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Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

Hate is the Spice
708 words

Prompt: Baked Feta Campanelle

Nana Grey always made the pasta with the lilies when we came over.  We didn’t know what she meant by it, not then.  We were still kids. Hell, we barely even knew that we were there for a funeral. There were a lot of funerals in those days, but most of them were for strangers, so Molly and I would sit down at the kids table with whatever cousins made it out this time and shovel mouthfuls of cheese and pasta into our mouths, into our bellies, until we were all too full to make trouble.

Then, one week before my fifteenth birthday, it was Mister Shon. A teacher in our school.  Somebody real.

“Why are we even doing this,” said Cousin Finn,  “He could just as well have run off.”

“He’s dead,”said Cousin Victor.  His knees kept bumping the card table.  Next time he’d be at the main table, nursing a single glass of wine and only talking when asked questions.  This time he was with us. “Trust me.”

“How do you know?” asked Molly.  She’d been crying.  Mister Shon had been her favorite teacher. English, reading Alice and books about horses.

“Nana said,” said Victor.  Nobody had a better answer to than than to take another forkful of pasta.  “He didn’t ever try to touch you, did he?”

“What?”said Molly.  “Gross, no.”  I think we were all sort of saying ‘Gross’ at once.

“Too bad,”said Victor, mouth full.  “Cops’ll likely be paying anyone who’ll say he did soon.  Doesn’t even have to be true.”

“We don’t talk to cops,” I said, cutting Molly off from saying something ruder.

“‘Swhy we had to get this done this weekend.  By Monday they’ll have found someone.” said Victor.  Wisdom from the adult side.

The next funeral was Piet. My Piet. Bold, sassy Piet. Drove too fast. Sassed the cops, got away with it, until one day he didn't. Nana took me aside. "Listen, Zack. In here, you cry. Cry, and eat. But outside, when they bury your, your-" I put my arm on her shoulder. She sat down on her big cushiony chair.

"I," I started to say.

"I never got to bury him," she said, words like long sighs. "I was wartime. Their weapons were not kind, even to the dead. I buried a uniform."

"I never knew," I said.

"Why would you?" she said. "Nobody talks about those days. We bury our flags and try to forget. But listen: they are still what they are. And they will kill you for who you are. At the funeral, be like your classmates. Mourn a friend. The rest, keep inside, until the day you need it."

This was the way. Piet wasn't the only lover I lost, either. It got easier. Hiding it, that is. The loss didn't.

The last funeral was Nana's own. We were in our twenties then, Molly and I. Had grown a bit out of touch. We caught up and told stories. Victor had the best one.

"Nana had a secret lover, you know," he said. "A cop. I don't know how it started. Maybe he was trying to gather information. Maybe he was passing news along through channels. But he'd come over, and she'd make him dinner. He'd joke about it. 'Is this the day you feed me poison?' She'd joke back. 'No, but I may have spit in the soup.'"

"How would you know anything about this?" I said, and the rest of the table echoed my doubt.

"She told me. This was right after his funeral. I was there for the newspaper, taking the usual photos, and she was there, in black and veils. She saw me seeing her, and took me aside.

"'Tell them,' she said. 'When I'm gone, and not a second before. Don't let them think I lived like some cloistered saint after Papa.'"

We found her old flag, in the basement. Five rainbow lilies on a bright yellow field. We sewed it into the inside of the dress they buried her in, and after we ate her last pasta, recovered from the refrigerator, all of us at the same table, made equal by this ultimate loss. prepared in advance for us, and we remembered her.


Bacon Terrorist
May 7, 2010

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


I managed 498 words of a story called Pasta La Vista, about an ancient Sardinian mafia hit man on a mission to avenge the family who's pasta secrets were stolen by a Canadian chef.

Then between a teething puppy and a work emergency I got no further and it wasn't more than vomit draft so I am this week's loser, 2 for 2.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Bacon Terrorist posted:

...the family who is pasta secrets...

If you want a shot at the loss you have to submit your 498 words. Not submitting at all will just be recorded as a failure.

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Nae posted:

Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Gonna Leave One Hell of a Yelp Review, Though* 1208 words

“Very good, and for you ma’am?”

“Well,” said Francine, “I didn’t see it on the menu, but I’m told your chef can handle custom orders, and I’m really in the mood for ricotta stuffed shells. Is that possible?”

“All things are possible through Chris, ma’am.”


“The chef. He’s very good. I’ll let you know if there’s any issues, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

The waiter returned to the kitchen. “Janet was right,” said Francine, “this place seems very impressive.”

Mark nodded. “Extremely tasteful décor, too. I’m surprised there aren’t any other people here.”

Francine shrugged. “Well, it was rather difficult to find. They should really consider getting better signage out the front, too.”

The waiter returned and bent low to whisper to the two of them. “Excuse me sir, ma’am, will you please come with me to the kitchen? Chef Chris just wants to clarify some things about both of your meals.”

“Both?” asked Mark.

“Why are we whispering?” asked Francine. “There’s no one else here.”

“Please sir, ma’am, just come with me.” The two of them shrugged and followed him to the kitchen. He locked the door behind them. “Right this way please.” He pulled open a trapdoor and started descending some stairs.

“The kitchen is in the basement?” asked Mark.

“Seems very impractical,” said Francine.

“We do what we can with limited space.”

“So, you have to climb these stairs every time you take an order?” asked Francine.

“Oh, we have a dumb waiter,” said the waiter.

“Oh, so he does that bit?” asked Mark.

The waiter turned and looked up at them. “What?”

“It’s not important,” said Francine, and whispered to Mark, “that’s not a very kind thing to say though, is it?”

At the bottom of the stairs, the waiter opened a door, and once they’d all passed through, closed and locked it behind them. “Please just wait here a moment,” he said, and walked through another door, which he locked behind him.

“Is it weird that he keeps locking doors in a restaurant?” asked Francine.

“Maybe a little.”

“What do you think the issue is with our orders?”

Mark shrugged. “I wouldn’t have thought cheese pizza would cause any issues.”

“Maybe he wants to know what kind of cheese?”

“Ooh,” said Mark, “You think I might get a choice?”

The door the waiter had gone through unlocked and opened again, and a man with one of those white chef hats on came through.

“Ah,” said Francine, “you must be Chef Chris.”

“Is there a problem with the cheese pizza order?” asked Mark “Is it about what kind of cheese it uses?”

Chef Chris smiled. “You must be from the agency.”

“Actually, we were recommended by our friend Janet,” said Francine.

Chris shook his head. “Don’t be coy, the ricotta stuffed shells order was a dead giveaway, that’s obviously a signal.”

“Uh,” said Mark.

“A signal?” asked Francine.

“You are agents, aren’t you?” asked Chris. “It would be so embarrassing if we’d made a mistake again and had to make someone else disappear.”

“Disappear?” asked Mark.

“Ah, you caught us,” said Francine. “Yes. Yes, we are the agents you were presumably expecting, and the ricotta stuffed shells were a signal.”

“Right,” said Chris, “so you’re here to pick up a package, obviously.”

“Obviously,” said Francine.

“Are we?” asked Mark, but Francine kicked him quite hard in the shins, so he said, “Ah yes, of course we are.”

“Why did you kick him?” asked Chris.

Francine shrugged. “Gotta keep ‘em in line, right?”

“Wow, a mean streak,” said Chris. “I like a bit of that in an agent.”

“Just to be clear,” said Mark, “we are also here for dinner.”

“Oh,” said Chris, “you are?”

“Absolutely,” said Francine. “Can’t deliver packages on an empty stomach, and I am actually really looking forward to those ricotta stuffed shells.”

“So that order wasn’t a signal?”

“That was definitely a signal about us being package delivering agents,” said Francine, “but at the same time, it’s also an order for some delicious pasta.”

“And cheese pizza,” said Mark.

“Right,” said Chris. “Oh, I meant to ask, what kind of cheese on the pizza?”

“Venezuelan beaver cheese?”

“Certainly sir,” said Chris. “The waiter will be back shortly with your meals.”

“Which waiter?” asked Mark.


“Not important,” said Francine.

“Very good,” said Chris, and left them alone again.

“You know,” said Francine, “there isn’t actually a table here. I hope they’re going to let us back upstairs to our table.”

“Maybe they’ve got even better seats down here,” said Mark.

“Special seats only for agents?”

“Well, sure,” said Mark.

“Well,” said Francine, “he didn’t lock the door this time, so let’s go have a look.

They opened the door and walked through. “No table,” said Mark.

“Well, no,” said Francine, “but that bound and gagged woman seems worth investigating, surely.”

“Perhaps she’s the package.”

“Perhaps.” Francine walked over to the woman and took off her gag.

“Thank goodness,” said the woman. “Have you been sent by the agency?”

“You know what,” said Mark, “I think we’re gonna go with ‘it’s complicated’ on that one.”

“Please,” she said, “you must rescue me.”

“Perhaps after dinner,” he said.

“I am very hungry,” said Francine.

“Seriously?” asked the woman.

“Oh fine,” said Francine. She untied the woman. “If they get mad at us and refuse to serve us dinner, I’ll be very upset.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” said the waiter, “you’re about to get what’s coming to you.”

“Didn’t hear you come in,” said Mark. “You’re really very quiet, aren’t you?”

“Ah good,” said Francine. “Is there a table down here or something? We weren’t really clear on that.”

“You’re not getting dinner,” said the waiter.

“All right, now I’m confused,” said Mark, “because you said…”

The waiter shook his head. “You are clearly not the agents after all.” He pulled out two knives and advanced on them. He lunged at Francine, who flipped over him, kicking him in the head as she flew.

“What was that?” asked Mark.

“You know what,” said Francine, “there might be a couple things I need to tell you about.”

“Yeah, we’re definitely talking about this later,” said Mark, “but for now maybe we should accept that dinner isn’t happening and make ourselves scarce.”

“I’m getting that package, first,” said Francine. “Why don’t you see if you can find some keys on him?”

“Uh, sure,” said Mark. Francine left. “I’m Mark, by the way,” he said to the woman, as he knelt and rifled through the waiter’s pockets.

“Greta,” she said. “Thanks for the rescue.”

“No worries. So how come you were tied up here?”

“Long story.”

“I’ve got time.”

“No,” said Francine, “I’m afraid we don’t.”

“Oh, you’re back already?”

“Yep.” Francine passed him a box. “I got our meals to go. Did you find a key?”

He held up a keyring. “It’s probably one of these.”

It was, and they quickly left and found their car. They dropped Greta at the police station on the way home.

They ate dinner in front of TV. It was fantastic, but it was a shame to have to forgo the whole restaurant experience.

