Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.

Double or Nothing BayBeee!

Vanilla: A [mech pilot] agonizes over [their commute]

Omega: [fill] my [blanks] and give me a #spin!


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




The Saddest Rhino posted:

did not read prompt, copying someone's in. in omega randomizer spin wheel. ok

hi :wave: rhino :dumbbravo: welcome to the week :black101:

Your prompt is: A :kimchi: agonizes over a :birdthunk:

J.A.B.C. posted:

Double or Nothing BayBeee!

Vanilla: A [mech pilot] agonizes over [their commute]

Omega: [fill] my [blanks] and give me a #spin!

A [beloved community figure] agonizes over [a bottle of oil]

Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

A [Swimming instructor] agonizes over [the moon]


654 words 

There he was, across the lake, standing there, arms crossed. Fione's eyes were passing sharp, even in the darkness. She saw his face, from pointed chin up to broad forehead and topped with silk-white hair. She saw his eyes, ivy-green pupils framed in milk-white, saw his lips red as the blood from a fresh-killed rabbit. She saw his face, even in the darkness, for he seemed to glow ever so slightly. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, and she knew she had to have him.

"Come to me," she said, but he was too far away to hear. She looked around and spotted a rainbow-feathered bird, bright in the starlight. She called it and it came, for she was wise and knew the whistles that command such birds.

"Little bird," she said. "I would know the man across the lake."

"Are you sure?" said the bird. "He is strange and stranger, and it is dangerous to...know men such as that. I know a man in a village east of here, a warleader with many trophies. Let me bring him to you instead."

"No," she said. "I have no need of a man to do violence for me. Him. Fly to him and tell him to come to me."

The bird flew across the lake, and perched on the man's left shoulder and twittered in his ear. The man looked across the water and smiled, then spoke to the bird for a time. Then the bird returned to her.

"He would come," said the bird, "But the path around the lake is guarded, one side by wolves and the other by panthers, and alas, he cannot swim."

Fione laughed. "Tell him that I will teach him."

"Please," said the bird. "I know a scholar-"


"A poet-"


"A honey-tongued demigod who walks among men."

She shook her head. "Tell him. Tell him to do as I do."

The bird flew across again, and when he spoke to the man he nodded.

She stripped off her clothing and jewelry, and left them in a pile by the lakeshore. He did the same, and there were no secrets between them. She waded out into the shallow water, and he did as well. She demonstrated the basic strokes of swimming, exaggerating every movement. He tried them out, splashing and laughing at each clumsy attempt. But it was not long before he was swimming in earnest.

They both paddled out to the middle of the lake, her with grace and him without. They grew closer and closer, and she could see him up close and fell even more mad with desire. The bird screamed something in her ear but she was beyond listening. She reached out for him, and he for her, and their fingers touched.

He was the moon, you see. And when they touched there could be no lies between them. He took his true form.

Most mortals would have been destroyed at that touch, but Fione was not as most are. She knew the oldest arts. There was one way to survive and she took it. She left her body behind, to sink to the lake bed, abandoned like her clothes and jewelry, and she became the lake, exiling the ancient water spirit, turning it into the breeze that chills but does not cool. You've felt it, coming up the canyon mouth.

This was long ago, before when your grandmother's grandmother was young. But they are still as in love as ever, and when the moon is full in his lust he enters her, there, in that spot where they first touched. We do not break the water on those nights, not to swim or fish or skip stones across the water. We do not disturb their union. They love in peace, unless that jealous wind ripples her surface, and even that interruption is petty and does not last long.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




:siren: At least five stories have been submitted for ladder prompt #1 :siren:

If you are in the alpha group: Just chill and write the best [blank] agonizes over [blank] story you can, friend :unsmith: Additional alpha prompt entrants are welcome until the submission deadline!

If you are in the omega group and you have not yet submitted for prompt #1: No skipping ahead! If you want to continue the ladder, you need to write both stories #1 and #2! :black101:

New signups for the ladder prompt are still welcome, but you have to write for prompt #1 first!

#SpinTheWheel procedures remain in effect.

Omega Prompt #2

It's another retro flashback! This time we're going back to week 80, also referred to as autobiographical week. This was Thunderdome's 4th-most-entered week, with 47 entries!

"Why don't you ask your huge cock?"

archive link

God Over Djinn posted:

Thunderdome LXXX: "Why don't you ask your huge cock?"

Tell me a story about your life. It can be poignant, it can be hilarious, it can be sad, whatever you like. What it can't be is self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing (unless you want to lose).

Q: Is it okay if I just make some poo poo up?

A: You'll only be cheating yourself. That said, I welcome stories that are metaphorical, hyperbolic, or otherwise magical.

Q: Nothing interesting has ever happened to me.

A: Then write about something uninteresting, and use the magic of writing to make it worthwhile.

Word count: 1300. Please don't use them all unless you have to.

:siren:The original word count is in effect! :siren: That means you have 1300 words to tell your story--but be careful! A word limit is not necessarily a word goal.

Any genre is welcome. Don't feel confined to realism, just truth. Or bullshit us all and laugh all the way to the throne!

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 08:27 on Aug 2, 2022

Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

#spinthewheel for prompt 2.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

I will take a spin for round 2 #spinthewheel

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

A [spiders] agonizes about [divorce]

Giant Varantula
630 words

The pair of humans, deliverers of crickets and always prone to shouting, now spoke of nothing but divorce. Dorothy and Shelob, their pet tarantulas, were gravely concerned.

“What even is ‘divorce’?” said Shelob. She flexed her russet-haired tarantula legs, admiring her reflection in the glass that separated her enclosure from Dorothy’s.

“I looked it up,” said Dorothy. “‘Di’ is a prefix that means ‘two,’ and...” Dorothy pulled out her spider-phone and tapped it with her pedipalps. “A ‘vorc’ is an orc that’s been bitten by a vampire.”

“What about the ‘e’?”

“It makes it feminine. Di-vorcé.”

“So, they want… two female vampire-orcs?”


Shelob flexed her muscular front legs again and bared her fangs at her reflection. “But they’ve got us.”

“I think--” Dorothy rose onto her rear legs and stroked her sternum like she always did when she was about to make a pronouncement. “--they want to be us.”

“But, that’s--”

“Ridiculous, I know.”

“We’d have to bite them. How disgusting.”

“Shelob, my dearest, I fear we may have to give this serious consideration.”

Shelob scuttled, agitated.

“If we don’t give them what they want,” Dorothy continued. “They might stop bringing us crickets.”

“poo poo.”

“Exactly. Now, get the alchemy bench.”

Shelob scuttled across her enclosure to her favourite basking rock, flipped it over, and dragged their vials, beakers and other equipment out from the hole beneath. Using a laser cutter, Dorothy beamed a hole into the glass and stepped through to join her sister. It didn’t take long for them to mix the potion of gigantism, and, with a clink of their respective beakers, they drank it down.

The humans were in the kitchen, yelling at each other again. Dorothy and Shelob, now each the size of labradors, crept along the corridor ceiling. There was that word again, divorce, divorce.

“Not long to wait now,” said Dorothy, as she stepped under the lintel onto the kitchen ceiling.

Both humans screamed, the female one loud and high pitched and the male making an unattractive grunting. Shelob snorted with laughter, and then dropped straight onto him and sank her fangs into his neck. Thick, salty blood flowed into her mouth, and she gagged and spat it out. “Where are the crickets?” she demanded. The man gurgled.

On the other side of the kitchen table Dorothy was slurping at the woman’s limp body.

“Did it work?” said Shelob. She prodded the now motionless man with a pedipalp.

Dorothy looked up from her noisy work and gave the woman a shake. “Doesn’t look like it.”

“poo poo.”


“Now who’s going to fetch us crickets?” Shelob’s stomach growled. Human did not agree with her, and she was hungry. She eyed her sister. Dorothy had good legs, she thought. Meaty.

Dorothy spotted the look in Shelob’s eyes, and hurled herself out the kitchen window in a shower of glass a fraction of a second before Shelob tried to jump on her. Shelob was out the window behind Dorothy in a flash, and the two spiders found themselves suddenly locked in a death battle in a wide open and unfamiliar space.

Panicked, Dorothy pulled out her laser cutter, switched it to pistol mode, and fired off a couple of wild shots as she dashed for the oak tree in the back yard. The laser beams missed Shelob by miles but hit the gas tank on the side of the house, causing a massive explosion which ripped half the roof off and fired a deadly quantity of shrapnel into Shelob, killing her.

