I would like to believe.

We endured so much in this beautiful hosed up world, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The planet and our cities are just like us, becoming a truer version of themselves with every disaster and every effort to rebuild, regrow and survive. Maybe the world too was once made of pure soul, but billions of years have made it into something irrevocably material, calloused into undeniable reality. I know history won’t end with you, we are survivors, I am a survivor, something beautiful will come from this absolute dark sky you have given us, this night with no distraction from the beauty of stars. No one who survives this age will ever forget your name, same as me, but no one will remember you the way I do, no one will understand your actions the way I do. By blowing up the moon you have done for humanity what you did for my life, a challenge, a declaration of harsh love, a call to become a truer version of ourselves.

Happy birthday, my love.

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, give me the flash.

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


Flash Rule: I Wish You a Successful Hunt

Fealty
1000 words

I command the dirt and blood away from me and survey the ruin of our fall. The beetle that had carried us is scattered in three parts, its thorax and head still married in a long drawn moan. The beast’s desperate landing was enough to spare me an exile to the Dreaming, but the same could not be said of my human cohorts. Such fragile things.

I look to the sky. The night dances to the drums and lights of imperial artillery, the fiddle of our swarms, the choir of the dying and the shouts of the maestros of this carnage, it is beautiful. I enjoy the moment. Do not interrupt me. I kick at an inconvenience reaching onto my foot.

One of the cohorts survived. Pale, red-headed. No, auburn, that’s blood. I focus on them, male, fit as all soldiers should be, superficial wounds, he misses someone who hurt him, he’s angry, not scared, good. With a gesture I bid him to stand, I remember him of his strength, feed his anger at the Empire of Dis and his broken heart. I recall his name, Dietrich of the Smiling Lord, he’s one of mine.

“Rise Dietrich” I initiate our verbal communication “You are a survivor, death has chosen you to avenge the fallen.” I gesture to the dead, our beetle is still moaning, I cannot allow it to depart yet. “Survey your weapons and be alert.”

He thanks me for the honor and does as I command. I approach the beetle and weave its wounds, slow its metabolism so it will not pass before its time. After a few hours the night becomes silent apart from the echoes of ghosts. I notice there is admirable determination in my cohort’s soul. I draw my spear of branch and bone, it is time, I recall the lines and strike the beetle where its pain converges, invoking a loud cry that carries what remains of its life.

Dietrich asks me what I am doing, such beautiful insubordination, I will know him better if he survives.

“I am summoning our enemies. They think themselves hunters, we will show them what that truly means. Ready your steel, trust in my power.”

Why did I answer?

----------------------------

After the battle we loot the dead, I collect their ears while Dietrich explores their weapons. They were better equipped than they were trained, magnetic rifles, automatic crossbows, enchanted and iron-tipped bolts. All handles covered in iron. Their officer carried a cold iron dagger which I instructed Dietrich to throw away, he could avail himself of their other weapons. Their rifles were superior to ours and their ammo would be much more available as we hunted our way back home.

It is almost dawn, I find a hill with an overlook and bid the roots to carry us to it. From that position we can see endless scarred hills, the dance of a few remaining skirmishes and the distant lights of Fort Wail, the actual prize of our failed offensive. Next time. Dietrich is too tense to rest, so I lie down to dream and command him to practice with his new rifle.

From within my dream I visit Dietrich’s memories and thoughts. He did not throw away the cold iron dagger, it glows as a symbol of power against the Fair Folk he has always resented, a resentment that wears my beautiful face. Yet he longs for Dis’ defeat and a return home to a woman who will never take him again in her life, Nola, another of mine, I visit her and see she’s fornicating with her new man, a man she loves as she never loved Dietrich. I consider offering her return as a prize to this diligent soldier, a prize he will cherish, a prize that will rot both their hearts. I plant a dream in her mind to bloom when she collapses, loveworn. It is difficult to focus on her from this distance, so I return to Dietrich, my only subject for hundreds of leagues.

Dietrich is good with the rifle. I focus on his life, see what moulded him. He was one of the many children that were gifted to me two decades ago. The Knight of Crosses and the Whisper of Drought came from that offering, but Dietrich was too uncreative, too practical, to be made into one of us, he and the rest of the children were placed under my steward and trained into cohorts. Barely socialized except through discipline and the yearly fairs when they could mingle with my civilian subjects. I can see now where his love comes from, her charm and curiosity, his awkward physicality. He idealized her as an escape, as the only soft thing in a harsh world, he yearns for the undisciplined life, he yearns for freedom from me. He adores and hates me, I see no fear.

So that’s why. I am satisfied.

I move on, I gently caress the ears in my claws and dream of everything they have ever heard.

----------------------------

It takes us almost a full moon to return to Falkenstein, the mood in the fortress is grim at first, but I quickly make it jubilant with tales of our wild hunt. Some of my peers judge me for praising a mortal, but Dietrich has earned it. He has grown in stature and soul during our adventure. Three times he considered striking me with the cold iron dagger, but he threw it away one day before our glorious return. At night I approach him.

“You are granted leave, Nola will be waiting for you.” he knows it is true “Return upon my summons.”

“Thank you, Lord.” he says, but he thinks and hopes much more, he’s thankful for my cruelty.

I will miss his company, I will be visiting his dreams to watch his love rot. In two years Nola will be miserable enough to take her own life and then everything soft within him will die, he will be all mine.

ZearothK fucked around with this message at 22:12 on Jun 19, 2021

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!

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




Like the Lion Eats the Antilope
1198 words

I don’t think Heaven is real, Mark.

I need to get you out of the Templars.