*Do people still use Yelp?

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

Week 501 crits

Grey Rabbit
Not sure what the point of this story is. The "game" is pretty cool, but it also feels contrived, as if it was stuck in there without rhyme or reason. Why was the woman there in the first place? Sadie was oddly gung-ho to kill her partner for having cop thoughts. I don't mind a little cop murder myself but the leap in logic was very abrupt. Low-mid.

No real sense of tension coupled with bad formatting make for a terrible read. The cowboys just go in with barely any meaningful obstacles, they do what needed doing, and that's it, the end. Lots of potential drama in a haunted amusement park and the story didn't bother with any. I picked this as my loser candidate.

Project Cicada
Desk jockeys thwarting a summoning ritual sounds like some good fun. It's light and humorous enough with a good plot. I found it quirky in a good way without being obnoxious. Nothing much to say here really--it's unambitious but it's a solid read. High.

A Long Bumpy Road
Bittersweet end but meandering and not really worth it. It feels like it's trying for that "characters want X, but get Y, which is what they really needed" plot beat at the end but it falls flat on its face. I finished the story feeling that my time was wasted. The main characters end up saving people and finding themselves and what their relationship with each other means to them, but neither developments elicit any warm and fuzzy feelings from me. Also Geordie was super annoying and felt like tacked on, what a waste of words. Low-mid.

Jessi & Jerome in the Clay Dog Conundrum
Not bad, the leads were sympathetic and there was a sense of escalation. It's just wrapped up too neatly, but given the plot what could I expect? I didn't get the clay dog prank much or the reason behind it--I guess Billy is a jerk and that's all the explanation we need. Mid.

The Con
Made me chuckle once or twice, but it's a little too contrived for my liking. Couldn't connect to the characters, but the punchline is pretty funny. Low-mid.

There's a story in here when it's not trying to kill the reader with weeb cringe. Were they likeable? Not really. That aside it's fairly consistent in tone, even if the back half is mostly dialogue. Mid.

The Last Supper
Okay this rules. I don't think there's a better way to interpret the subprompt like this. An emotional ride depicting a doomed couple. Is the ending happy, though? When the Elder Gods are involved, that counts as happy. High.

Hole in One
Kind of a boring and dumb case tbh. No mystery, the murderer just shows up. Without a mystery element it's just rote action. Low, can be a loser/DM candidate.

Jake and Cletus vs the Utukku
It's an okay adventure. Nothing to say but it's a bit too rote for my taste. Nice action though, clear and vivid enough to follow. Mid.

Sep 3, 2020


Oh yeah, submissions are closed. I guess I should have said that sooner!

Sep 3, 2020


Week 502 Results

All good things must end, and pasta week is one of them. But was it a good week? Truthfully, my fellow judges found your stories confusing as often as not, and it seemed like some of you thought you could serve us up some steaming plates of typos. For shame. I would never do this. (Do not check the archives to see if I would never do this.)

With that waiterly preamble out of the way, onto the results!

Loser: The man called M - To Die For. You're still improving, which is great, but you've got a long way to go. You had your usual tense issues and spelling problems (afrodesiac was a fan favorite), and events in the story unfolded like bullet points on a list. Setting aside the flow issues, which are higher level problems you'll be working on for most of your writing career, please make sure your spell-checker is enabled before you submit stuff. If your current word processor isn't cutting it, ask in discord to see who has a program with an aggressive spellchecker that they trust. Your judges will thank you for it.

Dishonerable Mention: Hawklad - Bullets on the Horizon . Look, your concept was cool, but I could not visualize a single thing that happened until everyone was fully spaghetti. If your story takes place at a saloon on the edge of a black hole, for God's sake, you're going to need to give me a few sentences explaining what that looks like, because I simply do not know.

Honorable Mention: Thranguy - Hate is the Spice. We had a nice, long talk about your story, Thranguy, and in the end I'm gonna give you the same crit I gave The man called M: watch your drat typos. This story was chock full of them, so many that upon rereading, I almost want to throw the judges' ruling out and give you an additional loss. Having said that, your story evoked a lot of powerful emotions (and did a fine job of illustrating the liminal space that is the children's table), so I can't very well reject it for being an error-riddled mess. But I want to.

Winner: Albatrossy_Rodent - Weird Nutmeg. A competently written story with a solid emotional center, and a fun way to play with the prompt. It was a little quick at times, and I think it could have used more words, but all in all it was my favorite read of the week. Take it away, Albatrossy_Rodent!

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Week 503 or whatever: The words equivalent of this youtube video

Two rules:

1. Your story must take place in the present or near future. No time travel is allowed.

2. There must be dinosaurs.

1500 words. For an additional 300 words, you must include a phenomenally stupid snippet, verbatim, of my dumb writing (+ however many words are in the snippet).

Another 200 words for submitting before noon CST on Sunday.

Chairchucker - Bad Mitzvah
Chernobyl Princess - basketball Bracchiosaurus
Thranguy - dilophosaurus
Nae - Titanic quartet
Rhino - Tim the Tool Man Taylor
M - God creates dinosaur
ZearothK - Rapping Deinonychus


Gooooooo nuuuuuuts!

Albatrossy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 15:40 on Mar 22, 2022

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Snippet me

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

"Looks like this Bat Mitzvah just became a Bad Mitzvah!" said Rabbi Kowarski, pumping his shotgun.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, please give me some of your words

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Chernobyl Princess posted:

In, please give me some of your words

"There ain't no rule in the rulebook that says a Brachiosaurus can't play basketball," said the old janitor.

Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

In, snippet.

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Thranguy posted:

In, snippet.

"Actually, dilophosaurus spitting poison is an invention of the Jurassic Park movies," said Professor Gooberson as the dilophosauruses started spitting poison at him.

Sep 3, 2020


poo poo, I love that video. I'm IN, give me a snippet.

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Nae posted:

poo poo, I love that video. I'm IN, give me a snippet.

"Should I remind you that the string quartet on the Titanic kept playing as the ship sank. I would think no less of you."

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.

ok i'll take a snippet

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

The Saddest Rhino posted:

ok i'll take a snippet

"Hi! I'm Tim 'the Tool Man' Taylor, host of the popular home improvement show Tool Time. Oh no! A dinosaur!" said Tim.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


This sounds extremely dumb.

In. Snippet please.

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

The man called M posted:

This sounds extremely dumb.

In. Snippet please.

"God creates dinosaur. God destroys dinosaur. God creates man. Man creates dinosaur. Dinosaur Eats Man. Woman inherits the Earth. Dinosaur also eats woman. Dinosaur creates robot. Robot incinerates dinosaur. God accepts robot as his equal in heaven," said Bob. It was impressive that he managed to get so much out as the compsognathuses devoured his digestive system.

Aug 25, 2008

I've lost twice, I've failed twice and I've gotten two dishonorable mentions within 7 weeks. But I keep coming back. I am The Trooper!


In with a snippet.

Dinosaurs are awesome.

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

ZearothK posted:

In with a snippet.

Dinosaurs are awesome.

"We need to train harder," I said. "Rapping Deinonychus isn't going to go easy on us in round two."

Albatrossy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 15:40 on Mar 22, 2022

Apr 12, 2006


Can I take someone else's snippet or do I have to ask for my own?

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Tyrannosaurus posted:


Can I take someone else's snippet or do I have to ask for my own?

Ask for your own (or don't and write what you want), but I'll allow trades if they're announced in-thread.

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


Crits for Week #502

Hawklad - Bullets on the Horizon:
I really wanted to like this story, and think that somewhere in all this madness there’s a really interesting premise. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea how to visualise the scene or the characters in relation to anything, and I’m never quite certain how much to take literally or how much is poetic licence.

You set up a solid introduction, and then immediately segue into four paragraphs of exposition which is increasingly difficult to follow, before finally getting back to the duel at hand, by which point I’m just confused. You say it started with the Schwartz child, but didn’t it actually start with the shooting of Stumpy Pete? Is that necessary at all? I want to suggest some structural changes, like, cut the first para, but I think the problems with this story go a bit deeper and the conceit of the story — cowboys turned to spaghetti by a black hole — gets a bit lost in all the trappings of a more classic story about uncertain parentage and avenged murders, etc.

Beezus - Creepy Pasta:
Maybe this is me just being a dumb and stupid reader but I just don’t get the ending of this story, at all, after three reads. It’s written as if it’s meant to be a reveal, or a punchline, or something meaningful, but nothing else in the story seems to support this sudden revelation and I’m just left to go back to the start and re-read to see if I can catch whatever I missed this time around.

I don’t know your ambitions as a writer, but speaking from experience, nobody picking a story up from a slushpile will be generous enough to go back for that second read. Which sucks but it is what it is. Maybe if the rest of the prose was flawless and enticing — and to your credit, the story itself is pretty solid up until the end. There’s a pretty clear character with motivations and an active role in the story, which is good. It’s just unfortunately undercut by an ending that doesn’t make much sense to me.

derp - dinner at home:
I completely bounced off this story on the first read, but enjoyed it much more after a second.

The problem with my first read is that I was expecting the story to take a sudden left turn at some point and become a bit spooky and / or weird — lines like “my pot is still a pot for now”, the weird coppery stain, and long shadows like the sky’s black fingers all hint toward some darker reality behind the purposefully understated prose and deadpan narration. Perhaps coming off last week’s winning story, about a cooking competition to appease Lovecraftian elder gods, didn’t help. When the story then turned into more of a reflection on someone coping with the loss of a loved one, with some genuinely moving and beautiful moments, my first instinctive reaction was not to appreciate this but to feel disappointed due to the story not living up to my own expectations.

Which is, y’know, not your fault. In judgechat, we all agreed that this problem would have been solved by hinting at this loss a bit earlier, though I’m not convinced that wouldn’t hurt the other reading of the story. Perhaps revisiting the first few lines would help, to walk me away from interpreting significance into weird uncleanable stains and the strangely ominous “still a pot for now”.

The man called M - To Die For:
Okay, so: when you posted this in the Discord for crits (at a spectacularly late hour, but hey, we’ve all been there) I read the first few lines in the preview and really liked them. I had high hopes that, maybe, this would be the week you’d claw your way to at least the soggy middle. Your story clearly had a voice, and hinted at some solid motivation and stakes — pizza’s important, people have died over pizza, this is a story about an Italian pizza restaurant in New York and by the end of it someone’s going to die. Those are my expectations. I’m into it.

And then you kill all of that goodwill with: “If you see how we take our pizza seriously, let me tell you a story about what went down with the best pasta carbonara in town!”

Okay, well, first, pasta carbonara isn’t pizza, so I don’t know why we just spent so long talking about pizza. Second, you’ve done this before, and it grates: we don’t need a framing narrative around the story. We don’t need someone telling us “hey, I’m going to tell you a story” — just tell us the story! Worse, this line doesn’t fit at all with the voice you’ve clearly established up to this point, making it feel as if you’ve just been putting on a silly accent and now you’re seguing straight into your regular voice, replete with too! Many! Sentences! Ending in exclamation marks! Boy, does it get exhausting! I could accept one, maybe two, but more? Hell, that’s a lot! It’s too many! Doesn’t it get hard to read? I sure think it does!

Also, there are still tense problems, and the core plot of the story is just … a bit too silly. This isn’t how people behave. When Chairchucker does it, it works, because there’s a bit of a knowing smirk behind it all — everything’s a bit understated, nobody’s waving their hands in the air and hamming it up, so the silliness of the concept doesn’t have to compete with the silliness of the execution.

Here, everything’s too silly to begin with, everyone’s acting too over-the-top, and the concept of a restaurant keeping chickens or a mobster stealing a flamethrower from an army base are several steps too far from the norm to work as humorous escalation.

All that said … the character has a problem, he takes steps to resolve it, there are clear stakes, so in that regard it’s a marked improvement over your earlier stories and I’m keen to see where you go from here.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Weird Nutmeg:
ah yes, I am also playing a lot of elden ring these days

(or is it meant to be dark souls? whatever)

This is a fun story! Don’t get me wrong, it has its problems: the whole bit with Sir Wolfrick doesn’t work for me, as the humour feels a bit misplaced at this point in the story, and the reveal that Zandara’s been corrupted is very abrupt. Perhaps everything could have been normal, until they talk to Sir Wolfrick, realise his eyes are missing, and then he says “King Zandara is all I see these days”? Right now, “What the hell?” doesn’t work as a dramatic reveal, and Laura’s gung-ho insistence on going on the quest regardless doesn’t mesh with her character so far.

Otherwise: this is a fun story about growing up and changing traditions, and there’s some really great chemistry between the characters. It’s posssibly chafing a bit against the wordcount but it’s a complete story and reads well from beginning to end. A deserving win, well done.

The Saddest Rhino - The Cat That Walks On Its Hindlegs :
I’ll be honest, this is another story I found a bit inscrutable this week. What’s going on? What’s the significance of the UPPERCASED WORDS?

That said… I kind of dig it? There’s a definite mood here, and I’m able to attribute some significance to the cat’s actions, interpret it as some sort of wandering spirit taking vengeance on … bad pasta? I don’t know. There’s something here, a mood if not quite a cohesive story, and I enjoyed reading it for what it is.

Thranguy - Hate is the Spice:
This is a good story that may have been a great story with, like, five minutes of time spent proofreading. I’m trying hard not to be nitpicky here, but when I read lines like “nobody had a better answer to than than to take another forkful of pasta”, or “I was wartime”, or, most terribly, the final line “made equal by this ultimate loss. prepared in advance for us, and we remembered her.” … it makes it really hard for me to nominate for the win.

Otherwise: it’s a lovely story, a beautiful ending (errant fragment notwithstanding) and there’s real emotion. I do feel as if I’ve read this story before — “bold, sassy Piet” in particular rang some bells in my head — but it’s a wonderful use of the theme and a nice reflection on growing up, death, and loss. (Why were both of the strong pieces this week about losing grandmothers?)

Chairchucker - Gonna Leave One Hell of a Yelp Review, Though*:
Yep, as I said in judgechat, “chairchucker gonna chairchucker”. And this is good chairchuckering! Solid humour, a decent premise that gets increasingly silly, and some really fantastic dialogue all make this a joy to read.

It’s not a whole lot more than that, though. Considering how quickly this was written and submitted, it’s obvious you leaned heavily into your strengths, and it’s impressively complete — but I can’t help but wish for more. “There might be a couple things I need to tell you about” is a decent joke (if perhaps one you’ve used before?) but I honestly really want to see that story, a couple having a difficult conversation, where your humour might work even better as a foil.

I mean, I dunno. I get that writing’s difficult these days for a whole number of reasons, who can keep track, and I’m not going to complain about a good and silly story with good and silly jokes, but I also think that “Boring Words are Expendable” remains one of the better stories I’ve read on TD, and knowing you’re capable of that makes this kind of story just that bit less impressive.

rohan fucked around with this message at 00:11 on Mar 23, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Crits for Week #502, Format Shamelessly Stolen From rohan (thanks, sucker!)

Hawklad - Bullets on the Horizon:
Cool concept, but I struggled to visualize what was happening until they were well into the black hole and the theoretical took over. The ending felt too quick and forced. I did like your protagonist, though. He was a stock cowboy character, but sometimes stock characters are the way to go. Ain’t no shame in playing a classic if you know how!

Beezus - Creepy Pasta:
Well-paced with solid prose. Still, not entirely sure what the point was. The ending felt a little too much like a punchline for a story that otherwise seemed to be told in earnest. Not bad though. If you ever rework it, consider adding a few words in the middle to set up the conclusion. You have the spaghetti monster say something about witches—shouldn’t the kid have more a reaction to that?

derp - dinner at home:
Ambitious and pretty, but the prose is repetitive and it took a while for me to catch onto the conceit. The balance between the pasta descriptions and the absence in the protagonist's life is off, I think. If you rework this, consider tipping your hand about the missing person earlier. There’s no point in holding back when the mystery isn’t the point of the story.

The man called M - To Die For:
Your voice was stronger than usual, partially because you used a stock character (see my note about stock characters from Bullets on the Horizon). If you want to improve from this, try focusing on properly setting up little details like the flamethrower coming out of nowhere. If you want to use a flame thrower in act 3, add it in act 1! That way, instead of the flamethrower feeling unnecessary, you build anticipation in the reader’s mind and they’re stoked to see it finally get used.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Weird Nutmeg:
Fun! The pace is a little brisk for my liking, but it hints at a larger world without bogging the story down, which is a hard needle to thread. It probably could have benefitted from more words, but who among us hasn’t shoved a twenty pound story into a ten pound bag?

The Saddest Rhino - The Cat That Walks On Its Hindlegs :
I can't figure out the reasoning behind when the all-caps title is used, and there isn't a story here as much as there is an idea and some curious prose to back it up. I know that's okay for flash, but it's always going to be a hard sell for me.

POST-CRIT NOTE: oh it’s garfield, you son of a bitch. It would’ve been a gimme if you’d gotten lasagna, but alas, you got ziti. Such is life.

Thranguy - Hate is the Spice:
A little disjointed, but the emotion is there and that goes a long way for me. I also felt it accurately portrayed the vibe of sitting at the cousin's table (and aging out of it) very well, so it struck a personal chord with me even if it wasn't the most technically proficient piece.

On an unrelated note I wouldn’t dock points for, do you put two spaces after your periods? Buddy, it’s 2022. This behavior, it’s sickening.

Chairchucker - Gonna Leave One Hell of a Yelp Review, Though*:
I'm a sucker for dumb poo poo and 'all things are possible through Chris' got me. Having said that, dialogue-heavy stories can get pretty fatiguing fast, and there wasn't much grounding the story beyond the rapid-fire comedy routine. Still, I do love comedy, and you’re not half-bad! You could probably write a hell of a screenplay.

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Some week 501 crits. I'm gonna look in the judge chat to recall some of the things I said. So the stuff in the [J] tags is gonna be that.

Ceighk posted:

Grey Rabbit

Pretty obvs early on that every single cop (or whatever they are) except for Sadie is a bastard. (ACESAB)

Here's the stuff from JUDGECHAT

[J]'Mike was a policeman-shaped anonymity.' I dunno what that means. Is it supposed to be anomaly?
"This whole place is a health and safety,"
So that doesn't mean anything. Dunno if that's intentional because Mike is bad at closing off his sentences, but it's awkward
"What language is that?" she asked.


OK kind of liked Grey Rabbit I guess.[/J]

So yeah I didn't mind that but some of the bits came across as either errors or awkward, and it kind of felt like not much happening until a spontaneous act of violence and then a weird ending which we don't really know where it's going and wouldn't have minded seeing more of what comes next.


[J]Oh no Varmints is a wall of text
Doesn't do paragraphs for dialogue either
Oh no
Feint text
oh no
Also uses it's incorrectly
Some bad dialogue attribution too[/J]

OK let's get into this in more depth. Highly recommend you put a clear space between paragraphs, because otherwise we've just got a solid block of text which puts me in a bad mood for judging before I've even read a single word. Additionally, you should have a new paragraph every time a new person speaks; this is not just a convention for convention's sake, it would make it much easier to follow.

Example: ‘Go on, git,’ Biff gestured at Hank. ‘Why me?’ ‘Cos I said so, that’s why.’

Kinda tough, here, to realise that this is a back and forth. Format it like so:

‘Go on, git,’ Biff gestured at Hank.

‘Why me?’

‘Cos I said so, that’s why.’

The new paragraph gives clarity, makes it obvious it's a different person speaking each line.

Oh also, channelling my inner Sebmojo here: IT'S IS ONLY EVER SHORT FOR IT IS. Otherwise, use 'its'. For example: 'The Ropony idled quietly, awaiting its master’s command.' (True for all pronouns as far as I'm aware.)

Oh I mentioned dialogue attribution, let's talk about that. ‘We have to do it, so quit your bellyaching!’ the interjection of the bigger man quieted the others. So here, it seems like it should be two separate sentences, so you should have a capital 't' for 'The interjection...'. If you were making it an actual attribution like 'he interjected', different matter. ‘Go on, git,’ Biff gestured at Hank. Again, 'gestured' doesn't seem to refer to the way Biff said the thing, so it's probs a separate sentence. ‘Whatever it was, it’s long dead.’ Replied Hank. So here you've made the opposite error. Change it to ‘Whatever it was, it’s long dead,' replied Hank. Seems like the rest of your dialogue attribution is correct so maybe it's less that you don't know these rules, than that you weren't paying enough attention?

There are other issues with the story, but making it easier to read by fixing those kind of errors would be a good start.

Wow, no bolding or anything? Gross.


[J]Project Cicada was fun. Maybe a little too neat? I dunno.[/J] OK I think what I mean by that is that the protagonists don't really do anything, much. They get saved by a colleague, and then do some software chicanery heavily reliant on the fact that their bosses were buffoons who didn't properly license the software they were using. But that kinda played into the comedic elements so I didn't mind too much tbh.

Greatbacon posted:

A Long Bumpy Road

What's with people not doing bold text or whatever for the title.


[J]A long bumpy road was kinda
I dunno, it was fine I guess?[/J]

I think it bothered me a little that you set up a bunch of stuff that ended up just not mattering. They don't get to the wedding and nothing comes of it. They come across an entire camp of children and don't really interact with them at all, except that they kind of run in the same direction.

My Shark Waifuu posted:

Jessi & Jerome in the Clay Dog Conundrum

Hooray, bold title!


[J]Jessi & Jerome was kind cute. Had too much action happening 'off screen' I think[/J]

Yeah I kinda enjoyed it, the dynamic between the two characters was cute, but they kept solving all their problems while we, the readers, were elsewhere. The texting of James has already happened. She does some instagram stalking while he's trying to poke things with wire and we hear about it afterwards. Even Jessi talking to Audra is something that we're just told about, not something we kind of participate in.


[J]So, The Con next
Starting off with a super awkward first sentence.
Some bad dialogue attribution too
The Con is kind of bad too I think
It is not as annoying to read as Varmints because it is not a wall of text, but the ending was very groan worthy[/J]

Honestly I really feel like you needed to better explain the setting, I was just as confused as your protagonists about whether this was a convention or a convent or what.

On the dialogue attribution front, here's some of the sections I had issues with, and what I would've changed.

“Weird convent,” Kieron said...
“Right on,” she replied confidently
“Greetings,” a robotic voice spoke from the other end of the line, “I would like to thank you for liberating me.” (Also the wording there is kinda awkward.)

There's a few more but hopefully you get the idea.

Also I just didn't much like the joke that led to the ending. I probs would've DMed this if it were up to me, mostly because of the bad dialogue attribution and the really muddled first act, and not liking the joke that the ending hinged on.

rohan posted:



[J]rohan writing Crocodile Dundee fanfic ey
Second person ey. Bold choice
Second person present tense.
THe crocodile dundee related one was pretty fun.[/J]

Not without its issues but overall I enjoyed it. At first I I raised an eyebrow slightly at Derek mildly fetishising Japanese culture, but then the monk serves it back with his love of Crocodile Dundee and I kinda smiled at how that came full circle. Also, did they eat the crocodile's babies? I'm not entirely clear on what happened there. Anyway, overall I enjoyed it.

Nae posted:

The Last Supper

I was a bit torn on this one because on the one hand I wasn't sure how much of a 'happy ending' it was, but on the other hand it was pretty much the best in every respect so whatcha gonna do.


[J]Hmmm The Last Supper is pretty excellent
Probs my pick for winner so far I think[/J]

Yep, past me is on the ball. "She believed in Mark, and he believed in her. That was all that mattered." Strong ending. I'll call it bittersweet, maybe?

Thranguy posted:

Hole in One


[J]Hole in One is pretty good too. My current runner up.[/J]

Yeah I liked this one more than my fellow judges I think. I agree that the ending was kind of a cheat, with the baddies just showing up because, and then getting somehow dispatched, but I also just really enjoyed the whole hard boiled golfer thing and the associated gags.

CaligulaKangaroo posted:

Jake and Cletus vs. The Utukku


[J]Jake and Cletus is also pretty great[/J]

This ended up being my second favourite. I get what my cojudge is saying about most of the stuff being done by Cletus and Jake just being a passenger, but I guess I didn't mind because it was kinda fun having an oddly endearing hillbilly with a suspicious amount of knowledge about the UN, and ancient civilisations, and conspiracies or whatever.

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Sign ups closed, but if you didnt sign up and want to write a story anyways, go for it. Still looking for judges.

Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Subs due midnight CST, but leeway will be liberal.

Sep 3, 2020


A Fight to Remember
1982 words
"Should I remind you that the string quartet on the Titanic kept playing as the ship sank. I would think no less of you."

The broad, baleful eyes of a dinosaur reflected Autumn’s horror as she took in the sight of her dad’s latest purchase. “Dad, what did you do?”

“I did something for myself for once.” Her father’s puffed up his chest, which didn’t do much to enhance his pathetic frame. “It’s a Gallimimus. It means ‘chicken mimic’ in Latin. A lot bigger than a chicken, though, huh?”

“Sure is.” Autumn’s mother took a long, slow sip of her coffee. “How much did it cost, Tom?”

Autumn glanced down to see her little sister holding her hand out for the dinosaur to sniff. There was no chance of it attacking her—not after all the tinkering the corporate scientists did to cloned dino-brains—but there was a high chance their parents were about to start fighting again.

“I thought dinosaurs were supposed to have feathers,” Autumn said quickly. “Dizzy, didn’t you tell me they have feathers?”

Dizzy adjusted her glasses and peered at the Gallimimus’s leathery-smooth skin. “I thought they were.”

“I asked for a version with no feathers,” their dad replied. “I think it looks cooler that way.”

Their mother clicked her tongue. “Great, so you tampered with a living creature because you wanted it to look cool. Very responsible.”

Autumn’s hands tensed as her father turned on her mother, lip curled. “You’re just jealous that you don’t have a dinosaur.”

“You’re right, I am jealous. I’m jealous that I’m not selfish and oblivious enough to do whatever I want without any regard for my family’s welfare.”

“Oh I’m sorry,” he said, “Are we destitute all of a sudden? Because I’m pretty sure I’m singlehandedly putting our girls through private school, and—”

“What does it eat?” said Autumn.

Her dad whirled around with a sunny smile. “That’s the great thing! They’re omnivorous, which means they can eat anything.”

Autumn tilted her head at the dinosaur, who had quit paying attention to them to gnaw on the leafy branches of their fig tree. “You sure about that?”

“Well, that’s what the sales guy told me.”

“So you have no idea what it eats,” her mom said. “Great.”

Her father’s expression darkened. As he turned on her mother, jaw clenched and nostrils flared, Autumn put a steadying hand on her sister’s shoulder. “Dizzy and I are gonna go research what it eats.”

“We are?” said Dizzy.

“Yeah, come on.” Autumn lifted her gaze to make eye contact with the Gallimimus. Sorry, buddy, she mouthed. Good luck with them.

The Gallimimus bowed its head. Autumn didn’t know much about dinosaur intelligence, but the one in front of her seemed to have figured out what she’d realized a long time ago: they were living in hell.


Dizzy’s glasses reflected the screen as she peered at the Gallimimus Wikipedia page. “It doesn’t look we know if the Gallimimus is a herbivore or an omnivore, but it can definitely eat plants.”

“Okay, that makes sense,” said Autumn. “How many plants does it need a day?”

“Umm…between a tenth of a pound to seven pounds.”

“Great, so it either needs a small salad or an entire vegetable farm each day. Awesome.” Autumn slumped back against Dizzy’s twin bed and stared at the model ship on her dresser. Like countless twelve-year-old girls before her, she was going through her Titanic phase. Hopefully, a pet dinosaur would encourage her to study something less lame, like the sad monsters reduced to grazing in the suburbs.

“Dad didn’t really know what he was getting into, did he?” said Dizzy.

“Nope,” said Autumn.

The open-shut shudder of the back door shook the walls, followed by a familiar pattern of parental whisper-shouting. Autumn groaned and pressed Dizzy’s pillow to her face. “Oh my God, why don’t they ever shut up?”

“Are they fighting more?” said Dizzy.

Autumn’s hands stilled around her pillow. What she wanted to say was, ‘No, you’re just noticing it more,’ but the sad truth was that Dizzy was right. Their parents had been fighting more, though Autumn didn’t know why. Whatever it was, a dinosaur certainly wasn’t going to help.

“Everything’s going to be fine,” said Autumn.

“What if they get divorced?”

“They’re not going to get divorced.”

“How do you know?”

“Because the thing that makes them the happiest is feeling superior to other people, and they can’t do that if they break up.”


“Also because they love us.”

Dizzy worried her lower lip with her teeth. “Do they?”

“Of course they do,” she said. It would have been easier if they didn’t.

Autumn dragged her hand down her face, then pushed herself off the bed. Outside the window, the dinosaur was still standing in the yard, staring into the middle distance. She pressed her nose to the glass. The Gallimimus trundled over and lined its beak-like nose up with hers. From her side of the window, the poor thing looked like it was trapped, but from the other side, she probably looked the same.


Most nights, Autumn stayed up late to screw around on her phone, but it was hard to focus when a dinosaur was sobbing like a lovesick foghorn. She couldn’t blame it for crying, but she also couldn’t let it keep going when there was a chance it would wake her parents up.

After tossing on a hoodie, she dragged herself outside to find their very big pet was pacing back and forth across their very small yard. Every time it reached one side, it groaned at the ground, then turned around and headed for the opposite wall.

“Rough night?” she said.

The Gallimimus blinked. Sighing, Autumn sat on the steps as the dinosaur resumed its heartbreaking march.

“You could just run, you know,” she said. “Wikipedia says you’re supposed to be pretty fast. Why not break the fence?”

The Gallimimus stared into the never-ending stretch of suburbia. Autumn bit back a bitter laugh. “Not much out there, huh? At least you can leave anytime you want. I’m stuck here another year. Dizzy’s got six.”

Poor Dizzy. Every time Autumn fantasized about fleeing for a faraway college, she remembered her sister would be trapped at home. The only way to protect her from the constant arguing would be to stay close by until Dizzy could escape, too.

“The colleges here aren’t so bad,” Autumn said. “I’ve already saved up a ton of money from summer jobs, so I can even afford a place of my own.”

A muffled shout escaped her parents’ window, followed by a string of swears. Autumn clenched her fists. “Seriously?”

The Gallimimus gazed at her with its big, watery eyes. The poor thing looked like it was designed to spend its life crying.

She pushed herself upright, fists clenched. “We need to get you out of here.”


Autumn trudged up to the master bedroom. As she approached her parents’ door, their indistinct shouting separated into solid sentences.

“It was twenty years ago, Tom! You want to ruin everything for something that happened in college?”

“He was my best man, Mona!”

“I didn’t tell you to put him in the wedding.”

“Well, I didn’t tell you to gently caress him!”

Autumn’s nostrils flared. She shoved the door open and barreled into their room to find her parents red-faced in front of the bed.

“If you two wake up Dizzy,” she said, “I swear to God I will feed you to the dinosaur.”

Her mom’s eyes snapped open. “How much did you hear?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. Just stop fighting so we can go to sleep.”

Her dad swept his hand through his thinning hair. “Listen, your mother and I are going through a difficult time right now, but we’re trying to talk things out. I know it sounds like we’re fighting, but what we’re doing is actually really healthy. Do you understand?”


He looked to Autumn’s mother. “Help?”

She glared at him, then plastered on a smile. “Sweetheart, I’m sure this is very confusing, and I don’t blame you for being frustrated, but your father’s right. This is completely normal.”

“My parents fought like this all the time,” her dad added.

“So did mine. This is just how things go. One day, you’ll be married and you’ll understand. Dizzy, too.”

The feeling drained from Autumn’s face. “Dizzy?”

Her dad nodded. “This is what adulthood is. I know you want to protect her from it, but honestly, the sooner she figures it out, the better.”

A volley of acid hit the back of Autumn’s throat. She couldn’t bring herself to talk. Even if she could have, she didn’t have anything to say. All she could do was turn around and walk out the door.


The Titanic model on Dizzy’s shelf wobbled as Autumn shook her sister’s bed. “Wake up!”

Dizzy’s big eyes fluttered open. She squinted at Autumn, pulling her covers to her chin. “What’s goin’ on?”

“We’re getting out of here. Grab a bag and start packing.”

“Where are we going?”

Autumn was already loading up a spare duffel with Dizzy’s clothes when she answered: “Away.”



She expected Dizzy to say something else, but when nothing came, Autumn lowered the duffel to see Dizzy chewing her lip. “It’s because of Mom and Dad, isn’t it?”

“I don’t want you turning out like them,” she said. “If we stay, that’ll happen to both of us.”

“So you want to run away?”


“But we don’t have any money.”

Autumn looked Dizzy dead in the eye. “I have eighteen-thousand dollars in my bank account.”

“Holy crap. How?”

“Because unlike Mom and Dad, I know how to save.” She reached for the duffel again, then hesitated and took a breath. “Look, I’m not going to force you to go with me—and if you don’t want to go, I don’t want to go, either. I just want you to be happy.”

Dizzy chewed her lip. “I want you to be happy too, but….”

The model Titanic on Dizzy’s shelf caught Autumn’s attention. She’d always wondered why some people would stick around on a sinking ship, but suddenly, she understood.

Donning a pompous affect, she sat up tall. “Should I remind you that the string quartet on the Titanic kept playing as the ship sank, Miss Dizzabelle. I would think no less of you.”

Dizzy giggled softly. Then her smile faded away. “Okay. Let’s do it.”


“Yeah. But when we leave, what will happen to the Gallimimus?”

Autumn beamed. “It’s coming with us.”


Dinosaur saddles were difficult to come by even in the daytime, so Autumn and Dizzy had to make due with a woolen blanket they stole from the linen closet. Luckily, the linens were on the other side of the house from the master bedroom, so they didn’t have to worry about alerting their parents to their plan. It was unlikely their parents would notice them leaving, though. Once they quit fighting for the night, they always fell fast asleep and didn’t wake up until morning.

As Autumn got their bags situated around the Gallimimus’ neck, Dizzy took her time petting its head. “You’re being a good boy, aren’t you, Leo?”

“I didn’t know you named it already,” said Autumn. She also didn’t know it was male, but she wasn’t going to embarrass herself by admitting that.

“Do you not like the name?” said Dizzy.

Autumn gazed up at the noble dinosaur, who seemed as happy with the warm blankets as he was with the attention. “I think it’s perfect.”

With the last of their bags packed, she unlocked the fence, opened it wide, and said good riddance to the dark window of her parents’ bedroom.

“Ready to go, Diz?” she said.

Dizzy saluted like the first mate on a ship. “Aye-aye, captain.”

“You too, Leonardo?”

The dinosaur leaned down, ready to accept his passengers. Autumn took Dizzy’s hand with a smile. “All aboard!”

Apr 12, 2006

1230 words

“Yo, nah,” he said, a blunt dangingly between his fangs. “I’m curious about the competition. Let the youngin in.”

He waved his talons. After a moment, the goon quickly patted me down and then stepped aside and I stepped into the room. Rhymnonychus watched me with cold eyes.

“So gently caress you want, youngin?”

I kept my hands in my coat pockets. They were trembling. I mean, I’m not gonna say this dude was my loving hero but I had been listening to his mixtapes since middle school so I was a little starstruck. He’d also won this competition nine times in a row. He was also an eleven foot apex predator resurrected from the Cretaceous period and, according to the streets, a certified gangbanging killer with multiple murders under his belt. So.

I licked my lips. “I, uh, um…”

The room erupted in cruel laughter. All his goons started mocking me, shaking and stuttering, repeating, “Um, uh, um, uh!” Rhymnonychus hissed once and they all fell silent. He took the blunt from his teeth and offered it to me.

“I can’t,” I said. “I have to do homework later. And I got a study group in the morning. Big calculus test on Monday.”

Big calculus!” the goons repeated, clapping and laughing and jeering. “Homework!”

“Shut the gently caress up!” Rhymnonychus said. “Goddamn. How old is you, youngin?”


“So, what? You want an autograph or something?”

“Well, yeah,” I said. “But, no, that’s not why I’m here. This is… this my first real rap battle. And I got you for Round Two and you’re gonna loving destroy me-

-yeah, you dead, youngin!-”

“-and my dad came with me tonight-”

-his loving daddy, y’all!-”

“-and I was hoping, like, maybe when we were done that you could just, like, dap me up or something…”

The room exploded with raucous, mocking laughter. I ducked as a bottle flew past my head. And then I was surrounded, pushed, pulled, slapped, spit on, I was knocked to the ground and I gasped as someone planted a boot into my stomach. In the distance, I heard Rhymnonychus say, “Get the gently caress out of here!” I was yanked off the ground and pushed towards the door when suddenly I felt his talons grip by the shoulder and jerk me backwards.

“Not him!” Rhymnonychus shouted. “I want y’all to get the gently caress out! I wanna talk to the motherfucker in peace!”

And then the room got real quiet. And the goons filed out one by one. He pulled me to a chair and sat down next to me.

“You aight?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve been jumped before.”

“Bet. So. What the gently caress is this?” he asked. “You trying some weird-rear end psychological poo poo on me?”

“No, sir,” I said. “I just want you to give me a fistbump or something after we’re done battling.”


I rubbed my forehead. “My dad thinks music is a waste of time and he especially doesn’t like rap and, I dunno, I thought maybe if I did well tonight then he’d… but then I matched up against you and, like… I just want him to be proud of me, man. And supportive.”

“poo poo,” he said. “You’re for real.” He leaned back and took a hit from his blunt. “You realize telling me your loving weaknesses before we battle is stupid as gently caress, right? I could drop like six bars just on you bringing your loving dad here tonight.”

“I knew it was a risk, yeah.”

He laughed. “Aight, youngin, well, lemme peep what you’ve written so far.”


“What you’ve written. Lemme get eyes on it. Bruh, I’m not trying to cop your poo poo. I’m gonna give you some touch-ups.”

I blinked. “But… we’re freestyling?”

He laughed again. Louder but kinder. “My god! You did Round One as a true-rear end freestyle? Sheeit, motherfucker, no wonder you all nervous! Aight, first word of advice? No one’s actually freestyling. Like, yeah, you do a little here or there, nawmsaying? But the real devastating poo poo? Plan that out, bruh!”

He kissed his teeth and reached over me to grab a napkin and pwn. He blew smoke out his nostrils as he scribbled a couple lines.

“Here,” he said. “Spit me something, youngin. And add these in.”

He dangled the napkin in front of me. I snatched it. Read it over a couple of times.

“Go on,” he said. “Show me whatchu got.”

I gave him a nod.

“I was twelve when I first heard your first mixtape
Real hard poo poo to a kid with a cartoon pillowcase
But now that I been past first base
Now that I taught a bitch how the tip of my dick taste
It pains me to admit it but poo poo it’s true what they say
Meeting your idols is a motherfucking mistake
Somebody pass me a rifle, it’s open season on dinos
And I’m here for the title, spitting waves like I’m tidal
Gold touch like I’m Midas, and bro there’s no silver lining
Rhymnonycus, what’s ironic is you dropped the die-ing
My hypothesis? You was just waiting for I, B
I got the high beams, the red dotto, the drop shotto
And you got disciples but what you really need is Geico
So call up all ya lizards man, you up against gorillas, man
I’m harder than the Flintstones, I’m badder than Bam-Bam
Amd when I slam slam your face, it’ll be a relief
You see you ain’t the only motherfucker here with sharp teeth
When ya little homies run on down to the precinct
And cry they little crocodile tears to the police chief
They’ll call this a murder and be wrong, here’s the distinction
This isn’t just a regular killing, it’s an extinction.

Rhymnonychus cocked his head to the side, After a pause, he slammed the pen into my chest. “gently caress you doing, man? Write that poo poo down!”

“It was okay?”

“Yeah, it was okay! Now write it down! drat, youngin, straight off the cuff, sheeit. Hey, your old man cool with all the cursing?”

“His English isn’t great.” I said as I furiously scribbled, trying to remember word for word what I’d rapped. Rhymnonychus leaned over me, correcting me in places, touching up others.

“Watch the syllables, youngin. The lines are solid but this ain’t rap for an album. If you get too mouthy, your audience won’t follow, feel me?”

“I feel you.”

He took another puff.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I’m still gonna kill you up there on stage.”

“I know.”

“You good. You okay. You ain’t great.”

“I know.”

“But keep ya head up. This is respectable, youngin.”

“Thank you.”

“poo poo,” he said. “Ain’t no thing.” He paused. “You really listen to my mixtape when you was twelve?”

“‘Raptor Rapstar?’” I said. “Man, I had that on repeat.”

“Heh. Dope.”

The judges gave him the win, of course. Unanimous. But before I could leave the stage, Rhymnonychus wrapped his arm around my shoulder. He had us face the crowd together and he shouted. “Ayo! This youngin is only sixteen! And he brought some motherfucking heat, yeah? Let’s give it up!”

And the crowd started cheering and I was grinning from ear to ear and I saw my dad out in the audience, stone-faced and serious as always but he gave me the smallest, tiniest of nods. And the world right then was good.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

1301 words
“There ain’t no rule in the rulebook that a brachiosaurus can’t play basketball,” the old janitor said.

A lime green ankylosaurus landed in my cup, splattering me and the dog in hot coffee. The dog yelped and scrambled away, her overlong claws making a racket on the floor, as I took a deep breath and counted.

“Oliver,” I said, attempting an even tone. “What’s the rule?”

“If you huck it, you… um…” my son’s look of cherubic confusion was equal parts hilarious and infuriating. “You get it back!”

“It’s the opposite, buddy. If you huck it, you don’t have it.” I picked up the plastic dinosaur and put it on a shelf. This prompted the anticipated whining, complete with throwing himself onto his hands and knees and wailing. “Come on, little dude. Help me clean up. Can you get me a wipe?”

“But I want my dino!” He wailed.

“Help me wipe up the mess and I’ll consider it. Get me a wipe, please.”


I shrugged and left the living room to get a towel and refill my mug. The dog followed me, looking forlorn. I smiled and stroked her head. “You already ate breakfast,” I said to her. “I know, because I fed you.”

“Feeding her is my job,” Oliver said, petulantly, stomping into the kitchen. “Mommy? Can I have a water?”

“Sure, buddy.”

“Can we go to the donut store?”

My first impulse was to say gently caress no, you little monster, you’ve been destroying the house since you woke up and the very concept of bringing you anywhere without your father to help manage your shenanigans is like nails on a goddamn chalkboard. But I recognized that this was the lack of caffeine talking. Mostly. It was also the recent scalding talking.

“Yeah, we can go to the donut store. Let mommy finish her coffee, then you’ll sit on the potty and we can take the wagon into town.”

Being the naturally tough negotiator that all three year olds are, Oliver convinced me that he should be permitted to watch a show first. His father would have been appalled, but his father was in Cali-loving-fornia doing the son-of-a-bitching JP Morgan pharmaceuticals conference, and so he didn’t get a vote at this point. We’d probably have mac and cheese with sriracha and frozen peas mixed into it for dinner tonight, too. I refused to feel guilty about it.

Yeah. I felt super guilty about it.

I loaded the boy into his wagon and we set out. He chattered about his imaginary friend, Albert, and I nodded and made interested sounds. God. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just enjoy this? It was a beautiful spring day, all bright sun and cool breeze, and my child was finally the age where we could look at shapes in the clouds and tell each other stories about what we saw. This was what I had hoped for. So why did it feel so… leaden?

I waved to my neighbors as we passed, exchanging cheerful comments about the weather. Oliver jumped out of his wagon to kick his soccer ball around a field. I took a few pictures to send to his father. I scrolled through Twitter and my Discord notifications. I tried to feel happy.

We made it to the coffee shop that made the donuts. There was a line, which Oliver surprised me by not griping about waiting in. He had a little fuschia brachiosaur gripped in one fist. “Mommy?” He said softly. “Can I have an apple donut?”

I grinned at him. “Of course. Apple donuts are my favorite too. Do you want some milk too?”

“Hmmm. I think maybe just a chocolate milk.”

“Not on the menu today, buddy. Sorry.”

“Oh. Okay. Just a regular milk then. Mommy? Albert has chocolate milk. He puts it in his cereal.”

I squeezed his hand. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah! Mommy? Where does chocolate milk come from?”

“Brown cows,” I said, approaching the counter.

“BROWN COWS?!” He shouted, and collapsed to the floor in a fit of giggles. “Brown cows!”

I gave the standard parental half-grimace, half-smile of apology to the people in line behind me as I scooped up my flailing child and put in our order. Thankfully we’d moved to a place with a lot of other young families, so I didn’t catch a lot of flack when he did completely normal child behaviors like this. But it was still embarrassing. Like, a good mom wouldn’t have her child howling with exaggerated laughter and shrieking “brown cows!” in the middle of a coffee shop.

But I didn’t claim to be a good mom. I was just the one that Oliver was stuck with.

For a while things were okay. Oliver ate his donut, I drank my latte. He was a lot more outgoing than I was, chattering happily to everyone who passed by while I sort of smiled and mumbled awkwardly. At least he didn’t get the social awkwardness from you, I thought.

“That’s a nice brontosaurus,” said the janitor, who was sweeping up next to our table.

“Actually,” Oliver said, “it’s a brachiosaurus. It said so on the box.”

“Well, you know what they say. There ain’t no rule in the rulebook that a brachiosaurus can’t play basketball,” the old janitor said.

Oliver just looked at him. I smiled and said “He’s still a little young for Air Bud. He’ll get it in a few years.”

“Just long enough to stop being fascinated by dinosaurs,” he laughed. “You have a nice day, ma’am.”

The walk back was a bit nicer. Fortified by a breakfast sandwich, it was easier to appreciate the sun and the clouds and the idle, child-prattle. I still felt wretched, but it was dialed down to background noise. Even a wretch could enjoy the sunshine.

“I’ve been off all day,” I complained to his father while on the routine bedtime phone call. He was wearing one of his nicer suits, the jacket folded over the hotel chair behind him. God, he looked good. I missed him so much, even when he was gone for just a few days. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t seem to get it together.”

“Hmm.” He paused. It was the same pause that Oliver made while he thought. I hadn’t noticed that before. It was adorable. They were both adorable. God, why was I so pathetic while being surrounded by such adorable people? “Did you take your Zoloft last night?”

“Of course I did,” I snapped. Then I paused as realization dawned. “Oh. Wait. No. I meant to get that refilled today. I ran out on Friday.”

“Well, there you have it.” He smiled at me, gentle and understanding. “You’ll feel better once you’re back on it. You know you will.”


“Daddy!” Oliver ran over to show his father a new book we’d picked up while we were in town. “Daddy, look at this! It’s about basketball and soccer ball and baseball!”

“Wow! I can’t wait to read it with you!”

Again, I felt that stab of guilt. My husband was so natural with our child. I felt like I was faking it all the time. Or. Okay, no. Not all the time. Just when I forgot to take the stupid brain pills.

That was a relief. I set a reminder in my phone to go to the pharmacy the next day. It sucked to feel like this. I hated it. None of the guilt or lovely thoughts ever felt like lying to myself until I realized what it was. God, I was so lucky the pills worked.

I went to bed shortly after Oliver, the dog lying on my feet as she always did, and felt relatively secure in the knowledge that tomorrow would at least feel like a better day.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


I Love My Dinosaur Son
865 Words

“In National News, as a thank you for ending the Covid Crisis, President Biden has given fifty billion dollars each to a select number of scientists. When asked what the money was for, the President responded it was so that they could do, ‘whatever the *beep* they want’. Turn in at 11 to see what the chosen scientists plan to do with the money…”

One year later…

While I was walking today, I saw that the New York Times had an interesting article.

“‘This was a horrible Idea.’-President Biden”

Yeah, no poo poo, I thought. Sure, I am grateful to them since it was thanks to those scientists we had a son, but that said son was a Velociraptor! Apparently (Since history changed, so I don’t remember it happening), me and my barren wife Nancy signed up to have somebody time travel and give my wife Dinosaur DNA in the past. This brought about Kyle, our Velociraptor son. I know that we weren’t the only ones who signed up for this, but it still seemed so weird and surreal.

While Kyle was obviously different, me and Nancy treated him like a regular human being, and we were surprised that he was able to speak just as well as any other human. Sure, he was different, but dammit, he was our son. When Kyle reached school age, we were at first afraid that he wouldn’t fit in because, well, dinosaur, but after seeing that there were other dinosaur children, we let Kyle go to school. While Nancy and I had our fears, Kyle was able to make friends, dinosaur and human.

Now, Nancy and I did our research, and we both knew that Velociraptors are meat-eaters. But Kyle had been very good about what to eat. Sure, he eats more than humans, but he ate “regular” meat. While many dino-children (including Kyle) did have some urges to eat man, for the most part, those urges were in check. When there have been reports of meat eater children eating people, the government decided to issue a policy where they can eat death row criminals to satisfy their urges. Kyle took advantage of this as well, and while he did enjoy it there, and it helped satisfy his urge for man, he told me that he didn’t like the taste of rapists.

After a while, Kyle managed to graduate from High School, and Nancy and I couldn’t be much prouder of him. Instead of going to college, Kyle decided to be part of an experimental platoon used by the Army. They would do the jobs no decent moral human would want to do. Obviously, we at first objected to it, but I remember even to this day what Kyle told me.

“Dad, I’ve been thinking, do we dinosaurs even have morals? Besides, we meat-eaters were born to be murderers. I need to do this, not for you, but for myself.”

That was what convinced me and Nancy to let him go join the “Raptor Division”. That was about three years ago today.

Present day, a year after Biden gave out all that money. While I was taking my walk, and wondering why Biden just wasted all that taxpayer money (even though it did give us Kyle), I saw our friend Bob being attacked by Raptor Division members. I even recognized some of them when I visited Kyle! While he was being attacked, he did manage to say some last words.

"God creates dinosaur. God destroys dinosaur. God creates man. Man creates dinosaur. Dinosaur Eats Man. Woman inherits the Earth. Dinosaur also eats woman. Dinosaur creates robot. Robot incinerates dinosaur. God accepts robot as his equal in heaven," said Bob. It was impressive that he managed to get so much out as the compsognathuses devoured his digestive system. Puzzled at what took place, I wondered what the hell was going on. So I asked one of them.

“This man has been a secret agent for the robots!”

Of course, I thought. I knew what was going on. While some of the scientists paid by Biden experimented in time trial and DNA, there were others who made killer robots. Robots who all had a mechanism in place so that they can’t go rogue. And then they all went rogue. There were some like Bob who sided with the robots, mostly because they believed that they could survive. Then there were those that knew better. Nancy and I knew better, and Kyle kept informing us on the army’s stance on it. He told me about how many human lives were lost when fighting the robots, and it was enough that he told us that President Biden was planning on deploying the Raptor Company anytime now.

“Does he consider dinosaur life expendable?” I asked Kyle.

“Maybe, but perhaps Biden is thinking that he started this mess, so now we are going to fix it.”

A few days later, the Raptor Division was deployed to fight the robots. Nancy and I were worried, so we went over to the local church. Sick with worry, I went down to their altar, and prayed.

“Lord, I love my dinosaur son. Please take care of him.”

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.

Prompt: "Hi! I'm Tim 'the Tool Man' Taylor, host of the popular home improvement show Tool Time. Oh no! A dinosaur!" said Tim.

Home Improvement Will No Longer Be Renewed After 8 Seasons, TV Guide Reports

(<1.4k words)

"Hi! I'm Tim 'the Tool Man' Taylor, host of the popular home improvement show Tool Time. Oh no! A dinosaur!" said Tim. Tim Taylor, played by Tim Allen, did an exaggerated surprised face with his hands open, at a tiny makeshift tyrannosaurus rex model on a stand beside him.

“That’s great, Tim,” said the director of the Home Improvement show. “Could you now go through the rest of the rehearsal and touch the dino-“

“gently caress you and suck my dick,” suggested the actor, who turned around, slammed the stage door and disappeared behind the house façade immediately. The makeshift t-rex remained untouched. Everyone in the crew shrugged the Tim Allen shrug. Oh well!

The actual t-rex was making clicking sounds at Mr Allen, comforted by the warmth cradled in Masayoshi’s arms enjoying the scratches made to the back of its neck. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, Mork,” Masayoshi reassured the tiny dinosaur, but mostly was saying it for himself.

“This is a mistake,” said Erin, his co-researcher. They were standing at the highest parts of the audience seating above the stage, and she pointed at Mr Allen, who was not quite backstage and thus could be seen by people at the angle where Masayoshi, Mork and Erin stood. Mr Allen was bent over a table with a straw on one nostril and his finger pressing against the other. “That’s his fifth hit today. It’s 10am.”

“He may not be the best role model, but we do need the publicity,” Masayoshi reminded. “The dinosaur preservation programme can’t survive on government funding for long.”

“Yes, but – “ She was doing the twitch in her left eye that Masayoshi immediately recognised. She was going to get into that paper their ex-colleague wrote half a decade ago that rocked the natural science world to its core. “Maybe Kingston was right...”

Mork grated its teeth at the sound of Kingston’s name being uttered, but only because Masayoshi was gripping it tighter.

“Kingston was a miserable man and he’s still miserable,” Masayoshi interjected. “Just because he couldn’t figure out the economical value dinosaurs bring to the world doesn’t mean they have no value. That’s not how it works. We’ve talked about this many times, Erin.”

“Fine.” Erin furrowed her brows and raised a palm at him. “We are lucky that we have managed to eugenized mini versions like Mork, and we don’t have to deal with explaining to policymakers why we need lizards the height of skyscrapers which each need at least 50 pounds of meat per day. Or extinct fauna. Whatever. You know what I mean.”

Masayoshi knew what she meant. And even though he wanted to disagree with her, he could not help but feel that tinge of doubt in his mind.

Mr Allen was setting up another line on the table before him.

When Kingston’s paper appeared, he and his team were brought before congress and asked to explain why the dinosaur preservation programme deserved half a billion dollars a year when that money could have gone to “public utilities”. It was not a fluke, but a feature, that Kingston’s paper pointedly noted that dinosaurs had no military value and were hard to control economically, and that the weapons available at the time were easy enough to kill off a rampaging t-rex with manageable human casualty numbers, despite what was presented in the Spielberg-directed documentary Jurassic Park. It was determined that the island theme park had failed purely because Richard Hammond was a romantic who did not allocate sufficient amounts towards security and thus allowed the island to be dominated by giant lizards with 94% guest deaths reported. Kingston even went into such unexplored depths as logistics (dinosaurs could not replace conventional vehicles without damaging goods), pets (bearded dragons cost less and were easier to breed than dilophosauruses, and do not bite off fingers; also dinosaurs were not cute), food (nobody enjoyed lizard meat, and their eggs taste like rotten versions of chicken eggs), culture (dinosaurs did not create anything of artistic value during their reign) and fintech (current technology did not allow dinosaurs to be installed with computers sufficiently – they often bite off the modems off their backs; also a separate accreditation system would have to be created for them because they were so bad with numbers).

But Kingston’s paper did not touch entertainment. Masayoshi got his idea while watching a recording of Live Aid and recalling the amount of money it raised. It did not matter that most of the money did not reach the African nations, it still increased public consciousness and sweet hard cash.

So in a way, the plan to have Mork appear as a guest star on Home Improvement was Masayoshi’s baby. But things have not been working. Jurassic Park, which their department were never consulted upon and thus they had to write several letters to the editors condemning the documentary, made dinosaurs look like Gojira but closer to home. Michael Crichton refused to answer their emails and was more content being in a yacht sipping champagne. Whoopi Goldberg had left an angry voicemail for him, claiming that Theodore Rex was the end of her comedy career and she may have to go on the morning talkshow route now, and also Theodore had to be put down immediately after the show for eating an extra. Sesame Street politely declined their proposal, citing a new broadcasting safety rule that children below eighteen were disallowed on set with dinosaurs, newly drafted a couple weeks after Theodore’s incident. It also did not help that the Disney show Dinosaurs, which was meant to be a children-friendly version of the Simpsons, was deemed much more anti-capitalist and hard-hitting than the Simpsons and thus cancelled a year prior. Baby Sinclair was the only survivor of the cancellation, now part of the Mickey Mouse & Friends cast, but apparently Baby in one live showing tried to eat Pluto on Goofy’s suggestion and traumatized a few children, so that was also on the rocks.

“I’m loving ready!” Mr Allen was shouting. Erin was nonplussed. She had in the car ride earlier told him this was going to be the shark-jumping moment for Home Improvement but Masayoshi decided to ignore her, instead of saying “it’s his dinosaur-jumping moment!” Funding was reduced to less than a quarter a million per year now, and public donations have been scarce. Crichton had already sold his rights to Spielberg the Lost World screenplay and that was going to be yet another anti-dinosaur propaganda piece the department did not need. Kingston was now in the much more lucrative field of Gigantopithecus preservation programme, especially as they actually have opposable thumbs and could be employed as day traders, and Harry and the Hendersons have been renewed for another decade.

“Let’s do this, motherfuckers!”

Masayoshi brought the tiny t-rex Mork to where it would stand, right beside the door where Mr Allen would burst in to greet the audience and be surprised by his son bringing home an adopted dinosaur and spend the rest of the 23-minute episode falling in love with it before the dinosaur had to be sent to the scientists (see: Masayoshi and Erin) for proper care and that was why the public should try to learn more about these tiny little tykes, aww, and send donations by calling this toll-free number. It was not a coincidence that Taran Noah Smith, who played young Mark Taylor, would be filming his scenes with a Mork replica in secondary shots several miles away from the main studio.

“And… roll cameras!” shouted the director.

"Hi! I'm Tim 'the Tool Man' Taylor, host of the popular home improvement show Tool Time!” Tim Allen shouted as he burst through the stage door. He looked at the now real dinosaur, which he had never seen before because Mr Allen could not be impressed upon to spend quality time bond with his co-star pre-filming.

“Holy gently caress, a dinosaur!” He pointed at Mork. Mork screeched.

“Cut!” the director would have said if Mr Allen’s finger did not cause a cloud of cocaine dust to powder Mork’s snout. Mork screeched even louder.

Mr Allen no longer had a left index finger, and was the one screeching now.

The two scientists looked over at each other, and sighed. Some CVs would have to be sent to Kingston soon.

Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

The CIA Hired Stanley Kubrick to Fake the Moon Landing. He Insisted on Shooting on Location

<1500 words

"Actually, dilophosaurus spitting poison is an invention of the Jurassic Park movies," said Professor Gooberson as the dilophosauruses started spitting poison at him. A large gobbet of the stuff went right down his throat, just before they all flared out the neck ruffs he had just sworn they didn't have either.

"You can't," I said, then shot one of the dilophosauruses in the face, .44 round. I continued, between shots. "Make assumptions. About. Soft tissue organs. From. The fossil. Record." Cartridge empty, time for a new one. Dennis Gooberson probably wasn't listening; he was convulsing on the ground. But Jenna, the other Professor Gooberson, was. She had her archery gear out, steel-tipped hunting arrows. Not as fast as my gun, but plenty of stopping power against the beasts.

“He dies have a point, though,” said Jenna.  The dinosaurs were finally scattering, and she was on the ground, holding Dennis’s head to the side, to keep him from choking on the foam. “No feathers.  Not even a little down.  No bright coloration either. And those Velociraptors.”

“How’s he doing?” I asked.

“How am I supposed to know?” said Jenna. “We don’t know what a lethal dose is for this toxin.”

“They’re pack hunters,” I said. “So it shouldn’t need to be instantly lethal. Just enough to slow the prey down.”

“”Sure, but what if the usual prey is bigger than an elephant?” said Jenna. “He needs a medical doctor. He needs a hospital.” She looked at me.

The plan had been to wait it out. The second team was coming in two days. If we had made it to the bunker we could easily make it until then, and not one of those things was smart enough or mean enough to get through those doors.

There was a part of me that wished Dennis was dead. A lot of parts. He was an annoying know-it-all. Him being around made my thing with Jenna complicated and precarious. And we’d be fine in the bunker. But he was alive, and he was a human being after all. couldn't leave him to die when there’s another way.

Thing is, it wasn’t a good way. We’d have to make it to the Command Post. That was an hour’s walk through prime grazing land. The herbivores won’t kill you on purpose, but they’re huge, defensive, and easily startled. And they weren’t alone. Predators skulked around each watering hole. But that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was the Command Post itself, and the bands of Velociraptors inside.

We whipped together a stretcher from bamboo and vines. Plenty of both around here. Loaded Dennis onto it and started hauling, our weapons slung over our backs.

“The raptors,” said Jenna. “Smart like raccoons. Vicious, organized.”

“Right,” I said. “Good thing humans outdo them on all counts.”

“Not what I meant,” said Jenna. “What I’m saying is that’s also not something that we can infer from the fossil record.”

“What are you getting at?” I asked.  There was a grazing Apatosaurus in the distance. We gave it a wide berth.

“Too many lucky guesses,” she said. “Did you read the book?”

“Just the movie,”I said.

“The book was better,” she said. “I mean, you can’t get spectacle in prose, sure. But as far as holding up a story.” Dennis moaned. “Both had crap science, of course. Point is, they can’t have been that lucky. Literally every guess they made is showing up right here.”

“These aren’t animatronics,” I said. For one thing, they had plenty of good eating on them, and there weren't any mechanisms inside. We knew. “And they sure as hell aren’t CGI,”

“Probably not clones either,” said Jenna. "More likely a surviving population."

"A lost world," I said. "And a cover-up."

"They must have filmed it as soon as special effects were good enough to make them look fake," said Jenna.

"You know what that means," I said.

"What?" said Jenna.

"If everything else was right, that means there's a chance that the whole business with them only being able to see movement is too. And that means we might just have a chance."

It wasn't exactly a great plan, and if we had to fight before we could get Dennis in a secure locked room we were likely screwed anyway. He was still shaking more than enough to look like dinner. But it was a start. Get in, find a safe place for him, then make our way to the radio to call for an evac helicopter.

It went wrong almost right away. We had Dennis in one of the staff quarters, door locked from the inside where even those clever things couldn't get in, but almost as soon as we left we ran into our first pack of them. Standing still sort of worked. You get into a staring contest. Thing is, sooner or later they figure out where you are by smell. You've only got so long to make your move, and there's only so many you can take out with snap shots from the hip, only so long Jenna can hold the bow at ready. We took our time, then took our shots, but there were too many of them. The last two were charging Jenna, reaching out those long claws toward her chest when two more shots came from behind us. Dennis, leaning against the wall. I hadn't known he had been armed. One of them was down, and the other turned on him and struck. I aimed and fired, but not before Dennis’s intestines were outside his body.

We ran for the radio room, and I shouted over the line until the company agreed to send a helicopter. They didn't agree until I told them that there was a satphone rig here, that I could get on Twitter or call the New York Times if I wanted to. Two hours to get the helicopter here. So we waited.

We made love, in that room. It wasn't the place or time for it, not at all comfortable and with Dennis so recently gone. But we did anyhow, and I'll never regret that.

Then came the dash for the rooftop. We knew there were more gangs around, just had to hope none were between us and the stairway. We were almost lucky enough. They caught sight of us just as we hit the stairwell.

Those were the official fire escape route, which meant no locking doors. So we ran hard. They're fast usually, but not so much climbing stairs. So we got to the top with a little time. But the helicopter hadn't yet arrived. I could hear it, see a tiny spot far away, headed our way.

I held the door. Put my shoulder into it. They came at it, one at a time at first. I kept it shut. Then they figured out charging it two at a time. It cracked open an inch before I slammed it shut. They came again, stronger. Again I got it shut. The helicopter was near, dropped a ladder for Jenna. They charged again. This time one of them wedged a claw in the gap. I tried to force it closed, to crush the bone, but they shoved again and the door flew open and I felt claws digging into my back as they charged over me. I tried to stand up and one raked my face.

Yeah, that's how I lost the eye.

With the good one I saw the helicopter leaving. I don't blame anyone. I wouldn't have bet on me either. But for how smart they were they're also kind of dumb. They see someone upright and they assume they're standing on something. It wasn't until all but one of the pack had leapt right off the roof that the last one caught wise, and I thought I could shoot well enough even without depth perception. Got him eventually, but my first shot hit the satellite antenna right in the electronics.

So I made it back to the bunker. Got lucky that the socket wasn't infected at least. I thought the original second team would show up and I could hitch a ride with them, but I guess they canceled the whole mission, and I'd have to wait three years for the next group of fools to come around. That one went better, three of the ten made it out plus me.

I always knew this day would come, that someone would try and get me to go back there. I've been thinking about it for a long time. I put a number to it. Wrote it down. It has a lot of zeros in it. I'm not negotiating. You read it, you either stand up and never come back here again or you shake my hand.

What's it going to be?

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

"Looks like this Bat Mitzvah just became a Bad Mitzvah!" said Rabbi Kowarski, pumping his shotgun.

The Rabbit Said, ‘I Think I’m a Typo’ 692 words

"Looks like this Bat Mitzvah just became a Bad Mitzvah!" said Rabbi Kowarski, pumping his shotgun.

It was, all things considered, not the worst joke he’d told that day.

The one about the priest, the vicar and the rabbit was ‘up there’.

But that one didn’t have the added impact of the shotgun. He threw the shotgun in question to Naomi, whose Bat Mitzvah it was. She caught it by the handle, twirled, and shot the nearest dinosaur in the face. The blast propelled her backwards and flat on her back, and she slid under some tables.

Afterwards, it was difficult to find consensus on exactly where the dinosaurs had come from. Mrs Haversham would later suggest that it was a Baptist conspiracy. “You know they practically run the world,” she would say.

Mr Haversham would nod. “Probably part of a new world order. First step, breed killer dinosaurs.”

In the moment, they both scattered; rampaging dinosaurs were no joke, despite Rabbi Kowarski’s best efforts. Naomi, however, assumed that this was a necessary part of a Bat Mitzvah. It stood to reason that in one’s ascent to womanhood, one would have to demonstrate one’s ability to fend off dinosaurs. Or, you know, frat boys. She rolled out from under the table; Rabbi Kowarski had pulled out a pistol, and Naomi reflected that, despite her early misgivings, she was glad her parents had chosen the Orthodox Rabbi rather than the more progressive one that would’ve been her first pick. Orthodox Jews just pack more heat.

She jumped across tables to the Rabbi, and they swapped weapons. Wouldn’t be ideal for her to be hurled across the room every time she dispatched a dinosaur. The rest of the room was pandemonium; people fleeing from the dinosaurs, tables being overturned, chairs being thrown, wait staff being told that if they stopped serving and tried to flee, they needn’t bother coming in for their next shift.

Naomi and Rabbi Kowarski finished off the remaining dinosaurs, then turned to look at the door through which they had first entered the Bar Mitzvah. They looked at each other; they didn’t have to speak, they knew what had to be done. Rabbi Kowarski pumped his shotgun again, and Naomi cocked her pistol so it made a cool sound. Then the two of them strode through the doors.

On the ground were a number of broken eggshells. “Huh,” said Naomi. “Were those just babies?”

Rabbi Kowarski shrugged. “If you want to make a dinosaur, you’ve got to crack a few eggs.”

“I don’t really…”

“Yeah sorry, I’m out of prepared material. My improv was never quite as strong.”

“Right,” said Naomi. “So anyway, where did the eggs come from?”

“What came first, right?”

Naomi raised an eyebrow at him. “Is this another…?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I can’t help it, dinosaurs make me nervous, I just discovered.” He poked the egg shells his shotgun’s barrel. “Where’s Mama Dino?”

There was a growl and they both looked up. This dinosaur was huge; its head seemed to blot out the ceiling. “How did we not notice that?” asked Naomi.

“It was hiding behind those pot plants.”

The dinosaur’s head lunged towards them; they each dove to one side, then turned and unloaded their respective firearms into the large reptilian eyes. The dinosaur reared up, then toppled over with a slow crash. The two of them hurried back through the doors.

Naomi gave the pistol back to him, and he checked to make sure all the baby dinosaurs were definitely dead. “So, am I officially a woman now?” she asked.

“You’ve still got to read a section of the Torah.”

“Do I have to wait until everyone else is back?”

He pondered for a moment. “I don’t see why we should, they didn’t stick around for the bit with the dinosaurs.”

So she read the bit where Jael killed a guy with a tent peg, he spoke a blessing over her, and they decided to start on the snacks while everyone else was still elsewhere, because killing dinosaurs can really make you work up an appetite.

Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

Flash was the first line,

"Actually, dilophosaurus spitting poison is an invention of the Jurassic Park movies," said Professor Gooberson as the dilophosauruses started spitting poison at him.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


This is my flash:

"God creates dinosaur. God destroys dinosaur. God creates man. Man creates dinosaur. Dinosaur Eats Man. Woman inherits the Earth. Dinosaur also eats woman. Dinosaur creates robot. Robot incinerates dinosaur. God accepts robot as his equal in heaven," said Bob. It was impressive that he managed to get so much out as the compsognathuses devoured his digestive system.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


One day, one beautiful, shining day, I will be on top of my poo poo enough to get my crits out before the next week's entries have all been submitted. But this is not that day.

Bullets on the Horizon by Hawklad

I found this kind of difficult to read. I didn't connect to any characters and the action was hard to follow, as Rohan said. There's the core of something interesting here, high gravity duels of patience... neat. But there's almost too much Western and absurdist set dressing to make it actually work, or not enough length for those things to properly pay off.

I'll admit I didn't get the Schwartzchild pun until Rohan pointed it out.

Creepy Pasta by Beezus

I enjoyed this when I read it the first time. It was a cute little monsters in the closet vignette. But the second read left me confused. Mom is a witch? Why would a bogeyman be interested in witches? Why is mom afraid of linguine? Why did it leave linguine in her pocket? I am so confused. I think you mentioned in the Discord that an explanatory line got cut accidentally, which is a shame. This had all the tone and pacing right, it just sort of tripped over the ending.

Dinner At Home by derp

This is the kind of breakup story that I love. Just pure loneliness amidst the driving need to keep acting like everything is Normal and Fine. I liked the fretfulness of the spoon about to crack. I liked the repetition of things Changing. I don't know if this has anything to it other than a Mood, but it's a Mood that I like, and that I liked a lot more than the other judges did.

To Die For by Man called M

What? What is happening? Mafia dudes kill a bunch of chickens that are being kept in a basement (what?) of a restaurant (what?!) and so another Mafia dude kills them with a flamethrower he stole from an army base (WHAT?!) Weirdly, if you worked on your actual writing (grammar, tense, sentence structure) this is almost salvageable as a piece of absurdist fiction

Also, keeping chickens in a basement would not be a secret for long. They are stinky birds when enclosed. Also-also, replacing chickens is not expensive or difficult (though emotionally hard), you can buy them in bulk online or at a tractor supply. It wouldn't ruin a business. Also-also-also, chickens are rad and more stories should involve them so you get props from me on that.

Weird Nutmeg by Albatrossy_Rodent

This was fun! I liked the coming of age revelation and I liked the frankness of "this is our silly family tradition: actual magic!" The repetition of "The Andersens" kept making me question if the POV character was an Andersen, but that could just have been me not reading very well. It was very enjoyable and 100% deserved the win.

The Cat That Walks on its Hindlegs by The Saddest Rhino

This is also a Mood, but it's a Mood I don't relate to or understand. it's well written, but I'm not sure it's evoking whatever it's trying to evoke.

...and it was Garfield. What the gently caress. That's hilarious.

Hate is the Spice by Thranguy

Clearly written, emotional without being maudlin, and the prompt is present without being the Main Thing. Well done. I really enjoyed this a lot, enough to overlook the grammatical errors and spellcheck flubs. But my fellow judges correctly pointed out that you've been doing this for long enough that you should know better. I have no legs to stand on in that particular argument.

Gonna Leave One Hell of a Yelp Review Though by Chairchucker

I feel like this is the story Man Called M was going for. It's fine. It's a story. I'm not mad that I read it. It's hard to follow the constant streams of dialogue the way they're written, but it's good and campy and fun dialogue so I was happy enough to put in the effort.


Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

503 Results

Wasn't a huge fan of this week. Stories either had not enough dinosaurs, too many dinosaurs, or just the right number of dinosaurs but were told badly. You guys are worse at writing stories than that one guy is at playing melodica.

The loss goes to The Man Called M. That's not a story, M, that's just a series of increasingly wild stuff that happens.

A DM to the saddest rhino. There's imagination and fun here, but not enough to overcome its tense and flow issues.

HM to Chernobyl Princess. We actually agreed that this was the best story of the week, but I can't award the Dinosaur Week win to a dinosaurless story, sorry.

HM to Tyrannosaurus mostly for that rap.

Win to Nae who did the best job writing a real story that was actually about dinosaurs. Way to go! Proooooompt!

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