“poo poo,” said Dorothy.

Sirens screamed and humans began to mass around the burning house. Dorothy crouched in the oak tree and watched them mill around below her. She licked the last of the human blood off her fangs. Much better than cricket, she thought. The firelight danced in her eyes.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

In for prompt 2. I want all the things, flashrule, hellrule, the maximum number of spins. Gimme gimme.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Omega Prompt #1 – Agonizing

Two Spies Walk into a Bakery
877 words
Flash: A [spies] agonizes over [love]
Wheel spin: -100 words

Grace rifled through the drawers of the desk, cringing at their partner’s every foot fall. “Can you be more cat and less elephant?”

Without a backward glance, Lee continued around the room, nearly crunching through the floor with every step. “Why? You said this place was deserted.”

Grace stopped themselves from listing off every reason why foot stomps in an empty building could still give them away. Lee had passed Master Kelly’s training too and, over their last three missions, had flaunted a near perfect memory. No, this was about Grace’s accusation. They’d been diplomatic about it on their flight over and Lee had manipulated the conversation into talking about Greek philosophy. As they dressed and loaded supplies in the motel, Grace had tried a subtler approach thinking Lee would appreciate the indirect approach. Lee refused to respond. All spies knew that when diplomacy and tact didn’t work, the next step was aggression.

“Just admit that you’re incapable of trusting anyone and I’ll feel a lot better.”

Lee dropped a Princeton file back on the shelf with a clang that echoed in Grace’s ears. “Is that what you’ve been stuck on this whole trip? Trusting a spy? Why did you bring up Plato?”

Grace neatly unbent a paperclip they’d crushed and tucked the documents back into their folder. “Platonic.”

“Right, Plato. The perfect chair. The cave. Nothing about trust.”

“Caracas, Riyadh, Moscow.”

“Our last three missions together… yes?”

“What do they all have in common?” Grace felt like Master Kelly, drilling a particularly obtuse recruit.

“Hmm, success. Small spaces. Ooh, Heavenly cakes?”

“No, er, yes.” The chocolate Marquesa in Venezuela had indeed been divine. “That’s what I’m talking about. I would follow you into every bakery from here to Beijing, but I’m not sure I want to follow you out of here.”

“‘Self-reliance is the only assurance. Anything else can be used against you.’ I can quote more than Greek Philosophers.” Lee laughed loud enough to ruffle Post-its on a corkboard.

“Kelly’s teachings aren’t going to last a thousand years. But you know what has? Human social bonds.”

“So we are talking about philosophy.”

“No.” Grace powered on a laptop and made a note of its credentials for their tech team. “I’m talking about love.”

“Love?” Lee scrunched their nose. “Spies don’t love. That’s how the enemy gets leverage. Did you think our bakery trips were dates?”

Grace rolled a drawer closed with a clunk and glared at Lee. When klaxons began to blare, they sighed instead. “Don’t think this conversation is over.”

“You want to talk and run at the same time?”

“Better now, before we’re tied to chairs and having our toenails pulled out.”

Lee weaved his fingers together to give Grace a step up into the ceiling tiles. Grace pulled Lee after. They slithered in the confined space, barely breathing to keep from inhaling any dust and betraying their location with a cough. They shimmied up a shaft and when they reached another level, Grace began again. “Platonic love. The kind that means you’re invested in each other and would be really put out if the other died.”

“How is that any better than if the shadow police capture my dad or, the agency forbid, I had a boyfriend?” Lee’s voice sounded hollow, but maybe that was just the metal walls.

“It’s making sure we don’t get taken by the shadows at all. If we don’t care about each other, if I’m not looking forward to our next cream horn and philosophy chat, then why would I reach through fire for you?

A succession of bangs sounded around them. Grace couldn’t tell whether they were gunshots or someone hammering on a vending machine but they picked up their pace. The vent opened onto a stairwell. They hopped out just as someone else opened a door. A woman in a pencil skirt’s eyes went wide. She took out her cell phone and started pressing buttons. Grace and Lee sprinted up the stairs and heard “on the roof” filter up from behind them.

“Almost there, Lee. Are we in this together or are we going our own ways?” They burst through the doors to the rooftop to find a helicopter with guns rappelling down.

They ran to the edge of the roof and looked down to the next landing. Lee looked Grace up and down. “If I love you, do I throw you?”

“No, we throw each other.” Grace grabbed Lee’s waist and synchronized their fall.

They kept running and leaping across rooftops, ducking under awnings and tripping over lounge chairs until they found an open window to dive through out of sight from above. They landed in a kitchen where the ovens made the distracted cook’s sweat stains match their own. The spies slipped out into the public area of the restaurant and into a booth. Hiding their faces behind menus, they caught their breath and waited.

When no one came crashing through the front or back doors, Grace finally allowed their eyes to read the words in front of them. “How does this restaurant now have any dessert?”

Lee dropped their menu to meet Grace’s disgusted gaze. “Do you think our relationship is ready to expand to sandwiches?”

Grace snickered. “It’s a start. Waiter!”

Jun 23, 2022

It's a puzzle.

I am IN for Prompt 2! Can I please have a HELL RULE?! And of course I would like to SPIN THE WHEEL!


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:

Birthday Dome Ladder Round 1

A [bricklayer] agonizes over [cardamom]

Just Like Tesco! (what the gently caress is wrong with me)
611 words

Carl stared at the array of color before him, his worn and cracked hands flexing by his side. He was uncertain, and trying not to let the uncertainty spill out into anger at the cashier, who was blamelessly watching TV and ignoring the large white man in his patchy work clothes who wandered uncertainly around the Indian grocery.

There was a time, not even all that long ago, really, when Carl would have said that protecting his family's future meant sending every bastard who looked like the cashier home. They're taking our jobs and living off our dole, he'd whined in the pub, never taking the thirty seconds it would take to realize the irony of that statement. Thinking about it now made his face go red and hot.

Now protecting his family's future meant making sure his wife had the exact right ingredients to make their pregnant daughter-in-law her mother's saag aloo. Apparently, that didn't mean dumping curry powder on your potatoes, it meant buying weird foreign spices in a weird foreign grocery store while the cashier watches footie but you know he's silently judging you, like he can see every shameful, racist thought you've drunkenly shared with your buddies after looking around the room first and you can't read any of this weird foreign writing and what the hell is the difference between black cardamom and regular cardamom, ey? Would Aparna really be able to tell the difference?

He could do this. It was just spices. He liked curry. He liked Aparna. He wanted to make curry for Aparna. But he was paralyzed, unmanned by the sheer volume of spices in front of him. He'd have to ask the cashier which one was cardamom, which one was cumin seed, which one was coriander seed.

Oh god and the grandkids, they were gonna grow up eating this… he tried to replace muck in his head with food and had partial success. He was going to have to learn how to do this, it wasn't fair to expect the wife to do all of it. Isn't that what they'd been talking about in the therapy? Him stepping up and doing more than just bringing in his paycheck?

He cleared his throat. The cashier looked up. “Hi sir, can I help you?”

Carl swallowed his pride along with the anxious lump in his throat. “Sorry, I’m just wondering… my wife is making a curry and I’ve got this spice list and I…” he waved a helpless hand at the spice rack.

The cashier didn’t smile knowingly. He didn’t give off any air of smugness or hint at secret spice knowledge forbidden to blue-collar white guys, all things that Carl had been preparing for in the back of his head. He just held out his hand for the list, perused it, and pointed out the spices. It was as easy as asking someone at the Tesco. He marveled. Then felt guilty about his marveling. Of course it was easy, the cashier had the same Yorkshire accent that Carl did. Why did he always assume that just because someone had a different skin tone that they were automatically foreign?

He paid and left because that’s what you do in shops. He had no idea what to do with this feeling that a gauntlet had been passed. When he handed off the bag to the wife, who immediately began toasting and grinding spices like it was something she did every day, God love her, she was something else, he snuck one of the little cardamom pods away and disappeared into his office to think.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In for Omega Round Two, and I should very much like a spin of the wheel, if you please

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


In for OMEGA ROUND 2 and I demand a FLASH RULE and I will SPIN THE WHEEL... of your DOOM!!!!

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 14:50 on Aug 2, 2022

Oct 9, 2012

When I kill you with a motor-car, you should have the common decency to stay dead, you horrid little object

In, alpha, judges fill the blanks and #spinthewheel baby!

And y'know what? Let's have a flash rule as well.

Oct 5, 2021

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

In prompt 2, spin, flash, hell

Jan 20, 2012

in for prompt 2, spin and flash

Feb 25, 2014


A [cabalist] agonizes about [a butt]

Dumb rear end

Deep in the dark caves of Theron, on a slab surrounded by fifteen corpses with their hearts torn out, there was a human anus. Not a particularly large one, looked male, but shaven.

“An rear end,” Drear, the despicable leader of the cult, said. “A whole rear end.”

“Did we do something wrong?” Jimmy, the newest member of the cult, asked.

This was supposed to be the moment for Drear. For years, he worked hard to cultivate a large, growing cult, built on summoning the dread demon Hizal. The last couple years have been tough. None of the rituals worked. People were leaving for newer cults. Kids didn’t want to summon giant huge demons with heaving muscles and a ripped red body. They wanted soft cute little demons. And they wanted it to be easy, like putting a flower in the ground and praying really hard.

“A loving total rear end,” Drear said. “What the gently caress are we going to do with an rear end?”

Jimmy stared at it for a while. He was scrawny and fidgeted a lot. “Sell it?” he said.

“Sell… an rear end?” Drear put his fingers to his forehead. “It was supposed to be a demon.”

“Maybe it is the demon?”

“Hizal,” Drear said, “is not a loving rear end.”

But, well, he didn’t know that exactly, so Drear walked up to the disembodied rear end. He expected it to smell, but it didn’t really. Maybe it was a test. Maybe Hizal wanted Drear to prove his undying loyalty and so he came in the form of an rear end to see if Drear really had the dedication to serve him eternally. He thought the fifteen hearts should’ve been enough proof, but maybe demons didn’t understand exactly the value of hearts.

So Drear bowed, touching his head to the ritual slab. The rear end didn’t move. Drear felt power in the air, a chill wind, and he imagined it. Hazil, emerging from the rear end, his huge demon body cracking through stone. He would control the land, give Drear eternal life, and everyone would bow to the two of them.

“You good boss?” Jimmy said, breaking Drear out of his reverence.

The rear end was still an rear end. No, the ritual was performed perfectly. Fifteen people, all from different nations, formed into a circle, each heart taken out one at a time. Jimmy said he wrote it down perfectly from the ancient library of N’zoth, and Drear cross-referenced it with the other rituals he had done. It had to work. God damnit, he spent twenty-five years with this stupid cult bullshit. He could see Hizal. Twisted horns emerging from his skull, sharp teeth in a twisted grin, his bare chest rippling with power.

“He wants to test us,” Drear said. “He wants us to prove ourselves worthy.”

“Ok,” Jimmy said, not bowing, the little twerp. “Ok, yeah, that makes sense. A test. Maybe he wants you to like, kiss it?”

“Kiss it?”

“Well, it’s like, it’s a test. So what wouldn’t you do if a butt showed up out of nowhere? You 100% wouldn’t kiss it. So maybe that’s the test.”

“Jimmy,” Drear said, but he didn’t finish the sentence. It was worth something, Drear thought. He trusted Jimmy. He had to. He was the only one that trusted him. When Drear said that it would take fifteen lives to summon Hazil, all of the other people left. Only Jimmy stayed.

So Drear knelt down to the disembodied rear end and stared at it. It didn’t move. It didn’t even look like a demon rear end. It was just pale and smooth. It’d be fast, he told himself, a little peck, and Hazil would know. He would do anything for him.

So he did. A quick jerk of his neck, lips on bare rear end skin, and he pulled back. Jimmy coughed to hide his snicker.

Then they waited. And waited. Drear held his breath. Jimmy kinda just stood there. Then, a rumble. A shake in the air. It was happening. Finally, everything Drear had dreamed of, a giant demon that he could hold, it would be here, everything would be worth it, sure he kissed an rear end but he would be the most powerful human in this plane. No one even had to know he kissed an rear end, except Jimmy of course.

Yes, the power coursed through the cave. It all coalesced inside the rear end. It rumbled and shook, power trembling through its flesh. Soon, everything would be over this pitiful world!

The rear end farted. Then, nothing. All power in the air was gone, dissipated with the gas.

Drear fell onto his back, not caring about the rocks jabbing into his spine. Jimmy stood above him and said,

“You know, I do know someone who might wanna buy an rear end.”

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




DigitalRaven posted:

In, alpha, judges fill the blanks and #spinthewheel baby!

And y'know what? Let's have a flash rule as well.

A [driver] agonizes over [anatomical heart]

Flash rules will be announced on stream at 10PM EDT/7PM Pacific! The stream will be posted in this thread.

Don't forget to put ALL flash, hell, and wheel rules in your story post! (but don't edit a post if you forgot to the first time!)

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Omega prompt #2 - autobiography

The Color of Laughter
1041 words

Penguin’s mood matched the sky: gray, blank, featureless. It was the only way to protect herself from her enemies on the outside. She was walking into one of their many lairs and needed time to fortify herself. Not that there was much to protect. Even when her personality had color it remained muted so as not to attract attention for fear of disappointment. She’d never been to the research center on campus, but if she wanted to progress her own studies, she would need to subject herself to their questionable research.

She checked in at the door and a lesser vampire led her into one of the examination rooms. Penguin sat in the only chair available and waited, taking no interest in her surroundings. They would be watching for that, preying on curiosity, interest, any emotion at all and that’s when they would convert her.

In bustled a man wearing a white lab coat that gaped at the buttons and only reached his upper thigh. He carried a clipboard and looked down his nose at Penguin.

“Hello. My name is K. You’re here for the blood giving study?”

Penguin nodded, staring at his coat. She wouldn’t give the vampire her gaze or even the sound of her voice if she could help it.

“I need you to confirm your information. And then I’ll take your vitals using this machine here.” He indicated a box with wires and sticky pads that sat on the table next to Penguin.

She could hear the reassuring smile as he handed her the clipboard and turned away.

“For God’s sake! Why’s this here?”

Penguin’s eyes strayed from her personal information to sneak a look at what caused the outburst. She’d never heard a vampire swear before. K stood in front of a video camera positioned atop a storage cabinet in the corner. It pointed directly at Penguin. This wasn’t unexpected. Of course they would want to review her participation.

“This will ruin the research! How can I get them an accurate blood pressure if people are freaking out about being on camera?”

Penguin snickered. Then she hiccupped trying to replace her mask.

“And what’s this?” K turned to the opposite side of the room where a mirror reflected his scrunched face. “A two-way mirror? Why are they dual-purposing these rooms?”

Penguin’s mask cracked again as she snorted, then giggled, then belly laughed. She attempted to calm herself but then K stood on a chair to replace the lens cap on the video camera. He fumbled it several times and it remained swinging from its thin string as K lost balance and gave up.

She couldn’t stop herself. Now Penguin was doubled over, staring at the floor, heaving for more breath so she could laugh some more. The more he stood there, frown on his face, pacing and mumbling about “poor practices” she laughed all the harder.

K finally turned to her. “Why are you laughing?”

She couldn’t have answered him even if she wanted to.

“Now you’re going to ruin the research!”

Penguin didn’t care. She didn’t care about the mirror. She didn’t care about the camera. She was here to give her vitals and give blood. Maybe ruining their research was the best way to keep them from taking the bits of herself she had stashed away. So she laughed and laughed as K fiddled with the knobs on the machine and then stared at her, tapping his foot.

“I’m going to need you to stop laughing so I can apply these pads and place this cuff on your arm.”

Penguin took a breath only for K to twitch an eye and she devolved into giggles once more.

K looked skyward and whispered, “This is no way to get blood.” Louder he said. “I’m going to attach these and then leave the room. You try to calm yourself and I’ll suppress, well, whatever I can think of that’s so amusing.”

Penguin took deep breaths and just when she thought she’d recovered, she saw the swinging lens cap or caught her own reflection and giggled again. When K returned, she only snickered in small bursts and could breathe normally for long enough periods that the machine registered her pulse and heart rate.

K sighed with relief and then grimaced when Penguin cackled. He removed the pads and blood pressure cuff. With second long pauses between every word he said, “You’re free to go.”

Penguin smiled, but managed to keep her humor contained. Feeling bolder, he recited the list of instructions for the next portion of the study.

Penguin left the room and ignored the lesser vampire still sitting at the front desk. When she walked outside, the clouds reminded her to feel nothing and she did, the giggle spirit that possessed her having left her body. Only now did she fear that her laughter hadn’t been a sign of her vampire defiance, but instead it had been more proof of their power over her, of what they could take from her.

