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Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

im in. Blood Throne needs blood


Jun 23, 2022

It's a puzzle.
I am in please yes.

Feb 25, 2014
in flash

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

flerp posted:

in flash

Data Graham
Dec 28, 2009


Week 518 crits

My Heart Beats So That I Can Hardly Speak
I like the imagery and ornamentation and the jarring back-and-forth between Ruth's viewpoint and the Father's, but I couldn't dismiss thoughts of Cloud Atlas and Severance and think this could have used a bit more depth as to what's going on in the premise. It's hinting at plenty of interesting details on both sides that could make this way more engrossing or involve the reader more emotionally in the monstrous nature of the bait-and-switch. Plus points for the economy of storytelling primarily through dialogue in the first few lines especially, where you get all the salient points by reading between the lines.

Glass Case
This has a lot of potential, and I think the main weakness is related to the strength -- namely being swamped in jargon which a reader who knows how it all works can feel pretty much at home in, but it also means we need more of it if anyone else isn't going to be totally lost. As it is I can barely keep my footing without rereading every paragraph as I go. But I really like how the characterization sneaks up on you; only in the final chunk do you start to get how much of a mad-scientist Clay is, how his seeming reasonableness has led through what he has rationalized as normal reactions to the destruction of civilization. I like how compact and stream-of-consciousness it is; I think my main complaint (and it's very instructive) is that the jargon is totally impenetrable to a non-techy reader and needs to be softened a bit. Also could use a copy-edit pass, "incredulous" should be "incredible"

Grammatical nitpick: several occasions where commas are used that should be semicolons. That aside, I like the buildup and the flow, and the gradual shift toward Grundorf as the conduit of body-snatcher "evil" (I'm seeing a theme in these stories which may be inherent in the prompt, that the POV character is kind of necessarily going to be a monster in the eyes of everyone else). I feel like the end is rushed however, which seems like a result of word constraints; there's an abruptness to the final line of dialogue that seems like it wants to be more shocking than it is, and the briefness of that sequence helps that feeling, but maybe a little more could have been cut earlier to give Grundorf's inner monologue more room to breathe.

Follow the Light
I'd say this needs an edit pass, and more indication of where it's going toward the end. Good concept (the small-scale nature of the "spiritual" aspect is a welcome changeup from the civilization-wide things most are going for), but at the end it seems like it's going in a whole new direction that is unclear, plus the editing issues are pretty apparent. The "Henry hugged Jason" paragraph in particular needs attention -- is the box collapsed or not? Also pay attention to tense agreement ("he [has] set it to detect pressure" etc). One other thing that stood out to me is that I'm not buying Jason as a 2nd-grader. His dialogue is too well developed.

Holy poo poo, really good. Inventive, evocative, and I love the metaphors. The idea of the POV being an actual god feels really novel to me, not to mention the hints at a whole cosmology of deities that we see only in passing detail but get just enough of to feel like we see it clearly. Makes me want to extend the thinking and see how compatible this view would be to existing real-world religions. I suspect quite a lot. I especially appreciate the deftness of the "twist" -- the act of violence/betrayal being used as a simple landmark in the protagonist's lifecycle, matter-of-fact, horrific in its own way but kind of beautiful too in how well it works for the central characters. The imagery in those final scenes is just extremely vivid and seemingly obvious in retrospect too, which I think is a hallmark of success. If there's anything to critique about it, it's just mechanical stuff -- I think maybe a few of the references to "her" could stand clarifying as being about the girl and not the god itself.

The Second Coming
Excellent scene, action-packed, and creates a world for that action to live in without wasting any space. Good use of illustrative metaphors, like the waxworks figure and the smoke poured into resin. Lots of hinting at what is going on without being explicit about it, like not mentioning where the bullet is in the time-stop until it hits someone off-camera (lol). I felt like the skip in the action from the exit gap to vaulting over the wall of the cottage could have used a smoother transition, but the subsequent narration (like dancing over the guy wires) was all so vivid it felt like that was an intentional elision. Maybe could have used a little more of an elliptical reference to things like "the cult", like I doubt the protagonist would refer to it that way maybe? Generally speaking really good scene, but thinking about it maybe the ambiguity of where it leaves us is the most alarming piece — Tommy and the cult around him is clearly a real supernatural force that deserves its following, but not for the reasons or according to the rituals the cult members give it, i.e. they themselves don't understand what they have in Tommy. Not sure if that counts as a mark against this, because maybe extending this story to something bigger would fall apart at the edges. There's not much gray area here between 1000-word story and fully-realized novel.

Fragments from the book of Danhune, 4th Verse (Revised English Edition)
drat, I'm a sucker for stuff like this. I love how dense it is, and how easily it draws on relevant knowledge, and how it hints just barely but enough at the surrounding sorta-real-history that it fits into. Very poetic and ringing in its execution too; "We were too tired to live, yet too afraid to die" is a great line. If there's anything I would criticize it might be that the use of contractions seems jarring, like "would've"; I suspect these are the result of word-count paring-down, and there are of course no rules about how colloquially a hypothetical translator would render these passages, but it makes it ring somewhat untrue to me that the language dips so frequently between archaic narrative forms and modern grammatical convention. In fact since the gimmick is so pervasive and so careful in how it adheres to the ersatz "academic reconstruction" template, it almost makes me feel like there is a weakness in how vivid and how clearly told the story is, if that makes any sense. Like it should be more esoteric, more impenetrable, more ambiguous, like something someone would translate off a degraded wall of cuneiform. Calling it "fragments" suggests something more, well... fragmentary.

Zed's Testament
Lovely piece of narrative, excellent use of idiom and vocabulary. The party piece of course is the roundabout filling-in of the backstory of the group, how it sounds at first like they're a bunch of formulaic street toughs from a hard-boiled midcentury potboiler or something, but with the narrator's tats and Hopper's presentation stuff it's clear there's something very either alternate-universey or not-too-distant-futurey about it, and that's where the imagination really takes root. I want to know more about this world and how it looks now that people like this inhabit it. I can hardly find anything to criticize either; it's beautifully self-contained by nature of its title and framing as possibly the transcript of a dictated deposition of some kind. The supernatural element of it is only one piece of several and it kind of fades to the background and its greater significance to the world seems to be left deliberately vague—but calling this a "testament" and rendering it this way suggests there's other such stories accompanying it from other people, and more going on with the world as a result of encounters like this one. Nicely done.

The Arrival
It's hard to know what to make of this one. Really nice dreamlike narrative quality, with an unmoored feeling of time and place which fits nicely with the setting, and the texture is evocative and effective, both unsettling and peaceful at once. But ultimately I don't know what is actually going on, who the long man and Mir are, and I feel like I'm dumb for not getting it. I also sort of feel like there's a tendency in modern storytelling to give mundane-feeling dialogue to otherworldly characters, present-day colloquialisms in the mouths of gods, just because that was a joke at one poiint (in a literary tradition where we were used to mythic figures speaking lo-and-forsoothly) and now we just do it as a matter of course without even thinking about it. Of course the long man is a quirky old guy with an umbrella saying things like "very nice" while the universe is being created. This isn't a negative so much as an observation about possible influences. There's deliberately plenty being left unsaid because that's the nature of this piece, but ultimately I'm not sure what to take from it or how to feel. Is this our universe? Is Mir's inexperience to blame for our world's foibles? Should I read any commentary at all in this, or is it just an atmospheric existential musing? I guess I just want more.

Jan 20, 2012

In and flash

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give


Jun 20, 2013

Complete newbie coming in hot.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In flash

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

sebmojo posted:

In flash

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

I am judge of your bad words.

Jan 20, 2007


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Signups closed, one judge spot remains open.

Jun 23, 2022

It's a puzzle.
Week 519 Entry

The General Report
919 Words

I enter the Black Site, scrutinizing the faces of the guards I walk past. Do any seem out of place? Do any of them not belong? It’s difficult to tell through their helmets. I pass through the metal detectors and begin to remove my protectivewear. I place my respirator on the conveyor and begin to unzip my government issued coveralls. I check my inner jacket pocket for yesterday’s copy of The General Report, knowing that one way or another, it will be the last one I’ll ever publish.


Rejoice, fellow citizens! For their is news today of yet another victory by our courageous leader, General Robertson! The General’s impeccable service record continues, with his untarnished history for squashing any feeble attempts to endanger our perfect way of life. The General iz indomitable and all citizens prosper under his unparalleled leadership.

As the battles against Ariaeus rage on, The General has successfully held their forces at bay. There have been know casualties significant enough to make our brave forces falter. Under his brave leadership, the warr has been fought on Ariaeus soil, keeping our civilians safe at home. Our enemy, however, is cowardly and duplicitous. Agents from Ariaeus continue to abduct our loyal citizens from their homes in the dead of night. It is believed that the kidnapped citizens showed disloyalty to our cause, which prompted Ariaeus to abduct them in the hopes they would turn their allegiance againts The General. So fret not, my fellow citizens! For as long as you remain loyal to The General, you have no reason to fear.

