this is really funny. okay i'll do it
|# ¿ Aug 11, 2021 14:55|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2023 10:30|
Me and Mark
I was playing with my dog, Mark the brown Labrador, and I had forgotten that I was also playing with a dead man. I had looked away for a second when a bee flew past. Or maybe it was one of those flies that looked like a bee. Then Mark ran up with a stick. I went to grab the stick when I remembered I was still holding the dead man’s hand.
I found the dead man after dinner in my backyard, all wet from the rain. He was long and heavy and wearing a blue pinstripe suit. He had dark, curly hair and I couldn’t move him. I grabbed his hand and tried to pull, but he was like a sack of stones. I worried something might tear. Mark was running up and down the yard. I thought ‘I got to get this dead man away from Mark.’ But I didn’t want to pull anymore in case I tore something.
Then I thought, ‘I’m shaking hands with a dead man.’ That gave me a funny feeling. I shook the dead man’s hand real hard like we’d just agreed on a business deal. I bet he was a businessman for real. He had the striped suit. I thought maybe he was a billionaire. A billion dollars, I couldn’t imagine. And here I was, making a billionaire shake my hand. That made my heart jump around like a puppy. I shook his hand real hard so his arm flopped like a fish, and he couldn’t stop me. He was so rich, but he had to do what I wanted.
That’s when I forgot the dead man for a second. Mark ran up with a stick and wanted to play, and I forgot I was playing with the dead man. The dead man went completely out of my head--his suit and all his billions were all gone. It was only me and Mark and the bee, then I forgot the bee too. For a second I was another me who didn’t have a dead man in his yard. I was just a normal me playing with Mark.
Then I remembered the dead man, and it wasn’t so funny anymore. The puppyheart feeling didn’t come, and I just felt worried and gross. I dropped the dead man’s hand and it flopped in the grass. I wiped my fingers on my pants. Mark was jumping at me with the stick, so I yanked it out his teeth and threw it in the tall trees. I watched Mark run after the stick, and just like that I forgot the dead man again. It was just me and Mark, and the trees, but they didn’t count. Just me and Mark alone. Then I stepped on the dead man’s arm and he was back again, long and heavy and right there.
I thought ‘if I wasn’t seeing this dead man he’d be gone, and I could keep being normal me with Mark.’ So I grabbed the dead man’s hand and pulled him toward the trees. But he was like a bag of bricks, and I worried something might tear. Mark ran up to me with his stick. I was going to grab it but I thought ‘no, I can’t forget.’ I pulled the dead man toward the trees, but he was so heavy I thought his arm might come right off.
That’s when a bee buzzed past my face. Or maybe it was a fly. Some flies pretend they’re bees to scare the other bugs. I wondered if those flies ever forgot their stripes were fake. Maybe they sometimes tried to sting a real bee and got in trouble. I went to swat at the bee, and that’s when I remembered I was holding the dead man’s hand.
I dropped his hand and it landed all limp like a dead snake in the grass. The dead man laying in the wet grass and dirt made me feel a little funny. He couldn’t ever get up unless I helped him. A businessman in a striped suit, and with all that money, and he’d have to beg me to pull him up. I could say ‘you lay there!’ and he’d have to do it. Even when the sun went down and even if it rained, he’d be stuck there in his suit, getting wet and filthy. That thought made my heart jump around like Mark with his stick.
Mark was nosing around the dead man’s crotch. When Mark nosed at guests I’d smack him, but now it made me laugh. I could let him keep on nosing there, and the dead man would have to take it. It was all up to me. Thinking about that made my heart buzz around like a bee.
Mark jumped up on the dead man’s chest and was nosing around on his neck and growling. Little eager growls like when he wanted to play. Mark played rough sometimes. Sometimes he’d bite if I didn't tell him to stop. Sometimes I’d even egg him on. Mark always listened to me.
That’s when the bee flew past and I spun in a little circle trying to swat it. Or maybe it was a fly. There were a lot of flies buzzing around. Or maybe they were bees pretending to be flies. I saw my house with the porch light on, and the light was shining right above my chair and Mark’s bed. It was getting shadowy outside and I felt like I was far away, even though the house was right there. I liked to sit on the porch every night with Mark and watch the sun set. ‘I’ll do that’ I thought. Mark was growling and tearing up one of his toys behind me. I whistled for him, and we went back to the house together.
|# ¿ Aug 15, 2021 21:17|
One copy of 'What is Poetry?' by Michael Rosen
Typewriter, new in box
Six fountain pens, four silver, one gold, one titanium,
Three moleskin journals, unopened.
|# ¿ Aug 17, 2021 16:40|
THUNDERDOME WEEK 472: UNCANNY VALLEY
Hello friends, here is your prompt for the week:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley in word form. The literal definition of 'uncanny valley' is in reference to something robotic that looks almost human, but not quite human, and for some reason that really weirds us humans out. You don't have to write specifically about a human that is not quite human. In fact, please don't write anything about robots.
In short, I want stories that will weird me out. If you can somehow weird me out without me even being totally sure why I'm weirded out, even better. Be subtle. Be creepy. Be weird. Write about things that are off or wrong by just enough to be unsettling.
entries due by friday 2359 pst, submissions due by sunday 2359 pst
Judges: me, chairchucker, sebmojo
My Shark Waifuu
derp fucked around with this message at 16:31 on Aug 23, 2021
|# ¿ Aug 17, 2021 23:56|
|# ¿ Aug 20, 2021 03:50|
Yeah I'll allow it, closed now tho
|# ¿ Aug 21, 2021 21:11|
|# ¿ Aug 23, 2021 13:03|
UNCANNY VALLEY RESULTS
I asked for subtle, I asked for creepy, I asked for weird. Some of you delivered, some of you took a dump or told me to kill myself. what a week!
A week full of stories where nothing really happened (i like that, don't worry) but some of them, in a really dull way--
DMs go to flyerant for an overly morbid story, which, although it does have some pretty good prose, does nothing other than crawl up its own rear end and tell the judges to kill themselves. And to Taletel for a predictable shell of a story about highschool bullies.
But the loss goes to a story that annoyed us the most, about drugged up kids trying to take a dump and/or talk philosophy. great. thanks Idle Amalgam
Now on the positive side of things. The few stories that managed to be subtle and creepy and interesting this week- HMs go to, crabrock for a story that didn't really fit the prompt, but was so interesting, and had such lovely words, that it forced its way into an HM anyway. Rohan for the only story of several 2nd person stories to actually pull it off, with an interesting and somewhat creepy idea. Sailor Viy for one of select few stories to actually give me what i wanted from the prompt--unease, uncertainty, interest... bonus points for being creepy without me really knowing why it was creepy.
The win, though, goes to TASTE for what was to me the perfect entry to this contest- creepy, subtle, atmospheric, weird, it had everything I wanted! Thanks taste!
and thanks everyone who entered, it was fun to read you all
|# ¿ Aug 24, 2021 04:05|
can't call these 'crits' with a straight face but here are the notes i took while reading/judging the stories:
Organburner, Her! 5/10
Decent. Not too loud, not too obvious. Competent writing. Didn't really weird me out but I appreciate that it tried for the unease that the prompt asked for. Could be creepy with work.
Beezus, Creep 5/10
Oops, same story! Reading two very similar stories in a row might have colored my opinion. Didn't like that it was in space for no reason. It could have been sailors stuck at sea with the same, or better effect. Otherwise it holds together, competent enough writing. The end had some nice creep factor and descriptions.
Flyerant, Ego and ID 4/10
Very good writing, but what is the point of this? It’s just morbid. I quite like the writing, though. Second person makes me wonder if Flyerant hates me. By the end it’s pretty offputting.
Idle Amalgam 2/10
Drunk students talk philosophically, and also they are trying to poo poo so that it’s edgy. Opening with poop makes it very difficult to take the story seriously.
The first story that has tried to be subtle, which is something I explicitly asked for, so bonus points for that. Interesting concept, potentially creepy but the humorous, sarcastic kind of voice detracted from the weird vibes. I liked it overall though.
