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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Sign-ups are closed.

(But also signed up: Chili, with '39)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE8kGMfXaFU

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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Thranguy posted:

Sign-ups are closed.

(But also signed up: Chili, with '39)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE8kGMfXaFU

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

No Hospital Gang, boy
You know that shit a case close
Want him dead, bust his head
All I do is say, "Go"
Drop a opp, drop a thot
Eeny-meeny-miny-mo
The Time of Monsters
1989 words

You don't need a skald to tell you the story of these hours. You can hear it in the call of the two-headed raven perched on the rooftop, or read it in that which was ripped from the Jarl's horses and scattered about the stable by unknown hands. We have all seen the signs, and though I am as trained in augury as I am in the saga-trance, you do not need me to translate them. There is only one message and it is thus: Our World is Ending.

What else can be said? The Earth-Father is dead, and I know who killed him.

I was in this very seat when I saw her. Hardly over twenty, her eyes were like ice at the end of winter - refrozen so many times that they had turned into clear glass. She placed a coin by my tankard and asked me to tell her of Fenda's slaying. I obliged, and let the saga-trance take me.

'Just as the heavens are rich with pleasures no mortal will enjoy, so too were Earthly joys denied to the immortal Gods. Having set men and beasts to live and die, but unused to seeing delight in others that they could not have themselves, the Gods grew envious of their creations and started feasting on Earth in mortal forms. But for as long as they stayed in the mortal realm, the Gods could die.'

'Good,' she said once I was done describing how the Earth-Father, seeking to punish Fenda for insubordination, followed her to Earth in the shape of a stag and split open her stomach on his antlers. 'But you left out what Fenda did to outrage him.'

I shrugged. 'It's not for every audience. She coupled with her brother and gave birth to monsters.'

The woman let her ice-cold eyes bore into me. 'I want you to travel with me, skald.'

I laughed. 'Another would-be saga-hero who wants to get me killed. What do you want to do, steal the Earth-Father's golden horn? I hear he feasts four days ride from here.'

Her expression remained icy. 'I mean to kill him. And I don't care about a saga, I just want his death to be witnessed.' She placed a heavy pouch of coins on the table. 'This is for your word. You get another for following me to Flastag.'

I weighed the pouch in my hand, staring back at her with a disbelieving grin. 'What's your name?'
'Aefre.'

'Aefre,' I repeated, testing its weight on my tongue. 'It'll do. Your death may make us famous yet.'


Would I have gone with her if I'd thought her capable of doing what she planned? Would I have tried to stop her? I don't know. The dream of every skald is to attach himself, lamprey-like, to an agent of tremendous change: to tell their story and say 'I saw them do it'. No one can say I didn't succeed.


In the morning we set off in lonely single file, along a narrow track sliced through the snow. Other than a low fog, the weather was typical of the bitter cold that has passed for Spring of late. My ostensible muse rode ahead of me, and with the surrounding landscape obscured by mists I had nothing much to look at but her back. More than once, her bag seemed to shift by itself.

I wasn't surprised that Aefre was a good hunter, but I quickly realised 'good' was an understatement. At one point she took out her shortbow and shot a rabbit from horseback that couldn't have been more than a distant grey blur. Then she did it again, twice.

'My mother trained me,' she muttered when I asked her where she'd learned to hunt like that.
Around midday we cracked the ice of a stream to refill our waterskins. 'The heavens must be bleak for the Gods to find this world preferable,' I said as I plunged my hand into the freezing current.

'They come to take pleasure at our expense. Besides, it wasn't always this bad. The Earth-Father is growing old, and the land freezes as he weakens. Some skald you are not to know this.'

'Of course I know it. But if it's this bad now, how do you think it'll get if you do manage to kill the old gently caress?'

Aefre was already back on her horse. 'I don't think about it.'

It was good that she wouldn't make it, I thought. The Earth-Father may have been growing old, but he was still the most powerful of the Gods. And while his divine children regularly left mile-wide paths of razed villages and shattered families in their wake, no one who had ever tried to collect their blood debt had come close to succeeding.


When we cooked the rabbits that evening, I caught Aefre slipping loose bits of meat into her pack.

'You have an animal in there!'

'Don't be ridiculous.'

'Yes you do. It squirms on your back all day, and now you're feeding it rabbit. Either your bag itself is a living beast, or...'

As if in response to our bickering, a head pushed its way out through the opening. It was the shape of a small dog's but with the glistening skin of a slow worm. As the creature shrugged off the rest of the fabric, I saw that its two small legs ended in clawed feet and it had bat-like wings on its back.

Aefre studied my reaction closely. When I reached out to stroke the creature's nose, it pulled back its lips to reveal two rows of sharp, narrow teeth. 'I think he likes me,' I said.

'She. Well, I think, anyway. You're a strange one. Usually people find her disgusting.'

'What is she?'

'One of Fenda's children. I like to imagine we're sisters, of a sort. We share an enemy.'

The creature jumped onto Aefre's shoulders and stared at me as if in agreement.


That night, I drew Fenda's rune in the snow then pitched my tent over it. I dreamtI met a woman in the forest. Her white robes were stained with blood from the stomach down. 'You stand on the verge of great change,' she said when she saw me. 'Just remember - every king wears a crown.'


When the Gods visit Earth, each of them indulges differently. Domentis builds great palaces on the steppes of Kalar, where beautiful women serve him rare meats. Pellea, the wild huntress, stalks man and beast through the forests of Ghaire and roasts them together on a roaring fire. Invariably, whether through sick perversion or a simple lack of care for our existence, there are human victims.

We saw the site of the Earth-Father's feast from the top of a rise. Falstag, once a flourishing village of 300 souls, had been annihilated. The road that had led to it faded out into a mile-wide meadow of grass and bright flowers - a circle of colour in the dead, icy landscape, ringed with groups of people dancing in worship of a strange central structure, too distant to clearly make out.

Aefre tossed me a coinpurse. 'As promised. Watch from here if you want, or you can follow me to the Earth-Father for the good of your story.'

I nodded to the dancers. 'The moment we cross into his territory, that lot will do everything in their power to stop us. It'll be dangerous.'

'Stay close and I'll protect you.'

'And if we make it to the Earth-Father?'

'I'll kill him. But if he does kill me, he might let you go.'

'If you put up a good fight,' I said. The Gods could be no less vain than men when it came to having skalds turn their deeds into legend, but only when those deeds made a good story. If he squashed her like a bug, I would be next.

'Don’t worry about that.'

When I first met Aefre, there was no way I would have followed her into such a maelstrom. But after seeing her skills with the bow, her kinship with Fenda's daughter, and the icy steel of her determination, she had started to convince me. The dream I’d had after carving Fenda's rune had only made concrete a feeling that was already there. I wasn't sure if her madness had infected me - skalds are almost as prone to delusions about the powers of their would-be heroes as the heroes themselves - but nevertheless, I went with her.

Entering the meadow was like stepping into a summer like we haven't had since I was a child, all warm air and the smell of pollen. Whenever we were spotted by the Earth-Father’s worshippers, they ran at us wielding spears threaded with wildflowers. Fenda's daughter lept from Aefre's shoulders to circle overhead, swooping down on any of the dancers that came too close as we galloped past. Occasionally we had no choice but to fight, and in those moments Aefre was incredible. I had never seen someone shoot arrows so fast, or swing a sword with such deadly precision.

'You have a God's blood in your veins!' I called to her during a lull.

'Regrettably,' she said through gritted teeth. Finally I got a sense of the wrong that had been done to her and her mother, the transgression she had trained her whole life to set right.

With every confrontation we got closer to the structure in the centre of the meadow. I realised with a sick sense of vertigo that what had looked from a distance like a huge organic sculpture had actually been shaped from the timber skeletons of the houses of Falstag, bent and rearranged by some unimaginable force.

On the long grass under its twisted canopy, a table was laid out for a feast. In the middle of the long side, an old man in an intricate golden crown sat dining on a leg of turkey, surrounded by endless platters of exotic fruit, meats, and intricate, steaming pies.

None of these sights gave Aefre a reason to slow down. Screaming like a banshee, she charged at the Earth-Father with her sword outstretched, making as if to lop his head off with a single stroke. She didn’t get that far. The man looked up at her and within barely a second he had transformed into the shape of a powerful stag, his golden crown warping to form antlers that were now firmly in the path of Aefre’s horse. Momentum carried the horse forward, and with a flick of his powerful neck the Earth-Father drove his antlers into its chest, sending Aefre past him.

I saw her struggling to stand and called out to her: ‘It’s the antlers! The antlers are the source of his power!’

At the sound of my voice, the Earth-Father spun around to face me. ‘‘The skald intrudes on his own saga!’ an echoing voice boomed from the stag’s mouth. ‘How indecorous. I’ll make sure you suffer.’

The distraction was just what Aefre needed. Pulling herself to her feet, she leapt at the Earth-Father and tore at the root of his horns. Light tore through the muscles of her arms as she strained against the stag’s efforts to shake her off, but eventually, impossibly, she succeeded, and she ripped them from his head with the sound of cracking bones. The most powerful of the Gods fell to the ground defeated, and in Aefre’s hands was a crown.


When the fight was over, I left her and rode North - to here. The signs of the Earth-Father's death were already creeping into the world around me. The sky was heavy with portents as if everything was coming undone.

No skald could tell you what will follow from here. Just know that somewhere out there, the Earth-Father's daughter roams the dying world in her father's crown. And where her feet break the snow, pale green shoots push their heads through the soil.