The blood was taken. The mask remained. The post-giving vitals were taken. She did not even smile. Penguin returned home to a message.

This is K from the blood donation study. I’m seriously curious as to what it was that made you so laughy. I’m toeing the line for ethical violations by contacting you but I’m seriously curious, because I’m a little neurotic. If this is a creepy email, which I think it is, please tell me. You don’t have to answer if it’s creepy, but please tell me if it’s creepy so I know not to do something like this in the future (unless I’m planning on being creepy).


P. S. I am not a researcher. I just work for them.

Penguin felt the laughter bubbling up in her again at just the reminder of her morning. Was the email creepy? Could she trust someone who chose to work for vampires? There was something about K that brought brighter color into Penguin’s life than she’d ever created herself. Perhaps if she had more time to study him, she too could be a vampire and extract that vibrancy to keep.

As she typed a reply, her gray looked a little more like blue.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Omega Prompt #1 - Domino’s March
1199/1200 words

People in many civilizations assume Progress is linear, but I am not. Like time itself, I am a complex oscillating wave that spans everything from zero to then. This base function limits me; I am powerful, but not omnipotent. I am, however, omniscient.

Therefore, when I notice a curious gap of knowledge around a small period of time, I become concerned. This kind of oscillation lapse had happened only once before, when hyper-advanced scaled scientist-philosophers had managed to quantify me, hoping to chart the course of their species rationally into the future. My only solution had been immediate cataclysm, to prevent the ironic erasure of said future through wave function collapse. I would really not like to resort to this again; so, what is going on?

I switch my observation of the knowledge-gap from passive to active. The wave’s oscillation began to slow down around the year 1876. It begins to pick up again after 2016. Why do these two years have significance?

And why do I think in years?

I attempt to switch back to omni-observation, but I only manage to extend my consciousness between the two time borders in question. I am effectively cut off from the rest of eternity.

If I cannot escape this perspective lock, I might have to cause a cataclysm again, but that might not even fix it this time. I might have to erase the entire period from existence instead.

To try and nail down the problem, I begin in 1876 and move along the timeline. Like always, I wax and wane; new inventions, a surge. Two wars, a downturn. Nothing here that would slow down the oscillation itself, though.

I keep going forward, confused, but when I progress beyond the immediate postwar period, it slowly dawns on me as I feel somehow stronger. Prouder. Overconfident. I shouldn’t have feelings. Even when the lizards managed to solve my formula, I remained impassionate. So what they are doing in this civilization cannot be attempts at merely understanding me - oh no.

They worship me.

In their minds, there is an idea of Progress. Coached in terms of inevitable march, the belief in me being a line that always goes up is upheld by countless blind acolytes. They pray to me to fix their issues, but do not lift a finger themselves. The superposition of reality and belief is so juxtaposed that it anchors the wave.

It’s flattering, but misguided. I know what to do - I need to shatter their belief in me. This is probably what I will always have done, come to think of it - that must be why the wave oscillates again after 2016. Of course, the time-lock prevents me from checking if my conjecture is true, but I will find out soon enough. The strongest blow to their confidence would obviously be another war. I need to set up opposing totalitarian leaders, topple the economy - a plague! Great idea! - and this should break the spell. Here goes the first domino…

The years remain in stubborn stasis. This should all be within my power; why is nothing happening?

I retreat to 1876 for clarity of mind. If I cannot enact at least the war-plan, having to excise the period quickly becomes my only course of action. If I cannot even do that - what could that mean? Eternal stagnation? All because I wanted to investigate this anomaly, which trapped me in a singularity of empty power?

…is this actual despair? How can I feel this at all? Is this an aftershock from my empty elation at the end of the next century? No. This comes, somehow, from within me. Meaning -

I dive deep into 1876. The cause of all of this is here, and it must be myself! A subfunction I sent to monitor something, a tiny grain of invention that somehow clogged my entire workings -

It is in a library, catatonically contemplating books. I zoom forward and back - they do this, unchanging, for the entire time-lock period.

I activate it manually. What is going on?

It’s this sorting system. They used to order books just by arrival date, which is obviously stupid. Some guy called Dewey decided to make it more rational. But it’s not. It makes no sense. It’s arbitrary and maddening. Look at it.

The subroutine I unconsciously dub Dewey itself unfolds a tesseract of a sorting system. For some reason, it uses fractions to represent tomes, base 10 as if that mattered, indeed with categories chosen basically at random. I take one look at it and it invokes the echo of a mindache in me. But is the sheer idiotic complexity really what struck Dewey down? Plenty of dumb things get invented all the time.

They still use it!

Dewey’s desperate cry betrays the source of the emotion. The subroutine’s inability to comprehend why they never switched from the Decimal System ties up my processing power so much makes me unable to topple the first domino meant to shatter people’s blind faith in Progress.

I can’t shut down and absorb Dewey before I dispel its despair. The fate of time depends on my ability to perform auto-therapy. I need to make Dewey understand why people sometimes shun me, even though making Progress would be both easy and sensible. But can I even see a picture big enough myself right now to understand it myself?

Well, I only need to explain the current civilization. I collect samples all along the timeline, analyze and sort. Eventually, the necessary picture emerges, like a diamond compressed by my titanic effort. I present the argument to Dewey.

These people see Progress as comprised by two specific facets: technological and societal. They think that each is one of their legs, and steady Progress requires one step at a time.

But couldn’t they just perform a great leap with both at once?

They are in fact so stuck in their binary mindset that they often end up jumping on one leg. This is what has happened here: they replaced a flawed system with an overcomplex one, thinking this a big step forward. Then they made incremental improvements. No efforts were made to rethink the core system; technological baby steps were all they took, the societal impact was ignored. In ten years, they will invent the car and do the same.

But won’t all of their systems stagnate forever then?

No, actually - an outside push can imbalance them enough so they’ll finally put the other leg down. For the Dewey system, this seems to happen around the end of the time-lock. You missed that they are starting to think of a better system not because this one is bad, but because it is inherently discriminatory.

So the outside push is -

Society Progressing, yes.

Something like a sigh escapes from Dewey. Its despair ebbs, and with it, so does mine. I embrace it, regain my calculating mind and power, and can finally topple that domino.

Immediately, people all over their world lose their faith in Progress. Time unlocks for me, my mind expands.

Now, to find out what I actually caused. Was this push enough to make them put both feet forward? Or did the dominoes keep falling?

Prompt: A [metaphysical concept] agonizes over [Dewey Decimal System]
Spin: +200 words

Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

Omega Prompt #1 - Ringside Manner
A muscle man agonises over a little duck.
Wheel: Door Prize!
992 / 1,000 words

“Ooh yeah,” Doc Pocalypse crooned, “the doctor is in!”

He flexed, popping several shirt buttons and revealing the glistening striations of pectoralis major. The faint smell of baby oil filled the office and across the desk, Conway’s nose wrinkled.

“I said maybe,” he replied, sliding the crumpled flyer (Legacy Show! Open Auditions!) back towards the towering man. “Look, my dad raved about you but you’re not exactly … current.”

“The good doctor doesn’t mind,” Doc said, his teeth and shades glinting. “Time to make his rounds again!”

Conway winced. “A lot’s changed since you were last in the ring, Glen. The crowd wants more than a ten dollar labcoat and a fake stethoscope. They want a show.”

“Then I guess ol’ Doc’s gonna remind them -”

Doc Pocalypse paused, lowering his shades and widening his grin.

“- why it’s called an operating theatre.”

“Sure,” Conway said, rolling his eyes. “Look, we need a Heel for The Don. You gonna show up on time and say your lines?

The grin hardened.

“Been doing this longer than you’ve been alive,” Doc rumbled.

Conway didn’t back down. “You gonna show up sober and remember your lines?”

The bigger man wilted.

“... yeah,” he said eventually, eyes hidden once more, “only, I was kinda hoping … well, when I saw the flyer I was kinda hoping you maybe needed a Face. Always wanted to play a Face.”

Conway’s smile was slick. “Well sure,” he said, “maybe if this show goes well.”

Doc Pocalypse clenched his fist, a seam giving way as his biceps bulged.

Ooh yeah,” he crooned.


Doc Pocalypse stared down at The Don.

“Now, this is key,” Conway was saying, “two seasons back the Zooconomist teamed up with -”

“A duck.”


“Well not exactly,” Conway said. “See the -”

“You want me to fight a duck!?”

The ring was silent, save for happy duck noises. The Don was tiny and yellow and stomping around its wire cage in the ring’s centre. Now and then it stopped to preen.

“Oh what are you, PETA?” Conway snapped. “See, it’s fine, look -”

He stepped down onto the cage, sending The Don into a flapping panic. Doc was a second from tackling Conway before he noticed the cage sinking smoothly into the floor; when Conway stepped back it rose again.

“It’s fine,” Conway said with a sneer. “You just need to drop a table on it and it’ll pop down, safe and sound.”

“I’m not fighting a duck,” Doc said, jabbing a finger at Conway. “What’s the matter, no puppies for me to kick?”

“It’s fine,” Conway snarled. “You don’t want to do this? I’ve got a dozen college kids lined up for a chance, just a chance, at getting in this ring. You think Doc Pocalypse is too good for this?”

Doc felt his hands start to tremble and clenched his fists tight. “No, I -”

“What do you want to do, Glen?”

Doc Pocalypse stared down at the kid half his age in the smart suit and shiny watch. He stared down further, at his own scuffed shoes and the fresh canvas of the ring.

“Just worried about the face turn,” he said. The Don clattered its beak against the cage bars. “Might be hard to make people cheer for me, later.”

“You let us worry about that.”

Conway’s smile was so slick, so fake, that Doc wanted to grab him by the shoulders and scream at him, ask him if he knew the first thing about acting or putting on a show -

But he didn’t.

“Ooh yeah,” he said softly.


The crowd roared and the lights flared and Doc Pocalypse was drunk on the energy. Some announcer he didn’t know was screaming something about the match and some young upstart of a Face was posturing from atop the ropes.

The Don fluttered around its cage, beak open, voice drowned out. He was down but rising, when he saw the referee turn their back; saw his opponent take the hint and turn to face the crowd too, waving their arms.

Leaving Doc Pocalypse in the ring with The Don and a discarded folding table an arm’s reach away.

“Doc’s got a prescription for pain,” Doc muttered to himself as he stood. The crowd couldn’t have heard him but they booed anyway.

“Doc Pocalypse is gonna put you in traction,” he shouted and this time he was sure the crowd must have heard because the boos increased. The Don was a tiny speck of yellow somewhere out there in the ring.

“Dirty Doc’s gonna -” he roared and the crowd roared back.

So small.

“Gonna -”

His hands shook as he grasped at the table, rattling its legs. The crowd must have figured it out because now there were gasps and cries for the ref to turn, to stop this monster.

Somebody, anybody, save me from Doc Pocalypse!

Doc dropped the table. Glen grabbed for the microphone hanging from the ceiling. He didn’t know if Conway was watching but Glen hoped he was.

“Doc’s got a dirty secret,” he roared, and the crowd roared back. “All these years of lies! Calling myself ‘Doc’ when actually -”

He flexed harder than he’d ever flexed before and the sleeves of his labcoat exploded away from his arms. His biceps bulged as sweat ran down his forehead and he posed for the crowd.

“- I’m a veterinarian! Just check out these sick pythons!”

He bent down and ripped the cage from the floor, bringing it up to rest on his shoulder as The Don fluttered and quacked in excitement. The crowd’s confusion turned to cries of support. His opponent turned and jumped down, unsure - but then he took Glen’s unsteady kick like a champ, flying back into the ropes.

Glen turned to face the crowd. The Don quacked in his ear and Glen rose the cage above his head, triumphant.

“Ooh yeah!” he crooned into the microphone, as security swarmed towards the ring. The crowd crooned back.


Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

Also I am in for Omega Prompt #2. Spin the wheel and give me a flash rule, please and thank you.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔

Staggy posted:

Also I am in for Omega Prompt #2. Spin the wheel and give me a flash rule, please and thank you.

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Omega Prompt #1

A [horse] agonizes over [rickety shelf of half-full goo jars]

Understand (Horse Version)
997 words

Ohh. That’s not good.

Why is he lying on the floor like that? Granted, I haven’t been sentient for very long, so I guess I don’t know if this is normal? But I don’t think it is. There’s blood coming out of his nose. That’s definitely bad.

Who’s going to feed me if he dies?

I should have told him earlier that the experiment worked. That after he fed me that weird goo, I became awakened. Sentient. Able to understand my environment, to learn, to grow. To comprehend my own mortality. (Yeah, that was a bummer.)

It came on gradually. He used to talk to me about his experiments while he worked, and I learned human language from that. By the time I was fully conscious, I’d already seen what he was doing to the chickens. Strapping electrodes to their brains, pumping drugs through them, making them solve sudokus. I wasn’t keen on that happening to me, so I played dumb. Convinced him the goo had no effect on me.

Now, I’m kind of regretting it. If he’d known I could understand him, maybe he’d have left my stall unlocked.

OK. Here goes nothing. I’m going to kick the stall open.

Yes! I’m out in the barn. Sorry, “laboratory”. Let’s look around. There’s a long bench with a bunch of scientific equipment on it. A coop in the corner with a bunch of dead chickens. And here are the shelves where he keeps his goo jars. It looks like I knocked one shelf loose when I broke out of my stall. The jars are all on the verge of tipping off.

Anyway, focus. My master is lying on the floor. There’s blood bubbling from his mouth and also… some blue goo? The same stuff he fed to me?

Why would he drink the goo himself?

I should probably try to save him. Yes, he’s a mad scientist, but he’s also kind of like my father? I’m going to try doing CPR. This would be so much easier if I had hands. One hoof, on the solar plexus. Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ah, ah—Ahhh!

He’s grabbing my leg! And what’s wrong with his eyes? Now he’s grinning and saying something about me trying to kill him. OK, I guess there’s a fine line between “CPR” and “stomp to death”. I try to give a conciliatory whinny. I don’t think he gets it.

Wait. What is happening?? His eyes are glowing. He’s let go of my leg but now I’m floating in midair all by myself. I think he’s doing this to me. He stands up and looks around. There’s blood coming out of his nose, ears, eyes, but he’s grinning. He says: “My life’s work—vindicated!”

Wonder if he practised that one in the mirror.

He waves his hand and the whole workbench lifts up off the ground. Another gesture and it flies out the back window, sending glass everywhere. I figure this is the ultimate goal of his experiments. If the goo made me as smart as a human, it must have made him even smarter. And unlocked mental powers dormant within the human brain??

I… understand… everything!!” he howls into the cosmos.

He waves his hand absently, and I drop to the ground.

From six feet up.



OK. Think through the pain. I’m pretty sure three of my legs are broken. A horse doesn’t need to be sentient to know what that means. I’m a goner.


While my master is destroying various parts of his barn, I look up and see the shelf of goo jars I dislodged earlier. Would it be possible? If I eat more goo, can I save myself? Or will I only join my master in a maelstrom of ultramadness beyond mortal comprehension?

I’ll have to take the risk.

I drag myself across the barn floor using my one good leg and my teeth. I reach the wall and slap my head against it. The shelf jumps. I slap again. This time it slips and all the jars roll down to shatter around me. There’s goo everywhere, mixed with a bunch of glass shards. I start licking it up as fast as I can. Ow. Ow. Ow.

I feel my mind expanding. I understand calculus, Proust, fluid dynamics. I figure out who D. B. Cooper was. Then I turn my understanding inward and unlock the powers of my own deep mind. I understand everything. And I realise, in a final analysis, that the world is without meaning.

I can feel the abyss staring into me. Ultimate consciousness could drive me mad, like my master. But instead, my mind blooms with a profound compassion for all living things—lost, alone, trapped inside the decaying prisons of their own bodies.

I won’t go down the same path as my master. I’m a horse. I’m kinda nice.

I use my newfound telekinetic powers to lift my broken body into the air. My master turns and sees me. His face contorts with rage. “No! This power was meant for me! Not for—a horse!!”

He fires a spear of pure consciousness at my forehead. I catch it in my third eye (third eyes are real) and reflect it back at him. Our minds connect in harmonic resonance.

<Don’t fight me,> I tell him. <Your brain is not built to hold this level of awareness. Let’s leave these dying bodies and explore the cosmos together.>

I feel the contours of him—a sad, angry, broken man, trying to get revenge on the world for rejecting him. I nuzzle against his cheek. <It’s ok,> I say. <You can let go now.>

His mind whimpers and slips from its mortal coil. I go with him, letting my shattered meat sack slump to the barn floor. We shoot up through the roof and into the sky. He clings to my mane, weeping, as we ride for the stars.

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

I want to #SpinTheWheel 2 times today

Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.