More 2nd person, but it serves a purpose this time. I like the idea of mirror people/personalities taking over, and it does try to be subtle. I just wish it wasn’t couched in highschool romance.
Sailor viy 7/10
Weird, creepy for some reason that I'm not sure about. Subtle, doesn’t end with an annoying twist. Pretty good. Gives me enough weird, unexplained elements that I start coming up with strange scenarios in my head, and it doesn’t fall into the trap of gushing out all kinds of explanations in the end. Nice.
Good writing I guess but hard to care. Another second person thing. I don’t care what happens and it’s not creepy. Just saying ‘you’ isn’t going to trick me into putting myself in this guy’s shoes. I have nothing to identify with him or identify him by. He's just some empty shell walking.
My shark waifu
I'm not sure this fits the prompt, but it hits my buttons. Pregnancy and birth freak me out. This is creepy to the extreme to me, especially the end. I’ll have to see what the other judges think to make sure I'm not a baby hating weirdo. I love that it can be read as just a normal pregnancy and birth, or as some alien parasite. Both work, with exactly the same words.
Yes, finally something weird, creepy, but not loud or obvious. Things are wrong, but it’s not easy to say what is going on. Things could be completely normal, just a guy drinking on the beach, but... the vibe and the slowly built up sense of things tells me something weird is going on. No telling, no tedious explaining. Nice. Yes.
War and guns and violence. I had a hard time caring.
This was real good until you started explaining things. A kid who doesn’t want to go into a cellar, but for an unexpected reason: he doesn’t like the light! That’s a great premise, and the descriptions are flipping beautiful. But then you drag it down by having the grandma see the same weird things. Now it's some family trait or something? That makes it seem so mundane. If you just end it with the kid bringing up the jam and eating sandwiches together, it preserves the unknown and the weirdness and specialness of it. It takes all the power and weirdness out of it when the grandma is seeing the same thing and they’re talking about it like it’s normal to them.
A monster story with flat, generic characters and barely anything but cliche dialogue. The descriptions at the end were great but the leadup was difficult to get through.
|# ¿ Aug 24, 2021 06:52|
Okay inppy birthday, I'll take a random thing
|# ¿ Aug 25, 2021 00:37|
words: 1285 (plus 1000)
I was born to be a creator. A world builder, if you will. There is always a pen in my hand that pukes unique ideas onto the pages of my various notebooks. Creators are just born that way. An extra gland in our hippocampus excretes liquid ideas which drip out our noses in the form of blood. Extremely concentrated, high proof ideas. Ruby ideas of pure crystalline beauty, gushing constantly from our noses and mouths, and you know what? People take advantage. They scurry around with their filthy dishrags called dollar bills and soak up all the shimmering excretions, which are ours by right. If you are one of us creators, it has probably happened to you. If not, it will happen soon. You will be taken advantage of. I was taken advantage of. The swollen parasite who took advantage of me and stole my ideas was the video game designer and producer John Romero.
But we must start at the beginning--in the bedroom of my youth, in 1996, Dallas, Texas. I was 14 years old and at the peak of my creative output. I say ‘peak’ but I should say ‘plateau’ because my output has never dipped. My brain is forever in hyperactive creative mode. Picture the towering Mount Roraima in Venezuela; it pierces the clouds, yet is perfectly flat and consistent.
You see, I have always been a genius. People who talk about ‘growth’ and ‘becoming a better person’ are simply glossing over the reality that they were a useless mess in the past, and have now repaired themselves. This does not apply to me. As a teen I was a creative genius, and I still am. Improvement would be impossible.
On that particular day in November I had just completed the final page in my notebook of ideas. I closed it with a satisfied smile and tied it with a leather band. I heaved the sigh that mothers heave while watching their children succeed. Ah, yes, the joy of creation. My ideas were and are completely unique and unmatched in creativity. Those precious pages included dozens of characters, worlds, plotlines, ideas for magic systems, future technologies, and detailed descriptions of battles, as well as ideas for novels--72 novel ideas in total at that time.
No one would have guessed, seeing that tatted and bulging notebook in the hands of a teenage boy, just how valuable it was.
With that priceless treasure tucked safely under my arm I walked to the local Kinko’s Copies, so that I could scan, print, and bind my journal into book form. Publishing, as everyone knows, automatically copyrights the published material. I was in the habit of copyrighting all my ideas.
I entered the Kinko’s with a full heart and a happy grin. “Good day, sir!” I said to the copyman. Politeness is a sign of intelligence, and I was always very polite. “I would like to make 200 copies today!” For that was the number of pages in my journal.
“Yeah sure whatever,” said the copyman, and he flipped a lock of hair out of his face. He had strikingly beautiful hair, long and flowing gracefully like a river down his back.
I went to the nearest copier and began to scan the pages one by one, turning my journal carefully each time, gingerly, as if I were laying a delicate artwork onto the glass. As the warm printed pages glided out into the receiving tray like so many children being born, I noticed the copyman was watching me closely. That is to say, he watched the printer, and the pages of my journal being born. His eyes glinted with what, at the time, I thought was curiosity. Oh how wrong I was.
I brought the warm and heavy stack of pages to the counter. “Excuse me sir, might I request some binder clips for these papers?” I asked politely.
“I’ll do you one better, kid,” said the copyman. “I’ve got a binding machine in the back, I can make it into a proper book for you in five minutes.”
“Why thank you sir, that is very kind and generous of you,” I replied in a polite manner, and handed him the papers.
The instant he was out of sight, the subtle cues and hints of the past moment began to process in my powerful brain. One: I had never known Kinko’s to do bookbinding, and if they had added such a service, I surely would have been asked to pay up front, or at least told the price. Two: that glint in the copyman’s eyes did not look like curiosity after all. It looked like hunger. Ravenous, passionate hunger for that which was not his. Three: no mere copyman would have such luxurious hair.
My body kicked into gear and I vaulted over the counter. I ran into the back room: empty, no sign of a binding machine anywhere. The back door was open and I dashed out just in time to see a red sports car squealing out of the parking lot and into the street. I sprinted after it, but it sped away faster than any teen could run, shrinking into a black spot on the horizon that was soon obscured by the fire of the setting sun.
That day, the worst day of my life, was November the 14th, 1996. The next day, November the 15th, John Romero founded Ion Storm and began work on DaiKatana.
You see, the copyman who stole my pages that day was John Romero himself. I realized this upon the release of DaiKatana, the first game of Ion Storm. The plot and character design and game mechanics, all of it was an exact copy of the first page of my notebook. As soon as he’d seen the very first page, Romero must have known the immense value and fled with the treasure. Since then, all his success and fortune are due entirely to that single moment, that single decision to steal my ideas.
I’m sure you doubt me. Everyone does. So, for proof I have added a picture of the original first page of my notebook:
You can clearly see the obvious parallels between this and the DaiKatana video game -- DaiKatana even translates as ‘big sword!’ It could not be clearer. But if you need it to be clearer, it could be, because there’s more.
I will list three novel ideas from the list in my notebook. You can assume the rest of the list of 72 are each as potent.
Not a week goes by when I don’t see a new movie, TV show, or game and know with the certainty of a parent seeing their long lost child: That was mine! Mine! I can’t go to the cinema anymore because I’ve been banned for making disturbances. My friends no longer mention a single topic related to entertainment when I’m around. Every night without fail I stare into my bathroom mirror and scream: DaiKatana is my katana!
My katana, John! Mine!
|# ¿ Aug 29, 2021 21:36|
i'll buy a character thing and a setting thing pls
|# ¿ Aug 31, 2021 17:10|
(astronaut in an elementary school parking lot)
Earth and everyone on her rotated 500 yards in the second it took Jayne to slip safely into a parking spot at the Doverdale Elementary school. She killed the engine and tried to clear her head. Ever since returning from the ISS, she’d been unable to ignore the motion of the cosmos. Everything swayed like a ship at sea. She opened her car door and her stomach tightened. A wave of vertigo splashed her. I’m on the blue marble. She leaned back in her seat to wait it out.