These abductions by Ariaus have become fodder for more wild conspiracy theories by the terrorist organization Soleschism. These impudent rebels have been nothing more than a wart marring our utopia. They use secret messages to organize feeble attempts to sabotage The Genral’s glorious regime. They believe that the perfection and free speach we experience is an illusion, and they manufacture baseless lies that no rational citizen would believe.

One example of their delusional rhetoric: they do not believe that The General has cured our people of all illnesses, but that any sick citizens are killed. This, of course, iz ludicrous. Every case they cite was a healthy citizen who was kidnapped and murdered by our true enemy, the kingdom of Ariaeus. The delusional members of Soleschism do not believe we are not nowe, nor have we ever been at war with Ariaeus, and they attribute all the war casualties to The General himself.

The General received troubling word through his infallible intelligence network that Soleschism was plotting a vile assassination at his Citizens Address tommorrow afternoon. They planned to infiltrate the event security staff and sabotage the air circulation unit so it pumped unfiltered air in frum outside the building. This reckless plan would have resulted in the deaths of every won in The General’s central staff, which would include those of us honored with the position of General Reporters. Fortunately, The General, in his infinite wisdom, was able two prevent this ghastly attack.

The General has always known the names of every member of Soleschism, as well as the locations four all their bases of operation. He has allowed them to continue organizing because furst and foremost he believes in a free and fair exchange of ideas. He also believed them to be a pointless and weak group not worthy of his esteemed attention. However, this reckless assassination plan warranted a measured response. Shortly after midnight last night, his demolition agents launched a coordinated assault against every building and side streete Soleschism has been known to meet in. These buildings and their surroundings are all reduced to ash, and Soleschism will not be remembered by history.

The General’s victory was comprehensive, but some apprehension remains amongst his longe standing security team. They have increased security measures for all lyve broadcast Citizens Addresses. Henceforth The General’s location will remain privileged information, known only to his central staff. This will make any attempt on his life impossible, which will protect all citizens from any future plots from terrorists like Soleschizm.


I had been certain the General’s Editors would flag this report before publication. I am certain they will find my message eventually, but hopefully it will be too late. With any luck, Soleschism will act on it first. I enter the small auditorium where The General will deliver his Citizens Address. I see him just offstage, ignoring an earnest councilmember. He looks almost human without the lights and cameras on him. I take my place in the seating designated for the General Reporters. There are only four of us left. We have not asked about the others. Soon these three will not ask what happened to me. I glance around the room, checking for any indication something is amiss. All seems machinelike and orderly. I am devastated. I have risked everything to no avail. The room falls quiet. The lights and cameras power on. The General approaches the podium.

He is powerful. He is godlike. He is terrifying. The introductory fanfare subsides. The General inhales powerfully to begin his speech and suddenly--he coughs. The General coughed. Live, on the Citizens Address. He continues coughing. A horrible, rasping, violent cough. Those immediately around him join. The coughing spreads. The entire room is unable to breathe. We begin to spit blood. People are collapsing. Even The General falls to his knees. The room is getting dark and I know this is the end. It actually worked.

Jun 20, 2013

Week 519

Power Intoxicating
Words: 803

Our civilisation started with beer.

It seems a simple thing to say. It was only logic. The earliest brewers discovered that beer made from tainted water was better to drink than the water itself. That fermenting unleavened bread produced something that could keep a workforce going for hours. These early folk demanded more of this miracle substance, and this demand led to greater use of agriculture. As the wilds were converted to fields, the families that knew the alchemy of alcohol became our rulers. They controlled the amber flow. They were our first kings.

We lived in peace during those early days. But peace is ever fleeting and our kings were not always kind. What was learned once could be learned again, and this simple fact shattered us.

A poor family on the outskirts of our lands had been exiled into the lands to the west. The lands of exile were fair, but far from the heart of the Barleylands, far from the brewing crocks of our kings, and thus lands without law or worth. The family in exile were forced to scavenge, living off the land like our primitive ancestors. A young man, starving, found a bountiful tree where bright fruit had dropped across the ground. Cramming the semi-rotten fruit into his mouth, the young man recognised a taste that he had all but forgotten. The taste of alcohol.
The elders of the Exiles consulted and plotted. Could beer be made from apples? Could the power of the Old Kings be usurped?

The Old Kings had forgotten the Exiles, or thought them dead. They had been gone for a hundred years, gone to a land without Barley, banished without the Blessed Alchemy. The King that ruled was a harsh man, rationing the populace to maintain as much influence over the people as possible. He was shocked when he heard there was an envoy waiting.
The envoy bore the tattoos and garb of the Exiles, and the king stared in confusion. Not only was this woman standing proud in his court, but she bore stout casks; the same the Old Kings used for beer. The king demanded an explanation. The envoys' words are carved into the Hall of Kings to this day.

"Listen now, King of Beer
For this day is your last.
Tap these casks
And taste of our brew.
A cider of unsurpassed potency.
The secret of your power
Long held these long years
Is ours to command.
We know the secret of brewing.
The alchemy of yeast and time.
We can brew life from poison
Fuel from water.
Taste our cider
And know your time is through.
The age of Beer is over."

The Exiles returned, bringing their new brew. They deposed the seat of the Old Kings and took control.
But power is intoxicating. The secret was never safe.
From the southern mountains, mining guilds brewed the skins of tubers into a clear liquid fire, and Cider was replaced by Vodka. The shamans that rooted through forest and glen shaved bark and mushroom, brewing absinthe and casting Vodka aside for a dynasty ruled by hallucination and madness. Absinthe begat Whiskey. Whiskey begat Barleywine. Alcohol, once the cornerstone of our civilisation, became the cause of all ills. We descended into war. We slaughtered each other for control.
All we built burned, while we thought ourselves kings.

An age of war left us exhausted. There was no brew strong enough to revive us. There was only one option remaining; peace.
The twelve families met in what remained of our capital. Each held the secret to one of the Great Liquors. The negotiations raged late into each night, with bowls of mead, bear, cider, and more soothing every throat. In time, an accord was reached.

The Council has ruled us for ten centuries, with the families of each of the great houses providing a representative. The twelve Great Liquors were codified, their ingredients carved into the Hall of Kings, where only the council may see. The Council has brewed the finest alcohol for themselves; brews laced with drugs and strange substances, all to extend their lives and keep them in power. Any attempt to expand upon the Great Liquors is met by violence. The roads in the Barleylands are lined with gibbets and cages, brass plates reading Moonshiner proclaiming their crimes.
I am a new class of criminal. I am a new breed of soldier. My blade is Tequila. My harness is Rum. My friends, my brothers and sisters, meet in speakeasies scattered through the Barleylands, sharing recipes, mixing one concoction with another. We are the cocktail generation, hated and feared by the monolithic ancients that claim to rule us.

Our civilisation was built on beer. When we were greatest, it was free for us all.
We will make alcohol free again.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Week 519 Entry

Selling Quiltenbach
1148 words

"Sell, Joe. I'm telling you, sell Quiltenbach right now, or you'll be up gently caress creek without a cock."

The white impressions Joe's fingertips left in his reddened forehead when he looked up resembled a diamond-studded ruby crown.

"What the hell does that mean?" Joe asked.

"It means if you don't sell, and the market drops another five points, we'll all be shopping around for new cocks to gently caress each other with," said Brandon, planting his hands on Joe's desk.

"Christ, I gotta piss," muttered Joe. He got up but paused by the door. "Nobody's getting hosed, alright? Everyone's keeping their... everything. Trust me."

"Cherish these last few moments with your cock in your hand, Joe," Brandon called after him. "All the banks are circling and they all want a bite!"

Brandon hadn't slept in two days, and he was sweating thickly. He took a tin out of his breast pocket and squeezed behind the open door to snort a bump of cocaine. A light knock on the door made him spill a little. Brandon tucked the tin away and wriggled his head around the door.

It was Louis Healy, in his bad suit, holding his little greek coffee cup, which had to be at least half full of vodka. "What's up?" Asked Louis.

Brandon pinched his face and meandered the room, then rushed to Louis and grabbed his arm, hissed in his ear. "Get the team together. Everyone who's loyal to me. I need everyone. Conference room in five. It's happening."

Louis' eyes went wide. He grinned and swigged back his "coffee". He gripped Brandon's shoulder for a moment, then hooted, jumped and clicked his heels, and disappeared between the cubicles. Brandon wished he could feel the excitement of the moment like that, but there was too much weighing on him. His jaw wiggled insanely.

Five minutes later, Joe passed by the conference room and rubberbanded back. Nearly every trader in the firm was there. He looked for his nephews Jim and Kelvin, but they weren't there. Louis looked over, holding the projector remote in his hand. The fan on the projector started to blast.

"Mr. McEnany, sir," shouted Louis. "Any news?" Joe hesitated under the expectant eyes of so many young traders, nearly 20 in all.