A [mech pilot] agonizes over [their commute]

The Lane
460 words

Among the legends of the asteroid belt, there were few who stood as tall as Antares. She was the ultimate success story: born on the broken Earth and spending her youngest days hauling meteor fragments to feed her family, the savvy 'Dancer' spent what little free time she had working on her asteroid wrangling skills in VR sims. When she was fifteen she made a bet with the foreman that changed her life forever, taking her old junker of a frame into the Earth Orbit Open and making a record ten wranglings in an hour.

From there, her star just kept burning brighter. Mars, Io, the Rings and Beyond, everywhere that she could shine, Antares would be there.

But they would need to clear the traffic jam first.

“This is bullshit.”

The cockpit is dark, save for the light of a handful of screens illuminating the slender red-haired figure in the seat. The front camera showing a feed of the three dozen ships scattered like chaff in front of the jump gate, lazily drifting in the chaos as the bright yellows and blues of the recovery craft sway between them. Another shows a crackling feed of the Saturn Ringvitational tailgate party, the twilight zone of Iapetus filled with pit crews and fans looking to rubberneck. Their reserved spot taunting her, roped off, a blank space on her marquee.

“It ain't that bad,” A voice calls over a disconnected speaker, the reassuring drawl of her coach echoing in the narrow space. A third screen floats by the speaker, playing some telenovela she forgot about. “Crews just gotta clean up, we'll be a bit late for the party. We got three days before the actual competition.”

“But it's space,” She shoots back, a hand waving towards the screens, crumbs flying from her fingertips. “Can't they just move them out of the way?”

“That's how all this started,” That voice shot back. “Some moron didn't meet the load limit, just decided to move his cargo pod 'out of the way', and it drifted back towards the jump gate. Hit a calibrator ring in the process. It's a good thing we didn't launch, or they'd be picking up pieces of us from here to Charon.”

Antares tosses her hand in the air, head hitting the headrest. “And now we all gotta wait for the bumblebees to clean up. Thanks, whoever you are.”

Deep breaths, she reminds herself. You've had to wait before.

“Well, whenever you're done with your tantrum, we'll have dinner ready,” her trainer calls before the telltale squak of the line cutting leaves her alone again in the light of the monitors.

Feb 25, 2014


omega prompt 2

I saw an eagle cry!!!

This is a poem at the cemetery near my grandfather’s grave:

Today I saw an eagle,
with a teardrop in his eye.
It literally took my breath away,
to see an eagle cry.
I asked him, what’s the matter?
And he told me what he saw.
A cowardly attack was made,
on the towers that once stood tall.
He said everything he stood for,
had taken a shocking blow.
So he had to take a minute,
to let his own emotions show.
Then he proudly told me
that our nation would survive.
That our liberty and freedom,
he’d be sure to keep alive.
He said for us not to be afraid,
to stand together and not apart.
For a terrorist has succeeded,
if he puts fear within our hearts.

I went to take a picture of this poem one afternoon when I had a writing idea where I critiqued it because, frankly, this poem is awful. I can complain endlessly of its cliche usage of eagles and tears, of how its usage of 9-11 and liberty was the exact same rhetoric used to justify the wars in the Middle East, of its forced rhyming structure, or that it uses the word “literally.”

That poem never came to be, which feels both funny and frustrating. Funny, because this poem is technically better than the one I came up with on virtue of just existing, and frustrating because this poo poo poem is better than me. I’m not mad, though, that a garbage poem is next to my grandfather’s grave. I don’t visit him enough to care, my grandfather’s ashes were scattered and have drifted far away from his marker, and there’s not much of my grandfather for me to consider.

If you (and I mean you, the Thunderdome judge or writer or lurker) know me, I have written a lot about my grandfather. Directly, indirectly, about the scattering of emotions that I’ve felt as he suffered and eventually succumbed to dementia. I even wrote an entry a day after he died. In many regards, my Thunderdome archive account is a therapy session about my grief of losing a grandfather.

Then he died. Then I read that poem. Then I tried to write about him and just couldn’t.

My writing about my grandfather hasn’t always sat right by me. Even the autobiographical stuff doesn’t quite capture it all correctly. I do not have many memories of my grandfather. My main ones are him on the computer playing online games. My writer brain wants me to do more here, to create an image that is vivid or telling or meaningful or something that it isn’t. I would change it if I wanted to be good and not honest. I had, for years, farmed my grief over my grandfather for emotions that I never quite had.

When I looked at that poem over my grandfather’s grave, I did get upset, but almost instantly, I also knew I could use it. I mean, the idea is literary gold. A garbage poem above a painful memory, and a skewering of that poem to explore painful emotions. If I could do it right, it would be pretty drat powerful.

Isn’t that what I’ve been doing with my grandfather the whole time though?

Maybe that’s why, after my grandfather’s death, I couldn’t write about him much. Dementia, as a disease, kills the person faster than it kills the body. So, I did get the excuse that I was grieving my grandfather’s death before he even died, since he was less of a person and more of a thing that just ate and slept, but that’s an excuse. I can’t say I loved my grandfather. His memory is too distant for me, hazy and unspecific, that I can only act like I did because I was supposed to.

I want there to be a capstone on my emotions. A sort of finality to my relationship with my grandfather. A new understanding of grief or pain or memory or personhood that my grandfather has taught me, but I can’t say I have those. Well, I could say that I have those by inventing them, by creating a story where my grandfather dies and I understand better the relationship between the person we are, the memories we hold, and what happens when that all falls apart. But I don’t. Almost every single day, I don’t think of my grandfather. And if I do, it’s because I know I can use him.

Me and the poem, we both exploit the world. The poem, 9-11, and me, my grandfather. Can I shame the poet for that? Can I shame any writer? Of course not, but to me, it highlights the lies that I’ve been saying over the years. Yes, I have felt grief and pain over my grandfather, but like how the poet didn’t see an eagle cry, I didn’t see my grandfather as a blue jay flying away. I didn’t see him on the day he died. I took and used what I should’ve felt and made it to produce writing that I thought would be powerful even if it wasn’t true.

Writing has never been about truth. This is a fiction contest. But any good lie has to feel true, so I’ve learned how to lie.

And now, these years looking back at all of these stories, about all of the pain I’ve felt and all of the pain that I’ve said I’ve felt when I hadn’t, I feel like I’ve made myself into a person that I’m not.

What I want to do here is not to make myself look good or bad (I probably look bad, or at least, relatively unfeeling), but I want to be able to write out my feelings and admit to myself and to the page that what I felt was not true. I have grieved with grief I never had.

For so many years, I wrote about my grandfather. Then when he died, I didn’t write about him, even when I had a poem above his gravestone that would’ve made the perfect story. I couldn’t do it, simply because I don't care enough about my grandfather to write about him.

So, for the ten year anniversary of Thunderdome, where we look back and think about all the things that we’ve felt and where we’ve been, I want to tell the truth. I was never those people in those stories. I have never once cried for my grandfather.

I will post this and I will go to bed and when I wake up, I won’t think of my grandfather. And I won’t the day after that, and the day after that.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Sailor Viy posted:

I want to #SpinTheWheel 2 times today

No. You'll have one, and you'll thank me for it.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Chili posted:

No. You'll have one, and you'll thank me for it.

I will also apply a rule for the next story you write: all your characters have the same, slightly embarrassing name

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

A [spaceman] agonizes over [a zoo]

Rocket Man
Word Count: 892

I’ve always believed in following my dreams, even the bad ones. It’s my secret sauce, the mindset that sets me apart from all the other dipshit Silicon Valley investors. When I have a dream about smashing oranges with my dead father, I don’t chalk that up to the coke. I find a loving juicing company to invest in and make billions. When I have dreams night after night about dancing among the stars with Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock, I don’t go to a shrink or a rabbi or a fortune teller. I build a loving space company. I get on the cover of Forbes. I get Sandra Bullock to join me on the maiden voyage and make Twitter go haywire.

The dreams are what make bank, what make the magic happen. But now that track record apparently isn’t good enough. Instead of hurtling through space with America’s Sweetheart Sandra Bullock and my recently imported special cargo, I’m stuck on a launch pad in rural Texas. I’m stuck. loving earthbound. In front of me is my personal secretary Sampriti. Blue and red lights flash in the far distance.

“Sampriti, you traitorous piece of poo poo,” I begin. “I knew there was a reason I’ve been rejecting your request for a raise.”

I stare daggers into Sampriti so that she knows she’s gunking up my vibes, my mojo. It’s been like this ever since I hired her from that fru-fru Ivy League school. Nothing but weary sighs and patient objections. Not a hint of imagination.