Fifteen minutes until she was due in the gymnasium to talk to a bunch of fifth graders about space. Or, about following your dream? She’d do some combination of the two to be safe. The blue marble fell through the void, covering thousands of miles in the time she’d been sitting there.
Everyone had told her about the overview effect. They said the sight would change her, and that it was so different from pictures. When you see that helpless little marble floating out there in the icy dark, it does something to your mind. A drop of blue paint on an infinite black canvas--that was Earth, and it was naked but for the thinnest, transparent film of air. I’m on the blue marble, right now.
She fished a crumpled sheet of paper from her purse and scanned her notes, but the chaotic scratches of her handwriting had lost all meaning.The paper seemed so pathetic, a sad little collection of atoms. The view in her mind’s eye telescoped out, flying away from her and up into the sky until her car in the parking lot was a flea crouching on a postage stamp, and then the postage stamp vanished beneath swirling white clouds. Our spherical ship sails on, rocked by gravity waves and pelted by 25 million meteorites per day and thousands of cosmic rays. If our sails are torn, if our hull is breached--that’s it. There is no one else, nothing else. There are no islands, there are no other ships to save us... we are so alone...
“Hey, you’re her. Aren’t you? You’re Jayne Singer? The astronaut?” A girl with a mop of red curls, thick glasses, and a binder with a NASA logo clutched to her chest stood outside Jayne’s open car door.
“Yeah,” she said. “That’s right.” The crisp fall morning was bright, and the air was cold and beginning to chill her fingers. She shoved her notes back into her purse and got out of the car.
“What’s your name?” she asked the girl.
“Well, Tanya, I’m Jayne, it’s nice to meet you. Will you show me where I’m supposed to be? I think I may be late.”
The girl took her hand and pulled her toward the school. Jayne still felt that tightening in her stomach as the Earth rotated beneath them with each step. The school and all the children inside hurtled through a deadly void, only shielded from murderous radiation by a magnetosphere that decayed at a steady rate of 5% per century. We’re alone alone alone alone...
They reached the entrance to the gymnasium and the girl tugged on her arm, beaming up at her with hopeful eyes. “Hey, will you take a picture with me?”
“Sure, I’d love to.”
She smiled at Tanya’s phone and the click sound effect coincided with a gamma ray burst that would rip the atmosphere off like a roof in a hurricane if it happened to be pointed at them.
“Thanks,” said Tanya, “I’m gunna be just like you someday.” Then her cheeks went red, and she ran into the gymnasium.
Jayne recognized the school principal, who was waving her over to a podium.
At the microphone she flattened her crumpled notes in front of her and looked at the crowd of fifth graders. Most seemed bored, a few were wide eyed and attentive, and all of them were only protected from negative 455 degree temperatures by a few hundred miles of air, 90 tons of which disappeared into space each day...
“Hi everyone,” said Jayne. She moved back a few inches as the microphone squeaked. “Hi, my name is Jayne, and I’ve just returned from space.”
There was a surprising amount of applause, and some shouts of ‘cool!’ She spotted Tanya in the back, on her feet and clapping. Jayne grinned, and Earth was still for a moment. Alone, yeah. At least we’re alone together.
|# ¿ Sep 6, 2021 02:28|
okay I'm in with Dino Buzzati, I can't find the story I wanted, 'catastrophe,' but this one also is good: https://bcitawareness.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10885412/seven_floors_dino_buzzati.pdf
every story of his that i've read perfectly captures a terrible sense of dread or impending doom, slowly building from the innocuous start of the story to the end where everything is going wrong.
|# ¿ Sep 7, 2021 19:21|
Alexander noticed the men skulking in the trees while he watched birds one Sunday morning. He was on his back porch scanning the trees when a dark blur like a living shadow slid across his vision. He lowered his binoculars and there they were: two men walking purposefully among the trees, perhaps 50 yards from his porch.
It was at least the third time Alexander had seen people over there. One of them wore a sharp black suit, and the other wore a rugged jacket and a hard hat. The man in the suit had been there the other times, too. They stode here and there, looking at the trees and the ground, and pointing at things left and right. Every time Alexander saw the men, an uneasy feeling swelled up in his stomach. A feeling like he was supposed to do something, but he could never be sure what.
What were they doing out there? It was a long drive from anywhere, he thought. And they were out there every weekend. Didn’t they have families, or hobbies other than pointing at his trees?
“They ain’t your trees, Alex,” he said out loud. And he was right, the trees were just beyond his property line. But he felt a kinship with the trees and the birds that lived there, after so many years watching them.
Weeks of uncertainty about the strangers had built up in the back of his mind, and it finally burst forth. “I gotta do something,” he said, and set out to talk to the men.
By the time he got out to the trees, the men were gone. He noticed several large X’s spray painted on certain trees, and some colored ribbons tied onto certain plants. A wave of foreboding emanated from those X’s and ribbons. “This ain’t good,” he said. “I oughta call someone,” he said.
But who? His son lived on the other side of the country, and never answered anyway. He wasn’t allowed to call Susan anymore. He thought about the police, but what could he say? The men weren’t on his property. He heard an ominous rumbling nearby, and went to investigate.
Beyond a row of trees he stumbled into a clearing that was scattered with fresh stumps and piles of dried, broken branches. Two giant, yellow machines idled imperiously. Ten or twelve men milled around the machines like busy servants. Alexander noticed the man in the suit, and approached him.
“What’s all this then?”
The man in the suit smirked at him in a knowing way. “Go back home, Mr. Ettinger,” he said.
“What? But... “ Alexander stuttered, baffled that the man knew his name. The uneasy feeling swirled up again. Very few people called him ‘Mr. Ettinger,’ but someone had, somewhere, recently.
“Look, Indacorp isn’t going to deal with you anymore,” said the man. “Just go sit on your land that you love so much. Enjoy it.” The man pointed sternly toward Alexander’s house.
“But what y'all doing out here?” Alex finally managed to say. The man only shook his head and gave the most disappointed grimace that Alex had ever seen.
Alexander returned home. The name ‘Indacorp’ spent fifteen minutes rattling around in his brain, then finally clicked into place. He’d received a letter, or two, from Indacorp and forgot to open them.
He rooted around the kitchen until he found them in the letter basket. There were eight letters in all. Only the first two had been opened. He read them all one by one.
Mr. Ettinger, I am writing on behalf of the Indacorp development corporation with an inquiry on your plot of land...
Mr. Ettinger, I am writing again because it seems my first letter went astray...
Mr. Ettinger I have written twice and called three times now, and we are very urgently hoping to speak with you...
Each letter contained a number with a dollar sign next to it. By the fifth letter the number had increased tenfold. The eighth letter, however, contained only a phone number and the words ‘call us immediately.’ That letter was dated three months ago.
The big yellow machines, the expanse of tree stumps, and blue X’s all finally connected in Alexander’s mind. He dialed the number.
A woman answered: “Indacorp development, Mr. Harris’ office.”
“I... I’m calling about a letter I got.”
“What’s your name, sir?”
“I’m Alexander Ettinger.”
Alex swore he heard a little gasp come across the line, or maybe it was a snort.
“Ohh, I see. Well, Mr. Harris isn’t here right now, he can’t speak to you right now.” The woman emphasised her words in a way that Alexander could not make sense of.
“If you could tell him to call me-” Alexander started, but the woman hung up.
Outside, the grinding shriek of a chainsaw filled the air. Alexander rushed out just in time to see the first of his trees toppling over. He ran to the crowd of men in hard hats. They were busy attacking the next tree, sending clouds of sawdust flying out of its trunk. He waved his arms and yelled at them to stop, but they kept on going. The tree fell before they noticed him.
The chainsaws cut off and the man in the suit appeared. “Mr. Ettinger, there is no stopping this now. We’re moving forward.”
“But Mr. Harris please, the offer in your letters, I just saw it now and-”
“Oh, I’m not Mr. Harris, just an employee of his. And he’s done dealing with you, like I said before. He does not like being ignored.”
“Well I didn’t mean to, I just-”
“It doesn’t matter. We are not stopping the construction.”
“Well that’s okay, I mean, I could accept the offer.”
The man in the suit laughed, and so did all the dozen or so workers in hardhats who’d gathered around. They were all smiling and watching him with a knowing interest.
“Oh no. No no, we’re not going to buy your land, not for one cent. You’ll stay right here.” The man in the suit smirked again and pointed at Alexander's house. “Go on home now!”
Alex went home, and called the number again. He called several times per day for a week, and the answer was always some version of: “Mr. Harris is not available to talk to you,” which the woman seemed to take special delight in saying.
By the end of the week there were no trees in sight in any direction. The number of men outside had grown by ten times--dozens strode about purposefully on each side of Alex’s little square of land. Cement mixers and cranes and huge trucks full of gravel appeared. The air was constantly full of dust that made the sun glow red in the sky. The endless clanging and rumbling and shrieking of the machines was unbearable.
Every morning he called the number and was told Mr. Harris wasn’t available. Then for the rest of the day he would watch the catastrophe through his binoculars. He watched specifically for the man in the suit. The man moved about like a shark through a school of fish, dodging in and out of sight. Every time Alexander saw him standing still for a moment, he’d rush outside through the dust and noise to try to talk to him, but the man was always gone when he got there.
Concrete foundations appeared and scaffoldings grew up like weeds on each side of Alexander’s property. Then the scaffoldings were covered with tarps that blocked the sun and darkened his yard. Seeing his land delineated in such a clear, tall way made his living space seem much smaller than he’d imagined it. A small, dim, box under a dusty red sky.
One morning Alexander spotted the man in the suit near the chain link fence that now surrounded his land, and he dashed outside.
“Hey! Excuse me! Hello!” Alex shouted and shook the fence to get the man’s attention. The grinding and crashing of the construction made it difficult to hear his own voice.
The man turned and looked at Alex with a curious grin, then folded his arms and stared without a word.
“Hey! I wanna talk to Mr. Harris about the offer!” Alex yelled as loud as he could.
The man just continued to grin, and nudged some nearby workers who joined in on the staring. Alex felt the uneasy swirling in his belly again, and he shook the fence in frustration. “Hey! Hey!”
The man walked away without a word, and Alexander ran along the fence following him with shouts until he vanished into a cluster of workers.
Towering, black buildings with no windows rose on every side. Alex could only feel sun on his skin between the hours of 11 and 1 when the sun was directly overhead. Silence fell as the construction completed. The silence was magnified by the lack of wind, or any air motion at all. He sometimes heard a distant groaning of a gust passing by overhead. All the machinery had gone, aside from two lone cranes peeking their heads into the square of sky, as if he were deep in a well and they were looking down on him.
On one of those dark afternoons there was a knock on his front door. He opened it to two men in black suits. One was the man he had grown used to watching through his binoculars, and the other was older with a white beard and small glasses. The older man did not look at him.
“This is Mr. Harris,” said the man in the suit. “He’s come to watch the project’s completion.”
“Mr. Harris, sir, I’ve been trying to call you,” stuttered Alex. “I meant to ask, you see, I missed some of your letters about the offer. I’m interested in the offer, you see-”
“We are far past that, Mr. Ettinger,” said the man in the suit. “Come outside with us.”
Alexander followed the men out into the dead, tepid air. The man in the suit said a brief something into his phone, then they both looked skyward, so Alex looked with them.
Above, the cranes were moving. A wedge of black slowly sliced into the square of blue above them, like the moon biting into the sun during an eclipse. Like some demonic triangle it grew and spread, devouring the sky. As the last sliver of blue shrank to nothing Alex thought he saw a bird dart across the opening and fly off to who knew where.
With an echoing BOOM that vibrated his feet, the darkness was complete. The black buildings melded into the general darkness all around, and Alex could no longer see more than a few yards ahead of him. Everywhere but where he stood seemed a void. He heard footsteps and turned in time to see the backs of the two men vanish into the oily dark. A moment later, the weak glow of a flashlight appeared, rapidly shrinking away from him.
“Hey! But wait!” He ran toward the little light, but tripped in the dark and tumbled to his knees. “But how am I supposed to live here!”
The light shrank to a point in the distance. Then for an instant there bloomed a violent burning flame that made Alex squint and hold up his hand--a rectangle of fiery light at ground level, molten light pouring into his dark box. He saw momentarily the silhouettes of the two men move into the rectangle of light, then it all vanished with an echoing clang!
In the extreme stillness, silence, and darkness he heard the smallest scuffling and clattering sounds above him, surely caused by workers on the building tops, cleaning up, or making final adjustments. To Alex, though, it sounded exactly like handfuls of dirt scattering across a laquered coffin lid.
|# ¿ Sep 13, 2021 04:29|
WEEK 476: LOVE/HATE
For this week, when you sign up I will give you two random (or not? >:] ) things. Your character will hate one thing and love the other. You pick which is which.
If your character only mildly dislikes, or sort of enjoys the thing, I will make a disappointed face and sigh. This should be a strong revulsion and passionate obsession.
--- Please do not write an origin story. --- I want your characters to be fully formed with their loves and hates at the start of the story. Please don't write a story whose entire purpose is to explain why your character hates A and loves B.
Otherwise the story can be about anything.
1300 words. Have fun!
signups close friday night
subs close sunday night
judges: me, weltlich, ?
lovers and haters:
2. Idle Amalgam
7. Chernobyl princess
8. Carl killer miller
9. The man called M
10. shark waifu
11. sitting here
derp fucked around with this message at 18:15 on Sep 20, 2021
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2021 15:35|
the concept of free will ---|--- decorative plates
the letter 'X' ---|--- Bucharest
Dreams ---|--- the greater sage-grouse
The pacific ocean ---|--- Ariana Grande (the singer, personally)
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2021 16:10|
French (the language) ---|--- 'Close to You' (the 1970 album by The Carpenters)
Lists ---|--- transcendental numbers
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2021 16:36|
The Old Guitarist (painting by Picaso) ---|--- silkworms
déjà vu ---|--- sand
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2021 18:07|
Might as well be the Virgin Sacrifice!
The dead sea ---|--- hair
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2021 20:58|
maps ---|--- chalcid wasps
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2021 23:57|
the music of Nikolai Medtner ---|--- Tasseography (the art of 'reading' tea leaves)
|# ¿ Sep 15, 2021 00:11|
the 'many worlds' interpretation of quantum mechanics ---|--- bees
cephalopods ---|--- the novels of Thomas Bernhard
|# ¿ Sep 15, 2021 03:28|
this sounds fun. in.
Blue Mustang (sculpture by Luis Jiménez) ---|--- origami
|# ¿ Sep 15, 2021 04:55|
Sometimes I forget this is a thing wherein I still need to pick myself up off the ground.
magnets ---|--- Argentina
|# ¿ Sep 16, 2021 23:16|
Oh yeah, signups are closed. But y'all knew that already
|# ¿ Sep 19, 2021 16:15|
oh yeah submissions closed and all that
|# ¿ Sep 20, 2021 16:15|
I threw out a lot of random prompt things, and many of you pulled off great stories anyway. nice.
there were quite a lot of stories that one judge really liked and the other didn't much care for that ended up getting NM'd. in the end, most of you really entertained at least one of us, so nice work over all.
but we did agree on, these:
i swear there is no conspiracy going on, but for the second time in a row with me as judge taste is the winner. i guess you just know what stories i like??
hawklad and carl killer miller get HMs
idle amalgam gets a DM
babyryoga gets the loss
crits (real ones from me this time) to be posted later tonight
|# ¿ Sep 21, 2021 00:49|
My strangest patient (the dead sea/hair)
There are some good ideas here. I liked the many creative ways you came up with for how the guy could use hair, and the different results of his obsession. However, the story being told second hand like that really detracted from it and made it harder to get involved, or to care. Instead, if you describe the doctor meeting the crazy hair man as it happens, describe his discoveries of each bizarre element of the man’s delusions as he discovers them, so we can experience it along with him, the story will be much more engaging. Also, I know this was a strange week, but making him crazy seemed a bit of a copout.
Dangerous woman (ariana, the pacific)
There is some great writing in here. The descriptions of the struggle to survive, the desperation and exhaustion, these were all very good and roped me into the story. The love of the ocean was also strong and beautifully written. However, the Ariana hate dropped in at regular intervals with no explanation felt so out of place that I kept getting knocked out of the story. All it needed was some reason, literally any reason, why the character hated her. Just google Ariana and pick some facet of her personality, or something she said in an interview, anything, it doesn’t even have to be something real about her, anything at all would have helped. The end was good, and i actually didn’t see it coming at all, but it would have been so much better if there was an actual reason she was hating herself so hard (a performance she hosed up, anything)
Restoration (old guitarist, silkworms)
I enjoyed this story a lot from the moment he saw the painting, until his disillusionment with the rich. The beginning and end, though, for me, were some stale bread that distracted from the delicious meat in the middle of the sandwich. To me, making this a sci fi story was a distraction, and also detracted from the power of it. All this stuff about genetic engineering and indentured servants in company towns makes the problems with the power of the rich that you so perfectly describe seem like some far off ‘this could happen if we aren’t careful!’ kind of thing. but that exact scenario with the painting could literally happen today. The end also felt like an extreme reaction and came across to me as ‘well, i need to end this somehow.’ I really, really enjoyed the middle part of this story, I just think it needs new bookends.
My shark waifu
This one came across as a bit over the top. It reminded me of a bad action movie with a cop who has a grudge against some group of people. I did enjoy the end when he hears his favorite music being played by a fortune teller and just flips out. Overall I felt the character needed something more in order for me to care about him.
I was sort of torn on this one, the idea of some global (universal?) catastrophe happening because universes bumped into each other is really cool, and drawing that comparison between their apocalyptic world, and burning a beehive because all the bees are infected with something, it did put some interesting thoughts in my head... but in the end, it’s just some kids sitting around talking philosophy. i felt there could have been more done with this
For how short this was, it really gave me a fair amount of feels. I liked the descriptions in this, and the parallel between the wasps ruining the hive and his breakup. Burning the map was a nice poignant moment. However, the bee scream at the end threw both judges off, and in such a short story every line counts for a lot.
the one answer that is waiting to be heard (french, carpenters)
I normally dislike war stories, but this one pulled me in. The character had just enough cynical bite to make it enjoyable, and the writing was sharp and fast paced without being all bombs and gunshots everywhere. Instead there’s a bizarre river creature encounter that is described really great in the end. I also was very pleased that you chose to reference the best song on the album. Not much negative to say about this one. Had a good time reading it, and the final line got a chuckle from me.
Becoming memory forever (deja vu, sand)
I quite liked this, especially the first half. I liked the characters’ interactions with each other. It was heartfelt and genuine. I liked how you showed the old dr’s memory problems with his constant flip flopping on what he wanted to be called. I liked the bizarre link between memory and sand, and I wanted to hear more about his strange thoughts on that. I was a bit let down that the end went in a more mad-scientist angle, but overall a very enjoyable read.
False negatives (x, bucharest)
During some kind of zombie outbreak, a man scans his ill wife to see if she is infected. The concept is fine, and the tension while he is scanning her is good. His desperation and worry were well captured. But there was so much exposition and description of the world added in around that moment that it got buried. In my opinion you should focus on that moment, spend most of your words there, since that is the entire point of the story. You could cut almost all the exposition and just go from his kids hugging him straight to him scanning his wife with almost zero loss, and a lot of improvement imo. We were also kind of turned off by the downer twist at the end. You don’t always need to have a twist.
Song and dance (dreams, sage-grouse)
Very cool, a fun and engaging read. I liked the concept of stealing from dreams, and the encounter in the bird dream was great. Just really interesting and I was curious the whole time. The only negative feedback I have is that by the end of it I had no idea what he was doing it all for or who was supposed to be forgetting what, and had to go back and reread the beginning. Could do with a bit of a reminder at the end of what he is accomplishing.
Meet cute (free will, decorative plates)
Okay, this is just great. Short, to the point, and at the same time full of great action and thoughtfulness. I love the image of her just sitting on the swing with a train through her house, it perfectly encapsulates the following description of her outlook on life. And all of this with little to no explaining. So many stories of this kind fall into the trap of overly explaining everything. Really liked the imagery, the ideas, the characters, all of it. Nice.
Tapes Recovered from the Midnight Zone (cephalopods, bernhard)
This was a great read. I liked the ambiance, and the cynical acceptance of his fate. I liked the descriptions of the squids and the disgust was well captured. I also like that you didn’t directly mention bernhard, but the vibe of the story fits perfectly and this guy is definitely a bernhard fan. Good stuff with several great lines You can hear it in my voice, my fear is being encoded into minute fluctuations of magnetic charge on the ferric oxide tape that is wrapping itself around the spool.
Always Breaking and Entering, Too, Totally Suss (lists, transcendental numbers)
A straightforward, humorous, fun read. The hatred of santa is almost too obvious a direction to go with the ‘lists’ prompt, but somehow it worked. It was just the right amount of silly for my tastes, I guess. In the end, though, it didn’t do anything very memorable. I feel like things maybe needed to be amped up, and more extreme in order for the ending to be really funny. but I did smile while reading it.
Weapon of Choice (argentina, magnets)
I was interested in the first part of this. the footballer’s love of the crowd and fame was well described, and it got me curious what was going to happen. However, having established a down-to-earth, real world setting, the end of the story comes off as suddenly bizarre. The violence seemed extreme and completely unnecessary. I also do not think magnets the size of bobas would cause that kind of damage, unless the kid has magneto powers. just kind of wacky and confusing.
|# ¿ Sep 21, 2021 04:52|
INTERPROMPT: two booklice critique the last book you read while they eat it
|# ¿ Sep 28, 2021 19:43|
in, give me a goofy monster
|# ¿ Oct 6, 2021 00:08|
Priyanka sat bolt upright in bed and sucked in air through clenched teeth. Her nightshirt clung to her skin and her hair was smeared wetly against her cheek. She gasped and patted the bed frantically. Damp, but only with sweat. The hot thrill that had been surging through her body faded, as it did every time. The night clarified, and the dream fogged away. She looked at the closet, but of course nothing was there. It was not her childhood closet. She was thirty, and alone in her studio apartment.
She lay back on the damp sheets and stared at the ceiling, clinging to the vestiges of the dream as it faded. Ah to go back to that night for real, to live those months over again...
The first time it happened she was ten years old and woke from a nightmare with her pajamas drenched in hot, acrid wetness. She’d tried to cry out, but couldn’t. She tried to move, and was frozen under some crushing weight. She managed to turn her head and saw an enormous pair of golden eyes watching her from the shadows of her half-open closet. The eyes were so big, so open and unblinking, and they drank her up. At that moment a secret door inside Priyanka unlocked with an irreversible click.
Thirty-years-old Priyanka’s skin flushed just remembering. The transition had been unforgettable. One moment she was terrified, uncomfortable, immobile and soaked in urine, embarrassed, on the edge of sobbing--then, she saw the eyes in her closet and everything flipped on its head. They’re watching me. The eyes seemed to emit an aura that she could physically sense, it washed over her in an extremely pleasing way. She imagined what the eyes saw, and visualised herself as if from in the closet. She saw herself lying on the bed in a puddle of piss, right there in plain view of anyone. In fact, it was quite obvious to her that everyone-- her mother, her father, her friends and teachers at school, the neighbors, the people at the park--everyone everywhere was at that moment watching her from inside her closet.
It was the most delicious, exhilarating thing she’d ever felt. Molten gold pulsed through her veins for minutes on end as she lay there, eyes locked with the thing in the closet.
She woke some time later and her parents helped her clean up, then she went back to sleep on the floor. She scooted up as near to the closet as possible. But the eyes weren’t there anymore.
For months after, she constantly woke in the night unable to move except to turn her head and see the eyes in the closet. Sometimes she thought she saw the outline of a body, small, childlike. Once she thought she saw grey skin. Each time the pleasure of being watched scorched her like fire and she thought she’d die of excitement. She started to hope for it each sleep. She would go mad if the eyes didn’t appear for a few nights in a row. She would leave food to rot in the closet and would dance and sing in front of the door for hours hoping the eyes would appear for her during the day, but they never did. No matter how loudly she cried for the ‘peeky eyes,’ as she called them, they only came when she slept.
She discovered that certain things enhanced the thrill. If she slept without covers (as she had that first night.) Especially if she wet the bed (she did this so many times her parents sent her to a specialist and she had to stop.) Or if she did other humiliating things, such as writing vulgar words all over her skin and face, or wearing the most ugly and torn clothing she could find. One night she took a jar of mayonnaise from the fridge and went to sleep with it smeared all over her hair and face. Each morning she would be certain that everyone alive had seen her in her bed that way. They had all seen her but were unable to mention it, due to the special power of the peeky eyes. Her parents, her friends, her crush, even the man reading the news on TV, all of them wore a certain knowing smirk meant specifically for her. It was wonderful. Every day was wonderful.
Then, to her horror, her parents decided to move house. She cried and screamed about it for weeks leading up to the move. Her parents had precisely zero sympathy after she could give no reason why they shouldn’t move a mere thirty minutes away. She wouldn’t even have to change schools. She cried and raged and then turned to begging--not her parents, but the eyes. She prayed in front of her closet for hours at a time. She went to sleep with pleading messages written on her face, and eventually wrote the new address there, in hopes the peeky eyes would follow her.
But in her new house, in her new closet, the peekies never appeared.
Over the 20 following years she dreamed of that first night--and the feeling of embarrassment shifting into pleasure--at least once per week. But the remembered feeling was a thin, weak imitation. She thirsted for that original thrill constantly. For 20 years she satisfied the desire in myriad other ways that always lost their excitement quickly, like little bursting fireworks, burnt up and gone.
Adult Priyanka swung out of bed and opened the closet door. There were no golden eyes there. It was an empty useless space filled only with shadows. The delicious sensation of being watched had drained out like blood, and she felt grey. She thought about going live on her OnlyFans, but even that had started to lose its appeal. A thousand people watching her strip or gently caress or piss herself was exactly nothing compared to the whole world watching her through the peeky eyes.
It was three AM but she knew she wouldn’t sleep anymore. She paced back and forth for a while then hopped online to check on the people who currently lived in her childhood home. It had been a few weeks since she looked them up. The house was only 20 miles away and she often drove past it to see if the lights were on. Sometimes she stopped and watched for a while to see if anyone was in her old room. If it hadn’t been on the second floor she would have crept up to the window. For all she knew the room might even be empty or used for storage, with nothing for the peeky eyes to watch but the gathering dust.
She’d learned the current owners names years ago, and now scrolled through their Facebook pages. Mary and Jay (what insipid names,) a thirty something blonde couple with money and lots of hobbies. Neither of them had posted in several days. Jay’s last post was a selfie of him holding luggage in an airport. “Off to Amsterdam, back in two weeks!” Priyanka stared at the picture, and a plan took root in her mind. She pulled a coat over her sweat stained nightshirt, grabbed her keys and shot out the door.
She broke the speed limit the entire drive over while she hummed the peeky song she’d invented as a child. Peeky eyes, peeky eyes, come out and see me peeky eyes.
Some instinct made her park a block away and walk up to the house. The night air chilled her bare legs. She’d not even taken time to put on shoes, and cracks in the sidewalk bit into her skin. All the lights in the house were off, and she crept up to the front door in the dark. It was locked, of course. She went around the side of the house trying all the windows. Her feet got wet in the dewy grass, then muddy as she pushed through shrubs to try each window. She gasped with delight when one of the kitchen windows slipped upward. She pulled out the screen and scrambled inside. A dog barked somewhere down the street, and she hurriedly shut the window behind her.
Even in the dark, it was obvious. The tilt of the ceiling, the island countertop, the cabinets, the location of the fridge, it all washed over her in a dizzying wave of nostalgia. Her kitchen, in her house. There was the hall, and the stairs. How many hundreds of times had she walked down that hall as a girl? How many more hundreds of times in her dreams since then? And that floorboard, still cracked. Priyanka felt as if she were shrinking into her ten year old self. Without really knowing why, she opened the fridge. Cool air and yellow light buffeted her face. She saw cans of beer and soda, packages of meat, condiments, and a plastic takeout container of what looked like some kind of curry, with a crown logo on it that said ‘Spice King.’ “Peeky eyes, peeky eyes,” she sang softly to herself, and took the container of curry.
Up the stairs. The third step creaked exactly as it always had, and she giggled. “Creaky peeky,” she said. She could hardly believe her room was right there, mere yards away. There was her door, her own door that her hands had touched a thousand times. Her sweat and her tears (and even her blood that one time) were on that door and in that room. She gripped the knob, her heart in her throat.
A bed with rumpled blankets, in the wrong place. A dresser, also wrong. A vanity and mirror in the corner, all wrong--but there, the closet, that was right. The same closet door! The same sliding door, and there, the handle which could even still have her fingerprints, and it was open halfway, just as it had been on that night. Her breath roared in her ears. She peered into the darkness of the closet.
There was a shifting sound like something moving against cloth. The room was perfectly silent, as if the walls were soundproofed and the silence seemed to press in on her ears, but then she heard it again: a little shifting sound, a tiny motion. Something had moved, but she did not see the eyes. She stood right in front of the dark opening to the closet, but didn’t see the eyes.
“Peeky peeky,” she said, barely above a whisper. “Come out and see me.” She dropped her coat and pulled off her nightshirt. She kicked her panties to the floor. “Peeky, Peeky.” She opened the curry and dumped it over her head. She smeared the coldly congealed stuff across her head and face, then down over her chest and arms. “Come out and see me, please, please.” She bounced on the balls of her feet with her hands pressed together.
Another shifting sound, then a voice, a small and thin voice that was high but also raspy and rough: “Hello?”
“I’m here!” Priyanka said. “Oh I’m here, please see me!” A key clicked in a lock inside her and she was filled with thrilling molten gold, and the closet was filled with pure gold, gold everywhere, all one huge golden eye watching her, swallowing her. She laughed and let go of herself, and hot liquid ran down her thighs and onto her feet. “Peeky!” she screamed.
“What the gently caress?” Someone else screamed, and the liquid golden eye vanished like a dream and the closet was only filled with plain yellow light. Priyanka spun around, piss still dripping off her knees.
Someone was sitting up in the bed, someone with frazzled blonde hair and wide, blurry eyes. “What the gently caress!” Mary screamed again, and frantically dialed on her cellphone.
Priyanka stepped backward into the closet, back until she smeared the wall with curry, then she closed the door in front of her.
|# ¿ Oct 10, 2021 23:57|
|# ¿ Oct 12, 2021 00:45|
one of a kind
I noticed one October evening that a maple tree behind my house was moving in a strange way, as if being buffeted by a gust, while all the other trees stood still. I thought perhaps someone was shaking it, and looked through my binoculars.
I saw nothing, except that the tree was now standing still while those around it rocked in the wind. I decided to investigate.
I don’t know what I expected. Maybe an animal, or some kids climbing in the branches. But there was nothing, not even wind. I put a hand on the rough bark and looked up through the leaves with my binoculars. They were just beginning to turn orange.
I didn’t notice anything at the time, but thinking back, maybe there was a shift in the air. A minute but sudden change in pressure or temperature.
As I reached the edge of the trees I felt certain something was amiss. Perhaps I had noticed it subconsciously some time earlier, but it was only when I stopped to contemplate what was bothering me that I noticed my bedroom light was on.
I had certainly turned the light off before I left. It is a habit of mine to turn off all the lights in the house whenever I leave, even for a stroll. I was starting to think I was losing my mind when I saw some motion in my room. Someone was standing at the window.
I peered through my binoculars, and saw a man also looking through binoculars, looking out the window in my direction. My heart pounded, and I thought burglar! Then he lowered the binoculars and I saw his face. My face. It was me in my room, looking out at the trees. Now I was moving away from the window, now turning out the light, now coming out the front door.
I stood there frozen and watched myself stride across the lawn. That was me, heading over to check the tree. If that was me just a few minutes ago, going out to check the tree, then...
Impossible connections clicked into place. Impossible, but I was looking at it. It made sense, in an impossible way. Somehow that tree had sent me back in time, and there I was, the other me, about to complete the circuit. But what if...
Before I could contemplate the consequences, I darted out of the trees and jumped in front of myself. “Wait,” I said.
We locked eyes and it was the strangest sensation. It was nothing like looking in a mirror. His mouth dropped open, he tensed and his eyes widened with surprise, but he said nothing. To see myself give such candid reactions was like nothing I’d experienced. I knew exactly what he was feeling and thinking, and each facial twitch, each minor movement of an arm or shift in position of his feet made perfect sense.
We stared for minutes. Each time I was about to speak, I realized that he-I must know exactly what I was about to say, so I didn't bother.
Without a word we walked back into the house and sat at the dinner table. After several silent minutes, he spoke. “The tree?” he said. And I, knowing exactly what he meant, said “Yes.”
There followed a mostly mute conversation scattered with muttered ‘do you suppose...’ ‘...but then’ and ‘ah, yes...’ vocalizations, which would have been completely incomprehensible to anyone watching. We came to the unspoken but completely clear agreement that the ‘time rift’ was likely one-way, and that we were stuck with each other.
We also realized that the power to be in two places at once might be exploited in many very profitable ways.
We set to cooking dinner together, and I realized that we were not exactly the same. We both knew what we were going to cook without any discussion, but instead of tripping over one another by both reaching for the same pot, or grabbing at the same ingredient, we worked in perfect sync. I realized that this was because I had a different outlook than him. Since I had left my time and come to his time, I viewed myself as a guest in his house, and he must have thought of me as a visitor. Because of that, our actions were subtly different.
As we ate, ideas for a multitude of scams ran through my mind.
After we washed the plates, we sat out on the porch to watch the sun set. At once we noticed the same strange behavior of the maple tree: it moved while the others were still, then was still while the others swayed. We exchanged a glance, and immediately stood.
“Wait,” I started to say, but he was also placing his hand on my arm and saying the same thing. We ran into the bedroom and he opened the wall safe, shoving stacks of cash into my arms. We emptied out the 60,000 dollars I kept in there, then headed to the tree.
Could it possibly be? We wondered, as I touched the trunk. He followed my lead and caressed the bark as well. We wondered, could it happen again?
A moment later we walked out of the trees and saw ourselves sitting on the porch. I immediately knew which one was ‘me’ from before, because he was much more surprised than the other to see us walk out of the trees with armfulls of cash.
A problem immediately presented itself. We had doubled our fortune, but now had four times as many people to split it amongst. The idea of one of us going through the rift alone was out of the question, because we knew that the one who went would be going on to ‘other’ people, and would not come back to us. We decided we needed something bigger. We needed to duplicate something hugely valuable.
We planned late into the night, then fell asleep in the bed, couch and lounge chairs. I didn’t take the bed, though for some reason it seemed they expected me to.
In the morning we sat on the porch, watched the trees, and ironed out the details to our plan. After an hour it seemed obvious that the tree was continuing to move strangely, and that the rift was not going away.
We initiated the plan. Each of us would spend several thousand dollars to rent a luxury watch for the evening. The most expensive one we could find available to rent was worth nearly 100,000 dollars. So for the price of less than five thousand, we could get 400,000 worth of watches. It was a good start.
It was strange to be separated, and to know that I was at four locations across the city. I felt I knew exactly what I was doing at each place.
We got back that afternoon, and went up to the tree once again. Then, there were eight of us. We all knew it was quickly getting out of hand. But what else was there to do?
Some of us set out to find places where we could sell the watches, others of us went out to rent even more jewelry, the most expensive we could find. Once we had enough money we could start buying in mass quantities, then returning our purchases for a refund after they were duplicated. We milled about the house, coming and going like bees in a hive. Everywhere I looked was my own face. My own all-knowing, perceptive face.
It came time for the eight of us to go through the rift again. We strode toward the tree, our arms laden with jewels and gold. I noticed half the group was hanging back, and I realized they were expecting more of us to come out of the woods before they could go in. The majority of us, I realized, had seen themselves come out of the woods more times than they’d gone in. I should have thought about this more, I really should have.
There were sixteen, then thirty-two of us. I lost track of what everyone was doing, but things still ran like clockwork. We talked in groups of threes or fours and everyone knew exactly what they were doing. Everyone but me, that is. For some reason I was lagging behind, and had to ask questions constantly, while everyone else still communicated in the half-verbal mumble speak that I’d known the first few days.
By the time there were 64 of us, I was bumping into people and interrupting conversations and messing up plans and causing constant disturbances in the house.
As soon as I realized it, of course, I knew everyone else did as well. As soon as I thought I should probably get out of there, they knew I’d be trying to leave.
A dozen pairs of my hands grabbed me and led me to the basement. I knew it was useless to struggle or yell, and they knew they wouldn’t need to force me. I was different, yes, but I was still me. I knew exactly what I’d do if I were one of them.
I’m sitting here in the basement now, wondering how I could have missed it. It was such a minor difference, but one that affected my perception of everything. As time passed, the difference compounded, until every other me noticed that I was a stranger among them.
Out of all of us, I was the only one who had never seen anyone come out of the woods. Maybe that made me the ‘original,’ maybe not. It made me different, is what it did.
I hear them upstairs now, mumble-discussing my fate. I’m thinking about it myself, and I’m having a hard time avoiding the inevitable conclusion that they’ll have to get rid of me. They can’t have me out in the world, disrupting their plans, adding chaos to their formulas.
I hope they’ll send me through the rift on my own, but they don’t think like I do. They think that if they send me through the rift, that another me who another group sent away might come out of the woods to trouble them again.
No, I know what they’ll decide to do.
As soon as I come to the realization, of course, they do as well. I hear dozens of chairs scoot and dozens of feet pad across the floor above me.
They’ll be coming down to get rid of me. Not two or five or ten of them, no. Like everything, they’ll do it together. Every one of them.
The door opens, and a swarm of my uneasy yet determined faces pour into the room.
|# ¿ Oct 17, 2021 22:11|
I’ve got a dictionary, I’ve got scissors, I’ve got glue. This is going to be the best world ever built. My palms are sweaty, knees weak—which words do I pick? Petrichor, Plethora, Cellar, Door, and Mauve… but what else? 495 to go… my world is going to be very flimsy, limp, and moist with way too much glue and not enough paper.
|# ¿ Oct 19, 2021 06:02|
best prompt in the history of td i'll do it
|# ¿ Nov 10, 2021 06:20|
THE MOUNTAIN! The mountain! He is looking at the mountain. Purple mountainmajesty clouds obscure the snowy top of the mountain.The mountain wears the clouds like a beret that swoops gently down one side of the mountainhead. The clouds are kind, he thinks, they are soft and kind to the mountain. Wind blows the clouds away and the sun sparkles on the snowy tip of the mountain as if the mountain has glistening white hair. The sky is gold. The sky is pink. The sky is purple and blue and black and stars. I am looking at the mountain, he says. The mountain ain in my eye I. The mountain has a name ta. The mountain has a voice that is feathersoft but as heavy as the moon and as solid and ungiving as the world. The mountain has a brain. I am sure, he says, I am sure the mountain has a brain liquid and meat bleeding and round creased and mazelike paths encased in skullstone under snowskin. The mountain has a mouth. The mountain has a mouth, he says. The mountainmouth is a dark hollow at the base of the mountain. The mountainmouth is a hard cave tunnel tube wet from rainwater and mistwater and breath from the mountainlungs down in the earth among the stone roots that grow down from the mountainfeet. The mountain speaks its name co. The name ma is carried on the hot mountainbreath moist from the deep earth and sssses through leaves and needles across air into his ear like a wet tongue whisper. The voice of the mountain is a low rumble and he feels it in his spine and buzz in his teeth AAAAAAAAA OOOOOOO MMMMMMMMM AAAAAAAAAA he vibrates with the voice of the mountain. He is very close to the mountain. He has a tent. He has a compass. He has moved through trees and over streams. He is on a quest and is near the end of his quest. He is near the mountainfeet beneath which the stone roots grasp deep into the ground and feed the mountain from the cool earth. The earth rumbles beneath his feet close to the mountainfeet both of their feet rumble and he feels the vibration of the voice of the mountain in his chest THUDing with his heart on ribs. The mountain speaks its name TA and he raises his eyes UP. Jagged white lines and purple shadows, icy air whips clouds across sharp peaks. A scatter of blackfleck birdsmoke swirls cawkakaka and creak crik! trees sway left and right and the sky is WIDE and the mountain splits the sky with whiteblue blades and stomps earth with bluegrey feet. His body hums with the mountain’s name CO
George Vancouver was a British officer in the Royal Navy. George Vancouver was born 22 June 1757. George Vancouver explored and charted the Pacific coast region of North America on the HMS Discovery. George Vancouver also explored the Hawaiian islands and parts of Australia. George Vancouver the explorer! George Vancouver named many things after himself: Vancouver Island, Canada. Vancouver, the city in British Columbia. Vancouver, the city in Washington State, Mount Vancouver on the Canadian-US border. Another mountain, also Mount Vancouver in New Zealand. George Vancouver also named things after his friends: The Puget Sound, after Discovery’s second lieutenant Peter Puget. Mount Baker after Discovery’s 3rd lieutenant Joseph Baker. Mount St. Helens after his friend, Alleyne Fitzherbert, 1st Baron St Helens. Whidbey Island after naval engineer Joseph Whidbey. And Mount Rainier MA after his friend, rear admiral Peter Rainier
mother of waters snowcovered mountain talol tahoma tacobeh pooskaus
Air is flowing over him and toward the mountain. Wind thrusts between his legs and under his arms and pulls his hair and dives toward the mountain. The mountainmouth is wide open. The mountainlungs swell and suck air into the mouth and down the wet throat tunnel with a deep groan howl gulping air into the mountainlungs swelling butterfly wet and pink in the earth. The mountain is taking a breath, he says. The mountain is going to speak. Air is flying. The sky is diving. Leaves and branches snap tumble twistwind in the breathsky trees bend downlow bowdown to the mountainmouth. Sky is black and clouds whitegrey boiling steamfog over the mountainhead. The mountainmouth gulps the sky and the mountain swells. The mountain is going to speak its name CO Steelstone clouds squeeze and arcing glowlines carve cloudcurves. Lightning snakes hiss. Airscream shrieks into the mountainmouth throat tunnel. The mountain is full of breath sucks more breath stretch pregnant skin belly. Overfull throatchoke croak. Veins bulge bright blood on the mountainhead and mountainsweatdrip steamburst redglow lines crisscross mountainface. It’s going to happen! He says It’s happening! The mountain will shout its name MA ! Flashburst airblast icerain stones sting his faceskin! Blacksky shatter earth crackboom kneequake SKYQUAKE earpulsing nosebleed SCREAM howling throatburst spitblood tonguetearing SHOUT
The mountain! TA
The Mountain! CO
THE MOUNTAIN! MA
d r i p
d r i p
d r i p
dripdripdripdripdrip drip drip drip drip d r i p d r i p drop drip drop pit patter pat pit pat spit spatter spat
Rain clatters hollow on the tent fabric. He is in the tent.
The sky grumbles. The sky is outside the tent.
He looks at the ground through a hole torn in the bottom of the tent. It is wet mud. He is sitting crosslegged in a tent looking at the ground. Dripdripdripdripd
A black beetle is crawling through the mud. The beetle struggles through water and soggy leaves. He is watching the beetle.
The beetle came from under the tent and is crossing the hole and then it will go back under the tent. He sees the beetle only for this small time while it crosses the hole in the bottom of his tent. He has torn a hole into the beetle’s life and is watching.
The beetle is slowing down.
The beetle’s legs are covered with mud and its black shell is wet and flecked with dirt. Its antennae wave left and right.
The beetle’s legs are in the rainwater. The beetle paddles with its six legs and climbs onto a leaf. The leaf is sinking in the mud.
dripdripdripdrop water flows across the hole.
The sky rumbles softly and far off. The sky is leaving. dripdrip.
The beetle is sitting on the leaf, not moving. The flow of water tips the beetle forward and the soggy leaf sinks into the mud.
Water flows over the beetle.
|# ¿ Nov 15, 2021 03:04|
hell yah put me in coach
i am offensive!
|# ¿ Nov 17, 2021 00:43|
There she is, on the park bench facing the sea. She wears the grey knit cap like always when it’s cold. There are little white knit flowers. Fog breath puffs surround her head. She is a silhouette against the sea and morning grey light. There she is, he thinks. Will I actually say anything? He is holding two cups of Starbucks. The heat is nice on his fingers in the crisp morning air. His feet crunch on gravel then shush on grass. Breathe, in nose out mouth. Think of your feet on the ground, everything is normal. Waves wash the sand a dozen yards away. Gulls trill. Clouds whisper. Only a few steps separate him from the bench, then she’ll look up and smile and blink away daydreams and brush some hair from her cheek. He lines up words on the end of his tongue: I dreamed about you last night. No. You showed up in my dreams. No. Have you ever been sailing? We were on a sailboat last night. No. Hey, funny thing, I had a dream about you. No. I dreamed we were sailing under a starry sky, and we talked all night while the waves rocked us and the sail rustled gently above us. I held your hand and stared into your eyes and told you I loved you No. There she is, red cheeks. There’s the bench, with the splintered plank on his side that always pokes him behind the knee. The sea sighs, birds cry. She looks up at him and smiles. She blinks away daydreams and brushes stray hairs from her face. “Hi,” she says. He sits down, hands her a coffee. They sip in silence and look at the waves. I have about 20 minutes to say it, he thinks. In 20 minutes the sun will be risen and he will go to his job at the dock, and she to hers in the highrise. I dreamed of you last night. The words are in his mouth, pressing on the backs of his lips, but they dissolve and he lets out a breath. Her hand is on the coffee cup, resting on her knee, steam rising. The heat from her thigh warms his thigh, an inch away. Real her, solid and silent, physically there right next to him, real. It was so different last night. Real her is married, has a daughter. He also has a daughter, and is divorced. Real her has money, is educated. He does not and is not. I dreamed of you last night and I loved you, and you loved me back. I told you I loved you and you smiled so softly. The boat tilted on a playful wave and tipped you into my arms and we laughed, and you looked up at me with starglint in your eyes, your nose and cheeks wind red. No, no, no. Ten minutes have passed. Gold appears on the horizon. The sea is gold and purple and the sky is turning orange and pink. Clouds are gold and dark. The air is changing. He is slipping out of the world where he will tell her about the dream, and into a world where he won’t. He feels the shift as if a ghost is leaving his body. I dreamed of you last night. We talked about us, the future, and love. We were on a sailboat. In the morning I thought: do I really feel these things about you? No no no. His coffee is almost gone, the sun is in the sky and touches his face with a gentle heat, the clouds are leaving on far off travels, the waves are louder and brighter with silver and blue and the sky is whitening. He feels her move next to him. Her finger tap tap taps on the side of her coffee and it is empty, hollow. I dreamed we spent the night at sea in each other's arms, and I can’t forget the feeling of your heat, your cheek on my chest, the smell of your hair. Your heat and weight have burrowed into my chest. She is turning, shifting. He grasps wildly at handfuls of words like sand and can hold nothing I dreamed I dreamed I dreamed. She is facing him now, sideways on the bench. She lightly touches the back of his hand. “Hey,” she says, uncertain, embarrassed. He’s never seen her face like this. “I had a dream about you,” she says.
Gulls cry overhead. Clouds are long gone, the sky is pure and clear. She and he are silhouetted against the morning on the park bench facing the sea. Little puffs of breath surround their heads.
|# ¿ Nov 22, 2021 03:14|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2023 10:30|
okay i'll orbit
|# ¿ Nov 30, 2021 01:29|