"I'm glad you're all here," said Joe. "I want to thank everyone for putting in such long hours these past few days. And I know you've been waiting to hear my position on the Quiltenbach account. Well, I've decided... we're going to hold, for now. Not selling. In fact, if the numbers shape up, it may be prudent to buy in more. Buy the dip." The gathered traders murmured amongst themselves. Unhappy murmurs.

"Now, if anyone has anything they'd like to say, this is the time. I understand there are strong feelings right now. You probably overheard my discussion with Mr. Polones... Speaking of, where is..." Joe trailed off, hearing the squeak-click of the door closing behind him. He turned to face Brandon, who wore a dark expression and held something shiny in his hand.

Brandon flicked the butterfly knife open and shut repeatedly. "It's, uhh..." Brandon started, chuckling to himself. "It's not good, Joe." He nodded to Louis, who rushed to the presentation laptop and clicked around until a slideshow came up on-screen. Selling Quiltenbach: Pros vs. Cons

"Pro," said Brandon, affecting nonchalance even as his eyes darted around the room unstoppably. "These talented, smart, professional traders can claw back their leveraged positions. Some of them can even take a nice little profit."

Joe edged away toward the door. Louis took a few quick, long strides and got between him and his escape. "No," Louis said quietly, spilling a little bit from his cup onto Joe's shoe.

"Pro," continued Brandon. "And this is a good one! We all get to keep our loving cocks attached to our loving bodies. I don't know about you, but that sounds like an okay deal to me, right?"

"This kind of crude language has no place in my office," said Joe without a hint of a smile.

Brandon smirked, pretending to pick at his fingernails with the knife. "You're a nice guy, Joe. But you're boring. You're small. You're yesterday. You're ouch. Ow, gently caress. gently caress!" Blood streamed down his hand from under his fingernail. "Jesus, what in..."

"drat," said Louis.

Joe rolled his eyes. "Enough of this, I'm calling an ambu--"

"No!" Screamed Brandon, stabbing the knife into the conference room table top. He clutched his bleeding hand and moaned through the pain. "Con, Joe! Con! The con is, if Quiltenbach sells, then you--" Brandon tried to stick his bloody finger in Joe's forehead, but Joe jumped away and Brandon smeared blood across the front of his shirt instead. "--will be revealed as a coward. A sucker. Wrong. Completely smooth. Utterly… cockless. Naked, in front of the whole world, and the only thing swinging between your legs are those fat, hairy, useless balls of yours."

Joe could take a lot of abuse. He was a tough little guy. But after that tirade, he was beet red all the way up like a summertime thermometer. His fists cranked open and shut as he whirled on the assembled traders.

"You all agree with this? This... bullying? You, Dobbins? Even you??"

The spectacled beanpole Dobbins scooched to the back of the crowd and hid. Another trader called out, "Just sell!" The assembled traders agreed, stomping their feet and howling.

"This is bullshit," screeched Joe, loosening his tie. The deafening projector fan and his own pulse rushed in his ears, driving him stark raving mad. "Bullshit!"

Louis approached him slowly. "Woah, Joe. Calm down. We can still fix this." He pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, flipped it open, and held it out. "Make the call. Sell."

Joe looked to Brandon, sitting triumphantly next to his stuck knife, squeezing his still-gushing fingertip, and back at the phone. Joe snapped. He took the phone and hurled it hard. It missed Brandon and shattered the window behind him. Lower Manhattan wind roared into the room.

Frothing at the mouth, Joe put his head down and charged. Brandon tried to get his knife, but his hand was too slippery. It clattered to the floor while Joe grabbed Brandon's lapels. They lurched around the room, Joe delivering punishing body blows. The traders screamed and crushed themselves into the far corner.

With his height advantage, Brandon maneuvered Joe to the window. Louis came up from behind and, without waiting for orders, lifted Joe up and threw him out the window. Brandon went right along with him. Both of them, gone. Louis looked around the room for Brandon, his grin slowly fading. He slumped to the floor, head in his hands. The frigid winds of finance were all that remained.

One-by-one, the traders all flipped open their phones, dialed, and whispered: "Sell."

Jan 20, 2012

Radio Star


MockingQuantum fucked around with this message at 22:10 on Dec 10, 2022

Oct 6, 2021

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

Did I sign up? No. Subbing anyways. I'm also editing it, because gently caress it.

Pizza Day, Forever

906 words

Mr. Erickson, the gym teacher, hurled the pop machine against the teacher's lounge door.

"That should hold 'em," he said, then turned to Mr. Gildseth. "You should count yourself lucky I haven't thrown you out there with them!"

No one knew how long the fuel of rebellion had been accumulating, but the spark that finally ignited it was Mr. Gildseth's insistence that his fourth-grade class redo a homework assignment after only checking the work of the two kids who hadn't done it. After an impassioned speech by Xander "Pudge" Toftness, revolution was roaring through the schoolhouse halls like a nuclear shockwave.

"Now is not the time for laying blame," said Mr. Gildseth.

"That's what the blameworthy always say," sneered the old music teacher, Mrs. Wall, extending her wretched, papery finger at Gildseth.

"I will be happy to take the blame after we've taken back this school!" declared Gildseth. "What's the status on kindergarten?"

"Completely overrun," bawled Mrs. Henk, cowering in the corner, covered in either blood or red fingerpaint.

"What about the principal's office?" said Gildseth. "If we can access the intercom, maybe we can…"

The intercom speaker made its squeaky little on noise.

"Attention, Rocky Branch Elementary, this is Interim Principal Pudge," came a deep-for-its-age-but-still-pretty-high voice. "To the teachers holed up in the teacher's lounge, know that this war is not what we wanted. We came to school to learn. We were taught that if we worked hard, we would have the opportunity to play equally hard. That the class with the best anti-smoking door decorations would receive a pizza party in turn. That if we did our homework, we would get a chance to spend a peaceful, homeworkless night.

"Mr. Gildseth has broken that promise. Twenty of the twenty-two students in his class did the assigned social studies worksheet about the construction of the Erie Canal, and yet Mr. Gildseth chose to punish the whole class on the negligence of the two who did not. Our feud is not with the many kind, caring, good teachers of Rocky Branch. Our feud is with Mr. Gildseth alone! Bring us Mr. Gildseth, and this can continue to be a place of learning. But if not, every day shall be pizza day, and we will have inadequate study for the standardized tests. You have until my mom picks me up to decide." The intercom squeaked off.

The teachers did not have to wait for Pudge's mom to pick him up. They surrounded Gildseth, Erickson tapping a full coffee pot against his palm like a hammer.

"Please," said Gildseth. "We're teachers. We don't negotiate with children!"

Erickson smashed the coffee pot against Gildseth's head. Gildseth was unsure if the broken glass or the hot coffee hurt more, but each on its own definitely hurt less than the hot coffee getting into the cuts from the broken glass. The teachers grabbed Gildseth's flailing body as Erickson started to heave the pop machine out of the way of the door. Inch by inch, it nails-on-chalkboarded across the floor, until…

The children, boys and girls both, K through five, stormed into the room, wielding balls of dodge and kick.

"No!" shrieked Mrs. Wall. "It was a trap! They didn't want Gildseth! They just wanted our secret, enormous trove of candy and video games!" She got hit with a lightly tossed dodgeball, which instantly shattered her entire ribcage.

Mr. Erickson ran to guard the entrance to the combination Arcade and Candytorium, but jump ropes extended to bind his arms and legs. Erickson screamed and flexed his biceps, and the jump ropes snapped. He pushed forward, but now the children were upon him, climbing him until he could not be seen under the swarmy mass of kids, until even the shape of him dissipated into the crowd, until it looked as if he were never there at all.

Through it all, Gildseth remained on the floor, feeling each sneaker against his chest, listening to the children argue about who got to play Fortnite before they realized that the teacher's lounge had enough Fortnite for everyone.

Xander Toftness marched into the teacher's lounge. He wasn't not fat, but he was not-fat enough that it was strange that he was the one that ended up with the "Pudge" nickname.

"...Pudge…" Gildseth groaned.

Pudge looked down at Gildseth with a look of bored pity.

"How did you know?" said Gildseth.

"My mom used to be a teacher," said Pudge. "I've long heard tales about the room of candy and video games in every school. There's just one thing I never figured out. Teachers hate candy and video games. Why build such a room in the first place?"

"I don't know," said Gildseth. "Maybe we thought we could get our childhood back if we could build an altar to it."

"But being a kid isn't about eating candy and playing video games," said Pudge. "Being a kid is about doing homework, getting yelled at, having everybody make all the choices for you. You grown-ups are the ones that have all the fun."

"Oh, Pudge. You dumb, stupid, idiot baby," said Gildseth, then expired from his wounds.

Pudge walked reverently into the Arcade and Candytorium. It wouldn't last; soon SWAT teams would burst through the doors to arrest the children for many, many murders. But for a few glorious minutes, it was the best day ever.

Albatrossy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 01:26 on Jul 18, 2022

Lovely Ghost
Jul 12, 2022
My very first Thunderdome, and I didn't say I was "in" before the sign-up cutoff. I understand if I'm disqualified for this week, but at least wanted to submit the piece I wrote. Looking forward to participating in more of these.


I Wonder Who’s Asleep in There
by Lovely Ghost

1068 words


Grint’s boots clicked rhythmically against the titanium flooring as he walked the halls connecting Suites 431 through 439. Gold-plated metal and sapphire swirls adorned the elongated walls, the pattern crawling up overhead in an arch and sparkling along the seam of his peripheral. As Grint walked, his movement was followed by screens on either side, each displaying a sunny beach vista as they slid across the walls in perfect sync with his pace.

Sandy beaches was the chosen theme for today. Each time he worked a guard shift, the hallway showed him a different visual of the planet his people had left behind. Yesterday, the screens illuminated a sweeping mountain landscape. The day before that, a river snaking through a green forest.

“Earth sure was beautiful,” Grint mumbled.

All colonists were educated with many details of Earth, from its natural formations to the crowded streets and smoggy sea of buildings. But like the many that had come before him, Grint would never really know Earth; only the planet’s final creation: refugee vessel SSE Aurora, and the vast reaches of black and stars that stretched infinitely in every direction.

A melodious whistling carried from Grint’s lips as he approached Suite 433, deciding it was time he resumed his game. He habitually straightened his gray uniform, as if risking inspection from his shift manager, and then carefully touched the sealed entrance to 433.

“Hello,” he sighed, admiring the embossed pattern on the immovable doors, “I wonder who’s asleep in there. A beautiful singer, maybe? Long, blonde hair. Still wearin’ your favorite purple dress. I bet you toured with a blues band and became a beloved icon; a window to a better time during the ragin’ city fires.”

“Viola Price,” he decided, “Yes, Viola Price. A proper name to bring the blues genre back in form.”

While on patrol, Grint enjoyed coming up with stories for the Sleepers that were behind each set of golden doors. Years ago, it had simply been a way to pass the time, but he’d be lying if he didn’t admit that, one-sided as they may be, he looked forward to these conversations more than the ones waiting for him at home.

“Must be nice, eh Viola?” Grint asked, “Driftin’ in a peaceful slumber, safe in your cryo pod, not a single worry. Never agin’ while entire generations live out their entire lives servin’ the colony. You’ll never know the abyssal existence that is hard labor from 9 years old to death. Young men dyin’ in the engine rooms, young women birthin’ new workers every year; each of us destined to become recycled food centuries before the Aurora reaches paradise.”

He continued running his hand along the gold etching, tracing the pattern with his rough fingers.

“You and all the Sleepers got to preserve your beauty, didn’t ya?” Grint smiled, “Your exact self that left Earth. You closed your eyes as the old planet breathed its last, and in what will seem like an instant, you’ll open them as the owner of a new planet. All because you were somebody before the world ended, and our ancestors weren’t.”

Grint recognized the delicate naivety to that circumstance, and he pitied them. The Sleepers would never truly understand the stacks of dead that sacrificed everything in service of the Aurora, assuring the voyage to paradise continued onward. Earth’s most fortunate and famous, safe and sound in their pods, would simply wake once the journey was over and resume their life of plenty on a new Earth.

His mind wandered to his wife, Ofeena, her scarred hands working tirelessly in the recycling chamber each day, ensuring everyone in the colony got their proteins and water rations. Despite their marriage and subsequent pregnancy being arranged by the council, they had both admitted that they were a better match than most. They shared the same affinity for old Earth music and Ofeena’s melancholic humor tickled Grint in just the right way.

But after the recent birth of their first son, Olaf—who took after his daddy with an untameable mane of dark hair—Ofeena spent most of her time crying or watching rocks float by as they drifted amidst the black.

Now that Olaf was born, she was required to carry another child. And how could Grint blame her for reacting the way she had? How could they possibly bring more children into the endless, digestive maw that was the Aurora’s workforce? Dooming them to a short life, bloodied from labor, brittle from hastily scrubbed oxygen and malnutrition. Grint and his family would never know air that wasn’t breathed millions of times over or food that wasn’t vat-grown or recycled from their dead.

“Don’t get me wrong, Viola,” Grint said to the golden doors, “I’ve always been grateful for what I have. I’m not swelterin’ away in the engine rooms, or riskin’ my limbs gettin’ smashed in the water processors. I get to spend my days with interestin’ folk like you. Walkin’ these spectacular halls, dreaming up stories. But...”

But now he had a son.

Grint tapped on the transparent keyboard next to the “433” plaque, logging into the main power grid for Viola’s room. The credentials hadn’t been easy for a simple guard to come by. But relationships with similar-minded people, had gotten him access.

“Now,” Grint continued, pacing back and forth, “I do wish I would’ve gotten to know you, Vi. I would have liked for you, all of you, to see the next Earth. But as long as the Aurora’s precious energy keeps your pod powered and these lavish halls lit, the colony will always be suffering. Scroungin’ for every last drop of power.”

“If it makes you feel any better,” Grint forced a smile, moisture welling up in his eyes, “I won’t get to see paradise either. Nor will my son. But, maybe one day, his children’s children’s children will get to see the future humanity creates on a new world.”

With a bite of his lip, Grint dragged his finger down the screen, reducing Suite 433’s power to zero. A portion of the hall dimmed and a monotonous hum from within the room dulled. Grint let out a long sigh, wiping a tear onto his sleeve before straightening and setting toward Suite 434.

He approached the set of golden doors and placed a hand on the brilliant etching.

“Hello,” he said softly, “I wonder who’s asleep in there.”

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:


The man called M posted:

To make things official, I choose Anemic Structure.
Anemic Structure: Slightly Bloodier and Definitely More Structured Edition
2200 w

Where am I? He untangled himself from the sweat soaked sheet that snaked around his legs like chains. OK, I made it home. He rolled off the creaking twin mattress and raked the blinds in a futile attempt to close them any tighter. God, my eyes burn. He flipped the bathroom light on, and immediately back off. Too much, too bright. The ruddy mirror showed his face, or a pallid reflection of it anyway, haggard, hair knotted and limp around his ears. He wiped at the flakes of sick around his mouth. Not sick. Blood. He ran his tongue around his mouth and everything seemed in order. Nose was fine. No obvious wounds on his sallow frame. My blood? He rubbed his neck as he stumbled back out into the studio apartment and found the bundle of clothes hastily stripped the night before. The collar was discolored with spiky rivulets, and a deep red bib stained the front. Not my blood? Not my blood.

Boom. Boom. Boom. His head pounded. Boom. Boom. Boom. Only with the voice, did he realize it wasn’t just his head. Someone at the door. Cops? “Hey, rear end in a top hat, open up.” No, it was Rowan, shrill voice cutting through his fog. He kicked the clothes under his bed and staggered to the door. “Open up,” they said again. He squinted through the peephole, and they stood under the fluorescents, jet black hair and and piercings shining, a well-worn and not-so-ironic Corpse Bride hoodie, incongruous in the bright neutral hallway.

“Go away, Rowan.”

“Wonderboy lives,” they said, and pounded on the door again.

Larkin pieced a memory together. poo poo, Lissa’s parents’ anniversary dinner. “OK, I’m just jumping in the shower, give me a minute.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I know I’m running late, I’ll meet you at your car.”

Rowan pounded on the door again. “What are you talking about?”

“The dinner. Be ready in a minute.”

“That was two days ago, fuckhead.”

Two days? “Two?” he asked.

“You never answered the door, never showed at the party, and haven’t answered your phone since. What the hell. If you’re breaking up with her, you’re a real piece of poo poo.”

He unbolted the door and it swung open a crack. “No, no, no. I’ve been sick.”

Rowan pushed their way into the apartment, and immediately regretted it. “It stinks in here. Bad.” As Rowan’s eyes adjusted to the dimness, they took in his sorry state.

“I told you.”

Rowan backed out of the apartment to the relative comfort of the sterile hallway. “Wait, wait, wait,” said Larkin. “How’s Lissa?”

“Not so great. You better call her. I was about to beat your rear end, but. . . .”

“Yeah, I will.” Larkin hung on the doorknob for support, eyes closed and shielded with his other hand. “Uh. . . .”

Rowan watched as beads of sweat formed on his thin chest and he went from sticky ghost to a slick pile of sticks as he collapsed. Rowan shouted his name, but it was quiet and distant, and getting farther and farther away until finally, nothing.


It was too quiet at the bookstore where Rowan and Lissa shared a shift. The owner, known only as Whitefeather, was deep in a horticulture book, trying to navigate a better yield on the rooftop pot farm that was really their primary source of income. Lissa rearranged the tarot cards and glassware, and felt a little relieved that her parents never popped in to discover that it was more head shop than a Barnes and Noble. Rowan faffed in the back where the previous lessee left a number of costumes and props from an ill-fated rental business. Rowan emerged wearing a crushed velvet cape and hat, wobbling on thigh-high platforms, a Renaissance Rocky Horror, and slapped a dress on the counter in front of Lissa.

“Found one for you.”

“I’m not in the mood,” replied Lissa.

“Just try it on. I’m bored. Besides, what can you do? There’s a thing in the park tonight, and I’m going. So should you. If you’re there looking legit, they won’t get on my case so much about this.” Rowan twirled, and the cape spun, knocking patchouli incense off the shelf. Whitefeather didn’t look up. Lissa had been dragged to a few sessions of live-action roleplaying by Rowan, and didn’t feel much up to being a shield when Rowan inevitably made an anachronistic scene.

It was close to nine, and so long as things were in relative order, they could just lock the door and be done. Lissa could go home and back to bed. Lissa skirted the counter and bent down to pick up the boxes Rowan has scattered as the door chime rang and two statuesque figures entered the shop.

They looked like they had already pillaged the costume room, high frilly collars and and velour to the nines. In the light from the salt-crystal lamps their faces were chiseled with a sharp relief of shadows. Rowan immediately left Lissa to the cleaning and hobbled over to them, enchanted.

Lissa finished stacking the display and leaned against the counter, arms folded. Her phone rang. At first she thought it was the nine o’clock alarm and reprieve, but she saw the name and stared at it in disbelief before answering. “Larkin? Oh my god, you’re awake.”

“Not feeling so hot. I can’t hold any food down. The IV wasn’t working, they had to give me a transfusion. They say it’s some kind of anemia. I—I’m sorry I missed your parents’ party.”

Rowan led the pair to the register to ring up their purchases, a stack of occult books and a costume case while Rowan prattled about the LARP campaign in an attempt to convince them, while the two looked bemused.

“Don’t worry about that, Larkin, I’m relieved you’re up.”

It was difficult to tell the two apart, but the one a smidge taller cocked their head and in an indistinctly European accent said, “Larkin. That’s an unusual name. Strange coincidence that we encountered a Larkin only a few days ago.” They mumbled to each other quickly in a language Lissa was unfamiliar with.

“Yes,” said the other, “At the Gunpowder Club. A delicious waif of a boy.”

“Three nights ago?” asked Lissa. “At a club?”

Lissa barely heard Larkin over the ringing in her ears. “Lissa? Who are you talking to? Those voices.”

Lissa flipped through her phone and showed them a photo of her and Larkin. They conferred and confirmed as Rowan bagged their merchandise and walked them out the door. They chatted briefly outside.

“Hello? Lissa?” Larkin was ever more distant as Lissa lowered the phone, she didn’t hear him say, “I’m checking myself out. I can explain.” Lissa ran to catch them, a stream of questions suddenly filling her mind as the shock and surprise wore off. She nearly crashed into Rowan coming back in, and when they turned to follow the duo, the strange pair were nowhere to be seen, vanished between the streetlights that were now popping on, haloes in the darkness.

“Where did they?”

Rowan shrugged, then said excitedly, “They’re meeting me on campus in an hour. Reylene is going to flip her poo poo.”

Lissa grabbed the dress Rowan had chosen for her. “Are you really wearing that?”

Rowan shrugged again and said, “You’re right. Should accessorize some more.”

Armed with a wizard’s staff and a dull costume cutlass, Rowan proclaimed themself ready, and the Renaissance princess, Lissa of Avalon, and the Bondage Pirate Sorcerer, Frank of The Darkhold locked Whitefeather in with a wave and were off for a LARP and a reckoning.


The gang gathered in the quad and Reylene’s tutting about Rowan’s costume grew more disdainful. Rowan just kept saying “Hold on,” and scouting the perimeter for her new ‘friends.’

Then they were there, standing beside Rowan as though they had always been there. Two awe inspiring visages dressed in the crimson robes of the Inquisition. One carried the implements of a vampire hunter, the other a witchfinder. “Very kitsch, no?” asked the Witchfinder, but no one felt the need to answer.

Reylene recapped the previous session and introduced the mystery of the evening, a murder at court, possibly and probably inspired by the new participants. “Phones in the basket, you know the rules.” Rowan protested as Reylene dragged the Inquisition to her clique, but Reylene said, “You’re in the laboratory. In the cellar. I’ll summon you when it’s your turn for questioning.”

Rowan and Lissa went to the pavilion and sat on the steps as Reylene’s gang marched in a tight group and disappeared around the corner of the student union. “Can you believe that?” said Rowan. “Our freaking friends.”

“Do you even know their names?” asked Lissa.

“Well. . . .”

On the corner of the quad, two people appeared that Lissa didn’t expect. Whitefeather and Larkin. Lissa jumped up and ran down to meet them. “Oh god, Larkin, you should be at the hospital.”

“I had to come find you. I know I messed up, but there’s something not right, more than whatever’s happened to me, I mean.”

Rowan made it down the hill, still unused to the shoes. “Got a lot of nerve, Larkin.”

Whitefeather put their hands up, “Not getting involved in this drama, just going to make a delivery and be off.” And with that, Whitefeather meandered away towards the dorms.

Before they could get in to it, Reylene and their group approached, the two Inquisitors conspicuously missing. “You let them go on their own?” asked Lissa to a confused Reylene.

“They’re conduction interrogations. What’s the problem?”

“I have questions for them. Where are they.” Lissa followed Reylene’s raised index and headed off towards the dorms, Larkin and Rowan struggled to keep up and Lissa heard their nagging stop as they caught up to her, where she stood over Whitefeather’s body.

“Is Whitefeather,” Rowan paused. “Dead?”

Reylene yelped, suddenly aware she was flanked by the two Inquisitors.

Lissa accused them, “You killed Whitefeather?”

The Witchfinder replied, “No, we would never be so careless.” Rowan wondered if it was part of the game or not. “Perhaps you should ask of the new arrival. It’s good to see you on your feet, beautiful boy.” Larkin did look better than when Rowan saw him at the apartment. No way. Did he suck Whitefeather’s blood? No way.

Rowan drew the dull sword and the point wavered between Witchfinder and Vampire Hunter. Between them and unsure herself, Reylene warbled, “Rochambeau for initiative?”

Rowan charged at the Witchfinder, and immediately tangled their boots together and tumbled. The wizard staff snapped, sending a ragged stake towards Lissa’s feet. Rowan rolled over, and the other half stuck through the shabby corsair’s coat, piercing Rowan’s side.

Larkin, closest, knelt, and murmured, “That’s a lot of blood.” And to Rowan, even through the pain it sounded unsettling and not borne of concern.

The Inquisitors knelt on either side of Larkin, twin obelisks of blood and elegant porcelain. Reylene ran, and Lissa hoped she’d get help, but it seemed like she might never stop running.

“Get away from me,” Rowan groaned, one hand clutching the wooden shaft, the other feebly swung the sword in a wide arc. Larkin toppled back, but the Inquisitors were unphased. The Hunter caught the blade and pressed it to the ground, holding it in place under a worn leather boot.

Lissa screwed up her face with determination, grabbed the other half of the staff, and with a lunge, pressed the jagged point into the back of the Hunter. “You don’t want to get on Rowan’s bad side.”

The Hunter rose, arms raised in supplication, and said, “This game has taken a turn. But there’s one thing I would like to see play out.” The Hunter dropped an arm and twisted it under Lissa’s. Before she knew it, she was on the ground beside Rowan, winded and wheezing, and The Hunter held the stake.

“Larkin,” said the Witchfinder. “Beautiful boy, we can protect you. This one, I think, believes you a monster.” The Witchfinder nodded towards Whitefeather’s body and Larkin looked at it, then went back to Rowan. Larkin regained his footing and hunched over Rowan.

“I know we don’t always get along,” he said quietly. “But this isn’t my fault, you have to believe me. There’s something wrong with me, but it’s not what you think. I didn’t do that to Whitefeather, at least, I don’t remember it if I did.”

Lissa rolled to her knees, but hadn’t caught her wind. Larkin’s name came out as a wheeze. Larkin’s eyes went wide and he mouthed Lissa’s name in return, but no sound came out. He toppled backwards as Rowan pushed the stake deeper under his ribcage. They both went silent, expended in different ways.

Blood poured from Rowan’s wound where the broken staff had been pulled. Lissa pressed down onto it with the thick velvet of her dress. “Well,” said the Witchfinder, “I didn’t expect that. Pity.” Lissa heard sirens whine in the distance. As she focused on trying to save Rowan, the Inquisitors faded into the umbra as though they were never there.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


M/Jib Loser's Brawl
Loss Chosen: "Dreams Deferred, Dreams Made"
Flash from that time: A field in the middle of a city

The Tenth Annual Great Man Hunt
774 Words.

“As many of you know, today’s the tenth anniversary of when Mayor Rudy relocated all of the poor to a desolate field in the middle of Chicago. However, recent studies showed that there is an overpopulation population in what is now known as ‘Bumtown’. To counter this, Mayor Rudy has passed a law initiating an annual ‘Man Hunt’, hoping to emulate the fox hunts of British fame. If you, the people at home, are worried for the people of Bumtown, do not worry. They will be provided guns to defend themselves. For WBN, this is Rosa Stone.”

It has been ten years since I heard that fateful newscast. Ten years of surviving in Bumtown. Ten years of those damned hunts. Ten years of seeing people I knew killed for “sport”. Sport. I knew the Bears weren’t doing well, but holy poo poo. Luckily, I knew how to participate in their sport. Kill, or be killed. That’s how you played the game.

I survived, so I knew how to play well.

The time came once again for the, “Great Man Hunt”, as they called it. It was their tenth annual one, so I had to deal with this crap ten times. Normally, I would hunt for myself, but recently I married my childhood sweetheart, Beth. So now I fought for her and our unborn child. If they wanted their skins, they had to go through me.

The following morning, everyone in Bumtown was awoken by the familiar sound of a trumpet. We all knew what that meant. We grabbed our issued firearms and went into hiding. After all, why would the so-called “prey” be out in the open?

A few minutes later, we saw the hunters come out. When Mayor Rudy said he wanted it to be like the old English Fox Hunts, he wasn’t kidding. They were dressed like horse jockeys, but more dignified. While many of us here thought they looked stupid, it didn’t take away the fact that they were there to kill. I knew quite a few that learned that the hard way. In the past, I was scared for my own life. This time, I worried more about my wife than myself. If I died, at least they would know I died with a gun in my hand.

Like the fox hunts of old, the hunters came with Basset Hounds. They were tiny little things, but they had quite a bite. Plus, they could obviously alert the hunters of their prey. Something else we had to watch out for. Now, some of us were gentle souls, but we all knew this: if your life was on the line, who gives a drat about animal cruelty?

Soon after the horn sounded, I went over to our makeshift headquarters. Jackie, a genius who considered himself the tactician of the group, was there.

“How many do you think we have this year?” I asked.

“About ten to twelve people from the looks of it!”

“Do you have a plan?”

“Sort of, but it will be everyone’s job to survive.”

Jackie’s been doing his thing for the last few hunts. He helps people stay alive, but not even he is able to save everyone. Those bastards get some prey every year. So do we.

Jackie had some scouts tell the others of some ambush points, and I headed over to my assigned point. This was it. Time to risk my rear end, like I have done many years before. At first when I got to my point, everything was quiet. I know it’s cliché as all hell, but it was too quiet.

A few hours passed.


Suddenly, I heard the distant sound of gunfire. It was soft enough that I knew it was far away, but the fact that I could hear it at all was enough to know that they weren’t that far. I got ready. The gunshots got louder.



Until it was dangerously close.

I got into position, scared out of my wits.

Suddenly, I see a hound right next to me, barking. I shot it, but its barking was enough to warn his master. I get my gun and hide.

I didn’t notice him from behind me.


He shot me, I quickly shot back.

He fell to the ground, dead. I was just about there.

After the trumpet sounded signaling the end of the hunt, I dragged myself to Jackie. Each side had a few kills, but there were some of us that survived, and that’s all that mattered to us. Afterwards, I put my hand on Jackie’s shoulder.

“Take care of Beth.”

I then fell to the ground.

Jan 20, 2007

Week 519
Shoutouts to Chickam! :kimchi:

For the Love of Corn
1157 words

The instant I gain awareness I want out. My beak punches a hole to fresh air and I take my first breath. I wriggle but I’m trapped, no leverage.

Peep peep! I call.

No answer.

Several hours and urgent kicks later, my cage splits open and I tumble out, a soggy mess. Panting, I flex my wings and twitch my feet, fighting to get up. I blink away some of the goop and open my eyes to take in my new freedom.

I’m inside a small box. There’s nowhere to go, barely space to move. And all around me are fellow prisoners, still inside their eggs. I cry out to them, begging them to join me in throwing off the yolk of our oppression.

Peep peep PEEP.

Still alone, I probe the edges of the enclosure, clambering over the others to exhaustion. Sleep takes me, but soon I have strength enough to repeat the process, again and again until finally another faint peep returns my calls.

As my downy feathers dry out, waiting, the humidity of the box becomes unbearable. I’m deep in a haze when a rush of cold air disturbs me.

Then THE HAND intrudes.

I immediately rear up and run toward it, screaming. Despite its enormous size my ferocity startles it into drawing back from me, reaching instead for the remains of my first cell, the shattered eggshell.

The hand wasn’t here before. It comes from the outside, an entire wall of the box flung tantalizingly open. If I’m quick, if I’m nimble, I could make it!

I make a break for the opening but THE HAND effortlessly forces me back, the door already in motion before I can recover my footing. Press on and I’ll be crushed…

The door of my prison slams shut once again. I chickened out. I can’t do it alone.


Within hours, the hatch has finished and THE HAND has abducted everyone to larger accommodations, what it loudly and cheerfully calls the “brooder box.” The air is easier to breathe here, cooler and more comfortable, but it only serves as distraction from our predicament: impossibly high walls surround us, the glow of lights overhead preventing observation of what lurks outside.

I’ve been “given” a name: Sir Cluckington von Coopenheimer. How presumptuous. I’ll wear it, begrudgingly, for now.

My fellow inmates are Buff Orpeepton, R Broodingham, Princess Laya, and Eggcelsior. Buff is large and proud to be declared our champion of flight research and feather development. Broodingham is nominated chief lookout. Laya monitors our water and food, while Eggcelsior and I take care of preening. We’ll escape this ordeal as a flock.

Time passes. Our wings grow stronger, feathers longer. Buff begins leaping for the top of the water dispenser, but he can’t quite pull it off—not yet—and while Eggcelsior initially trills at him scrabbling around undignified in the hay when he fails, that passes quickly. We’re counting on him, and we need to be close behind.

The only interruption to our otherwise tedious existence—aside from Laya growing irritatingly agreeable and lazy—is THE HAND. It drops its trash on us, as though imprisonment weren’t enough. We are, naturally, distrustful, but find some of its dregs are edible enough and in rare cases probably discarded by mistake.

Corn is the clear winner. Sometimes THE HAND deposits an entire cob, but mostly it rains from the sky in small morsels, seemingly on its own. It must be growing there, just outside the walls we can’t yet scale.

When Laya becomes bold and comfortable enough to eat directly from THE HAND, I know our plan is in trouble. I peck at her to stop, but she prances away trilling about her latest treat like nothing’s wrong. She doesn’t even try to dodge when THE HAND captures and lifts her into the sky.

Laya squawks for help from outside the box. The rest of us flail but our prison is too small to evade capture and we’re not ready for flight yet! It only takes seconds before I’m the next victim chicknapped, whisked away firmly in the grasp of THE HAND.

What follows is incomprehensible—unfamiliar surroundings, an icy touch, and a sharp pain—before I’m hoisted through the air and unceremoniously dumped back into the hay lining the box.

Woozy, I stumble to my feet. I’m freezing. The others are all soon in a similar state, necks soaked and screaming. How could this happen to us so easily? We let ourselves get complacent.

Corn and worms rain down but I don’t let it distract me anymore. I climb onto the corncob and begin crowing defiantly. This won’t happen again.


Princess Laya is the first to reach the top of the lamp and successfully perch there. We call out to learn what she can see beyond the glow of the bulb. Is there corn? How close, how much? But she only fluffs up, shaking her head.

Buff doesn’t waste time sulking. Seeing it done once he leaps up, bowling her out of the way. He cranes his neck, peering around, before making another hop to the edge of the box. But he doesn’t stick the landing—he overbalances and slips off to the other side!

He panics, calling and scratching from the outside. We need to get him back in before the sound attracts attention and we’re caught! Or else…

Broodingham leaps for the lamp, falling just shy.

Or else we must follow.

I stretch my wings experimentally, one at a time, peering up at my target. Is this our moment at last?

I jump, flapping frantically as my foot connects with slippery metal. I can’t dig in to secure my purchase, but somehow I stay upright. Without allowing myself even a moment for fear to set in, I make the second jump to freedom, only barely clearing the edge of the box and landing ungracefully on the floor next to Buff.

The space we’re in is enormous, wide open and full of intriguing objects. There’s no corn, but there’s also no sign of THE HAND. Buff quiets immediately, and I call encouragement back to the others to follow.

Is there endless corn? No, but there’s freedom!

Broodingham and Eggcelsior join us on the floor in short order. But something is wrong. Laya doesn’t follow. She’s still imprisoned.

I peck at Buff. Did he hurt Laya when he pushed her off the lamp? He chirps defensively, a warning to drop it. Of course she wouldn’t be hurt by a fall like that. Something else is going on.

Lumberous footsteps approach our new environs. A door, impossibly large, swings open away from us. The owner of THE HAND is here already. We have to go!

Laya emits a solitary peep from inside the box. Stern and calm. Doing exactly what she wants to do.

There’s no time to persuade her. We race toward freedom in a fowl flurry of beaks and feathers.

