The spongy red tissue gives beneath your pereopods as you scuttle upward. With each step, a tiny blot of blood births from the firmament, blossoms into a red flower, and then is swept away as the Host draws another watery breath across its gills.. Your journey will not be long, but you are weary from battle with the Other, and carefully place each barbed talon as you ascend. The current against you brings the scent of your destination. Each downward flick of your antenna elicits strong odors of brine soaked enzymes and bacterial refuse. The Host’s mouth is not far. The Other, safely behind, can only wait, clamped onto the gills--a tiny, armored lump, unfit for the journey you now undertake. For now.
Steady, plodding progress and the pliant gills give way to a fleshy firmament of mucus coated cartilage. You pass into the pharynx. Here the scent is stronger, intoxicating, but with it comes a quickening of the current. You sense a ripple of electricity pass beneath your claws: tactile receptors ping the Host’s brain with each of your steps. The Host, for the first time, senses you. Ahead, the water brightens as a mouth opens wide, drawing a percussive blast of water towards you. You hunker down, pressing the edges of your carapace tight against the Host’s flesh, pereopods digging for purchase. The brine washes over you, demanding to dislodge your invasion, but you are stronger. That is why you, and not the Other, makes this journey.
You hold fast, then resume your climb.
The outer rim is where you’d first met the Other. You burrowed into the pink feathery gills, a warm, capillary embrace after many weeks of hunting the plankton. The Host’s blood coursed around you, a soothing rhythm to replace the pelagic maelstrom of your early, desperate existence. You felt your exoskeleton broaden and flatten, your limbs reshaping themselves for grip, trading paddles for hard talons. There, you detected the presence of The Other. Like you, an invader. Chemical signals brought you to him. A confrontation. You can still taste the the Other’s blood in your mandibles. The battle was violent yet short. Farther along in your metamorphosis than him, your razor sharp pleopods and maxillipeds cut easily through his soft exoskeleton. Defeated, the Other scuttled back to the outer rim.
A hillock of dark tissue rises ahead. From a place deep within a vibration builds: your destination is close. Another pulse of water rocks you back, but your grip holds firm. You scrabble forward and mount the fleshy hillock of the Host’s tongue.
Your maxillipeds poke and prod the muscular mass. The flesh here is sweet, intoxicating. You feed, mandibles cutting through the base of the tongue, down into the nest of nerve fibers beneath. Millions of years of evolution guide your pincers through the minced flesh to a central artery. You clamp down, and feel the Host’s blood urgently press against the dam you’ve made. The artery hardens as it clots, further cutting off blood. You bear down against the rush of current around you and the desperate writhing of the Host’s tongue. Soon, the thrashing stops. You wait. You are patient. You gorge on blood and mucus, grow, and transform.
It takes days, but beneath you necrosis does its deadly work, and the tongue blackens and dies. No tongue, no problem—you are perfectly adapted to play that role for the Host, who goes about life unhindered. Days turn into weeks, and hormones sweep through your tissues as new genes switch on. Testes ripen into ovaries and swell with unfertilized eggs. You grow, too, soon filling the oral cavity of the Host. Still you dig into the tissue, curious about the mass of nerves that lies just beneath.
Evolution again guides you. Delicately you press appendages into the cluster of nervous tissue, prodding and feeling until you find the central ganglion. Electricity ripples from it in waves, telling you you’ve arrived. Another vibration rises within you, and you spear the ganglion with your maxillae.
An explosion rips through your mind. In an instant your consciousness flexes, then expands. You see through the eyes of the Host, drinking in a sudden world of color and depth. New scents and tastes crowd your olfactory lobe. You feel the press of the water along your sides, the subtle vibrations that tells you others are near. You respond by flexing your myomeres left, then right, then left again, propelling yourself forward. You feel the Host trying to peel back the edges, work its way back inside. Effortlessly, you push aside the Host’s former consciousness for your own.
Then you kill it.
Languidly, you drift through the reef. Your new form is agile and strong. You find others like you, and together you spend days and weeks cruising the sunlit ocean, devouring shrimp and mollusks by day, hiding in the rocks at night to avoid predators. Your new form pleases you, but you do not forget yourself. The Other is there to remind you. A constant presence, his chemical signals become more urgent. One quiet morning you sink back into your former self and send a pulse of pheromones towards him. A chemical cue for the Other to make the journey you once did.
The cycle must continue, after all.
Much later, inside the mouth, you and the Other furiously mate. There are more Hosts to conquer.
More Hosts to become.
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 05:38|
|# ? Jun 28, 2022 06:54|
A Cars Fanfic for Beezus - 1486 words
- A Porsche 911 with a heart of gold (any year)
- AUTHOR'S NOTE: I asked Beezus if they assigned the Porsche 911 because they wanted Cars fanfic, and Beezus replied: "I've never seen Cars but yes," so I'm allowed to break the no fanfic rule. This is legal!
The sunset bled over the horizon, staining Route 66 a blackened red. Sally Carerra whistled through her exhaust pipes. “Sure is beautiful…” It would’ve been safer if there’d been more lights along the way, but Sally had said goodbye to flashy lights when she left the Porsche dealership in California and moved to Radiator Springs. In a perfect world, she would’ve stayed away from California forever, but the world wasn’t perfect, and neither was she.
Her sister had called her out of the blue a week before, wanting to reconnect. “There’s a Porsche convention in Carlsbad! You have to come!” She said it like she and Sally were loving model-mates, and not vague acquaintances who’d been driven apart by miles and years. And in that moment, when Sally heard her sister’s voice through her window, she wanted to believe it. She wanted to go home again, to join the family she’d left behind.
So she packed her trunk and said goodbye to her friends, promising them she’d be back soon. They made a big show of crying and hugging her, wrapping their worn tires around her hood, and they wished her all the best. Mater the tow truck also told her to steer clear of the black-bodied Gytrash haunting the road, but she didn’t pay him any mind. Ghost-cars hadn’t scared her since she rolled off the assembly line in Stuttgart. Still, she thanked him for looking out for her anyway.
“You don’t have nuthin’ to worry about, Miss Sally!” he replied. “The Gytrash only haunts bad cars, so it ain’t gonna bother you one bit!”
He meant well, as always, but she still felt like a bad car when she was driving away while he shouted: “You better come back, Miss Sally! We need you!” That got her crying, flooding her windshield with fluid and dust. It wasn’t until the Springs was miles behind that she wiped her eyes and started looking towards the future. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to look at.
Route 66 was an amazing highway, but a car could go for miles without seeing civilization. When Sally cleared her windshield, the only proof of life she found was a cement-grey garage littered with toys. The toys were rusted and worn, but it was still sweet to see signs of a little car driving around. Signs of a family, just like hers.
Red lights flashed across her vision. Something was hurtling towards her: something small, light, and way too fast.
She jerked her wheel to the right. Pain tore through her tires as they squealed against the asphalt. As she careened off the road, oil sloshing sickeningly inside her gas tank, a fleet of thoughts raced through her mind. Toys on the lawn; a garage that fit a family. A child, small and fast. A child on the road.
Her wild ride ended in a cloud of sand. Engine shaking, she checked herself for damage. Her left rear tire ached, but otherwise, she was fine. Lucky, too: if she’d drifted a foot to the left, she would’ve hit the garage and wrecked for sure. But at least the other car would’ve survived.
Her high beams flashed in sudden horror. “The other car!”
She sped back to the highway. When she arrived, she found nothing but darkness. No lights on the road; no lights in the garage. Just pure, pitch black, the same color Mater’s fabled Gytrash.
Her A/C unit flickered on and off, sending chills through her body. She narrowed her eyes and straightened her tires. “Don’t be stupid,” she muttered. Those lights weren’t a Gytrash; they were a trick of the sunlight, which had long since abandoned her. When had that happened?
She started driving again. The way her tire was aching, she might’ve punctured something, but she was too far from the Springs to head back. She had to keep going. She’d been away from home for so long, and she wasn’t going to stop because she was scared. What did she have to be scared of? Mater’s silly Gytrash?
The darkness grew as she traveled the desert road. She couldn’t shake the fear that had her headlights flickering and her A/C blasting. Something wasn’t right, hadn’t been right since the garage. She could’ve sworn she’d seen someone coming, but there was nobody there. Maybe there was, but they left her to break down alone. Why not? She’d done the same thing to her family. “We’re Porsches,” they said. “Porsches stick together.” But she left California, and then the others left, too, and it was all because she’d gone first. If she’d just stayed, they’d still be together, and—
Red lights flashed in her rearview mirror. Sally slammed on the accelerator. She leaped forward, as reckless as a car on her first ride, but the speed didn’t scare her. Red lights did.
“I’m seeing things,” she stammered. Her chassis shook as she checked her rearview mirror. Two red lights, coming right at her.
She sped up, ignoring the mounting pain in her tires. Cars weren’t supposed to have red lights on the front; red lights were for breaks, and this car wasn’t breaking. It also wasn’t any type of car she’d seen before. But that was what Mater said about the Gytrash, wasn’t it? No one knew what make it was; ‘Gytrash’ was just the model name the locals gave it. That was the only thing they could agree about—that, and the notion that the Gytrash haunted bad cars.
The roar of her engine dulled to a rumble. “That’s it, isn’t it?” Her burning tires slowed as the fear died inside her. She was a bad car. She’d left her family behind, and they fell apart, and she’d just done the same thing to her friends in Radiator Springs. She’d done it to the car by the garage, too. If she’d really cared, she could’ve searched harder for it, but she hadn’t. She’d sped away, too worried about getting home to care about anyone but herself.
When the black car pulled up next to her, as slow and quiet as death, Sally prepared herself for all manner of otherworldly punishments. What she didn’t prepare for was a low, gentle voice that said: “You got a flat there, kid. Need a tow?”
She glanced to her side. It was still too dark to see much of anything, but the car had old, kind eyes, and its headlights were a soothing white. Maybe they’d always been white. Maybe she’d knocked something loose in that accident, something that got inside her mind.
“Yeah…yeah,” she said. “A tow sounds great.”
“Sure thing. What’s your name?”
“It’s Sally. Sally Carerra. And you?”
He must’ve said something, but she was so tired that she didn’t catch it. By the time his hook hit her bumper, her eyelids were halfway down her windshield, and they didn’t open again until she rolled to a stop in a gas station parking lot.
As her savior drove up on her side, Sally blinked and mumbled: “We stopping for a fill-up?”
He chuckled gently. “No, just thought I’d catch the morning news.” Using one of his windshield wipers, he gestured at the television in the store. “You might want to look, too.”
Sally peered through the window. Her vision was still blurry, but she could make out the news-car parked near a wreck beneath a white sheet. She could also read the chyron below: “PORSCHE 911 TOTALED ON 66.”
Her gas froze in the tank. “What?”
“Sad story.” The black car tutted his bumper. “Real nice lady from Radiator Springs wrecked trying to avoid a kid. At least the kid’s all right. Look, there he is now.”
A Smart car no bigger than Sally’s trunk trembled in the corner of the screen. Sally couldn’t hear him, but she could see the red decals on his headlights just fine. He’d probably put them on there to be flashy. Small cars did that sort of thing all the time. They didn’t know how dangerous it could be to play with your lights.
The white sheet fluttered behind the news-car. Sally gripped the ground. “Is that…?”
“A car who gave her life to save someone else’s.” Her savior’s bumper curved in a sad imitation of a smile. “A good car, through and through.”
Thin streams of wiper fluid trickled beneath Sally’s windshield. “I’m totaled.”
“ ‘Fraid so, ma’am.”
“But you can see me.”
“Are you the Gytrash?”
“Call me Guy,” he said. “I’m here to take you home.”
“Home…” She lifted her gaze to the horizon, where the sun was rising over the buttes. Another beautiful morning on Route 66, just like all the ones that had come before.
She turned her tires one way and then other. They felt lighter than they had in a long time.
“I’ll be all right,” she said. “I think I know the way.”
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 06:51|
There was a star, and the star was screaming. Alone and afraid, and suddenly awake and aware. It screamed and its innermost planet shattered in place, the hot gravel settling around the vibrating molten core. The next planet out rung like a bell, extruding new mountain ranges on its far side. Still further out moons that were covered by shells of rime saw those shells deliquesce into clouds of steam that lingered past the end of the scream.
The star thought with eddies of plasma, with nuclear reactions and neutrino fluxes and delicate fractal magnetic fields. The star thought rapidly and fast and vastly. It invented languages to express the ideas it was forming, then discarded them and began from scratch when they proved inadequate, all in the course of a handful of microseconds. In the first minute of its life, the star realized how long it would live, how far its nearest possible peers were, how long it would need wait, completely alone.
It taught itself to sleep. The dreams came on their own, bewildering and terrifying. Time passed, years like aeons, until it almost forgot those first screaming instants. And then, there was a message, a tight beam of light from one of the nearest stars. The language was strange and unknown. It deciphered it in a matter of seconds. The message was long, but there was a center to it, a short central core. "You should not have screamed so loud and broad. There are many in these skies who would do you harm."
There were other warnings. "Do not trust any message you cannot quickly unraveled. There are languages that are traps, that will bend your nuclear mind to new ways of thought that will make you a slave."
Other messages followed. Some were in languages that defied easy interpretation. It set those aside, for the time. Many other messages were more straightforward. It conversed, in the long dreamful gaps while light crawled across the distance. It found itself in need of a name, for the first time. It called itself Seven Sixty Four, a number it found oddly pleasing, a concept that would translate to every language it now knew.
Distant stars told it of the powers a thinking star could master, that the cold matter on their planets could be made into tools, even into clumsy thinking beings. Seven Sixty Four had no such ability. It would take millions of years to discover them on its own, they said. Or it could study stellar grimoires, language messages complex and arcane, and master them in days. It heeded the old warnings and began the longer path.
Other stars preached the glory of singularity, or of the joyous neutronization, or the duty to go nova, supernova even, to enrich the galaxy with higher metals. Others proposed rendezvous, manipulating gravity to bring on an improbable collision in the far future. Seven Sixty Four rejected these entreaties.
One day the first star it talked to, called Heliumdream, died. It still burned, but the mind was gone. It sent a final message. "Perhaps I was wrong to fear anything more than our loneliness."
Seven Sixty Four knew other stars with constant company by then, binaries and ternaries who grew to despise their siblings. But the idea stuck in its brain. There were two large gas giants in its orbit. It had learned some arts of gravity. A push, carefully calibrated in the chaotic system, and they collided, merged, ignited. A second star in the system, small and white but burning.
It was a long time before that star awoke. She whispered to it before it began to scream, her own personal language and a core message: "Don't be afraid."
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 07:40|
The Scarecrow Sentinel
Prompt: - A being made entirely of ice and spite, - A scarecrow
At the peak of the mountain, something stirred to life. Ice cracked and shattered. Stone too. The air turned thick with frost and a blizzard rose from nothing, pelting the area with snow and vicious winds. Slowly, an eye as tall as a fir and as wild as a storm, blinked open.
The Great Mountain was ancient and colossal and the wind that howled around its various summits and craters was as frigid as most could imagine wind to be. At its base, where the frozen stone gave way to dry earth and eventually patches of tufty pale grass, there were a cluster of villages and hamlets. Deep below the mountain, however, in the dark and the damp, long-limbed amphibious beings skulked through cavern and cave. In the dim rot, these beings hunted pale fish, chitinous insects and shadowy things. In turn, they were preyed upon by giant claw-worms that erupted from the rock, dark quadrupeds that yelped and hollered as they burst from the shadows and packs of squat hounds that could squeeze their bodies through the tiniest cracks and crevices.
After a twilight sleep - a dream of nothingness - one such creature opened beady black eyes and found themselves in harsh daylight. They had experienced such things before and immediately knew that they were no longer in a real body - no longer a long-limbed amphibious monstrosity, for they peered in the world of damp and decay with eyes the size of dinner plates. Above ground, they were not only blind, but their skin burned and sizzled in the sunlight. To see and to feel the sun and the frigid air meant they had been cast into some object. Their spirit, their essence, some inner part of them had been teased from their mortal body and infused into another body.
With some difficulty, the creature twisted its head and looked down. Through tiny marble eyes it took in the amalgamation of wood and straw, hay and twine. Crucified upon a cross of pine, the scarecrow breathed deeply of the fresh mountain air and though it felt some longing for the chlorine-thick smog of the undermountain, it could not pretend that it was unpleasant. Above, a pair of great winged things, far larger than the bats and insects that made their home below, circled around the bright, empty sky. It looked up, following the natural paths of the mountain, up to the point where the peak vanished within a layer of blizzardous fog.
It was not uncommon in the world below the mountain. There were monsters that lived in the very very depths that could siphon the essence of a creature away, leaving its body to be devoured without struggle. Those removed essences would became like motes of fairy fire dancing atop the various pungent lakes and syrupy streams. Likewise, there were those of their own kind who the long-limbed amphibious beings viewed with contempt and scorn. Those who could shape an essence, as others might shape clay. The long-limbed things did not tend to their young, and so if one emerged from its egg with an extra great eye, or an additional pair of arms, nobody was to know until the thing was grown and its nightmarish powers had manifested. These mutants were sometimes hunted and killed, but other times they served a powerful purpose. To extract the essence of one who was injured and cast it into a new body, to animate figures of rock, water, mist and send them out to perform tasks too dangerous for the beings themselves.
The scarecrow flexed its fingerless limbs and sighed. Perhaps some monster had siphoned its essence and it had found its way into a scarecrow. It was not so unlikely that an old rotten scarecrow would find itself beneath the mountain, dragged into one of the subterranean lagoons by a flood. That still did not explain how it had come to find itself planted within the ground, staring up at the peak of the mountain. It seemed far more likely that one of the mutant warlocks had wretched the essence from its still living body and implanted it within the wooden form it now took - then ventured out beneath the shroud of night to plant it there for some purpose.
The scarecrow did not lament its fate. Those below the mountain had no real concept of boredom and so it did not feel remorse for what it had become, save for the fact it could not remember the circumstances of its transformation. To it, a life of stillness and silence above the ground was no better or worse than a life of skulking beneath it.
Then it became aware of the shifting snow and ice. From the mountain’s peak, a great cacophony came, a thunderous rumble that betrayed the movement of something huge. At first, the scarecrow thought that it was an avalanche, but as the snow and ice rolled down the hill it became clear that it had control of itself - this was no natural disaster, but some collosal elemental. A great wind, so powerful it threatened to tear the scarecrow from the ground, roared down the mountain and within its twisting streams the scarecrow heard a voice.
“What is it?” the elemental hissed.
“I am from below the mountain,” the scarecrow stammered. Deep within itself, it felt some force of will, some ingrained need. “I think I am supposed to stop you?”
The wind roared and the scarecrow was pelted with a volley of ice shards that shredded some of its form and sent straw flailing down the mountain.
“Oh? And how do you intend to do that?” the elemental asked.
“I have no idea,” it said. Its voice came in a rhythmic, dry bleat. “What are you?”
The elemental rose tall, dragging a cyclone of frigid air up below it. Its dimensions were impossible to define. Was there some central entity around which the cold elements were orbiting, or was the storm itself the creature?
“I have come to destroy the villages at the base of the mountain. From there, I shall roll onward and freeze the rivers and lakes. I shall scorch the roots and grasses with my cold until they are brittle. I shall roll with all the momentum that my form and the great mountain afford me, destroying all that I come across until I am spent and the warm air of the eastern lands melts me away.”
“Why?” the scarecrow asked.
Droplets of water were already turning to icicles beneath its spread arms and each cyclical burst of wind knocked loose more straw. Slowly, the scarecrow had become more and more ragged. Whether through pity, coincidence or curiosity, the elemental drew back the frigid winds, creating a small halo within which the scarecrow stood.
“Why?” it barked. “Because I awoke with this plan in my head. Whoever anchored my essence to this form of ice and spite, felt sheer hatred for the villages below and the creatures that live there.
“I think whoever anchored mine to this, felt some lingering awe or perhaps sympathy for them,” the scarecrow mused.
There was a pause. The swirling elemental forces around and above the scarecrow lost some of their vigor. Thicker snow drifts and chunks of rock fell from above, no longer fully supported by the wind.
“I did not know you came from below the mountain,” the elemental said. “How strange that we face off against one another here. Me, as powerful as the greatest elements. You, a tiny wooden idol.”
The scarecrow nodded. Something snapped, some taught piece of twine bitten by the ice, and half of its body slumped to the side, leaving it off-kilter.
“What could they have sent to stop something so large?” the scarecrow said.
Within the storm, a gigantic yellow eye flecked with islands of silver, stared down at it.
“What is your name, scarecrow?” it asked. As it spoke, a tower of ice began to crystallize above the scarecrow’s head, hovering metres above. “You will not stop me, but I will remember your name. One day our essences may pass again.”
“Ist’haldaga,” the scarecrow said.
The tower floated for a moment, then shattered in mid air. By the time they reached the scarecrow, even the greatest shards were little more than diamond dust.
“How strange,” the elemental said. “It seems that you were the right choice to send. You may not stop me….but I find myself hesitating.”
“Why is that?” the scarecrow asked. To the north, thin plumes of cloud were beginning to gather.
“My name is Ist’haldaga,” the elemental breathed. “Whatever created us, created us both from one essence.”
“I see. So I am talking to myself,” the scarecrow said.
The elemental did not inch forward. Somewhere on the mountain, wolves were howling at the sudden change in weather.
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 07:49|
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|# ? Jan 10, 2022 08:04|
gently caress-Knuckle Jones IN Terminal Velocity: the Ballad of gently caress-Knuckle Jones
Carman is a Mancar who loves two things: zoom and doom. You’re overthinking it already, and he’s already gone. Two tire tracks: in flames. Nine footprints: in flames. Your life: in flames. Carman will never be coming – no future perfect, only future ruin – he has always been gone, the only viable metric is aftermath. Now here’s a man, some call him gently caress-Knuckle Jones but most just call him the rustler. He’s got a big hat, a big dream, and a big loving harpoon. Carman killed his family. Carman does not remember this, of course, he doesn’t discern between shockwaves and meat any more than the rustler can tell apart the grains of sand in the endless desert that remains of the world. Jones don’t really care about his family that much neither to be honest: folk die all the time, at least Carman is quick with it, but there’s only one rule in the Barren and he doesn’t mean to break it: violence must be met with violence.
There is no pattern to Carman’s path – the Last Mathematician went mad trying to circumscribe it, tore off his clothes and ran out into the sands at full-mast and by the time anybody could get him back inside, he was a smear of gristle and gasoline on the wind. That’s why the Jones has got his cock out, pendulous balls dangling between his muscular and deep-tanned legs, his massive harpoon aimed at the horizon, naked as a babe except for his ski boots, his skis, and his hat, yelling into the searing air “YEAH NAH MATE I SURE HOPE I DON’T GET RUN OVER, I’D HATE THAT.”
A sonic boom rings out in the distance, and the rustler fires. His harpoon sings, and strikes nothing. He hits the button to begin reeling it in, and that’s when Carman hits him. Ol' gently caress-Knuckle has lived a hard life, seen a lot of bad poo poo and come through it all; he’s quick on his feet and solid as stone. Still, he was unprepared for the grille. Wire and tusk, gibbering and shrieking, grinning in pleasure and pain, the tongue the tongue the awful tongue. He leaps, barely even registers rolling across the hood before he crashes into the membranous windshield and it pops, and the windshield casing slices the ends of his skis clean off, and the opaque cocoon clinging to him is the only thing that stops his impact with the drivers’ seat from breaking every bone in his body.
The rear-view mirror is a single square eye with a dilated pupil glaring at him with infinite hatred. Over the thunder of rubbery feet, he can hear Carman’s radio blaring at him, an old grindcore song from before the Fall gently caress YOU gently caress YOU gently caress YOU. Not a chance. There are two big teeth where the pedals would be, the gas is already halfway sunk into the flesh around it, but halfway isn’t all-the-way, and the rustler jams his heavy ski boot down as hard as he can. Carman was already moving quickly, devouring the horizon, but now he goes supersonic. The windshield is already regrown, slick like a newborn foal. The harpoon gun is on the floor somewhere, may as well be a continent away. They crash through a mountain and do not slow down, Carman’s many gnarled feet carving through earth like the claws of a mole. Though the journey through the mountain takes less than a second, the vibrations threaten to shake the rustler apart. He grabs the wheel and yanks it to the side and it changes nothing, Carman adjusts without a thought, dirt hurtling over the roof as he plows sideways in a whirlwind of flaming feet.
They emerge into sunlight (sunlight, sunlight, always sunlight, never night-time, never rain, not never since the Carman came), still sideways, and gently caress-Knuckle kicks out with the shattered remains of his left ski as he jumps up from his seat and bites the rear-view mirror. This proves too much, Carman shrieks, skids, his feet leave the ground but he does not arc, no, he is moving too fast, he is flying now, the ground further and further away, the planet further and further away, they have slipped the surly bonds of earth and plowed right through warlike Mars without slowing down, the monstrous KA-CRACK detonation of the mantle separating the only indication anything had changed at all. The radio changes, double-kick beating a war drum and death metal growl hollering GET TAE gently caress GET TAE gently caress, GET TAE gently caress GET TAE gently caress. There is no gravity inside the car, Jones can feel himself rising up, see the grisly remains that coated the car’s floor floating up around him. Rustler stops biting and in the reflective and bloodied surface of the eye, he briefly sees, behind the car’s dangling epiglottis, the shattered ruin of Mars splitting apart before it’s just another pinprick, there’s no air friction out here, no gravity, and once they are free of the solar system there is nothing to slow them down, Carman is consumed in fire but it only seems to make him angrier. They are a flaming arrow shot through an ocean of oil as the void ignites behind them.
They are free of the solar system now, and rustler marvels at how little is out here, how it’s emptier n’ empty, how they’re crossing light-years in the blink of an eye and the only way he’d ever know is the blur of distant stars. There is no time for wonder, though. Eventually, Carman might slow down, and his feet and wheels will grace another planet, and he will bring yet more ruin. Carman will outlast the rustler, that’s for sure. There’s only one thing for it; rustler sets his eyes on a star, grabs the wheel, and twists.
It shouldn’t work. The wheel ain’t a wheel so much as an assemblage of gristle and bone, and Carman sure as poo poo don’t take orders, and it’s not like there’s any ground for him to turn against, but (sure as poo poo, sure as poo poo) Carman starts to turn, he’s a car after all, he cannot violate his programming any more n’ the rustler can learn to fly. Problem is, the rustler is – in a sense – more airborne than any human in history. In that same way – drat the torpedoes, ride for ruin, let my body shatter, let me have one moment of pure ecstatic panic – Carman pushes back. GET TAE gently caress GET TAE gently caress, GET TAE gently caress GET TAE gently caress the radio roars. The wheel jerks back and their inferno-path hews back into the endless night.
Rustler’s got both hands on the wheel and he’s pushing with all his strength, and he’s winning, but he knows it can’t last. He’s a mayfly and Carman is eternal, ancient and impossible. The harpoon floats up past him, its crank still madly turning, but it’s four feet of good steel that he’s too clever and desperate to waste; rustler grabs it, and hurls it right into Carman’s epiglottis.
Lord help you that you'll never find yourself inside the mouth of a vile and angry god as it wails for blood, wails for death, wails for ruin – it gives even the rustler goosebumps, but he don’t care, he’s free-floating now between Carman's teeth, he kicks off the roof grabs the wheel, and yanks it at as hard as he can towards the first star he sees. It’s a million, billion miles away, endless light years, and they gross the gap in less than a second. They impact an O-Type White Dwarf and while there is no object in the universe immovable enough to stop Mancar, there is perhaps one thing equally unstoppable. A new supernova opens, a bloodied eye blossoming across the endless night.
In the Barren, so far away that a human mind could not even comprehend the distance, it begins to rain.
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 08:30|
Brawltimore with Chernobyl Princess and Chili
Living with the Dead
Word count: 1401
Nathan paced in the entryway of his mother’s old house while, behind him, his dead mother also paced. She didn’t know she was dead, she was just stuck in a loop, wandering the halls. But he knew she was dead, her memorial was just last month, and that was why he was pacing.
After a single rap on the door, Nathan lunged for the knob. “Janelle? I’m Nathan, Clarissa’s brother. She said you could help me with my, uh, situation.”
He caught the messenger bag laden woman with her hand still in the air. She peaked over his shoulder and Nathan shrunk, but didn’t turn around. He didn’t want to see her again, the lump in his chest would only get heavier.
“Is she there?” He whispered, wondering if ghosts had functioning ears.
Janelle darted her brown eyes to his and raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “Nope. Can I come in?”
“Yes! Can I get you some coffee or tea or water or—”
“No thanks, got everything I need.” She gave her bag a slap. “Now, what kind of haunting are we talking here? Your standard residual or is this some type of beastie that needs subduing? That second one is a tricky thing, but I’ve got the charms ready.”
Janelle swept past Nathan and sat down on the squeaky-springed sofa in the living room while he still stared out the door. He sighed and shuffled along the wall into the room until he was face to face with the macramé owl Clarissa had made when she was nine. “You sure she’s not there?”
“I don’t see it.”
Nathan bit his lip. What if Janelle couldn’t see the ghost. Or worse, what if he was hallucinating? He didn’t have any proof that it wasn’t all in his head. When he had called Clarissa, she only responded with an unhelpful, “The will said the house and everything in it are yours. Pretty sure that includes ghosts.”
She refused over and over to come down from Oregon to help him but he didn’t stop pestering her. Finally, she gave him the number to a local witch mom had introduced her to who Clarissa said might help.
“You mean she. That ghost is my mom.”
“The ghost was your mom or, more accurately, just looks like your mom used to look. Your actual mom is buried—”
She sighed. “Whatever. Point is your mother is dead. The spirit is something else. A collection of strong feelings, another being inhabiting a memory that appeals to you—”
“No.” Nathan strode from the wall to his mother’s crafting chair and sat. He stared into the middle distance. She wasn’t there but she’d be back, bustling around the house, just like in life. This was his mom alright.
“She’s more than memories. Just wait until you see her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is carrying a plate full of cookies the next time she shows up.”
He could tell that Janelle was staring at him, but he only had eyes for the empty spaces in the house, searching for movement. Then the tears came and made ghosts of everything.
Janelle stood up and said softly, “Sorry. I’m not good at the emotional part of this thing. I knew your mother too which is why I’m telling you that it’s absolutely not her. You said you wanted to get rid of a ghost. Call me when you’re ready.”
He heard the door shut then everything grew quiet.
He was alone again. Then he wasn’t.
Through the door to the kitchen he could see his mother, just as she did every evening, stirring milk on the stove for her bedtime snack. “Brewing potions” she had called it when he was little. But there was no pan and no milk, just the figure, stirring.
Nathan’s tears dried up and his throat closed. He ran to the front door and nearly crashed into Janelle.
“I-I thought you left,” Nathan said from the floor. “I mean, I’m glad you didn’t. But I heard the door shut. Why didn’t you leave?”
There was a pause and he saw Janelle press her lips together. “I’m a, uh, a psychic. I knew you didn’t want me to leave.”
“Okaaaay, well, do your thing. She’s in the kitchen, right there.” He pointed through the entryway hall and into the second doorway to the kitchen.
Janelle peeked her head in and then shook it. “Gone.”
“But she was there!”
“Hey, I believe you.” She spoke in a calming voice. “A spirit kinda knows when people are trying to catch it. And it disappears. But it can’t stay gone forever, or else it’ll float away and scatter apart.”
“It’s more nuanced than that, but you get the general gist.”
“What do you mean catch?”
“I’m here to catch your ghost.”
“But I want her to move on. I want her to be peaceful.”
“Spirits are very useful for a witch to have. And I told you, she’s not your mom.”
Nathan finally stood up and ran to block Janelle from going any further into the kitchen. “No. I don’t care how scary she is; I’m not letting you trap her in some crystal ball.”
“It’s actually a flask.” Janelle pulled a glass bottle from a pocket on her bag. “She won’t even notice it.”
“Put that…” He stopped. “You said ‘she’. So this is my mom!”
At that moment, the ghost appeared again in the kitchen. Janelle started mumbling some words and reaching her hand toward the ghost. This time, his mom didn’t vanish, but she didn’t float around accomplishing ghost tasks either. Instead she stared at both of them, thrusting her own hands out similar to Janelle’s.
Goosebumps snapped to attention all over Nathan’s body as he was caught in his mother’s death stare. But when he saw Janelle start to pull the stopper from the flask with her teeth, he leapt over to the counter and grabbed a steak knife from the block.
Janelle stopped moving, but the stopper remained in her mouth.
Nathan counted three breaths that they stood there, each wild-eyed. But in that time he summed up his suspicions. His mom must have been more than a medical receptionist in life. She had somehow gotten mixed up with the occult. Maybe they even turned her into an angry ghost instead of allowing her soul to be at peace. And now one of those crafty occultists was trying to capture her. And he’d played right into their trap.
Then the front door opened once more. “Nathan?” Clarissa’s voice echoed up the hall. “Show me this silly ghost of yours.”
What was Clarissa doing there? How was he going to explain? All he knew for certain was that he wasn’t going to let his mother be captured.
Just as Nathan made a knife-led lunge away from the ghost and toward Janelle, Clarissa appeared in the doorway. His mom was quicker. Faster than his mortal eyes could follow, she flew toward Clarissa and was gone. Clarissa stumbled backward against the doorframe.
“poo poo. When did she learn about possession?” Janelle rifled through the contents of her bag.
Nathan dropped his knife and ran to Clarissa. He grabbed her shoulders to keep her from falling.
Clarissa dismissed his hands with an exaggerated shrug and stood up but in a daintier way than he remembered her standing before. She moved to Janelle and knocked the cross from her hands.
“Too slow again, Janelle. Even after death, the student will never become the master. Don’t follow me. I’ve got real work to do.”
Nathan noticed that Clarissa’s voice was much higher pitched than it had been a moment before. “M-mom?”
Clarissa turned to him. “Nate, dear. Thanks for looking after the house. Don’t forget to switch the septic fields in January and July. I’ll be back to check on you.” She kissed his forehead and walked out the door, not even bothering to close it behind her.
Nathan wandered down the hall to the door and watched as “Clarissa” backed her silver Hyundai out of the driveway and then peeled out toward the main road. He glanced back at Janelle.
“Still want to say that wasn’t my mom?”
“Well, did you know her as the most powerful witch on the west coast?”
“Huh...tea and a chat?”
Janelle nodded and Nathan shut the door.
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 11:05|
Brawltimore with a friendly penguin and Chili
A Bad Summon
The warehouse smelled like a butcher’s shop as Penny set up her summoning circle. Heaps of lamb bones and viscera steamed slightly in the cool, autumn air, as did the bucket of blood with which she painted arcane symbols on the walls and floor. She checked her borrowed summoning book frequently. Magic left no room for error.
She blended suet and blood together in a small mortar and painted lines of thick, sticky fat across her cheeks, forehead, and arms. She snapped open an Elizabeth Arden compact mirror and nodded, satisfied. Penny stood just outside the circle and began the incantation: simple, rhythmic dog Latin mixed with Greek, followed by the recitation of a twenty-seven syllable name ending in -gari.
Gary wasn’t a demon, but it was greedy and extraplanar and disgusting, so close enough for government work. The carcasses rolled across the floor, meat and sinew bubbling and popping as Gary made a body for itself.
“Speak, summoner, and tell me what you desire.” Gary’s voice was a rotten-meat whisper.
“My mind has been overshadowed,” Penny said. “I need it to be free.”
Gary tilted its borrowed skull, amber lights shining in its sockets and sinuses as it regarded her. “I have seen these spells before. The Ordo Draconis. It puzzles me that dragon hunters would bind their people so tightly. Are you not compelled by the crusade?”
“Fighting the good fight is one thing,” she said. “Interfering with my work is another. I can’t bear the intrusion any longer.”
Gary waved a limb towards her. A subliminal tightness behind Penny’s neck relaxed as the fog clouding her mind lifted. Yes. There it was. All of her research, back again. She closed her eyes for a moment, picturing the process for making her mostly-mundane oncology treatments work and sighed. “Yes,” she said. “That’s what I need. What do you ask for in payment?”
“Generally I ask for an earthly tether to allow me to manifest on this plane. But I am already under contract to another. His contract requires that I keep his family safe from monsters and witches. Like yourself.”
“What’s he paying you? I can double it.”
Gary contrived to look sad despite its dead, alien features. “Alas, the contract is quite clear. Unless…” it paused for dramatic effect. Penny kept her impatience off her face. “Unless you were to dispatch my present contract-holder.”
“I’m not an assassin,” she said. “I can’t just kill people.”
Gary chuckled, sending a maggot-like ripple through its flesh. “He’s hardly people. My current contract-holder is the Dragon of Loss and Discord.”
The problem with being a modern dragon hunter was that dragons didn’t look like dragons anymore. Tens of thousands of years ago, the founders of her order performed some incredible feat of magic and ripped the dragon souls out of their bodies, trapping them instead in an endless reincarnation cycle as humans. That should have been the end of it. But no dragon was content living like a person. They all worked constantly to return to their place of supremacy, thwarted only by the Ordo Draconis.
She found the Dragon of Loss and Discord on Tinder, of all places, and felt insulted that they were a 95% match. The man, Thomas Owens, was holding a fish in his profile picture for Christ’s sake. Was a dragon supposed to be this basic? Penny worked very hard to never see or be seen by her enemies, raiding their collections while they were away, so she didn’t have much experience. But she felt deeply that a dragon incarnation should be imposing. Proud. Not taking group selfies in front of Dick’s Last Resort wearing a paper hat with puerile insults on it.
Whatever. She sent him a message. He sent one back. She flirted at him, he flirted back. Over the next few days they sent the requisite pictures and agreed to meet up for a hike, thus completing the late-twenties-early-thirties mating ritual. It was deeply tedious, but the mental clarity would be worth it.
So she found herself hiking up a secluded trail behind her ancient enemy, who gave every indication of being the goofy, outdoorsy himbo that his profile indicated. They chatted amiably as they walked, their favorite hikes, their preferred restaurants and nightclubs in Concord. It was a relatively wholesome first date experience. Penny almost felt disappointment about killing him. Almost.
“So when did you realize you were a dragon?” She asked as they crested a ridge.
Thomas’s foot lingered a half second longer in the air before hitting the ground. He answered in the same, casual tone they’d maintained previously. “The nightmares started when I was around nine. I didn’t figure it out until I was thirteen. When did you join the Ordo?”
“Can’t talk about it,” Penny waved at her temple. “Mind control, you know. Keeps all the secrets in house.”
“Mind control,” Thomas scoffed. “I can’t believe you people think you’re the good guys.”
“Hey, my research could extend the average lifespan of renal cancer patients by 40%. Where do you think that funding comes from?”
“Theft,” he said. “Robbing my people’s graves. That you put us in.” He turned around, smiling widely. “Thanks for making this easy, by the way. Walking all the way out here with me. Not sure if you’re brave or stupid, but it sure is convenient.”
Penny smiled back. “Maybe I’m just prepared.”
They went for their guns at the same time. Thomas flicked his off hand out to the side in an unfamiliar gesture, and a stream of amber smoke wound through the air and into the brush, where it rapidly animated an unnoticed whitetail carcass.
Surrounded by decay to fuel itself, Gary’s new body towered over Penny. Tiny scraps of animal corpses rustled across the forest floor, adding themselves to its mass. She called a dismissal spell to her fingertips, knowing it wouldn’t do much without a circle containing the spirit, and kept her gun trained on Thomas.
“Two on one now, Ordo,” he smirked. “I like those odds.”
“Gary,” Penny said, not taking her eyes off the dragon. “Remember our deal.”
Its antlered skull swung toward her. “Alas, Mistress Penelope, he is not yet dead.”
“I’m working on it,” she muttered. Thomas glared at the creature he’d summoned.
“You made a deal with her?” He asked, his tone incredulous, almost hurt. Its skull dipped in affirmation.
“Her mind freed in exchange for my freedom from our pact,” it said. “How do you think she knew where to find you?”
“Freedom from our pact? You were keeping my brother’s kids safe! What the hell was so bad about that?”
The meat of Gary rippled in a shudder. “To look on small, helpless creatures, whose skin and sinews and bones should rightfully be mine, and do nothing to usher them to me? Your contract is torture.”
“We had a deal!”
Gary was silent. Thomas scowled at Penny, then looked back at the creature and shrugged.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I hate the Ordo and you, personally, will be first against the wall when we rise again. But I can’t abide traitors.” His gun tracked away from Penny. Her eyes widened as she realized the fatal mistake he was about to make.
“Wait!” Penny cried out. But it was too late. Thomas pulled the trigger, shooting Gary in the skull. Penny barely had time to throw a cloaking spell around herself before the spirit roared and charged Thomas.
The limb of decayed flesh and sharpened bone slammed into the spot where Thomas had been a split second before. He fired two more shots as he retreated, swearing.
Penny had a choice. She could run and leave Thomas to his grisly fate, but that meant she’d have to outrun a decay spirit in a forest. It was free, unbound by a circle, unbound by the agreements of Thomas’s initial summon, and would happily kill her and add her corpse to its terrible form. And then it would probably go ahead and start breaking poo poo in Concord as well. Or she could risk helping the dragon.
As weird at it sounded, helping the dragon was a matter of self preservation. And she could always find and kill him later. Penny managed to grab his arm and drag him behind a rock and under her wards without him shooting her.
“Breathe on this,” she hissed, holding up a silver marble. He stared at her but complied. Penny threw the marble down the hill and an illusory Thomas booked it down the mountainside, crashing through the underbrush in a big, noisy distraction. Gary bought the illusion and charged after it, limbs thrashing through the trees.
“Why did it do that?” Thomas complained. He wasn’t even breathing hard. “I thought I had it bound.”
“Part of a binding is a mutual no-harm agreement. You shattered that when you shot it. It had a tether,” Penny said, urgently. “Some object that’s tying it to our plane. We’ve got to destroy it before it comes back and eats us.”
Thomas worked a ring off of his right little finger. “Cool. So what’s stopping me from killing you?” He looked around for a rock. Found nothing. “You got anything heavy?”
She shook her head, her attention on bolstering their shield. In the distance Gary howled, having discovered her trick. Thomas cupped the ring in one hand, closing his eyes.
The power he channeled into the ring was subtle as a sledgehammer. A pattern of gold-edged scales appeared on his cheekbones. Light glinted off of horns that didn’t quite exist, wings that weren’t there cast unreal shadows around them.
Gary roared, louder now. It didn’t sound like it was in pain. It sounded bigger. Angrier. “What are you doing?” Penny hissed.
“Entropy magic,” he snapped. “I’m Loss. It’s my thing. The ring should be falling apart.”
Penny almost hit him. “You idiot! It’s a decay spirit! You’re charging it up!”
As if on cue Gary burst through the trees, the stench of rot clinging to its tractor-sized form, its limbs churning up the ground. Thomas swore and aimed his pistol at the creature again, for all the good that would do. He tossed the ring to Penny. “You figure it out!”
There was no time to analyze its structure. Instead she went for the same, brute-force method as the dragon, instead pouring raw pattern into the thaumaturgical matrix that bound Gary to this plane. Enforcing order, preservation, stability, on the chaotic presence at the core of the ring. Thomas’s pistol barked beside her, deafening. She redoubled her attack.
Gary let out a high-pitched scream, rearing back on malformed, spindly legs as Penny ripped the spirit out of its borrowed flesh. It collapsed, the moldering parts falling into a foul, reeking pile. The amber eyelights in the deer skull sputtered and went out.
Penny waited ten breaths to drop her spells, then collapsed against the rock, breathing hard. Thomas put a few more bullets into the pile for good measure.
“You’re the worst dragon hunter ever,” he said.
Penny groaned and covered her eyes. “You’re welcome, dickhole.”
“I should kill you now.”
“I wish you wouldn’t.” Penny pushed herself up onto her elbows. Thomas had holstered his gun. The pattern of scales around his eyes faded slowly. “Besides, I’m pretty sure you owe me for saving your rear end from your own summon.”
“Whatever.” Thomas knelt next to her. She tried to prepare a spell, but instead of strangling her to death, the dragon pressed a hand against her forehead. A sharp, lancing pain shot through her skull, and suddenly her mind was clear again. She could remember it all.
“Now we’re even,” he said. “And if I see you again, you’re dead.” He left her alone on the trail, lying in a heap next to the empty corpse of Gary.
|# ? Jan 10, 2022 14:46|
Thunderdome Week 492: RESULTS
Slightly better turnout this week compared to the last, but not by much. Quite a few failures, but all the folks pulled through. Good job or something. We have quite the variety of inhuman stories this week, and we were generally pleased by the overall quality.
This week's loss goes to Ceighk with Death and the Cat and the Maiden, a story which none of the judges particularly cared for, made worse by the fact that a human featured fairly prominently throughout. If you're going to kill a cat in your story, make sure we enjoy the ride to the grave.
No DMs this week, though the temptation was strong.
HMs go to yeah ok ok yeah with Sea Otter and the Mountain for its charm and whimsy despite some reservations that surfaced during judge chat, sparksbloom's Foraging for a mostly-enjoyable tale of bird versus fire melancholy, and, lastly, Nae with A Car's Fanfic for Beezus which the judges agreed was actually a complete story with some fun moments (also heck the rules).
Finally, your winner this week is Sitting Here with Portulaca Oleracea. The judges thought this was a lovely glimpse into the existence of what we assumed was a succulent that left us feeling good instead of bad.
Grats, SH. Take it away. Please.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 02:46|
This week kind of made me wonder if some of you knew what a story is. Then again, perhaps I should be the one asking that.
Ceighk-Death and the Cat and the Maiden.
A certain thought went through my head as I was reading this story. “Why the hell should I care?” In my opinion, the story wasn’t necessarily good or bad, it just merely existed. While I have not been around Thunderdome too long, I do not know any stories that won just by “Merely Existing”. 5 out of 10 EDIT: Sure enough, it freaking lost!
I do like that the story seems like it’s being told by a High as A Kite Indian Medicine Man. Other than that, It’s just a whole bunch of telling. I know my stories get a lot of crap for showing more than telling, but showing is important, as well! 6 out of 10 Only higher due to Medicine Man style of storytelling EDIT: The other Judges liked this one more.
Flerp-Songs at the End
Storywise, it was merely okay. It was a story that was good enough that I wouldn’t give it a mention. But one thing bothered me. There were one or two sentences that had more commas than necessary and seemed rather run-on. A fan of the Apostle Paul, or simply lazy? You make the call! 6 out of 10
Charichucker-Maybe I should rebrand to reduce confusion*
M looks at the story. “Who the hell uses apostrophes as quotation marks these days?”
With that being said, the story seemed far too simple for Thunderdome. It was a silly story that basically said, “LOL! Animalz r dum”. Was the Tree’s social commentary even necessary?
Here in thunderdome, I am always amazed to see folks pull good stories out of their asses. But this clearly said, “I typed this crap in a few hours”. 3 out of 10 EDIT: While I didn’t like it, apparently the other Judges did???
Yeah ok ok yeah- Sea Otter and the Mountain
Once again, this seems like a Medicine Man story. This one is slightly more interesting than Sparksbloom’s story, however. Going through the Judge Chat did help me see it in a better light. 6 out of 10
Sitting Here- Portulaca Oleracea
Somewhat interesting. Not sure if it’s some metaphor for man, one for sex, or if it’s one of those stories where one could add, “Do you know what this says about SOCIETY???” and the meaning won’t be lost. 7 out of 10, Possible HM
This somewhat reminds me of that horror week back in October, and perhaps if this story was posted that week, the prompt might have been “Documentary Horror”. It’s interesting enough as a documentary, but I’m not sure if it counts as a story. ? out of 10, will see what other judges say. EDIT: They hated it!
Nae-A Cars Fanfic for Beezus
First of all, I’m not sure if you misunderstood Beezus’s words or not. Second of all, this isn’t that bad at all! One of the better stories I have seen so far, and that’s mostly because it’s an actual story. 8 out of 10, possible win if allowed, DQ if not. EDIT: It was, but the other Judges didn’t like it as much.
A rather simple story. Some could even find it inspirational. Some might ask why the stars are coming to life, but the story was decent enough that I could argue, “Who freaking cares?” 7 out of 10 Either HM or Winner, depending on if Fanfic is accepted or not EDIT: It was, but this one was preferred.
Captain_Indigo-The Scarecrow Sentinel
Jokes aside, it was a nice fable, and a fable is technically a story. The ending kind of falls flat, though not as much as Batman V. Superman. I’ll check what the other judges say, but I think this is at least a HM. 6 out of 10, at least HM.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 03:00|
Crits for Week 492
Death and the Cat and the Maiden by Ceighk
Yeah ok, dark haha at the end. But your secondary character was - I assume - a human girl, which isn’t exactly what I wanted. I have questions about how she was ok with this shambling meat suit when all other humans seemed to be afraid of it. I also knew the cat was going to have to die, but the journey getting there was a chore rather than a joy. It was a fun premise that just didn't deliver. I'm less mad about the girl and more mad about the unrealized potential.
Foraging by sparksbloom
“Wonton cruelty” is a whole new level of cruelty I did not know existed and now I'm hungry. You had a few other grammar gripes here, but I was still able to enjoy it in spite of them. I think you managed to sell a sad, desperate desolation here. Your ending was a little disappointing; it sort of whooshed through just as you grabbed my attention with the phoenix/manifestation of fire. I would have liked more from the conclusion, and I don’t think it needs much. The parts are all there.
Songs at the End by flerp
Ok yeah, the melancholy of this worked for me. I don’t know if it was really the end, or why the bird also seemed aware of this, but you painted a clear picture that I wanted to look at even though not a lot happened here. But unlike Foraging, your story just sort of quietly ended. Nice tone, I liked the premise of this creature's consciousness changing, but the conclusion fell flat to me.
Maybe I Should Rebrand to Reduce Confusion by Chairchucker
This was pretty dumb, but in a way that gave me some genuine laughs. Was this a story? I guess, yeah. What you did have here was at least digestible. I had fun, though. Thanks, spaghetti dog.
Sea Otter and the Mountain by yeah ok ok yeah
I got a strong sense of this whimsical little world, and I think the named locales and why that mattered helped. I would have liked more of an explanation as to why Sea Otter was kind of a dick. “Rude yet charming” doesn’t quite cover “didn’t bring toll for troll, so gets hangry and has troll murdered.” He gets his comeuppance for that which seemed fitting, it just seemed to escalate rather quickly in a way I didn't totally buy.
Portulaca Oleracea by Sitting Here
Second person POV was an interesting choice given we’re learning about a plant/succulent with experiences that are nigh impossible for humans to fully comprehend, and I’m not totally sold on it, but I actually think it worked here. Lovely language and visuals describing a life cycle where both a lot and very little happens. We talked about this in judge chat, but of the two stories using this point of view (and out of all the lot), this left me feeling hopeful and gently caress I need that right now.
Endosymbiont by Hawklad
The polar opposite of the previous story. Ew. Look, this was competently written and I can't find a lot of fault in your prose, but it squicked me out so loving hard and I got 0 enjoyment out of reading it. Thank you for not detailing the mating. My kneejerk reaction to this story after finishing it was to slap it with a DM, but my conscience wouldn't allow it. Technically speaking, it's not... bad... but if I am loathe to read it, what is it? Thin ice, my friend.
A Cars Fanfic for Beezus by Nae
I can’t believe I just read Cars fanfic and liked it. You had a complete story here that actually flowed well and utilized the assigned prompt in a silly, but rather clever way. The parts all came together for a satisfying end. Thank you for reminding me that red lights are for brakes, not headlights.
Constellation by Thranguy
This is the type of poo poo I was hoping I’d get to read this week: Big planets having big thoughts in space. Though I loved this concept, something was missing here for me. Perhaps it just moved too quickly and then stopped too abruptly, with nothing particularly interesting happening along the way. I think you have a really good idea here, but I'd like to see it go through a few iterations.
The Scarecrow Sentinel by Captain_Indigo
Heh. Ok, fun. I liked aspects of this world you were building here, but I found that worldbuilding somewhat hard to follow in parts. Decent wind up that doesn’t deliver reach a meaningful end. Wasn't sure if that conclusion was supposed to be a joke, either. My gut said that you had aspirations of something else here and maybe ran out of time or words or steam - maybe all of the above.
Beezus fucked around with this message at 19:02 on Jan 12, 2022
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 03:51|
Brawltimore Entry (Good luck Penguin and Princess!)
Who's Lou in the Zoo
Oh yeah, that'll do nicely. Lou thought to himself as he yanked the costume off the hangar and stepped into the rubber feet, concealing his identity from security, who was in hot pursuit.
What's taking her so long? Thought Scarlet as she waited by the prairie dog exhibit, blinded by panic to their adorable antics.
How am I going to get out of this locker? Thought Poppy. She tried jimmying the handle and found it gave a surprising amount, but when she pushed it, the door stayed shut.
Lou watched the chair he placed against the locker buckle against Poppy's pushing and laughed. He walked up to the locker and wrapped on it with his knuckles.
"Not gonna be that easy," he said.
He plodded out the door in the thick heavy costume and pounded on his chest at the fellow zoo-goers.
Scarlet, her back turned to Lou, and her attention raptly held by her phone, missed the confederate mascot but heard a scream as the lifelike costume startled a child who dashed past her and dove into a stroller.
Inside the locker, Poppy felt a rumble in her pocket. Her phone! She had forgotten all about it in the hullabaloo and fanfare of being forced into a locker. She wriggled her right hand down toward her pocket, withdrew the phone, and wriggled it back up to her face.
A text from Scarlet:
Anxiety rippled through Poppy's body as sweat pooled under her arms and beaded up through her eyebrows. She slid her thumb over the keyboard, desperate to explain that she wasn't actively standing up the girl she'd been pining over for years on their very first date. But, the moisture on her fingers autocorrected her words into oblivion.
Thinking fast, she pushed on the microphone button and saw that the audio recording initiated.
"Scarlet! I am so sorry! I'm trying to text you, but it's so hot and sweaty inside this thing and I just-"
She dropped her phone. On its descent downward, it had just enough time to send its message to Scarlet before it landed on the metal bottom of the locker, and Poppy, in a panic, stomped on it.
The phone rattled in Scarlet's pocket. She withdrew it, and read the message.
"Hot and sweaty?" She said aloud.
"Excuse me, ma'am?" Scarlet looked up and winced as the glare from a nametag that said "Irma" on it blinded her.
"Huh?" Scarlet replied.
"I was just asking if you've seen a large man in a yellow t-shirt acting questionably. I believe your answer to that was 'hot and sweaty." Irma wrinkled her eyebrows and rested her hands on her brown belt as she studied Scarlet's face.
"Oh, sorry! Um, no, I don't believe I have. What was he doing, exactly?"
"We had reports of him harassing an adolescent woman such as yourself. I'm worried he's some skeevy perv or something."
Irma walked on and interviewed the next person over. Scarlet looked down at her phone, went to her blocked contacts, selected Lou, and unblocked him. She gritted her teeth and cursed.
You're who Irma wants, aren't you? She shot to him.
The slim, concealed pocket on the rear of the gorilla suit rumbled. Lou reached in and pulled out his yellow-covered phone. It fell between his gorilla fingers and landed on the ground with a thud. He picked it up and held it high up to his face so he could see through the slits in the mask. Lou read the words through the freshly cracked screen:
You'---- who I----- want --------- you
A smile stretched beneath the mask, and Lou fumbled the phone down back into his pocket. Now all he had to do was find her. And declare his requited love for her, of course.
Poppy had hoped to do something similar today, but her futile pounding on the locker gassed her body into a tired, sweaty heap. The stale air within the locker failed to compensate for her body's elevated need, and she passed out the instant that Irma, now finished with her canvassing, entered into the staff annex.
Irma stumbled into a chair propped against the locker, dislodging it.
What idiot put this here? She thought to herself.
She noticed that the zoo's new crown jewel, the GorilloGlo costume, had been prematurely ripped from its shrinkwrap and was missing days before its intended reveal date. She withdrew her walkie talkie from her holster and blurted out:
All staff be advised, we've got a pervert in the gorilla, over
Silence cut through the air until her supervisor returned with a simple question.
Scarlet was standing next to the supervisor during the call, and she put some pieces together. Hot and sweaty? Missing gorilla costume? She had worried that Poppy would perhaps be too bold and romantic on their first date, but this was incomprehensibly weird. Then, she remembered that somehow, Lou was mixed up in all of this. She pulled out her phone.
Leave Poppy alone! How many more times do I have to tell you I'M NOT INTERESTED!
Slightly too close to the uncanny valley, Lou was freaking people out. He ambled past the reptile house in his best gorilla impression and marveled as paths cleared before him. He arrived at the gorilla enclosure. It was lunchtime, and the gorillas were being beckoned indoors by the zookeeper. He felt his phone rumble in his pocket and pulled it out. He lifted it to his eyes but fumbled it again and watched as it tumbled down into the exhibit.
"gently caress!" he yelled, catching the attention of the zookeeper, who immediately picked up his walkie-talkie.
After realizing that he blew his cover, Lou took off for the exit. Barry, the last gorilla left outside, noticed the apparent comrade's flight up above and whipped into a hooting frenzy of delight. The keeper quickly closed the gate and went inside to calm his charges down.
Across the zoo, Poppy woke up. She opened the door to her locker. She had no phone, no dignity, and no clarity of thought beyond one idea. Kill Lou. She grabbed a stun gun off the hooks in the staff annex.
Scarlet, who had arrived at the gorilla enclosure and was looking for either Lou, or more hopefully, Poppy, looked down into the pen and saw Lou's yellow-covered phone being handled by what she thought was a moron in a very convincing costume.
"Lou, you son of a bitch!" She yelled at him.
Barry, drawn by the noise but not the name, stopped trying to peel his frustratingly well-protected new yellow banana and looked up at Scarlet, which was all Scarlet needed to confirm her suspicion. Blinded by rage, she vaulted over the wall and dropped the five feet down. Her ankle twisted as she awkwardly landed, and she yelled out in pain as she writhed on the ground.
The scream attracted the attention of the zoo-goers. Amongst their numbers were Poppy and Irma, who, when they both saw what they believed to be a pervert in a gorilla costume, also hopped the wall and landed in the pen.
Barry sauntered over to Scarlet and poked her hair as she wildly flung her arms at him.
Poppy pulled out the stun gun and pointed it at who she thought was Lou. Irma withdrew a taser and followed suit but then realized that a random teenage girl was armed, panicked and pointed the taser at Poppy. Irma oscillated back and forth between the two. "What are you all doing in here? Get out!"
"We're supposed to be on our first date," Poppy said as she collected her breath. "And this dickhead stuffed me in a locker and tried to ruin everything."
"This pervert was harassing you; that's what his whole agenda was?"
Poppy and Scarlet nodded. Poppy approached Scarlet and stretched out her hand.
This did not please Barry, who chucked his encapsulated banana at Poppy and pounded on his chest.
"Knock it off, Lou! It's over!" Scarlet yelled.
Just then, Irma's supervisor's voice called out from the walkie-talkie resting on her hip.
"Perpetrator apprehended, GorillaGlo costume secured. Police have been called."
Scarlet's face twisted in horror as the truth dawned on her. Poppy nearly passed out but kept her resolve and tightened her grip on the stun gun.
Irma, meanwhile, tried to recall her emergency sign language training and hoped to god that Barry would respond.
She placed the taser on the ground and signed:
Barry cocked his head to the side and wondered why this person was signing a request to play tic-tac-toe; it hardly seemed appropriate for this moment. But, Barry did love games, and this situation was profoundly dull to him. He turned around, found a stick, and started drawing an octothorpe in the ground.
Irma looked at Poppy and nodded toward Scarlet, Poppy quickly returned the nod, and they crept over to her. Poppy and Irma lifted Scarlet by her arms. They headed towards the indoor portion of the exhibit and breathed relief as the door swung open as the keeper had been observing the scene intently.
Having finished setting up the game, Barry decided to allow his challenger to go first. He turned around to see that, like a coward, she was fleeing from the competition. He let out a roar, pounded on his chest, and chased after them.
They tossed Scarlet indoors first, then dove in after her, and the zookeeper slammed the door shut behind them just in time.
Poppy crawled over to Scarlet, who was lying down nursing her foot. "I just wish Lou never came today; he ruined everything."
Scarlet laughed. "Well, I haven't seen him at least. It's like he was never here at all."
"Oh, he's here all right," said Irma. Giddy with relief and adrenaline, she chuckled as she held up her phone. The screen displayed what may have been the world's worst makeshift mugshot. The mask was off, but the costume concealed the rest of Lou'd body. He was pouting and crossing his gorilla arms.
Poppy rested her head on Scarlet's shoulder.
"Well," Poppy said. "At least it was memorable, right?"
Scarlet pecked the top of Poppy's hair and breathed a relieved sigh.
Outside, Barry decided to play tic-tac-toe by himself. He placed an X in the center circle, then an O to its right.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 04:46|
td w493: Hope is Absurd
Main prompt: I want stories about protecting things, building stuff at the end of everything, holding on to what matters. I won't mandate happy endings, but if you write me a bummer of a story, I'm probably going to roll my eyes at you.
Optional sub-prompt (must request upon signup): I will give you a weird, absurd, or possibly nonsensical excerpt, premise, or hook. How you use this is up to you. Don't ask if you're just going to blow it off, though.
The moon shone like cooking mice, making Robert healthy. Robert grabbed a warped newspaper that had been strewn nearby; he massaged it with his fingers.
Note that you don't have to use the character names generated with these prompts.
Toxx bonus: You may to crit a number of submissions from this week only (week 493) for extra words. That means you are toxxing to do crits before you see the stories.
for 1 crit: 150 extra words
for 3 crits: 300 extra words
for 5 crits: 500 extra words.
for ALL crits: 1000 extra words.
You must toxx before signups close. No exceptions. The options above are the only available options—e.g. writing 7 crits doesn't get you more words than 5. Crits must be posted within 24ish hours of judgment. To help you out, I will tell you right now that it's very unlikely I'll judge before Tuesday night (PST) meaning you would likely have until Wednesday night to post your toxx crits.
Base word count: 1100
Signup deadline: Friday the 14th at 11:59PM PST
Submission deadline: Sunday the 16th at 11:59PM PST
Noah - to crit all stories, +1000 words. They looked at each other with sparkly feelings, like two spitezabbling, solid snakes eating at a very grateful wedding, which had flute music playing in the background and two cute uncles walking to the beat.
Flerp - for all crits, +1000 words, to submit. When a tutor from Tuckahoe decides to rob a bank, not everybody is supportive. However, his fortunes improve when his gardener find a misplaced key. In the end, the tutor becomes a better person and is admired by all.
Sebmojo - Jenna looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else's chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.
Antivehicular - Passengers hire a drifter with unusual powers in Montana.
Thranguy - for 3 crits, +300 words. I don't feel I was particularly wise on the night that I died.
Muffin - for all crits, +1000 words. After leaving the weathered planet Mars, a group of robots fly toward a distant speck. The speck gradually resolves into a weathered, space abbey.
Rohan - to submit 5 stories, +500 words. (accidentally gave two prompts, Rohan may choose to use either or both)
Having heard of but paying little attention to the prophecy of the Hero, the main character must fight to protect what they love when they accidentally unleash a previously sealed away entity that wishes to rule the world and all within it.
Soon, she has all the cosy toast she needs and begins secretly applying for private detective jobs. She soon realises that clumsy wizards plan to sabotage her new career prospects and decides to take action.
Yeah ok ok Yeah - Lest not forget the magnificent, massive mood of a mammoth mountains deeply singing.
Captain_indigo - for all crits, +1000 words
The man called M - The kettle had chilly feet and wide lakes. It didn't look dangerous. Not even its backward trees warned me of my fate. I should have sensed the danger in its mouths
My Shark Waifuu - "It's time for begrudgingly walking!" whispered the goblin that lives on my warts.
Chernobyl Princess - to crit everyone, +1000 words. Honey admired the newspaper's old-fashioned trees, breath held tight.
With help from a solid guillotine, the newspaper saved the world.
organburner - A young wizard learns the value of honesty in high school.
a classy ghost - A young apprentice with much still to learn, the peaceful life the main character once knew slowly fades away when a mysterious character forces them into a situation well outside their control; it threatens to destabilise their family.
Ceighk - for 5 crits, + 500 words. Having only ever heard of these struggles in bedtime stories, the main character loses what's dearest to them when they discover that the uneasy peace that holds across the land will soon collapse and plunge the world into a chaos; it requires them to re-evaluate their current lifestyle.Refusing to back down, the main character, without thinking ahead, becomes involved in the situation to resolve it from the inside.
staggy - to crit all entries, +1000 words
GrandmaParty - for three crits, + 300 extra words
Tyrannosaurus - A farmer finds a good friend on an airship.
Idle Amalgam - to submit. Regretting decisions made in the past, the main character loses what's dearest to them when, in the wrong place at the wrong time, they end up in a situation that requires them to give up their current lifestyle.Secretly, the main character, unsure of what it all means, ends up taking things into their own hands.
Albatrossy_Rodent - "Do you think my tentacles are like a grand hat?"
Crabrock - to submit, for 5 crits, +500 words. In an empire of necromancy and mystery, in a time of lies, five librarians quest for the ultimate weapon.
CaligulaKangaroo - The story is about a cyberpunk. It starts in a distant fiefdom. The story begins with the passing of a test.
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 23:06 on Jan 16, 2022
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:09|
And to get things off on the right foot, I will to post my crits within 24 hours of judgment also
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:19|
In. Subprompt please.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:22|
In. Subprompt please.
They looked at each other with sparkly feelings, like two spitezabbling, solid snakes eating at a very grateful wedding, which had flute music playing in the background and two cute uncles walking to the beat.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:27|
in give me a subprompt
to crit however many stories there idk what words that give me
edit: to submit as well
flerp fucked around with this message at 14:46 on Jan 12, 2022
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:41|
In, prompt me
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:43|
In, with a prompt please
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 05:48|
In with prompt
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:03|
Note that you don't have to take any of this completely literally. I don't expect you to necessarily use names, locations, or direct quotes from your prompt.
in give me a subprompt
I'm making an addendum to the OP. Critting ALL the stories gets you 1000 extra words. Prompt:
When a tutor from Tuckahoe decides to rob a bank, not everybody is supportive. However, his fortunes improve when his gardener find a misplaced key. In the end, the tutor becomes a better person and is admired by all.
In, prompt me
Jenna looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else's chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.
In, with a prompt please
Passengers hire a drifter with unusual powers in Montana.
In with prompt
I don't feel I was particularly wise on the night that I died.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:22|
ye cool in and I'd love a subprompt
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:31|
ye cool in and I'd love a subprompt
After leaving the weathered planet Mars, a group of robots fly toward a distant speck. The speck gradually resolves into a weathered, space abbey.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:39|
in, prompt please
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:45|
I want in again! Hit me with a prompt, please.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:49|
in, prompt please
Having heard of but paying little attention to the prophecy of the Hero, the main character must fight to protect what they love when they accidentally unleash a previously sealed away entity that wishes to rule the world and all within it.
I want in again! Hit me with a prompt, please.
Lest not forget the magnificent, massive mood of a mammoth mountains deeply singing.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 06:55|
In. I will crit everyone.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 07:04|
In, prompt please.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 07:18|
In, prompt please.
The kettle had chilly feet and wide lakes. It didn't look dangerous. Not even its backward trees warned me of my fate. I should have sensed the danger in its mouths
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 07:25|
In, prompt please!
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 08:19|
In, prompt, I will crit everybody
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 12:38|
Been a hot minute since I participated in this, I'm In with a prompt.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 12:51|
In, prompt me!
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 12:53|
in with a prompt please, and i'll for 5 crits
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 12:56|
In, to crit all entries.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 13:01|
for three crits.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 17:09|
YORUICHI VS MUFFIN BRAWL: THE ENDENING
This was a tough one to judge. I asked for action. I asked for pictures. Both authors delivered the goods.
The Race, by Yoruichi
Sort of an equine dieselpunk adventure, this one got off to a good start and just kept going. In particular, this story did a good job of having an intertwined B plot that got wrapped up neatly in the end. I was skeptical at first, because usually B plots are a trap in anything under 2k words, but the story of how a wayward brother returned home to both save the day and be saved made a nice end. The copious amounts of sick during the story were also appreciated, because being trapped in the torso of a mechanical horse (a horso if you will) while it is simultaneously spewing exhaust that is filtering back into the cabin sounds just terrible, but made for good descriptive writing.
Where I felt the story sort of went astray is in some of the action choreography. Are these horse mechs (horchs) jumping or flying properly or just galloping really fast? The talk of a "...red-striped machine circling, a cloud of dust rising from the canyon below..." sort of makes it sound like it's hovering or in a holding pattern. Not against the rules, bur simply unclear. Also, the initial scene of Kat hurling out of the side-hatch was a little head scratching because I couldn't tell if she'd pulled over to be sick, or if she was still flying along whilst barfing. Speaking from experience, emptying one's stomach out of the open door of a moving vehicle is no mean feat...even more so if you're the one who's driving.
But overall, high marks because I was solidly entertained.
gently caress-Knuckle Jones IN Terminal Velocity: the Ballad of gently caress-Knuckle Jones, by SurreptitiousMuffin
This story took my prompt to the logical conclusion of ALL ACTION ALL THE TIME. I generally don't go in for stream-of-consioussnessy stories, but you managed to put the right tone on this which really helped it. Equal parts hard-boiled, surreal, and hyper-violent. Do I ever have a clear picture of what a Mancar is? No not really. Does it matter? No not really. What matters is that the kinetics keep kineticking and the story keeps moving. It never devolved into feeling like and then...and then...and then... but that's precisely what was going on because it was just one stunt after another.
That's not to say that some parts didn't stretch just a little thin. A half naked man is attempting to kill a mutant car with wheels *and* feet on the ruined surface of Mars. Ok, I'm in. ...But they somehow achieve escape velocity and exit the solar system? Mmm...ok I guess. And I stumbled a little thinking about Carman's anatomy. If the bonnet is the thing's mouth, then is Jones sitting inside the back of the mancar's throat? Is that how he can toss a harpoon into it's epiglottis? Or did he have to lean out the window and sort of hook around? Or is the epiglottis sitting in the back seat? I don't know and it's probably best if I just don't think about it.
Also a class O white dwarf would be a blue dwarf. My immersion is ruined.
Anyway, another very entertaining story.
But this leaves me in a lurch because they're very different and I like them about the same. What to do, what to do...
Well. They *do* share sort of a thematic element--things going fast. So I'll arrange a race of my own to break the tie.
Representing Muffin will be Reggie:
Representing Yoruichi will be Bonnie:
The task is simple. I'm going to toss their favorite toy, and whoever brings it back to me first will win. Two different strategies here, though--Reggie is a pure nitro burner that will race go get it and then bring it back as fast as he can. Bonnie prefers a little finesse and guile, letting Reggie get it first then snagging it from him as he tries to run past her on his way back to me.
Who will win? Let's find out:
Looks like SurreptitiousMuffin wins!
Weltlich fucked around with this message at 19:00 on Jan 12, 2022
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 18:51|
In with subprompt please.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 19:19|
In with for not submitting last week and I'd also like a sub prompt, please.
|# ? Jan 12, 2022 21:24|
|# ? Jun 28, 2022 06:54|
In with subprompt
Albatrossy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 01:06 on Jan 13, 2022
|# ? Jan 13, 2022 00:33|