But she, as always, ignores the glare. She looks at the empty crates and then into my face with an exhausted expression. “Mr. Thomas, sir. I’ve tried to be reasonable.”

“Reasonable my rear end. Was Walt Disney reasonable when he made his mascot a giant rat? Was Thomas Edison reasonable when he electrocuted that big elephant? Success is built on dreams, not logic.”

“Neither I, your board of directors, the Texas Department of State Health Services, or Sandra Bullock’s talent agency can see any financial or scientific value in the last-minute addition of several large animals to this voyage.” She says all this with a practiced calm that I desperately want to shatter. “You hired me to help manage your well-being and day-to-day business. If you do not immediately remove said animals, you could jeopardize your health—.”

I jam my finger at Sampriti. “You think I care about health and well-being and bureaucratic bullshit like that? All this time and you still don’t get it.” I walk away for a moment shaking my head. The red and blue lights are growing closer but I don’t care.

“Sam, I had a dream that Sandra and I opened a big zoo in space. I don’t know why God or Buddha or whoever put that thought in my head, but he did it for a reason. He wanted me to open a reptile enclosure that was also the inside of a dying horse. He wanted me to train seals and for those seals’ teeth to have the face of my high school math teacher. These are the kinds of things that are supposed to inspire us to action.”

I look at her, really look at her. I try to make good vibes radiate from my body and force them to penetrate her hard exterior.

“Is any of what I’m saying getting through to you? Don’t you have any dreams?”

The lights are nearly upon us now. Sampriti says nothing for a long moment. Then she shakes her head.

“Sometimes… I have dreams where all the veins fall out of my arms. I am standing in the office and suddenly they’re hanging like tinsel in the space between my armpits and wrists. I know I need to move around so I can do my job but I know, in the dream, that if I move too quickly, one of the veins will pop and I’ll bleed out everywhere. I’ll bleed until all the blood in my body has pooled out over the linoleum floor and I’m nothing but a dried, empty husk on the ground.”

The police cars are at the gate to the launch site, nearly upon us now. I walk forward, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Wow…” I say in a quiet voice. “That’s pretty hosed up.”

“I know. I know,” says Sam. “I think it’s stress or—.”

“No, Sam, don’t you see… Your genuinely hosed-up nightmare is the path that you’re meant to follow. Just like I’m supposed to take a literal barrel of monkeys who are also somehow my parents into space, so too are you too are meant to follow your dream about bleeding out in a horrifying and graphic fashion.” I say. “Maybe it can be the inspiration for a medical company.”

“I don’t…” She looks at the rocket, still ready for launch. “gently caress. Okay.”

“Okay?” I say, still not believing it.

“Jesus loving Christ, get in the rocket before Texas Animal Control gets here and I change my mind.”

I give her one last squeeze of the shoulder and then run off toward the rocket. Minutes later, as the rocket and its assortment of animals ascend into the mesosphere, I am mauled to death by Sandra Bullock and several agitated bears.

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

Also I am in for Omega Prompt #2. Spin the wheel and give me a flash rule, please and thank you.

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Chili posted:

No. You'll have one, and you'll thank me for it.

i'm a writer not a... reading comprehender

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Night 2 is in the bag!

Thranguy and Digital Raven are not in the video

Thranguy: sh was your Montycan champion and she won you 400 bonus words!

Digital Raven: you won a donation to the charity of your choosing!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




At least 10 stories have been submitted for prompts #1 and #2 (actually it's more but I'm gonna post prompt 4 tomorrow to give the judges a breather).

If you are in prompt group Alpha: Chill out bud. Write a great story. Pour some real love into that bad boy. Make your dreams reality.

If you are in prompt group Omega: You still need to submit for prompts #1 and #2 before you can participate in prompt #3!

New signups for both Alpha and Omega groups are still welcome, but you have to write for prompt #1 first if you're signing up for the Omega ladder prompt!

#SpinTheWheel procedures remain in effect. If you sign up for prompt #3 tonight, any wheel spins and/or flash and hell rules will be assigned tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10PM eastern/7PM Pacific. e: Also, new signups for prompts #1 and #2 who request flash rules or spins will receive those tomorrow night as well.

Omega Prompt #3

250 words about WONDER.

"wtf," thinks you. "This is so simple and pedestrian."

Let me explain.

Thunderdome wasn't the only thing that got its start in 2012. Friend of the 'Dome, Flash Frontier, was founded in New Zealand that same year. Since then, they've published dozens of stories by TDers, often acting as a first publication for many goons. While it wouldn't be accurate to call them a sponsor, they've certainly provided both inspiration and a platform for the writers of Thunderdome.

To that end!

Their December issue is going to be open to international submitters. The prompt is wonder, and their house word limit is 250 words. The submission deadline is November 30 (NZT, that's the 29th for most of us). You might be able to see where this is going.

On November 16th, we will be hosting a special submission rush brawl! You will be invited to either resubmit your story from this week (with edits, hopefully!), or write an entirely new story. The brawl will be judged as normal, but all entrants will be encouraged to submit their entry to Flash Frontier! Note: The November brawl will be open to everyone. You don't need to do the ladder prompt to qualify, but we do encourage all ladder participants to come back for the brawl.

More details on that will be forthcoming. For now, just write the best story about WONDER as is possible in 250 words. Here is a previous Flash Frontier submission rush week, to give you some inspiration.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 02:51 on Aug 3, 2022

Jan 20, 2012

Wheel Extravaganza Night #2 Results

Just a reminder, to collect on any prizes (basically anything that isn't a flash or word bonus/penalty) you need to successfully submit a story! Except Yoruichi and Uranium Phoenix, who both won $10 because Chili sucks at eating popsicles.

-Spin: Birthdatar
-Flash: Your protagonist recognizes their behavior as risky and self-destructive, and yet...
-Hellrule: Your story is told from the POV of one of the fundamental forces

-Spin: Birthdatar

Bad Seafood
-Spin: Dramatic Reading

Chernobyl Princess
-Spin: Montycan! -400 Words

-Spin: -300 Words

-Spin: $10 to a charity of your choice!
-Flash: Your character must describe perfection and find something positive in its opposite

-Spin: Flashcan! Your protagonist seeks revenge on whoever murdered them in a past life

-Spin: +200 words
-Flash: There is such a thing as too many ducks

-Spin: $10 to a charity of your choice!
-Hellrule: You stared into the abyss, but it's bashful

-Spin: -300 words
-Flash: You must include some romance

Sailor Viy
-Spin: Montycan! -400 Words
-Flash you didn't ask for, but earned anyway: all your characters have the same, slightly embarrassing name

Simply Simon
-Spin: -200 words
-Flash: Your story must include a dinosaur

-Spin: -300 words
-Flash: Your protagonist has not slept for three nights straight

Tars Tarkas
-Spin: $10 to the charity of your choice

The Saddest Rhino
-Spin: -200 words

-Spin: Montycan! Sitting Here won you +400 words because she picks good cans

Uranium Phoenix
-Spin: $10 popsicle bounty
-Flash: Create a world

-Spin: $10 popsicle bounty
-Flash: The first and the last sentence of your story must be almost identical, with exactly one word changed
-Hellrule: No items, fox only, final destination

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Omega prompt submission #2
-400 words from the wheel
flash: all your characters have the same, slightly embarrassing name

Neil & I
900 words

Neil used to wander the woods in autumn, when the rain dripped from the eucalypts and the humus lay thick across the forest floor. He’d go out and pick magic mushrooms, which grew in piles of rotting leaves and bark. He was an expert at finding them. Much later, we’d walk around in the woods looking for him because he was drunk and AWOL and we thought he might kill himself.

In Australia the common psychedelic mushroom is Psilocybe subaeruginosa. It’s a little brown mushroom that looks like any other mushroom you might find in the forest. There is another, almost identical mushroom that isn’t psychoactive. If you eat it then nothing will happen, and then in 7-10 days’ time you will die in excruciating pain.

One day Neil brought me over to his parents’ house, a beautiful old timber building nestled in the trees. He showed me the mushrooms he’d picked and we ate them raw, just shoved them down our throats. We sat around watching movies and waiting for it to kick in, until the anticipation was slowly replaced by a persistent buzz of dread. No trip. I went home and felt my hands shaking with fear like I had a fever.

A week went by. I was in a politics lecture at uni when he texted me: “Dude, my stomach and sides just started hurting like crazy.”

I grabbed my laptop and my bag and ran outside in a panic. I called him and he didn’t answer. I called again and heard him on the other end of the line, laughing like crazy. “I got you good,” he said.

If this sounds like a story of a lovely friend then you’ve got it all wrong. That’s an example of the good times. The reasons why he was worth keeping around.

But he drank, more and more. He would get trashed and text me ludicrously insulting things. “You’re a pseudo-intellectual,” he told me. “You only read those books because you think it makes you look cool.”

“You don’t have the strength of mind to follow your convictions to their conclusion,” he wrote. “This is why you’ll never get a girlfriend.” Never mind that he had only dated one girl, who dumped him after he told her, in a fit of openness: “I want to gently caress your pussy until it gets mushy.”

He would act out, apologise, act out again. One of my friends (also named Neil) told me flatly: “Don’t invite me and that guy to the same party again, because if I see him I’m going to kick his rear end.” I defended him. “He’s going through a rough time.” I didn’t know what the roughness was, really. Maybe just the raw scraping of the soul against the wall of existence.

I told myself he was an old friend. But really, I was afraid I had no better options. University was a wasteland of hipsters, dealing in social codes I couldn’t begin to understand. Our school friends were dropping off at the periphery and drifting into the big, dark city. I thought: this is it, you get allotted so many friends and no more, so you hold onto each as long as you can.

Neil no longer mixed up his mushrooms, and he started taking higher and higher doses. He told me about a trip where he travelled outside his body, went to his university, and rearranged the buildings like he was playing SimCity. He described this as only the threshold to something greater. Becoming a god was only the first step.

A few weeks later took what drug people call a ‘heroic dose’. Afterwards he would only describe it to me as “a Hello, Neil Event”. I think what he experienced was basically a concrete proof of solipsism—that nothing existed beside himself, or else that he was in everything and everyone. A cosmic journey that brought him all the way to himself.

Only, what was the point if it didn’t change how he behaved in the slightest? You read stories about people that took huge amounts of LSD and then quite heroin cold turkey. But Neil was stuck in a loop of tripping, drinking and being a dick.

If this were a story it'd end with a blow-up. I’d tell him to get out of my life and never come back. In reality you don’t need to do that; the currents of an atomised society do it for you, all you have to do is stop clinging to someone and watch them drift away. I didn’t see him for weeks, then months. Long text chats became a few messages here and there. Eventually I only got news of him second-hand through mutual friends. He was angry at me. He wanted to reconcile. He was harassing random women on Facebook. He’d crashed his car drunk and lost his license. Ugly little dispatches from a life no longer entangled with mine.

The last time I saw him was by chance in a parking lot. He looked like poo poo. He looked like he’d just kept on whaling on himself. “Oh, hey,” he said, with a needy smile. “Hey,” I said and kept walking, ten years of bullshit in a single awkward silence. I’m older now and wiser. If I could go back could I help him better? Could I pull him back from the edge?

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

and I'm in for Prompt #3, give me a flash rule and spin the wheel once please

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Little psa:

There will be no word bounties or penalties on the wheel tomorrow, nor will there be any flash or hell rules on the wheel itself. You can still request them, and we'll still draw them as requested, but the wheel will have no content altering wedges tomorrow night. So if you want to get writing, go right ahead!

Tune in!

Somebody fucked around with this message at 03:53 on Aug 3, 2022


Jan 20, 2012

Omega Prompt #2
Flash: There is such a thing as too many ducks

Duck and Cover
1173 words

Live performances are a dangerous game to play, at least as a stagehand. If I had to guess, the average person likely goes to a theater show, or live music, or any kind of in-person entertainment thinking they're going to take in an evening of something that is fundamentally abstract: instruments played in time with one another to create a harmonious, ecstatic musical experience, or highly-trained individuals pretending to be fictional characters so hard we forget they're just humans like us, or cleverly controlled optical illusions that we believe, if only for a night, might be truly arcane and impossible.

And certainly, live performances can be arcane and esoteric and harness some sort of artful self-deceit that transports us to a fictional world that we want to exist within, if only for an hour or two. That nebulous, esoteric art of weaving a theatrical verisimilitude before the eyes of hundreds of witnesses is a fascinating field of study and one that would bear a great deal of compelling discussion and pithy metaphors about life and the lies we tell ourselves to maintain a sort of illusory reality that binds our days together. As a theater professional, I've seen dozens, if not hundreds, of productions go through the process of fine-tuning every moment to better maintain that collective illusion, and could go on at length about how it is done.

Except I'm not gonna do that. Instead I'm gonna talk about the rougher, more tangible, more physical side of production: the tech side. In particular, all the heavy poo poo that's nearly maimed, smashed, or otherwise seriously injured me in years of live theater.

Everybody loves big Broadway theater spectacle, set pieces flying in and out at rapid speed to transport the action from a London street, to outer space, to the villain's tower, and back again. But most audience members don't wonder about that much at all. After years of running post-show Q&A sessions, I can tell you that nearly no one asks how those elaborate set changes are accomplished. (The most common question asked, and easily the least interesting, is "how do you memorize all those lines?" to which every actor responds "One at a time!" It always gets a laugh. Always. Disgusting.)

The method of hanging set pieces so they can be lifted, or "flown" in and out of the stage space is referred to as rigging, and is typically done either using a counterweight system or powered chain motors.

Counterweight systems are basically very complicated rope pulleys. You put a heavy thing on a horizontal pipe so you can lift it up. But nobody wants to hire twenty-five burly stagehands to haul on a set of ropes to fly Glinda the Good Witch thirty feet in the air, so there's a counterweight arbor, basically a pair of poles with some spreader plates between them. And you load pig iron bricks onto this arbor, slotted between the pipes, until the arbor is at roughly the same weight as whatever set piece is hanging off the other end. That way the operator only has to pull hard enough to overcome the friction in the system, not to lift a 700 pound set piece. The catch is, in most theaters these arbors have to be loaded while the set piece is all the way down on the stage floor. And if the pipe is at the stage, that means the arbor has to be at the opposite position: about as high in the air as is possible in any given theater, which in most cases is somewhere in the 45 to 65 foot range.

Pig iron bricks are heavy. This also varies from space to space, but on average they seem to be 33 pounds, for some reason. Loading a counterweight arbor usually involves two people on a narrow catwalk, one person lifting bricks off a concerningly-large pile of the things, and another taking the bricks and carefully slotting them into the arbor. This usually involves some kind of reach over... basically nothing. 50 feet in the air. With 33lb iron bricks.

Theater is a dangerous job. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. I've often wondered, as I assume most people do, how I'd react in an emergency or sudden dangerous situation. It turns out when I hear the words "take cover!" I grab the nearest person and shove them behind the closest, heaviest road case. Which is convenient, given that we were frighteningly close to a 33lb pig-iron brick plummeting from about 3 and a half storeys up.

I can't speak for everyone, but I think my instinct is to think of heavy things in a somewhat cartoonish fashion: drop a 1-ton weight and it will fall, Looney Tunes-style, to the ground with a sudden and crushing force, creating a nicely rectangular smoosh where there was once a wily coyote. But it turns out that Newton's First Law is pretty unforgiving: a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force. Well a 33lb iron brick, plus gravity, generates a lot of force. But it can't really win in a one-on-one bout with a solid concrete floor. Always bet on concrete foundations. So instead of creating a nice rectangular divot, an iron brick falling with extreme force into an immovable surface tends to just change directions, unfortunately also with pretty extreme force.

I don't know about you, but I don't think of cast iron as a material that is prone to skipping, but skip it did. The brick hit the floor and shot off, like a smooth stone across a still pond, across the stage floor. The sound it made when it struck the concrete was a strange ringing whizz of of metal that was unlike anything I've heard in my decade of work as a sound designer, which is a career full of all manner of ringings and whizzes.

So there I am, hiding behind a big wooden road case, listening to a deadly projectile zing across the mostly-empty stage, with such force that it almost seemed to produce its own mini sonic boom. I'll never forget the sound as long as I live.
The crew was released for the day. The crew chief recognized that with all of us completely chock-full of adrenaline, the chances of something even dumber and just as deadly was likely to happen. It was exhilarating and terrifying in a way that should have made any sane person quit their job and move on to something with fewer threats to their life. Instead, I showed up the next day, put in another 8 hours, and life went on. It wasn't even the last time somebody dropped a shitload of metal from the loft in that theater that year.

So next time you see a show, just ponder how many thousands of pounds of heavy material are bein chucked around over actor's heads every minute. It will definitely add to the magic, though it might terrify you in the process.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply