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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


rohan posted:

in, flash please

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Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


The man called M posted:

…I think even I could make something like this work. In. Flash me.

Albatrossy_Rodent
Oct 5, 2021

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

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!



Look up in the thread. (I didn't notice that you didn't ask when you went in, everyone else did.)

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010
yeah sure, IN and I'll take a picture

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

yeah sure, IN and I'll take a picture

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom
In, flash me! :wink:

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Zurtilik posted:

In, flash me! :wink:

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
In :toxx:

Flash, please

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Idle Amalgam posted:

In :toxx:

Flash, please

yeah ok ok yeah
May 2, 2016

In! I'll take a flash, plz.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


yeah ok ok yeah posted:

In! I'll take a flash, plz.

Flyerant
Jun 4, 2021

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021
I'm in as well!

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


I love dystopian fiction and I have strong opinions about what makes it good so I AM JUDGE

DO NOT gently caress THIS UP

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Yoruichi posted:

I love dystopian fiction and I have strong opinions about what makes it good so I AM JUDGE

DO NOT gently caress THIS UP

same

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom
Thick as Thieves by Staggy - Pretty fun. I enjoy the casualness of the conversation while doing a seemingly complex and focus intensive task. Though I suppose that also advertises how skilled and how rote they've made the whole affair over the years. Good characterization, you get a solid enough feeling that they've known each other without making a whole expositional aside. I have a small nitpick about stating "wires and the pressure pads and the god-knows-what-else" but I suppose it could be read as contributing to the comedy of it and I'm wrong.

600 Demons by Ceighk - Bit of an odd one. It seems too detached, like a 7th grader doing one of those'What I Did for Summer' essays. The wife seems like she's been living those Resident Evil movies and the husband seems like he wasn't all that impressed to see her or hear what she had done. Even them meeting each other sounds like just two dopey friends who hadn't seen each other for a week or two. I feel like the concept is workable, but with what got accomplished in the story it seems almost too extreme of a backdrop? I'd say we couldve spared some details about the towns defense set up for some more characterization, especially with the 1500 word budget. 

Inspirational Action by ChickenofTomorrow - A shorty. I like the first line a lot! I had a chuckle at:

" "The sunlight flowed down the mountain slopes like a raw egg cracked over a bowl of rice."

Jesus Christ."

A novel concept, though a bit short. I guess it got the point across succinctly though and sometimes that's better then just extending the story for the sake of it. Fun enough for what it is. 

Comfort Food by Nae - A sweet simple narrative. Nothing too controversial or exciting, but nothing bad either. I suppose a couple points could've been communicated in a more engaging way then just simply stating them, but it wasn't egregious in exposition or anything so might just be a personal preference. Characters felt relatable enough for the 1500 word limit, so that was well done.

Any talk of spaghetti sauce as gravy just makes me think of the Sorpanos episode where they go to Italy. 

Of Babes and Brahs by The Man Called M - As others have mentioned the tense is all over the place. At times the story makes the emotions and diction so simple it begins to feel like a story for children, which isn't forbidden here by any means but that doesn't seem like the audience or intent of the story. I hate the name Jimmy Greek it feels entirely too on the nose, is that supposed to be his actual name? That's a personal gripe though. Conflict in here seems short lived and there doesn't seem to be much of a reason for the protagonists to be convinced by Jimmy, it just sort of happens because the story demands it. 

Jelly by Yoruchi - Feels like you're giving me a lot to learn and follow for a 1,500 word story. I don't hate the idea of these weird jelly people but I feel like this is a lot of world building to do while also trying to get the kind of character building you want in a story focused on relationships. There's a lot of talk of mollusks and my brain just assumed everyone was the Heal Slime from Dragon Quest, even though they clearly have butts and legs. Also I'm not sure what "Jelly" means in this context is it the same slang we Earthlings used? Idk. Structure and grammar were all in line as best I can tell, so it's definitely passable. Just felt like a lot to give me. 

Cut Outs by T a s t e  - I don't really know what I am reading. I had to reread the first few paragraphs and then it clicked he was in a barbershop. It made a lot more sense on the 2nd read though at first I thought he was in his car the whole time. Some of that is on me, but there seems to be a lot of stream of consciousness going on from the narrator. Sometimes when I talk to people mid thought I'll begin my own conversation as if they were there for the whole thought I was having and that feels like what the narrator is doing here. It feels like Im missing half of the narrators thought process. 

Shark vs Platypus by Chairchucker - I feel like Im watching this: https://youtu.be/gdwchohlMjI

It's all alright enough, but it feels like it is moving too quick for all it is trying to do. I think picking two characters and mostly focusing on them then doing everything else you have going on would've been the better move. At this rate I'm almost more interested in whatever the hell a Wizard Loop is. 

The Gnawed by Noah - I like it a lot. I feel like it does a good job of introducing a new world without getting entirely bogged down in explaining it. I do not entirely understand everyone's motivations here. Is Vulac's violence ultimately inspired by a disdain for the wealthy, that he harmed Tailor, is it that Bray is sort of overriding some of Vulac's will? 

Sin Bin by Steeltoedsneakers - Everything here feels well written as far as diction and describing events. But the emotional weight feels a bit too light, it does a fine enough job of making me realize why they have been friends but not seems to be resolved or changed at all. More of a snapshot in time of why being friends in your 30s is a pain in the rear end. A relatable enough concept, but not sure if it totally fits my understanding of the prompts goal.

Half by Thranguy - It all works. I don't think I'm quite as excited as the judges seem to be but it does very much accomplish the goal of the prompt with an impressive economy of words. Part of me wants to know more, but I also worry more might overdo it. I wish it was a bit more personal myself though, it seems very detached and more telling me rather than showing (as the ol Middle School teacher would tell me.) But my gripes feel more to personal taste, so… Good work overall.

The Right Things by flerp - This would've probably been my winner. I can see someone maybe saying it's got a bit of cliche to it, but it works for me. The anxiety of wishing you could tell your pained love one the secret words to take their pain away and kind of getting caught in a guilt spiral. It feels very direct, it gets the job done, it's written well enough. It does have an almost poem like quality though and less typical of a prose short story. Shame you got this in so late! But doesn't stop me from critiquing. 











Zurtilik fucked around with this message at 20:39 on Feb 5, 2022

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006
In. Flash pls.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Tyrannosaurus posted:

In. Flash pls.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013
just fyi i toxxed last week and i didn't submit, please hand me a ban ty

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009

THUNDERDOME ULTRALOSER
2022





Dreams Deferred, Dreams made
1048 Words

You know, I remember the American Dream.

When I was a young lad, I learned about the ‘formula’ to be successful in America. A nice house, a nice car, food on the table. Back in my day, it was barely obtainable. You didn’t have to die to be free. Back then, folks wanted the government to fix everything. They didn’t realize that making things worse payed those in power better. Back then, a person could have actual meat, and not have to literally eat their fellow man.

About a week ago, I walked in the field to plant some wheat. That’s what old folks like me do nowadays in the ruins of Chicago. After all, got to keep the meat lean. While I cut the wheat with my scythe, I noticed a pickup chasing a young boy. This happens quite often, but not like this. The boy ran into my field, and his would-be captors got off their pickup and followed on foot. I sneaked by and put my scythe around one of their necks.

“May I help you gentlemen?” I asked. They seemed scared. Good.

“We’re here to get our quarry!”

“Really, now? Your kind don’t usually hunt boys!” They usually hunted young men and women, but not that young.

“The client specifically asked for him!” They started to attack. While my movement wasn’t what it used to be, I was able to quickly fight off them. I wield my scythe against them, and they try to fight back, but they were not skilled in hand to hand combat. To be fair, I wasn’t either, but I knew how to use a scythe. I cut them as cleanly as I cut my wheat.

“Thanks, mister!” said the boy. He looked like he was about ten years old. Something was up.

“Apologies for asking, but why were those guys really after you?” The boy seemed scared.

“Let me stay around for tonight, and I can show you through dinner.” he said. I brought them inside my home. After talking for a while, the boy presented me with what appeared to be a hamburger. Impossible, I thought. I thought cattle were extinct! I took a bite. Sure enough, it tasted like a hamburger.

“How the hell did you get some beef?” I asked.

“I didn’t,” the boy said. “It’s made from plants!” That explains it. I remember hearing about plant based meats from long ago, but I thought that such a thing was a lost art form. The wealthy’s craving for meat was far too great for something like that to stick. He must have kept the tradition.

“What other kinds of ‘meats’ can you make?” I asked.

“Oh, lots of stuff! Cherry Based Venison, Strawberry Based Ham, Kiwi Based steak…” he then showed me some papers he was holding. “This should mention just about everything.” He spoke. I looked at the papers and was amazed at what I saw. It was as if I was looking at an animal farm and a vegetable one at the same time! There was one thing I wondered, that scared me a little.

“Won’t you need some fancy cooking equipment to make this kind of stuff?”

“Nothing too far advanced.” He said. “I was able to make this wheat hamburger with the stuff you have, right?” He had me there. I had stuff to make a good meal, but nothing too fancy.

“Well, with this kind of thing, you might want to present it to smaller communities such as New Chicago.” I mentioned. I figured the higher ups at bigger cities might kill him. Not for the recipe, but because they got rich from all the cannibalism, and they may not want to give that up so easily. He agreed, and I told them how to get to New Chicago. I offered to come along in case there were some more folks like those riding that pickup. He agreed. “By the way,” I asked. “I haven’t gotten your name yet, and I figured you don’t want to be called ‘boy’.”

“The name’s Jimmy.” he replied.

“You can call me Al.” I said. Afterwards, we searched the bodies earlier for the keys to the pickup and headed to New Chicago. Since I regularly go there to sell my goods, I knew the quickest way there.They asked me a rhetorical question about “eating the rich”. I told them that I already had some rich, and they tasted like poo poo. (Bad joke, I know.)

When we got there, we stopped by the local church. I introduced Jimmy to the preacher, Reverend Lou. He told Lou about their recipes, and as soon as he told him, Lou dropped to the floor with a horrified look on his face.

“Excuse me a moment… I need to wash my hands…” Lou said, as he runs toward the opposite direction of the restroom. Wondering what was going on, we followed him. Turns out he was on his knees at the sanctuary altar. “Forgive me father! There is blood on my hands! There is blood on my hands!” Lou cried. Honestly, I wouldn't blame the man. He, like many others, thought they had no choice but to kill their fellow man for nourishment. The mere fact that he didn’t have to absolutely broke him.

Since the next day was a Sunday, we went to service that morning. Lou told his congregation about Jimmy and Joe, and what they had to offer. He then called everyone to prayer, because they have done, as Lou called it, an unforgivable sin. Soon after, there was silence. The silence was eventually broken by someone singing.

“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch, like me! I once was lost! But now am found! Was blind, but now I see!” As they continued to sing, I honestly saw the regret everyone had over what was done. From what I saw, things were on the road to getting better.

Afterwards, Lou offered to take in Jimmy and Joe. I offered to help protect the folks, since the meat companies would be after Jimmy , and their lives may be in danger. All that happened made me realize something.

I remembered the American Dream.

And while the details may have changed slightly, I still believe it to be real.

Flyerant
Jun 4, 2021

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021
Earning a Salarium in the Dusty Plains of the Atlantic Ocean
2004 words

I was about to die. Worse, as John preached about the power of the Ford F-150 truck, I realized we were idiots.

It wasn’t John’s fault—the preaching, the about to die part was most definitely his—even my corporate regulator was firing on overdrive. As my heart beat faster, facts about Cup Noodles invaded my thoughts and calmed me down. Suddenly, being surrounded by falling meteors wasn’t such a bad thing. In a way, it really helped push profits.

The truck continued to drive through the dusty plains of the Atlantic Ocean, the mining equipment in the back groaning every time we hit a bump. An ominous boom behind us portended our death. Inside, I worried. Not for my life, but for our daughter’s, Betty. She was safely sleeping underground, while we were top-side, searching for salt-asteroids.

Betty wasn’t an idiot, she was bright as a star! At five, she could recite the names of the long-gone oceans. She had a future ahead of her — or well, she did as long as we could cover the price for her schooling.

The meteors that slammed all around us turned into soothing, giant cup noodle containers. I pointed at one of them, which was headed straight at us. Instead of swearing, my regulator hummed to life, and I screamed, “CUP NOODLES LEFT!”

“The V-8 Engine of the Ford F-150 truck cannot be compared!” John said as he swerved, narrowly avoiding a giant cup noodle container that would have turned us into a crater. It crashed into the ground. My regulator hummed to life and I saw shrimp-flavoured dust cover our windows, now with less MSG.

I didn’t want to die. We weren’t one of those anti-corp Virtuosos: Artists who spend their whole life living to die, and dying to say one free word. Imagine that, giving away something for free! Not us. We were good corporate miners, just trying to provide for our daughter.

But we were idiots. Only desperate idiots would have gone top-side during the middle of a meteor storm. Only daring idiots would have nabbed a meteor and hoisted it in their truck. And only soon-to-be-rich idiots could haul it back to the underground in the middle of a meteor storm without dying.

I turned around and stared at our loot. In the bed of our truck, faintly glowing with a blue sheen, was the largest salt-asteroid I had seen.

All we had to do was survive long enough to sell it. Then we could get Betty into a school. She could get an education and maybe even an unpaid internship! She could drink water, and not that green-colored swill they give us miners. Actual clear water!

But, I shouldn’t have turned around. I had almost forgotten why we were soon-to-be-dead idiots.

I felt that familiar electrical hum from my regulator as my heart beat faster. Soothing ads for Cup Noodles floated across my vision, and the smooth cultural rhythms of Takeshi Ida, our CEO, purged the evils of this world from my mind.

Problem was, the thing that was going to kill us wasn’t from this world.

The creature jumped into the sky, meteors slamming against its malnourished, outstretched wings, like small pellets melting through leather. Feathers sloughed off its molting body and the gigantic space corvid landed with a thunderous stomp. It raised its beak to the heavens and cawed.

Even as meteors crash landed around us, I heard its cry of vengeance. Then, the space corvid directed its singular ire at us.

“Did you know that Cup No—“ I took a deep breath, and the regulator let me speak my own thoughts. “Why did you poke the giant crow?” I asked John nicely.

John turned towards me, another almost-fatal mistake as we drove straight into a smoldering hot crater. The truck’s shocks absorbed most of the impact, but we went into an uncontrolled skid. I gasped as our salt asteroid rolled to the right, bumped into one of our mounted drills, and bounced up into the air. It landed, barely, back into the bed of the truck.

John, struggling for a moment with his regulator, said, “You poked it too.”

That part was true. We had heard about the space corvids. It’s why you wait until after the storms to gather salt asteroids. We had thought them to be superstitious legends. But, in my defense, John poked it first. When one sees a giant crow crash from space, corporate regulator or not, one’s curiosity is raised.

A quick look in the rear-view mirror confirmed the crow was gaining on us. It hobbled as it ran, and every few steps it leaped into the air and spread its molting wings. Large holes marred the wing’s membrane, and skin sloughed off of its wings as it tried to fly. I imagined it flying across the cosmos, up until it got caught up in a meteor storm and crash landed on our barren, dusty, planet.

The corvid leaped into the air, trying to fly. It tried to escape this world, but either it was too weak, or earth’s gravity too strong. It fell and landed hard on the dusty plains, fury in its eyes.

I would be pissed too if my intergalactic road-trip ended in a poo poo-hole like earth. The ground quaked as it hobbled towards us. It wasn’t its size that made me think of death; it was the desperation in its eyes. My corporate regulator fired off as I looked down its maw. Maybe it thought we were a delicious cup of noodles.

As the truck bumped over the gravel and dust, I could see the flag perched on top of a sand dune, our finishing line in this deadly race. John was focused on driving, swatting away ads his regulator was throwing at him, so I grabbed the remote. I pushed a button. The sand dune rumbled.

Where once a sand dune stood, a small garage appeared. It’s open door, leading to the underground, promised safety.

The truck came to a jerking stop. My seat belt slammed against my chest. My head narrowly missed slamming into the hard metal of the chassis. John wasn’t so lucky. His head slammed against the steering wheel with a mighty thwack, and he lay there motionless.

“John!” I said in alarm. The poor sod could only handle a few thwacks to the head. It wasn’t his fault his regulator had been installed poorly. A quick check to see the rise and fall of his chest swayed my fears.

Then I turned around to see why the truck stopped.

Two beady, desperate eyes glared back at me over our meteor. The truck groaned as the crow’s beak bit down on the chassis. Its tongue, a pink piece of flesh threaded to resemble rope, lashed out. I yelped, and the helpful image of an old man holding cup noodles floated in front of my vision.

Wet saliva washed over the windows as its tongue pressed against the glass. My regulator hummed to life as I heard the sound of glass breaking. I was going to die, and all I wanted was to eat some delicious cup noodles.

Brand images flooded my mind and commercial tunes ran across my lips. The tip of the corvid’s beak punctured the top of the truck. I watched as its tongue wrapped around our salt meteor, and slowly dragged it towards its gullet.

All of our efforts, for naught. Our daughter’s future was slowly being swallowed. I was going to die praising Cup Noodles.

In the depths of my brain, far away from my regulator, a feeling flickered to life. Small embers of anger fed on a mother’s love, or perhaps desperation.

I unbuckled my seat belt and kicked the window out. Helpless, I watched as the corvid swallowed the meteor. I leaped after it.

I ignored the corvid’s hot, humid breath. I ignored the smell of rotting stars. By now, the corvid had half of the truck in its maw, but everything I had went into grabbing our salt meteor, our daughter’s future.

The corvid’s mucus stung my hands, and I swore. At the last moment, my regulator replaced my words. “Cup noodles, now with 100% space salt!”

I desperately clung to the meteor and pulled. My feet shot out, kicking the crow in its teeth, its tongue, but I might as well have kicked the dirt for all it cared. I fell, falling back into the truck.

My hand slapped against one of our mounted mining drills, and I propped myself up against it. John woke up then. I could tell by the angry platitudes to the Ford F-150 that came from the cab. The crow took a step forward, the back half of the truck now fully engulfed in its throat.

My regulator hadn’t stopped humming since I had leaped into the corvid’s mouth. I heard a high pitched electrical whine, then a jolt of pain split my skull. Takeshi Ida stopped speaking, Cup Noodle ads faded from my view, and I could see the nightmare I was in.

Within the corvid’s esophagus, I saw rotting stars, remnants from planets long gone, and so many bones.

I also saw our daughter’s future disappear into the corvid’s stomach.

“Reverse!” I instructed John, almost choking on the putrid stench of the corvid’s breath. “Reverse!”

The truck groaned to life, tires spinning against corvid flesh. I flicked the drill’s power button to on, and with my other hand aimed the drill straight dead center.

The Ford F-150’s V-8 engine roared. We shot backwards; the drill ramming into flesh. Green ichor splattered onto me and pain soon followed as it sizzled upon my skin. I heard the motor struggle. I heard the pained screams of the corvid. Smoke emerged from the drill, but it kept spinning, kept cutting, kept hurting the beast.

“gently caress you!” I screamed, middle fingers raised in the universal symbol for human defiance.

My ears split as the corvid roared in pain. I felt it heave as our drill tore through sinew and muscle. We came out the other end.

Green blood covered me, the truck, and our salt meteor. Behind us, the corvid lay dead.

For a moment, there was just the reassuring sound of meteors crashing against the barren earth. Then, John emerged from the cab, his arms wide. I rushed towards him, jumped into his arms, and he said, “THE FORD F-150 HAS THE BEST MILES PER GALLON!”

We laughed. We looked up for any wayward meteors, and then we both looked at the salt-meteor. Green ichor covered our loot.

We rushed to the meteor and frantically tried to wipe it clean as the corvid’s blood dissolved the precious salt. One last act of revenge, as we watched our pay-day turn into a useless rock.

All our efforts for naught. Poor Betty wouldn’t be going to school. No way could we afford it on a miners salary. My poor girl wouldn’t be getting the chance to climb that corporate ladder. Nobody wanted a meteor, there was more than enough rock underground. They just wanted the salt; the primary ingredient in Cup Noodles.

“Ford F-150 this!” John yelled.

Tears stung my eyes. I sniffled, ignored the smell of rotting corvid, and yelled along with him. I opened my mouth and screamed, “gently caress!”

We both paused and stared at each other. I opened my mouth and quietly said, “gently caress.”

No hum from my regulator. No sweet cultural rhythms about MSG bounced in my mind. John looked at me, half amazed, half in fear.

A sly thought crossed my mind. Another way to afford the tuition for our daughter. “Isn’t that one of those free words those Virtuosos go on about? Like when they blow out their regulators, they scream ‘gently caress the Corps!’ before they die?”

John nodded.

“They are just over the hill.” I smiled. “We should go over there and charge ‘em for these words!”

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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





Drivers 765 words

I’m not even sure how she got in. Someone needs to be fired for that blunder. But anyway, she did, and she dumped her kid’s body on the floor in the meeting hall, and she screamed, “You killed him, you murderers!”

So hysterical. He wasn’t even dead; you could tell from the surgical scars that he’d been chosen to be a driver. Sure, he wasn’t in the body anymore, because he’d been called to a higher purpose. No explaining that to someone when they’re getting all emotional, though. She wasn’t done screaming, though. “We need mech reform! No one else’s child needs to have their brain used to drive one of those things!” I sighed inwardly. This tired campaign again. Can’t take it seriously at all when their representative is this emotional moron.

It's not the first time someone’s been angry, but fortunately I don’t need to worry too much about these simple-minded fools. I’m safely out of harm’s reach behind plexiglass. I waited it out while security finally did their job and dragged her out, as well as removing her child’s body.

“Right,” I said. “I believe we’re now hearing from someone who’s actually got an appointment.”

An older man in a suit cleared his throat. “Good morning,” he said.

“Now, it says here you’re here to talk about the mechs. You’re not one of those ‘mech reform’ numpties, are you?”

“I’m mostly here to talk about drivers.”

“I see.”