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:



Portrait of a Starship

1300 words

Vyra comes in fast, riding the arti-grav-well generated by the immense starship, and scans the docking bays to find the service entrance. ‘Almost there,’ she says. ‘God, I remember when we’d be shooting by now. But that would probably affect my tips, huh?’

Beside her, twenty-five kilograms of Venus’ finest coffee beans are strapped into the co-pilot’s seat, nestled in the impression still left by Vk’thrrl. She felt silly strapping it in and she feels silly talking to it now—but it’s helping, a little. She’s not sure how she’ll handle an empty seat on the return trip; maybe there’s a bar on board, and she can put it off a little longer. Maybe she might even find someone else who can match her, round-for-round, in a game of five emperors. Maybe—

That’s odd, she thinks, turning in to dock.

There’s another ship, hidden to all of her onboard systems—some kind of super-advanced cloaking program?—but clearly visible to her eyes as she approaches the docking bay and slides in beside it, taking in its ostentatious-yet-practical design, bristling with finery and firepower; and beyond, a path of destroyed neuro-bots, surrounded by scorch marks and shrapnel.

Well, she thinks, wiping the dust from her pistol before retrieving the coffee beans, this doesn’t bode well for a tip.

***

Seventeen minutes and twenty seconds after being shackled to the bulkhead, Pyranthus swings down from the ventilation shaft to land in a crouch, precisely as planned. Her joints complain as she straightens up, taking a moment to stretch limbs cramped by the crawl through the Turandot’s arterial airways. Her father thinks she’s off at a gala ball; that she’s spent the last three months practicing dancing and etiquette. That she has no greater ambition than finding a suitor.

Well, she thinks. If he could see me now.

‘Ping,’ she says, bringing her hand up to an earpiece. ‘I’m in position. What’s the latest?’

‘You were right, Pyr,’ the metallic voice chirps back. ‘We’ve decrypted the schematics: the button’s on the second floor, in the upper lounge, with a ten-minute delay.’

Of course I was right, she thinks. In the years since the Empyrati completed their conquest of the universe, starship architecture has become as homogenous as their inhabitants, as dull as court conversation. There’s always a torture chamber. There’s always a barely-disguised ventilation shaft. There’s always a twenty-minute patrol route.

And there’s always an emergency self-destruct button.

She adjusts her tiara in the chrome of a nearby wall panel, smooths out the creases in her ostentatious-yet-practical jumpsuit, unholsters her laser pistol, and stalks off in the direction overlaid by her goggles.

***

Empyratus Tyvallo watches the ostentious-yet-practically attired woman navigate the starship through a matrix of security cameras, dispatching patrol bots with practiced ease. His hands steepled, he turns to his attendants and raises an inquisitive eyebrow.

‘The Lady Pyranthus, my liege,’ one murmurs, crouching down to level with the Empyratus’ ear. ‘For your consideration.’

‘She’s not yet betrothed?’ he asks, as the Princess removes the tiara from her sleek auburn coiffure and uses it to decrypt a lock for the elevator.

‘No, my liege. She has been—strangely absent from regular gala ceremonies.’

‘Fascinating,’ Tyvallo murmurs, as Pyranthus cartwheels down a corridor, dancing between laser fire, to dispatch three neuro-bots with well-timed kicks to the head. ‘Her grace alone—look, the way her hair catches the light of passing laser-bolts—no, there’s none finer in the galaxy, I’m sure of it!’

‘Very good, my liege,’ the attendant says. ‘If you will follow me—an audience has been scheduled in the upper lounge.’

As Tyvallo stands to follow, a leather-suited figure appears in the top-left display, twenty-five kilograms of coffee slung over one shoulder, laser pistol ready at the hip, following the trail of depredation into the ship.

***

Pyranthus strides into the upper lounge, blissfully free of patrol bots, and strides in the direction of the co-ordinates, which terminate before a coffee outlet which a mechanic is furiously kicking.

‘Excuse me,’ she says, sidling up beside him.

‘Oh, thank god,’ he says, turning to face her. ‘Tell me you’re here to refill this thing. I’ve just gotten a work order to fix fifty-seven neuro-bots—don’t ask me what happened, probably they all fell into the trash compactors again—and there’s no bloody coffee anywhere on this ship—’

‘Wrench,’ Pyranthus says, kneeling down before the coffee outlet and holding her hand out.

‘Of course,’ the mechanic says, passing one to her. ‘Say, I don’t think I’ve seen you around before—and I’m sure I’d remember that face—’

Pyranthus rolls before wrenching the coffee outlet open and dismantling its innards. She muscles into the cavity left behind in the wall, squeezing arms between various pipes and cords, before finally pulling back and extricating a single black box from the intestinal farrago.

‘Sorry about this,’ she says, glancing up at the mechanic, her finger hovering over the button. ‘About to give you one hell of a work order…’

As she pushes the button, there’s an explosion of confetti from the ceiling, and the elevator doors slide open—

***

‘My love!’ the Empyratus Tyvallo cries out, striding through the elevator doors. ‘You are close to besting my challenges three!’

‘The challenges what now?’ Pyranthus asks, standing and wiping her hands on her jumpsuit.

Tyvallo smiles indulgently, and strides forward into the room. ‘Why, the three challenges befitting my suitor, of course,’ he says. ‘One: to escape the torture chamber. Two: to find and trigger the ship’s “self-destruct” mechanism. Nicely done, by the way. ’

‘And the third?’ she asks, tilting her head.

‘To accept my hand,’ he continues, ‘and join my side as Empyratrix.’

‘gently caress off,’ she cries. ‘Are you in cahoots with my dad?’

‘It’s a generous offer, Pyr,’ the attendant adds, appearing from behind the Empyratus. ‘I think you should at least—’

‘Oh my god, dad,’ Pyranthus groans. ‘Why do you keep trying to set me up with fascist dictator types? No wonder mum—’

The attendant blanches, as the Empyratus glances between them. ‘Hang on,’ Tyvallo says, holding up a hand. ‘So you weren’t sent by the agency?’

‘You leaked the schematics,’ Pyranthus surmises, folding her arms across her chest and turning to her father. ‘In the hopes of getting me in the same room as this vile, murderous—’

‘It’s just a phase,’ her father murmurs to the Empyratus, sotto voce. ‘You know what the kids are like these days.’

‘It’s not a phase!’ Pyranthus cries out. ‘They murdered the Ash’grhks! They colonised the outer systems! They’ve started mining the sacred asteroids of Magnus Seven! They—’

‘—killed my partner,’ a voice calls out from the elevator.

The Empyratus turns, as twenty-five kilograms of coffee are flung toward his face.

***

Pyranthus walks to the elevator, as the mechanic rushes over to scoop up the spilt coffee beans. On her way, she drops the keys to her ship in front of her father. ‘You can take this piece of poo poo back to the junkyard,’ she says. ‘I’m done flaunting your crest in the cosmos.’

‘Sweetheart,’ he says, turning to follow, ‘I only want what’s best for you—’

‘And gently caress everyone else, right?’

‘You’ll realise, in time,’ he sighs. ‘And you’ll come back to the station.’

‘Maybe,’ she shrugs. ‘But there’ll be portraits of starships on my hull.’

Pyranthus walks past her father, and over to the comatose Empyratus. Vyra’s leaning over him, and as Pyranthus approaches she straightens and kicks him, once, in the chest.

‘That’s for Vk’thrrl,’ she spits.

‘Who’s Vk—’ Pyranthus starts.

‘It’s a long story,’ Vyra says.

‘We’ve got time.’

‘We’ll need drinks.’

‘That’s okay—’

‘A lot of drinks.’

‘I can handle that.’

Vyra pauses to take Pyranthus in. ‘We’ll see,’ she says, as the elevator doors open. ‘You’ve got a big arse to fill.’

‘—I’m sorry?’

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009

THUNDERDOME ULTRALOSER
2022



The Kids Don’t Sleep Episode 1337: Crazy thing, love.
874 Words

Eric Undertaker looked out the window of his luxury office, pondering his life. Ever since he noticed women, Eric has had the desire for a woman’s touch. He has fallen in love so many times, if one were to ask how much, he would ask them how many breads they had in their entire lifetime. After loving and losing so many times, Eric had to wonder…

…Will I ever find the right one?

While Eric was looking out the window, he happened to notice a certain young woman heading into the office of Undertaker Cosmetics. She looked familiar. Very familiar.

“It can’t be…!”

The opening montage. Eric and some of his associates stand around in sexy poses.

The Kids Don’t Sleep is Brought to you by: Oct Dishwasher Soap. For the mother who needs eight arms, but only has two.

Eric has seen that woman before. He would only need to look at the earliest of his wedding photos. She looked very similar to his first wife, Katherine!

But that can’t be! Eric thought. She’s been dead for years! Katherine was perhaps the closest thing Eric had to a true love, but she sadly perished years ago due to a tragic sightseeing accident. Eric had to see for himself, so he ran down.

When he got to the first floor, he quickly saw his “Mystery Woman” talking with his receptionist.

“Excuse me,” said Eric. The woman turned to him with a curious look. “My name is Eric Undertaker. May I ask what your business is here?” The woman paused, as if she was witnessing for herself just how handsome Eric was.

“Oh yes,” she said after a while. “My name is Kate Unfer, and I would like to take an internship here.” Eric was surprised at how her name sounded similar to his first wife’s, but dismissed it as mere coincidence.

“Certainly! Do you have your resume?”

“Oh, of course!” She handed it to him. Eric looked at it for a little while.

“Well, it seems like you would be a good fit for the Undertaker family. Welcome aboard!” He, of course, meant the company, but there was a part of him that wanted to welcome her to his actual blood family.

“Oh, thank you!” Kate said. “I won’t let you down.”
****

The next few months were like a blur for both Eric and Kate. What started as a private meeting became so much more. Eric and Kate went to many places around New Boston. Business meetings became lunch between friends, which eventually became dates. While for some reason they thought they heard a love song by some up and coming musicians, the fact was that they were falling in love.

***

Later on in the local cafe, Eric came to meet with Kate, ring in tow. After conversing for a while, Eric went down and opened his ring box.

“Kate. You have given me the kind of happiness I thought I would never find again. Will you marry me?” Some of the women in the cafe who knew Eric rolled their eyes. Kate, on the other hand, seemed hesitant. “What’s the matter, darling, don’t you love me?”

“I….I….!” Kate said. “I do, but… I’m sorry!” And just like that, Kate ran out. Eric could only ponder, with one thought in mind:

What in the hell…?

****

That night, Eric was in his bedroom, still wondering just what the hell happened. It was raining loud enough that night that he almost didn’t hear the desperate knocks on the door. He went without his shirt and opened the door. It was Kate.

“Eric, I’m so sorry!” she said, while repeatedly kissing him between words. “I don’t know what I was thinking! Of course I’ll marry you!” Her face was wet and it wasn’t because of the rain. Eric knew what came next, but he wanted to be safe, just in case.

“Right then, shall we?” Kate nodded. So they did.

****

A few months passed, and it was the day of the wedding. Friends and family came to the occasion, including former lovers and wives of Eric, and even Eric’s father, James Undertaker. While Eric didn’t think anything would happen, multiple weddings in the past have made him wary enough to bring a shotgun. For the most part, the early parts of the wedding went without a hitch. But then the words that brought Eric pain so many times were spoken.

“If anyone were to object to this union, may they speak now, or forever hold their peace.”

Just then, a massive pit opened in the Earth, and a grotesque creature came out.

“I thank you Kate, for leading my master to my target!” The crowd was horrified. Eric looked at Kate, wondering what the hell was going on.

“I’m sorry, Eric,” she said. “I’m actually Katherine. I saw what a wicked man you have become, and asked Satan to take your soul!” After the confession, the creature grabbed Eric and dropped down the hole. Kate could only yell Eric’s name while being taken against her will. Eric looked stunned after what happened.

Kate looked down the hole, relieved that it was all over.

Crazy thing, love, she thought. Makes you a complete idiot.

The credits roll.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


The Second Death of Felicity Swanson
1110 words


Felicity clamped one hand over the bullet wound in her thigh and aimed her rifle out the kitchen window with the other. Another would-be assassin hit the dirt with a puff of dust. She slumped to the floor with her back against the rough wooden cabinet, yanked a knife from her ankle holster and sliced a strip from the bottom of her skirt. The pain made her gasp as she tied the fabric tight around the wound. You are a fool, Felicity Jane Swanson, she thought to herself. You should have killed him when you had the chance.

Felicity held her breath and listened to the crunch of footsteps in the yard. The men outside had red handkerchiefs tied over their mouths and noses. Horse Gang. How they’d found her she didn’t know, but she should have known that Steve “Red” McGee would never believe she was dead. Not until he’d killed her with his own hands.

Dragging her bleeding leg, Felicity crawled out of the kitchen and down the cottage’s short hallway. She put her back to the timber wall and pointed her rifle at the front door. At least the sound of Roxie’s galloping hooves had long since faded. Wade was riding hard to get help, but even with Roxie’s turn of speed there was no way.

Felicity looked down at her skirt, heavy with blood. No way she’d be seeing Wade again. Her hand clenched around her rifle. She could almost feel the soft scrape of Wade’s stubble against her palm, as she’d cupped his face for the last time.

Run, my love, she’d said to him.

Do you mean me or the mare? had been Wade’s reply.

Felicity cracked a smile at the memory, then held her breath as the front step squeaked under a booted foot. Felicity didn’t wait for the door to open. She yanked the trigger, and the bang of the rifle in the small space made her ears ring. A man screamed, and then the door burst into splinters as returning fire ripped through it. Felicity hurled herself flat, and dragged herself through into the bedroom, her leg trailing blood.

From the hall Felicity heard slow footsteps, and the jangle of spurs. A low voice called her name in a mocking singsong, drawing out the final syllable until it sounded heavy with menace.

Red. A shudder ran through Felicity’s body. How she loathed that man. Her original partner in crime. He was violent, sure, but so was she. But Red had a cruelty in him. Felicity had been such a fool, to think she could dance with a devil and not get burned.

From her vantage point on the floor Felicity could see the slatted underside of her and Wade’s bed. She smiled through the pain in her leg. Some good memories on that lumpy old mattress, even if they were living in sin. Wade would have made her his wife, but Felicity couldn’t stand the thought of making more promises before God. She already had enough to answer to Him for.

Jangling footsteps in the hall. Why did Red have to wear those damned big spurs? thought Felicity. A good horse like Roxie would dump him straight into the dirt if he so much as touched her with those rowels.

Roxie. A lump formed in Felicity’s throat at the thought of never sitting astride her best friend again. That little chestnut mare had carried her away from the Horse Gang, carried her for days and nights with little rest and even less complaint. Felicity almost fancied she could hear Roxie’s hooves, drumming the red clay soil with her herd galloping behind her.

“There you are, Missus McGee.”

Felicity stiffened. Her breath quickened. She felt lightheaded, and very cold. Slowly, Felicity turned her head and looked at Red.

He looked like poo poo. Several days unshaven, sweat stained and covered in orange dust. But his eyes were the same. Murderer’s eyes. Felicity used to wonder if her eyes looked like that. They couldn’t, though, or Wade would have turned and run instead of buying her another bourbon the first night they met.

Wade. This time the lump in Felicity’s throat threatened to choke her.

The sound of galloping hooves was getting louder, but Felicity couldn’t tell if it was coming from inside her head or out. Using the bedframe for support and breathing hard, she levered herself upright. She swayed, almost fell onto the bed. Felicity gritted her teeth and steadied herself, leaning on her rifle like a walking stick. She felt her boot fill with hot blood. Come get me, Roxie, she thought. It’s nearly time to go.

Red’s lips twisted into a sneer. “You’ve got a lot to answer to me for, girl, living out here like another man’s wife, letting him bed you like some--”

Rifle shots rang out outside, and Red spun to face the window. He took two steps and banged the casement open. He swore, and raised his rifle to his shoulder.

Felicity couldn’t see outside from where she was standing but she could hear the sound of horses thundering down the rough dirt road. Men shouted, and there were more gunshots, and screams. They sounded like they were coming from underwater. Felicity blinked, but the encroaching darkness on the edge of her vision remained.

She looked at Red’s back. Her heart hammered, but unevenly, skipping beats so that her head swam. Her good leg was shaking. Should’ve killed him… But she couldn’t, back then. Not while some part of her still thought of him as her husband. Not while she was so afraid. So she’d fled. She’d faked her death and hid, believing like a fool that she’d escaped.

Felicity heard footsteps on the porch, and Wade’s voice, shouting.

Red swung his rifle to face the bedroom door.

Wade’s footsteps were in the hall, running. No, thought Felicity. Red’s finger was on the trigger. No!

Felicity forced some of her weight onto her wounded leg and begged her good leg to stop shaking. The pain was terrible. She was struggling to breathe, so she filled her lungs and held it. Felicity raised her gun. The thunder of galloping hooves roared in her ears.

“I got no one to answer to but God,” she said.

Red turned. He met Felicity’s eyes above the barrel of her rifle, and she grinned, baring her teeth, as she saw his eyes go wide.

Come get me, Roxie girl, she thought.

Felicity let out her last breath, and fired.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rance Bammer and the Lost Idol of Kumatt
1549 words


“We’ve spent three hundred years and sixty-thousand ships searching for the Lost Idol of Kumatt, and now it will finally pay off!” Fleet Commander Rance Bammer announced to his gathered captains as they examined the map of the Omelon system. After annihilating the Kuthin Rebels, the data scavenged from their ruined ships provided the clue they needed to go to Omelon. It was an ancient diary from the Grand Emperor’s missing son, who fled with the Idol twelve centuries prior.

“It’s here, somewhere. We’ve divided the system into zones, your ships will be assigned an amount dependent on your size. The Idol is top priority, over supply recovery or crew rest. You have your assignments. Dismissed!”

The fleet scattered in the Omelon system like leaves in the wind, each headed to their assigned search location. Rance had saved the most likely plums for himself. Where else could the Idol be than at a temple named for the missing son, Polobonia? Finding the Idol would cement his family’s legacy in the Star Empire and give him the accolades he needed to gain access to actual immortality. The pseudoinfinity drugs he had been taking the past few centuries were becoming less and less effective. He even thought he saw a few gray hairs creep in. Rance had ordered his doctor killed for that failure. There could be no hint of old age, no hint of weakness if he wanted to use his position to gain access to the Grand Emperor’s court. Even perhaps be adopted into the Grand Emperor’s legacy line?

Bammer landed near the temple with his usual survey crew. Science Lord Flong, Geology Lord Boffo, Artificial Construct 31-55, and the nameless Spidergong whose antennarms were attuned to the frequency of the Idol of Kumatt’s warp accelerator. All top crew, all projecting the aura of youthful confidence the Star Empire demanded. A lone White Monk stood at the entrance of the Polobonia Temple, Rance scoffed to himself at the dust on the man’s white robe.

“The Unclean may not sully this sacred space!” the White Monk announced. The survey crew did not even slow down, 31-55 waved his left arm at the White Monk, who screamed as his body burned away to ash. They burst through the temple’s grand doors. The first room was empty, there was no exit out of it save to back outside.

“This can’t be right. Find the secret entrance!” Rance demanded. They spread around the white room, examining every micron of its round walls for something. Anything. The Spidergong sat in the center of the room, its antennarms inactive. Nothing was found.

“The unclean will find only emptiness here!” declared the White Monk. As everyone saw him killed mere minutes ago, his reappearance in a sealed room was most alarming. Rance grabbed him before 31-55 burnt the Monk away once more.

“What is this? We serve the Grand Emperor!” Rance suddenly pulled away, he had saw his own hands when they grabbed the Monk, they looked eighty years older than the rest of his body. It was starting! His body was breaking down, the pseudoinfinity drugs had become ineffective. He needed to solve this mystery soon, or he would waste away in this empty room with this crazed Monk.

“I serve a higher power,” the White Monk stated flatly. “You want into another room? Granted!”

The color suddenly shifted from white to blue. The walls were the same featureless room, but now they were blue. His team was tinted blue. Rance looked at his body, he was not tinted like the others, but his once black hair was now gray. Geology Lord Boffo began juggling blue flames, now wearing a unitard.

“What is this sorcery?” Rance demanded of the White Monk. But the White Monk was gone.

“Sir?” asked 31-55. Its eyes blinked off and on.

“Where did the White Monk go?”

“This unit ashed him outside the temple.”

“He was just here! The room was white, and why is Boffo juggling?”

“The room has always been blue, sir. Who is Boffo?”

“A better question to ask,” said the Blue Monk, “is why aren’t you juggling!” He burst into laughter. Rance swung at him, but the Blue Monk moved faster than light and Rance’s fist found empty air. As he recovered the swing, the room was now green, and 31-55 was now dressed in a top hat and sawing Science Lord Flong in two.

Rance raised his arm again to grab 31-55, but his arthritis racked his body. He fell to the floor, too in pain to speak. He saw his gray hair now scattered across the ground.

“The greatest trick of the ages!” announced 31-55. Flong just smiled as the saw sliced through him.

“Poor Rance, should have never tried were you not clean!” the Green Monk said.

Rance grit his teeth and stood despite the pain. “Surrender the lost Idol!” he ordered. The dentures he was now wearing flew from his mouth as he spoke.

“Why, Rance, you seem to be falling to pieces!” the Green Monk mocked. He laughed and spun, vanishing behind a juggling Boffo. Rance chased, but the room was yellow by the time he reached Boffo. The Monk was not around, but the Spidergong was now an animal that he had seen in ancient Earth record tapes called a gorilla. It had joined the performance and was now prancing around with the other crew.

“Okay, ‘Yellow’ Monk, let’s just cycle through all the colors and get to the end of this!” Rance pouted in the center of the room, his former crew now circling him. He ignored the juggling, the flipping, the robot pulling creatures out of its hat. After he reclaimed the Idol he would bombard this planet down to its molten mantle.

“End?” the voice of the Monk spoke. “What makes you think this has an end? Or a beginning?”

Rance rolled his eyes at that, just as the room went purple. Boffo was now juggling heads with flaming eyes, it was the heads of the crew. Including Boffo’s own head, which was not attached to his body. All of the crew still pranced around dancing and clapping without their head, including the gorilla. Rance sat on the floor, even sitting caused every muscle in his body to feel like they were set on fire.

“You’re the Emperor’s Lost Son, aren’t you, Monk? Playing one final game before your father comes to smite you. I hope you are enjoying yourself.”

“We are beyond games,” said the Purple Monk. “The Lost Son died long ago. We are but echos of the Idol of Kumatt now. As are you, Rance Bammer.”

“If I am part of your Idol, then why aren’t I being affected like the others?”

“In truth, we offer a deal, we can return the Lost Idol of Kumatt and the body of your Grand Emperor’s son, but you will stuck here, now, trapped in time, permanently at the level of health you are in now. Or we restore you to youth, gift you immortality, and you lead our fleet in rebellion against the Grand Emperor.”

“What? That’s it?”

“You have two color cycles to make your decision. After that, your body will decay too far to save.”

Rance felt his body decline in every atom of his body. He could not stand this body as it was. To be trapped this way for eternity was beyond torture. No matter the grand accolades he had won in service of his Grand Emperor, they were not worth the pain and helplessness. “No need to wait. Give me the immortality.”

“My son, and I truly mean my son, you have chosen poorly!” the Grand Emperor declared.

“What? How?” The lights in the room switched back to white. Doors opened in the smooth room, and technicians strolled through them. One carried a wheelbarrow full of android monks dressed in various colors, Rance heard them recite sentences he heard earlier as they moved past. The members of his crew had their heads back and were now getting snacks from a craft table. “How could this be a set? We’ve been searching for this Idol for three centuries!”

“There was no Lost Idol of Kumatt. There was only this test! It is long by necessity, we even ran a few other tests during yours!” The Grand Emperor leaned forward to whisper into Rance’s ear, “You have been the only one of sons I hoped would pass. But you FAILED!” He shook his head. “Trapped in time, permanently? What nonsense!”

The Grand Emperor stood up and walked towards his waiting aide, Barkle Toothgrowl, as Rance stammered, unable to speak with that revelation. The Grand Emperor did not even turn to watch 31-55 turn his son into ash. “Which of my children are we testing next?”

Barkle looked at his datapad. “One of your daughters was raised by farmers. We are setting up the old ‘get her to join the rebels then find out she is your daughter’ trick. First we have to set up another rebellion.”

“A classic, a classic!”

“My Lord, a question. Why the elaborate tests? We could easily just run a simulation on all your secret offspring to find an heir?”

“What can I say, it’s boring being Grand Emperor!”

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Submissions are closed.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


Dear Sitting Here, Fight Me
34 words


There once was a woman here sitting
Whose views on Thunderdome weren't quite fitting
She threatened it with an ax
But she can't argue with facts
And so against her myself I am pitting.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME





Yoruichi posted:

Dear Sitting Here, Fight Me
34 words


There once was a woman here sitting
Whose views on Thunderdome weren't quite fitting
She threatened it with an ax
But she can't argue with facts
And so against her myself I am pitting.

Yoruichi crows
Wind stirs leaves, the tree remains
I consent to brawl.







:toxx:

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Sitting Here posted:

Yoruichi crows
Wind stirs leaves, the tree remains
I consent to brawl.

:toxx:

Yoruichi posted:

Dear Sitting Here, Fight Me
34 words


There once was a woman here sitting
Whose views on Thunderdome weren't quite fitting
She threatened it with an ax
But she can't argue with facts
And so against her myself I am pitting.

Disturbing my long absence from TD, are we? *stage whisper* I'm aware of week 500. That said,

*JUDGE MODE ACTIVATED*



There's two dolls--of many--sitting on my desk. One is all yellow sparkle gold and sunny--that's literally her name--and the other is shadow and all grey.

They're twins. And so will your stories be connected.

First to reply should pick one of the two to write about, and the other gets the second.

But the one you pick is not the viewpoint you will be using. You will be writing about your picked "twin" through the other's eyes. I don't care about the information on the wiki or anything like that--I just care that I have grey-dark and sun-yellow dolls on my desk. I expect to see the interplay of light and darkness, yin and yang, sun and shadow. And I like a little sun in my shadows and a little shadow in my sun.

Don't collaborate. I'll smell it.

2500 words. It's just you two, I can read that many words pretty quickly.
Y'all have two weeks--May 9th--or whenever my feet stop being disgusting, whichever happens last.

Start wordsmashing, peeps. I await your offerings on the Altars of the Sun and the Moon.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME





I choose Luna!

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



FUMBLEMOUSE/JIB BRAWL

sebmojo posted:

I will judge this, due high noon nz time April 26, 1200 words, prompt is: catching the april fish.

Mending Nets
1200 Words


“Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey. The sunfish are rising,” Dave said with that loud Dad voice that’s just annoying enough to get you moving so they’ll shut up. He rapped on the doorframe to a beat, “Hey, feet on the floor, feet on the floor.” There was no door.

Dylan huffed the musty quilt off and slid out of the bunk in one unending groan, the rutted formica catching on denim as they slithered to the floor. No way bare skin was touching anything in this cabin. But the mildew crept into Dylan’s hoodie and jeans like a spilled can of nightcrawlers on their hopeless journey across the polyester grass of damp shag carpet.

“Just think,” Dave said, “This will all be yours someday.” Dave’s father was six months gone. He was old and Alzheimersery and things were saddish in that obligatory way but mostly it was a relief. The family argued over who had to take the cabin, not who wanted it.

It wasn’t even a cabin. A crumbling cinderblock was the only lifeguard preventing the moldy trailer from rolling down the hill and sinking into the marshy shallows where it clearly longed to be. Dad and the uncles hadn’t shed many tears, but Pap’s ‘cabin’ was in permanent, inconsolable grief.

Beyond the occasional video call, Dylan hadn’t seen their father for a year or more. The drive up wasn’t very chatty, music filled the gaps. Even though Dylan chose the playlist, Dave knew a few of the songs.

Dave surveyed the tiny surroundings and looked at Dylan, took a wistful inhale, and didn’t seem to notice the smell. Oh no, thought Dylan, This is a ‘memory lane’ bonding trip and Dad needs a captive audience. In the thoughts behind thoughts it was expanding like a Jiffypop over the fire. I’m trapped.

It’s only for a couple days, I can put up with it. Dylan pulled their hood tight around their face. It wasn’t much armor but it would have to do.

“Aw, don’t hide that beautiful pate of spaghetti under that salad bowl. Get it, pate, plate?”

“Dad joke. I’m keeping track.” Sympathy can only go so far.

Dave hitched the cooler strap and the gear bag he prepped the night before over his shoulder and said, “Grab the rods. Dock is just a little ways.”

“Actually, you’ll need the hood on the water.” Dave nodded to the logo as they walked the trail. “Still into Streetlight? That’s cool.”

“Cool.”

“New album later this year. Remember when we went to see them and got that shirt?”

The familiar scent of deodorant and teen sweat had nearly vanished, overpowered by the funk of mildew. Armor compromised. “I remember. I was twelve.”

“Only last year, time flies.”

“I’m almost sixteen.”

“I was kidding. I know you’re almost—sixteen?! Sixteen? I’m still messing.”

A marina filled the cove. The disconcerting night sounds of creaking docks and echoing sploops of tide into the tractor tires that kept boats from scraping was a vibrant soundscape in the light of the rapidly warming day.

Dave hucked the gear onto Pap’s pontoon. “Back in the day, we used to come out here in a little fiberglass. Your Pap, he would get so mad trying to back the boat down the launch. When he started to jackknife the trailer, we’d laugh, and that would just make him madder. Good times.”

Dave steered into the channel. Conifer crowded islands dotted water that stretched the horizon. Straight ahead, a green felt marker punched through the mirror, while the pens in the peripheral tried desperately to hold the reds and yellows.

Dylan watched the hooks glint as they met the shade of the island. “Do we—actually have to fish?”

Dave said, “Not if you don’t want. But most of our meals growing up were fish we caught. More ethical to know how the sausage is made, so to speak. I figured I—we—should do it at least once.”

“For Pap.”

“Yeah, for Pap.”

Dave threaded the hooks with mealworms. The fishing basics flooded back.

“Just a small cast into the shade, there. See? Not so bad. And mealworms are good fried up if we don’t catch anything.” As they waited, Dave rummaged through the lockbox. “Ah ha,” he said, lifting a watertight box holding Pap’s knives.

The blades shined with mineral oil and care not given to the cabin. “De-scaler. Scrape the scales off bigger fish. Don’t really have to do that with bluegill or crappie, usually we just take the skin off with one of . . . these.

“Filet knife,” said Dave, brandishing it. “Flexible blade to carve around delicate fish bones. And sharp enough to get the skin off and not break up the filet.” Dave flexed the blade to demonstrate.

“Um,” Dylan said, “Did your contact just fly out of your eye?”

“One good thing you’ll inherit at least, 20/20 vision.” Dave mimed binoculars.

“It’s there on the floor.”

And Dave’s perfect vision saw the tip of his index finger like a freshly sliced salami, flecks of white and pink as blood extruded in pimento rivulets, slowly at first, before coating his nose and mouth in red sauce thick enough that Nan would have called it a gravy. The blade so keen and fast he didn’t even notice it. He felt nothing. But the fresh filet o’Dave gently resting on the astroturf deck carpet, that did it.

Dave pitched soprano then faded like a dying Walkman with an Emo Phillips tape stuck inside, ”And that’s why you neeeveer play wiii kni. . . .” He rubberlegged to the deck.

Dylan leapt to the lockbox and pried open the first aid kit. The steady hands and surefast tone as Dylan worked surprised even themself.

“OK, Dad, I’m holding pressure here and I’m going to clean the wound. I don’t know if the tip can be saved but the cut is clean and not as deep as it might seem. You really just took the fingerprint off.”

Dave’s voice still flittered, “Don’t give me the details. Where’d you learn first aid?”

“Ms. Stokoski’s class.”

“Oh, she’s still teaching? That was my health teacher, too. That’s nice. Good teacher. I broke the CPR dummy one year and she called me the dummy. Good teacher.”

“OK, take a deep breath and hold it.”

Dave inhaled.

“There, done. Take a look.”

Dave’s finger was gauzed and taped, clean. “You’re good at this, Dylan.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Saying that felt good. ”I have to clean your face.” Dylan scanned for a towel, then pulled their hoodie off and gently wiped Dave’s face.

“Your sweatshirt . . . I’m just going to lay here for a bit.” Dave’s head lolled and the rough carpet pressed into his cheek. “Hey Dyl. . . “ Dylan’s bobber dipped and before he could manage another syllable the rod slid off the deck and into the deep.

“Don’t worry about the hoodie, if it doesn’t come out then you can get me a new one. It stinks anyway.”

“Yeah, Pap’s cabin is pretty bad, isn’t it. Hotel?”

“After the emergency room,” said Dylan.

“Concert next year, instead?”

“Sooner?”

Both knew they didn’t want to be here anymore, but each had an idea on where they wanted to be.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT
Grimey Drawer
FumbleCut Brawl
wordcount: 1175

Out of hand

Picture me walking determinedly, if unsteadily, out of the restaurant, leaving behind my now ex-girlfriend Sarah and half a lovely bottle of 2012 Gisborne chardonnay. Imagine I'd just said something witty, and just a little barbed, to end things after her endless litany of complaints about my bomb-site flat, my dead-end job, my unused science degree and all my super-fun drinking. Pretend it wasn't "gently caress you, I think we should break up."

At the door I pause, experiencing a moment of remorse that makes me seriously consider returning to grab the bottle. But I keep going, partly because backtracking would undermine my dramatic exit, partly because even I can tell I need to walk off the other two bottles and get home before anything else in my life self-immolates.

Three streets later and the siren song of 80s dance music shatters my resolve like a russian shot glass. Another drink would be just the thing, I decide. After all, I've just broken up with someone and it's practically expected to have a few little tipples after such an emotional upheaval. When you're finally free from the stultifying expectations of coupledom, who doesn't want to lose just a little more control?

Le Poisson d'Avril looms ahead, blinking garish purples and blues. I'd hadn't heard it was opening but here it is, spreading its wings like a liquid phoenix from the ashen puddle of Scribblers; Cheap neon and mirror walls replacing the faux wooden panelling and vomit-sodden carpets that had become too disgusting for even students and journalists. As I approach, one flashing sign advertises 'Cheap', another 'Shots' and between them a wipeable blackboard has the word 'Goldfish' next to some squiggles that could possibly be orange carp with a worried expression.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love animals. Some of my best friends are complete vermin, or so I've been told. But I'm thirsty for escape. I carefully straighten up at the door, making a concerted effort to not wobble, and flash a smile at the bouncer, who nods me through. Did he wink? Who cares? I glide through the door and into the embrace of coloured lights, soulless synths and the most tinny of drum machines.

The place teeters somewhere between half-full and half-empty. Set up by the bar is a special seat next to an aquarium where a single goldfish swims from one end to another as if to say 'plenty more fish is a goddamn lie'. I watch its lack of progress compassionately and for a moment it stares back, its freaky googly fish eyes staring straight into the depths of my fermented soul. Then it turns away to look at a plastic pirate chest, which I take as a personal insult to my own booty. "Fuckin' fish," I say to the bartender, pointing at its flapping tail. "I'll drink that one."

The barman takes my twenty bucks, rings a bell, and sits me down on the straight-backed seat of worryingly sticky pleather. He lines up a couple of colourful bottles of hard stuff, then scoops the fish into a little net where it flaps about like an utterly rubbish bird. I can see its movements slow from the corner of my eye as they lean my head back and pour cheap spirits directly into my mouth. For a moment I can't breathe, I have to swallow, swallow, and the third time I swallow there is something moving down my throat. I want to gag but it's too late for that, it's tickling my oesophagus with its fins on its booze-slicked route stomachward. I cough, and can feel it flutter and slide as my throat and chest contract. There is a round of applause from the drunk suits who have gathered round to watch. I can't decide if the shot or being watched having it is the single most gross sensation I can remember. But then the alcohol kicks in and I forget about it and everything else…except, for some reason, something the barman said as he poured, about how the French stick paper fish on your unknowing back on April 1st, like some ratbag alien puppeteer dead set on making you look like an idiot.

Morning comes, because it's a bastard like that. One eye tries the whole opening thing, hates it, shuts again. But it has given me valuable info: I made it home. I am on top of my own bed. I am still fully clothed. This is basically a win, all things considered.

But something feels wrong. I reach out with my hands, touch the uncanny smoothness of the sheets. My bed has been made, and recently, which would make it the first time in roughly a decade. I groan, and massage my temples, but that's wrong too. It takes me a moment to notice why, to notice that the enormity of my inevitable hangover simply isn't there at all. My mouth has a distinct lack of sawdust and old sock coating it. There are no hammers pounding away at my cerebellum. I feel…good. This is not good. It should be good, but really it's strange and disturbing.

This is strange and disturbing, I say to myself. I swing my feet to the floor, move through to the kitchen. My entire flat is sparkling; generations of dirt, discarded clothes and pizza boxes, gone with the night. There's even a whiff of bleach in the air. Suspiciously, I sniff my hands. The telltale scent of cleaning products is all over them. "Who even are you?" I ask them, but they do not reply, not even in sign-language. On a hunch, I check my pockets for baggies of magical housekeeping powder, but come up empty there too.

On the kitchen table my laptop is open, plugged in at the wall beside my phone. Sure that I had left it by the sofa before I left, I shake the mouse until the screen sparks up, a bright white page with my CV on it. My recently updated CV. Suspicious, I check my email Sent: folder, and find incriminating outgoing job applications for positions in government and research institutes, all with timestamps between four and five a.m.

Then it hits me. Of course! It must have been Sarah! In some sick and sadistic form of revenge she followed me to the bar, dragged me out before I embarrassed myself, cleaned up my entire flat, updated my résumé and then posted job applications for me. I smile. Chicks can't help but love a fixer-upper.

I mean, that's a thing that happens, right? Yeah, it's out there, and indicates a certain lack of self-respect on her part. But it's plausible, isn't it? Because the only other explanation I've got is that it was the goldfish and that's some cosmic level crazy.

My phone beeps and shudders, lights up with the pic I took of Sarah at a coffee shop down south. A message from the ex. Here we go, I say to myself. Perfect timing. I'll answer this, and it will all be cleared up.

My hand refuses to move.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Opera Week Judgment

...no time for losers

No loss. When the field is this small and none of the stories is overwhelmingly worse than the rest, it can happen (and has before). That said, The man called M's The Kids Don’t Sleep Episode 1337: Crazy thing, love. slightly edged out the rest and earns the week's solitary DM.

'cause we are the champions

At the top, then we have an HM for Ceighk's mythic The Time of Monsters, and the win for Yoruichi's killer The Second Death of Felicity Swanson

Welcome back to the blood throne!

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Crits for Week #507


Ceighk - The Time of Monsters:
Solid opening, sets up genre and stakes.
A good start for the week. Solid, a bit clumsy near the end, and the narrator could use a bit more personality, but solid.

rohan - Portrait of a Starship:
There's something here, in the opening. Contrasting the epic and mundane. Maybe a bit too much wool gathering exposition, either actually explain more or get on with the story. The names, or the short forms of them, are all too similar, causing unnecessary confusion. Okay in general. 

The man called M - The Kids Don’t Sleep Episode 1337: Crazy thing, love.:
I wonder if this didn't suffer from overediting. See, the ending only works as a payoff if we know that Eric is a horrible person, and there's really nothing to set that up. The meta stuff doesn't do much for the story either. "Tragic sightseeing accident" is a nice phrase. The title and conceit don't make much sense either. What kids? Why don't they sleep? Why is this very definitive conclusion in the narrative space designed for an episode of the serial? I don't hate this, but there's not much to like either. 


Yoruichi - The Second Death of Felicity Swanson:

Solid opening. Technically strong, excellent use of flashback. The ending doesn't quite work. That's a lot of words to say in one last shallow breath, Red is turning his back on an armed enemy, which seems uncharacteristically dumb. There's a more brutal, more Tarantinoesque way to play out that ending that might work better. 

Tars Tarkas - Rance Bammer and the Lost Idol of Kumatt:

There's a lot to not like here. Every character, to start with. The constant barrage of monkeycheese nonsense, a sort of unearned twist, the point of view shift. At least there is energy here, and while all vaguely loathsome the characters were at least distinct in their badness.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


:siren: Thunderdome Week 508: Spirits are Everywhere :siren:



This week your prompt is to write stories in which places, buildings, rivers, trees, objects (both precious and mundane), etc. etc. all can or do have spirits.

What do the spirits want? Do they want anything? What do they do all day? Do they inhabit a separate plane of existence or do they live amongst humankind, invisible to all but a very few? You tell me.

If you ask for a flashrule I'll give you a picture of a Japanese yōkai. I profess no expertise whatsoever in yōkai, so your picture will be from an anime I watched once.

If you ask for a hellrule I'll give you something dreadful.

Have fun!

Word limit: 1200
Deadlines: 9pm Saturday and Monday NZ time.

Spiritual guides:
- Me
- Chili
- Chairchucker

People who have suddenly discovered that they can see... something...
1. Rohan
2. Bad Seafood (train youkai)
3. Ceighk (swamp youkai)
4. Thranguy (hairy ball youkai)
5. flerp (diner youkai)
6. JetSetGo
7. The man called M (waterfall youkai)
8. sebmojo (piano youkai)
9. BabyRyoga (one of your characters only speaks backwards)
10. Tyrannosaurus
11. hard counter
12. The Cut of Your Jib

Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 09:09 on Apr 30, 2022

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:



in

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010


If you must blink, do it now.
In.

Hit me with that yokai spirit.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


Bad Seafood posted:

In.

Hit me with that yokai spirit.

Train youkai

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

No Hospital Gang, boy
You know that shit a case close
Want him dead, bust his head
All I do is say, "Go"
Drop a opp, drop a thot
Eeny-meeny-miny-mo
in and yokai me

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


Ceighk posted:

in and yokai me

Swamp youkai

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


In and yokai me

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


Thranguy posted:

In and yokai me

Hairy ball youkai

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!





in yokai

JetSetGo
Jan 1, 2011

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2022
In

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009

THUNDERDOME ULTRALOSER
2022



I think I have a regular-rear end something in mind.

Send me a Youkai to haunt my soul.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







in yokai

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

flerp posted:

in yokai

Diner Youkai



The man called M posted:

I think I have a regular-rear end something in mind.

Send me a Youkai to haunt my soul.

Waterfall youkai




sebmojo posted:

in yokai

Piano youkai

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe
Oh, I'm judging. The horseperson agreed to it.

BabyRyoga
May 21, 2001

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021
Hey, can I go in with a hellrule please

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


BabyRyoga posted:

Hey, can I go in with a hellrule please

One of your characters only speaks backwards.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


Sign-ups will be closed, this time tomorrow. You can still enter, and you should!

Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 09:49 on Apr 29, 2022

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

Yoruichi posted:

Sign-ups will be closed, this time tomorrow. You can still enter, and you should!

Okay in

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







The Cut of Your Jib posted:

FUMBLEMOUSE/JIB BRAWL

Mending Nets
1200 Words


“Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey. The sunfish are rising,” Dave said with that loud Dad voice that’s just annoying enough to get you moving so they’ll shut up. He rapped on the doorframe to a beat, “Hey, feet on the floor, feet on the floor.” There was no door. this is kind of an annoying first line, not least because the tenses are wonky and I don't know who he's talking to. not a huge deal but while it conveys the annoying daddy aspect of dave, it's not a smooth onramp to the story.

Dylan huffed the musty quilt off and slid out of the bunk in one unending groan, the rutted formica catching on denim as they using they/their pronouns in stories is significantly more confusing than irl, personally I'd avoid it unless you need to slithered to the floor. No way bare skin was touching anything in this cabin. But the mildew crept into Dylan’s hoodie and jeans like a spilled can of nightcrawlers on their hopeless journey across the polyester grass of damp shag carpet. this is sort of an overblown simile, i don't see why worms would want to creep into a hoodie and jeans? also is it polyester grass or shag carpet?

“Just think,” Dave said, “This will all be yours someday.” Dave’s father was six months gone. i'm a bit confused by who dave is, presuming he's the dad? or are these friends? He was old and Alzheimersery and things were saddish in that obligatory way but mostly it was a relief. The family argued over who had to take the cabin, not who wanted it. these are good lines, tight and evocative

It wasn’t even a cabin. A crumbling cinderblock was the only lifeguard preventing the moldy trailer from rolling down the hill and sinking into the marshy shallows where it clearly longed to be. Dad and the uncles hadn’t shed many tears, but Pap’s so this is the grandad, who is dave's dad and dylan's grandad? ‘cabin’ was in permanent, inconsolable grief. decent, not sure you need both adjectives

Beyond the occasional video call, Dylan hadn’t seen their father see this reads like the father is both dylan's and daves, so i was thinking dave was an uncle but you mean dylan hadn't seen dave, who is dylan's dad? if you want to use they/their then do a disambiguation pass imo, like 'dylan's dad' for a year or more. The drive up wasn’t very chatty, music filled the gaps. Even though Dylan chose the playlist, Dave knew a few of the songs.

Dave surveyed the tiny surroundings and looked at Dylan, took a wistful inhale, and didn’t seem to notice the smell. Oh no, thought Dylan, This is a ‘memory lane’ bonding trip and Dad needs a captive audience.not sure the observation and the thought are that linked? In the thoughts behind thoughts it was expanding like a Jiffypop over the fire. I’m trapped.

It’s only for a couple days, I can put up with it. Dylan pulled their hood tight around their face. It wasn’t much armor but it would have to do.

“Aw, don’t hide that beautiful pate of spaghetti under that salad bowl. Get it, pate, plate?”

“Dad joke. I’m keeping track.” Sympathy can only go so far. tense

Dave hitched the cooler strap and the gear bag he prepped the night before over his shoulder and said, “Grab the rods. Dock is just a little ways.”

“Actually, you’ll need the hood on the water.” Dave nodded to the logo as they walked the trail. “Still into Streetlight? That’s cool.” who's speaking here? is this all dave? if so keep it in one para

“Cool.”

“New album later this year. Remember when we went to see them and got that shirt?”

The familiar scent of deodorant and teen sweat had nearly vanished, overpowered by the funk of mildew. what? whose scent? confused.Armor compromised. “I remember. I was twelve.” i like this aside, it's sweet.

“Only last year, time flies.”

“I’m almost sixteen.”

“I was kidding. I know you’re almost—sixteen?! Sixteen? I’m still messing.” fifteen year olds normally live with their parents, i think some context of why this one doesn't would be helpful, i can presume the parents split up but the circumstances of that are fairly relevant given it's a father/son bonding sort of sotry

A marina filled the cove. The disconcerting night sounds of creaking docks and echoing sploops of tide into the tractor tires that kept boats from scraping was a vibrant soundscape in the light of the rapidly warming day. too much going on in this sentence, it's night, it's disconcerting, the disconcerting sound is vibrant, psych it's actually the day lol, also it's rapidly warming even though it will also be cold. I like echoing sploops though, that's great.

Dave hucked the gear onto Pap’s pontoon. “Back in the day, we used to come out here in a little fiberglass. Your Pap, he would get so mad trying to back the boat down the launch. When he started to jackknife the trailer, we’d laugh, and that would just make him madder. Good times.” i like your little family stories, they are good spoken words

Dave steered into the channel. Conifer crowded islands dotted water that stretched the horizon. Straight ahead, a green felt marker punched through the mirror, while the pens in the peripheral tried desperately to hold the reds and yellows. you need to support your fancy wordifying a little better, e.g. mirror-flat water, to make the jump to the metaphor a little smoother

Dylan watched the hooks glint as they met the shade of the island. unclear why hooks are glintin when they meet shade, glints generally involve light (sworn enemy yet also anime style comrade of shade) “Do we—actually have to fish?”

Dave said, “Not if you don’t want. But most of our meals growing up were fish we caught. More ethical to know how the sausage is made, so to speak. I figured I—we—should do it at least once.”

“For Pap.”

“Yeah, for Pap.” this is nice, i actually really like your relationship stuff in this it's a nice little back and forth that doesn't really try for anything edgy

Dave threaded the hooks with mealworms. The fishing basics flooded back. this is a little unfounded... why does he know about fishing? not a biggie, but typically the story would be knowledgeable dad imparting fish wisdom to desperately bored teen, and it's 100% fine to flip it but you want to support that with a little meaningful backstory iyswim

“Just a small cast into the shade, there. See? Not so bad. And mealworms are good fried up if we don’t catch anything.” As they waited, Dave rummaged through the lockbox. “Ah ha,” he said, lifting a watertight box holding Pap’s knives. keep different people talking in different paras

The blades shined with mineral oil and care not given to the cabin. “De-scaler. Scrape the scales off bigger fish. Don’t really have to do that with bluegill or crappie, usually we just take the skin off with one of . . . these. who's talking here

“Filet knife,” said Dave, brandishing it. “Flexible blade to carve around delicate fish bones. And sharp enough to get the skin off and not break up the filet.” Dave flexed the blade to demonstrate.

“Um,” Dylan said, “Did your contact just fly out of your eye?”

“One good thing you’ll inherit at least, 20/20 vision.” Dave mimed binoculars.

“It’s there on the floor.” lol this is a great development

And Dave’s perfect vision saw the tip of his index finger like a freshly sliced salami, flecks of white and pink as blood extruded in pimento rivulets, slowly at first, before coating his nose and mouth in red sauce thick enough that Nan would have called it a gravy. The blade so keen and fast he didn’t even notice it. He felt nothing. But the fresh filet o’Dave gently resting on the astroturf deck carpet, that did it. you perspective (lol) switch to dave here which is confusing

Dave pitched soprano then faded like a dying Walkman with an Emo Phillips tape stuck inside, ”And that’s why you neeeveer play wiii kni. . . .” He rubberlegged to the deck.

Dylan leapt to the lockbox and pried open the first aid kit. The steady hands and surefast this is a brand of screws rather than a way to describe someone, but i'll allow it as it works in context tone as Dylan worked surprised even themself.

“OK, Dad, I’m holding pressure here and I’m going to clean the wound. I don’t know if the tip can be saved but the cut is clean and not as deep as it might seem. You really just took the fingerprint off.”

Dave’s voice still flittered, “Don’t give me the details. Where’d you learn first aid?”

“Ms. Stokoski’s class.”

“Oh, she’s still teaching? That was my health teacher, too. That’s nice. Good teacher. I broke the CPR dummy one year and she called me the dummy. Good teacher.”

“OK, take a deep breath and hold it.”

Dave inhaled.

“There, done. Take a look.”

Dave’s finger was gauzed and taped, clean. “You’re good at this, Dylan.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Saying that felt good. ”I have to clean your face.” Dylan scanned for a towel, then pulled their hoodie off and gently wiped Dave’s face.

“Your sweatshirt . . . I’m just going to lay here for a bit.” Dave’s head lolled and the rough carpet pressed into his cheek. “Hey Dyl. . . “ Dylan’s bobber dipped and before he could manage another syllable the rod slid off the deck and into the deep. lol also like the rod falling off the side

“Don’t worry about the hoodie, if it doesn’t come out then you can get me a new one. It stinks anyway.”

“Yeah, Pap’s cabin is pretty bad, isn’t it. Hotel?”

“After the emergency room,” said Dylan.

“Concert next year, instead?”

“Sooner?”

Both knew they didn’t want to be here anymore, but each had an idea on where they wanted to be. and yeah, that ending is maybe a little twee but i think justified. however I'm not sure you really set out any actual conflict between then that needed a boning-knife-mediated reconciliation? they seem to like each other fine at the start, and at the end. i think you missed a trick by not having any real conflict or tension apart from a tiny bit of 'daaaaad' teen eye rolling. the dad doesn't disrespect or dislike the teen, so the teen getting it together is shrugworthy. i also had to read this like five times to confirm dylan was daves child, which is inexcusable at this length - using they /them is fine of course, but it needs an additional clarity pass to make sure you're not creating confusion between singular they (referring to a person) and plural they. similarly missing an answer to the obvious question of why doesn't dylan live with dave is not really justifiable, particularly as it would have been an effortless way to inject some tension/drama/interest. also, i'd say about half of your fancy similes are trying too hard.
against that, i like the relationship here, and you do have some nice little phrases and things.




Fumblemouse posted:

FumbleCut Brawl
wordcount: 1175

Out of hand

Picture me walking determinedly, if unsteadily, i feel like not one but two adverbs in your first sentence is throwing down a gauntlet - they're ok, but i think "determined but unsteady" would work better out of the restaurant, leaving behind my now ex-girlfriend Sarah and half a lovely bottle of 2012 Gisborne chardonnay. Imagine I'd just said something witty, and just a little barbed, to end things after her endless litany of complaints about my bomb-site flat, my dead-end job, my unused science degree and all my super-fun drinking. hell yeah booze Pretend it wasn't "gently caress you, I think we should break up." solid opener

At the door I pause, experiencing a moment of remorse that makes me seriously consider returning to grab the bottle. lol But I keep going, partly because backtracking would undermine my dramatic exit, partly because even I can tell I need to walk off the other two bottles and get home before anything else in my life self-immolates. not sure 'self immolates' is great here, maybe because you're not doing anything with the sense of being on fire? he's not on fire, he doesn't give a gently caress, he's a cool booze guy and he doesn't look at explosions

Three streets later and the siren song of 80s dance music shatters my resolve like a russian shot glass. is it a siren song or a shot glass? and why russian? you're like sir mixalot except you like mixed metaphors instead of big butts Another drink would be just the thing, I decide. After all, I've just broken up with someone and it's practically expected to have a few little tipples after such an emotional upheaval. When you're finally free from the stultifying expectations of coupledom, who doesn't want to lose just a little more control? i certainly do not recognise or relate to this strand of alcoholic brain thought and object to any suggestion that i might

Le Poisson d'Avril looms ahead, blinking garish purples and blues. I'd hadn't hmmmm? heard it was opening but here it is, spreading its wings like a liquid phoenix from the ashen puddle ALL OTHER BROTHERS CAN'T DENY of Scribblers this is a deep cut pander, i give you a sternly approbatory nod :hai: ; Cheap neon and mirror walls replacing he didn't know it had opened, so hasn't been in, so how does he know what is present continuously happening in there the faux wooden panelling and vomit-sodden carpets that had become too disgusting for even students and journalists. As I approach, one flashing sign advertises 'Cheap', another 'Shots' and between them a wipeable blackboard has the word 'Goldfish' next to some squiggles that could possibly be orange carp with a worried expression. lol get ready to party fish

Now, don't get me wrong. I love animals. Some of my best friends are complete vermin, or so I've been told. But I'm thirsty for escape. I carefully straighten up at the door, making a concerted effort this is a lazy phrase i think you can leverage your apparently considerable knowledge of quasi-functional alcoholism to nail the exact way boozed up people try to appear sober to not wobble, and flash a smile at the bouncer, who nods me through. Did he wink? Who cares? I glide through the door and into the embrace of coloured lights, soulless synths and the most tinny of drum machines.

The place teeters somewhere between half-full and half-empty. nice line Set up by the bar is a special seat next to an aquarium where a single goldfish swims from one end to another as if to say 'plenty more fish is a goddamn lie'. I watch its lack of progress compassionately and for a moment it stares back, its freaky googly fish eyes staring straight into the depths of my fermented soul. i thiiiiiink you missed a trick here to draw a line between the goldfish and the protag, to characterise the goldfish, to do something more than just have it look at him (though i like 'fermented soul'). This is a pivotal point in the story, and it's a significant flaw you don't make more of it. Then it turns away to look at a plastic pirate chest, which I take as a personal insult to my own booty. "Fuckin' fish," I say to the bartender, pointing at its flapping tail. "I'll drink that one." THERE IS ONLY ONE OF THEM choosing a particular one out of a set of one is not a choice it is a statement again, you could have done something with him choosing the most hosed up goldfish to open-throat here

The barman takes my twenty bucks, rings a bell, and sits me down on the straight-backed seat of worryingly sticky pleather. He lines up a couple of colourful bottles of hard stuff, then scoops the fish into a little net where it flaps about like an utterly rubbish bird. savage shade I can see its movements slow from the corner of my eye as they lean my head back and pour cheap spirits directly into my mouth. For a moment I can't breathe, I have to swallow, swallow, and the third time I swallow there is something moving down my throat. I want to gag but it's too late for that, it's tickling my oesophagus with its fins on its booze-slicked route stomachward. I cough, and can feel it flutter and slide as my throat and chest contract. There is a round of applause from the drunk suits who have gathered round to watch. I can't decide if the shot or being watched having it is the single most gross sensation I can remember. But then the alcohol kicks in and I forget about it and everything else…except, for some reason, something the barman said as he poured, about how the French stick paper fish on your unknowing back on April 1st, like some ratbag alien this is a p good para, but I'm unclear on what that connection between french people, paper fish, and alien puppeteers puppeteer dead set on making you look like an idiot.

Morning comes, because it's a bastard like that. protag: gently caress off sun u bright bastard One eye tries the whole opening thing, hates it, shuts again. But it has given me valuable info: I made it home. I am on top of my own bed. I am still fully clothed. This is basically a win, all things considered. lol yes hmm again have certainly not got any experience that might echo or mirror this

But something feels wrong. I reach out with my hands, touch the uncanny smoothness of the sheets. My bed has been made, and recently, which would make it the first time in roughly a decade. I groan, and massage my temples, but that's wrong too. It takes me a moment to notice why, to notice that the enormity of my inevitable hangover simply isn't there at all. My mouth has a distinct lack of sawdust and old sock coating it. There are no hammers pounding away at my cerebellum. I feel…good. This is not good. It should be good, but really it's strange and disturbing.

This is strange and disturbing, I say to myself. I swing my feet to the floor, move through to the kitchen. My entire flat is sparkling; generations of dirt, discarded clothes and pizza boxes, gone with the night. There's even a whiff of bleach in the air. Suspiciously, I sniff my hands. The telltale scent of cleaning products is all over them. "Who even are you?" I ask them, but they do not reply, not even in sign-language. On a hunch, I check my pockets for baggies of magical housekeeping powder, but come up empty there too.

On the kitchen table my laptop is open, plugged in at the wall beside my phone. Sure that I had left it by the sofa before I left, I shake the mouse until the screen sparks up, a bright white page with my CV on it. My recently updated CV. Suspicious, I check my email Sent: folder, and find incriminating outgoing job applications for positions in government and research institutes, all with timestamps between four and five a.m.

Then it hits me. Of course! It must have been Sarah! In some sick and sadistic form of revenge she followed me to the bar, dragged me out before I embarrassed myself, cleaned up my entire flat, updated my résumé and then posted job applications for me. I smile. Chicks can't help but love a fixer-upper.

I mean, that's a thing that happens, right? Yeah, it's out there, and indicates a certain lack of self-respect on her part. But it's plausible, isn't it? Because the only other explanation I've got is that it was the goldfish and that's some cosmic level crazy.

My phone beeps and shudders, lights up with the pic I took of Sarah at a coffee shop down south. A message from the ex. Here we go, I say to myself. Perfect timing. I'll answer this, and it will all be cleared up.

My hand refuses to move. and great close out, with the caveat that you LEAVE FLOPPING ON THE FLOOR a whole lot of cool magic realist goldfish based stuff in the middle of the story, like the goldfish fixing his life comes out of nowhere which is cool i guess but SO WHAT, mr mouse, so WHAT?? i'm mainly annoyed because i think this could have hit quite a lot harder than it does with a minimal amount of effort and let me tell u that is absolutely the best amount of effort. still a fun and funny story (booze!) that ends on a well-turned suspended note.

Ok so verdict - interestingly on my first skim read i had jib taking this, as i liked the naturalist chit chat and found mouse's a little arch, but on a more careful read CoYJ's makes a bunch of errors and is lacking some easily provided drama and tension, and while fumblemouse's missed a key trick (FLOPPING HELPLESSLY, WHY DON'T YOU PICK IT UP WHY) it was really a good fun time with a slick ending, and its rather more clumsy opponent falls short.

:siren:victory to the fumblest of mouses.:siren:

hard counter
Jan 2, 2015





in

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



IN for yokai week.

sebmojo posted:


:siren:victory to the fumblest of mouses.:siren:

thank you judge sebmojo

fumble you got me again. I doubt I can compete with the scripts or bots generating stories over there, but if you have something a non-coder can do for a few hours, I promised some effort as my penance. And you know you have a sucker here that will fall for the next prank hook, line, and sinker.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010


If you must blink, do it now.

Yoruichi posted:

Train youkai
The Longing (1140 words)

The town where Akiko lived was bisected, almost perfectly, by an old dried-up riverbed now overgrown with grass. An old red bridge, once majestic, spanned the chasm, joining the two halves with a view of the sunset. To the North slept the old town, where Akiko resided. To the South was the city where she worked, shopped, and ate. The walk to work was simple, almost automatic. The return trip, however, would call her to the sky. She’d stand there on the bridge, overlooking the grass, waiting for the daylight to recede into the night. It was during moments like these, when the bridge was deserted, she would reflect on the end of the Showa Era, when she came into possession of an old train car.

Akiko had been a visually striking youth, though not for the reasons she might’ve preferred. At 172 centimeters, a most unkind growth spurt, she towered over the other girls in her class, and even a number of the boys. Her height might have made her an object of adoration, had she given in to her teachers’ advice that she join the girls basketball team. Instead she was subject to ridicule and rumor, and contented herself with the search for solitude.

It was during such a search she discovered the train.

It, too, had been abandoned, left on some forgotten track running through the forest. A magnificent model, imperial in make, overgrown with plantlife, trapped between the trees. She recalled the old station, a spot for school trips. She’d heard all the cars had been shipped to museums. It seemed they’d missed one, or maybe they didn’t.

“You are no one’s, then? Very well. You are mine. You belong to me, and I am yours.”

So saying, satchel in hand, she approached the back steps. Interwoven in the grating were sharp shoots of grass. She carefully climbed, and entered the back, greeted by columns of faded, wooden seats. Two chairs to a side and twenty rows deep, with a moss-covered carpet straight down the middle. She had wondered if she wouldn’t find an animal or two, or perhaps the skeleton of a slumbering passenger. The windows within looked out on the forest, an infinite maze of green and brown pillars.

“Tickets, miss?”

She spun about. There, where she’d entered, stood a hunched, ancient figure. She stumbled backwards, eyes wide, mouth shut.

“Hmm.” The figure cocked its head. “No tickets?” It was then she realized it was dressed like a conductor. With a dried, bony figure, it pulled at its beard. Its skin was stretched taut, its eye sockets hollow.

“This.” She swallowed. She forced a calm face. “This is my train, sir. I don’t need a ticket to board my own train.”

“Oh, I see. So that’s how it is.”

The conductor nodded, and stepped down the aisle.

Looking to the side, Akiko scrambled for a seat. The conductor passed by her, and turned at the front. Surveying the seats, he seemed satisfied. He pulled out a whistle and raised it to his lips.

“All aboard? Very good.”

He blew into the whistle, but no sound came out. He tucked it away, and stood at attention. Akiko turned her head, her fingers gripping the back of the seat in front of her, but nothing happened. The car sat still. The sounds of the forest crept in from outside, intruding on the silence of the stationary train.

“Where are you off to today, miss?”

“Excuse me?”

“Ah, you must forgive me.” The conductor tipped his hat. “Us old folks like to talk. I assumed you were traveling. I apologize for prying.”

Akiko’s eyes narrowed. Who was this fellow? Despite his appearance, he didn’t seem dangerous. She looked out the window, into the woods. They were still here. They hadn’t moved at all.

“Why would we be traveling anywhere?”

“Well,” the conductor chuckled, “A train isn’t a destination in and of itself. Its purpose is to carry you where you’d like to go. Children may stop and admire now and then, but a train that doesn’t travel is no train at all.”

“Well then… I suppose I’m going nowhere.”

The conductor smiled. “As fine a place as any.”

Akiko surveyed the interior of the space. No passengers appeared. Nothing else had changed. She was sitting in a train car, abandoned in the woods, alone with her strange but professional companion.

“It… is a handsome train, sir. I can understand why the children marvel.”

The conductor puffed out his chest. “No finer train has ever graced these rails. Why the Emperor himself once inspected this compartment. I’ve never been prouder in all my years.”

“You met the Emperor?”

“You meet a lot of people in this business. Everyone’s got somewhere they need to go.”

“I see.”

Again her eyes drifted to the scenery out the window. The forest was still there. She looked beyond it. She saw her school, in need of renovation, desks arranged calmly in neat little squares. She saw her home above the store her father owned. She saw her mother washing dishes by the window. She saw the shore where her grandmother lived, and the cliff-side marker where her grandfather rested.

“So you’re the new owner, eh?” The conductor’s voice intruded on her thoughts. “Glad we finally met. But how did a girl your age come to own this magnificent train?”

Akiko’s attention flickered.

“I found it.”

“I see, I see. Well it’s good to be found.” He removed his cap completely, and bowed. “I’m grateful my employer has discriminating tastes.”

“How long has this train been out here?”

“Oh, some time now.” The conductor’s face fell. “It’s been awhile since anyone needed our services. I fear we’ve been forgotten.”

Akiko lowered her gaze to the back of the seat in front of her. The back of each seat boasted a pattern of bronze-infused lattice. Though green now, it had once been a brilliant shimmering color. Even so, it was beautiful, here at the end. Even forgotten, the care of its creation had been self-evident.

“To be used and forgotten. That is the way of things.” The conductor sighed, then regained his smile. “Thank you, owner, for needing us again, even if only for a moment.”

Akiko’s own smile was modest, tight-lipped, but her eyes betrayed a certain sincerity. She leaned out the window to follow the tracks. She looked back within. The conductor was gone.

The wind began to pick up on the bridge. Autumn had come, and winter would follow. Akiko considered the riverbed below the bridge, as she had the train those many years past. Though the river was gone, here stood a reminder, but only for those who cared to remember.

“You are mine,” she’d repeat to the emptiness between. “You belong to me, and I am yours.”

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flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!





prompt: Diner Youkai



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flerp fucked around with this message at 20:09 on Oct 9, 2022

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