Laya, may you roost in peace.

Oct 6, 2021

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

Losers brawl


Man, I cant help but feel this is worse than the original. The original is a lot more coherent and streamlined. This is… we jump locations a bunch, and the first two are boring and by the time we get to the one where stuff actually happens there's room to be lost. The original gives us Rowan knowing Larkin is a vampire early on so we know the stakes. The new version gives us more characters doing nothing.

Whats up with these names? I assumed it was high fantasy at first, with names like Lissa and Rowan and Larkin and then it turns out to be set in contemporary times? I felt disoriented. And the names worked better in the earlier version, when we were in a more clearly vampirey world. Sorry, this isnt what the title suggests, the issues with it are that it's structured worse.


So this isnt really what I asked for. This isnt a rewrite, it's an entirely new story with the same prompt. I know i gave explicit leeway to gently caress around, but i also told you to keep characters and themes, which you didn't.

That said, this is indeed a big improvement.

You dont have to be so obvious. Dont tell us they look like old timey fox hunters, but them in red coats on horses with dogs and we'll get it. You spend too much time on the exposition. This isnt that complicated of a premise, and you can introduce it more naturally. But ive asked you before to choreograph your fights…and you choreographed the fights. I apprecoate that. The action is leagues beyond what I've read from you before.

This is a more coherent and readable story than Jib's, by a good margin, and also less boring.

Winner: The Man Called M

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give

Circular Firing Squad
988 words

The night after Naevia's wake, once the great wave of love and grief had crested and broken and drained into the gutters, her five best friends gathered to settle the question of justice. The nascent spirit of their revolution floated in the stuffy air above them: invisible, a knife-slender shape that cut its way through the air in restless loops, like a space where an eel might be. It knew the truth, but the truth was only a footnote.

"It had to be one of us," said Lucius: tall and lean, his beard groomed to the highest precision his cheap straight razor could achieve. The spirit remembered Naevia's teasing of him for that beard, for the vanity that strained against his poverty. The gun in his hand was worth more than any of their lives, though: a gleaming military piece, no doubt stolen from some rich uncle's unlocked display case. Lucius's grip was steady and his gaze unyielding. "Only we knew about her. Which one of you?"

The first to speak was Cornelia, clad in the green-checked sundress she wore to every meeting, as if it were camouflage. "Her address was public knowledge. We didn't have time to get the safe house prepared before the leak. What were we supposed to do?" Behind her, dark-haired and servile Decimus nodded and rested a hand on Cornelia's shoulder.

"There just wasn't enough time," said Decimus. "Not enough time to stop the cops."

The whole affair had been five days: five days from when Naevia's manifesto had gone viral, and the nascent revolution inside her had quickened into quasi-life, and when Naevia had lain dead at the foot of a dingy apartment stairwell and the spirit had departed with her last breath. For cautious Cornelia and dull Decimus, it must have been a dizzying rise, and now it would be a short sharp fall.

"And they were pretty quick, huh? Quick like a loving snitch. You two --" Lucian wheeled on the silent pair in the corner, Livia and Fabian, siblings two years apart but close as twins. "A little favor to your mother at the Defense Bureau, huh?" The siblings tensed as one, and the spirit could see the spark of fresh anger ignite in them, searing and brutal. Their hatred of their mother was a twisted skein nestled deep in their hearts, sending black threads into everything they felt, every connection they forged. All five of them were entangled with other: threads of resentment, thin glittering wires of lust, braided cords of loyalty ready to snap. The tapestry of their fellowship would not survive the night, but would it fray, or would it be cut?

"gently caress our mother," howled Fabian, to the room and to the world as much as to Lucius. "I loved Naevia. We all did. You know, that, Lucius, unless you're the one who didn't. The one who brought a loving gun --"

But now Cornelia had drawn hers too, a chunky zip-gun gleaming with solder lines, pointed at Lucius's head. Before she could tell him to drop it and let them all walk out alive, Lucius's hands made the choice for him: two shots into Cornelia's chest, a neat firing-range grouping, and one into Decimus as he tried to pull her out of the way. They fell together, Decimus sprawled over her as if there was something left to save. Lucius froze, conscious mind catching up to instinct, and Fabian tackled him to the ground. Lucius's gun went flying, and the pair thrashed and kicked and slapped, the ugly fighting of two men who hadn't brawled since childhood. Lucius took the upper hand, slamming Fabian's head into the wall with hateful force, once, twice, thrice -- until Fabian's fumbling hand at last found his boot knife, and planted it deep into Lucius's gut. Another slam, a twist of the blade, and both men lay together, still. The only sound in the room was Livia's sobbing.

"Naevia," she mumbled. "Naevia, I'm sorry. I can't do this."

Livia stepped over the bodies of her brother and their friend and picked up Lucius's gun. There was no hesitation as she placed the barrel against the underside of her jaw and fired.

The spirit of the revolution, placid as ever, maintained its vigil. It thought, almost in passing, of the truth: that Naevia had died of a few too many drinks, wearing heels a touch too high, and trusting a slick ill-maintained stair railing. The police and the Defense Bureau knew nothing about the manifesto, about Naevia, or about the cell that had just burnt itself out. They would, soon enough. This had all only begun.

Now there was the question of a host.

Cornelia and Livia had been dead before their bodies had hit the ground. Fabian had lingered longer, but the head trauma had taken its toll, and Lucius wasn't far behind; the spirit could see him life ebbing away as the gut wound bled and the sepsis took hold. Decimus, though, was alive: gripped in pain, close to blacking out, but alive. He would live long enough for the ambulance, surely, and the spirit would take care of the rest.

Decimus was a fool, but the spirit of the revolution needed fools. Its only goal in life was to live to grow old, fat, and obsolete. A host like Decimus -- now the sole survivor of senseless political violence, true believer in a new way, a fine young man who could nod and smile and recruit his own army -- would carry it there, into a high office, into a future with a lavish state funeral and the oblivion of becoming status quo.

The spirit descended, slipping gently into its new host's open mouth, down his throat and into his chest, where it curled itself around the frayed threads of love and hope and grief. It could hear the sirens in the distance. The revolution would soon begin.

Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition

Yoruichi/sitting here Brawl Results

It took me a while to get my judgement posted, though it's been sitting in my notes on my computer. Life be that way sometimes. But this is not about that, this is about a brawl.

Yoruichi, you gave me a story of a couple under an eclipse, a moment in a extended lifetime like a flash of light, a man with a dying and then living wife and his doubts and fears and darkness as her blazing sun may go out; the tension and uncertainty of the future when a sun is dying and the moon in its way, sees how much it relies on its light.

sitting here, you gave me a story spanning the eons and the light years of the universe and more, the lyricism of gods before there were gods and words before there were words, a history twisting and turning about those who fear the darkness as undesired when it is needed to show the light--and do not see that like any star, light does not has forever to shine.

I saw the dark in the light and the light in the dark of each, which means that they both did what I asked when I asked for sun in my shadow and shadow in my sun. I found good and bad in both stories, parts I liked and parts that made me feel uncertain and cranky.

But when it pushed and swung, when the scales finally stopped dipping, I felt more drawn to the gods than the mortals.

sitting here takes the brawl win. do whatever you like with this little mote of a sunbeam that is my approval.

More specific crits to come by the end of this week, if life doesn't do what it's done to me since Friday the 13th and drag my rear end under to try and drown me again. You both know where to find me.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Dancing, Darkly Dreaming (670 words)

There along the mainstreet stood a small, square park with an iron-frame gazebo placed exactly in the middle. It was ancient, ostentatious, Victorian in style. The city mainly used it for concerts in the fall. At all other times, the pavilion was roped off, cut off from the masses by a meager length of chain, accompanied by a sign asking kindly if you wouldn’t.

Daisy stared up at it, her hands in her pockets, her older brother’s jacket dwarfing her small frame. Nighttime had fallen, and the automatic lights had beckoned her from afar like a lantern in the dark.

Stepping over the chains, she made her way to the center before turning to look out. The lighting served to deepen the darkness of the night. The gazebo had been swallowed by a pitiless abyss. Looking side to side felt like standing on a stage. In this place, at this moment, only she was real.

The illusion was broken by the buzzing of her phone. She hung up without checking, putting it on mute.

Once, returning home, she’d spied a couple here. A man and a woman dancing, arm and arm, hand to hip. She stood and watched a while, and felt a little guilty. She wondered if they saw her. Now she knew the answer.

It was clear they were practiced as they slowly turned in place. It reminded her of a music box, like she’d seen at her grandmother’s.

She shucked off her brother’s jacket, then folded it with care. She could feel the phone vibrating, wrapped within the depths. She stood shorn, diminished, in her long-sleeve shirt and jeans. Rolling up her sleeves revealed the cuts and little bruises.

Daisy shut her eyes, arms spread, her mouth a perfect line. She grimaced for a moment, and then began to dance.