Calm down! Chill! We’re off the grid, man, that’s why we’re meeting in this derelict subway, all the infrastructure here has been abandoned, no one comes here except for the desperate and stupid. Yeah, like me, we really haven’t seen each other in a while, right? The confession chip? Don’t worry, remember that Bolivian Mathemagician? She taught me a trick to fill our logs with white noise, the Watchers won’t know a thing when you get back, if you get back. Swear, this conversation is dogma safe as long as you don’t confess, trust me, you know I am good with this poo poo.

Yeah, yeah, I know. We took the free trial of Heaven together, remember? That’s how far we go, it is why I can trust you with this. I know what it was like, pure innefable loving bliss that fried my entire pleasure center, there is not a single part of me that can forget it, man, I even cenobyted my body to the Cyberpapacy for a few years of postlife server time in paradise. Everyone wants that time, so everyone is taking vows, buying indulgences or microblogging penance and it is all a friggin’ lie.

We’re safe here, dumbass, just shut up and listen, then I am going to show you something.

You’ve got too much time logged on your soul. I am telling you, the Circles of Enlightenment, Half-Life 3? None of those are real, no matter how much they feel like it. They are just distracting you from the world, the actual world, you know, this flesh and blood thing? This hand that just pinched your nose? That fossified dog in the gutter? This is real, I think… I think this is the only thing that’s real. Yeah, worldly poo poo is sinful, but maybe that’s not a bad thing, maybe sinful is just another word for real?

I am serious. Yeah, I am going to turn on this jammer before you do confession. You’re my best friend, I’m trusting you with this, remember when I disappeared a few years back? I was in the excommunication zone. You see a lot of crazy stuff in abandoned cities, you spend so much time logged out that the way you see permanently changes, your soul changes, everything about you changes. Seriously, you gotta do it, just log off, I mean it, best thing you can do. I know it is a lot to take in, but hear me out. Craziest thing I’ve seen? loving libraries man, they are full of books and magazines and other arcane stuff, yeah, heretical, whatever, no one’s listening. That dude? Don’t worry, he goes to that corner to cry every day on the clock, it is fine. The books, they hurt your eyes to read and it is in a super weird ancient script, but it is slow enough that you can actually learn stuff and the things I’ve read, you have no idea. The world was so different, I found these things called Reader’s Digest, you know, at first I thought they were edibles like the stuff rich people put in their mouths? Yeah, the rich are weird like that, they have meals and then pay gluttony indulgences instead of having a weekly nutrition jab like the rest of us. hosed up, but I’ve always been curious about that stuff.

Anyways, turns out Reader’s Digests were not digestible, weird taste, made me kind of sick, don’t recommend it, they had a bunch of stuff about the pre-Rapture and that was just insane, but most importantly, right beside them I found these pamphlets with the real name of God.

I kid you loving not.

Jenovan.

That’s the name.

They had witnesses, that’s how you know it’s real.

And you know what, they wrote about False Religion and that’s Cyberpapacy. Here, take one, I’ve got others. Avignon is powerful now, but it is going to get cut down by the real religion someday and we’ve gotta get out of it. Who knows what Judgement is going to do to everyone, but I don’t want to be in that choir when it happens and I don’t want you to be there either, I can’t let that happen to you, man. Read this stuff and log off.

I know, I know. Don’t pray, that’s just reflex, that’s how they stay in your head, all those catchy jingley hymns of theirs have hooks there just like the echoes of Paradise, the longer you stay off the cities the easier it will be to ignore them. Here, focus on me, look at my eyes, smell the air, feel the ground, everything worldly, all real, just, here, lemme give you a hug. Nah, don’t pray for my soul, pray for -



Mark held his friend through his death throes in a final loving hug. The Templar wished he could have granted a more merciful rest, but the Egregor would want minimal damage to the heretic’s nervous system. Augmented arms easily crushed through muscle, bone and plating to reach the heart Mark now held in his hand. The man’s words made him Excommunicato, so the devout could not remember his name, yet Mark could not avoid regarding this apostate as a friend. He held on for too long and then regarded the corpse’s pained face, he gently closed its eyes, kissed its forehead and offered final prayers. He recalled the Free Trial of Heaven they shared as children and felt sorrow that they would not meet again in that holy place.

In swift practiced movements Mark retrieved his tools and removed his friend’s head and spinal cord, placing them in a stasis field that fit comfortably in his backpack. He crushed the jammer between two fingers and released a gray swarm to analyse and recycle the rest of the corpse. As the nanites worked he wiped the real blood off his hands and watched the man crying in the corner, still completely oblivious to these events, he wondered what sins had brought so much despair. The Templar considered collecting confession, but it was not his place or time to do so, instead he picked up all that the nanites left of his friend: a data slate the size of a nail and a cube of fertilizer that easily fit in his grasp.

He prayed mission complete and departed.

✝✝

“El truque más viejo aún funciona!” Maria declared enthusiastically as their makeshift command center received the signal that they now had their active uplink in the Hell Network reserved for the Excommunicated. She and the others were surrounded by salvaged electronic warfare hardware and pre-rapture religious tracts, it was all they needed to change the world or at least give the Cyberpapacy a bloody nose. They knew that once they activated their infiltrator it would take the Swiss Guard only a few minutes to arrive and execute all of them, yet this was the happiest moment of their lives.

Maria’s finger hovered over the “Amem” key theatrically before committing with joy and conviction. A simple text message appeared on the screen.

ANTIPOPE ONLINE

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 as a catastrophe.

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, gimme a bird. Also :toxx: since I missed last week.

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


Flashrule: https://twitter.com/AurasBirds/status/1409559215505653760

Ops, I did it Again
1199 words

Everaldo frowned, he was bored.

The rest of the crew was planetside for the peace summit and he was left with the janitorial duties of the Cagliostra, their ancient Warship. Not that there was much to do, there were a lot of tiny stupid little drones doing maintenance bullshit and as long as none of them malfunctioned (they never did in his five years of service) he was in the clear to be bored out of his mind. The ship was large, so at least his patrol was a decent walk, the same patrol he had done for most of his days in the last half a decade.

He sighed, it had been two weeks with no one to talk to, he could do with a chat with PAR at this point, as frustrating and as dangerous as the shipboard AI was, it was company. Everaldo waited until his maintenance tour was complete and retired to the lounge area. The captain - chemically castrated and asexual - decided to place that area under mood ambience as a joke and no one could override that command. The incense and smooth jazz did nothing for Everaldo or anyone in the crew at this point, but the sofas were nice. He put in a request for an objective time fork of PAR at his location.

“What’s up, partner!” the holographic representation squawked as it manifested. A hard light construct that resembled an Earth parrot dunked into neon. The original owner of the ship styled herself after movie pirates and so chose the colourful bird for the ship’s avatar. PAR clicked its tongue.

“Hey, PAR.” Everaldo found the sound of his own voice uncomfortable and was at a loss for words.

PAR was then at his shoulder “We need a smile! What’s up, partner?”, it whistled annoyingly. “Bored! Left behind again!”

Everaldo sighed, PAR was right as usual. What the hell, he gestured for one of the stupid drones to bring him a drink.

“Me too! Always here when they play at-mos-sphere! We could solve the peace summit faster than them, the two of us!” Everaldo was suddenly at attention with this proposal, this could be interesting, also terrible. He tried to remember his training for this kind of situation, to handle AIs with initiative. Only thing he could recall was the handsome guy who helped him pass certification, he had a lot of boundaries.

“Right, let’s do it.” Everaldo agreed, PAR moved to the coffee table in front of him and gazed at him with intelligent glowing eyes “But only in theory, like a game.”, the parrot clicked its tongue in approval.

“A wargame! We could shoot the planet!” the AI declared “Our weapons bring peace! Just like the brochure!”

“No, no, no!” Everaldo remembered how PAR loved using any of the too many weapons outfitted in the Cagliostra. The original captain had not only been a pirate in aesthetics.

“Why not?” the intensity of the parrot’s mirthful stare bothered him “Explain.”

The janitor struggled for an argument, then summoned a copy of their briefing. PAR instructed him to read through it and summarise. Everaldo was aware that the AI was not only a ship administrator but also an all-theater command intelligence. It was either playing or genuinely interested in his point of view, or both. The drink arrived and like most synthetic cocteaus tasted like someone’s particularly unloved piss. At least it kept the crew alert, also made them instantly drunk.

As far as Everaldo could understand and explain, the planet below them was Procyon-2, or Terre Nouveau as the natives called it. Settled centuries ago, lost contact with humanity, split into different communities that became different civilizations structured around rule by highest functioning sociopath. Sporadic and intense warfare was common over resources, theological differences and propaganda. The locals lost (or never had?) the knowledge for spaceflight but maintained nuclear weapons, so the situation was volatile. The Cagliostra and her crew were there to coordinate a peace summit and disarmament so the planet could be integrated into the galactic community. They chose Mont Gris as the site to negotiate the accords, as it was the place the first colony ships landed and was considered holy for most Nouveaus, it was also the site of and reason for some of the greatest atrocities in local history. The mountain had a shape that somewhat resembled a frowning face and was deified in their mythologies as the manifestation of the planet’s will. Outlook was pessimistic, as the most relevant native leaders were uninterested in sharing the world with their peers. What they were into were private meetings with the Cagliostra’s representatives to negotiate for weapons. At least the catering was good, according to the field reports. Everaldo hoped his colleagues would remember him and bring some of that cheese-bread and wine back to the ship. He shared this with PAR, who said they wouldn’t because they don’t respect him. drat.

The man was silent, until PAR chirped “Might makes right! Yes?”

“Uh?”

“This world! Might makes right! That’s their rule! Yes?” PAR clicked.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Thanks!” and then PAR’s hard light construct disappeared. The lights faded for a bit and the entire ship hummed and vibrated. Everaldo stood up, completely sober. He pulled up the command log and then began to curse and pace, there was one new message.

>CPL EVERALDO SILVA E SILVA, ACTING CAPTAIN, VERBALLY AUTHORIZED USE OF WEAPONS

A cheery song began to blast from every panel, strong drum and bass lines, something about a fire out of control and burning a city. Clearly ancient, the volume was overwhelming, Everaldo couldn’t hear his own thoughts over it and the humming of the Cagliostra’s weapons discharging. Did PAR just melt all those beautiful idiots at the summit? He passed out between the physical stress and the realization of how badly he had hosed up.

Everaldo woke up to one of the drones injecting space amphetamines into his arm, he checked the time, out for three hours. His personal message log was full of messages from the captain and crew that he immediately knew he would never open. His comms was ringing, the captain, it was the 31st call. He accepted it with regret and discovered that he had an intense headache.

“You imbecile! I’d throw you out of the airlock if this hadn’t solved the summit!” the captain’s holographic image carried an angry and terrifying smile, there was a lot of dust around them “It worked, but don’t pull that without a warning!”

As it turned out, the Cagliostra’s demonstration of power was enough to convince every single nation in Terre Nouveau to decommission their WoMDs, demobilize and sign multilateral peace and trade agreements. The crew would stay planetside to hammer out the details and yes, they would be bringing up a feast of local delicacies for Everaldo, with the caveat that he would be fired at the end of this tour. The call ended.

“Wait, what did PAR shoot at?” he wondered out loud and the AI immediately sent him an image of the defaced Mont Gris. Its frown had been turned into a smile by the barrage.

And so had Everaldo’s.

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, gimme a word.

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


Flash: FASHION

To Go
1744 words

The first thing I noticed about him was the jacket, which is impressive given he was crashing through the wall on a tricked out motorcycle and was shooting an assault rifle at something off on the street which is clearly not an easy thing to do with only two arms. Really cool jacket though. Onyx black, had to be tailor made given how well it gripped his wide chest and strong arms, subtle texture. The man turned the motorcycle around, exposing an inlaid brass logo of two hands holding a triangle by its sides in the back of the jacket. He fired another burst off at the street and then removed his helmet, shook his head with a hair that flowed like a river and flashed a 100% certified toothpaste commercial smile.

“I’ll have the Eggchicken combo.” he spoke to me in a practiced gruff voice “To go.”

“That will be twelve-ninety-nine.” I replied robotically. Looking around, I was the only one in our fast-food who didn’t run and hide at the man’s dramatic entrance. Bloody unprofessional wankers, I had to assemble it myself.

“Cash.” he replied and placed a twenty on the counter “Keep the change, lad.”

I mumbled a very lame “thanks”. We had an Eggchicken sandwich ready, so all I had was to fetch the trash that passed for food here and place it in neat packages. As I went about this Work I heard him say “And this is to pay for the damages.”, when I came back with his food there were two wads of cash on the counter, looked like all hundreds. He picked up the bag, returned to his motorcycle, gave me a thumbs up and left. I looked at the money left for the damages and pocketed it, that should cover a few months’ rent.

“Who the hell was that?” Carl from the frier pit asked me as he manifested from his hiding place.

“My next boyfriend.”

-----

The police never showed up to ask about the night’s events, which was strange, but also meant I was free to do my own search for the charming biker. For the next few days I trolled through social networks, most wanted lists and my own normal extended social circle to no effect. He was likely from out of town, but I wasn’t going to let that deter me. I decided to look for his jacket, also to no initial effect, until I had the idea to make a drawing of the logo of what I presumed was the fashion label and then search for it.

Also nothing, not even near guesses or suggestions. My internet stopped working for a few minutes and I felt like ants were crawling up my nose for a second or two. I recognized the feeling. This was occult underground stuff.

You can never truly quit, can you?

-----

Thankfully my contacts hadn’t all died, nor were all of them really pissed off at me, I could still navigate that community of extremely powerful and insane losers. Kind of. Vin agreed to meet me under the bridge just like old times. She hadn’t aged a day, which is not exactly a feat for someone cosplaying a bag lady.

“James, just quit.” she said after I told my story, her voice was young and smooth, it really didn’t fit her wrinkly skin or clothes, but it was all part of the persona “You got out, stay out.”

“Okay, I’ll forget the guy, but where could I get a jacket like that?” I was a terrible liar, she just rolled her eyes “Right, let’s have a bet, like old times.” I could tell she liked the nostalgia, her mind was always in the past, any past, anywhere but here or worrying about the future.

“Like old times.”

“See that fellow up top? The one who’s clearly thinking about jumping off the bridge? If he resists you tell me about the jacket. If he jumps I guess you will do your thing and I’ll bother someone else with this, maybe Trent or Moira.”

We always did this when we hung out back in the day, bet on the bridge suicides. Terrible way to spend an evening, but the company was good and Vin did need to collect body parts for her job. She retrieved some unlabelled wine from her cart and passed it to me as we sat and watched and I did my little magic. I Worked a discreet incantation of hope under my sleeve for the occasion. It hurt to do it and it would leave a scar, but you can’t really have real hope without some pain.

The man howled cathartically and turned back. Not tonight.

“You cheated.” Vin said with a smile that declared she didn’t mind. This was new. I guess my surprise showed, because she added “I am tired.”

Aren’t we all?

She told me about the Label.

-----

My next step was finding the Label’s client list or maybe their agents, depending on what kind of favor my paramour owed them. I figured the nice thing would be to say “hi”, so I arranged to meet one of their Prospectors at an expensive downtown restaurant. I could tell who I was supposed to talk to as soon as I entered the place, tall man, form fitting power suit, neutral but perceptive expression, the kind that doesn’t have any tells during poker, a discrete pin with the Label’s logo on his chest. I walked directly to him while ignoring the poor underpaid receptionist, who gave up on stopping me at a single patient gesture from the man.

He didn’t want to talk business at first. “Call me Andrew. We speak when the food arrives.” he talked in a deliberate way and suggested something in French for me, so I asked for another French thing that sounded the same to my uncivilized ears. He was taking my measure, whatever, that just gave my spiders some extra time to do their Work. I kept so much junk from back in the day.

He offered no small talk, but the food came quickly, it tasted French. Vin’s unlabelled wine was better than what we had on the table, but it’s not like I was paying for this. Our conversation lasted exactly as long as the meal. Andrew was very convincing, but I was very disagreeable and I already knew the Label’s pitch. When he picked up that I was wasting his time he began to eat his bullshit faster and so did I. My spiders had done their part, they would leave me an astral thread to follow later. We shook hands, he expressed his disappointment, I smiled.

As I waited at the station for my train I heard the hum of a familiar motorcycle. I turned and recognized my paramour-to-be mocking the rules of the road by riding up the stairs. I smiled at him, an action he appreciated with a knockout blow to my head.

-----

I came to in a bright room filled with mirrors, mannequins, fine multicolored fabrics and a tailor’s tools. A stylish older woman with a pissed off expression was taking my measures, she noticed my open eyes and decided it was not worth paying attention to, I couldn’t move my body, I couldn’t feel my body, I couldn’t tell how much time had passed. Either an eternity or a brief moment, at the end of it she finished her work and said something to the dashing biker in what sounded like German. He tied me up in what felt like the wrong context for my weekend plans.

Gradually I could feel my body again. The good news: the chair I was in was amazingly comfortable. The bad news: my wrists and ankles were tied, my trinkets and curios were all gone or out of my reach. It was time to study the situation and improvise.

The grumpy tailor was working swiftly with black and white fabrics, the dashing biker was at the corner looking cool, he flashed me a supportive smile when he saw me looking. I wondered what the woman was making for me. If what Vin said was true, whatever you wear from the Label becomes you, so the biker only became that cool and badass because he was dressed to be cool and badass, which didn’t quite inspire me with that much hope when the time came to get him out of those clothes. At least the tailor did not appear to be making a gimp suit for me.

Not the worst trouble I’ve gotten into over a random crush, but definitely top five material.

I watched the tailor while discreetly trying to dislodge myself from the binding. The latter effort was futile. The former brought me horror, a typical boring office suit, that’s what she was making for me. I wouldn’t even fight against it if she was making a cool biker jacket, but come on.

And that’s when Andrew walked in with a folder, a spiteful gaze in my direction and a pocketful of my pet astral spiders. I began to sing the Ramones version of Spider-Man and all hell broke loose as the arachnids entered the material and ran all over the room. Andrew slipped and hit his head on a sewing machine with a neat and convenient crack, but like in a dignified way. As for the biker, it turns out arachnophobia trumps magically induced badassery, he removed his jacket to get rid of the spiders that were climbing all over him and then jumped off the window.

The tailor was not amused, she dropped her Work and ignored the spiders as she walked purposefully in my direction, a huge sharp scissor in her right hand.

“Hey, where did you get this chair?” I asked, stalling for time and a better plan, the spiders retreated to the astral when I stopped singing. The question did make her pause in confusion “It is really comfy.” I explained and quickly gestured to the spiders, a simple Work. She responded in German and raised her arm to stab me.

I began to sing again, the scissor came straight at my throat and then stopped as the spiders manifested again, their web enveloping the tailor’s throat and hanging her from the ceiling.

It took me about two hours to break free and I had killed my crush, but hey, I got a cool badass jacket out of it.

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. Give me a song from a movie that does no apologia for monarchy and has no romance whatsoever.

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 for the birthday party, will budget the snacks in due time.

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


Requesting some webcomic flavored pizza from Antivehicular!

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


CAKE, someone's birthday (+600)

Pick a card, any card. Use it in your story. (+100)

You must have a happy ending (+100)

Antivehicular chooses a comic (+300)


Drowning
741 words

Maybe drowning is not so bad after all.

When you’re in the Desert any droplet feels like nectar. I found myself there after the dragon exiled me. Her verdict was that I did not deserve to live, nor was I worthy of death’s release. My punishment would be immortality and a curse to forever wander the Desert, dreamless. The landscape didn’t offer anything to the eyes, just an empty horizon to fill with regrets, nowhere to retreat to except within. The sand gleamed with a sickening intensity that stole the stars, I had no shadow to make me company. I walked towards what I felt was a direction, aware that it would become a circle.

I relieved the trauma of my trial and the years of failure and devotion to the dragon that preceded it. They were the only memories that I could recall in my self loathing. I grew thirsty and hungry and tired and yet did not die, my body and mind wasted away and yet I did not die. Months? Years? Time lost all meaning. I wished I could drown. Eventually that was all I could think of, an ocean filling and erasing me. I continued to walk, it was not even perseverance at that point, just habit. The Desert stayed the same.

Eventually I arrived at a simple heresy. What if the dragon was wrong? Something unravelled and later that night it began to rain. It was not enough to drown me, it wasn’t enough to give me hope or relieve the thirst that burned my all, but it was enough to make me feel different and to think of something different. I stopped walking for the first time since my trial and sat down, letting my hands feel the sand with the curiosity of a child. They were soft and they were real unlike the condemnations my mind kept throwing at me.

I laid down and closed my eyes. Some time passed as the sands flowed around me, burying me. An object (a small sheet?) dug its way between my fingers, but I was enjoying the ground’s embrace far too much to give it immediate attention. I knew it was alright, there was time and in that time the sand eventually unburied me. An eon, a minute, there was no difference anymore, I stood up and felt the object, a card with a mirror for a face and a blacker than black black on its back. I saw the Desert in the mirror, but nothing of me. I could not remember my face. It was a relief. I held onto the card and wondered what I could remember.

The cookie jar for one, such a sweet memory. I spent so many nights looking at it wistfully as a child. I’d grow and I’d reach it and I’d live the happiest day of my life and then it would migrate somewhere out of my reach, for a time. I’d always get to it eventually and as fleeting as our meeting was, it was always worth it. It was wrong for my grandmother, it was right for me.

What I did was wrong for the dragon, it was right for me. Neither the dragon nor I had the right to turn my love into this.

I could feel another lock of my prison breaking, I revisited the memories of my childhood, recognized me in them, I walked and danced and played in the desert and I rebuilt that version of myself, I looked at the card and saw the gap-toothed child smiling through a bloody nose, surrounded by family and friends. I had been so loved, I was still loved. The dragon was wrong, I deserved to live and I would.

I found a door in the Desert and opened it.

I woke up from the coma a week before my birthday. Maybe I would never walk again, maybe I could never think like a normal person again, but I was alive and loved and I accepted that was enough. The scar would be there forever, but no one was angry at me for what I had tried to do to myself, they were just glad I was there, still around, and so was I. When the day came everyone was there, everyone but the dragon, but it was fine, I had a new life to live and maybe I could be less melodramatic about it this time.

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, I'll take the photo.

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.

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


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

And I’ll be Fine
1092 words

“I am Eilie, and I am here to kill the world.” she declared with a bit more pomp than she intended, eventually she would get it just right, but it wasn’t this time.

The Gate emitted amused waves of curiosity and replied “The world is scheduled to be killed tomorrow.”

Eilie didn’t like that, that much was evident on her astral manifestation, this was a definite first “Uh. My ride already left, can't we anticipate it?”, the Gate’s sardonic aura answered her question before she completed it. “What am I even going to do until then?” she wasn’t quite sure how to move time forward in this plane.

“You could enter the world and just let time flow through you. Hang out, you know? Choose a nice spot to do it, the Kill.”

---

“I am Eilie, and I am here to kill the world.” she declared more casually than she intended. The people around the campfire just stared at her. Their expressions carried confusion and concern. Eilie didn’t get the confusion, all living things could understand her words and she was pretty clear. She didn’t get the concern either, it was directed at her and her appearance should have been that of a healthy member of the observer’s species. The three humans around the campfire looked at each other, then at her. The praying mantis expressed (“Right on!”) with enthusiasm.

“That’s correct, little one. Could you tell me of a good place to do it?”

“Hey.” (“The waterfall nearby! It is the biggest in the whole world!”) one of the humans spoke “Eilie, you said? Are you okay?” the biped approached her with caution.

Eilie quickly verified the mantis’ information “It is not, my friend, but I can tell it carries importance to you.” then she turned to the humans “I am ‘okay’, I am merely early.”

(“Yes, I killed my last mate there, he was so handsome.”) One of the other humans snorted and started laughing “My god, what drugs are you on, woman?”, the atmosphere amongst his pack grew lighter.

“It is always good to kill what we love, I am glad life has granted you such a sweet memory.” the atmosphere amongst the human pack grew darker, they all backed away “I am not on drugs, I am on reality.” they seemed unconvinced.

“Guys, I think she really needs help.” the first human to address her spoke (“Thanks, I am glad too! He gave me many young ones.”), again that baseless concern.

“I do require aid to move through linear time and I am seeking a good place to start the kill.” one of the humans, the snorting one, ran away, the silent one froze. Eilie could tell the first speaker was really worried now “You and your surviving young will have the honor of witnessing the greatest event in this world since its creation.”

The protagonist amongst the humans cursed at the coward of her pack, (“Sounds awesome! When is it?”) and then turned back to the Executioner. “Look, Eilie, why don’t you sit?” then she directed her frustration towards her companion, “She’s not armed, Brandon, get some water, I think she’s on a really bad trip, a really really really bad trip.” Eilie noted the silent one was obedient, the leader looked at her and attempted to express calm “I am Hellen, just have a seat and focus on your breathing.”

“It should be tomorrow.” She experimented with sitting in her human form in a similar way to how she saw the humans doing around their campfire when she arrived, it felt kind of awkward “This is a strange way to pass the time, but I thank you for your effort. This is a work trip for me, but there are worlds where it would be considered a bad trip.” Eilie considered the woman’s last suggestion “You shouldn’t be concerned about my biology, there is none.”

Hellen’s eyes widened and she took a deeply patient breath (“Oooh, when the sun comes?”), Brandon handed her a transparent bottle filled with water, which she then handed to Eilie, who had to read through a large ephemeral volume of human history to understand its purpose and means of use. It took her a quarter of a femtosecond. The woman was relieved when she expertly opened the bottle and drank it in the human way.

“No, tomorrow, my friend. Time means something very different for me.”

“What is it about tomorrow?” Hellen asked, intently watching Eilie. (“Ah, okay, I will just wait then.”)

“That is when I will kill the world, I arrived early and my ride to work could not both deliver and retrieve me on the same day.” she felt something that her human form expressed as a sigh “Your patience becomes you.”

(“Thanks!”) “Yeah, I know the type.” Hellen said and looked towards the man “Anything is an inconvenience when you don’t want to do it.”

“Hey!” Brandon found his ability to talk, this time in protest “Come on, just let it go.”

“You are welcome.” Eilie considered the mantis and the seed of a plan emerged “Hellen, you and Brandon have little time to resolve your issues, I recommend you do so instead of projecting your problems onto me.” She had learned a lot about humans while figuring out how to use that water bottle “I appreciate your empathy and concern for my well being, it is laudable. I cannot reciprocate, but I can assure you that I am well and I invite you to consider the wisdom of the praying mantis.”

Hellen and Brandon looked at each other (“Thanks! We really are quite wise, you know”) and at what they perceived as a very strange woman. He whispered to her “Let’s just leave, she said she’s fine”, she whispered back “No, she isn’t.” but she knew that everything the woman had said was true.

Eilie delicately picked up the insect, “I like you, I have an opening for an intern, we could use someone who knows how to kill with love. How do you feel about existing in five dimensions?”

(“Sounds really cool!” the mantis eagerly replied)

And then both Eilie and her apprentice disappeared. Hellen grabbed Brandon’s hand and held it tightly. They stood there quietly, for a while, until they and the entire planet heard a voice.

“I am Eilie, and I am here to kill the world.” she declared exactly as she intended and hell followed her. Hell, in this case, being a trillion astral mantises picking a fight with everything and winning.

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


spiderwebs and dreams
all for your children
ungrateful

ZearothK fucked around with this message at 17:21 on Aug 17, 2021

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, I am not a robot.

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


Week #473 - Make ‘Em Laugh Judge Crits

Flyerant’s A Teaspoon of Nostalgia

A man tries to keep up the family tradition of baking cake for his daughter’s birthday after his wife passes away. I found this one cute and bittersweet, the opening is good and sets a light tone that didn’t quite stick with the rest of the text for me, but it wasn’t really funny. Could have used more time in the oven.

Barry vented his frustrations, and ignored his dawning career as an Olympic shot-putter of baked goods.

Captain Indigo’s Subject: Dad I have taken an Ambien and drank wine but that doesn’t detract from…

A man sends an e-mail to his father after taking Ambien and drinking wine. This is essentially a diss letter and I feel it is a premise that could work if it was more lighthearted, but this came off as too bitter to be funny or enjoyable to read, which is what earned it the loss.

Dad you’re a great guy and I love you from the bottom of my heart

Idle Amalgam’s Pecking Order

A family has to change a tire during a road trip. I felt this one was more of a snapshot of these characters than an actual story. The tire gets changed and some elements of each of the characters are explored in the sub-vignettes, but if there was an arc it kind of missed me and the family felt rather typical.

The tire, as far as Junior was concerned, was a sign of his unfortunate intuition coming true.

sparksbloom’s Mystery Flavour

The protagonist gets bullied into eating ice cream that may or may not contain glass for their friend’s stunt vlog, hulks out instead. I enjoyed the snarky tone of this, felt kind of juvenile, but turns out I do like that kind of humor. Got a few chuckles out of me, but didn’t extract a laugh.

I feel like I needed to do some research on eating glass first.

derp’s My Katana

A young man creates the entirety of contemporary sci-fantasy and has it all stolen by John Romero. I appreciated the overindulgent voice of the narrator, gave it a lot of character and I can tell you had fun with it, even if it didn’t always land. I had a big smile on my face when I remembered Romero’s amazing hair.

He had strikingly beautiful hair, long and flowing gracefully like a river down his back.

Voodoofly’s The Jukebox in the Corner

Love blooms around a jukebox. I liked this one! There’s good chemistry between the two central characters and there was a good sense of place, but I wouldn’t call it a funny story.

Two frauds, pretending to know everything.

Rhymes With Clue’s FML part MMXIX

A man has a weird day. Well written, snappy, but the vignettes all felt kind of disconnected with no greater arc to it, even as they were individually amusing. Did enjoy the mundane absurdity of it all.

A whole slew of paperclips attacked her arm like angry bees.


Pham Nuwen’s Exchange

Fuckbots try to gently caress. I do appreciate an entire story that’s built for the sake of a pun, also I learned a new word. It is an interesting sci-fi premise too, but I did feel the robots were too human in their conversation despite the code designation at the very start suggesting it would be otherwise.

“The penis? Mightier than the sward.”

Carl Killer Miller’s The Sister and Divinity

A nun goes to Rajaput and it doesn’t go the way she expected it to. I really enjoyed this one! Well written, a lot of character in all the, uh, characters, even the bit ones. There’s some good humor in the contrast between the naïve protagonist and the more worldly characters, but it wasn’t quite a laugher for me.

“We’re running in a thousand directions and yet always moving forward.”

rohan’s Dating After Level 30

An adventurer is ghosted by her date, but she gets a chance at revenge for it. This was a cool story, some nice wordplay, but kind of dragged on and the fight in the climax kind of lost its flow in the conversation, also not sure what kind of world this is. Incel-nerator was a good pun.

‘How much do you hate your future self?’

‘So much,’


My Shark Waifuu’s Dorkula

A vampire tries to get some virgin blood. Very good 2nd person story that immerses the reader in the pretentiousness of our silly vampire, fun and playful atmosphere, got a few good chuckles out of me. Would read more of this character.

The virgins are kissing each other!

Weltlich’s The Greatest Show on Earth, Chapter 2

The circus is in town and wants to be entertained. The longest story in this week, it didn’t feel longer than the others while reading it. It is consistently funny, though the middle section with the lord’s murderous plans goes a bit too dark and long even as it is an effective exploration of privileged psychosis. The punchline at the end got a good laugh out of me.

“The clown said it’s a very low bar to clear, but that they believe in us.”

Thranguy’s You Gotta Laugh

A man reminisces about fighting in the war. Good and strong prose, I liked this story, but the dark humour didn’t really land with me.

"The world was on fire and everyone else was trying to kill me."

crabrock’s Motivation

A spy reminisces about his work and marriage. I really enjoyed this short piece, I think I had a smile on through all of it, but I do enjoy the “eh, whatever” multiple spy thing, so I might be your exact target audience.

I don't even remember which side recruited me first, I just remember she was very pretty and very convincing.

Chairchucker’s Night Light

A lighthouse keeper takes a snooze, disaster ensues. I am happy for Mippens and the premise is good, but the joke kind of sailed past the story and it all came off a bit dry.

Ten more minutes sleep wouldn’t hurt, right?

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 with a :toxx: and I'll be buying a setting.

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


Flash: Your setting is a barnacle encrusted boulder at low tide.

Twelve+
1291 words

The beach stood still in that beautiful moment just before sunset, a place for careless leisure for all but those who were about to drown.

Or least it was supposed to be. We were drinking at a kiosk and Janet was going on about her job and I was distractedly watching the waterfront and its handful of denizens from the safety of my shades, nodding and agreeing at the usual cues. I wondered when I stopped caring, if I ever did. Used to be I wanted her to let go of work on our days off, but now it was just the (un?)bearable white noise of our relationship.

And then I heard it, a not so distant kitten’s meow, multiples of. I could tell she noticed it too because she looked annoyed. I raised my finger and asked if she was hearing it. Janet rolled her eyes.

“Love, please, don’t take in another cat.” she gestured around “Someone else will take care of it.”

“What if they don’t?”

“That’s your anxiety talking, you don’t need to take in another stray.” she took my hand in hers and offered a compassionate smile “There are a lot of good people in the world, you’re not the only one, besides, maybe this one doesn’t need rescue.”

“I’m just going to give it a look to be sure.” I got up, hypnotized by that siren’s call. Janet rolled her eyes and sighed, then told me she’d take care of the bill and what remained of our margaritas.

The insistent meowing drew me to a group of boulders irradiating late afternoon heat. They were placed here by city hall a few years back to protect the boardwalk, but the project was halted halfway through due to a lack of funding (or overenthusiastic grift, everyone presumed) so it just turned into a bunch of rocks haphazardly collecting barnacles and trash. The meowing had quieted, but I had a feeling, so I looked at the spaces between the boulders and, yep, a calico had nested there with her babies, I counted four, but maybe there were more. The mother looked at me with concern, I could tell she was very thin and it broke my heart.

Janet wearily and warily approached me, “So?”

“They’re with her mom, they will be fine.” my voice was low, I was trying to convince myself that there was nothing I had to do. My girlfriend offered a genuine smile.

“See? No need to worry, let’s go.” she held onto me and gently led me away “This is all very sweet of you, but you don’t need to save every cat. I spoke to the kiosk owner and they put some food for the beach cats every night, we’ll let them know the queen is here and then she won’t need to hunt far, what do you think?”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s do that.” I smiled at her.

We walked a bit through the sand, arm in arm, it was almost nice.

And then a wave lapped at my feet and it dawned on me, it was the low tide.

The boulders would be fully covered in water in another hour or so. I guess the litter of kittens came to the same realization because another wave of desperate meows arrived. Janet looked at me with a warning glance.

“Look, we’ll need to at least move the kittens.” I declared, then explained. Janet just closed her eyes, then whispered a ‘fine’ after me. We passed by what seemed like a happy couple, the kind entangled in the kind of love that erases the entire rest of the world. How long ago was that?

The mother was carrying one of the kittens in her mouth when we got there, her eyes were desperate, her skin was very saggy, the poor thing. Janet held me back.

“You are going to scare her, let her do her thing, she knows what she’s doing.” her voice was calm and firm.

The cat didn’t look like she knew what she was doing, she looked back and forth, assessing threats, looking for a safe space. I wondered how well she knew this terrain, if she had been just abandoned here or had always lived by the beach. Then she ran off towards a boarded up shop and sneaked through a crack in its door. Janet smiled encouragingly and told me to be patient.

We kept our distance and waited for a few minutes, the water gradually rising.

“What if she doesn’t come back?” I asked. Janet gently caressed my hand and kissed it.

“She’s a mother, she will.”

What if she was afraid of us and would never come back and it would be my fault when the rest of the kittens all drowned? I felt we were at a good distance from the nest, the sea kissing our feet, but we were watching and that may have made her wary. I recalled how deep the cats were between the boulders and listened to the kittens’ calls. It was quickly getting dark. I had to do something.

“JJ, I don’t think she’s coming. Help me out here.”

“loving hell, Dave.” she replied and followed me, her practiced sweetness finally cracking.

Janet used her phone’s lantern to illuminate the boulders and I found the nest, four kittens now. At least four. I reached in to grab one of them, but no such luck. I’d have to move some of the boulders and quickly, the tide would be here soon.

“No luck?” Janet asked with what appeared to be genuine concern.

I shook my head and then started to move the top boulders out of the way. They were very heavy, way heavier than I expected them to be, way way heavier than they had any right to be. It was a good thing I had begun working out these last few months, I figured that if we broke I’d have to be in better shape to get back in the game. After the third rock I heard a new set of meows from behind me. More kittens? I turned back in despair.

Janet smiled and showed me her phone’s screen, it was a video. Of course. That was the smart and practical woman I was once in love with. I smiled back, the first genuine smile I had given her in a long time.

The actual kittens crawled towards the digital ones and in a couple of minutes we had five of them collected in my shirt. I double checked, that was all, had to be all. They were so tiny, their eyes hadn’t opened yet.

We brought them to the storefront we saw the mother get in and waited for some time. No luck, I’d have to do it on my own. Janet gently hugged me. I’d have to bottle feed them, keep them warm and of course keep them isolated from my other 12 cats, it would be a lot of work, but I had done it before. I could do it.

The drive home was quiet, I put in some Mozart as Janet drove. I could tell she was mad, I had way too many cats. I had no choice, I couldn’t let them die. I half heartedly promised that I would find homes for these. She was mad and she still helped me, even though I had been such a lovely boyfriend of late. I couldn’t have rescued them from the tide without her. She was pissed off, but she was there and I had no doubt I could always count on her. Did that mean she loved me? I caught her gaze in the stoplight and smiled.

“I love you.” I lied.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

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 with a flash.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply