Some 2020 crits.
Week #390 - Dressed to Kill Your Darlings
Mrenda - The Importance of Strong Drink, Strong Emotions, and Crying in Bars
Very strong literary detail and precision, in service of a relatively modest though effectively delivered goal, this still would sit better as part of a longer work - as a story this feels slight; friend sad, gets comforted. In that context all the anxious should i shouldn’t i at the beginning feels a little pointless, or at least under justified. Good words tho.
Doctor Eckhart - Sir Loin
This is clunky but sort of endearing, and reads like you’re writing until the point of the story arrives, which, fair cop, i do myself more often than not. Trouble is this kind of ploddy domestic detail is sort of writing a cheque for an ending that amounts to something and I’m not sure your account is good for it, because all that’s in it is a fairly lame meat joke.
Azza Bamboo - A Six Legged Fear With Wings
This is an interesting one because it’s crammed full of the interesting detail I generally like and it’s also full of exciting bike action, but not much really actually happens which I (again) normally wouldn’t like. However there’s something real in the relationship between the two bike fellas and their advances and retreats. A good, thoughtful piece.
Tyrannosaurus - do not kill yourself for a job - you are replaceable - like a cog or a lightbulb or a pen or a small potted plant that sits on a receptionist's desk or a receptionist's desk or a receptionist
The very long title gag can be overused, but here it sits very sweetly with the receptionist gag - as always the heavy comic lifting in long lists of things jokes is done by the order, and the implied importance thereby conveyed, and you lean right the hell into it. That said as a confirmed calvinoid i love me some list gags so your wordseeds are plooping onto fertile soil. A similarly high level of execution (lol) applies to the rest of the story, because this kind of hypercorporate hyperbole is well trodden ground, but your robo-terminator is actually sort of endearing. The story itself doesn’t have a lot more to say than its premise, though, but you get to the end and it’s a fairly satisfying if slightly thin combo of justified revenge and comedy.
Saucy_Rodent - Raincoat
Some odd similarities with T-rexes, with the (good and funny) Raincoated Things grooving round being societal metaphors and what have you but you know whattttt there’s not much more to this than that. Plus the list of SOCIETY CRIMES is really extremely lame and the list gags are rather more generic, so the execution does not quite hit the mark. That’s balanced out by a surprising and enjoyable close-out, though, so this basically passes. With a little more attention to the details of how you deliver a fairly cliched premisei think this would have been as good as its predecessor.
Chili - Blurry
A nicely sharp, subtle piece - it’s not trying to do much more than present a character, and a mood and it does that very well. We’re still in metaphor territory with the glasses that either convey telepathy or allow our down-at-heel protag to See what’s Really There, but it sensibly doesn’t try to resolve exactly which it is, and the choice of the quick flashback to the shrink is a good way of conveying that. This kind of story could be described as a vignette, but i think it’s more that it sets a small goal and achieves that with good use of specific detail and loosely layered events that all bear on the central metaphor. Gj.
Anomalous Amalgam - Maritime Law
Well, nice to have something other than relatively bland competence. This is a gigantic mess, though with some entertainingly overheated imagery. The first problem is writing people talking like they’re writing, with yer elaborate subclauses and grammatical constructions, the hilariously out of nowhere ghost fight at the end, and the amusingly intense focus on muscly legs. Still this is not unrescuable - the point the ghost pirate makes at the end is basically what you were driving at and it’s a solid basis for the story, but I’m thinkin you got there and needed to hit post so possibly the grimy piratical dandies of this yarn didn’t get their full measure of attention. Still: not dull.
Thranguy - The Relic
I bang on about the importance of good details and observation and specificity all the time, but I think that should always have an implicit ‘of something worthwhile’ because one thing this rather dull beardyarn isn’t lacking is detail, we’ve got feasts and tales and histories and oh god please end. I read this twice just now to see if there was some obscure yet brilliant Thranguivian point that i’m missing because dumb, but: nope. It’s just a boring story about a beard.
Week #394 - The Questions of Interpersonal Closeness
Doctor Eckhart - And my World Tumblrs Down
There is a genre of story that is an easy target for critique, which I’m deciding to call the bucket on head story. This is where a person sees a bucket above their head and then the bucket falls on their head. The bucket may or may not be filled with something humorous or disgusting, but you know what it’s a bucket, and it was up there, and it fall down because of gravity. It’s not surprising or interesting that it fell down because that’s just how gravity works. This made me think of that; in this case the bucket was full of boring irc chat.
Communist Bear - The Paths of Two Brothers
This one really doesn’t work at all without the prompt, as that is what carries the implicit irony - that the protag won’t speak to his brother about the lifelong regret - which I’m willing to forgive, though normally I only read stories as self-contained units. But even with that knowledge it’s v pedestrian, and suffers heavily from not having the brother in it. More importantly, the professor who’s gonna confess that his badass life got given to him doesn’t actually seem that badass or even very happy. Maybe arthur is quite happy? Who knows. Fundamentally this suffers most from deliberately not telling us the interesting part of the story, which is an artefact of the prompt, but that’s exactly the problem we’re here to solve, you get me?
derp - On the Lake
The sensory imagery of the second para and throughout is just absolutely mint here, which unfortunately means that the line about becoming a figure skater is unintentionally comical, like stopping a Schubert string quartet for a quick powerpoint about trout migration. Would have been well-advised to cut that line, because the story as a whole leans hard into the sensory components of memory, and it’s rather effective for it (and you deliver all the necessary info much more elegantly elsewhere). That said, I’m not sure this really lands, because nothing actually changes or matters, for all the skill on display A BIT LIKE FIGURE SKATING IF U THINK ABOUT IT whoa surprise winter olympics burn out of nowhere
Saucy_Rodent - 14560 Shannon Parkway, Rosemount, MN 55068
This is sort of straining for significance through lots of (yes) good details, but I don’t think it gets there. The question it’s posing is why is protag bro risking his life to get deceased bro’s ashes out of a clearly deadly fire scenario and the answer (helpfully laid out in para 4) is that it’s the only way for him to be free and come ON saucy rodent that doesn’t even pretend to make sense. Words are good enough for you to just about get away with it but this doesn’t make the nut and no amount of well-deployed fire and smoke metaphors is enough to change that.
Haven - Rehearsal
This is something of a bucket falling on head story as well, it’s tolerable reportage of someone putting their time in therapy into practice but it absolutely needs something more to be worth reading. As is you’ve got a list of bad dad stuff, then the protag is like SCREW YOU BAD DAD and the story ends. None of this is poorly depicted, to be clear, it’s solid psychological portraiture, it’s just not interesting. Consider twiddling the knobs - what aspect of this story, if changed, would make you go… huh…?
Yoruichi - The Song in the Deep
‘He could eat his sperm, he thought, if he jettisoned them here in the lonely blackness’ DON’T DOXX ME. this is actually impressively rich in sympathetic horniness for how horrific the participants are so bravo for that. It works because you do such a good job of laying out the thoughts and more importantly emotions of our weird little piscine buddy, garnish it with a bunch of believably horrible research deets then cap it off with a lovely little image at the end. Excellent example of a shorter story that ends exactly where it should - I don’t think there’s much more to say.
a friendly penguin - Walk Your Own Path
Fyi if you spend your first ten paras deciding to walk through a door (with, tbc, zero likelihood that your protag won’t decide to walk through the door), you have a steep hill to climb in convincing me to like your story. Add on some blandly described elfin weirdness, clunky phrases like ‘fought a scream’ and a truly mythically terrible bit of poetry and hoo boy it’s basically vertical. Also what the hell happens, some dull people walk down a road? Lucky to avoid a dm/imprisonment in a crystal hillock until the faery prince returns from BadWordia.
Chili - Gotta Have You
This is a classic example of a story that could cut its first para without being worse than it already is. Actually, first two paras. No, ten. Seriously, you could start with the protag’s double sitting down in paragraph 11 and we’d be roughly where we need to be. Luckily the rest of the story makes up for…(checks remainder of story) hmm. Oh dear, it’s a little extremely dull and nothing hapens or matters. So maybe what we have hear is something where the lack of any particular insight or interest is … sort of the point? But (and hear me out) maybe it’s a bad dull point? YES, yes, that’s something to think on.
Pththya-lyi - The Sweater Curse
You’re probably better avoiding goonisms like ‘computer toucher’ in TD, not because they’re intrinsically bad but they do make judges frown and you should be going for the opposite, and lower in the facial region. That said, this is a little clunky but not completely terrible - it does suffer from being another bucket/head scenario though, at the beginning of the story we know that protag loves his woefully terminal gf, and at the end of the story that knowledge is still nestled within our brainmeats like a alien egg made of cliches rather than protoflesh. I don’t know what you could have had her encode into the sweater but i’m fairly sure anything else would have been more interesting. Even have her, idk, spell it wrong?
Applewhite - Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Some charming little prose raisins in this story muffin, i like ‘went to bed and thought hairy thoughts’ and ‘the barista was in cahoots’, but really this is just a nice silly story that delivers what it wants to with some faintly cartoony characters, good strong motivation and a nice subdued flickflack ending.
Thranguy - The Oracle of Northgate Mall
Getting strong stranger things s2 vibes from this which is in no way a bad thing, everyone malls are the best jumping off point for spooky. The intro is long, but that helps the first spooky para land (with the buzzing fluorescents and the torch beams) butttt… then it takes kind of a left turn and we are in a contrived oracle scenario (which tbf you did state up front) and wise uncle dylan somehow knew and it’s tied up in a knot that is perhaps a little too neat.
Sitting Here - The Clarity
Oof, this is a ride. I do like stories that just lay out their premise at this length, it’s nearly always a stronger play than dragging it out, and this one gets right into it. Girl sees R E A L I T Y , go! This is a good example of knob twiddling, because it’s super easy to imagine a similar version of this story that just stays witth the horrible vision of humanity and aliveness that she/we have in the middle, but it pushes further and both finds a surprising and hopeful avenue but also brings us a picture of two people together at the end, without being saccharine. Lovely piece.
kurona_bright - Hidden Moon (1236 words)
Platinum certified pop star sneaks off with her buddy who has a crush on her, and they come to a tentative understanding… I don’t know why I find this dull, but I do. It feels like eavesdropping on teenagers talking, which it might be? It’s a little unclear how old these little fellas are, but in any case i find it hard to care, and there are all these other characters and nothing really gets resolved and just yawwwwwn.
Chairchucker - The Heart Wants to Eat Your Face
Hi chairchucker! I’m instantly keen on finding out about the facephagic lizard people and hope your protagonist retains her face to the end of the story. And then! Oh no! But! LEGO (™) brand brick robot! Driven by the president! And she’s good, but…!! OH NO!! And there’s the end of the story, with the lego robot punching itself so hard in the head it explodes the president of the earth who’s also a lizard. Or, you know, Chuckersday.
Week #398 - at the end of the tunnel
RandomPauI - No title
In this kind of case I’d always rather see your rambling sentences rather than a selfconscious explanation of why you don’t have them. Maybe put them next to each other and move the order round, then make another one to fill the gap? Invent a character whose superpower is that they can say those words, and make them mean something?
Simply Simon - Phantom Heat
Looking in vain for a ‘horny magic’ prompt here, because woof I’m fannin’ myself over here i tell u what with the proudly erect pillars and smooth olive skin bits being pressed against each other, phew. But, you know what? This really isn’t bad. It’s redolent with steamy wizard sex but that’s a relatively unexplored genre in the dome 2 date so i will allow it. I like all the detail, i like the last minute turn around and the final image is all of a piece with the humid gay sex sorcery, so i will also permit it. I think it suffers from no dialogue a bit maybe, so the mythically hot prestidigitators are a little blander than they could be, but really this may have been an unlucky loser, it’s got a lot of, uh, juice.
PTSDeedly Do - At Their Estate
Guy wants thing, is worried he won’t get thing, gets thing without any effort or even action? Cool story bro. (ps that was sarcastic). I might have liked this more if there was more of an exploration of expectations, realistic or otherwise, maybe a thought about whether getting more education funded would actually help given he just bombed out last time?
Anomalous Amalgam - Left Behind
You spin a tolerable post-apoc dumdedoo yarn here, though i could maybe question where they get all the electricity to solder stuff with, but eh let’s assume there’s like idk a windmill creaking around somewhere in the background. I confess I was getting ready for something to happen in the last few paras, but when you pull off the twist/cock block of the protage accomplishing her dream then having it go toodles and vanish I was surprised and amused. I think it fails, but you’re on to something - all we can do with our words is give people stuff they do or don’t expect and that was deffo the latter. I think if you’d managed to tie the idea of vanishing back into the story it would have landed a lot better, as is it’s just a mildly amusing wtf with a lot of only barely necessary word gumbo slathered on it.
Nethilia - The Power of A Name
Your usual strong clear words here, and a nice metaphor for, idk, a bunch of things, but there’s an element of the bucket on head story with the protag getting what they wanted = though to be fair that’s the prompt for the week. If there was something unexpected in this one I’d like it better, I think.
Hawklad - The Keepers in the Sun
Some good hell aviation action here, with INTO THE CONVECTION ZONE and THE ENGINES CANNAE TAKE IT and THE UNRELENTING RADIATION AND MAGNETIC FURY. then it turns out it’s IN THE LITERAL SUN goddamit my meters are peaking how can they send a girl like that out in a sun-plane like this on a day like that (sun doesn’t shine at night obv). It’s vg thrilling excitement words, and climaxes nicely with OPEN THE BLAST DOORS then the protag starts saying things like "Medicine and life extending therapies have made natural death unnecessary. Population control has solved all of humanity’s problems.” and let’s just say the mood takes a sharp turn. I don’t actually like the bit with the s
Thranguy - Oblique
This is weirdness done right, lots of spooky ooky details and strange occult happenstances, tied up in a bundle with some recogniseable nostalgic food stuff - nostalgic to the point of cliche, but this is how you do cliche well, by using it as a hook to hang weirdness off. I’m really not exactly clear on what our protag’s deal is by the end, but I can see a spectrum of possibiliites and all the colours are interesting.
Djeser - Izal's God
Aww, this is really sweet, for all that it’s basically a riff on terry pratchett, I like your mellow shepherdess protag and tiny angry gods yapping at things they can’t control is never not fun to read. The development is well done, and I like how you don’t have him chill out too soon. Two points of critique - the protag is maybe a little lacking in texture, for all I like her, and the last line is unecessarily cheesy. Neat and effective idea didn’t quite stick the landing.
Yoruichi - Ride of the Swan King
I like this story a lot, not least because it has such good control over tone - at the start with the pathos of our baldy king getting dragged around on his dumb sleigh while his rear end in a top hat son stands in a sneery sort of way, then the smooth, absurd 180 to legit insane fantasy. It’s always a risk ending with AND THEN THEY WENT OFF TO HAVE MORE ADVENTURES but you get away with it here because we witness the change of state happening. I’m also glad you didn’t bother explaining anything more, it would have lessened the delightful fairy tale atmosphere
Solitair - The Garden of Ephemeral Delights
Goddam there’s a lot of detail and mushrooms and insects and mushrooms in this one. As i noted a few stories back, though, detail needs to serve something and what that is in this case is a little unlcear to me. We have a weird insect lady and she does cool weird insect/mushroom stuff, and her guy’s made her a mushroom/insect room and …? I mean it’s a nice surprise for her but I’m otherwise baffled as to why i should care.
Antivehicular - The Visitor at the Clinic
It’s roundly unfair to sum up stories in a pithy line, since it elides all the interesting details that make words worth reading, but in this case: old guy meets cloned wife, they have tea, it’s sort of nice i guess? I don’t know there’s much more to this one than that. It’s well and tidily written, but: dull, even to the title.
Armack - The Taste is Divine
Getting in quick with the lol is really not a bad way to start and opining on the relative flavour profiles of different world religions is a decent way to get that, but it’s the possible purchase of ghost hunting equipment that really made me smile. This is a fun ride that sketches out its own particular perimeter of absurdity then colours in the resulting shape with some broad washes. Not sure you needed the last para; in fact, i’m sure you didn’t. Still, fun, and funny.
Week #408 - WELCOME TO THE BONE ZONE
Salgal80 - Choosing a Path
I was enjoying this murky, manky tale of shamanhood and parental unwillingness to recognise their children’s lifepath and honestly couldn’t remember why we’d DM’d it, then: ahah oh yes the sudden village murder outta nowhere. THere’s actually a fair bit to like in this but it should have chosen a better landing pad. Still, I like the evocative images and the words are decent to good.
take the moon - thaw // bookends
As usual your words are very rich and strange, and your control over sentence level writing is great, but as is also fairly common you go to places that are verging on too abstruse to easily follow. I still like it but can see how this got its DM.
Saucy_Rodent - rear end GHOST!
Sort of a chairchucker meets quest for fire vibe here, which is, you know, a bold play but let’s see how it works out for him. Oh wait we already know - this garnered a delicious juicy losertar, so let’s instead see if we still agree! A short time later: Yes! We do! This kind of broad as poo poo humour needs (surprisingly) the lightest of touches and gags like ‘Glorious House of Reliably Pretty Good Wings’ have a worrisome odour of Trying too Hard feculating all off them like stink lines from an old timey cartoon. And the protag falling on his rear end and releasing the queen of whatnot so she runs over him in a ghost humvee is wacky but not in a lol way. Unfortunately this is the story equivalent of airline food jokes and deserved its brutal lot.
crimea - One Body
HE DIDN’T REALISE HE WAS ON THE VERGE OF DISCOVERING THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF BONES is such a delightfully comic line i’d like to think it was deliberate but I’m fairly sure it is not. I’m also confident that a pause of a nanosecond (sorry, ‘perhaps’ a nanosecond, there’s doubtless some room on the top and bottom there) is only enough time for light to move 30 centimeters so is probably undetectable even by the trained eye of a doctorally qualified individual such as the protagonist. There are any number of oddities and errors in the rest of the story, such as an unnamed observer and lines like ‘a sensation creeped up to him that he wasn’t alone in the room’ but really this is just an absurd pointless shambles of a story that makes as much sense as the riddle of the consciousness of bones itself (very mysterious)
sparksbloom - A Present
This starts as a decent enough observational of a couple of sisters, but doesn’t really put the pieces together for all its potentially interesting details.
Something Else - The War for Your Soul
This is absurdly grand guignol demon on angel violence while a baby watches and totally absolutely shouldn’t work but the tone of the demon protag’s internal monologue is somehow just right, and the crazy early peter jackson level splatter porn is weirdly just what the story needs and is a perfect counterpoint to the sweet and oddly gentle close-out. This was a fairly atypical winner in a reasonably weak week, but it still makes me chuckle.
a friendly penguin - Bone Tree
Your structural decision to make the story a pair of monologues, one dull and witless and the other reading like some kind of avian necropiratethusiast wiki dump was an interesting and arguably misguided one. You could have made this work but the two parts were so disjunct you would have been better just keeping the human as a big dumb creature the crow was observing. Basically the story itself was reasonable, this is just down to execution.
flerp - Little Piece
A flerp grief story, full of good observations and well-drawn details. This doesn’t quite close the loop to do more than evoke an emotion and describe some things, but that’s maybe not what you were aiming for?
Antivehicular - Old Things Unearthed
The prompt conceit is skilfully and stylishly declivered, and woven into the emotional throughline of this piece, and i love the professional nature of the bone jewel chatter. This was probably a little unlucky not to get an hm, but it’s a nice story that doesn’t try to do more than it needs to.
Thranguy - Never Would Again
This is a brilliant handful of mad fragments that are individually delightful but don’t cohere into more than their sum, but the pick made from the literal Pelvis of Elvis (the Pelvis) is genius, and as a slab of words the whole thing thrums with an agreeable odd and compelling vibration.
Barnaby Profane - They Don’t Play Honky Tonk in Harkus Bend
Nice fast scene setting and world-building, good post apoc/sci fi vibe and charming voice. Main trouble is you don’t really follow through with the promise set out in the beginning and really the story sort of negates itself. The sort of thing where you’d be better ditching the framing story and just telling the tale of that evening.
kiyoshimon - The tale of Stepping Tiger
The protagonist being some kind of legendary action hero is odd here since she just bobs along in the wake of events. The central image evoked by the title is good, but you plop it in right at the end and it’s rather too late. As with my co judge I liked the way you did the meeting with the king - he’s just some guy, which is agreeably contrary to expectations.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 04:16 on Jan 2, 2021
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2021 04:13|
|# ¿ Apr 17, 2021 00:22|
yeah, in too
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2021 20:24|
Week #428 - Objects may be smaller than they appear
crabrock - The Sad State of A Fair
This was labouring under one of my best and most horrible flashrules, ‘this story no verb’. While i normally pay no heed to such things, in this case I feel I should give mr rock a single firm approbative nod for nearly making it, though ‘thank’ is technically a verb. That doesn’t bother me, what bothers me is that nothing happens; one might say well that’s because there are no happening words, but that’s the challenge, innit? I feel like in this case you can see the effort in staying with the hellrules procrustean bounds, instead of maybe looking for a story that can only be told with no verbs. Still, good job, and the steadily degenerating mental state of the hapless pumpkin announcer is p funny.
a friendly penguin - Questions
Bucket on head story, wife miscarries, is sad. This is where you can turn a knob until you get an interesting result which doesn’t have to be sci fi or weirdness = use the perfectly decent reportage as a base and change something so you feel yourself lean forward, wanting to know what happens next.
magic cactus - ...And There Will Your Heart Be Also
This story is full of chunky world building and i think there’s a really good yarn hiding in it, but your framining story does you no favours. Your protag does lots of nice chunky interesting well-described things to find out a story that we the reader don’t even hear, then the story ends. Why not just tell us the story? There’s a bunch of fairly interesting filigree here, but nothing to actually grapple with. Also your first para is a monster, which makes it surprisingly hard to read.
Thranguy - The Galaxy in the Back Room of Grandfather's Basement
I think i liked this more than my co-judges, I find this kind of weirdness dropped into the mundane charming (and it’s an effective register for this length, since you don’t have to bother with balancing world-building and story, which risks falling into the trap of the previous one). I liked the small detail of the galaxy’s pull on their hair, and the well-delivered mumblecore aesthetic. The black hole in the galaxy at the end was maybe a step too far in the metaphor, made it a bit too literal. Why not have it the same, but different? Trees were much bigger back then, after all. Nice piece though.
Tyrannosaurus - a puncher’s chance
This is a simple story, so it’s worth looking into why this doesn’t feel like a bucket on head scenario. First, the voice is innately entertaining and well drawn, which counts for a lot. The structure is great too, longer paras interspersed, use of italics. But I think mainly it’s because it reads as special pleading with himself, so there’s something at stake, and something matters; we kind of know how it’s gonna end up but there’s this faint hope that maybe…?
Weltlich - Miocene Delta
I quite liked this for its thoughtful evocation of prehistoric dinosaur nookie. It’s a pleasant, small story that isn’t trying to do too much, and succeeds. That also means it’s not going to get much more than an in its reader response, but that’s not nothing in these troubled times.
GrandmaParty - Case The House First
This buffyesque yarn is a story of two parts, the well done evocation of suburban depression, and a truncated bit of vampire stabbing at the end. It shares some issues with buffy, tbh, where they get right into the metaphor then have to tidy away the actual monster at the end and it feels a bit abrupt. I think I’d have liked it more if it leaned even further into its influence, and had the vampire be more metaphorical instead of a literal vampire with fangs and bat ears ect ect. The vamp being poor doesn’t really jibe with its ‘haha now u die foolish mortal’ vocal stylings, you get me? It’s really p creepy going round killing sentient creatures especially for money and you touch on that but could have gone a lot further with it - what if the vampire had been more pathetic, for e.g.? A near miss.
Staggy - Enlightenment
It’s ‘pored’ through papers Staggy. I sort of liked your ‘try or try not, there is no do’ message here, but coming at the end it had the flavour of a trick ending which I’’m constitutionally disposed agin, and the idea that a lightbulb going on is enlightenment is a solid pun but not like super deep? Fun little bit, tho.
QuoProQuid - The Oracle
A bit similar to the last, if a little better. I like the robust if not super original joke cadences of the landlord,, and there’s some nice wtf about the little oracle cupboard, plus the punchline lands ok - I’d have left out the devious smile though. A solid gag, well delivered.
flerp - What We Can Do
Flerp, i’m speaking with the utmost level of love and affection here, but you can write happy stories. I believe in your ability to type the words of a story that does not involve death, grief, dead pets, dead parents, siblings, the miasma of endless unknowing that awaits us all at the end of the line, more death. But these are good sad words, so well done. Again.
steeltoedsneakers - Muffins
You’ve got a sort of working class sarariman register that I like but i’m not sure you quite get the internal and external mono/dialogues right - I’d avoid swearwords, they’re nearly always not needed. Look for the space where the swears would go. Also sirens happening the instant a crime occurs is further on the cliche scale than you need to go. I liked your individual writing bits here, though, and I’m totally down with daughter and her insatiable lust for tentacle play dough muffins, in that sense she speaks for all of us.
Antivehicular - Zoetrope
I’ve just finished reading the dark forest so i keep waiting for the ETs to obliterate our sun with a translight photoid whilst in the story but I guess it’s better on balance that didn’t happen. I liked the image here, and tbf it’s struggling against a bastard hellrule, but I can sort of feel the effort = I don’t particularly like the ending spot, though I don’t have a better one for you. How does what they call us inform the rest?
Killer-of-Lawyers - On the Rim
Two people stand, look at a hole for a bit, decide to go to bed.
kiyoshimon - World in a Bottle
I’m struck by how psychotic the scientists are here, if they’ve established the little dudes are intelligent, just Mengele-ing them time after time. So i’m sort of one their side with this one. Greg Bear told a similar (and very good) story with Blood Music, and this hints at some potential interest there but really all the interesting stuff happens next, doesn’t it? I don’t really care about the laser and the buttons and the emergency failsafes. Solid idea though.
|# ¿ Jan 2, 2021 21:55|
The day before
1. We were literally moments from salvation when the sun stopped setting, it was very annoying.
2. I spent the first circuit of the clockface frowning at my friend Gabriel, then gave up since it was making my forehead hurt.
3. We’d moved up into the mountains to be nearer to Heaven when the big moment came, well out of cellphone range, so there wasn’t even any social media to troll for reaction vids and what have you.
4. I’d only made the decision to come up after some very detailed study of the relevant books, and considering the world situation and everything, really a great deal of work, so, yes, I was put out.
5. Gabriel recommended taking it in our stride.
6. “Maybe it’s a test,” he suggested.
7. I explained that I hated tests.
8. “Nonetheless,” he said.
9. His face was fairly stupid, I realised as the time dragged on, without salvation and with way too much sunlight.
10. The trees around our hut were starting to droop, they’d had enough too.
11. Around 2020 hours on the third clock revolution I finally voiced the thought that was troubling me: “Do you think we won’t be saved?”
12. The words felt thick and strange as the dropped from my lips.
13. Gabriel’s beard was pretty long at this point, because of his vow, and it bushed up on his chest as he tipped his head forward in thought.
14. “It seems impossible to me that we will not,” he said at last.
15. We’d only taken a certain amount of food, for obvious reasons, and it was running out, though not as fast as you might think; we didn’t feel as hungry as normal.
16. Seventeen turns of the clock in and I was sitting on a rock atop the scrubby cliff face over our hut with my eyes closed.
17. The bushes were all brown and dry and brittle, puffing away into ash as I brushed past them but I wasn’t thirsty.
18. The sun was directly above me, and I could feel it embracing me like a big warm hug.
19. It made me think of a time when I had a fever, I was very young and my dad carried me into the house from the car and I was awake but I pretended to be asleep and I could feel my legs swinging back and forth as he climbed the stairs.
20. After a period of time I heard some sounds below me and I thought it was probably Gabriel, climbing up to sit beside me on my rock.
21. I shifted over a little so he would have space.
22. He was panting a bit from the climb.
23. We sat beside each other on the warm rock.
24. After a while I leaned over and rested my head on his shoulder.
|# ¿ Jan 4, 2021 07:55|
I'm down, flash me
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2021 02:17|
Some more crits.
Week #425 - THE AGONY OF CASTRATION/THE BLUE LANDSCAPE OF THE BLISS
Chili - Short and Sweet
This is one of those high concept numbers that needs fairly precise execution to really land - you’re running a present tense scenario, viewed from the future (since she know’s it’s the last date) with undifferentiated fantasy sequences interspersed. The last are actually fairly good and effective, and the grand guignol violence layered over slightly bland everyday drama is a neat trick. I think it doesn’t quite work because i don’t think you nail the bland everyday drama - our hapless protag should expect a slapback dropping the big L on a first date, and ‘hates dating’ is an insanely weak motivation, plus the final line deflates any drama you built up. I think this would have been really good if we’d felt more actual empathy with the protags RL situation, as it is it falls flat which is a pity because it’s a solid gimmick. Def worth reworking, I think.
MockingQuantum - Overgrowth
Writing straight action in this format is always a bit of a risk, because action isn’t interesting. The emotional consequences of action are interesting, action itself isn’t (there are exceptions, but that’s a good rule of thumb). So this, which is basically a pretty well written scene from an action movie, needs to do something more if it’s to work as a story. Does it? Nearly. I am mostly invested in your scrabbity post apoc action dude (though i don’t see why a single city would turn the world into something that can’t deal with a single city…?), and i really like all the world building detail - would play this vidya - but i think it coiuld have used a little something more personal in the motivation, as is it’s a very very involved story of a man throwing a rock at a can. Good words tho.
rat-born cock - Recurtigo
Hello ‘rat-born’ cock, also known as good writer and overall buttlord sitting here. This is a great piece, and a bunch of that comes from the slick assurance of the words and the momentum of the action, which is driven as always by verbs. Look at the verbs in the first para: knife, flee, naviggate, leap, spread, unfurling, glide. Delicious, creating a sense of slippery fluid modes of movement and actionaction action then bam into the white rose, the static image in the second para. Now this is, most obviously, gideon the ninth fanfic but it’s a good example of how to do fanfic well- steal the style, the emotions, ditch the fluff. The story itself doesn’t make a vast amount of sense, but as an emotional key it feels like it slides into a lock somewhere in the readers brain and twists around 90 satisfying degrees to the right.
Yoruichi - Moon Hill
This didn’t impress me that much at the time but on reflection it’s p deece, and ticks all the boxes one would want to be ticked, so why? I think the one thing that’s missing is your conceit, which is that wizards need to make the moon rise, and that it’s not really a big deal if they don’t but it also is? Like it clearly matters a lot fo seamus, and will be super embarassing if he doesn’t get it right, but what will it actually mean? Just… no more moon? I think that’s the missing element, and because it’s foundational all the excellent relationship filigree, contrast between the two wizzies and nice describey words fall flatter than they should, because it’s hard to put the emotional payload into its right place without knowing what the wider context of failure here is. Nice work though, very sweet.
Weltlich - A Bright Child
Oh god, this one. Me and TTM had the same reaction of dum de doo, perfectly decent OH gently caress SHE JUST BURNED TO DEATH. In many ways its similar to Yoru’s previous one, with a magicky sort of world and vaguely cute things happening within it to pleasant identifiable people then it ENDS and someone’s just been FUCKIN INCINERATED. I’m not sure I could say why this doesn’t count as a trick ending, but it’s probably because it’s a natural consequence of the story’s action, and you’re not leaving any drama on the table. I think you get some significant additional effect from genre whiplash, because really this isn’t the sort of story where that’s supposed to happen? So, gj you horrible monster.
magic cactus - The Arborist's Liederkreis
It’s ‘waive’, not ‘wave’. Other than that there’s plenty to like in this interestingly experimental clockwork orangey number. Feels a bit like a ‘dangerous visions’ outtake, and I like all your nasty gritty details of our murderer’s regrettable past/possible future. I am not sure your repeated key phrase is quite as good as it could be, though I don’t have suggestions for how it would be better, but if you’re going to have story elements like that treat them as poetry and pick your words like an old woman picking apples out of a barrel at the market as my old english teacher used to say. Oh! I think maybe having it be passive is what I don’t like - ‘there is’ - who is observing that? Makes it weaker, and that repetition highlights that. Still, a nice, nasty piece.
Tyrannosaurus - DANCE OR DIE
This was on the harsh side as a loss, but on a re-read it’s sort of nothing despite all the glittering details. Two guys decide to leave a party, the end.
Hawklad - Dead on Arrival
This is another action jackson scenario, and there’s some decently chunky zombie splattering action and a very strong whiff of Deadspace fanfic but it suffers from the protag not feeling particularly threatened. I USED THE GUN AND I USED THE KNIFE AND I USED THE BOMB THEN I GOT TO WORK regrettably i was then 10000000000miles from home but oh well out of words. Decent words, not saying much.
GrandmaParty - Garbage Day
Hrm, this is like… idk, a nice story you’d tell at a party or w/e about your family christmas and everyone would maybe chuckle but it’s really not particularly interesting. I often say cut the first para, here you could almost cut the entire story apart from the last para and not miss much. Words aren’t terrible, but it needed some knob twiddling - what if he really didn’t want garbage one year? What’s that story like?
Thranguy - Imperfect Vessels
Unfathomable acts of noneuclidean pleasure is an absolute banger of a phrase, so ty for that. This is a complicated piece, which is always risky when you’re writing at the end bc judges brains are often a little bit weary at that stage of the ingestion process. Frankly I’m still sort of vague on it and unlike rbc’s not dissimilar piece there’s not a strong emotional throughline and slick action verbs dragging me through. A very cool and interesting piece that is just a little bit to tangled to land.
Anomalous Blowout - Be Ye Devourer or Devoured
This is a delicious mound of prose words groovulating along in the hope they turn into a story and I’m notttt quite sure they reach that particular promised land, not least because it’s all setup and no payoff - how are we different at the end from how we began? You’re having a fairly rad time writing all those cool words though and that is enjoyable to watch.
|# ¿ Jan 7, 2021 23:04|
The Melchitt Manor caught fire on New Year’s Eve, nothing fancy, just a minor raging unstoppable holocaust of flames that engulfed the entire East Wing. I was broadly in favour of it to be honest, place was hella ugly for all I’d had some happy times there as a kid, and there was nothing much on the Station House TV that night. I took a deep sniff as the fire engine crunched across the wide gravel forecourt; you can really smell a good fire, and this was a cracker.
That’s when I saw Dave, my childhood best friend and secret lover, sprawled on his face, limbs akimbo. I leapt off the engine before it stopped, ran to his side, and pulled off a glove to check his pulse. His skin was clammy but the pulse was strong. He was also intensely drunk, booze fumes wafting off him in almost visible clouds. He looked up at me and grinned blearily.
“Wotcher old mate. It’s Tony. Hello Tony. Might have killed me dad, I’m afraid.”
The crew of my truck were yelling at each other about finding hydrants and rolling out hoses, but I was transfixed, dumbstruck, all those words. Whatever it is when it’s like your cells have all stopped vibrating at once. Dave’s eyes were quivering, bloodshot, full of tears. It didn’t even occur to me to doubt him.
“What did you do? Dave, we need to fix this.”
Dave squinted in to the wind-tossed trees over towards the pond. There was a bruise on his cheek, and a trickle of dried blood.
“We argued, about … you. I told him I wanted to marry you, he was real mad. I pushed him. Then I set the house on fire. He’s in there, somewhere,” Dave said, gesturing vaguely at a less flamey part of the manor.
I stared at him, feeling my head move left and right in a slow, barely voluntary shaking motion. “Dave you are such a loving dropkick. Get up. We’re going to get him.”
I was already jamming on my heavy duty helmet and checking the valves on my O2. Flow good, mask seal tight, all good. The lads had the hose supplied and laid out and were playing a stream on the smouldering rooftop where it met the East Wing, good on them. Heading into a fire like that was a long way from best firefighting practice, and it looked like Dave agreed because he was looking at me, and at the fire, and back at me with an expression like a dog spending its first night outside, nose wet against the window.
“On your feet, tell me where he is.” I was maybe gruffer than I should have been, but I liked his father and would have preferred on balance that my old friend (and secret lover) had not picked tonight to experiment with dad-murder.
Together we strode (more of a woozy stagger in his case) across the forecourt, and I could feel the heat on my face through the open mask. I yelled for a stream to go in the open door, which had thick smoke coming out of it and they complied instantly, lofting a jet over my shoulder and into the hole, which gushed out a cloud of reeking blackness. I flicked Dave a look of similar hue as I snapped down my faceplate.
“He’s in the library,” Dave yelled. “I’m, I’m sorry. “
I shook my head one more definitive time, then ducked down low and crabwalked into the room, bracing against the vicious slap of the hose on my back as I crossed it.
Dave, I had to admit, had always been an idiot. The lovable sexy kind, but still a world class mung-brain. The time he’d borrowed his dad’s boat and stranded us on that stupid island, for one. The night we’d spent in the cells after he spill a gram of Charlie all over a constable while trying to swallow it. Just, muddleheaded in all the worst and most infuriating ways, while still expecting to get away with it through befuddled charm. And this latest, I thought as I felt the door to the library for heat, was somehow even worse. I wasn’t going to marry the dozey bugger. Why would he think I would? I cracked the door and jerked back at the whoosh of flame that licked out at me.
Inside was a baleful nightmarescape, ripped from the uneasy dreams of someone who really hated school. Dave’s dad was slumped on the floor on the other side of the little table with an empty whiskey bottle on it, lit a fuming red by the flames curling around the top row of books. I assessed it with a practiced glance – looked like there was fire coming up the back of the bookshelf, could be a clusterfuck of burning dead white euro males, but hopefully enough room to get in and out. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for the old man, but I might manage to give him some chance of an open casket funeral. Right, enough thinking.
Still keeping low, I lumbered across the soot blackened carpet to where he lay, knelt down and hiffed him up into a carry across my shoulders, panting loud in my ears over the hiss of the oxygen. Halfway back to the door, I saw movement and turned just in time to shield myself and my unconscious slash deceased shoulder wrap from an avalanche of falling burning books, but at this point I was firmly enough focused on getting out just so I could tell Dave what a giant deluded oval office he was, preferably in front of his dad that there was nothing that could plausibly stop me. The burning down and smoke-belching state of the house was, in that respect, a suitable metaphor for our relationship and as I finally felt the crunch of gravel under my feet and laid Dave’s dad down on it I glanced back with a degree of fellowship. I know how it be, the manor said, nodding slowly with a few gouts of flame laced smoke.
I couldn’t see Dave, didn’t much care where he’d gone; the next hour was a focused frenzy of orders and assessments, working out whether we could save some or most or none of the Manor – in the event, we’d got there on time and the East Wing was the main damage. And wonder of wonders, Dave’s dad was OK – they built them tough in that line, it appeared.
As we were packing up I came back by Dave’s dad, wrapped in a glittery space blanket and oxy mask taped over his mouth. He squinted at me, and pulled at his mask. I braced myself for a blast of homophobic bile, but he just looked at me, then whispered: "Do I know you?"
"He's like that with everything," said Dave behind me. "Memory's completely gone. Shock, I suppose."
Dave's dad was staring at his son with the same gently baffled expression. I smiled professionally at him, tapped the mask back up onto his face, then when he closed his eyes I whirled and grabbed Dave by the upper arm and dragged him behind the ambulance.
"He can't remember you trying to kill him? Or setting fire to the house?" Dave shook his head. "You're going to get away with this, aren't you? And why the gently caress did you think I wanted to marry you?"
Dave looked at me like a puppy that's pooped in the hall and is sure it's not his fault if you really think about it.
"We could talk about it... over dinner? Next Saturday? Seven thirty at Leroy's?"
I turned away, because right now I didn't want to look at his dumb pleading face, but he was right. We could talk about it. I did like having dinner with him. The glowing remnants of the East Wing's roof framing groaned and collapsed, tired of the evening. I sucked in a deep breath of the smokey air and puffed it out in a billowing vaporous sigh.
"Sure, why not."
|# ¿ Jan 11, 2021 04:58|
Childhood best friends
Night of revelry
First responder revenge
|# ¿ Jan 11, 2021 04:59|
|# ¿ Jan 12, 2021 02:40|
In flash gif
|# ¿ Jan 14, 2021 00:16|
Epistle of Ixion Jr III to the Idiots
Okay so we need to get some things straight about us centaurs. First, the ‘toilet’ issue. Fact is horses just do it where they like, and no one says boo to them. Right? They’re horses, they don’t understand human speech. We, by contrast, are civilised motherfuckers, just extremely urbane and civilised and we always have a designated spot, or ‘zone’ where we agree to do our business and it all works out fine.
I’m a centaur and, frankly, I like to drink. There’s nothing wrong with that, we all enjoy a drink from time to time! It’s true that my ancestor Pholos hosted Hercules while he was hunting some oversized animal or other, and Pholos had a gigantic jar full of wine, just ridiculously oversized and brimming with strong wine, but that doesn’t indicate he had a problem. There are important economies of scale when it comes to earthenware containers.
It’s also true that some of Pholos’ friends may have smelt the wine. It’s not a crime that we centaurs have a very good sense of smell. It’s just not! The fracas that followed when they came in to investigate the wine smell and perhaps have a small drink with their friend is regrettable: some have called it a brawl, or a ruckus, μᾰ́χη if you’re being exact, but look: things happen! We can’t go back in time and change those things, though if we were to work out how to do that then Hercules flexing his muscles and beating, brutally beating, a bunch of my ancestors to death is one bit of history I’d certainly consider tweaking.
I can see the question you really want to ask though: did Hercules mean to stab Pholos, my great great uncle right in the rear end (the rear end!) with a poison arrow, killing him? The answer is, yes. Yes he did, because he was a dick. I hate that guy.
Hercules, more like Dorkules in my view.
I say next topic but it’s actually a similar topic, also concerning everyone’s favourite bicep-brained fuckboy. You’ve heard of Nessos, lovely fellow, wise, long limbed, good at jumping low fences and running fast in a straight line. Picture him galloping across the grassed plain, and what does he see but Hercules and his new wife, standing by the river! Naturally he stops, we are a polite lot, and hearing that they need to cross he offers to give them a ride.
Here’s where my story, also known as the true and accurate story, diverges from what you might call the ‘party line’. Nessos allegedly took advantage of this lady in midstream, which, I don’t need to tell you, is just extremely impractical because of the way we’re put together. Never happened. You try reaching back while you’re tiptoeing in mid-stream on slippery stones! Ridiculous. What did happen is our friend with the poison arrows whipped them out and let fly and killed poor old Nessos, for reasons that are unclear.
I say that, but you can tell from my face I think it’s very clear what happened.
Fact is, chicks dig horses. We’re big, we’re muscly, we can run really fast in a straight line. Plus the, you know, dimension factor. It’s not even that surprising when you think about it.
So what happened is Hercules saw his lady making a choice he didn’t approve of, and rather than using words, or maybe considering changing his own behaviour, he jumped straight to poison arrows. Am I even sure he was aiming at Nessos rather than, say, his new wife? No. No, I’m not. It’s true that Nessos did suggest using his own poisonous deathblood as some kind of smeary coat-borne love ointment, and it’s also true that Hercules died of this, but come now, Nessos didn’t start the poison fight he just finished it.
Anyway they’re all long dead now and Hercules is godding it up on Mount Olympus (with another lady, I note, just in passing) so I suppose it’s poisonous water under the murder bridge.
I’ve been skirting around it, but the thing that really gets my mane shaking is the number of small moving animals you humans have. There’s dogs, there’s cats, there’s, I don’t know, mice? Marsupials? Scuttling all over the place. It’s scary and it’s dumb and it has to stop. Alright? I don’t want to have to take steps.
I really don’t, they scare me and I don’t want to step on them.
Just, do something. Get rid of them. Poison them, that’s what you guys are good at, isn’t it? Just grab them and inject them with some kind of poison.
Not worried about the details. I’m big picture.
I’m big, anyway.
Tall at the shoulder.
I wanna go for a run, tired of talking to you. If you need me I’ll be over there, under the tree or maybe up the hill somewhere.
|# ¿ Jan 18, 2021 05:56|
i'm in, flash
|# ¿ Jan 19, 2021 20:14|
buzzards gotta eat, same as the worms
|# ¿ Jan 21, 2021 03:53|
I went down to the crossroads
The punch laid me out on the rutted dirt, brought the road up to smack me right in the back of my lying head. I should have expected it, of course. I’d made a promise, to someone who had no patience for welshers.
I heard his footsteps crunching over the dusty metal of the road, counted them absently as the inside of my head reverberated like a bell. Six, seven… and stop. He was beside me, above me. I squinted up, noon sun sending hot barbed arrows into my eyes.
“I’m owed souls,” he said. His voice was flat as the countryside around us, just an endless disinterested expanse in each dry syllable.
I looked at the Devil’s boots, which were worn and dusty, and considered my options. My head had stopped ringing, which was probably good, and started into a dense, moist, painful throbbing which probably wasn’t. I wondered if my brain was leaking out the back, taking all my memories with it to seep into the parched earth. It didn’t seem such a bad thing. People might step in the faint stain it left and be seized with a sudden piercing desire to immediately live their lives in a much better way forever.
The Devil tapped his foot, once. I knew with a sudden utter clarity that I wouldn’t get a second one.
“I’ve brought you one,” I said. “It’s me. Take me down.”
He laughed, and I don’t have the words to set out how awful that sound was. Imagine the grinding of cogs of bone, bone cogs that are grinding up the mummified skeletons of baby mice, and you won’t be anywhere near it but you’ll at least be thinking of something horrible which will put you in the right zone.
“I don’t want you,” he said. “I already have you.”
He squatted down, making a little grunt as he did, like a man who’s discovered that he’s aging and things aren’t as easy as they were back in the day. He looked at me, his hands on his knees. His eyes were a very light sky blue and there were little crinkles around them, the eye-crinkles of a man who could appreciate the right joke, if only someone would make it.
“It’s your family. We know that. We talked about it. We had an agreement.”
The words left his mouth, hit the bone dry air and evaporated, so dead of meaning and expression were they. He looked at me and through me and I fancied I could see the last grains of his interest me running out and down and through the narrow waist of his hourglass of attention. I knew, and he knew, and I knew that he knew and so on, that they weren’t coming.
Now I must confess I had honestly planned to do it. It doesn’t speak well of me as a human being but I had genuinely intended to sacrifice my son and wife to Satan for, well, everlasting life, power, glory, the usual.
I'd also thought about getting really good at guitar or something, but at the last minute I decided that would come with time and didn’t make it part of the, you know, devilish bargain.
I wish I could say I’d then had a sudden blinding realisation of what my loved ones meant to me and changed my mind, but it was simpler than that. I just got to thinking about eternity. While looking at a fly. Little bastards only live for a day. What would it be to live forever as a fly?
Buzzing around, wings getting heavier. Landing on things, taking off again. Eating so, so much poo poo. Just an endless coprophagic expanse of the stuff. Forever.
I could be it was guilt that made me draw the comparison between what I was proposing to do and a filthily swattable housefly, but in any case it quite took the wind out of my sails, Devil’s-bargain-wise and so at last I found myself at the crossroads and the Devil standing over me having knocked me on my rear end.
I rolled over onto my knees and, shakily, stood up.
The Devil rose too, and we were looking each other in the eye. Looking in those eyes, something struck me.
“This was always your plan, wasn’t it? You knew I wouldn’t go through with it. Didn’t you?”
The Devil’s eyes crinkled, just a little, and I knew I was right. Only one thing to do, then.
I clenched my fists, one finger at a time, thumb on the outside, tight like a drum. Then I raised them, one high, one low.
“Put ‘em up,” I said to the Devil. “I’ve got beef.”
|# ¿ Jan 25, 2021 08:50|
|# ¿ Jan 26, 2021 20:09|
Sending the clowns
Andrei Kushchenko smelt the sickly reek of candy floss and curled his lip. He didn’t need to look around to imagine the purveyor, doubtless obese and red-faced, a literal capitalist pig, waving a wand wrapped in cloying lies. Andrei shuddered at the thought and shouldered through a beer-wafting gaggle of beefy farm men in tight check shirts.
The meeting place was a fairground game, which he had chosen for its position near the outer wall of the fair, with good views down the three lanes that lead to it. Andrei’s steps slowed, and his eyes darted across the crowds that ebbed and flurried around it. Then he saw him, and let out the breath he’d been holding. A lean man, wrapped in a long coat against the cool November air. At long last. Lance Braddock. Nemezida.
The words LAUGHING CLOWN on the game flickered, casting neon chiaroscuro on them.
Braddock was the first to move, glancing towards the stall as though it had just caught his attention he walked over and leaned forward, passing something to the hollow-cheeked man behind the counter. In response, the man’s eyes widened and he ducked down out of sight.
Andrei was very conscious of the weight of the .38 Police Positive under his right arm, and the sequence of movements passed through his mind in a dreamlike flow - turn to minimise silhouette, pulling aside coat, arm in and out, down with gun arm on knee for a stable platform. At this distance he could drop Braddown in three shots and be out under the fence in twenty seconds, he estimated.
Instead he shook his head briskly to dismiss the thought and walked over to stand beside his most despised foe, side by side in front of a row of vacant leering clowns.
“An interesting game,” he said just loud enough to be heard over the fair’s chaotic chatter. “But do you know the rules?”
Braddock cleared his throat for the response phrase. “Any game is easy if you practice first.” The carnival man stood up, holding two buckets of white balls. Braddock took them, then dismissed the man with a sideways movement of his head. “You throw the balls into the clowns. If you get more than me, you win.”
Andrei considered this. In front of them the clowns gaped, mockingly, turning left and right in dreary mechanical unison. “I think I have been practising for this all my life and never knew.”
Braddock laughed, the short bark of a man amused in spite of himself. “We used to play it in Omaha, when the fair came round. It’s all in the wrist.” He took a ball from his bucket, held it poised, and flicked it at the clown in front of him. It bounced off, clacking a few times on the boards behind the counter before rolling away.
“This is amusing,” said Andrei, “but I need to know your answer to my question. We do not have long.” He rubbed his thumb over the smooth surface of the ball, watching the clown’s oscillations, then flicked the ball out in a tight arc that intersected with the clown’s mouth just as it turned towards him. “One point.”
Braddock nodded faintly, the light from the sign above them shifting on the planes of his face as he picked up another ball. “I made some enquiries. Those names you gave us checked out. I want to know something, though.” His arm flashed out and the ball cannoned into the open maw of the clown. “One each.”
Andrei tossed another ball, but it was fractionally too slow and ricocheted off into the lap of a large pink bear. “Still one each. What is it that is troubling you, Mr Braddock?”
Braddock had his ball up high, and his eyes were locked onto the mouth of his clown. His lips moved for a moment, then he threw the ball in a perfect line into the hole. “Two to me. You are taking a risk, coming here. We could have men. They could have men.”
There was a burst of laughter behind them and their heads both jerked round; it was a group of teenagers bouncing a huge plastic ball along between them, punching it high into the air and letting it fall to the ground.
“It is true, Mr Braddock. There is always risk.” Andrei drew out the word, elongating it into a sigh. “I am a little tired, and maybe made a mistake? Perhaps your people will, how do they say, ‘round me up’?” He threw another ball and it missed. “But if it was going to happen it would have already happened, yes? Two to one, still.”
Braddock tossed a ball into the hole of his clown with an almost negligent underhand flip. “Three. And perhaps. Perhaps I’m pumping you for information? While we’re talking so nicely.”
There were another five balls in the bucket. Andrei pulled two out and inspected them thoughtfully. “No. If you were going to, uh, do a snatch, you would do it fast. Get me somewhere safe and out of the way of my own people. Which of these do you think is better?” He held them out to Braddock, who, after a moment looking into Andrei’s eyes, tapped the left one. “Very good,” said Andrei and tossed it into the clown’s mouth.
“Very good, yes. High level moles, that you’ve identified. Which check out, drat your Russki rear end. And now you want me to just tell you ours?” He threw a ball, which missed. “You know that’s not how the game is played, Andrei. You’ve been doing it a long time.”
Andrei’s lips quirked into an unfamiliar smile. “Isn’t it? What about Checkpoint Charlie? Engines running, cold night air, prisoner exchange, snipers on the rooftops? Tell me, don’t you miss it?” His ball wafted in. “Three all.”
Braddock frowned at him. “It doesn’t make sense. You give us something for nothing, we take it and laugh about it at cocktail hour! Same as you guys, just chortling over your Smirnoff and zakuski. Why like this?” He threw another ball, which also missed.
“Mr Braddock, Lance… It has been a long time. I don’t know how much more I have in me. I want to, do something simple. Something straightforward after all the crookedness. You know?” His ball missed.
Braddock’s face looked suddenly fragile, as though a sharp tap would disassemble it into its component planes and features. The neon light on it made his eyes shine like he’d been crying.
“I tell you what,” said Andrei. “I win this game, you give me the names. I lose, I walk away.” He tossed a ball in. “Four to three.”
Braddock set his jaw, and nodded. He stared at the clown, breathed out, and flipped his ball into its mouth. “Four four. Last ball?”
Andrei displayed his bucket, and picked the final ball out of it. With the most careful of movements he positioned his feet a little wider, waited for his moment, slotted it in. “Five to four.”
Braddock took his final ball and breathed on it. Slowly, as though underwater, he raised his hand to his cheekbone, took two breaths as the clown’s gullet searched back and forth, then shot. It went in. Braddock laughed, then frowned.
“It was a draw? So… now what?”
Andre looked at Braddock and smiled, then chuckled, then laughed like a man who’s been holding something in for such a long time he’d forgotten it could ever exist outside him.
The clowns turned from one man to the other, and back again, and back again, in perfect mechanical unison.
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2021 07:59|
that's my weltlich brawl
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2021 08:01|
you suck, your words suck, your face sucks, everything you've ever done sucks, and your filthy mouth is not even fit to pronounche the name of mr James Man (Space)
i accept up you drivelling grundlebug
|# ¿ Jan 29, 2021 05:50|
Birds without a tree
We’d gone out west a long way, plane, train, car, feet, like we did every year. The sky was very big out there, it stretched from horizon to horizon and the colours come in at dusk and we’d just sit and watch them. We’d been there a couple of days, camped up next to a little stream, when it happened.
Afterwards we had real trouble describing what ‘it’ was. Tony Macaroni (not his real name, just what we called him) said he’d really wanted to sneeze but was afraid to. Alicia said she saw a bright light, but it wasn’t coming from anywhere or illuminating anything. I just felt like something was going to happen and I didn’t know what it was, then the feeling went away.
What changed, before and after, was that things were just themselves. They’d been that before too, of course (yes?) but now they were just that. The trees we’d pitched our orange and green tents in were just trees, sticking up out of the ground. The sky was a plate of blue colour with some orange red near the hills on the horizon.
“Whoa,” said Alicia. She had glasses on and she took them off to look around, blinking. “Are the trees… shorter… now?”
Tony Macaroni was looking up at them. “Yeah,” he said. “Or maybe we’re bigger?”
It didn’t make a lot of sense so i shook my head. “It’s different air now. It’s not colder or warmer, it’s just not the same.”
That night we sat around the fire and talked about how it was hot and red and smokey. There was something in our eyes that didn’t understand what it was looking at, we decided. After a while my head started hurting because of the smoke so I went to climb into my tent and zip up my sleeping bag. After a while someone scratched on the nylon of my tent so I opened it. It was Alicia.
“Hi,” she said. “I don’t want to be by myself.”
After a while I kissed her but it didn’t feel right so I stopped. We zipped our sleeping bags together and lay there, side by side, looking at the green and orange tent above us.
“Maybe it will be better when we get back home?” I said the words but as I said them I realised I didn’t believe them, and knew that Alicia didn’t believe them either. We were people, together or apart, and nothing meant anything other than exactly what it was.
I started crying and Alicia put her arms around me but it was too hot so I asked her to stop.
|# ¿ Feb 1, 2021 07:52|
im judge this, toxx for hellrules if you have the stones
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2021 04:12|
Everyone has eyes made of literal fire
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2021 04:48|
Your characters are products on a shelf in a shop
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2021 19:50|
Your story is a palindrome.
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2021 19:51|
Holy poo poo that horse
|# ¿ Feb 3, 2021 20:02|
JIM SPACEMAN in an excerpt from ESCAPE FROM THE TERROR MINES OF ZORGO, book 2 in the SPIDERS OF REBIRTH, OF MARS cycle
Spaceman Jim was in trouble. Space trouble. Specifically that his spaceship was not in space when it should have been in space.
“Thank god you’re here Mister Moffin!” he said “my spaceship has a hole in it and only your very big and hard penis can fill it!”
“This will not be a problem as I have a very big and hard penis,” said Mister Moffin, sexly. “But I am afraid that, because he cannot be left alone, Mojjo the Chimp must join us on this journey. He is not an actual chimpanzee, we call him that because he sucks.”
James Speceman cried fat tears at these words, zero gravity globules of iridescent liquidity that took flight in the wafterous zephyrs from the air vents.
“It’s okay,” said Moijo, charmingly and also reassuringly. His undulating pectoral musculature was thick and firm. “We simply need to press this button, the one right here.” With a calm insouciance that belied his devil-may-care swashbuckling pizazz, he extended one finger and depressed it on the button labelled ‘aunch’, the ‘L’ having been worn off because of so many launches.
Moffin squealed in horror at the sudden thunder and sprawled on the floor, sobbing stupidly.
Except actually it’s cool, because when men cry a single tear you know they’re sensitive. It was like that but more. It was so masculine that Mojijo said “whoa that’s very masculine, crying so much, I am jj-j-ealous,” he said badly.
The space ship went up into space which meant the trouble was gone, the trouble being that the space ship was not in space, but now they had a new problem: that they were in space. There was no more air and so they started to die but Mojji was dying faster because he was worse at being alive.
Moffin was quivering even harder now, like literally spasming on the floor and the motion had broken the seal on the tubes of ceiling paste he kept in his pockets! It started to ooze out and smeared all over his thick glasses.
Meanwhile, Spaceman jim
Moijo laughed, richly. “I have a simple solution to all these problems, with the Zeptoids and their ray instructor. We simpley penetrate their fortress and destroy the heart of their control centre. Our plasmatic thrustron will suffice to
accomplish the task.
In the meantime Moffin had jammed his head into a hole slightly to small for it and had gotten stuck.
It was smart because it stopped space from coming inside.
“You are the most selfless man in the universe, Moffin,” said Captain Jimonthy Spaceman, “they will speak of this for generations, unlike The Chimp’s poo poo plan which I have already forgotten.”
“Thank you Jim Space man,” said Moffin, who had cleverly smeared his glasses his ceiling paste to focus on his task free of distraction.””I say we simpley penetrate their fortress and destroy the heart of their control centre. Our plasmatic thrustron will suffice to accomplish the task.”
Mojo poo poo himself with rage and some poo went in his eye.
Just then the Zeptons attacked! They had destructor rays that cut through the fragile hull of the spaceship (the SS Munificeptionarialacitylation) like a knife through damp goo. One hundred holes instantly appeared in the super hard hull metal as if by magic.
“Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” squealed Moffin in a high pitched, girly, but sort of also masculine, but the bad kind of masculine, voice! “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh” He was terrified by all the holes.
“Spaceman Jimb, yelled Mojo in a tone of cool icy command. “Hit the fixer switch there! We don’t have much time for the cold vacuum of space is about steal our precious oxygen, the necessity for humans such as we!”
And then his piggish eyes flashed like a rocket. “Because you see, I was the bad guy all along, and I am not a man, I am a literal chimp and I was in league with the Zeptons all along!” he said, unzipping his human-suit and revealing an awful slimy space-chimp whose face was a literal butt. Tattooed across his cheeks were the words I M T H E B A D D I E. It opened and did a big sloppy poo that went all down his fur and made no difference because he was already covered in poo poo.
Mojo laughed like the hero of the story. These fools had no idea what game they were even playing, they were idiots. He clicked his fingers and spacmen jim’s eyes widened! The click of the fingers was a post hypbotic command, and space man jim realised suddenlty that he was a zeptorg too, and peeled off his human suit. With a convulsive shudder of disgust at having to wear the dumb/stupid human appearance for so long, Jim and Mojo raised they galactic disruptoids and blasted Moffin in one hundred thousand pieces of glittering space dust, each one smaller than an atom!
Okay so like then moffin goes like WHOOOSH and then all his atoms come back together and he’s STRONGER like DOCTOR MANHATTAN and he goes “haha I don’t need to breathe but ur on a spaceship with holes in it you big idiot dumbass gently caress you” and then Mojo and Jim both explode into a thousand thousand teenier tinier bits, smaller than even the little bits that go woosh around an atom and they’re super dead and they can’t come back and if they come back i get to punch you MUFFIN WINS
he typed with dumb fingers that weren’t very good at typing so he actually inserted a DOESN’T before the WINS and so he got it wrong and lost and also all the bits that mojo exploded into where actually nanotechnology and reformed into a galactic mega Titan and when muffin saw that he got so mad and ready to punch that he sweleled up like pumpkin and exploded. And the spaceship (which was actually a time machine you missed all the hints) went back and made it so he’d never been born and didn’t exist and so nothing he’d ever done had ever HAPPENED.
|# ¿ Feb 5, 2021 04:24|
Whoa what are the odds
|# ¿ Feb 5, 2021 04:25|
the odds are in my favour because your bad at stories
Spoken like a true auteur*
* auteur means idiot
|# ¿ Feb 5, 2021 04:37|
in, oh god please let this time be different
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2021 20:20|
Hell, give me one too
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2021 22:07|
heh, that's adorable. sure i'll fight ya.
hope you don't mind if i bring a friend
|# ¿ Feb 10, 2021 23:09|
Dave had to pick up flowers on the way home before the shop closed. It was a simple job, he thought, one easily within his abilities. Sharon had ordered them, just in case there was some kind of problem. She’d paid too. All he had to do was park outside the shop, run in and grab them, perhaps without even slowing down.
As he was mentally optimising his route to and from the counter and back to his waiting car, the car, possibly balking at being thought about like that, shuddered. Then something inside its engine popped, just like a champagne cork. Dave only had time to tap the brakes before it seized up and spat its whirring metal guts onto the hot tarmac.
“Mmrrpf,” said Dave, talking with difficulty around the taut nylon of the airbag, which was pressed hard against his face. He heard a soft, almost intimate, scrunching noise from behind as the car that had been following him collided with his rear bumper. Dave fumbled for the door handle, flicked it open, and squeezed himself out of his car like toothpaste from a tube. The tarmac was very hot in the afternoon sun. People were yelling things, probably at him or maybe at the car, he didn’t know, but then it struck him: flowers. He had to pick up the flowers on the way home. No problem; Uber!
Clambering to his feet he patted his pockets for his phone, but they were empty. He was about to reach back under the airbag to check the cupholder between the front seats when, with an apologetic ‘whoompf’, his car caught fire.
“Mmrrpf!” said Dave, again, though for different reasons, and staggered back. This was a problem. First, his car was on fire. Second: flowers. His mind whirled for a second, then settled on a brilliant solution. He turned and ran for the bus stop, eyes fixed on the double decker that was coming down the road. The people behind him were yelling in a different sort of way now, but Dave put it out of his mind. He was a flower-seeking bus-riding missile, and just like one of those he left the ground and sailed briefly through the air as he jumped for the open door and slammed some change down in the driver’s tray.
The bus was halfway down the street when Dave remembered about the car. It was on fire now, which he would have preferred not to be the case, and he considered whether he should have stayed with it. However it wasn’t like he was a fireman, he pointed out to himself reasonably enough, so he couldn’t have done anything to help. He didn’t even have a phone, because that was on fire too! And he was probably fairly concussed from the accident. Satisfied that he was morally and ethically in the right he looked out the window to estimate which stop he should hop off at, then frowned.
He didn’t recognise the street. It was a long street with warehouses, labelled things like YARD BULK and ULLAGE and there were no florists or flower related stores on it or -- he realised, doing some quick mental cartography -- anywhere near it. He jumped from his seat and ran to the front, a dawning horror settling over him as he realised that the bus was an express to the scrap factory on the far side of town.
Dave opened his mouth to plead with the driver to stop, even though that was strictly against the bus rules, but closed it again when he saw the driver’s set, maniacal expression. There was nothing for it. His hand darted out like a striking viper, gripped the emergency handle, and yanked it hard to the right. As the bus screeched to a halt and the driver turned, eyes wide in rage and horror, Dave was already slamming the exit button and bounding out the door. He had done the numbers in his head and reckoned he had from five to seven minutes in hand to get to the store and pick up the flowers.
His shoes made a flat flapping sound as he ran, and his head sent sharp stabs of pain in counterpoint. Dave could feel a trickle of something he presumed was either blood or cerebrospinal fluid dripping down his forehead but didn’t have time to stop and check. He grabbed a pole to swing him round a corner then banged hard into a man coming the other way and fell flat on his rear end.
“Oof,” said Dave from the pavement. The man was still on his feet and was reaching into his pocket, possibly, thought Dave (a little groggily) to offer him some money for knocking him over. Instead, the man pulled out a knife.
"Money," said the man.
Dave looked at the knife, which was shiny and seemed sharp. Then he shook his head (ouch, ouch) pulled back his foot and rammed it into the man’s kneecap. The man went down, howling, and Dave was on his feet a moment later pounding down the street. Nothing was going to keep him from the flowers, he silently vowed.
Six minutes later he was standing outside the shop, panting, hands on his knees.
The shop was closed, door locked up tight.
Dave knocked, but no-one came. He considered smashing in the door with his shoe, but then the knife guy hobbled round the corner and started yelling at him, so Dave went home.
The flowers were on the table, in a vase.
“Hello darling,” said Sharon, his wife. “I got the flowers for you, I was passing and I thought you’d forget. I sent you a text, did you get it? Happy Valentine’s Day!”
She kissed him, and Dave looked at her. Then he smiled, and kissed her back, because it was Valentine’s Day and she was really very nice.
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2021 11:54|
In, hellrule me
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2021 20:39|
real fuckin amazing 300 word story.
|# ¿ Feb 18, 2021 22:22|
I slam the door shut, scamper up the stairs, fling my bag on the couch. “I saw cool birds today! They had black heads and curvy wings like bowie knives. Why are you lying on the floor?”
Tony is stretched out on his back on the floor, eyes closed. He raises his hand and tilts it back and forth as though it is a raft on a gentle swell. “Stoned. Very stoned. Why were the birds. Where.”
“Down by the waterfront, they were perched on rocks. Kind of stinky. Did you send the application?” The last is said lightly as I sit down, sitting down lightly too, easing myself into the brown chair by the TV.
Tony’s silent for a bit. Outside a car revs a couple of times and vrroooms down the street. We listen to it, and to the silence that comes after. Then we both speak at the same time:
“I think it’s—”
“The trouble is—”
I’m perched on the edge of my chair. “You go,” I say.
Tony’s chest rises and falls as he sighs. “I hate it. I sit down to write and I’m like woo I’m amazing go me and it’s just…”
The clouds are heavy in the darkening sky outside and I watch them drift by as the silence after his words lengthens. I consider and reject a number of responses.
“Things are getting tight,” I say at last. “You promised.” These words are all true and we sit in the growing evening gloom, together, considering them.
Finally he pats the carpet a couple of times, tentatively, like he wasn’t sure it was going to be there, and pushes himself up.
“I’ll do it tonight,” he says, and smiles at me.
We both know it’s a lie but I smile back.
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2021 04:26|
I will take MAD HOLE country of the SCREAMERS
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2021 08:08|
In, with the Island of the God Watchers pretty please.
Don't respond to crits in here, just shove them deep inside where they can fester properly
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2021 19:54|
You don't have to be, but it helps
It can be difficult living in the Mad Hole with the rest of the Screamers, I’ve got to be honest. Like, I really do have to be honest because we’re all psychic. You can try and and lie, but it doesn’t work.
For instance if you’re really hungry but you’re at a friend’s house and they only have slime to eat (and you don’t like slime) then you can’t say “I’m not hungry,” because they’ll know that you are hungry and that you just don’t like slime! Normally people will understand because slime is horrible and smells like rotting flesh, but sometimes it can be awkward.
I guess that’s another way in which it’s difficult living in the Mad Hole, which is that we often have to eat things like slime because (among other reasons) we’re feared and hated by the entire rest of the Earth. Even the Murderous Kanga Rats are rude about the Screamers, it’s hurtful.
I’ll give you an example of what it can be like, just so you understand. If you were a Screamer it would be easy because I could just beam all the necessary examples and junk into your head, but then I guess if you were a Screamer you’d already know that it sort of sucks to be one.
Anyway, picture a big pool, like one of those ones they had before the Disaster. Lots of blue water and people who are all humans playing round and having a good time swimming and speaking words. And then someone explodes, in the middle of the pool and there’s blood and guts and stuff all over the place, and that blood sort of percolates through the pool? So your nice blue pool that you were in is turning red and people are going ew, gross, and, and more importantly it’s not only the people who are actually in the red blood part of the pool that are saying words like, “I hate this,” and “I want to get out of this pool?” It’s everyone else, they’re seeing it and getting the vibe from the screaming and the splashing and the way the pool has gone red.
That’s basically what it’s like for us.
I mean, we’re the people in the pool, and we’re wanting to get out, and, well, unfortunately no-one will let us because everyone hates us (as I noted before) and so we’re stuck in the Mad Hole, or as we like to call it THE MAD HOLE because we’re screaming all the time, you see.
I’d like to run a store.
I don’t even know what kind of store, just one that sold stuff, maybe little things like you’d put on your table. Dishes, and vases, and maybe woven mats. All kinds of things.
Sorry, that was a bit of a leap, but often when I think about how things are not great my mind sort of jumps to something that might be better and for me that would be running a store. People would come in and I’d look at them and I’d know exactly what they wanted, and I could smile a bit and say “I know exactly what you need!” and disappear into the back and come out a bit later and they’d look at whatever I’d brought out and they’d say “yes!” Or, “that’s it!”.
Maybe they wouldn’t say anything, but they’d have that expression on their face and I’d just know. Because I’m psychic, obviously, but even without that I like to think I could tell.
I’m glad I found you, you know. It’s so good talking to someone who isn’t screaming at me, and vice versa, it’s really relaxing on my throat.
I mean I’m also sorry you had to die when you got thrown all the way down into the Mad Hole and you caught on this ledge. I think your neck broke, maybe? I’m really sorry. You look like you would have been a nice person and we could have screamed at each other if you weren’t dead, but, but this is good too.
I’m just going to sit here for a bit longer and talk to you if that’s okay, with my voice. It's a long way to the bottom and I often wonder what would happen if I jumped in.
I often wonder that.
|# ¿ Mar 1, 2021 08:13|
In with Raji Land, Home of a Million Sleepers
this has until judgment is posted to avoid the ban.
|# ¿ Mar 2, 2021 00:02|
|# ¿ Mar 2, 2021 06:51|
|# ¿ Apr 17, 2021 00:22|
i'll judge this too, gently caress it, hell rules with toxx (or you can just toxx without a rule, idc i'm not your mum)
|# ¿ Mar 3, 2021 03:26|