Her movements were leaden, awkward, without a hint of grace. She nearly tripped and toppled, before kicking off her shoes. On bare feet she fared better, though clearly without rhythm. She leapt and turned and spun about, sweltering with sweat.

They had been so beautiful. Was it because they had each other? She imagined someone with her, her hands aloft, embracing her shapeless partner.

But then her foot came down on her sock. She stumbled for real, and collapsed to the floor. Lying there, panting, tears in her eyes, she lay on her back and looked up at the ceiling. The gazebo was wreathed in an intricate lattice, faded copper vines that snaked up to the sky. They gathered at the top in a complicated mesh stretched tight between the rungs of the structure’s iron skeleton.

Daisy inhaled, exhaled, chest rising and falling. She lay there for a time, unmoving and alone. She shut her eyes and steadied her breathing. She began to feel aches in her arms and legs.

The lights flickered, sensing stillness, and plunged the park into darkness. Daisy didn’t move, wallowing in the night. Then she peeled her eyes and gazed up through the mesh. Her eyes opened wide. In the gaps she saw the stars.

She wanted to rise to her feet, but knew any movement would trigger the lights. Instead she simply lay there, drinking in the sight. The gazebo had transformed from a concert hall into a planetarium, and the distant lights beyond were hers and hers alone. Among them shone the color red, the neighboring planet Mars. Instinctively, she reached out as if to grasp it, and the automatic lights returned her to the Earth.

Daisy slowly rose to her feet, grumbling and wincing. Gathering her jacket, she finally checked her phone. Sixteen missed calls, with seventeen on the way. She tucked her phone within her pocket, and scooped up both her shoes. Stepping out from beneath the awning, she looked up to the sky. The stars had been drowned out by the absurdities of man.

Making her way to the bus stop, she slowly closed her eyes. The memory resurfaced. She grew a little smile.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Entries are closed.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


East coast, beast coast. Brawl me and my superior monsters. Small word count, short deadline.

Sep 3, 2020


a friendly penguin posted:


East coast, beast coast. Brawl me and my superior monsters. Small word count, short deadline.

oh no no no no, i read the Beast From the East and that book SUCKED. face me in the blood dome!

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
A Friendly Penguins vs. Nae

The supervillain dating scene sure is rough.

Deadline: Wednesday, 11:59 PM GMT+9 (so as of this post you have 48-and-a-half hours)
Wordcount: 500 words

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

MOCKINGQUANTUM I AM SICK OF YOUR poo poo! I demand satisfaction, brawl me and we will finally determine who is right and who loses!

Jan 20, 2012

Chernobyl Princess posted:

MOCKINGQUANTUM I AM SICK OF YOUR poo poo! I demand satisfaction, brawl me and we will finally determine who is right and who loses!

Oh, see, I thought this was determined ages ago, but it turns out some lessons need to be taught multiple times, but slower and louder--AND I AM BOTH SLOW AND LOUD. Brawl accepted.

Sep 3, 2020


Chernobyl Princess posted:

MOCKINGQUANTUM I AM SICK OF YOUR poo poo! I demand satisfaction, brawl me and we will finally determine who is right and who loses!

MockingQuantum posted:

Oh, see, I thought this was determined ages ago, but it turns out some lessons need to be taught multiple times, but slower and louder--AND I AM BOTH SLOW AND LOUD. Brawl accepted.

Noble fighters who ride into the ring, I come bearing splendid news! Medieval Times has unionized! You have 600 words to tell me a fun, lighthearted story about what such a union might look like. For inspiration (or for an explanation if you live outside America's theme-restaurant bubble), feel free to read this NYT article on the subject:

Entries are due on July 21st at 11:59 pm Pacific, or whenever I wake up to read them the next morning. Good luck, fighters!

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Thunderdome 519 Results

First order of business: no dqs for submitting without signing up. However, Pizza Day, forever does get one for the edit.

Onward. The loss goes to something else's Selling Quiltenbach, a bizarre violent absurdist mess. And the sole DM to newcomer IshmaelZarkov's Power Intoxicating, which had one good paragraph near the end of a boring lecture.

The top stories were both quite good, and the decision between them was close, but in the end Antivehicular's Circular Firing Squad takes the sole HM and Bad Seafood's Dancing, Darkly Dreaming seizes them the blood throne with the week's win.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


The General Report

This is a story about a member of a rebel group who publishes a coded message for his fellows in a newspaper report, which results in them enacting a plan to poison the General (and themselves with him). I think, anyway. I found the italicised sections confusing, and the rest of it - the newspaper article - is very boring. I think you’re expecting your reader to solve the puzzle contained in the article? You needed to give me waaaaay more reason to care about your protagonist if you wanted me to go to that sort of effort. As it was I was just annoyed by the typos.


Power Intoxicating

This reads like a history text. It needs characters - why should I care about any of these kingdoms?


Selling Quiltenbach

Well that was… violent. I feel like there’s a joke in here that I’m not getting? It’s very over the top and the word “cock” gets used a lot, but I don’t really understand what has prompted these coked up share traders to go completely mental about selling Quiltenbach?


Radio Star

Not bad. The descriptions of the club and the music are good, and I felt the tension when the patrol arrived. I think the descriptions of the extreme violence suffered by musicians who get caught were too much. Just the threat of going to jail would be sufficient to motivate the protagonist to act as they did, adding in horrible mutilation I think was distracting.

The ending didn’t quite land for me. It’s cool that he got away and met up with his new rebel scientist friend, but there was nothing at the start of the story to tell me that this was what he really wanted.


Pizza Day, Forever

Huh, this is a lot like the Quiltenbach story, in that it is weirdly violent and going for comedy but in a way that doesn’t quite come off. 'Crazy children fight useless teachers' felt tropey in a way that wasn't interesting. I think it would have been better from the children's POV, so at least you could have felt invested in their triumph.


I Wonder Who’s Asleep in There

This isn’t bad. We’ve got a relatable protagonist with a clear motivation, so that’s good. I think the story should have focussed on his decision to rebel and turn off the sleepers’ pods. I would have liked to see how he wrestled with such a grim choice. Just watching him act out his plan isn’t as interesting.


For the Love of Corn

Ok I want to hate all the chicken puns but secretly I love them. I also lol’d at the names, god help me.

This story is silly but it’s quite fun. I’m glad they managed to get away. I hope they get some corn. The protagonist needed a bit more personality beyond being a rooster to make the story more engaging.


Circular Firing Squad

This one is also distractingly violent. The violence is well written, but I don't think you needed to bash skulls against walls to convey the horror of this situation. Putting the spotlight on the characters' reactions rather than the grisly bits would have been more effective I think.

I found the ending a bit unsatisfying. At the beginning, I was expecting this to be a story about this fractious group of friends, but by the end the main character is the spirit, who I wasn't really invested in.


Dancing, Darkly Dreaming

I like this. It effectively captures a small moment, a tiny yet vital revolution for a person experiencing a difficult time. It leaves unanswered lots of questions about what is going on in the protagonist’s life, but that works well to really put the focus on what she is experiencing in that particular, peculiar night-time moment.


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Crits for Week #519

I sort of wish that I had added an instruction that the characters should start the story as rebels or revolutionaries. Far too many stories ended with that instead, and so ended where they ought to have begun.

PhantomMuzzles - The General Report:

The opening is functional and fine. And I like the structure here, two narratives and a coded message, all working together.

 I sort of like this.

IshmaelZarkov - Power Intoxicating:

The second to last paragraph is, by far, the best thing here. If you started with that, told an actual story with that character, let the world building happen naturally as it progressed, you might have had something. But this is just boring. Low group.

Something Else - Selling Quiltenbach:

Solid opening. Is there literal penis repossession in this world or does this guy have a one metaphor mind? Some capitalization issues. At the end of the story I still don't know. Just weird, violent, and incomprehensible. Low.

MockingQuantum - Radio Star:

Okay opening.  But this is just there, a functional story I guess but without much going on, stopping just as it threatens to get interesting. Middle.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Pizza Day, Forever:

Okay action, but the dialog is just bad and the tone is a bit overwrought too. There's a weird violent absurdist mood here that's at least interesting though. Low middle.

Lovely Ghost - I Wonder Who’s Asleep in There:

Okay opening.  This is another functioning story, but also another one that stops right as it was about to get interesting. I also have issues with the lack of foresight by the powers running this ship. Middle.

kaom - For the Love of Corn:

Interesting opening and conceit. Groanworthy pun. And more after. Cute and clever, which may be what the top half looks like this week. 

Antivehicular - Circular Firing Squad:

Strong opening. Ambitious cast size. A mystery? Servile decimus feels like a tell, but no. Or yes, sort of. Top of the pack here, but could likely have used the words left on the table to draw the characters more clearly. 

Bad Seafood - Dancing, Darkly Dreaming

Strong opening. Good prose in general. Nice, taking up the moving in circles challenge from the prompt, and you did pull it off. Top

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
New prompt, new page, let's mosey.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 15:55 on Jul 19, 2022

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Mosey on down.


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Down with the clown.

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