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Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Obliterati posted:

THUNDERDOME WEEK 442: I GET KNOCKED DOWN BUT I GET UP AGAIN

Bout time I got up again. I'm in.

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Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


The Tale of Leam
700 words

There was a hardy man called Leam who lived far from his home. He was plucked from his native Kilrush then thrust into a land of queer creatures and scorching suns which the king had called New South Wales.

In Kilrush it was said he might have the blood of giants, for he stood at least one foot above the common man and was as broad as he was tall. In New South Wales, however, the king’s folk fancied him as the work of their God. They supposed his immense figure was intended for digging the King’s railroads.

Leam was fogged in the tiredness of the day’s labor, held upright by a tree he had slouched himself against. He looked sorrowfully at the setting sun, knowing it would rise again tomorrow and each working day for the remainder of his years.

Holding his harmonica in his calloused hands, he had no song to breathe into it. The ancient tunes he once knew had long disappeared into the sounds of Christian rhymes and the daily din of picks on stone.

The sun’s last glow had dropped beneath the horizon and there came an unearthly tune. It was sung in mournful riffs with inviting pauses between them. Leam listened intently, enthralled by the wondrous song. He could sense it coming from the forest behind him. When he had immersed himself in the melody for long enough, he awaited the next pause, answering the forest call with a skillful tune he had written in the moment.

They were locked in a soulful call and response long into the night. The fairies were so charmed by the man’s playing they determined to lift Leam into the black of the forest canopy where they would show themselves.

“What ails you, that you play your sorrow into the stars?”

“A contract binds me to serve in misery,” said the man. “By the patrolman's marks upon my arse, I will not dare defy it.”

“A powerful spell that is,” they said, “and for your beautiful playing we would like to help you break it.”

The fairies lead Leam into a small glade among eucalyptus trees whose hanging branches dangled over a shimmering pond. The fairies heaved at something in the water, drawing it onto the banks like seamen pulling their ship onto shore. It was a brilliant piece, a six shooter in brass with mother of pearl at the handle. Its magazine was cocked to the side. Leam saw its six empty chambers.

His hand was touched by an icy cold that had manifested in his palm. It was a single round of ammunition cased in wasted potential and coarsely ground into the shape of despair.

“Dare you break your contract now?” they whispered.

Leam sweated, standing stiff with his eyes wide. He shook his head, but every attempt at discarding the lead had it manifest in some pocket or another on his person.

They asked him, "and if not, then what?" Pointing to the East, where the sun would rise tomorrow and each day until his time was done.

He hunched over, scowling, thumping a tree with a giant’s might that sent its leaves tumbling.

“Curse the British empire!” He bellowed, "they should be the ones ahead of that gun!"

The fairies giggled. Some began to excitedly mimic his words, savoring the scorn within them. Their mutters swelled into a chant.

“Curse the British empire!
Curse the British empire!
Curse the British empire…”

Munitions made of malice fell from the leaves like raindrops. The fairies flitted to catch them from the sky, filling Leam’s pockets. They fashioned the prettiest holster and belt they could, cramming its pouches and loops before the stitching was complete. Leam plucked the gun from the ground at his feet. He bared his teeth at the moon.

“Curse the British empire,
Curse their wicked king!
English folk? They all can croak,
the numbers that they bring.

Curse their greedy merchants,
thieving bastards all,
and curse the man who will not stand
who thus becomes their thrall!”

He went into the dawn armed and full of song. He thanked the fairies on his way, as the spell would soon be broken.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Thanks for the crits!

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Yoruichi posted:

:sparkles: WEEK 442 JUDGING SECRETS REVEALED :sparkles:

Well, they're not really secrets, but if you want to listen live to what happened in judge chambers, you can do so here.

We discuss all the stories! There are hot takes! Blistering insights! Judgement!

(This will be available in the archive as soon as I figure out why the upload's not working).

This was really enlightening. Might I join your discord so I can ask a question without messing up the thread with it?

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


in and flash me.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Flash: The churches vanished overnight but the congregations remains.

In Awe

1498 words

“Oh Lord,” said Father Seamus. He crossed himself. The elderly Mother Marie and the young Sister Bridget stood close behind. Lycra clad strangers walked past them.

This gym was occupying the lot where Father Seamus’ church had always been. This was no ancient building with handmade stained glass windows and ornately carved stone walls. The gym was a modern thing made out of the same rectangular pane of glass repeated over and over again.

Father Seamus breathed frantically. Where would they host the soup kitchen nights? Where would the weddings take place? How would they take confession? What if someone were to die or be born? His mind wanted to walk every avenue at once. He therefore made no progress on any of these avenues.

The elderly Mother Marie drew back the sleeve of her habits, revealing her watch.

“It’s Sunday, Seamus,” she said. “Mass is in an hour and a half.”

Seamus began to pace. He looked over at the gym often, hoping it might vanish and show the old church underneath.

Dread washed over the old priest. He’d surely have to call his Bishop and explain that a great asset to the diocese had disappeared. What if they accused him of selling the land to the new owners? What if...

“Seamus?” said Mother Marie “I could always call the Bishop and ask him what we’re doing today?”

Father Seamus’s pupils narrowed. He swallowed.

“I’ll call him, Marie.”

Thus began a lengthy conversation. The father grew more pale with every second. Each minute added another five years of age onto the elderly man.

The Bishop’s own minster had become a cinema. The archbishop’s cathedral had become a nightclub. While the archbishop had waited for guidance from the Vatican, word had circulated that the Vatican itself was now a shopping mall.

During this call, the young Sister Bridget had become so curious about the new gym that she had walked inside. She smiled, tranquil in her belief the Lord had put this place here for a reason. Bridget walked merrily in a floating way; holding her head high to take in the sight of the place, plain though it was.

Behind a reception desk was another young woman, muscular beneath her Polo shirt, smiling also.

"Can I help?" she said.

Sister Bridget leant at the desk, resting her forearms on it, so as to look into the eyes of the young woman on an equal vertical level.

Those greyish blue eyes were blank; open, but not awake. They pointed in the direction of Bridget's eyes but didn't quite look at them.

"Would you like to know a secret about this place?" Bridget said, causing the receptionist's irises to stir, awakening just slightly.

“Okay.”

"Any time now, three cats are going to pass through the alley at the rear," Bridget said. "They're such wonderfully tender creatures, I thought you might like to see."

She produced her phone, showing footage of the three calico cats rubbing their heads at her ankles.

The gym worker furrowed her brow. Sister Bridget continued.

"I was wondering if I would be allowed out of the back to see them? They'll be here any moment."

Jennifer’s habits were to refuse any invitations from her customers and to steer all conversations toward the various perks of gym membership. These were conversations she could hold with no conscious thought; as easily and forgetfully as her drive to work this morning.

Bridget, however, was a situation alien enough to wake Jennifer into conscious thought.

Where she would ordinarily give her natural excuses, she instead pondered for a moment about the fact she was being invited to walk alone into an alleyway with a stranger. She looked at Bridget's weedy arms: Bridget was no threat.

Jennifer scanned the room for any sight of another customer, or management that might disapprove, but only saw Bridget in front of her.

"I can take you there today," said Jennifer. "You’ll need a membership in future, though."

Bridget nodded, and they went away.

Outside the gym, Mother Marie closed her eyes for a moment. She breathed a sharp breath through her nose.

"Okay," she said. "There's no church buildings any more."

"The congregation will be here in an hour and five minutes, Seamus. What are we to do with no church?"

The Father’s phone rang, singing Be Still for the Presence of the Lord. He leapt at this opportunity to avoid confronting Marie’s problem. It was a young man asking if he should show up to mass. The young man’s workplace had called him asking why he had not turned up an hour ago.

“They’ve never been open on a Sunday before,” said the young man, “but they’re telling me they always were and always will be.”

“Not to worry, Brian” said Seamus. “We have a late mass at Seven O’Clock for those who can’t be there in the morning.”

“Where?” asked the young man. Seamus sweated.

“I’ll be outside the gym,” said Seamus, “and then we’ll take everyone down to the place.”

Having successfully deferred that issue, the father held his hands in prayer.

“Lord give me strength,” Seamus spoke. Marie closed her eyes to join him, taking his hand.

“Lord we pray,” she said, “in this final hour which we have left,” she stressed, “that we find the place and the materials needed to hold mass.”

Father Seamus’ phone sang again. Marie would not let up her grip. She raised her voice above the ringtone.

“Give us strength, O Lord, not to be tempted to diversion or delay, but make fast our preparations in your service. Amen.”

“Amen,” said Seamus, immediately answering the call. Marie could have slapped the man; Instead she made haste to a corner store to fix a box of wine and two loaves of bread.

This caller had heard of the strange miracle.

“Is mass taking place in an hour, father?” she asked. “It might seem soon of me to ask, but the traffic out there seems terrible.”

Seamus sat on a steel crash barrier. His breathing had not slowed since he first caught sight of the gym. The world around the father was eclipsed by his swarming thoughts until he couldn’t take in a single sight around him.

What if he said yes and couldn’t deliver? What if he said no and lost a soul? What would even become of mass today?

His hand was trembling. His faltering tongue was buying him seconds.

“You want to know if Mass is taking place today?”

“Indeed these are troubling times.”

“Well, we’d normally have it in an hour, true. We are all in this situation together.”

Sister Bridget approached; cat hair clinging to her robes. She came from Father Seamus' side and couldn’t see the phone at his ear.

“Such a wonderful day the Lord has given us,” she said, “perhaps we could have mass in the park, Father?”

In the darkness of the father’s mindstorm shone a ray of hope. The Lord had brought him an answer that would solve all problems until 7PM that night. He sighed.

“We’re having mass at the park. We’re going to be waiting at the gym beforehand to catch anyone who comes here by mistake,” he said to the woman on the phone, before silently mouthing, “thank you, Lord.”

With a brief pause in his panic, Father Seamus could finally see the information in front of him. What if the weekend had disappeared with the churches? There’d be traffic. The people would be called into work. Disappointed though he was to think of people working on the sabbath, there’d be no difficulty finding a venue for the late night mass, or a kitchen to fill in for tonight’s alms work.

Doable, but his mind wondered the avenue where a future incarnation of himself was explaining the expense to the Bishop.

~~~

Months later there was a meeting at the gym. Bridget looked at a photograph of three calico cats on the noticeboard before taking her seat among this new congregation. They sat on rows of static cycles before a raised platform where their leader sat facing them.

When Jennifer said “pick up the pace” they picked up the pace. When she said “don’t stop” it was gospel. When she looked into a person’s eyes and said “I believe in you,” they believed in themselves. There was no ancient building here to strike awe into the hearts of its congregation. Where there was once a statue of the Mother Mary, there was now a mirrored wall. Each day Bridget stood in awe at God’s creation; the people, and what they could achieve in that class.

100 miles a day for seven days would be a long journey, but the money would be for anyone who, like her, was in awe of the works of the Lord and in need of the help of others. Their church was gone, but if enough was raised in money and found souls, it could be built anew.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


IN

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


a friendly penguin posted:

Crits Week 443 – Extra crits for lost the plot week

Thanks for the extra crits.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Worth a Punt

889 words.




“Where are your new Vans?” Kassidy’s mother asked, hoping to demonstrate the folly of keeping an untidy room; she was hoping Kassidy would start turning the room upside down in a panic, then she could say, “see...” — and all would be revealed to Kassidy, and Kassidy would tidy her room forevermore!

There was no panic: Kassidy remained slouched on her bed (fully clothed, and on top of the covers), and she was poking her phone.

“They’re under my blue hoodie, by the computer desk,” Kassidy said, “same place I keep my pencil case.”

Her mother glanced down; she could see the butt of the pencil case, which was shaped like an octopus, poking out from under the sweater.

“Good: Don’t lose them,” her mother said. Kassidy had nothing to add, except for a stare and a flat mouthed smile. Her mother left, closing the door behind her.

The new shoes were precious to Kassidy: She’d keep them clean and safe forever, or so she thought. She then stepped into an older pair, which were more like slippers now (she had trodden their heel collars flat against their insoles).

A simple plait and a baseball cap tidied her hair enough for today: A summer day, where she’d be out doing “whatever” with her friends. She had barely left the back door, and stood astride her BMX, when her mother stuck out her head.

“Why aren’t you wearing your new shoes?”

Kassidy stopped dead, she could hardly say “Well, mum, a part of the old quarry collapsed last week; it’s made a sicknasty dirt ramp that I’m totally going to ride down, and I don’t want to scuff the shoes if I fall off.”

“Because I’m wearing these ones,” and a shrug, would have to do.

~~~

Lynn lived in a concrete tower block, where dogs barked from the hallway every time the intercom rang. Skinny Lynn emerged at the door. Overly long Billabong T shirts, and jeans that had frayed at the knees (whether naturally or not), were uniform among their group. These loose clothes looked like banners hanging from Lynn’s flagpolish figure.

“I can’t come with you,” said Lynn “I don’t have a bike any more.”

Kassidy had no questions, only answers.

“Give you a backie, if you want?”

Lynn writhed, rubbing her forearms, gritting her teeth.

“I don’t like them: They make me feel like I’m going to fall.”

“No worries,” Kassidy said, dismounting the bike, “let’s walk.”

~~~

Daphne charged across the quarry like a bull, arms open for an incoming hug.

“Kass! Aiieeeeeeeeeeeeee!” she screamed, warbling with every step of her running.

She pounced, then clung onto Kassidy with all four limbs, like a facehugger. Kassidy had the strength in her legs to stay upright. Daphne whispered in Kassidy’s ear; it sounded like the whisper of some shadowy figure in a horror movie.

“I want to have your babies.”

“Hello to you, too, Daphne.”

After climbing halfway up a bouldered wall of the quarry, with Kassidy's BMX hanging off her shoulder by a stunt peg, Lynn had protested that the climb was too dangerous. Daphne took that as an excuse to ask Lynn about every boulder she encountered. She looked at Lynn with bulging maniacal eyes and a wide smile, squatting on each boulder like some kind of imp.

"Is this one dangerous?"

"Is this one?"

"That's not the point," Lynn said, with a trembling lip.

Lynn was freezing up: If anything was dangerous here it was getting stuck.

"We'll go back down, and we'll take the long way," Kassidy said.

The long way was a sinuous shelf cut into the quarry face; it doubled back on itself many times, and was a mile long. Daphne bounded her way up the rock face, avoiding this journey.

"Yes," Daphne hissed, "I'll wait for precious child."

It looked much larger at the top, steeper too. The ramp itself was gravel and dirt with a central groove where others had ridden before. Daphne kicked a rock down it, then watched how far it tumbled; by the time it had reached the bottom, it could only be seen by the dust it was kicking up on the quarry floor.

“This is going to be...” Daphne paused, trying to find the word (rolling her eyes and smiling all the while) “...delicious.”

“I don’t think you should,” said Lynn, writhing again.

“Not gonna lie, that looks lethal,” said Kassidy, “Let’s go down a level or two and start in the middle?” (The dirt ramp intersected the sinuous road many times, meaning Kassidy didn’t have to start from the top).

Daphne mounted Kassidy’s bike. Before Kassidy could comprehend, Daphne was wheeling away, but not after having said, “I no longer want to have your babies.”

She hurtled down the ramp, sticking her legs out, brakes squealing. When she got to the bottom, she didn’t stop, but zoomed toward the estates.

“Is she stealing your bike?” Lynn asked. Kassidy had no time for questions. She kicked out her leg, sending her slipper-like shoe flying. She had hoped it’d somehow travel the great distance and land precisely in the spokes of her bike. It landed several yards in front of Daphne, kicking up dust as it tumbled. Daphne dismounted the bike. She chased after the shoe, like a dog playing fetch.

“I don’t know,” Kassidy shrugged.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Pththya-lyi posted:

I'm in.

Excited about something the other person isn't enthusiastic about.

I'm in, just quoting this to make it easier for me to find.

Emotion: 100% "oh my god, we've got to gently caress right now," horny.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Emotion: Excited about something the other person isn't enthusiastic about.

Not to Fail at Valentine's
999 words

A pilot, Kerry, wanted company on Valentine’s Day. Jasper, an aeroplane’s artificial intelligence, wanted to experience human culture. They hatched a plan: They’d put Jasper in an android, then have a date.

Kerry's summer gown, wedge sandals, and her painstakingly braided bun inspired confidence in her. Whether or not Jasper would appreciate beauty, Kerry felt gorgeous. She strutted over to her sofa, where the inactive android lay limp.

Kerry checked the lounge one last time. She shuffled her scatter cushions, fluffed the flowers in her vase, and repositioned her shawl (it had to hang below her shoulders).

Kerry sat by Jasper’s side. She breathed a deep, calming breath: It was time to turn Jasper on.

The android was a vaguely womanlike figure of brushed steel panels; its hinges and wires showed through the gaps. Kerry’s augmented reality gave Jasper a steel coloured human face.

Jasper whirred, then sat herself upright. She was pivoting her head like a pigeon. She had a confused expression.

“Is everything alright, Jasper?” said Kerry.

“There’s an issue,” said Jasper. “My compass sometimes reads 655.35 degrees.”

“It’s fine,” said Kerry, “we don’t need a working compass.”

Jasper stood up.

“My instruments are malfunctioning,” said the aeroplane AI. “I must resolve it.”

“Okay,” said Kerry, “you get yourself ready, and then we'll start.”

Jasper paced about the living room; her robotic legs whirred and clicked with each step. She narrated her thoughts (she also trod a visible path into Kerry's carpet).

Jasper’s rants about 16-bit variables and wrap around errors went on. In this time, Kerry sunk into her cluster of cushions; she was staring at her ceiling, while lightly drumming the gift box on her lap.

“What could cause the value to wrap around?” Jasper said.

"I don't know," Kerry groaned.

"Hmm," said Jasper.

Click. Whirr. Click. Whirr. Click. Whirr.

And Kerry drummed the gift box.

The gift was a necklace; the necklace was inside a velvet case; the velvet case was inside a bag of rose petals; the bag of petals was inside a leather zip-bag; the zip-bag was in a gift box (which had floral designs); the gift box was tied with sheer ribbon, and Kerry was beginning to wonder if Jasper was going to be capable of appreciating any of this effort at all!

"Do you really need a working compass?" said Kerry.

"It's a bearing," said Jasper, "it should never read above 360 degrees."

Kerry sighed.

---

“Kerry?” said Jasper, “May I ask for your help?”

Kerry woke from her daze. Jasper removed one of her backplates, exposing the circuitry underneath.

“Do you have a screwdriver?” Jasper said.

“What kind?” said Kerry.

Jasper gave exact specifications, then some lengthy rant about potentiometers and voltages. At the end of it, Jasper directed Kerry to a screw in her circuitry. She turned it.

“Thank goodness; it’s fixed!” Kerry said, falling into her pile of cushions.

“Let’s start,” said Jasper. “I believe we exchange gifts first.”


With a smile, Kerry presented the gift she had lovingly created.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” said Kerry, “I’ve not opened my gift yet.”

There was a cardboard package on her coffee table. It certainly had a book inside.

“I wonder what it is?” Kerry teased.

Jasper was wearing her necklace, curiously examining the many boxes and wrappings it came in. Kerry hadn’t taken her own gift yet: She was waiting for Jasper to react to hers.

“What is the significance of Valentine’s Day?” Jasper said.

Kerry had never thought about these rituals, only participated in them. She winced.

“You pick someone you care about, and then you —try to make them feel nice?”

“I see,” said jasper. “These colourful boxes, and your fragrant void-fill, must be stimulating to your senses.”

Kerry nodded.

“If my gift does not pleasantly overwhelm your senses, does that mean I have failed at Valentine’s?

“Uhh?”

Jasper handed Kerry the cardboard package.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Kerry,” said Jasper.

It was a book she had long considered, but had never committed to buying.

“How did you know?”

“I remember every book you have read, or mentioned, in front of me.”

Kerry held the book in both arms.

"That’s lovely!"

“I then utilised market data. I formed a model: it computes which book you’ll most likely praise, among those you’ve least likely read.”

Jasper’s new necklace twinkled in the daylight.

“You put a lot of thought into this book,” Kerry said. “I love it.”
---

Jasper took in many sights during their walk in the park. She observed humans’ affection; she often asked Kerry if she’d like to do as the other couples were doing. Kerry savored the attention: the holding of hands, the embraces, and the time spent laying idly on the processor-heated steel.

Kerry asked if anything in particular made Jasper happy. Jasper said her happiness was a percentage value in her programming. Kerry often wanted to know the number: She was delighted to see the number climbing as the day drew on.

At dusk, Kerry was on her sofa, reclined in Jasper’s arms.

“One hundred percent,” said Jasper.

Kerry had imagined that 100% happiness would be loud, but Jasper was quiet and still.

“I apologise, if I seem reserved: My emotions are bound within safe flying limits.”

Kerry pouted. Having a ceiling on happiness seemed a miserable affliction.

“You can’t go higher at all?”

“It’s a percentage,” said Jasper, “it cannot go above a hundred.”

Kerry squinted, grinning mischievously.

“Could a screwdriver change that?”

“Theoretically,” said Jasper, cocking her brow. “Tampering with my components, in order to achieve experimental levels of happiness, isn’t very pertinent to human culture, though.”

“Nonsense,” said Kerry. “Tampering of that sort holds a very special place in our culture.”

“Tampering… humans?”Jasper said. “Could I successfully tamper you, Kerry?”

Kerry gasped. Her cheeks were warm as heat sinks as she strode to the coffee table. She grasped her screwdriver.

“I asked first,” said Kerry. Jasper’s panel fell to the floor.

“I think you’re making a huge success of Valentine’s, Jasper.”

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


I'm judge.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


I'll keep it in mind that you guys might have started without any music and/or flashrules. On the off chance someone was still waiting, here's some videos:

nut posted:

Are we supposed to wait for a music vid or just go for it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIk1PCns5Wc

Hawklad posted:

Seems like a fun week, I'm IN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4ouPGGLI6Q


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qORYO0atB6g

steeltoedsneakers posted:

Awww yeah, you're playing my jam now. I'm in. Hit me up with some flashrule spice, please and thankyou.

Your flash spice is Sporty; you must incorporate sports themes into the story somehow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDX8eTORFCo

Edit: replaced some of the songs with actual videos.

Azza Bamboo fucked around with this message at 14:23 on Feb 20, 2021

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Word maximum : 800

Azza Bamboo fucked around with this message at 06:02 on Feb 21, 2021

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Word limit: 700

Edit: Now 600

Azza Bamboo fucked around with this message at 13:02 on Feb 21, 2021

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Word Limit: 500

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Word Limit: 400

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Word limit: 300

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


My crits this week take the following format:

Story Name by User (x/5)
The rating I’ll put next to your title is based on what I can remember of your story, after having spent some time away from it.

1’s are the most memorably good.
3’s are stories I couldn’t remember, for better or worse.
5’s are stories that scarred me for life.
2’s and 4’s bridge the gaps.

The point of adding this rating is on the off chance people want to be pointed to some good (or bad or middling) dialogue.

What Was This Story About?
Here I write a summary of your story in my own words. I may get your story completely wrong. If I do, it’s up to you to decide whether I’m just being a bonehead, or whether there’s something in the story that was unclear.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed
Here I pick out any parts of the story that were worth noting, good or bad. This will usually be a quote of a specific line or phrase that I wanted to mention.

Dialogue Week
Here I talk about how your dialogue was this week, then I rank your dialogue from 0 to 10. I need to emphasise that I’m ranking your dialogue here. Some people wrote fantastic stories this week that would have scored higher if I weren’t focusing on the prompt.

If you just had a nice conversation, with no obvious issues, but no impressive features either, you get a 5. Anything lower than 5 indicates dialogues that have more problems than things worth praising, anything higher did something good.

######~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~######

Hospitality by Simply Simon (3)

What Was This Story About?
This is a whimsical tale of an Eastern European military figure whose drinking is intruded by tiny people. Their conversation takes place after the man has trapped the tiny people under his salad bowl. The people are searching for a foe of theirs who, it turns out, was squashed by the man in the story’s opening.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

....light reflected off an empty bottle, stabbing daggers into his eyes

The daggers were barely noticeable in this sentence. It's enough that, when the "same daggers" were referenced later, I found myself asking, "what daggers?" and having to look back.

quote:

shut his eyes with the force of a grocery store owner closing shop.

This metaphor did help me to imagine the strength of his closing eyelids. This metaphor stands out among many of the images you have used, though. There were many military images in this piece (grenades, stop torturing me, casings, to dutifully drink) that helped to nail down this man as a soldier of some kind. The military stuff comes in strong; this shop-front part feels isolated. If he's a store owner, or has something to do with shops, then I think the fact could have been repeated elsewhere. If he's not something to do with a store, then it seems out of place to choose this (with no other relevance) when you're routinely making repeated character statements with your imagery elsewhere.

There’s nothing wrong with the metaphor itself, just that it sticks out as being unattached when your other imagery is tied in.

quote:

He saw five tiny figures stumble around on his coffee table. A red, a blue, a yellow, green and pink one - like humans in rainbow fabric, but five centimeters tall at most. They seemed disoriented.

This had the intended effect. Right at the moment I might have otherwise got bored of this filthy drunk man staggering about; something very curious happens. Good stuff.

quote:

There was a bowl next to the five that had once housed a salad… ...trapping all of the intruders in a barely-translucent prison.

This paragraph conjured a strong image and was a good job.

quote:

This time, the pink one interrupted Green.

There's a lot of little dudes jostling about. While their speech gives some character, it's far too small of a story to have all of these tiny people exist for anything other than whimsy. Reading their interplay, I feel on a knife edge between "the little guys are really fun" and "there could be fewer of these, saving some words for some other dialogue."

Dialogue Week
This piece takes a while to get the dialogue started. When it does get started, the piece uses dialogue to achieve a number of different things: explaining who the tiny people are, characterising the man, adding affirmation to the fact that the green person was drunk, and ultimately confirming that the black foe was under the bottle. It was let down by a few typos and phrasings that needed me to look for a second time. This story feels like a middling 5/10 based on this week’s focus.
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Haunted Theater by brotherly (3)

What Was This Story About?
This is a mysterious story about a person who talks an ancient robot out of their sculpted landscape and into some unknown fate.

I have it in my head that there's some allegorical meaning, or bigger theme, behind this piece. But, at face value, it's someone who goes around convincing robots to get out of their own worlds.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

“But pretty. What’s your name?”
I stumbled on reading this line. I think there's some changes to the formatting here that could have better put the "But Pretty" as a response to the previous statement, and then have the "What's your name?" as a new subject. The first time I read it, my brain broke and saw "Well, pretty, what's your name?" in some flirtatious way.

quote:

“The lake never seems to move.”

“I went in once. The water felt warm. It shouldn’t be, though.”
It might seem weird to say this of a very slow-paced mood piece, but I don't think these two lines add anything. Other lines, though slow, feed into that meandering conversation which encourages Richard to leave. I don't think removing these two lines would subtract anything from that.

quote:

“You don’t have to be alone out here.” He didn’t say anything, so I tried again. “I was thinking, maybe you could come back with me.”

This felt fast. The way it’s written here, Walt just bounds in after a second or two with no response. It seemed to me like this would have been more effective if you had done something to put more of a pause between the first piece of speech and the second.

Dialogue Week
There's a lot of dialogue in this piece. I'm writing these crits as and when the stories come in (only time will tell if the following is true): It seems, right now, that you're going to be ahead of the game in terms of how much dialogue you use. Credit for really going for it!

I'm a big fan of this kind of slow-paced vignette (a "mood piece", or whatever you want to call it) and the dialogue sells the eerie tranquility of this piece. It's also used effectively to show us the emotional state of Richard in the final stages of his decision making.

You use the dialogue to show us Walt navigating the things he should and should not say. It's repeated enough that, whenever Richard says something that Walt ignores, I get the point that he's having to steer away from that topic, even in the instances where you don't say as much. In other words, I think your dialogue is effective in teaching us how to read your story.

While it's an aside to the intentions of the prompt, there's a second dialogue taking place in the story: Walt talks to the reader, e.g. when he says "the trick to getting them out..." The voice you use in this private dialogue with us differs from his voice in the dialogue with Richard: I've come to assume that Walt is, in some way, putting on a facade. It's not incredibly clear why Walt puts on this facade; whether he doesn't want to offend the robots, or whether he's just doing a job (and this persona gets the job done). Perhaps you intended to leave that as a mystery. But, if you didn't intend that to be a mystery, then it could be something to think about.

At this point, the story feels like a 7/10 based on this week's focus.

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The Traveling Sommelier by Nae (3)

What Was This Story About?
Amy Winehouse and Jack White are visited by a travelling wine seller. The sommelier offers Jack a chance at renewing his fame: He sells Jack a bottle of Martin Scorsese's favourite wine, which Jack hopes will win him a meeting with ‘Marty’. Amy is unnerved throughout the tasting, and soon discovers that Jack has sold his soul to the devil (who has assumed the form of a wine seller).

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

—and watching your movies—

quote:

Mr. Stone was in Vanity Fair.

quote:

Of course not. We just had a disagreement. I just need to get some face time with him again—get him to see how much I care about the craft.
These three lines seem to be stilted somewhat. I think the exposition within them makes them read unnaturally. I go into this more in the Dialogue Week section.

quote:

Marty

I like this, it's a quick and efficient way to tell us that they're on first name terms. It’s a whole mini story in a single word, even if you didn’t know who Jack White and Martin Scorsese are.

quote:

reminds Amy of the inside of a coffin.

The story contains a lot of allusions to Amy's death. This piece requires us to guess who all three of the speakers are, and this recurring theme works well to give us that information for Amy. There is one thing that never became clear in the story, though, which is whether this is before or after her death. Being reminded of the inside of a coffin, having strong recall of the smell of a grave site, and remembering the devil seems post-death; like many things in this story, it's something the reader has to guess at. A lot of these things felt like hard work, and were unclear. If this story was intended to be a puzzle, then you did a great job, but if you wanted it to be clear then it could be something to think about : I had a hard time reading this.

Dialogue Week
There is a great deal of dialogue in this piece, and it's always good to see someone commit to the exact point of this week's challenge.

The dialogue is mainly used to hint at who the people are, and succeeds in characterizing the three people in this conversation as well as drawing us toward identifying them. I think that, often, you're very efficient in this game of character and identity.

I do think that, in places, the dialogue feels rigid in its phrasing. It's difficult to write exposition in dialogue without sounding like improv actors, who start their performance by unnaturally announcing, "I'm waiting for a bus!" At times I felt that you were headed in that direction.

It's interesting to see that many of the lines of dialogue here are doing more than one thing. It's easy to write a conversation where people say things, it's tricky to write words that are saying more than one thing at a time, and that's to your credit.

For having a dialogue that says more than one thing in each line, albeit one that suffers in its phrasing from time to time, I think this is a solid 6/10 based on this week’s focus.

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Boogie Woogie by nut (1)

What Was This Story About?
A person ponders about a recent date while stuck inside of a pipe. They wonder what someone could have meant by “Boogie Woogie.” Their thoughts take them through interesting places like the nature of mutton and their childhood traumas. Eventually someone arrives to rescue them.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

You edited your post, and won a DQ.



quote:

“Oh, hm. Maybe it’s something deeper in the pairs. It could just be the aliteration. Like they have to be more satisfying to say than to write or read. A sort of offensive power in the repetition of the second word that somehow turns back to debase the first. Maybe it’s actually beautiful...”

“My feet are getting numb.”
I loved the contrast here.

quote:

“--no one’s here, officer.”
This is great. Four words redefine the whole story, and tell us who the new character in the dialogue is.

quote:

“I know, officer. You could say it’s
This was fun.

Dialogue Week
Making the entire piece nothing but dialogue has impressed me. An inner dialogue is a dialogue no less, and the dialogue here has to do everything in the story: You've managed to tell the person's thoughts, emotional state, past traumas, some part of their physical description, and their current situation through nothing but sheer dialogue.

The voice used in the dialogue seemed strange at first, but after the reveal (this is someone losing their mind while stuck in a pipe) it's spot-on.

The only criticism is that, at times, it seemed to wear. We linger on the boogie woogie question for a long time, then meander through childhood traumas, and the main reason to keep reading is to resolve the questions about this situation.

This was a brave piece that was fun to read. It feels like an 8/10 based on this week’s focus.

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Wiped Out by a friendly penguin (3)

What Was This Story About?

In a piece that’s sprinkled with nostalgia, Cory and Dave skate on new year’s eve 1999. Cory shares his beliefs that the world might end soon.

Dave goes out and parties hard, getting himself arrested. After Cory picks Dave up at the station, they skate together while fireworks explode overhead.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

“Don’t tell me you believe in that Y2K garbage. I will smack you with this board.”
Sometimes you get the teenage voice really well, and I'm immersed.

quote:

“Out of the way. How can I do all of my rad tricks before the world ends if you’re mobbing it?”
Other times I think you lay the skater-dude voice on too thick, and it just yanks me right out of the story. It might not be that the skater voice is too thick, however, but that the tone of the piece hops back and forth between two tones: the sincere thoughts, and the more comic/stereotypical cool skater dude stuff.

quote:

So I found some girls and a party and I guess I got carried away.
On first reading this, it sounded like sex crimes. It's only afterward that I remembered the boat party scene from Sid and Nancy.

quote:

Word Count: 654
I'm impressed by how much you fit into this small story. Another writer might have padded this out, but I like that you stopped when it was done.

Dialogue Week

Almost every line of text contains speech, which is good commitment to the purpose of this week. The dialogue does suffer slightly from the changing of its tone, but it's otherwise effective at showing the characters' mentality, moving the story forward, and even has very nice cues that tell us what action is taking place without having to explicitly describe it.

This was a sweet ride that maybe had a few bails, and gets a 6.5/10 based on this week's focus.

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Mess by Sperglord Firecock (5)

What Was This Story About?
An inventor has meddled in some occult forces, causing an unnamed being to manifest, which talks to him about the situation they're in. The room is slowly consumed by chaos as they talk.

Their conversation suggests some enormous cosmic event has been set in motion, while the main character finds some solace in passing it off as an opium dream.

The being exits the chaos he came from, leaving the inventor to figure out what's happening.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

an easy going voice drawled

quote:

a reedy, thin voice

There were a lot of stories this week which were able to give their characters their voice without having to say what that voice was.

quote:

This was just an opium dream.
While this does introduce the relief Ilas feels at believing this event to be a hallucination, it’s a dead end in the story. It doesn’t go anywhere or connect to anything; It’s just a sidenote: oh, by the way, Ilas thinks this is a hallucination. When a big theme like this comes in to throw doubt on the story’s happenings, or potentially show that the character is being ignorant of reality, the reader wills it to go somewhere. The fact it didn’t go somewhere was disappointing.

Dialogue Week

There's a lot of dialogue in this entry, which shows good commitment to the prompt. Your dialogue competently gives your characters a voice (you can hear the jerk magical being and the somewhat snivelling inventor). It also carries some exposition.

It’s to the detriment of this dialogue that it doesn’t have much movement, and repeats itself. The broad strokes dynamic of this conversation is:

A: You built the thing; good job! You’re now in a world of poo poo.
B: I built the thing; now what?

Repeat a few times over until...
A: I’m out of here, you figure this out.

(With exposition added here and there). The repetition combined with inefficient use of words causes the dialogue to use many words to move very little.

While you competently write a straight conversation in the voice of your characters, you don’t do anything more than that. There are stories this week where characters don’t say what they mean, or where individual words in their dialogue tell a whole story about that character’s relationships. There are stories this week where a conversation explores some theme or allegory without sounding unnatural. There are stories this week where dialogue does literally everything from setting the scene to describing the character’s physique. You held a conversation in your character’s voices, but that’s all you did, and there’s some issues with it (repetition, inefficiency) that drag it below midway. It’s a 4.5/10 based on this week’s focus.

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Fruits Outside Heaven by toanoradian (2)

What Was This Story About?
This was an incredibly absurd tale about a desert island, its komodo king, and two angels.

The komodo king captures an angel and discovers she's here to sample the island's fruit. The angel's superior arrives to chastise her and bring her home. They bicker for a while, before the komodo dragon sends both angels away. Before they leave, the superior angel tries the strange fruit and says it tastes bad.

The komodo king eats one of the fruits, much to his enjoyment.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

when this place had the fruits better than that of Heaven itself?”
This particular phrase caused me to stumble. There's nothing technically incorrect with it, but the constant barrage of unnecessary words in here makes it stop and start when I say it aloud. "the fruits" "than that of heaven itself" —it's very jerky. I get that you're looking to evoke a biblical air in the phrasing you choose, which means that streamlining this particular quote would come at the expense of that; nonetheless, reading this was difficult.

quote:

King of the Komodos
This comes in stark contrast to the above point. You have a strong sense of what rolls off the tongue. It's good, except when you don't do it.

There's no quote for this one: Quite often, your unattributed dialogue confused me. Who is saying what? While all the information to know this is technically there, it takes a reread.

quote:

Fruitiel

Your commitment to absurdity, and your ability to hold up the tone of this piece, is notable. It's good work.

quote:

I am Fruitiel, an angel responsible for this depraved glutton, Dorothy.

While it's technically in fitting with a comic and absurd tone, I don't want to give you a pass for sounding very stiff here. Sometimes these expository pieces sound like improv actors, who start their performance by unnaturally announcing, "I'm waiting for a bus!" It’s rather unnatural.

Dialogue Week

There's a lot of dialogue in your entry this week, and it's good to see people throwing themselves at this week. This piece uses that dialogue to achieve a number of different things: Characterizing the three speaking roles, telling a bit about who they are, and moving the story ahead. Your dialogue is often played straight and doesn't achieve much more than being a conversation. In other stories this week we have people trying to do something challenging or unusual with their dialogue: double meanings, physical descriptions, even pieces of dialogue that wildly change our conceptions of the speaker. Also, there is that issue of the stiff dialogue, but also a very good characterisation and a conversation that actually goes somewhere. For writing a piece that competently holds a conversation, with some issues and some good points, this feels like a solid 6/10 based on this week's focus.

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So We Keep On Burning by flerp (2)

What Was This Story About?
This slow-burning mood piece captures a person (who's in financial and relationship troubles) enjoying their last moments in a hammock that will soon be taken from them. The person has an existential dialogue with the sun itself. After discussing the end of the world, the person and the sun decide that they don't want the world to end.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

It’s late summer when the sun speaks to me.
It's a strong opening, I like it. It gives us something to picture, it introduces the absurd part of this dialogue, and that's all before we get to my favourite part: The sun speaks to the protagonist (not the other way around), which fits in neatly with this character's passivity. It's one of the stronger openings so far (I'm reading and critting these stories one at a time).

quote:

The hammock’s his too, which he’ll take in a bit, but for now, at least I get to enjoy the humid August air on something at least a little soft.
This sentence goes on for a while. I think the repetition of "at least" is detrimental to this sentence. I understand that you're working to capture the voice of the main character: having these sentences be perfectly clear of all error would subtract from that voice, but it's a balancing act which toppled at the readability side rhere.

quote:

but that’s only if you decide things don’t matter.
Existential and post nihilist thinking is interesting, but does it make a good story? I'm conflicted about that one. The man is saying things I've thought about and agree with; I want to like this. But, as a story, "man thinks about things I agree with" is a bit of a sermon. There's enough good imagery and personal journey in there to make it a story in my eyes, but this particular line had an issue: It dragged me out of the story (and back to church).

Dialogue Week
Like most people this week, you did the needy thing of having a lot of dialogue in your piece. Good job! The dialogue is competent at getting across the viewpoints of the characters and giving them a voice I can hear in my head. The speech captures snapshots of the main character's thinking and moves the plot along as his thinking moves along. You held a conversation in the characters' own voices in a way that advances the plot, which is good. But that's all the dialogue really does. For a competently written conversation between man and sun, it's a 6/10 based on this week’s focus.

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Blinding Lights by BB2K (4)

What Was This Story About?
An unhinged person unfulfilled in their work becomes indignant and somewhat abusive in their therapy session. The dialogue goes through the person's many ramblings, including their dissatisfaction with corporate interests, leadership figures, and an implied sense of powerlessness at the world.

The man then leaves the session.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

“I hate when music videos have parts where the music cuts out or does some weird poo poo. What’s the point? You watch it for the music, not the video. I guess some people do, but they’re the weird ones, not me. The MUSIC is the art, not the video. I mean, there’s art in the video, but it’s not the main draw is it? I don’t know what to do about it.”

Your opening line is your chance to set the tone, draw people in, picture the scene, or say something about what's to come. This tells us we're about to hear someone ranting. We do hear someone ranting; we hear a lot of that someone’s ranting. I don't like this guy. I'm not supposed to like this guy, but I don't even like not liking this guy. He's just awful throughout; his therapist is just there, drawing the awful out, and that's the story.

quote:

Everything is marketing. Everyone is trying to sell you something, something you don’t need. You were just trying to sell me on a streaming service, like, what the gently caress man?”

“Are you asking me if I’m getting kickbacks from these companies”?

The man opens up about a wife, a feeling of needing to get away, and this has obviously been a theme in previous therapy sessions. It's fairly solid exposition. The response, though, is one of a number of unnatural and stilted lines in this dialogue: After all those things the man says, the therapist chooses to go on the defensive about a potential accusation of corruption (not the wife, not the feeling of wanting to get away). It seems that this therapist has been written as incompetent purely to piss the man off, just so he can erupt into his rants (and I don't like his rants).

quote:

“All you seem to have are off days! All I seem to have are off days. Maybe no one is ever on, I guess...

This line of dialogue was a flash of sincerity from the man. I liked it. I was hoping, once I read this piece of speech, that maybe the pathos could start to flow. It might not be realistic to expect that of this man, but a realistic conversation and a well written dialogue are two different beasts. I don't like the turn the story actually took at this point, which is to have this guy become increasingly abusive toward the therapist from here onwards. This line of dialogue is a flash of what could have been: a change in the man's mental state, some progress, and some pathos. I’m not asking for him to suddenly be cured: I am disappointed, as this looked like it was going somewhere and then it immediately went backwards.

Dialogue Week
You have a lot of dialogue in this entry, and it's good to see people throwing themselves into this challenge. The long rants, as much as I disliked them, do carry the character's voice. I can practically hear this slightly unhinged (and caffeine wired) figure speaking in my mind. Some of the things you say ("my wife" "same kinda feeling") are very short and effective expositions. You tell this guy's life story in one conversation. There are issues in how stilted this dialogue is at times, though. For having a fairly straight conversation, albeit one with inconsistent quality, you get a middling 5/10 based on this week's focus.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


MAN vs MACHINE: Elite Champion Ultra Belt Match, only on Pay-Per-View by curlingiron (2)
What Was This Story About?
This piece is a wild story about a futuristic wrestling match where a robot with a meat grinder attachment (who is determined to destroy all humanity) faces off against a returning cowboy-themed wrestler. We return after the match for a very swift overview of the bizarre events that took place.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

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

In a week that's seen a few disappointing openings, this is great. We're thrown straight into a wrestling arena, setting a slightly comic tone with "Suplexodome", and frontloading the science fiction elements that are to come. All of that is done in a few words without breaking the voice this announcer has.

quote:

The Rawbott has defeated all of the pathetic human wrestlers

quote:

Well, now, I ain’t the type to ramble on too much,

In these two quotes we have some strong voice work. You've allowed me to hear these people speaking, and the dialogue reads very naturally. It's good work.

quote:

since my creation in a vat underneath the colosseum we’re standing in

As the story draws toward the end, that amazing voice work (and your ability to exposit without breaking the voice), begin to falter. The above line in particular felt forced in. I've said this a few times in my crits this week, but a forced-in exposition within a piece of dialogue starts to approach the uncanny heights of an improv drama performance: you know, where the weirdo in the black jumpsuit opens with "I'm waiting for a bus!" i.e. really stilted, unnatural and weird. You did much better than this at the start.

Dialogue Week

This piece makes the brave decision to be 100% dialogue, and gets points for that commitment to this week's prompt. It uses the device of sports announcers to provide an internally consistent way to describe action from within that dialogue. The dialogue here has a very strong sense of character voice, often has natural sounding expositions within it (although that tapers off toward the end), and continually moves the story forward (which not everybody achieved this week). For writing a bold piece that uses its dialogue for everything including the conversation, the scenery and the action (but one that stumbles toward the end) it's a 7/10 based on this week's focus.

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Une Conversation Avec Mon Père by Yoruichi (1)
What Was This Story About?

This brilliantly agonising tale shows a woman helping her aging father to move house. It explores feelings of resentment, grief, anger and loss as it slowly reveals that the man has a memory disorder.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

If anyone here knew me well, I'd accuse works like this of being pandering: Slow-paced mood pieces are very much my jam. As it is, I'm not very well known here, so I guess you got lucky.

quote:

“How’s your brother?”

Too loving lazy to help move his father, I thought, as I plopped into a lumpen armchair next to Dad.

“He’s good,”
Many of the stories this week had okay, if not disappointing, openings. This one is not that. It sets up the situation, including a phrase that will soon become ritual in the dialogue, and introduces us to one of the best things you do in this piece: You have the character not directly say what they're thinking. The contrast between their words and feelings adds to the (much intended) agony of reading this piece.

quote:

he had said, holding, that time, a commemorative plate emblazoned with the coq gaulois.
This part, with all of its commas, was jerky to read. Whether or not it’s technically correct (I’m no grammarian) it required a reread before I could absorb it.

quote:

...things I should remember from growing up... ...I must remember to water that before I leave... ... I’d packed most of them and I didn’t know where anything was... ...Remember when... ... I remembered how dreadfully embarrassed I’d been when...
This is good. I'm sure it's deliberate and you don't need to be told it's good, but if someone happens to be reading your crits for good ideas, look at the choices that were made here.

quote:

The cognac burned, all the way down.

This is beautiful. Not only does it conjure the feeling of swallowing the cognac, but it invokes the burning feeling of wanting to cry while not able to.

Dialogue Week

This piece is slightly more sparing than others in its use of dialogue, but to useful effect:This piece uses dialogue to have the outward conversation with her father, while having a second “dialogue” with herself (and the reader) in her mind. The contrast between the two helps show the agony she's feeling at her father's memory disorder.

The dialogue itself also contains the ritual "how's your brother?" that comes to show us her father's memory disorder.

This is a very beautiful piece that uses its dialogue to great effect. It’s conservative in its use of dialogue and the dialogue seems outshined by some of the other devices used. When I whittle this piece down to the weeks’ prompt, this piece’s dialogue gets an 8/10. If the prompt were “write a good story,” it’d be a 9, but this was dialogue week.

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Absent Friends by Thranguy (3)

What Was This Story About?
Simple Reg is dead. Quinn is trying to leave crime behind, and Aces is working for a loan shark called Vince. Aces and Quinn chat about old times and fate of mutual friends. Aces repeatedly refuses drinks from Quinn. It's revealed that Aces owes Vince money, and implies that Quinn was trying to poison Aces. Aces keeps a hold of one of the poisoned bottles.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

The knock on the door came at quarter past two the night after they buried Simple Reg. A little later than I had expected. I was up, watching old tv on stream and slowly working through a bag of pretzels and a two liter bottle of orange soda. I walked over to the door, looked at his shark grin in the peephole's fisheye perspective. I undid the latch, let him in.

While this does establish a certain gritty atmosphere, and draws us in to the question of "who's Simple Reg?" I think the wording itself is very plain, and a lot of the words here don't serve anything other than to show us the man is watching TV with some pretzels. Other stories this week found efficient ways to give their scenes and descriptions additional meanings: This was a man eating pretzels in front of his TV. I get that it's supposed to make him look like a slob or slightly average, but it's not that strong of an image.

quote:

The question hung in the air like a stale fart.

The whole story up until this point had a very gritty and serious tone. Then there's a fart. While it's an imagined fart of a simile, it was about as welcome over this judge's computer desk as said stale fart. Why did you fart on your story? Maybe it's supposed to show some kind of casualness, or add to the slob nature of Quinn, but it just came out unexpectedly, like a wet fart.

quote:

I disengaged

This was a neat way to say he's a (former?) cop and feeling threatened without saying he's a cop and feeling threatened.

Dialogue Week

This piece uses dialogue for the conversation between the two characters, which contains some of their story together, and the various implications of that story. It does this fairly competently, if in a straight up and plain way. That's all you put the dialogue to, though. Other stories this week braved more risky ways to use dialogue, and by contrast the straight up conversations in this story seem safe. For a competently written conversation held between two guys, you get a middling 5.5/10 given this week's focus.

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Mumbai on the Beacon [08/15/17] by CaligulaKangaroo (1)
What Was This Story About?
This piece is written in the form of a transcript of a university's radio show.

Lauren and August are two musicians and university students with a love of Indian culture. After getting their ukuleles together at an open mic night, they formed a band, and are now promoting their sitar-themed ukulele songs on a university radio show. One of them announces, live on air, plans for the both of them to fly away to India (which would cause them to miss their studies). Lauren is clearly uncomfortable with this, and the radio show host turns it into a phone-in question. Despite the pressure from August and the radio DJ, Lauren ultimately storms out to pursue her studies.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

DJ: You’re listening to Cafe Acoustica, on WTBU, Boston University student radio. For those of you just joining us, we are here with local folk duo Mumbai on the Beacon.

This opening works in your transcript for the same reason this kind of thing works on the radio. All the information you need is right there. You've picked up the voice that a DJ would use. It's a good opening, and speaks to the choice you made in having your story in this format to begin with.

quote:

it’s to speak the language of the sitar through the dialect of the ukulele.

You've not only been effective in setting the scene, and in characterising the individuals, but I think you've achieved the quirkiness you were challenged to make.

quote:

DJ: Out of curiosity, have either of you actually visited Mumbai?

Lauren: Unfortunately no. But the university does offer an amazing study abroad program that we’ve both--

August: I hate to interrupt, but this reminds me. I have an announcement to make.

The problem with having written so competently: Even the slightest issue becomes very noticeable among the rest of the work. The above section seemed unnatural. It seems like something that had to happen just to arrive at the whole calamity of the holiday phone-in. You've bought a lot of investment from the audience with your good words up until this point, and this is the point in the story where you're now asking us to suspend our disbelief. I think it works out in the end, but this certainly stands out as a weaker part of this story. It’s softened by the work you put in beforehand to show August as being impulsive and dissatisfied with her studies.

Dialogue Week

You've chosen a format which has this piece as 100% dialogue. It's a very efficient piece that has us effortlessly imagining the studio, the open mic night, the stuffy classroom and these characters without having the faculty of a narrative voice that would explicitly describe any of these things. That has impressed me. Every line of dialogue moves the plot forward, creating a scene that actually moves (not everyone did this). It's efficient, it achieves a lot of impressive things, and there's not much to complain about. This gets an impressed 8.5/10 based on this week's focus.

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Matter and antimatter by Simbyotic (2)

What Was This Story About?
In the midst of their argument, a scientist tries to break up with his partner. The partner senses that he's being unfaithful. The man confesses that he's in a relationship with a lab technician, and this causes the discussion to erupt into a passionate airing of grievances.

Tanya's dissatisfied with their sex, which she takes as evidence of his unfaithfulness. She's unemployed and living in Marcus' home, which he dislikes. Tanya is an unsuccessful artist who was heartbroken after an exhibition went poorly, and feels that Marcus is sabotaging her artistic efforts. Marcus is working in some kind of laboratory, and resents Tanya living in the accommodations he provides. It all becomes weaponry for their ugly battle until they both drop their bombs:

Marcus tells Tanya he's evicting her.

Tanya tells Marcus she's pregnant.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

886 words is too many words.

You format this dialogue in a way I haven't seen before. The ability to clearly communicate who is speaking, without having some attribution, is something you've pulled off. It shows you've voiced and given context to the situation, enough that this doesn't need labelling.

quote:

You’re done? You… You’re breaking up with me? Uh... Who is she, uh Marcus? Who’s the oval office? Don’t lie to me you slimy gently caress, I know for a fact it’s not dread that’s making you come back home so late.

The voicing here is very strong. It carries on this strong throughout the story. I can hear the rise and fall in their voices, even imagine the waving arms and the scowls on their faces, without being told. The only thing that it suffers from is a slight lack of readability. It's a difficult balancing act to get your characters voiced convincingly and also readable, and in the above dialogue it's starting to wobble on the readability side.

quote:

Today of all days...

Whatever this was referring to was completely missed by me. The anniversary of the exhibition? I'm not sure. The unresolved nature of it is a distraction.

Dialogue Week

This piece is 100% dialogue, and that's a feat that remains impressive, even after the other three. The dialogue walks us through the troubled story of their relationship in a single argument; it becomes a story within a story, and that's something which not many people did with their dialogue this week. It's very well voiced and reads convincingly. It meets the prompt very well. For some way to improve it, I think tying off the loose ends and seeing if there's slightly more efficient as well as readable phrasing can be used. This story rises to the high ranks with an 8.5/10 given this week's focus.

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Sheer Force of Will by Chairchucker (4)
What Was This Story About?
Petunia tries to fill the fridge using her mind. Bob is skeptical about her claims to be able to do this, and her claims to change the weather. Tahlia backs Petunia up, and Bob takes his leave of the discussion. In the end, a portal to another dimension opens and fills the house with all manner of interdimensional creatures.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

an interdimensional invasion in the kitchen. Just, like, a whole bunch of interdimensional beings tracking interdimensional mud or slime or whatever through the house, sitting on the sofa with interdimensional snacks which they were spilling everywhere, and worst of all, watching the season finale of The Bachelor when he was still only up to episode five.

There's so much going in in these two sentences. The repetition of "interdimensional" is effective at hammering home the otherworldly nature of this invasion, but it lacks any description or mood or anything to hang a picture of this scene from. It's good in that it's rhythmic and has some effect in that sense, but it's also vague. For example, what does interdimensional mud (or slime or whatever) look like? What emotion is interdimensional mud supposed to conjure?

I like how this interdimensional stuff is immediately contrasted with the more earthly concern of the season finale of The Bachelor.

The last thing is the voice you use in these sentences. You haven't done enough to show that Bob would think or speak in these casual terms, and that has it sounding like the 'Just, like, a whole bunch' and the mud or slime or whatever is the omniscient narrator's voice instead of his. While I think it was intended to add to Bob's casual disdain for the scene in front of him, it came out sounding like you're going 'just writing this story, or whatever, I guess.'

quote:

“Still no food, but now there’s a portal to another dimension.”

Handling exposition inside of dialogue is something that's stilted a lot of speech this week, and this line in particular comes off as unnatural. Given the 'Nope. Still empty.' earlier, I know you're capable of less stilted action within dialogue.

Dialogue Week

You hold a somewhat mundane conversation between three characters, giving some voice and personality to those characters through their dialogue, and showing some of the action taking place through the dialogue itself. At no point does this dialogue go above and beyond. In a week where others have experimented with the limits of what dialogue can do, being this safe might not pay off. For its okay conversation, that doesn't go above and beyond, and inconsistently gets exposition natural and unnatural: This piece gets a slightly below middle score of 4.5/10 based on this week's focus.

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Marianna by Hawklad (4)
What Was This Story About?
A much abused miner is in an armed standoff with their gangmaster, as they have stolen an emerald from the mines. The emerald possesses a magic which gives a premonition of the gangmaster's upcoming attack, and then draws the reader into the body of the miner, where they avoid this attack and kill the man.
A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

...It had nothing to say about the starvation, the beatings, the black dust that forever choked your lungs. Drunken men who came into your room late at night...

...emeralds. Of their powerful magic. The gift of vision. Foresight...

The explicit cruelty and the magic of this piece all come very abruptly. There are other stories this week that explore someone's torment, and some which spend their entire word count easing someone in to magical happenings. Your piece doesn't set up these expectations at the beginning, sounding like a gangster piece, and it's all very jarring when we're hit with these three rocks: she's regularly abused; there's magic; you're the character now.

quote:

“I’m sure you do. You know what I have? A dozen soldiers. Outside. Ready to come when I yell. But we don’t have to do it like that.”
Your dialogue, and most of the prose itself, seems to only do one thing at a time. This line, for example, tells us about the possibility of the main character being surrounded. There's nothing wrong with conveying a single meaning clearly. But, as a thought for how to improve; some people are able to put a single sentence to multiple uses and meanings, or to tell an entire story in a single word. Your use of "esclava" shows that you are capable of the kind of efficiency I'm talking about, you just don't do it quite as often as you might be able to.

Dialogue Week

There's a fair amount of dialogue in this piece, which takes us through the threats and pleas of the standoff. It's a straightforward conversation with no obvious issues save for being straightforward. While the story attempts quite a brave thing in changing its tense and person, the dialogue doesn't attempt anything brave as dialogue. For simply having a conversation with no major issues or particularly standout features, you get a middle 5/10 based on this week's focus.

######~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~######

Masshole by sparksbloom (3)
What Was This Story About?
A man at a party in an apartment block is smoking outdoors on the back porch. An elderly woman in another apartment sticks her head out of the window to address her noise complaints to him. She gives up after their conversation. The man yells into the party before heading home.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed
It was only on my second read that I could picture the space.

quote:

Definitely a teacher.
I'm not sure what the significance is in having Dom judge the elderly woman as a teacher. I think it's meant to speak of a general dismissiveness: whatever it is, it didn't land for me.

quote:

He can’t get the image of that kid – Dom bets he’s like 17, so what the gently caress is he doing here – licking Milo’s nose in the kitchen, so he’s down here, smoking, trying to come up with the perfect retort.

What this sounds like, in my head, is that he wants to find the perfect way to jeer at Milo for getting with a highschooler. When the actual retort is 'do you know how rude you are?' I'm not sure what's going on. Has he come to accept that it's rude for a loud party to be going on? Did they have a separate offscreen argument (before the story) which warrants that kind of response? It's not awfully clear. The only hint at what might be happening, and I have to strain to see it, is the suggestion that he's getting old. You mention that he's some years out of college, and maybe there's this theme of him transitioning from being one of the younger partygoers and toward the stance of the old woman? It's not clear.

If this is just him saying "you're rude" because of the noise complaint, and if it’s unrelated to Milo and the highschooler, it threw me off when you noted immediately afterward that Milo and the highschooler are gone. That juxtaposition reads like it implies that Dom shouting "you're rude" and Milo are connected, especially when the story begins with Dom saying he wants to find a response to Milo and the highschooler.

Dialogue Week

This piece uses dialogue to give personality to its characters and talk us through the complaints being made. There's no obvious issues with the dialogue itself, but the dialogue doesn't attempt anything particularly interesting or standout. For writing a conversation that doesn't really get anything wrong, nor does anything great, you get a middling 5/10 based on this week's focus.

######~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~######

Hero of the Horde by Idle Amalgam (3)

What Was This Story About?

A goblin shaman wakes up after a night partying with beastkin; this is something he had promised his partner he'd not do. After being woken by a goatlike child, Hanka arrives in his tent, and the goblin shaman realises he can't talk. His mudqueen airs her grievances, and the shaman isn't able to answer back. Hanka goes to be with Urk instead.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

His amiable grin turned pleading

quote:

Klilb waved to sacks of gems

Your hellrule challenged you to have a silent character, and you've owned that by having them enter the dialogue despite having no voice.

quote:

Klilb was honored to dine with the chieftain, but he hadn’t expected to be doing lines of worm ginger all night. Between that and the troll wine, he had nearly eaten his last grub. Such was the life of an up and coming rock star, stone diviner to the beastkin and ogre-blooded alike

On the first reading, it was hard to picture any of this, or to follow it. The words here have a great rhythm and sound to them, and they carry a fantasy goblin voice to them, but it comes at the expense of comprehension. I think there was a clever idea in putting the phrase "rock star" in this description: it playing on the readers' image of a rock star while also trying to hold to the primitive aesthetic you've got going on. Smart as the idea was, it was a confusing addition in an already difficult-to-comprehend opening. I found myself momentarily thinking rock music somehow existed within this fantasy goblin world.

Dialogue Week

It was great to see you hold dialogue with a voiceless character by having them communicate with actions and gestures. The dialogue was fairly competent, had no obvious issues, and it moved the plot forward. For holding a competent conversation with a voiceless character, this piece gets a 6/10 based on this week's focus.

######~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~######

Snow Woman by Pththya-lyi (3)
What Was This Story About?

Mike and Crystal discuss having ice cream for dinner. They talk about a beautiful woman Mike saw in a dream. The woman froze his friend in the dream, said she'd spare Mike, but warned of consequences if he ever told anyone.

Crystal melted overnight.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

“Not a bad idea. Too hot for me!”

This took some time to understand. While someone in real life would probably say this about the weather, it doesn't come across as easily in this reading. Also, talking about heat in the context of food always has the potential for ambiguity.

quote:

Crystal... ...ice cream...

It's only a few words in a very short story, but it's good to see someone expressing theme in their word choice. Some stories this week were notably devoid of any flavour, and that makes these words here stand out. Good job.

Dialogue Week

You hold a brief conversation between two characters that moves the story along, gives the characters a personality in their voice, and doesn't have any obvious issues. Your story doesn't do anything particularly brave with that dialogue, but it is written competently and with a strong voice. Stories that have a conversation and don't do anything more with the dialogue than that get a 5/10 this week. Yours gets a 5.5/10 for being efficient, believable, and having good voice.

######~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~######

Sea birds by sebmojo (2)
What Was This Story About?
A child and their guardian (who's out of work) talk about their day. The kid's excited about some birds he saw. The man is stoned and hasn't sent a job application. The man gives his promises that he'll find work, and the kid doubts that.
A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

Why are you lying on the floor

quote:

Stoned. Very stoned.

While these are very efficient ways of moving the story along, they felt slightly unnatural as moments of speech. It wasn't a hugely bad or story ruining issue, but it stood out enough from the rest of this piece to mention it.

quote:

I consider and reject a number of responses.
There are only a handful of entries this week that really nail word choices and themes like this. This is good.

quote:

I saw cool birds... ... Kind of stinky...
It's great to be shown that this is a child and not told. It's some strong voice work on dialogue week.

quote:

We both know it’s a lie but I smile back.
There's only a handful of stories this week that make use of nonverbal dialogue, and only a handful of stories this week that brave having someone not say what they're thinking (but say something else). This closing line stands out for doing both in ten words.

Dialogue Week

This story has very strong character voice, and moves its plot along using its dialogue. The dialogue is effective in showing us the characters' emotions, and brings some standout uses of dialogue such as that fantastic closing line. For writing strongly voiced dialogue, that's only hurt by a few unnatural phrases, and which pulled off a few outstanding use cases, you get a 6.5/10 based on this week's focus.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Pththya-lyi posted:

E: Interprompt Write ad copy for a fictional product. 100 words

IT JUST KEEPS GETTING BIGGER.

And you're the one making it happen.

If you don't do something now, who knows how big it'll get?

Calburn eats calories, and is proven at boosting weight loss. Shrink your stomach; get Calburn.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


In with Kanga-Rat Murder Society

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


crabrock posted:

this is both an accurate statement and a waste of my time, much like your story was. you'll wish i failed to submit when i'm done with you.

brawl challege accepted. :toxx:


Hawklad posted:

Ya know, this garbage-tier poo poo has been stuck in my craw all week. I know that nuance and complexity isn't exactly your strong suit (obviously your skills lie more in the "failure to submit" area), but this was not a complicated scene and the fact that your flaccid brain wasn't able to wraps its little mind-tendrils around it speaks to your laziness rather than any shortcomings in my writing (as garbage-tier as it may be). I just can't let this low effort poo poo go by unchallenged.

So, fight me. :toxx:

THUNDER! —THUNDER! —THUNDERDOME, HOOOOOOO!
I admire a dying genre of story that is currently being held up by Netflix’s She Ra: Your challenge is to write a story featuring:

- A strong protagonist
- Who wields a magical sword
- Whose magic is activated by some catchphrase
- And they fight some villain of some kind.

1500 words.

Due 27th March at 08:00 GMT

Edit: 3rd contestant

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

I will take all y'all on.

Edit: 4th contestant

Weltlich posted:

I'm jumping into this cage match. :toxx:

Edit: A month is a long time. If you both three submit early, it'll be over sooner.

Azza Bamboo fucked around with this message at 05:02 on Mar 1, 2021

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


A new challenger has entered the swordfight.

(I'll judge your words, too, DocKloc)

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Country: Kanga Rat Murder Society.

Vacancy - Assistant Production Operative
1498 words

“We want everyone to feel like a part of the team,” says Brenda, “If there’s any problems, don’t hesitate to ask Bash: He’ll be your supervisor.”

“Okay,” I say, nodding.

Their rusted crap shack thuds and squeals in the desert breeze. A generator hums outside, and a thick tangle of power cables strains through the window, joining all the appliances in the break room together. I’m sitting at the table, where newspapers have been pushed aside to make room for Brenda’s folders.

We work through her exhaustive pile of documents: safety this; sign that. She keeps apologising for how long it’s taking. I wish we’d spent more time on signals and sirens. What’s the klaxon for, again?

She leads me through a rusted door; it groans. There’s a worn out patch of dirt between these crap shacks. She introduces me to Bash, who is built like a tank, and has scars lining his face; he's sharpening his buck teeth with an angle grinder.

He looks me up and down. I know it, and he knows it: I’m going to suck today.

He throws his grinder. The iron wall chimes.

“First job,” he says: “There’s a pit in the yard: I need you to remove all the dry bones.”

‘Bones?’ I think.

I nod.

“When you’ve got that done, you need to go into the gore-store out back. Fill the pit with fresh bones from there.”

Bash heaves the rusted gate; It whines. On the other side is the pile of bones.

A single kanga rat can’t lift literal tonnes of bones —Well, Bash might be able to. A chalky dust rises when I lift the bones. My body can’t lift all of these bones: My mind can’t lift all of these bones. I can’t think of the hours I’ll spend hauling these bones. These yellow and cream —awkward and rattling— bones. How many dingoalas and ox horses are in these bones? The bone pile shifts in little bone avalanches whenever I disturb the bones. I can’t think of how tired I’ll be by the end of the pile of bones. Each time I think about the bones, work stops.

“Keep ‘em coming!” Bash shouts.

In these hours, I Just lift the next armful of bones, and I think of home.

I take another armful to the drop off. Bash and some other Kanga Rat are by a huge grinder. The engine’s clearly knackered, and Bash is turning the machine with a handle. This other Kanga Rat, Wallop, feeds it bones.

“You the new assistant?” she says.

I nod.

“How do you like it here so far?”

'There’s a lot of loving bones.'

“It’s alright so far,” I say.

She smirks, then leans in to ask.

“So, do you reckon you’ll be back tomorrow?”

That is quite the question.

Is there a new career out there for me? I’d ditch this pile, get free from the future whose bones are stacked more tall than I am strong. My strength right now, at least: I could get hench.

For all I know, this pile of bones is small. Perhaps, if I’m to eat, I should stay here until I’m sure another job is better. That’s why I say "I will be there tomorrow."

---

Bones: These ones are gore coated. I carry them to the pit. The skin of my tail has burned; it stings as it drags on the dirt.

Buzzard cats are tearing up the scraps of meat on this new pile of bones. A tortoiseshell patterned bloke with a scratched up beak lands in my path. He sits up proudly on his haunches.

“I’ve not seen you here before,” he says. “What’s your name?”

“Rupert,” I say. “And yours?”

“Rupert?” he says, “Don’t knock yourself out, Rupert: Go at your own pace, bruv.”

“Thanks,” I say.

“And the Name’s Rolo,” he says, “if you could get the hind legs out first, that’d be great (my crew loves the arse meat).”

He pats me on the shoulder, then flies back to the pile.

“Arse meat, Rupert!” He hollers.

“Yeah,” I say, “arse meat.”

Heading back through the compound to the meat storage, Kanga Rats have begun amassing. They’re all passing that angle grinder between them, getting their teeth sharp. I hop into the container, where Bash is carving carcasses, leaving behind the gore coated bones.

“Show me your teeth,” he says.

“They look blunt. Get them nice and sharp.”

'With the angle grinder?'

“Sorry, Bash” I say, “I’m not supposed to use machinery unless I’ve been properly trained.”

He shrugs.

“I’ll show you how.”

---

I can hear the Buzzard cats on the other side of the wall, still ravaging that arse meat.

“The trick is to keep smiling,” says Bash. “That way, you don’t cut your mouth open on the wheel, like Curtis over there.”

“Right,” I say, grabbing the angle grinder. Crowds have gathered around. 'Are they watching me?'

I hold it away from me, then flip the switch. The grinder jumps under its torque. It whirrs, and I can feel the weighty wheel holding itself steady under its gyro forces.

“Don’t be afraid, Rupert,” says Bash, setting off the whole crowd.

“Go on, Rupert.”

“Bite it, lad!”

And all manner of jeers can be heard over the whining disc.

I bite. The buzz is all consuming, shaking my vision into a smear, tingling from my temples to my jaw. I can feel the shards of tooth striking my tongue, and my incisors slowly erode away. I stop.

The tingling remains. My vision is filled with flashing and stars.

The voices in the crowd shout, “There you go!”

“Not bad,” says Bash. I lick my teeth, and can taste success, which is my bleeding tongue.

The klaxons blare.

AWOOOOGA, AWOOOOGA: Kanga rat crowds spring into action. 'Where should I be? What are they doing?' They’re bouncing out of the gate in packs.

“You ever hunted before, Rupert?” Says Bash.

“No.”

“Follow me, then.”

Ten of us tear past the gate, into the unending featureless dust of the outback flats, springing at pace. Rolo flies alongside.

“Where to?” says Bash.

“Go West,” says Rolo. “Dingoalas out there —they’re stranded from the bushfires.”

Holding speed, we turn in a wide arc over the dust.

“Good luck on your first hunt, Rupert!” says Rolo, before peeling away from the formation.

Half an hour of leaping at pace is murder on the legs. We’re tearing up the dust on the endless flats, following a dust plume that steadily draws nearer: it's the dingoalas' trail.

Wallop is wearing a tin hat. It’s hypnotising, watching those straps flap as she bounces.

“Right, Rupert,” she says. “Forget everything you learned in training, and just loving nail ‘em.”

The dingoalas are spread out several yards from one another. They’ve turned away from us, running, but still moving as one. We can see their dog haunches and roundish bear ears as they begin to pick up their pace. Dingoalas can’t outpace kanga rats; we’re soon breathing their dust.

Bash leaps. His target turns suddenly, weaving out of his bite. Each of us charge and snap at lone Dingoalas. One thuds to the ground, in our colleague's maw, and is gone behind us. These things are slippery, weaving out of our strikes. Somehow, in the chaos, they still move as one, weaving in and out of each other in some kind of dance.

“We’ll outrun you, bastards!” Says Bash. “You’ll get tired before we do!”

“Ohoho!” says the dingoala ahead of him. He stops; as does Bash; as do I.

“Have you not seen your tails?” says the dingoala.

My tail stings again, from within the tangle that now binds our hunting party together.

“How do you hope to catch us like that? Mr. Kanga ratking,” says the dingoala.

They leave our tangled mess in their dust.

“Right,” says Bash. “Remember your entanglement training.”

We hop when he says hop, and again pick up speed, but the dingoalas are still pulling away. I am out of sync, dragged in the dust, my arse beaten repeatedly as we bounce over the dirt.

Then Bash shouts, “FORM THE WHEEL!”

Their coordinated motions cause us all to twirl about our conjoined tails, spinning like a disc.

“LEFT SIDE: BOUNCE!” Bash yells, and the seasoned kanga rats jump in time to influence our gyro forces. The wheel begins to stand, and we roll as one at pace toward the dingoalas.

Sky, ground, sky, ground: It’s all I can see, until a dingoala hurtles toward my face.

I bite, crunching at its bones. Its extra weight under this inertia stretches out my neck.

“Let go at the top!” Wallop shouts.

Sky, ground, sky, ground, sky —I release; the dingoala flies.

Thud.

Thwacks, and crunches can be heard all around, as we roll our way through the crowd of dingoalas, flinging any who get caught in our teeth.

“Let’s get untangled, and get the transport over,” says Bash.

And the wheel goes round again.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Weltlich posted:

I'm jumping into this cage match. :toxx:



A fourth hero seeks excalibur.

(acknowledged.)

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am somewhat aggrieved at the most spurious accusations you have made against my person. I do not feel that someone with an exemplary military service record (such as my own) is warranting of your slander. I sincerely hope that you do not intend to insult my honour. After all, I have proven myself to be an outstanding marksman in recent conflicts. Additionally, I have emerged as the victor in over three hundred private duels. It does not bode well for you, sir (or madam), that a great deal of my military expertise has been invested in the identification and tracking of missing persons. If you believe that I cannot identify an individual who has communicated to me anonymously in text (as you have), you are mistaken. When it comes to meeting with a stranger, and ending their life, I have at least seven hundred individually catalogued techniques at my disposal. I doubt that you were aware, at the time in which you authored your defamatory remarks, that you were addressing a man with these competencies. It is likely you would have paid greater respect, had you the grace of this knowledge. Alas, you did author those statements; I will therefore locate you, and I will defend my honour. And (at this particular moment) I do not feel that a person whose words are as disagreeable as your words deserves any mercy!

Yours Faithfully,

Arthur Mariner.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


In: He has fond the knuckle of the business.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


You Won't Be Alone.
1781 Words

The professor snaps his fingers. He stands tall, flaunting his red regalia; it’s as though he is king, and the survivors among his robot hordes are his servants. They fetch him anything he needs:

A drink.
A meal.
A conversation.

“Are you well, professor?” says the chrome android, merely following its programming.

“I am perfectly fine,” says Professor Robotticus, knowing it will compliment him, as programmed.

“Your laboratory is the most advanced in the world, professor.”

“With that laboratory, I can achieve anything,” Robotticus says, with his fist clenched in pride.

Alas, the robot has no programmed response to this. Robitticus stands alone, near his robot, looking over the corner railings of his hovering manor, where clouds roll over its gardens like heroes charging into battle. This fog engulfs the manor behind him, stranding him outside.

“I need to program a better conversation,” he says.

“You can do anything, master," says the machine. "You’re the greatest inventor who ever lived!”

“Well, yes,” he says. “However, building a robot capable of true conversation would require the computational power of a chaos crystal.”

Robotticus sighs, "why do I always need the crystals?"

The clouds peel away from his opulent manor, and he trudges toward its entrance.

“Where are those crystals, anyway?”

---

On Kickback Island, where the sapphire ocean rolls on golden sands, there is a cozy wooden cabin. Inside is a lounge strewn with half finished laundry and empty drinks cans, where three creatures slouch in their sofas. Then there is Anna, who sits upright, knees together, in her own tidied and decorated corner of the lounge.

Anna’s hair, dress, and even her posture are all a conscious effort: she goes to this effort every day, for the positive vibes, because she's worth it —and whatever else the lifestyle gurus recommend.

Sebastian’s filthy sneakers drop sand onto the coffee table. His inexplicably athletic physique is slumped between the table and sofa, where he spends another day doing absolutely nothing.

“Sebastian,” Anna says, “is there anything you’d like to do with your time?”

Sebastian is fixed on the TV (despite the adverts). He shrugs.

“Right now, I’m hankering for currywurst.”

“I mean, more broadly,” Anna says. “Let me give an example.”

Sebastian rolls his eyes.

“I want to devote some time each day to the practice of mindfulness, to get in touch with my thoughts and feelings.”

Karl, the muscular brute, cracks his knuckles.

“I’m with Seb on this one,” says Karl. “Let’s get some currywurst.”

Thomas is about the only one who might give a considered response. He sits himself upright, to address Anna properly. As he begins to speak, there comes a thunderous knocking at the door. The voice of Professor Robotticus sounds from the other side.

“I know you have the crystals!”

“Ughh, go away!” says Sebastian.

Anna’s striding to the door triggers many protestations from the other three, who say they don’t want her to answer “that jerk professor.”

“There’s no reason to be rude!” She scolds, and Robotticus' towering figure fills the door frame.

“Can I help you, professor?” Anna says.

“The chaos crystals...”

“Go away, Ro-butt-icus!” Thomas shouts, and the professor seethes.

“Don’t make me come in there!”

Centeredness and assertiveness; those are the two words Anna has picked up from her popular psychology.

“We are going to discuss this without any violence.” Anna says.

Karl, in his infinite ignorance, raises the TV to a blistering volume, adding, “WHAAAT?”

Anna leaves the unbearable noise behind; she steps onto the beach, closing those others and their TV noise behind the door. She finds herself predictably surrounded by about twenty of Robotticus’ pathetic androids.

“Professor, we’re not going to give you the crystals.”

“You all seem to think I’m some kind of jerk!”

Anna raises her brow.

“Do you know why that is?” she says.

“There is no possible reason.”

“Shall I tell you?” says Anna.

Robotticus looks to the sky, drumming his fingers together. His robots whirr.

“That will not be necessary,” he says.

“Right.”

“I only need them for the conversational matrices of a servile android. They’re completely harmless!” he says. “Not that I expect you to understand what a conversational matrix is.”

Anna breathes a calming breath, rising to the challenge laid before her.

"I understand: You want a robot you can talk to.”

She smirks.

“In a manner of speaking —but it’s more complicated than that!”

She cocks her head at the professor.

“Robotticus?”

“Yes?”

“Are you lonely?”

“No!”

“It’s okay to feel alone, professor.”

“I am definitely not feeling alone! I am perfectly fine.”

Hearing those words, the androids erupt in a din of their automated compliments. By the end of the cacophony, the professor is holding his face in his palm, having turned crimson red at the cheeks and forehead.

“Professor, have you ever tried meditation?" says Anna.

His knuckles whiten about his tightening grip, as he grinds his teeth.

“WHO CARES ABOUT THAT?!” he says. "Tell Sebastian he needs to give me the crystals, or I’ll take them with my robots!"

Anna sighs.

"Let’s be realistic,” she says: “You could fight us again, which will have the same result as always, or you can try something different that might actually help."

She extends both palms to the professor.

"If you want to talk to someone, Robotticus, I’m right here."

Robotticus seethes through his nose like a bull.

"As if I would want to talk to any of you losers!" Says Robotticus.

“ROBOTS! GET THOSE CRYSTALS!”

The cabin door bursts open from the inside.

“Ready to get your butt kicked again?” Says Sebastian.

“So long for nonviolence,” Says Karl

“At least you tried, Anna,” says Thomas.

And they begin.

---

Sunset glistens on the robot debris, which arcs and smolders all over the beach. Anna sits lotus legged on the sand. There’s a distant sound of trash television, and a faint smell of curry and mustard. Underneath her closed eyes, Anna watches her thoughts and feelings pass over the ocean like the ships of a bustling port.

Unknown to her, the bruised professor Robotticus has returned from his laboratory. He skulks in the beach’s craters and hides behind the broken robot husks.

"As she said, she's right here," he mutters, as he carefully reaches toward her hair with a pair of tweezers.

The slight pain is a passing dinghy in Anna’s ocean. Robotticus, however, has plucked a juicy follicle.

---

“We haven’t seen Robotticus in, what, two weeks?” says Sebastian, in his usual place between the sofa and the coffee table.

“Don’t jinx it,” says Karl.

Even Anna admits that this is highly suspicious. In agreeing with them, she finds herself rushed into Thomas’ biplane with the others. On disembarking at the courtyards of Robotticus’ flying manor, she asks, “do we even have a plan?”

Downward facing jet engines line the outside of the platform the manor is built on. This place’s all-too-clinical box gardens and fountains are built around a central path to the building —which bears a cheap and uncanny resemblance to a stately home.

In a show of pure vanity, all manner of screens and holograms light the courtyard, each showing the face of Professor Robotticus.

“Right, that’s it!” he says. “You invade my home: I invade yours!”

The manor lists in the air as it steers toward Kickback Island.

Thomas says, “You Invaded us f…”

“We need a plan,” says Sebastian, as the robot hordes filter into the courtyard.

“Right,” Thomas pounds his palm. “You blow the engines by throwing androids at their intakes. I’ll fly alongside; you need to hop into the plane before this place goes down.”

Karl, Anna and Sebastian nod.

Between Sebastian’s swift maneuvers, Karl’s brutal blows, and Anna’s oversized croquet mallet, the android hordes crash into pieces like waves about an ocean rock. As the field of robots thins, the gang begin to focus on the engines.

Karl knocks an android from the central aisle, over to Anna at the sides of the platform. She swings her mallet, hurtling the android over one of the jet engines like a golf ball. Sebastian leaps over the edge to stamp the android into the engine’s inlet, before bouncing his way back to the courtyard. The android laden engine grinds, clatters, and erupts in flame.

Cloud rolls over the courtyard. The androids appear as silhouetted figures lit by the burning engines. The gang yell their positions to line up their strikes. The descending whine of the failing engines, and the light of their explosions through the fog, tell the gang that their method is still working.

The next silhouette appears before Karl. He lunges. She asks, “What’s going o...”
Her fleshy face crunches under his fist.

“Sorry, Anna!” says Karl, as this Anna hurtles toward a break in the cloud. This punched Anna flies toward the Anna with the mallet. Anna’s mallet thrusts the punched woman into the air with a crunch, and Sebastian’s shoes force the punched, smashed and trampled Anna-shaped-stranger into the jet.

“Oh no,” says Karl.

“Who was that?” says Anna, mouth agape.

Robboticus howls “Angelika!”

The gang hurry to the railings, writhing, scanning, frantically hoping for something they can do.

Shrieks and thumps sound from the rattling engine, until Angelika’s flaming figure drops out of the exhaust, along with other flaming parts.

Thomas hears Sebastian calling for him. Over his cockpit instruments he sees the figure hurtling toward the ground: She has an uncanny resemblance to Anna, but Anna is on the deck with her mallet. Thomas’ eyes widen as he dives to her rescue. The freefall unsettles his gut. He breathes uneasy, wretching as he falls closer to the flame.

---

Anna sits cross legged. The roaring waves of the ocean sound in her mind, and the sand is like static on her skin. Underneath her closed eyes, she sees her thoughts sailing through the ocean like the ships of a busy port. Fragments of memories, dreadful ideas, and the tears in her eyes, have all come to harbour.

She remembers the uneaten currywurst going cold on the table, and the sound of voices.

“I should never have fought in the fog,” Karl said.

“I should have tried for the other parts,” Thomas said.

‘If I got through to Robotticus that day, would he have made that clone?’ Anna thinks.

She visits the future scene, where Angelika will wake in her hospital bed, feeling the empty space where her limbs should be.

That hospital smell: It reminds her of the joke Sebastian made there.

“Well, that’s one way to lose weight,” Sebastian said. She laughed then. It was inappropriate. It’s an awful joke, and Anna laughs, and she sobs, and she sobs through her laughter.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


In

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


My sparkle plum fairy is sad and its making him grumpy and I don't want him to be sad any more (plz help)
830 words.

I have the most scrumptious husband, who I think is better than Jesus and a basket full of fairy dust. Although, thinking about it, fairy dust would probably fall between the little gaps in a basket, and that wouldn’t be very good :(

My husband has this one issue, which is that he keeps telling me that I’m distracted, and that it’s getting on his nerves, and that I need to get serious. I think he might be the one who's distracting me, actually. For example:

We were out at a lovely creek by a parking lot in town. Seeing the ducks swimming in their little line in the water was the highlight of my day. However, Brian (my husband) said that we need to go back to the car so we can get the ice cream in our freezer before it melts (very distracting). We had lots of bread with us, and I gave a loaf to the ducks, and Brian got angry and he said “You really need to grow up.”

I am twenty eight and three quarters. I AM grown up. Also, Brian knows I’m grown up because I like to nibble at his naughty bits, the tasty little animal ;)

I asked him about this and he had this idea about me getting a job. He actually said that, if I get a job, I can buy all the bread in the world and feed it to the ducks, if I want to. I think that sounds wonderful. He asked me what I wanted to do as a job, and I said I wanted to be an astronaut, because I think I would be really good at talking to aliens.

Well, he didn’t listen at all.

He said that, if I’m good at talking, then maybe I should work in a call center. I'm sorry, but that’s not remotely the same (unless it’s a call center for aliens).

I think that Brian and I are very different people. And that’s great, because I don’t know how to fix a car at all (and he's got no idea about basic things, like leaving a bowl of milk out for the fairies each night). He’s somebody who works at a very boring factory, where they do the same thing every day: I just don’t think someone like that can appreciate the kind of jobs I’m looking for. I know he must get really excited by picture frames if he does that job in the factory. In fact, I told him we could have loads more picture frames if we lived in a big castle. He just ignored me again, and said it’s not very realistic. I know it’s realistic, because I saw a big castle on the side of the road when my car broke down, and it was very real. There were very real people living in that castle. He saw it, too, when he came to fix my car with a big green jug of whiskey.

Last night he said that he doesn't want to see a picture frame again in his whole life. I think it's very sad: He's devoted his whole adult life to picture frames up until now, and he suddenly doesn't like them any more. He keeps working at the factory, and I hope he finds his passion again, but he says he's just going through the motions. He's even gone so far as to say that he never liked picture frames at all, which is horrible.

I just want Brian to be happy again, because that’s obviously what’s been wrong with him. I thought the fairies might help me out, because they've been drinking the milk I leave out each night. When I got up one morning, I saw that the fairies had turned into a lovely ginger cat with little white feet. I thought I would let him in and feed him some chicken, because cats are lovely, and because maybe the fairies are saying that a cat is just what Brian needs. Except Brian doesn't want this cat, and I don't think that's wise of him, because the cat is a fairy (and if you are mean to fairies they'll steal any babies you have and replace them with screeching devils that look like those babies).

He's still my scrumptious husband, and I love him to bits. I just want a second opinion on this idea I’ve had to make him happy. I was thinking I could surprise him with some of his favourite ice cream, and we could drink whiskey. Then I'd get a picture frame, and I'd wear it so it's just me on the other side. I think that would maybe make him excited about picture frames again. I'm just worried: What if it has the opposite effect? What if it makes him suddenly dislike me, in the same way he suddenly dislikes picture frames?

Maybe I should try the cat again. Terrence is a lovely cat :3

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


The Tower, the Mineshaft and the Giant

333 words.

The tower: an icon of western civilization. It implies order, law, and the application of force. The chapel at its spire is of heaven, and there lies a hellish dungeon deep below, echoing the natural design of the creator. Where is he now? As the world turns upside down, and the tower points downward, and the dungeons rise above at the hands of the giant.

In this moment, the illustrated manuscripts that were so carefully refined by censors and canonising cardinals careened from the tower libraries down into the sky below. In this moment, all expectation of a civilisation and a polite conversation pointed downward with the tower.

The valleys: a place too disorderly and steep to control. Therefore it is a place for bandits and fairies to be away from oppression. That is, until the valleys served a purpose: Rusty brown ore, forever flowing outward on tightly squeezed mine carts. These darkened mineshafts joined the dungeons in hell, and for centuries it was this way. The tower was of heaven, and all beneath the skin was hell, and all the men in hell were deservedly far from God’s light.

The ring: an icon of dedication —to your god, to your king, or to your spouse. It is worn to symbolise eternity devoted to your cause. As the world turns, a new devotion emerges. The tower points downward, the mineshaft rises to the sky, and the ringed hand of the devoted heaves the hills of the valleys in twain. Where is the creator, now the world has turned? Where is he, now that his light shines on the depths of the valley of the flesh? Where is he, now that the shaft to the old hell is rent agape by the giant’s hands?

The tower falls; the mineshaft rises; this act of dedication stretches to eternity, for the giant was devoted to shining light on a place once dark. He showed us all that there is a grotesque beauty in the old hell.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


In and I would like a random article, please.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


DON'T FORGET: There's just over ONE WEEK remaining on the magical sword brawl!

Due 27th March at 08:00 GMT

Hawklad posted:

fight me. :toxx:

crabrock posted:

challege accepted. :toxx:

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

I will take all y'all on. :toxx:

Weltlich posted:

I'm jumping into this cage match. :toxx:

Link to the original brawl prompt.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


It's Less Effort This Way
1037 words

Michael didn't want to look, in case she was there. It was early morning, and his footsteps pounded the short distance between his truck and his apartment. The front door slammed behind him. Its array of locks, chains, and bolts, all clicked shut. Knowing what was out there, he patted the brushed steel stake at his hip (it was secured to his belt loop with a carabiner and a retractable steel wire). He drew the stake in an icepick grip, raising it in front of his eyes, wire and all.

The stake pointed at the door. His boots retreated backward, eyes darted left and right. Black trousers bedecked with pockets and pouches, and the black polo shirt with SECURITY printed in fat white letters on its back. It rose and fell with his frantic breathing, slowly approaching his bedroom door.

When a lone drunkard needed ejecting from the nightclub, Michael would offer them a smoke: it might just spare him any violence. When the cigarette was a stump on the pavement, those wayward and staggering legs would stamp down, then struggle toward the club doors. They’d walk into the hand of Michael, or one of the other security guards, and never make it back through the door.

Smoke couldn’t get everybody out of the club, though. Even during the fire, when crowds rushed every exit.

“Is that the alarm?”

“Do we have to get out?”

No music, and bright lights illuminating the smoke haze, while flames consumed the bar. “Let me grab my drink first,” they’d say, with breath that smelled like it could ignite. Smoke seeped into Michael’s clothes that night. He took it home with him.

Mirrors crowded Michael’s walls, and bulbs of garlic huddled up in one corner of the kitchen: He knew what was out there. Door-handle in one hand, stake in the other, he breached his bedroom door. A figure stood in the corner of the room: His acoustic guitar.

Ultraviolet strip lighting cast a blue tint over his skin. The sunburn time was long enough to get changed into fresh clothes. He peered out of a window, which, like all of his windows, was sealed totally shut with silicone. She was on the street below: her pale figure, in her striped shirt, squinted at the purple light from Michael’s room. Those clothes must have been a decade old; frayed, faded. Under a horse chestnut tree, sheltered from the amber street lighting, her thumbs danced about the numbered and lettered buttons of her brick style mobile phone.

The smartphone lit Michael’s hand.

“Do you know where I am?” was the text she had sent.
“Stop bothering me. Now,” he replied. Her fanged smile shone in the amber light, before disappearing down the street in a cloud of smoke.

A roll of duct tape creaked in Michael’s hands, sealing the gaps around his bedroom door, over golden brown stains where he’d done this before. He groaned as he stood up, then checked the seals around each of the windows. No smoke, or creatures in the form of smoke, could get in. This was secure enough to rest on his bed and play guitar.

These songs were anthems when he was a partygoer at Club Catalan, long before he worked there (and what happened after). Singing the hypnotic wail at the start of Golden Skans brought him to those nights. Those nights he’d sit on the cold concrete steps, outside the fire exit, noticing the cold on his skin, all too buzzed to actually feel cold. Friends and strangers could light cigarettes there, talk about how much they loved each other, and laugh about anything, as the basslines of these anthems pulsed through the doors. These conversations were important at the time, but who can remember a single word of them now? There’s only the sincere gazes, the warmth of drunken smiles, and how they’d point their chin up to blow smoke.

A thud in the bathroom. Matthew’s palm silenced the guitar strings. The guitar flopped face down in the bed, as though it'd spend the night crying in despair. Michael began skulking again with his stake. He cursed the noise, cursed the UV lights that were burning his skin, and cursed the effort spent on the duct tape seal around his bedroom door. She had never been in the house. The closest she had ever been was standing beneath that tree, texting. They don’t go into the house without invitation, and Matthew never got to invite her. Yet there was a thud in the bathroom.

He didn’t check the bathroom that night. Was it better late than never? Being late could mean she’s in there. The door peeled open. Michael’s burned skin would also be peeling the next day.

Stake in hand, he smiled. ‘She’s in there,’ he thought. The mirrors caught his reflection, the garlic caught his shadow, and the air behind the bathroom door caught the swing of his stake. A bottle of shower gel lay in the bathtub, below its rack, and Michael started laughing. The bottle was nothing, but the conviction in his stab: that was something, and he laughed.

“Do you want to come over?” he texted.
“You’re inviting me?”
“Yes.”

Every lock on his door opened. He waited, stake in hand. Three knocks at the door, and a chime of the doorbell. His eye met the fisheye lens of the peephole. The smell of smoke reintroduced itself to his nostrils. Hers was the sharp smoke of the fire, but also the smooth smoke of those parties, and those conversations whose words were forgotten, and those times he bought his security with a cigarette.

The stake reeled itself beside his hip on its steel wire. Empty handed, he opened the door. They shared their gazes and sincere smiles, among the mirrors that only reflected Michael. There was no UV light from the bedroom, as they talked about important and forgettable things. He peeled open a window, and threw the garlic out of it.

“Just bite me, and get this over with,” he said, offering himself like a cigarette. He bled until he was cold and blue. She turned to smoke, and flew over the cubicle in the Club Catalan.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


THUNDER —THUNDER —THUNDER —THUNDERDOME HOOOOOOOOOO

Once Hawklad had thrown down his gauntlet, no fewer than three accepted his challenge. In the end, the challenger himself emerged victorious, though not unscathed, in this particular swordfight.

Arise, Hawklad, victor of the swordbrawl!

Now for the crits:
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Hawklad - 1419 Danzig

What Was This Story About?
Elwein lives in a failing asteroid colony, which is imperiled by large alien entities known as jackals. She uses a sword made from the shard of a jackal, which is imbued with her mother’s sapience, to fight a jackal. Once she has secured victory, she reflects on the purpose of fighting against the odds, as she walks back to her sleeping daughter.

There’s strong themes of inheritance and intergenerational relations throughout.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

Upshaft, through the airlock and onto the surface. She held Mother low as her purple magboots crunched across the regolith of the asteroid. Yet another invader.

Sometimes your descriptions are quite vague. I feel like it took a very long time to finally get a picture of the asteroid base and what exactly a jackal is.

quote:

they’d chosen her mother, to honor her sacrifice in the docking bay. Now it was Elwein whose patience was being sacrificed.

This didn’t particularly land. I do like the ongoing theme of inheritance that runs throughout the piece. What was attempted in this line is great, but the delivery didn’t carry it in this instance. Patience being ...sacrificed? It feels clunky to me.

quote:

No time to think, a flash and the alien was on them...
The action in this story is both great and has issues. The first time I read this, I struggled to visualise the Jackal or what it was. Also, when you write, “This one was quicker than the others” it had me thinking there were multiple Jackals in this particular fight.

Reading it again, the pacing and the action itself are just enough to be awesome and exciting (and “just enough” is the perfect amount when you’re trying to be fast paced). That’s a good job. The only issue is a few descriptions that could be improved to give less ambiguity.

Overall Impressions

You played the prompt straight. I liked that —a lot. You didn’t fall into the trap of trying to do something too clever or too cute with this genre (one that thrives on action and being cool, which you brought in spades).

You also injected a strong theme into the story: inheritance, and generational dialogue. It provided some relatable grounding to this story that is ostensibly about space aliens and heroes in skintight suits.

Overall this was quite enjoyable. It suffered for a few ambiguous or strange phrases (mentioned earlier).

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

Weltlich - Cut Rate

What Was This Story About?
A man called Uool and a sapient blade called Kevin are bound together by a wizard’s curse. Uool has difficulty finding work in this condition and ends up killing at the request of various townsfolk, including priests.

Kevin has the ability to create a “battle tide” if he speaks the magical words “Uool Yeah”, but is reluctant to say them. This creates tension as the Uool and the blade are endangered by insectoid demons. In the end, they wade into combat against a demon who is guarding great treasure, which may be enough to pay Uool and Kevin’s way through life without further work.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

“Say it, Kevin.” I readied my sword as the torchlight glinted off their countless eyes. I tried to remember how many eyes spiders had. Eight legs, eight eyes—that sounded right.

“I told you I’m not saying it anymore, Uool.”

“Say it or we’re dead, Kevin.” I gave up on trying to deal with Kevin

I struggled to follow who is speaking at times, and I think this is because of a combination of things. You go against usual expectations (the sword says the magic words, the sword has an ordinary name and an ordinary character). The dialogue isn’t attributed either until you reach this point here where the narrator indicates Kevin as the other speaker. None of these things is individually bad, and I enjoyed the play on the usual circumstances of a story like this, but throwing each of those elements all at once had me doubting who was who. I think this story needed something at the very start that says “I am Uool and Kevin is my sword” in a way that’s hard to question.

quote:

My point is that to a cleric, every problem is a demon problem.

Your characterisation of Uool is strong. You’ve managed to inhabit the mind of a slightly dim or average person in a way that’s convincing. His giving up on counting all of the eyes, and dismissing clerics in this way, all works quite well.

Overall Impressions

This was fun, and I think one of the strengths that shines throughout this piece is the relationship between Uool and Kevin. I also like that there are stakes in this piece that are more human and relatable than the obvious threat to life. A sense of powerlessness and being made to work are something most people will relate to, I’m sure.

You’ve given me a lot of dialogue here, and it’s enough for me to suggest something for your writing. In this dialogue, your characters are mostly talking plainly and achieving (or attempting) only one thing when they talk. That’s not a bad thing, but really great dialogue often has people not directly saying what they mean. They have ulterior motives, or even shoot more than one bird with a stone by saying things with double meanings or even saying things that act as non dialogue elements of the story like descriptions. There’s nothing wrong with plain dialogue, but it’s always cool to see a writer do something more with dialogue, especially if there’s going to be this much of it in a story.

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

Crabrock - Self-soothing

What Was This Story About?

Kevin’s therapist leaves town, giving him a “therapy sword” before she leaves. He then visits his family on the occasion of his father’s birthday, where they all bully him for apparently girlish behaviour and having what they call “issues.” This culminates in a scene where they are all going to gang up on Kevin, only for him to draw his therapy sword and demand that his brother apologise for throwing out the card he was about to give his father. The family are intimidated by the sword and play out the birthday to Kevin’s wishes until he leaves.

A Few Individual Points I Noticed

quote:

My mother is carrying a casserole and stops by the table.
There are parts where this story reads like a first draft. The various characters and pieces are described in plain language with no detail or flair: a mother, a casserole and a table (and a therapy sword and a bus and siblings). You gave Minnesota more sense than most of the characters here.

quote:

“Love, your daughter.”
The gendered themes of this story add to how uncomfortable it is. I don’t mean that in a bad way. This story is meant to be odd, uncomfortable and full of downright dysfunctional people. The potential implications of this line, and the question mark that hangs over renouncing this as a joke, really throw a punch.

Overall Impressions

Conceptually, I think you did a great job to push the limits of this prompt and create a story that’s an experience to read. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t personally like the idea, because I was personally wanting some dumb cheesy popcorn stories like He-Man, but I don’t think it’s fair to judge a writing contest on taste more than skill and execution. I like how you took this very strange and uncomfortable concept and somehow made it work as a piece of art. I believe this story is everything it intends to be: an uncomfortable and odd experience to think about. The main thing that feels lacking are details or something to describe the people and the scenery.

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

Excalibur! - Dr. Kloctopussy

What Was This Story About?

Gwen, King Arthur’s wife, disguises herself as a squire to adventure with her husband. Arthur, not seeing through the disguise, falls off his horse and loses his sword briefly. It opens holes in spacetime which various creatures crawl through. Then there’s a fey who’s stealing some monks in an alternate dimension which happens to link to the sword’s dimension, and Gwen chases the fey through several dimensions this way. Meanwhile Arthur is stuck chasing trees while Gwen learns more about the magic sword and its password requirements. In the end, her exclamation of “what in the seven hells?” meets the password requirements, the end.

I’m not going to pick at this story in depth because we talked on Discord. I liked how wild this story was, though, and it was great to have such a wacky story to contrast some of the others we got. The pieces of this story just didn’t quite come together in the end, though.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


I'm in

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


A Tale of Geldal
1499 words

For weeks, smog rolled from the wastes of Jorvik, blanketing the village of Geldal. At sunset, the sky shone a violent crimson red, like the fire-breathing dragon Teinmoor herself. Imric was sleeping on his throne at Geldal hall, blanketed in his white wispy hair and beard. His youngest son, Vernon, laid on his side, with his head propped up by his arm. Brown ringlets spiralled from his head to the bench; he never bothered to cut them. Imric’s eldest son, Kellman, paced around the hearth, ranting about “uneducated idiots” who disagreed with him over this or that, while ale dripped down his graying beard.

“Teinmoor would be an idiot to raid Geldal,” said Kellman. “We have a mine, not a treasury.”

“You think the dragon is so patient?” said Vernon, who cocked his brow.

Kellman knocked back his ale. He gulped.

“The dragon is too large for mining,” said Kellman. “If she wants our gold, she needs us alive.”

“There’s no use saying that here,” said Vernon, "best go to mount Jotnar." He pointed his thumb to the distant mountain, whose road spiralled above the clouds, and whose summit lifted a vast cenotaph honouring the kings of the giants. Jotnar was one of few monuments left behind by giant kind, who were so tall that their ankles were level with a standing man’s eyes. Their kind built the cenotaph to be as grand to their people as this mead hall is to ours.

When Teinmoor stole the cenotaph, she could barely fit inside; she had to crawl through the giant entrance.

Vernon’s eyes did not leave Kellman’s face, but Kellman looked to the vent in the mead hall’s ceiling, where the hearth smoke was fleeing the room. The fire of the hearth spat at him, and he flinched.

"She might refuse,” Kellman said. “I can’t travel there: my cohort would beat a trail leading her here.”

Vernon’s shoulders bounced with his silent laughter.

“Then go alone!” Vernon grinned.

“I am not the woodsman here, Vernon,” said Kellman, ”I would not make it.”

“And the rest of us are not scholars,” said Vernon. “Us idiots can’t argue as persuasively as you.”

“I could write what needs to be said,” said Kellman, who paced out of the hall, toward his bedchamber.

“Good idea! Go prepare your speech,” said Vernon, as Kellman slid through the door.

It’s not known how long Imric had been awake and listening, but he yelled.

“Vernon!”

And the young man leapt.

“What are you doing to help, son?”

Vernon whimpered something about herbs and mushrooms from the forest. It was a bitter poison said to turn human flesh into stone, which Vernon brewed and drank each night, hoping to become fireproof. He offered Imric his vile mixture, but the jarl wasted no time pointing out that Vernon’s skin was still pink and soft. Vernon insisted it had worked: he plucked a glowing coal from the hearth, then placed it in his mouth.

“Any magician can do that trick,” said Imric. “Either jump into the fire right now, or lead your brother to Mount Jotnar at dawn.”

One week into their travel, the two brothers entered the scorchlands. The ground crunched underfoot, and smouldered where the charcoal trees met the white crust of ash. The brothers renewed their age old argument about a knotted stick the giant Albion carried in his depictions. Vernon insisted the stick was a cudgel. Kellman argued it was a staff for walking. As they bickered through the wastes, the ground’s heat cooked Kellman’s boots, and he began to walk apace. Vernon, however, was slowing. He moaned about how tired he felt, until he stopped.

“She’ll kill us,” said Vernon.

Kellman hopped from one foot to the other, while his brother remained still.

“Hurry up; my feet are burning,” Kellman said, but Vernon turned pale, like chalk.

“She’ll find Geldal eventually, Kellman,” said Vernon, and he shrugged. “We’re done for either way,” then he turned to limestone: a statue of himself, shrugging.

Kellman hurried away, leaving his brother in the wastes, but as the sun set, Kellman heard the sound of men tutting behind the ashen trees. He saw humanlike figures three feet tall jumping out of the smoke. Their skin was rough and gray like the burned wood, and their eyes were embers.

“Kellman, Kellman, Kellman,” said the little men, “would you abandon your family?”

Kellman was still, and silent, as he saw the men were dragging the statue of Vernon. More little men appeared from the ash, surrounding him entirely. They were giggling, dancing, and rubbing their hands.

“Ooo-hoo-hoo, yess!” said the little men. “He is silent, and under our spell. Now he will do as we say.”

“You will carry your brother” said the little men.

“I —I will not,” said Kellman, and he bolted like a horse, but one of the little men stuck out his foot, which tripped Kellman face first onto the scalding floor. The little men leapt on his arms and legs, so that he could not stand, and they heaved the statue of Vernon onto Kellman’s back. Their hands glittered with a strange magic, which fixed the statue’s arms around Kellman’s neck. The elves hopped off Kellman’s arms and legs, and Kellman pulled himself onto his feet, now carrying his brother.

“You did not carry him when we told you to” said the little men. “Now you have no choice over when or how you carry him.”

“Now we are telling you this, Kellman: You will face the dragon Teinmoor!”

He climbed the spiralling path of mount Jotnar, with his brother on his back, and arrived at the cenotaph. Human guards in twinkling armor, whose helms bore red plumage, shoved open the vast gates. Several piles of gold shone inside the limestone hall, each as tall as a tumulus. Statues of old giants had been torn from their places on the walls: they stood in piles of gold, at Teinmoor’s leisure. On the top of the largest pile was Teinmoor, who curled around herself, as she was touching three of the four walls in this vast hall. Her back shone with bright red scales, and her soft underbelly glittered with coins and emblems from her hoard. Her wings folded to her back, where they touched the ceiling. She prowled on four clawed limbs like a hunting cat, and her growl shook the mountain, causing her mounds of gold to rattle and spill.

“I’m sure you came here with a purpose.”

Kellman knelt before the great beast, and gave his most convincing speech. He pleaded with her to leave the people of his home alive so that they could mine their gold for her. As he spoke, she petted a statue of the giant Albion as though it were a lap dog.

“Where have you come from?” she growled.

Kellman was brought to the ground by the weight of his brother on his back, and the dragon showed her teeth, each one like an ivory greatsword.

“I need to know where this mine is, if I’m to spare it,” said the dragon, and the guards’ laughter reverberated through the hall.

Kellman said, “I was thinking I could—”

“SILENCE!” Teinmoor bellowed.

“I care not for the pathetic thoughts of a puny human!” and she flicked her claw at the statue of Albion, which toppled down on Kellman, striking with his cudgel first.

Teinmoor took great pleasure in barking at her men,

“Go clean that up,” she said.

“Don’t use a crane; just lift the statue!” she said.

“And you lot: Go find this man's homeland!” she said.

Though he was immobile, Vernon sheltered his brother. He was a lever, lifting Albion’s staff: When Kellman pushed himself off the floor, the Albion statue stood upright. Teinmoor’s claw crunched under Albion’s base. She yelped and leapt to the ceiling, which snapped her wings. She drew her breath, which washed over the room like a flood of flame. Her guards burned into wisps of ash and bone meal, but Kellman turned his back, and was sheltered by his brother. Vernon glowed white as the sun. His heart melted. Kellman could feel it beating again. Vernon’s stone limbs moved, and he pushed toward Teinmoor’s maw, then tore her tonsils from her throat. She was fireless, unable to fly, and walking with a limp, when she fled the cenotaph. Then Vernon cooled, and he was motionless again.

Some say Teinmoor crawled through the valleys, where hunters finished her off. Others say the giant Albion rose from his statue and crushed her skull. Then Kellman asked him,

“Sir, is that a cudgel or a staff you have?”

Albion said, “It is a cudgel when it needs to be, and a staff when it needs to be. Most importantly, it stirs the hops into my ale, which makes everything else worthwhile.”

Either way, the people of Geldal —who all drank to the tale— put their ale to Vernon’s lips, and his flesh became soft again.

Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


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Azza Bamboo
Apr 7, 2018


Oscillation
946 words.

Misty white eyes peer into a shard of broken glass. Oh, the century it has seen. Day and night flicker faster than the eyes can see. Years drift by. A window pane sits in a factory near a forest. The swell of men ceases to pour in and out of its vast doors. The brickwork darkens. Cracks creep into wooden frames. The glass of many windows pop one by one, lying shattered on the floor. A forest advances toward the building. Tiles fall like dandruff from the ceiling. Blackberry bushes tangle around tumbledown brick walls. Dandelions burst through asphalt in the yard.

“Here!” He says.

Day and night slow again, returning to a human pace on this night.

---

A white van screeches to a halt in the old yard. A young man in jeans, and a middle aged woman in a green felt dress, disembark from either side. Moonlight twinkles in the scattered glass. They throw the back doors open. A greying, bearded man is dragged between them. He seethes, and tussles with his straitjacket.

The old man slams onto a mattress on the concrete floor. Geometric patterns drawn in chalk arc and intersect on the ground, covering every inch In this cavernous workshop. A lit candle marks each intersection.

Siobhan plucks a shard of glass from a crumbling window frame. She presents it to Liam.

“We have to draw their attention,” she says, “kiss it!”

Liam says, “what?” and Siobhan huffs through her nose, regarding him through slitted eyes.

Liam wipes the shard on his jeans. He pecks the glass with an audible smak.

The countryside. Spring sunlight shines through a canvas of oaks. Leaves rustle in the breeze, shadows mottle and shift around a twinkling duck pond. Two young boys in jeans (and T shirts with the names of their favourite bands) perch alongside one another. Their branch reaches far over the grasses below. Liam closes his eyes. His lips touch Craig’s, but the pond is shimmering beneath his eyelids; a sparkle like a shard of glass in his hand.

A figure stands on the other side of the glass: a gentleman in an exquisite tail coat, old fashioned boots, and white stockings reaching to his knees. His face is shaded in the factory candlelight, but his eyes shine like the eyes of a cat. Liam opens his eyes. The gentleman has pointed ears. His skin is pale as the moon. His misty eyes are slanted. The image in the glass is merely his reflection: the elf stands behind him.

“Oh, what a lovely kiss.” Says the elf, who peels the marks of Liam’s lips from the glass, as though it were a sticker. He slicks back his dewy hair, forming brown lines, like the fins underneath the head of a mushroom.

“Pray tell,” says the elf, “what would you want in exchange for this wonderful memory?”

Siobhan bows.

“Oh, most noble guest,” she says, “I beseech you, in your kindness —”

"I want my dad to be sane again," says Liam.

The elf gasps, flutters his eyelids. He stands, mouth agape.

Siobhan swings her arm, clipping the very tips of Liam’s ear.

“Manners!” she barks.

"I want my dad to be sane again, sir."

The elf bows. "Of course, young man: as you wish."

Myriad machines roar and clatter in the factory. Screaming saws slice trees into planks. The glass returns to a whole on its pane. The wedding band on Siobhan’s finger unravels by a single golden strand like a knitted sweater. The final stretch snags on Siobhan’s finger, and the elf tugs the strand with all of his might.

The factory clocks read 5AM. A swell of men march to the sign-in clocks, showing their cards. The old man, in his blue overalls, signs out.

“It’ll be sad to see you go, Seamus,” says a dirty man beside him.
“See you down the pub?” Seamus asks.

And the crowd go on, patting him on the back, talking about drinks, retirements, and asking each other to stay in touch.

The elf’s misty white eyes look into the patterns on a wooden plank. Oh, the centuries it has seen. Day and night flicker faster than the eye can see. Years drift by. A sapling stretches toward the sky from a grassy floor. Branches divide from the branches, and branches from those branches. The trunk swells ever thicker. Leaves unfold; they brown; they fall; others unfold soon after.

“Here!” he says.

Day and night slow, returning to a human pace on this night.

---

A young woman in a green felt dress chains herself to the mighty oak. She traces the creases of the bark with her fingers. She kisses the tree with an audible smak.

University. Glass fronted buildings conceal labyrinthine corridors and classrooms. Two sweethearts enter a classroom hand in hand. Daniel perches on the desk. Siobhan’s lips touch his. Under Siobhan’s eyes, the pattern of woodgrain forms a face.

“Oh, what a lovely kiss,” says the elf.

He peels the lipstick off the bark as though it were a sticker, and places it into a satchel with hundreds of others.

“Pray tell,” says the elf, “what would you want in exchange for this wonderful memory?”

“Oh, most noble guest,” Siobhan says, “I beseech you, in your kindness, to spare this forest from destruction.”

“Very well,” says the elf, “as you wish.”

A golden strand wraps around Siobhan’s finger. Once the ring is complete, she disappears. The forest is thick and dense. In the distance lies a ruined factory.

The factory yard twinkles in the moonlight, and he walks to it, to find the source of the sparkling light: shards of broken glass.

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