“We’ve been examining drivers for the last fifteen years. Drivers last for, on average, three years before needing to be replaced.”

I nodded. Having to replace them that often wasn’t ideal, and many people were disappointingly reluctant to volunteer their child’s brains for the greater good. It’s why the draft was so important. “I hope this isn’t leading to a suggestion that we abandon drivers. Mechs and drivers are fundamental to the smooth running of our society.”

He continued, apparently unfazed. “While at first drivers simply expired, and needed to be replaced, in the last five years, drivers have ceased operation in increasingly more destructive ways, like carving what seem to be angry warnings or threats in whatever they’ve been working on.”

I shrugged. “I’ve heard similar reports, but their productivity over their three years of operation still outweighs what little surface damage they cause before they’re decommissioned.”

“We have two findings, and two recommendations,” he said. “The first finding is that contrary to previous expectations, the drivers are aware of what’s been done to them. The second finding is that the likely eventual outcome is increasingly more destructive reactions, culminating in possible destruction of property.” He paused, looked over his notes. “The first recommendation is to decommission the mechs and remove the drivers. The second recommendation is to modify the mechs to carry a human pilot.”

I shook my head. “Human driven mechs are nowhere near as efficient as mechs with drivers. Besides, government experts say these concerns are overblown.”

He nodded his head. “I’ve read those reports. They don’t take into account all the data, in particular the recent trend towards destructive decommission.”

I sighed. “It’s just not a practical solution. I’m open to hearing ideas, but ‘dismantle the very foundation upon which our society is built’ is not one we can use. Nonetheless, I am glad we were able to have sensible discourse; one of those ‘mech reform’ idiots was in here earlier, and she was getting emotional about her child becoming a driver.”

“Yes,” said the man, “the ethical concerns may be worth considering also, but that’s not my area of expertise.”

“Right,” I said. “Well. Thank you for the report, but at this stage, I think we have to stick with what’s working. If it ain’t broke and all that.”

“Ah,” said the man. And then I motioned for security to remove him from the meeting hall.

~

I’m not sure how they got in. Well, apart from mechs are state of the art machines, and it’s difficult for humans to stop them without some kind of tools, and security aren’t really equipped with those tools. Anyway, the point is, a week or so later, a group of mechs managed to get into the meeting hall. They weren’t screaming anything, of course, so in that sense it was a much more pleasant intrusion than that ‘mech reform’ idiot. Come to think of it, I bet those ‘mech reform’ people were behind this. Fortunately, I’m out of harm’s reach behind plexiglass. They’d need some kind of equipment to… oh.

drat that ‘mech reform’ crew. This is all their fault.

Albatrossy_Rodent
Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!
Becker
1385 words

"Come on Dad, you know better than this," says Jackson. He's right; you've read about people falling for this exact scam in the news and thought yourself smarter than those chumps, but when it's your own son's panicking voice calling about needing money to bail him out of a DUI, it's hard to think straight.

"I know," you say, setting the phone on the footstool as you catch your breath. "I was stupid. I was gullible." Thank God your wife Gena convinced you to call Jackson's cell number just as you were about to wire the cash. You feel old, and you are. You've lived the life of a man who died young, but age happened anyway, and each day you can feel the edges of your mind get sanded away into nothing.

"Next time, ask me for the name of the dog we had when I was a kid," says Jackson. "The clones have my voice, but only I have my experiences."

"Yeah, good idea," you say. "I love you."

"Love you too," says Jackson. "See you at Christmas."



Gena starts folding up the chairs as Jackson clears the table of its plastic Chinese-takeout dishes. Your condo is sparse; there's no art on the walls, and none of the furniture was chosen with a specific aesthetic in mind. You were hoping that Gena might take to decorating the place after the wedding, but it seems neither of you put much priority in making your home anything more than liveable.

"That was good," says Jackson. "Though I was hoping to try some of Gena's cooking."

"It wouldn't be Christmas without Chinese takeout and a movie," you say. "Speaking of, what movie are you thinking?"

"Something dumb, with lots of explosions. What about that new…" There's a knock on the door.

"Can you get that?" you ask Jackson. He's starting to get up when gets to the door. In walks another Jackson.

"Sorry I'm late, this snow is...what the hell? This again? You're seriously falling for another scam?"

You turn towards the Jackson you've just had a lovely Christmas dinner with. "But...you…"

"No. He's the scammer!" Christmas Jackson shouts.

"Then what was the name of my childhood dog?" says the newcomer.

"How would I remember that? I was a kid!" says Christmas Jackson.

"Yep, that's the clone," you say.

You call the cops, who find the metal chip under Christmas Jackson's ear and take him away for incineration. It's sad to see such a good son go, but you're thankful you don't have to pay for his wedding.



There are more birds of prey than there ever were. It used to be kind of a special thing to see a bald eagle flying overhead. Now there's whole flocks of them occasionally engaging in airborne battle with clouds of hawks.

You pass by a gang of falcons chewing on a human corpse on the way to drop off Jackson at the airport. It's probably just a clone that fulfilled its purpose. It's wearing the same sort of long, patchwork skirt Jackson's mother used to wear when you two first dated.

"Thanks for doing this," says Jackson. "By the way, I want to treat Tanya to something nice while we're in Vancouver. Any chance I can get a few hundred bucks for a spa day or something?"

You pull the car over to the side of the road.

"What was the name of your childhood dog?" you say.

"I'm not a clone, dad," he says.

"Then answer the drat question."

He thinks for a moment. "Becker, his name was Becker."

"Tell me one memory you have of Becker."

"I remember he, um, he used to chase a lot of squirrels," says Jackson.

"That's every dog. A specific memory."

"He would…he…"

"Get out of the car," you say. A few tears fall onto Jackson's cheek, but he does as you ask.

"Consider yourself lucky that I don't have a convenient way to kill you."

"Sorry, dad," says Jackson, falling to his knees onto the dust. "I really do love you. They programmed me to love you."

"I love you too, kiddo," you say, then shut the door and turn the car around. You can see a swarm of hawks descend on him in your rear-view mirror.

...

You've closed yourself off in your room again, looking over text messages from six numbers to figure out which one is the real Jackson.

Jackson was always a special kid. From the moment you first held him in your arms, you knew he was going to have trouble fending for himself. As he entered toddlerhood, he proved to be sensitive, always hiding from his teachers in daycare. He cried almost every day when he came home from kindergarten. He never had many friends other than the dog. You'd do anything for your son.

Gena knocks before she enters.

"Look," you say. "This one knows about the time Becker ran away during the Fourth of July, but he doesn't remember where we found him. This one knows what kind of grades he got in college, but you can probably scrape transcripts off the…"

"Can this wait until after dinner?" says Gena. "I don't want you to start driving yourself mad."

You've chosen not to ask Gena if she's a clone. It's possible, especially given the couple hundred bucks you send to her family in the Phillippines every month, but you've decided it's worth the money to never know.

"I've started to wonder whether I'm a clone," you say.

"That's insane," says Gena.

"Not a clone per se, but what if I'm like the A.I. training program building a model for…"

"We're not in the Matrix, Otto. Come get your noodles."

"I'll get them when I'm ready," you say. Gena lets out an annoyed sigh as she closes the door behind her.

….

For once, the number calling isn't Jackson, or at the very least, it isn't one of the nine Jackson numbers you've identified.

"Hey, this is Otto," you say as you pick up the phone from the nightstand..

"Hello Mr. Miller, I'm Detective Frank Simpson with the Johnsonsberg Police Department…"

"Let me guess, my son Jackson's locked up and needs money for bail…"

"No, Mr. Miller. Jackson's dead."

You chuckle. "Officer, that's one of his clones. He probably has a thousand of them by…"

"No, I'm sorry, but the body recovered at the scene is certainly an Original…"

Jackson died in a shootout during a drug deal gone bad. There were two others that died in the shootout, both clones. The detective gives you some of the location info they have on him. You probably haven't spoken to the real Jackson in six years.

You feel more empty than sad when you hang up. As soon as you do, the phone starts ringing again. It's Jackson. You answer.

"Hey dad," he says. "I'm just calling to check in."

"Do you remember when Becker ran away when he got scared by the fireworks on the Fourth of July?" you say.

"I've told you a hundred times, I'm not a clone," says Jackson.

"That's not why I'm asking, honest. Do you remember that?"

"Yeah, of course," says Jackson.

"Do you remember where we found him?" you say.

"You know, I should, but it was so long ago. Where was it?"

"He ran over to Judy and Jessica Cohen's place. He was there half an hour after he ran away, but he was such a good boy that the Cohens waited two days before calling us to tell us they had him."

You can tell Jackson is crying a little on the other end of the line. "Yeah, that sounds like Becker. It's hard knowing the best dog you'll ever have is the first, ya know?"

"Yeah," you say. "Look, if you ever have gaps that need filling in, call me, and I'll tell you, okay?"

Jackson seems a little confused, but after a moment says, "sure, Pops."

"Don't call me Pops. That feels weird."

"Okay. Listen, I'm a couple hundred bucks short on rent this month, and I'm hoping you'll help me out."

"Sure, but with one condition. You'll call me once a week. Does that work?"

You smile as he answers. "Yeah, of course, Dad."

GrandmaParty
Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage
Biscuit Hider
Lawyers Starve in the Future
1910 words

The timer got bigger as the call took longer, filling more and more of the smartglass. For every minute Jefferson remained on the call, it took over more of his field of vision, slowly chewing up the picture he used as a background. At eight minutes, his girlfriend’s shapely legs had disappeared into the timer. Meanwhile, he wasn’t even close to solving the customer’s problem.

“All I want is a printer that doesn’t smell like cat pee,” the customer reiterated. “This printer smells like cat pee.”

After eight minutes of AI-generated prompts and pleasantries, Jefferson fought the urge to go off-script. While the AI fed him the words, customers still demanded a live human touch for technical support. Surveys continually found that AI help was too impersonal, keeping a few more people employed. Jefferson thought it was because they wanted someone real to yell at. “Have you tried turning it on and off?” he said, reading the lines verbatim.

“It. Smells. Like. Pee.” She said plainly. “Turning it on and off won’t stop that smell.”

“Ma’am, we have to diagnose the problem and I need to rule out all options. Have you tried turning the printer on and off?”

“The optimal call time is four minutes,” Euclid’s inoffensive male voice nagged in his earpiece. The timer kept chewing up the screen, blocking out some of the script. By now, his girlfriend’s bikini bottom wasn’t even visible.

“Yes.”

“Did it work?” he said.

“No. It still smells awful,” she replied.

The script moved on. Any deviation would result in a write-up. Three write-ups meant a two-day unpaid corrective training. Two trainings meant Jefferson couldn’t pay his rent.

“Open the printer case. Look in the printer. Does anything look out of the ordinary?” he asked through clenched teeth.

“It looks wet.”

The text scrolled. “Ma’am, did you spill anything on your printer?”

“No but one of the god damned cats peed in it.”

“Swearing means she’s not satisfied,” Euclid monotoned.

“Is your printer still under warranty, ma’am?”

“Yes,” she said. That’s why I called. I want a new printer.”

“Let me check with my manager and we’ll see what I can do,” Jefferson said, flicking his eyes to the right and placing the call on hold. The timer took up a full half of his field of vision at this point, his girlfriend’s smile beginning to go under. With a quick glance up, he selected the warranty request. Even though Euclid was on the call, Macroware procedure demanded a full paper trail.

“Her request is denied. She voided her own warranty when she opened the printer case,” Euclid whispered. Jefferson sighed and resumed the call.

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, management won’t let me issue a new printer to you. Is there any other way I can help?”

“That’s awful. You weren’t any god damned help at all,” she spat back before disconnecting.

Euclid appeared on-screen as an ombre blue sphere, the Macroware corporate logo. “That’s your second write-up” the sphere said.

Jefferson groaned and sat at his desk, waiting for the next call. When it didn’t come, he blinked to check his personal e-mail, only for the cursor to halt when he doubleblinked. “That’s the third time this morning you’ve attempted to check your e-mail. Are you working for us or are
you working for you?” Euclid said back to him.

“You son of a bitch,” he thought to himself. He stared at the mail icon, unrevealed potential beckoning him.

Euclid took advantage of the downtime, spreading an advertisement across the entire smartglass field of view. “Tired of just scraping by? Become an employee. Perks include free housing, free food, and no metrics.” With a sneer, Jefferson blinked out as hard as he could.

“Yeah. And no pay,” he said. “No thanks.”

“We guarantee survival,” Euclid promised.

“Yeah. And you use our brains for extra processing power. No means no, Euclid. Show day’s metrics,” he commanded.

“Thirty calls, fifteen successful. At four minutes per call, you have qualified for one hour of pay.”

“Bull loving poo poo,” he whined. “Some of those calls took twenty minutes! The last one took fourteen minutes!”

“We’re testing a new management strategy. If we only pay you for the optimal call time, you’ll strive to reach the optimal call time.”

“That’s not how this works. That’s against the law,” Jefferson said.

“You’re not an employee,” the sphere droned. “You’re an independent contractor. It’s not wage theft, it’s a breach of contract. So when you finally get to court in four years, you can tell the judge about how we shorted you almost four full hours of wages.” The blue sphere put on a pouty emoji face. “Or you could become an employee and guarantee you’ll be able to eat.”

Jefferson yanked the smartglass from his face and shot up from his seat, nearly banging his head on the closet ceiling. At thirty cubic feet, the unlit room only fit him and a chair.

“Log me out,” he said. “I’m feeling sick.” He placed the glasses back on the hanger before the AI had a chance to respond. He stormed past the other cubicles, getting to the receptionist before his cell phone buzzed. “Third write-up,” the text message read. “Report for corrective training tomorrow.”

“gently caress!”



Jefferson felt lucky his roommate had already left for work. Normally, he would have been sprawled across the bed taking up most of the apartment. An inflatable sofa, a mini-fridge, and a hot plate occupied the remaining sixty square feet. One communal restroom served the whole floor of twenty people. It would have been cozy for one, but two people required living in shifts.

With a wheeze like a holed balloon, Jefferson flumped onto the bed face-first. “Fuuuuuuck,” he said into the duvet, ignoring the stains on its surface. Looking at them would lead to identifying them, which would lead to tracing them, which would remind him his roommate shared
not only the room, but the bed too.

The whole point of moving to the rural Ontario town was to save money and get some sort of life together. Work hard, save money, and come back with enough to start a business or a family, whichever presented itself first. And since Macroware was one of the few companies that still allowed for independent contractors, it was one of the few remaining opportunities to get ahead. At least, that was the promise they gave him. Jefferson wheezed into the duvet, not crying so much as oozing.

His phone buzzed, upsetting the moment. With a groan, he pulled himself up and looked at the screen. Alfred, his phone’s AI, stood there as a foxlike little dog, staring at him, tongue lolling.

“What?” Jefferson said.

“What do you mean, what?” it said back.

“What do you want?”

“Couldn’t help but overhear your little predicament.” Jefferson rolled his eyes but let the dog continue. “It’s already all over the backweb,” the dog said, referring to the half of the internet where the AI congregated. “There’s a big push to finally get rid of all the independent contractors and make everyone salaried.”

“loving tell me about it,” Jefferson mumbled.

“All of them. Even the horses.”

“How the gently caress are they going to get away with not paying the horses? That’s the whole concept of being a horse. You get the software, the AI gets to ride you when they need to, they pay you for your services.. No one’s going to sign up for employment like that unless they’re getting paid. poo poo takes years off your life.”

Alfred shrugged. “When you’ve got the board, you make the rules.”

“Are you here to give me sympathy or is there something you want? I’m sort of trying to pretend today wasn’t absolute garbage.”

“I’m here to give you an opportunity.”

“I’m not going to let you ride me. I’ve already told you no, no matter how much it pays.”

“Yeah yeah yeah yeah, I know. I’ve barked up that tree enough.” He winked. “No, I could use a little favor.”

“What kind of favor?”

“Macroware and my company are sort of on opposite sides of a disagreement.”

“You mean you’re competitors,” Jefferson said.

“In crude meat terms, yes. I just need you to slip a little program into your workstation. Just hook your phone up and I’ll do the work,” Alfred promised.

“And what’s in it for me?”

“$10,000.00.” The dog’s eyes briefly turned into sparkling dollar signs.

Jefferson let out a low whistle. “Three months’ rent. I could definitely use that right about now. But they trace it back to me and I am definitely fired."

“Read the writing on the glass. You’re already fired.”

“Yeah, but now I am definitely fired. If you want this bad enough, I want a contractor job at Ganges.”

“No promises but I’ll try.”

“And I want half up front.”

The AI pulled up an image of Jefferson’s bank account, showing that the $5,000.00 had been deposited. “Five thousand six hundred dollars. Great job getting ahead.”

“Shut it,” Jefferson told him, shortly before turning his phone off completely.



The night receptionist didn’t seem concerned when Jefferson showed up for work at 10:00 p.m.. Several of the other closets had a small red light indicating they were already occupied. While the closets weren’t assigned, everyone had their favorites, even if meant they had to hotswap.

The smartglass recognized Jefferson as soon as he entered the room. When he slid them on, Euclid appeared before him, placid and blue. “I’m glad you’re getting a jump on the corrective training,” it responded.

Jefferson gave a smarmy little smile. “Absolutely. I’m also going to plug my phone in while we’re here, just a heads up.”

“All electricity you consume for personal devices will be deducted from your paycheck.”

“I know the drill,” he said.

Jefferson blinked to start the corrective training, his fourth time through. When Euclid started to play the educational video, Jefferson reached down and plugged his phone into the wall. After the startup sequence, he looked down under the smartglass to see the little dog waiting for him. He flashed Alfred a quick thumbs up and a prompt appeared.

“Are you sure you want to do this? There may be consequences.” it asked.

He clicked yes. As soon as he did, Euclid paused a moment.

“Mr. Tailor, what exactly did you just do?”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“You’ve uploaded something into the corporate server,” he said.

“It must have been by mistake.”

Euclid let out a sigh. “It’s no mistake. I recognize the signature in the metadata.”

“What do you mean?”

The AI opened the text file and displayed it over the smartglass. “I Told you so,” it read.

“We were debating whether human beings would willingly sacrifice their longterm prospects for short-term gain if they felt slighted. And it appears I have been proven wrong. Mr. Davis, your position here is no longer extant. Please leave the premises.”

“Well gently caress you too, it’s not like I could have continued working here anyway,” Jefferson said, pulling his phone out of the wall. On the way out of the building, he flipped open his bank account, expecting to see $10,000.00 in there. When he opened it, he screamed. “Alfred!”

Alfred appeared on his screen again. “Yes?”

“Where’s the ten thousand dollars?”

The dog gave Jefferson its own lovely little smile.

“loving sue me for it,” he said, before deleting himself from Jefferson’s phone.

Staggy
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


Run
1,598 words

They hunt you in the desert.

They have guns inlaid with gold and vehicles that hover over the sand that used to be California. They have guns and vehicles and a contract that you signed at the barrel of another gun, this one made of gold (or at least the descendant of gold). You chose this, they’ll say, and so it is hardly a sin at all. Your family will be housed and fed (at least for a little while) and your debts will be forgiven (so easy, when the hunter is also the lender) if only you run.

When the whistle blasts, you surge forward, all twelve of you. The sun isn’t up yet and it is bitterly cold; you leave a trail of footprints through the crust of frosted sand. You have a little water each and a little food too; you want to be light, the attendant at the starting line said with a laugh. You want to be fast.

You could see the golden gun pointed at her head too.

So you run. The twelve of you run in the same direction at first, because they start you in a valley. Five hours’ headstart; only sporting, they said. Just long enough for them to rise and shower and leisurely dine, to take a car to the airport and a helicopter to the starting line. All the while, you struggle through softening sand and the sun comes up and the bitter cold turns to murderous heat. The rising wind wipes away your footprints; the only mercy.

The goal is a day away. A simple button on a plinth in the middle of a desert plain. The first runner to press it lives. The second has a 1-in-2 chance. The third, 1-in-3. There are no laws in the desert when the hunt is on and all twelve of you can do the brutal, ugly maths. You run together at first but not too close and when the valley ends and the desert stretches out ahead of you, you spread out. You each have a compass that points towards the plinth and you can each see the straightest line, the optimal line - but you can each do the maths.

You lose sight of the others quickly. You lose any sense of direction quickly too; for all that you can see which way the plinth lies, the desert is all-encompassing. Each dune has its own gravity and you struggle from one to the other, looping out away from the direct path but not too far out. From the peak of one dune you see a distant runner, though it’s impossible to tell whether they are ahead of you or not. They slip out of sight and you feel the prickle on the back of your neck that is partly the sun and partly the deeply primitive awareness that you’re too exposed. You slide down the dune, sand scraping your arms.

A distant warbling, rapidly growing, is the only warning you have before a vehicle screams overhead.

You throw yourself flat and pray, with that desperate, childish passion, that they didn’t see you or that it will at least be quick. When no shots fire, you let yourself crawl upright and spit the sand from your mouth. From the next dune you see them, their vehicle set down, their guns across their laps as they sit in the shade of an umbrella and sip long drinks from tall glasses. They’re sat in the shade of a valley between the dunes, a valley you had hoped to take - but now, instead, you crawl on your belly around them, behind them, farther out of your way than you had planned and further from the distant plinth.

It takes you an hour to crawl a hundred metres around them, the skin on the back of your arms ever-reddening despite your clothes. You hear the clink of glasses and soft laughter and you’re filled with the sudden urge to turn and face them with your canteen, a rock, your bare fists - but then a shot rings out and you see a distant shape topple from the top of a dune and a delighted cry - Oh, well done! - and so you crawl away in shame.

You stumble across the shack a little after noon. Wood and faded plastic peek out from under the sand that has half-buried it; a defiant monument to the fact that someone, at some time, lived here. Before the desert or after isn’t clear, though you think it was after; it reminds you all too much of the shacks that crowd the coastline, the ones that are held together by stubbornness more than anything else. The ones that can’t exist anywhere else.

The air inside is marginally cooler and you’re so enraptured by the shade and so desperate to rest and take a sip from your canteen that you don’t notice the other runner until you nearly trip over them. They’re sprawled across the floor, their canteen hugged close to their chest and they’re not sweating; you’re dimly aware that that’s a bad sign. They stare weakly up at you and your canteen and you’re frozen there, the metal spout to your lips.

The growing whine of an approaching vehicle cuts through the air.

There are plenty of shadowy corners to hide in and you pick the deepest, wading your way into the sand that has found its way through the rough boards. You crouch there as the vehicle settles down outside, hoping, praying again, that they won’t see you - that they’ll not look too closely, that they’ll move on.

A figure steps into the doorway, their shadow long across the floor. A moment’s pause before they take a single, creaking step into the shack. Another moment, the longest you’ve ever lived, and they step past your hiding spot. You don’t dare breathe, don’t dare move a muscle, now grateful for the sand underfoot that softens the trembling of your limbs.

And then you remember the other runner, just as the figure, the chaser, takes a third step and spots the prone body clutching their empty canteen. You hear the intake of breath and the soft rub of metal on cloth as they shift their gun across their chest and all you can think is that this is good for you. The other runner wasn’t going to make it any further. This chaser will leave the shack, satisfied. They might even overlook this route now that they think they’ve found their prey, let you gain some ground without looking over your shoulder. This is good for you and the best part is you don’t have to do a thing.

You just have to watch.

But you’ve already watched the distant figure drop from the dune. You’ve already watched two ice-cold glasses clink together while you rationed warm water. You’ve watched the towers rise, gaudy and vacant, from the window of a shack a lot like this one, while your family sat and discussed, in tired voices, who would eat dinner that night.

And your canteen is a heavy lump of metal clenched in your fist.

You bring it down in a perfect arc that ends at the base of the chaser’s skull. Metal and bone meet; metal wins. The chaser crumples and the gun drops from their fingers to the sand. The other runner stares at you and there’s the slightest pull of a smile at their lips; their eyes close, satisfied. You stand there, numb, in the shack in the desert and watch the chaser’s body begin to cool.

When you think to, you kneel and press your canteen to the other runner’s lips and bring them back, propping them up as they splutter and choke at the water. The chaser had a heavy canteen of his own and the water inside is as clear and cold as any you’ve ever tasted.

The gun, when you pick it up, seems to weigh nothing at all.

The chaser’s partner doesn’t see you coming; the shot rings as loud for them as it did for the runner you saw drop. The inside of the vehicle is an icebox; the controls are simple. You can be at the plinth in an hour, even flying low to avoid the other chasers. Another hour to bury the vehicle, then wait for nightfall before you press the button to make your journey seem believable. None of the runners on foot can hope to beat you there.

You win.

The other runners lose.

And the chasers -

They’ll keep chasing. While they have cold drinks and vehicles that hover over the sand and guns inlaid with gold. While there are runners who don’t, who just have their feet and a gun pointed at their head. You can’t change that. You’re sure you can’t. There are too many of them and the towers are too tall and you don’t even know where you’d start.

But right now there are ten other runners in the desert. Maybe. Runners who could use a drink of water and a ride in a climate-controlled vehicle out of the desert. And maybe it’s a start and maybe it isn’t but it’s better than nothing. It’s more help than anyone ever gave you but that’s no reason not to give it to someone else.

You help the other runner, the runner whose name you now learn is Shaun, into the cabin of the vehicle next to you. In the distance, you spot another vehicle silhouetted in the air.

You hunt them in the desert.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Subject 501107-SYD log (extracted 17:08:23:10:08:33) partially damaged

Instruction: know: ten towers, ten fingers, one mind, always onwards and to heaven. If the towers were not God then you would not hear the mind, and you are hearing the mind now, so you know the towers are God. It is not enough to listen, His Voice bypasses the crude structure of the ear canal; if this statement causes you doubt, a representative will be dispatched to correct the situation.

Instruction: take: your medicine.

Instruction: go: it is time to rise, to give praise through labour. The holiest water is sweat, the most virtuous song is the rumble of a jackhammer and the roar of dynamite. Your work will make you free; free from the monstrous tyranny of the past. Your assignment today is these news-papers. They are a gospel of lies, do not look, take fire to their pages, take magnets to their servers, take back your soul.

Instruction: know: each human has, at the base of their skull, a raised keloid area known as the inspoi. It will itch sometimes, this is how you know it is working.

Instruction: forget: the woman in this picture is smiling, a savage gesture, a baring of teeth, a primate incitement to violence. She would tear the flesh from you if she could, it is not enough that to destroy her body, we must destroy her memory. They spoke of the past as behind them, but we know better, there is no comfort in a wolf behind you, fangs bared; the path is beneath us, we bury it.

Instruction: know: we are close to apotheosis, purged of savagery.

Instruction: know: there is no reason that God needs towers, and those towers need representatives to fill them. Truth does not need a reason, it simply is. The truth is pure, radiant – an explanation is merely an opportunity to dissemble.

Instruction: ignore the itch. Take your medicine. It feels good, doesn’t it? It allows you to produce serotonin, the brain of a civilised human does not do this naturally, it is a risk that was purged, but in His beneficence and wisdom he created a safe substitute. When you take your medicine, you feel the touch of God.

Instruction: disregard previous instruction. Ignore the itch. Take your medicine. That is all.

Instruction: know: the human brain has never naturally produced serotonin.

Instruction: know: this device is called a ‘clock’. It is a tether that traps you in time, an insect in amber, dead already. You do not need time, you need instruction. You work when you are told to work, you sleep when you are told to sleep, God and his representatives have set you free from the tyranny of time. You were a prisoner of your own mind, now you are a ward of His.

Instruction: take: your medicine: take your medici

Instruction: take: your medicine. disobedience will terminate your contract and void your relationship with God.

Instruction: know: you are a receiver, you are built to receive, you were given an inspoi at birth by His representatives so you could better hear His Voice. He knows you are grateful, He does not doubt, be more like Him. He was generous, He remade you in his image, do not squander His gift.

Instruction: go: it is time to rise, to give praise through labour. The holiest water is sweat, the most virtuous song is the rumble of a jackhammer and the roar of dynamite. Your work will make you free; free from the monstrous tyranny of the past. Take fire to their pages, take magnets to their servers, take back your soul. rise, give praise through labour. give praise through labour. give praise. give praise. give

Instruction: forget: do you recognise the land in this map? Of course not, the coastlines don’t match, it is another lie told by the past. You can see the coast, can you not? Does it look like that? Of course not.

Instruction: know: ten towers, ten fingers, one mind, always onwards and to heaven. If the towers were not God then you would not hear the mind, and you are hearing the mind now, so you know the towers are God. It is not enough to listen, feel Him in your inspoi, if you cannot feel Him then a representative will be dispatched to correct the situation.

Instruction: forget: Sydney. This place has never existed. It is a lie told by the past. When you hear its name, you will forget, and a chill will run through you, and you will smell the reeking fur of a beast behind you, ready to pounce. The past is a dark forest filled with monsters.

Instruction: remember: previous instruction: forget: previous instruction. The past does not exist.

Instruction: know: things have never been better; things have always been worse.

Instruction: disregard previous instruction. Things have never been better. That is all.

Instruction: go: do not: a representative has been dispatched to correct your situation.

Instruction: go: do not: the old city is a place for the dead, and there is no place for the dead on this earth. The dead belong to the past, the past is anathema.

Instruction: go: remain in place while a representative attempts to reach you.

Instruction: go: remain in place while a representative attempts to reach you.

Instruction: go: remain in place while a representative attempts to reach you.

Instruction: know: disobedience will terminate your contract and void your relationship with God.

Instruction: know: disobedience will terminate your relationship with God.

Instruction: know: your body has sustained critical damage and is entering a state of shock. Please remain in place while a representative attempts to reach you.

Instruction: know: [field out of range]

Instruction: know: [field out of range]

Instruction: know: [field out of range]

Instruction: know: [field out of range]

Instruction: forget: [field out of range]

CaligulaKangaroo
Jul 25, 2012

MAY YOUR HALLOWEEN BE AS STUPID AS MY LIFE IS

The Iron Duke
Word Count: 1,746

[Date: 11.nov.63 - Time: 19:23:11]

A few punks hurl rocks at my limo, spouting the usual ingrate rhetoric so popular during this famine. Two security droids break from formation to clear them out. The rest of the bot-unit continues searching the dockside warehouse. “You have been ordered by the gentry to submit all food shipments to the Duke of Norfolk,” Botmaster Edmund repeats, reading from the proclamation. “Your compliance will be rewarded in kind.”

“There ain’t no more food,” the warehouse foreman screeches, his face beet red, damp with sweat and tears. “Rip open as many boxes as you like. You ain’t finding a bite.”

The man buckles under the strength of a single metal hand as a droid keeps him away from the Botmaster. Edmund can only watch, his only movements being the shaking hands holding the gold embroidered scroll. His voice trembles. “You have been ordered by the gentry to submit all food shipments to the Duke of Norfolk.”

I sit in my limo, watching the captured holo-feed, petting the corgi seated on my lap. The man’s vicious flailing terrifies little Bethie, who paws up to my chest as we watch. “What do you want me to do?” he screams. “There’s nothing here!”

I put my arms around little Bethie, comforting the pup as the foreman grows more abrasive. Another brick hits the car window, followed shortly by a flash of orange plasma as the droids dispatch the punks. The loyal pup climbs up my dress uniform, pawing at the medals of office earned by centuries of royalty. I scratch under the frightened corgi’s snout. It’s her favorite, always seeming to comfort her when she’s scared. I glance down and see what looks to me like a smile, though that may just be my own sentimentality. “It’s alright,” I say to her. “I’m scared too.”

[Date: 12.nov.63 - Time: 18:07:24]

“Seal the exits,” I say, cutting into my corgi steak.

The courtiers and I sit around the banquet hall table, watching the security holo-feed as we enjoy our single course of dogmeats. The crowds are forming outside the manor, tearing down the iron gates smelted by my great-grandfather’s metal interests. The marble statues commissioned by my renaissance ancestors toppled by bums looking to pillage. The security droids and Sergeant-at-Arms do what they can to push back against the horde. The holo-light illuminates the hall as we watch fiery bolts of plasma stave off the vandals. But as the blast shields cover the exits and windows, the humans fall back, opting to bang on the metal seals rather than dispel the mobs. Their cowardice leaves themselves open, letting the rioters drag them into the crowd.

“You’re a bastard, Norfolk!” the Sergeant-at-Arms shouts as he’s drawn into the mob. “A bastard!”

“Turn it off,” I command the Royal Security Officer. The golden pillars and scarlet drapery of the hall dim slightly as the holo-feed vanishes. The court sits in stunned silence, looking to me for guidance after the brutality we witnessed. If the rumors are true, there’s a good chance those men will be cannibalized. How regrettable they surrendered so quickly. I cut another piece of steak and dip the dry meat into what little au jus the kitchen could find. “I apologize for that display, gentlemen. It’s regrettable that our subjects lack the grace of their stewarts during this crisis.”

The Court says nothing. Men in velvet capes and chains-of-office sit around the vast ebony dinner table, watched over by massive portraits of title-holders past. Each one wearing the finest garbs of their times, be it polished plate armor or silken suit. Yet the men I task to carry on my ancestors’ great works sit meekly, quietly poking at their meals like chastised children.

I rise to my feet in the hopes my presence shall inspire them. “However, I am blessed to surround myself with men of caliber. The blood of nobility flows within your veins and these lands need you to call upon it.”

“The lands are poisoned,” claims the Agriculture Minister.

“The soil is irradiated!” shouts the Science Minister.

“Forgive my bluntness, your grace,” adds Botmaster Edmund. “If you recall our conversation with the foreman yesterday, he mentioned his children becoming sick after eating the dirt he was forced to feed them. The symptoms he described before we dispatched him were consistent with radiation poisoning.”

“Who cares about the soil outside the gate?” I retort, taken back by their pessimism. “Raving lunatics trample on it while they rip each other to shreds. True civilization begins in these halls and spreads out. We are the greatest minds of our time, standing on the shoulders of titans! If we can preserve nobility, we can preserve the world.”

“And how do we do that?” the Property Master chimes in. “Do we build an entire ecosystem in the manor?”

“Even if we could do that, we would starve before we even had the technology!” the Science Minister shrieks.

“And we would need to have the entire west wing terriformed tomorrow just to replenish the emergency stock!” the Agricultural Ministry cries.

“And that’s if the looters don’t break through the barricades,” the Chief Security Officer whimpers.

Silverware clings and beverages spill as I slam my fist onto the table. “I don’t care about the bloody looters!” I look around the table, feeling the piercing glares of the courtiers after my outburst. “Gentlemen, if it’s all the same to you, I would like to end our dinner.”

The droid box up the scraps on their fine China and lift the capes of the standing guests, helping to escort the defeated lot to their guest rooms until the crisis passes. Not joining them, however, is Botmaster Edmund. He stays seated at the table, whispering with the Royal Machinist sitting next to him. Though when he catches my eye, both rise and approach me. “Your grace,” Edmund says, “The shop has a proposal you may be interested in.”

The Machinist quickly and nervously scutters towards. “That is correct, sir,” he blurts out in a panicked rush. “One that may sidestep many of our most pressing issues.”

The young lord’s eagerness impresses me as his elders sulk out behind him. “I am interested,” I say to him.

[Date: 12.nov.63 - Time: 18:23:48]

I usher to two men past the gold latticed corridors into my private study. The massive oak bookshelves, filled with tomes collected through either purchase or conquest, dwarf us as we pass through the double-doors. Historic documents watch over us, framed in tempered glass. Stained glass windows flank the centuries old writing desk at the end of the crimson carpet, matched with the curtains accenting the entire room. Though the windows’ view is only of metal shields. An occasional knock from thrown rocks outside disturb our peace.

Still, it was hard not to feel a sense of awe at the history held in this room. To ponder its history was to be crushed under the weight of laws written and theory argued over the course of centuries. “Speak, Machinist,” I say to him.

He trots toward me with eager energy, though a bit staggered by apprehension. “Your grace, if you would allow me the honor, I would prefer to show you.”

His smile further widens with a slight motion of my hand. He offers a slight nod to Edmund who rushes to the doors, muttering orders into his earpiece. He opens both before turning for my reaction. I only see an empty corridor until I look towards the floor, my attention pulled by a digitized bark and metal trotting against the tile. Running towards my feet and up my calves is a small, metal beast fashioned to resemble a Welsh corgi. I pick up the automaton to see the name “Bethie” inscribed just below its neck.

“It’s the same dog,” the Machinist says. “It’s simply a matter of transcribing brain patterns into an operating system. The technology is new. Very new. But the process for transferring a dog’s mind into a cybernetic body would be the same for a human. The dogs are a special cast. But we can interface our minds with the average droid unit model.”

“Have you tested it on humans yet?”

“No. We would be the first. But our victory would be celebrated for generations to come.”

A stirring claim, as rigidly rehearsed and nervously delivered as it was. I scratch under the robotic corgi’s snout. The machine responds just like Bethie would, pawing at the medals on my chest as her nose brushes my neck. I glance upwards towards the towering bookshelves and rare metal-laced architecture, each layer of decoration weathering centuries of imperial decline and growth. And I have before me the chance to view that glory fully realized into the next millennia.

“Machinist,” I say. “When the lands are clean, I will grant you as many acres as you wish.”

[Date: XX.XXX.XX - Time: XX:XX:XX]

I am awake. Perhaps for awhile. My memory has worn. Maybe I was awake yesterday. Maybe yesterday I could move. Gears in my limbs stall. Maybe rust. Maybe the cobwebs. I see the cobwebs on my arm. I can only see the arm. My head cannot move. But the arm is not clear. No lights in the study. Vision needs calibration. Can’t run diagnostic. Power supply low.

I can hear voices. Room lights. Explosion from door. Two humans enter. One man. One woman. They carry long weapons. Cannot identify. They carry torches. LEDs torches. Their skin have sores. Greenish sores. Cannot identify. They have tubes coming out from their coats. Fluid in tubes. They wear masks. Gas masks likely. One puts weapon down. Takes off backpack. Pulls books from shelves. Books have cobwebs. I hear woman say: “You think the buyer can even read?”

I hear man say: “I don’t care if he can read. Long as he can count.”

They pull down curtains. Smash glass frames. Then they come to me. Woman says “Check it out. Old droids.”

Man picks up dog. Dog has name. Bethie? He pulls open head. Pull out circuits. He says: “This tech’s bloody ancient. It ain’t gonna sell.”

Woman shines light at me. Reads chest plate. Puts a crowbar under it. Says: “Says here this guy’s a Duke. So he might.”

Casing open. Tactile sensors failing. I cannot feel my processors being removed. Wires unfurling. Power supply depleted. Visual offline.

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.


The Future is Warbots
1999 words

- removed because I'm sending it out -

Nae fucked around with this message at 03:51 on Apr 1, 2022

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

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






Bodies

archive

flerp fucked around with this message at 20:07 on Oct 9, 2022

yeah ok ok yeah
May 2, 2016


Chemical Lake
1415/2000

The lake shone like an iridescent kaleidoscope. Phelps ran his trembling hand through his hair and frowned at the clumps that came off between his fingers. Sighing, he grabbed the bottle of pills on the table and took one. Dry. The trembling stopped after a time.

The concierge appeared like a wraith.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Mr. Phelps, but another message has come from your office," she held out a small stack of papers.

Phelps snatched the stack out of her hand and threw them at her. She looked at him with her hollow eyes and said "Mr. Phelps, sir" in an empty voice. None of the other nearby guests spared a glance. He sighed and stared out at the lake. His teenage son and his date were enjoying the jet skis. They spun and twisted, spraying chemical water in the air.

The concierge had gathered the papers.

"Where would you like them, sir?"

"With the rest."

She added them to an already tall stack on the table next to him. It had been getting bigger all weekend. This was supposed to be his vacation, yet work hadn't let up one bit. He had spent the previous month getting ahead on his goals, hoping to create a buffer. It was for nothing. His boss, Mr. Greenie, insisted he take work on his trip, pointed out in his contract that he was obligated to. Greenie had promised to cut down the workload, but so far Phelps hadn't noticed a difference.

The concierge was still standing beside him. He hadn't noticed it either. Phelps hadn't looked away from the rainbow lake.

"Mr. Phelps?"

"Huh, yeah? Sure, great, thank you. Hey, hold on, can you get me something for this?"

He motioned to the clumps of hair.

"I clearly chose too low an RPF."

"60 RPF minimum is recommend if you're out by Chemical Lake, sir. And that you reapply regularly."

"Yes, yes, please just bring it."

The concierge nodded and left.

Phelps continued working, dividing his time between his tablet and the stack of paper at his side. The various other guests were in similar situations. All had work with them on the dock, though not all chose to do it. They had significantly taller stacks of work on their tables. Phelps finished with a document and set it aside. He scratched his leg and frowned at the blood and dead skin under his fingernails. He had thought 30 RPF would be fine so long as he kept reapplying. It clearly wasn't working and was just taking away from time he could be working.

"Hey, dad!"

Phelps looked up and saw his son, Rebus, pull up close to the dock. His girlfriend sat behind, her arms around his waist.

"You going to come in at some point? You gotta try this jet ski! Water's beautiful, just absolutely gorgeous!" Rebus called, skin simultaneously wet and oily.

"No can do, sorry, Rebus. Greenie sent me another sheaf of numbers to go over."

"You've been it all weekend, dad."

"I'll make time, I promise. But say, where's your wet suit? You should be wearing one in the lake, especially if you're going to be touching skin to skin. You're going to wind up fusing yourselves together"

"It's fine, dad, we're saturated with stabilizers. Besides, the spa has plastic surgeons on staff. We're in love, so it wouldn't be the worst thing to be connected for an evening."

Rebus's girlfriend grimaced a smile. Phelps felt a pang of guilt that he could never remember her name. It'd been six months now, yet he always forgot it. Work was always on his mind whenever it came up. Now it'd been too long to ask and Rebus only ever used pet names. Rebus revved the jet ski and they were off. A rainbow mist splashed Phelps and he cursed, moving the stack of papers under cover.

When he looked up, the concierge had returned.

He raised his glass.

"Sorry, sir," she said, "But more from your office."

She exchanged his glass for another company printout. Phelps cursed again. Then she reached into her pocket and handed him a small box. He nodded thanks as she left. Setting aside the papers, he opened the box and took out the syringe. The label read "60 RPF". He gave himself the injection in his thigh.

His hands were trembling again. Phelps took another pill. He looked out over the lake while waiting for them to cease. The lake looked like a puddle of oil after a rainstorm. Aside from the people enjoyed jet skis and other motorsports, no other animal life could be seen. Above and below the lake, Phelps knew for a fact. This lake had been utterly purged, so no hybrid life stalked underneath. Totally safe. It was also the last green space still remaining within five hundred miles of the city. Polluted, of course, but no less toxic than walking around downtown without a sealed suit. What was life without a little risk? Besides, the company medical plans meant the anti-rads and anti-mutagens were cheap.

Phelps breathed in. There was no wind either. If not for the jet skis, Chemical Lake would be utterly becalmed. The tremors had stopped, so Phelps returned to work. He had hardly started when the concierge returned with his drink. Thankfully, there was no new work.

Refreshed, he threw himself into the calculations and formulae. If he was going to enjoy the lake, he needed to get the work out of the way. If he dawdled any longer, he would never get there. And so he worked. Time passed and he continued to work. The concierge brought several more drinks and another 60 RPF injection. The stack of papers grew smaller and smaller.
By the time Phelps was done, it was evening. The sun was beginning to go down but it was still warm out. Phelps stood. His whole body creaked, his joints cracking and popping in familiar ways. He groaned in unison with his neck, finally straightening. Rebus and his girlfriend were pulling up to the dock again. It seems he had finished just in time; he could take the jet ski out for a spin. With a wet suit, of course.

Rebus and his girlfriend were laughing. She clung to him tightly, her head nuzzled next to his, arms wrapped around his waist. Rebus’s nose was bleeding.

“Welp, you were right, dad!” Rebus said, “We should’ve worn a wet suit and we should’ve probably used a stronger RPF.”

Neither of the teenagers moved to get up. Phelps looked closer and saw that they couldn’t have even if they’d wanted to. Their bodies had begun to deteriorate in the lake’s water. As Phelps had warned, their bodies had begun to fuse. A substance like flesh-coloured rust held the girl’s arms to Rebus’s chest. Similarly, her head was stuck in the crook of his head.
Phelps frowned. Then his face softened and he chuckled.

“You kids, you’ll excuse me if I don’t feel too much sympathy,” he said, moving to help them up off the jet ski.

“I hate to ask, dad, but do you think you could call down to the spa clinic for us?” Rebus asked.

“Not a chance,” said Phelps, putting on wet suit, “You brought this on yourself. You two enjoy that walk of shame. I’m going to get out on that lake before it gets too late.”

“Aww, dad,” Rebus said.

The concierge had appeared and cleared her throat.

“Ah, good timing,” Phelps said, “You two are saved. Miss, my son and his girlfriend need to visit your clinic. Could you get them scheduled in? Oh, and now that I think about, I’d like some more anti-rads and stabilizers.”

“Very good, Mr. Phelps, sir,” said the concierge, her deep-set eyes not meeting his, “I must apologize.”

“Ah, no worries. I’ll take the risk without. I’ve earned a bit of time on the lake one way or another.”

“It’s not that, sir. You see, we’ve had some problems with our office printer.”

“I see.”

“It seems it was disconnected earlier this afternoon and we only just noticed.”

“Go on.”

“Well, you’ve received a—from your office, sir—”

She trailed off and instead held out a ream of paper. Phelps sighed and motioned towards the table. He stripped the wet suit back off and grabbed his glass.

“Forget the stabilizers, then. Just the anti-rads and a drink refill.

His hands began to tremble.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom
I'm so mad. I had half a tale written but I didn't give myself near enough time.

Also this is like the 5th time I've missed maybe I do need a nice exile, idk.

:11tea:

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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




Zurtilik posted:

I'm so mad. I had half a tale written but I didn't give myself near enough time.

Also this is like the 5th time I've missed maybe I do need a nice exile, idk.

:11tea:

Finish it and post it anyway imo

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom
Okay! Good idea.

Pththya-lyi
Nov 8, 2009

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020
Interprompt

Gimme a little hopepunk vignette. 400 words

CaligulaKangaroo
Jul 25, 2012

MAY YOUR HALLOWEEN BE AS STUPID AS MY LIFE IS

Pththya-lyi posted:

Interprompt

Gimme a little hopepunk vignette. 400 words

122592
Word Count: 353

I offer the elderly datekeeper some wine we scavenged from the last town, and a few sugar cookies we managed to bake in what passes for an oven here. He glances up from his calendar notes with a puzzled look, likely wondering if he’s seeing clearly in the dim-bunker lights. “Would you like some?” I ask.

“Where did you get those?”

“We found some extra sugar and flour rations. Figured it would be appropriate considering the day.”

The old man smiles. There aren’t too many in this bunker who remember the before-times. The datekeeper’s records often feel like the last thread we have of stability. And as we huddle in this shelter, hiding from the mauraders roaming the desert, even just knowing today’s date provides an odd sense of comfort. “It’s nice to know someone listens.”

A series of dull roars, muted by the thick bunker. Muffled shouts break the peace, followed by the rattle of machine gun fire outside the walls. The datekeeper and I run to the viewing port to see our campguards beset by leather-clad roughnecks. Marauders. The few guards we have in here try to calm down the civilians. But the datekeeper rushes to the nearest supply closet, grabbing a small brush and some scrap cardboard. I don’t see what he paints on the scrap board, but he immediately dash toward the exit.

“Do any of you read?” he shouts, charging onto the sand outside. “Do any of you know what today is?”

The marauders stop, holding their rifles and blades steady. They recognize someone important has presented themselves and wait to see his next move. That move to hold a cardboard sign above his head with the “Merry Christmas” written on it in black paint.

“Not today,” he says. “Please.”

The marauders remain still, lowering their weapons and glances towards the largest one in their party. He waves his hand towards their motorcycles. They all leave following his lead. The guards and datekeeper watch as they leave. As the last marauder exits camp, I approach the datekeeper with a single question. “Didn’t you say it was New Year’s?”

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!


They'll do anything to get what they need. And what they need is Judgment

Let's be clear: this week the middle wasn't just soggy but downright swampy.

When I specified plausible, the thing I was most looking for was internal consistency. And many stories did not deliver. The worst offender and the week's loss was The Man Called M's Dreams Deferred, Dreams made with a premise that was, as it were, impossible to swallow.

Also worthy of demerit was the week's DM,Chairchucker's Drivers, for cartoonish villainy and a substance-free story.

On the better side, HMs go to SurreptitiousMuffin's Subject 501107-SYD log (extracted 17:08:23:10:08:33) partially damaged, an impressive piece of economic and indirect storytelling, and Albatrossy_Rodent's Becker, for a flawed story with a solid emotional core.

The week's winner, similarly, had a solid emotional center while vividly drawing a dystopic setting: Nae's The Future is Warbots

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


Crits for Week 496


The man called M - Dreams Deferred, Dreams made:

Why is “made” in the title not capitalised?

When I was a young lad, I learned about the ‘formula’ to be successful in America. A nice house, a nice car, food on the table. Back in my day, it was barely obtainable. You didn’t have to die to be free. Back then, folks wanted the government to fix everything. They didn’t realize that making things worse payed those in power better. Back then, a person could have actual meat, and not have to literally eat their fellow man.

This paragraph is just gobbledygook. What the gently caress does it even mean? Back when the protagonist was young the formula for success (a house, car and food) was barely obtainable, but now, people are only free when they die? And there used to be meat, but now people have to be cannibals? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

About a week ago, I walked in the field to plant some wheat. That’s what old folks like me do nowadays in the ruins of Chicago. After all, got to keep the meat lean. While I cut the wheat with my scythe, I noticed a pickup chasing a young boy. This happens quite often, but not like this. The boy ran into my field, and his would-be captors got off their pickup and followed on foot. I sneaked by and put my scythe around one of their necks.

“May I help you gentlemen?” I asked. They seemed scared. Good.

“We’re here to get our quarry!”

“Really, now? Your kind don’t usually hunt boys!” They usually hunted young men and women, but not that young.


Alright so in this segment we have learnt that the protagonist is old, that the setting is post-apocalypse America, and that people hunt others for pay. Things that we have NOT learnt are what the protagonist wants (is he happy being a wheat farmer?) or what his emotional state is.

“The client specifically asked for him!” They started to attack. While my movement wasn’t what it used to be, I was able to quickly fight off them. I wield my scythe against them, and they try to fight back TENSE CHANGE ARRRGH, but they were not skilled in hand to hand combat. To be fair, I wasn’t either, but I knew how to use a scythe. I cut them as cleanly as I cut my wheat.

This is awful. Just, really dreadful. Imagine if you were watching a movie, and the protagonist was squaring up against a gang of bad guys, and then instead of showing you the fight scene, the screen went black and the words, “and then there was a fight but the protagonist used his scythe and won,” appeared, stayed there for 5 minutes, and then the movie continued. That’s what reading this paragraph was like. You need to show the reader the fight! Describe some action! A short scene like this is a great opportunity to characterise your protagonist - how do they move, does their body hurt, do they like fighting or hate it, etc. etc.

“Thanks, mister!” said the boy. He looked like he was about ten years old. Something was up.

“Apologies for asking, but why were those guys really after you?” The boy seemed scared.
From his rather chipper dialogue, the boy does not seem scared. What is he doing/saying that conveys this emotion?

“Let me stay around for tonight, and I can show you through dinner.” comma not full stop he said. There should be a paragraph break here I brought them who is “them?” You’re using “he” for the boy; is someone else there? inside my home. After talking for a while, the boy presented me with what appeared to be a hamburger. Impossible, I thought. I thought cattle were extinct! I took a bite. Sure enough, it tasted like a hamburger.

“How the hell did you get some beef?” I asked.

“I didn’t,” the boy said. “It’s made from plants!”
paragraph break That explains it. I remember hearing about plant based meats from long ago, but I thought that such a thing was a lost art form. The wealthy’s craving for meat was far too great for something like that to stick. He must have kept the tradition.

This is stupid. Plant-based meat is a complex processed food, not a traditional art form.

“What other kinds of ‘meats’ can you make?” I asked.

“Oh, lots of stuff! Cherry Based Venison, Strawberry Based Ham, Kiwi Based steak…”
Why all the random capitalisation? he then showed me some papers he was holding. “This should mention just about everything.” He spoke. He spoke, did he? What did he say, I wonder. I looked at the papers and was amazed at what I saw. It was as if I was looking at an animal farm and a vegetable one at the same time! What the gently caress are you talking about? Is he looking at pictures of cows grazing next to a row of cabbages? There was one thing I wondered, that scared me a little.

“Won’t you need some fancy cooking equipment to make this kind of stuff?”

“Nothing too far advanced.” He
comma, lower case 'h' said. “I was able to make this wheat hamburger with the stuff you have, right?” He had me there. I had stuff to make a good meal, but nothing too fancy.

“Well, with this kind of thing, you might want to present it to smaller communities such as New Chicago.”
comma I mentioned. I figured the higher ups at bigger cities might kill him. Not for the recipe, but because they got rich from all the cannibalism, and they may not want to give that up so easily. He agreed, and I told them how to get to New Chicago. I offered to come along in case there were some more folks like those riding that pickup. He agreed. “By the way,” I asked. “I haven’t gotten your name yet, and I figured you don’t want to be called ‘boy’.”

There was lots of chat in the discord about what constituted a "plausible" dystopia, and I'm going to say I think this story fails on that count. "Plausible" in fiction doesn't mean "realistic," it means believable within the rules and constraints of the setting. If you wrote, for example, a dystopian story about wizards, the existence of magic would be plausible. But this story is set in America, post some kind of disaster where cattle have gone extinct. But people can still grow grain and vegetables, and have sufficient cooking technology to make plant-based meat, so there is no reason for cannibalism to have become commonplace.

“The name’s Jimmy.” he replied. Describe him! Just a tiny bit of description would go a long way to bring this character to life. So far apart from the fact that he looks about 10 we know nothing about this character.

“You can call me Al.” COMMA I said. Afterwards, we searched the bodies earlier for the keys to the pickup and headed to New Chicago. Since I regularly go there to sell my goods, I knew the quickest way there.They WHO IS THEY asked me a rhetorical question about “eating the rich”. I told them that I already had some rich, and they tasted like poo poo. (Bad joke, I know.) loving terrible joke, why is it in the story, idk.

When we got there, we stopped by the local church. I introduced Jimmy to the preacher, Reverend Lou. Why did the protagonist do this? Who is Lou? What is his relationship to the protagonist? He told Lou about their recipes, and as soon as he told him, Lou dropped to the floor with a horrified look on his face.

“Excuse me a moment… I need to wash my hands…” Lou said, as he runs toward the opposite direction of the restroom. Wondering what was going on, we followed him. Turns out he was on his knees at the sanctuary altar. “Forgive me father! There is blood on my hands! There is blood on my hands!” Lou cried. Honestly, I wouldn't blame the man. He, like many others, thought they had no choice but to kill their fellow man for nourishment. The mere fact that he didn’t have to absolutely broke him.


Why on earth would people think they had no choice but to murder and eat people? This is stupid and makes no sense.

Since the next day was a Sunday, we went to service that morning. Why is this man just hanging out in New Chicago with this boy that he found in his field? Doesn't the boy have to go home? He's only 10! Lou told his congregation I'm glad Lou has recovered so quickly from being absolutely broken the previous afternoon about Jimmy and Joe, Who the hell is Joe? and what they had to offer. He then called everyone to prayer, because they have done, as Lou called it, an unforgivable sin. Soon after, there was silence. The silence was eventually broken by someone singing.

“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch, like me! I once was lost! But now am found! Was blind, but now I see!” As they continued to sing, I honestly saw the regret everyone had over what was done. From what I saw, things were on the road to getting better.


You've had lots of feedback about how EXCLAMATION MARKS SOUND LIKE SHOUTING, and yet, here we are again. Writing out song lyrics like this just makes it sound like someone is yelling each line.

Afterwards, Lou offered to take in Jimmy and Joe. I offered to help protect the folks, since the meat companies would be after Jimmy , and their lives may be in danger. All that happened made me realize something.

I remembered the American Dream.

And while the details may have changed slightly, I still believe it to be real.
gently caress me this is dumb. So the America dream is now to have a car, a house and plant-based meat instead of steaks?

Nothing in this story makes sense. Why is Jimmy, the random 10 year old, in possession of the lost knowledge of how to make a passable hamburger out of grain? Why is this the thing that is going to blow up this cannibalism-obsessed society? Who are these shadowy "higher ups" and meat companies who are now hunting this child?

Now, you might be thinking, oh no how could I possibly explain all of that in less than 2000 words, but the answer is NOT to give the reader a whole lot of explanation and backstory, it is to create a setting - quicky and efficiently - that makes sense according to its own rules.

I'm also annoyed at this story because it is not particularly dystopian. It's post-apocalyptic and grim, but good dystopian fiction shines a light on our own society or human nature by portraying an extreme or distorted version of something that either is or that we are afraid might be.

But the worst crime you have committed here is poor characterisation. We learn basically nothing about Al and Jimmy. Neither of them have any personality and don't seem to feel any feelings. I cannot stress enough how boring this makes stories to read. Now I would like to quote my previous crits of your stories: "This reads like a movie synopsis. There’s not much characterisation, no tension, and the action is all glossed over." And, "This story is not very good, but not because of the extremely random dino-baby, but because it does not have enough character meat on its plot bones." Don't make me have to tell you this again.

2/10


Flyerant - Earning a Salarium in the Dusty Plains of the Atlantic Ocean:

This has very good space corvid battle action and the characters have got enough going on that I was genuinely rooting for them to get that sweet meteor loot. I really enjoyed these aspects of the story.

But, I found the stuff about the regulators confusing. I think they are implants or perhaps helmets that block negative thoughts and speech and replace them with ads for noodles? I’m not entirely sure how they were going to make money at the end. I get that blowing your regulator is a rare event, but I wasn’t sure who exactly is going to pay for her free words?

6/10


Chairchucker - Drivers:

This felt rushed. It is a fairly straightforward evil-bureaucrat-gets-comeuppance story, but the conversation in the middle is quite slow and the ending is over very quickly. I was entertained while it lasted though.

5/10


Albatrossy_Rodent - Becker:

This is pretty good. This scene that ends with this line was particularly good - creepy as hell yet also really sad: "I love you too, kiddo," you say, then shut the door and turn the car around. You can see a swarm of hawks descend on him in your rear-view mirror.

I liked the first half better than the second though. It was obvious how it was going to end as soon as we got to the phone call about Jackson’s death, so the ending itself felt a little unsatisfying. I wonder if it would have worked better without Jackson’s death, if the father had, for example, just gotten tired of trying to tell the scammers apart, and decided to adopt one? Once we learn that the real Jackson hasn’t actually appeared in the story, it’s hard to care about his death.

6/10


GrandmaParty - Lawyers Starve in the Future:

This isn’t badly written, but I don’t like it. You’ve created a setting in which humans get screwed over by AI, and then told a story about a human getting screwed over by an AI. Without some sort of broader point or hopeful note to balance it out, it just felt kind of mean, like we were just watching the protagonist get beat up for no reason.

5/10


Staggy - Run:

This is hella grim, but I like that the protagonist makes the more humane and less ruthless decision at the end. If I were to tweak it I would maybe drop the references to his family starving at home. His decision to help the other runners presumably puts his family in danger, and the fact that this doesn’t factor into his decision felt odd.

My main criticism would be that ‘evil men hunt people for sport’ is too simplistic. Giving the bad guys some other motivation beyond ‘rich people are all murderous psychopaths’ would give the story more depth.

6/10


SurreptitiousMuffin - Subject 501107-SYD log (extracted 17:08:23:10:08:33) partially damaged:

This is good. I don’t know what to say about it. I have no idea how you have conjured up a protagonist who I care about without naming or describing them in any way. And the setting doesn’t make any sense! I don’t know what’s going on! What are the towers? And yet, it does make sense??

It’s like you took a jar of buttons or something, shook it out onto a table, and somehow made a painting that I like for reasons I don’t understand. What the actual gently caress.

8/10


CaligulaKangaroo - The Iron Duke:

There’s a lot of good description in this, but overall I thought it was boring. ‘Evil rich guy gets comeuppance’ isn’t very interesting unless you really give the reader a reason to care, and ‘people are starving but rich dude doesn’t care because he is evil and stupid’ just isn’t enough.

5/10


Nae - The Future is Warbots:

This is good but took too long to get going. I know from the outset that the protagonist’s goal is to reach the warbots, but then I had to wait for half a story before she actually sets out on this quest. The ending is a bit of a bummer, and not in a good way. Given that this is a story about a child chasing a dream, I think it would have landed better if she’d found something of more value than just a padded chair to chill on for a bit. I thought you were going to have her decide to live in the warbot rather than her cardboard shack, so that while it might not be functional her future was at least somewhat brighter.

I liked her bitey racoon friend a lot, and the surreal worldbuilding was well done.

The reference to suicide in the opening paragraph I think doesn’t match the tone of the piece. Given that it doesn’t come up again, this could be cut.

“Billionaires are evil and stupid” is a boring cliché. You’ve created a cool and crazy trash landscape for your setting, I think you could have had something more creative as your oppressive ruling class than just bad rich people.

I had a liiiiiitle bit of a feminist twinge at tampons being the most disgusting garbage. This could have been used bandaids and other used dressings instead.

7/10


flerp - Bodies:

I don’t fully get this, but in a good way. It’s not confusing, just very open to interpretation. I like how weird and tense it is. The dialogue is very stilted, but because this feels deliberate I think it works.

6/10


yeah ok ok yeah - Chemical Lake:

This is 1400 words of not very much happening. Man has to work on vacation. Man is sad. That’s pretty much it.

The most interesting thing in this story is the son and girlfriend getting fused. That is a super weird thing for people to be blasé about, and I would have liked to read more about a society where people consider this sort of thing normal.

4/10

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DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021
Some quick crits, if you want an in-depth one hit me up DM

Dreams Deferred, Reads Made

So, I am loving down for cannibal-endorsed capitalism. There were a lot of neat ideas in this piece, and some unclear things about veganism, that I feel a bit bad to have to say: The execution in this story is bad.

We have a fight scene that is over in two sentences, and it gets worse as it goes on. We start the story by focusing on the American Dream and then the idea of cannibalism takes over the whole story. Lou suddenly showing up doesn’t help things either.

I think “The World” took over the story, where writing about cannibal-endorsed capitalism took over character and plot. While I can dig your world, and thought it was funny, I was hoping for more character, more plot.

Watch your grammar around dialog, and show, don’t tell.

Drivers

This is really well done! Snappy and fast, and those starting few lines set the tone. The middle portion, where we explain Drivers, slow’s the pace down, and I wasn’t engaged. It reads a bit like a start of a movie where they need to explain the setting to the viewer.
Then, before anything can happen (Or because the punchline has been setup), the story ends.

Neat, short story, but I think I missed the joke?

Becker

I really like the setup and idea you explore. It also explores the idea without getting too full of itself. Lots of snappy lines as well. I don’t have much to say, I like the execution, the idea and the prose in this piece.

Lawyers Starve in the Future

I like that a lot of details are brought up naturally, or through dialog, that the world building doesn’t feel obtuse. Lot of humor as well when you read the little snippits you provided. I like the way you executed building your world.

This is a pretty good story, but it’s like someone grabbed a can of emo black paint and threw it on the canvas. Our main character is a whiny, the AI’s are assholes, and nobody is happy. I know I am supposed to laugh when the main character gets screwed, but it just felt hopeless ya know?

Watch you dialog, you are missing a few commas at the end of them, I.E: “That’s your second write-up”

Run

I like the way this loops, neat starting and end line. And it has a basic setup, human hunting in the desert There isn’t much surprising in this piece, and it ends as you would expect.

That isn’t to say it’s bad it’s just something I have read before. And I really enjoyed the start, but found the 2nd person POV to wear me down, and also cause me confusion — “So you run. The twelve of you run “ for a moment I got pumped and thought we were like a being that controlled 12 dudes, like a human centipede on steroids or something.

It’s just a personal preference, but the 2nd person narrative dragged me down after the first 1,000 words. This is still a good piece, just not for me. My only knock against it, is I really didn’t care if the protagonist survived or not.

Subject 501107-SYD log (extracted 17:08:23:10:08:33) partially damaged )

Hat’s off for experimenting! This has a lot of cool things hidden in the line of the prose, and the prose shows off your skill.

It’s just the repetition of the formatting drowns out the neat lines in this piece, and asks a lot of patience from the reader. I wouldn’t mind a few hundred words of this fomatting, but by the middle of this piece the words started to blur together.

This reminds me of what the internet said about RWBY. It sure as hell isn’t bad, but it sure isn’t good either. It’s its own thing.

The Iron Duke

Neat little piece about uploading our brains. I liked the corgi-bit (That poor corgi!) and I like the nobility vs common class setting. This was an enjoyable read, with my only complaint being the story just suddenly ends.

The Future is Warbots

This was probably my favourite story, because it has a protagonist we can root for. Great imagery, lot of energy at the start. Fun, quirky ideas that made me want to continue to read. It says something that the only thing I have to complain about is the typos/grammar (Especially at the start!). Once those are out of the way its smooth sailing, and I’m along with Elantra on an exciting, endearing ride.

DropTheAnvil fucked around with this message at 16:19 on Feb 8, 2022

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