|# ? May 9, 2022 04:01|
|# ? Dec 10, 2022 05:42|
Despite a disappointing 25% failure rate, I enjoyed this week’s entries. And I thought the prompt was cool. I hope you did, too. Ideally, when I give a prompt, I want to do something that will create inspiration without being overly confining. I’d like to assume that by making you write something based on your interpretation of a dream, you had the freedom to explore in whatever wild and wonderful direction you desired. I also got the added benefit of being able to glimpse into your creative process. I know writers love to talk about writing but I usually find that more irritating than anything else. Despite the fact that I’m thoroughly curious about what people’s process is like and how it is similar or different from my own. More than anything else, really, that’s been the most fun -- tracing your lines from dream to interpretation to a story that you just pulled from the void of nothingness into existence, seeing how you pinpoint themes or motifs and then transcribe into your own creative works. Thank you for indulging me. It has been a pleasure.
I’ll be posting crits soon. As I am the only judge, you will only be getting only one set of critiques which is a shame. It would be cool if everyone wrote a crit for the story that was submitted before them and for the story that was submitted after them. If everyone does that, everyone gets a total of three. I have no way of enforcing this.
You should still do it, though.
There are no dms this week.
Our loser is The Man called M for a story that was in no way actually terrible. It was mediocre at worst. It just happened to be middling in a strong week of submissions.
Honorable mentions go to Uranium Phoenix and Thranguy.
Our winner is Sitting Here.
|# ? May 9, 2022 04:26|
This is a well written story. It has all the pieces (easily identifiable conflict, character development, interesting characterization, etc). It also has a lot of stuff I’m particularly a sucker for (time travel, dinosaurs, etc). One thing that I think would have made this stronger, though, is a change in POV. As is, I’m reading from a child’s perspective in first person which means things will/should be described as a child would see and understand them. It can be very tricky to write this way well. You did fine but… it feels mostly utilized for humor (“sex is a bad word,” “butts”). And the humor is fine! I think you would have been able to do more, though, if everything was through the lens of adult Gabriel because you’re way less constrained by child Gabe’s perspective and the trappings of having to write that way. I think it would give you some interesting creative space, too, to explore just how traumatizing and life altering this moment is and what a weight it has been if we’re seeing things through the eyes of the man who only later in life understood what it signifies.
I thought your interpretation was fascinating.
Delightfully dystopian and depressing. I find the trapping of a consciousness to be utterly horrifying. The two voices were impressively distinct -- which is tricky since so much of this is heady, cerebral poo poo. You’re out of words so, with this limit, you’d be hard pressed to use the suggestion I’m about to make but I think this could be made slightly stronger if you started building up Senya’s horror/rage at being trapped earlier on. The gently caress you bits at the end was nice but needed more runway to be really punchy. “Aren’t we all?” is a delicious little line.
I thought your interpretation read loving professional. Like, the sort of thing someone would pay money to receive. I mean that as the highest compliment.
As I Went Down In The River…
It’s difficult to put my finger on what doesn’t work here. I think you have some issues with tone. It’s like you couldn’t decide how serious you wanted this to be and because of that, certain sections felt silly but not in a rewarding way. Not in a break-up-the-mood-with-humor sort of a way. The dialogue didn’t feel natural. It didn’t always fit with the way the rest of the story was written. Maybe you just didn’t leave far enough into the dreamy surrealism. Have you written much surrealism before? It’s a rewarding but difficult genre to tackle. One thing you kinda nailed was the feeling of “this feels like it’s symbolic, like it’s a metaphor, but I am not confident I get the allusion.” Also, I did like the story, by the way. It just lacks a sort of… consistency.
Much like in my crit above, I thought your interpretation came across as true and real interpretation one might get from a professional. In fact, it reminded me of a tarot reading example from this tarot book I have -- particularly the last sentence!
Court Case #TYR509 - Exhibit F
1669 words available and you use less that 500? Bold. I appreciate bold.
Tightly written. I’m assuming this about time travel, yeah? I’m a fan. Don’t have much to say here, to be honest. You didn’t reinvent the wheel but, then again, you didn’t need to. This is pretty good. Short but good.
I thought your interpretation was surprising.. Not the direction that I would have gone but I like the way your mind worked it over.
Death and the Emperor
That’s some fun world building you’ve done here. And you didn’t ever make me think, oh, we’re setting the stage here. It was a very natural build that progressed with the story. The very last paragraph is off. Specifically, when you switch to the second person addressing. There’s no foreshadowing that such a thing will occur so having it just pop up right at the end feels abrupt. If you were to another pass as this, I’d either change that part of the end or sprinkle in more of the talking-directly-to-the-reader-who-is-clearly-representing-another-character bit throughout. Otherwise, tight little story.
I thought your interpretation was super solid. Limits of personal control/helplessness is a just a solid take.
Can't Fight the Flood
This is going to sound wild but my absolute favorite part of this is about kissing for the first time behind the Krystals in Savannah. Something about that specificity just grounds the whole piece -- and I’m sure it could have stood on its own without it but, drat, that just made it feel real. It’s just such an honest reflection. Like, yeah, maybe the world is flooding because of an alien attack or whatever but people are still going to be people. Lovely writing. Really enjoyed this.
I like that you looked at all the dreams! Halfway through the submissions and you’re the first person to look for overarching themes and motifs. I appreciate that attention to detail.
big stick ideology
Fabulous world. Fabulous imagery. 1600+ words can be a lot of words to read. Sometimes stories feel “heavy.” Like, not emotionally. But the process of pouring through all of the words can be tiring. Not the case here. Light as feather. I breezed through this despite not ever really feeling like I had a solid grasp on what was happening. I was so engrossed that I just devoured by way through it and then immediately read it a second time. The language, the dialogue, the descriptions, the relationship, the opener, the ending. Just solid writing here.
To answer your question, we’re not currently speaking. I had the dream, though, back when I thought we were still very close. In retrospect, the cracks were there. I just couldn’t see them yet. I thought your interpretation was an understandable take on the dream. I appreciate that it made you so curious. I imagine you’ve done interpretations before. If so, undoubtedly many.
Cat's still in the Cradle
Like I said in the judgment post, this isn’t loving terrible. Your biggest issue is that it isn’t lean. You got so much fat here -- and by fat I mean poo poo that’s unnecessary. Whole paragraphs could be cut and the story isn’t worse for wear. Also, look at where you introduce the conflict. It’s late, yeah? Get that up front! Sometimes, as you're writing, you just have to give yourself some runway. You don’t yet know the story that you’re trying to tell. The trick is to recognize when that’s the case and start taking a knife to your words. One of my historically most common critiques when I’m judging Thunderdome is: cut your first paragraph. Because for a lot of people, it’s usually their personal creative runway that they utilized to get to the story they wanted to tell.
“When he was young, Jake wanted to be like his dad. He got his wish.” That’s a good rear end line! I’m intrigued! I’m hooked. You’ve written a hook! And that sentence, imho, should be the first very first one of your story. It’s intriguing and it makes me want to know what it means. Now, I don’t need to immediately know (maybe ever know) that “today” Jake had a bad day at work. I don’t need to know what he ate for dinner. You can jump straight to him reading the note from the teacher, the question about why his son is saying he doesn’t exist (another dope line btw), and the son’s tearful response. All in all, that’s like a hundred words or so. But you’ve streamlined me straight into the action and you’ve now left yourself a lot of room to grow.
I think your interpretation is fine. I’m saying that in case you feel self-conscious or worried that your much shorter interpretation compared to everyone else (save the next entry) affected my view on your story. It didn’t. Your interpretation was fine. It was good. It did what it needed to do.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
I think you needed more time with this. And I think you’ll agree with me. The idea of this story, just the general loving idea of it, is wild and I dig it. But there’s quite a bit of sloppiness. The pacing is a little funny. You def revved up as you got going. If you had a few more hours, you could have probably polished this into some pretty sharp.
Your interpretation made me laugh. Short and sweet.
|# ? May 9, 2022 05:05|
Sitting Here brawl entry
In Sickness and in Health
Sam parked his Corolla on the street outside his and Kara’s red brick terraced house and sat gripping the steering wheel, his knuckles white. Grocery bags were piled on the back seat. Get out of the car, Sam told himself. All he had to do was go put the shopping away and then make dinner. Check Kara had taken her medication. Wash up. Go to bed. Sam gripped the wheel a little tighter. He had nothing to complain about. He wasn’t the one who was sick.
“How’s Kara?” a woman at the supermarket had asked him. Sam recognised her, but couldn’t think where from. Maybe someone from Kara’s work, someone who still remembered her after her months-long absence.
Sam had rattled through his stock of pat answers in his mind. ‘Not dead yet’ was too morbid for someone he didn’t know, but ‘she’s doing fine’ was a flat out lie. ‘Who are you?’ was just plain rude. Sam settled on a half smile and a shrug.
The woman nodded, understanding. “Well. Take care.”
She didn’t understand though. People thought it was Kara’s illness, the very real possibility of her death, that was causing the dark bags under Sam’s eyes, the constant tension up the back of his neck.
Sam was sweating inside his hoodie. The desultory late-autumn wind was humid, thick with the smell of rotting leaves. The grass on either side of the concrete path to Sam and Kara’s front door was long and rank.
The front door opened. Kara, her cardigan hugged tight around her and her phone gripped in one hand, began to walk towards him. Her eyes were red and her mouth was very tight. Sure signs of a Bad Day.
I want a divorce. The thought pried its way out of a locked box buried deep in Sam’s mind with long, nasty fingers.
Sam’s eyes prickled as he saw Kara trip on the broken concrete path. One bone-thin hand shot out to grab the railing before she fell, and the wind yanked her cardigan open, revealing one of Sam’s t-shirts underneath.
The problem was, he couldn’t remember when he’d started feeling like this. He told himself that it had happened before she got sick, that he wasn’t the sort of rear end in a top hat who would stop loving his wife because she had kidney failure.
Kara, healthy, had been volatile and impulsive. Maddening in her love of novelty, her inability to stick with anything she started. Sam had loved every infuriating minute of it, utterly caught up in the whirlwind of Kara’s imagination. Getting sick hadn’t changed her one bit. It had just made her angry. Angry at herself, angry at Sam, angry at the world. Sam knew it wasn’t her fault. He knew that. So it must have been before she got sick that he had started to fall out of love with her. It must have been.
Kara had reached the gate and was struggling one-handed with the rusty latch. Her other hand, clenched around her phone, was shaking.
Sam yanked off his seatbelt and shoved the driver’s door open with his foot. His back to Kara, he leant into the back seat and dragged the shopping bags towards himself, gathering the handles together so he could lift them all at once, leaving none for Kara to offer to help with. Just go back inside where it’s warm, for fucks sake,he thought. He didn’t want to watch her struggle to lift a bag of groceries. Didn’t want to hear some snide comment about the unmown lawn. Didn’t want to ask how she was feeling. Didn’t want to hear the response.
Kara, standing in the gateway with the wind tugging her untrimmed bangs back from her forehead, held up her phone.
“The hospital called.”
Sam’s heart stopped beating. The wind dropped, and for a moment the world went completely silent.
“When?” he said. His voice sounded unreal in his ears, as if he had never really expected to be having this longed-for conversation.
The shopping bags suddenly felt unbearably heavy in Sam’s hands. He wanted to lift his arms up, to put them around Kara, but he was anchored to his spot on the pavement. The enormity of the news broke over him like a wave. Someone had died. A car crash, most likely. While Kara was getting the phone call that she’d been waiting for for months and months, somewhere else another family was getting a very different kind of news.
Sam felt tears run down his face, but with his armload of groceries he couldn’t lift his hands to wipe his cheeks.
“Sam, we’ve got to go. They said they need me there now.”
Sam dropped the shopping. Heard the box of eggs crunch against the concrete.
“Where’s your bag?”
Kara nodded at the open front door. Sam could see her duffle bag, that had sat in the corner of their bedroom closet for months, just inside. He vaulted the low fence and ran past Kara, dropped his keys, paused, snatched them up, and leapt up the front steps. He grabbed Kara’s bag and slammed the door, dropped his keys again, locked it.
“Aren’t you going to take the shopping inside?”
Sam stopped and looked at Kara. Now? he thought. You want to have a go at me now?
“I thought you said we had to go!”
“We do, but--”
“Do you need a hand?” It was the woman from the supermarket. Her dog nosed at the egg yolk oozing from one of the bags, and she tugged him away. Sam mentally face-palmed himself for not recognising one of their neighbours.
Sam stopped, and he and Kara looked at each other. Sam was breathing hard. The gears in his brain wouldn’t turn. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. God I’m tired, he thought.
“Give me your key,” the woman said. She held out her hand.
“Thank you, Gail.” Kara took the keys from Sam’s unresisting hand, prized the house key off the ring, and handed it to the woman. “I’ll give you a call, after--”
Gail stepped forward and pulled Kara into a tight hug. She smiled at Sam.
Sam stood, brainwheels still grinding painfully slow, and watched as Kara walked around to the passenger side door.
Kara’s going to get better, he thought. She’s going to get better, and this will all be over.
His heart thumped in his hears.
And then it will be over.
“Sam?” Kara was looking at him over the car’s roof, one foot in the footwell.
Gail had looped her dog’s lead over the gatepost and was gathering up the dropped bags of groceries. “Will you be home tonight, or will you stay in the hospital?” she said, looking at Sam’s house key lying in her palm.
Sam pictured Kara, waking up in the recovery area mere hours from now. It was a whole new chapter for her. A second chance. He shook his head at Gail. The answer was right there, lying waiting on his tongue as if waiting for him to notice it. “I’ll stay,” he said.
The last of the evening sun broke through the low clouds and Sam had to raise his arm to shield his eyes as he lowered himself into the driver’s seat. He took Kara’s hand as he started the car, and held it tight.
|# ? May 9, 2022 10:21|
Crit chain crits
I don't particularly like the way this is onboarded. I think a lot of this information would be better presented in flashback and we open with Senya already in Gavin's brain. Maybe they have a conversation about it? I don't know. This is too many words before characters start doing interesting things, though.
It picks up nicely once the premise is established. Normally this kind of capitalist dystopian worldbuilding irks me and feels preachy and cliched, but I think the misery is subtle enough to actually work. This isn't The Apocalypse, it's just a slow cascade into miserable doom. I particularly like the Autocar disentanglement app, that feels like something that will exist pretty soon. The way Gavin makes excuses feels true. Like I would totally do that in his situation.
Cut of Your Jib
Yes. I am indeed down for an old lady biker gang story. Dope.
Cut the first scene. I don't care that before she was an old lady biker gangster, she was an old lady not-biker gangster. Yes, her more mundane past should be alluded to, but seeing her be boring is boring.
I think the paragraphs are mostly too long. I found myself skipping to the next one too often halfway through. This should not be an issue in such an action-focused story.
I think you could cut some scenes. I don't need all of the biker gang context. Love the 50s Rumble Gangs vibe though.
|# ? May 9, 2022 19:26|
Newbie crits incoming.
Death and the Emperor
A story that pulled me in, but with a narrator that distracted. The narrator doesn’t really make their presence known until the end of the second paragraph (jarring), and then they contradict themselves - the emperor’s words were explicitly lost, which I completely forgot about while reading the recounting of what happened because I was so into it, but then the narrator calls attention to that inconsistency at the end. So the framing device did not work for me, but I loved the story underneath. The father-daughter relationship where they’re each more worried about the other was bittersweet and I loved the series of beliefs about how Death works and how to thwart it. The prose was evocative of a time long past (I loved the little details, word choice and postponed adjectives like “shelter eternal”). This implied a much deeper setting without ever making me feel like it was irrelevant to the story.
As I Went Down in the River…
The tone went all over the place in this. It started out serious and magical, went extra silly, and then came back to serious at the end. Something about it didn’t really work for me. I also think you undermined the theme, having Jackson return to the river at all, because the ending would have been stronger without that (did he learn the lesson or not?). And the lesson itself, when they actually talk about it, was weirdly on-the-nose compared to the way the rest of this was written. In general I did really like the unexpected direction this took, I just wish it had more of that underlying threat like the alligator’s lunch running throughout - because I was here for it! I loved the opening and the ending. I like the idea of recognizing people with a shared experience via group signifiers like the alligator boots, and I think this really conveyed that feeling of uncertainty where dreams and reality blend together and you’re not sure anymore if what you remember actually happened, or if you’re remembering a dream about what actually happened where the details are wrong.
|# ? May 9, 2022 20:05|
Thunderdome Week 510: Oops All Cozy
I'm really tired Thunderdome. Like on a level I didn't know a person could be tired until recently. This week, I want stories about taking a rest. Maybe your character is having a momentary respite from a conflict, or maybe they're just cozy and content and it's all fine. Yes, you can have conflict within the story, but it should be small and manageable. Like if we're measuring conflict on a scale of 1-10, the onscreen conflict in your story should be a 2, max. Implied offscreen conflict should not overshadow your cozy moment.
If you absolutely must have a conflict but you want to make sure it's sufficiently small, you can request a cozy conflict and I'll give you something prompt-appropriate. Nothing super detailed, just a few words to get you started. This is optional.
If you would like some inspiration, you can also request a cozy picture, like the one I used for the prompt image. I don't have a repository of these. I'll just be looking around the internet for stuff I like. If you know there's a cozy whimsical luminous fantastical image you'd like to use, feel free to post it with your signup. This is also optional.
Again, I really don't care about big conflicts right now. I just want to chill out and read some stuff that's not super melodramatic.
Word limit: 800
Signup deadline: Friday the 13th at 11:59:59 PM PST
Submission deadline: Sunday the 15th at 11:59:59 PM PST
Just 12 weeks from now, Thunderdome will be putting on its 10th birthday party! We're going to try to make it something truly special.
There's a catch. It seems that in a decade of Thunderdome, the blood god has grown thirsty again. In the weeks leading up to Thunderdome's tenth birthday, we are going to try and post a total of at least 222 stories. If we can do this, the blood god will bless another ten years of Thunderdome!
There will be a dedicate post coming soon, but I wanted to get the ball rolling on this, because we're going to start counting stories...........................................................now.
|# ? May 9, 2022 22:34|
In. Gimme a pic.
|# ? May 9, 2022 22:37|
In, will take a cozy conflict
|# ? May 9, 2022 22:38|
I am in and will take a cozy conflict please.
|# ? May 9, 2022 22:48|
I'm a bit nervous because every time I touch this thread I lose, but I'm in.
|# ? May 9, 2022 23:15|
|# ? May 9, 2022 23:55|
Yeah, this sounds about my speed. In, with a
|# ? May 10, 2022 00:51|
I don't own the images I'm using and I'm shamelessly just pulling them off Google. If you know the original artist and feel like linking it, go for it.
I am in and will take a cozy conflict please.
Dropped items always end up in the weirdest spots
In, will take a cozy conflict
I can hear it, but I can't find it.
In. Gimme a pic.
|# ? May 10, 2022 03:24|
|# ? May 10, 2022 06:31|
In, I'll take a pic.
|# ? May 10, 2022 09:02|
Crits for Week #509
Albatrossy_Rodent - Gaby Baby:
I agree with T-Rex that the story isn’t well served by the choice of narrator.
It wouldn’t work for this specific story, but I wonder if picking a conflict that allowed you to age up your child protagonist a few years might work better? Right now, you’re not really leaning into the child’s voice at all, so it feels like a missed opportunity — but if you were writing from the viewpoint of an early teen, I feel like we’d get both more character in the voice, and more potential for some back-and-forth conflict between the past and future selves. (And early teens is definitely still rife with opportunity to “correct” experiences that led to long-term inhibitions and shame.) I’m not sure you need to switch narrator to the future self,
As it stands, the few times we get the first-person narrative, it reads more like stage direction: eg “Miss Sandy and all the girls in the summer school class are there. Lots of the girls are laughing. Miss Sandy shields her eyes.”
I like it, otherwise! I dig the idea and I appreciate the nod to, oh yeah, maybe I should try to avert a future catastrophe also, huh?
Uranium Phoenix - The Work:
This is … like, 99% of the way there, for me? And I say this as a fan of A Memory Called Empire, although I shamefully didn’t twig what was triggering recognition until you mentioned it in the Discord.
It falls apart for me a bit toward the end, which makes me think back to the beginning, and wish there was more rhyme in the structure. Senya refers to Sisyphus in a way that feels like it should be more relevant than a throwaway comment — is this an endless cycle for the characters? Did she attempt suicide because she’d been implanted with another mind, who drove her crazy in the ways she’s later shown to affect Gavin?
I like the nod at the end to the boss also getting the operation. I do wonder if perhaps this shouldn’t have been acknowledged by the characters themselves — if only Senya noticed the scar tissue, and knew what it meant.
Tars Tarkas - As I Went Down In The River...:
This veers a bit too close to a literal rendition of the prompt, for me. It feels like you took the ideas of a river, a crocodile, and religion, started telling one story, and then found the story you actually wanted to tell too late — because I do think that, outside of the sometimes slavish connection to the original prompt, there’s a really nice story here about trying to undo past mistakes. Which is a running theme this week, for some reason?
kaom - Court Case #TYR509 - Exhibit F:
Welcome to Thunderdome!
This is a bold debut, both massively under wordcount and structurally experimental. And I’ll be honest, it didn’t click with me on a first read. This is really the sort of piece I need to read at least twice to really appreciate, though even now I feel like I’m still missing something from it to really make the ending land.
Your concept seems solid and the structure works well in this story, but I really think you could have added some more detail and fleshed out the emotional core a bit more.
Antivehicular - Death and the Emperor:
Solidly written, and the framework around the story works well — I can see this as a worldbuilding aside in a dense fantasy novel, a lovely little self-contained tale that does wonders with so little. I like the switch to the second-person address at the end; I think there are enough hints in the story till that point that this is a story being told by one character to another, “my dear” etc.
Thranguy - Can't Fight the Flood:
One of the things about reading stories written by a geographically diverse group of people is that a lot of references go right over my head. So when I read “Krystals in Savannah” my mind went straight to “oh Thranguy is doing some weird worldbuilding and calling something Krystals, is this some SFF nonsense like the Sovh” and not “oh they used to kiss behind some chain restaurant, how cute”.
I do really like the story, though! I mean, it’s barely a story, definitely more a sketch of the end of days, but there’s a strong emotional core. I kind of wish you’d lingered a bit more on the idea of the raft, and why they stayed behind; for most of the story it seems like the protagonist is inexorably tied to Kevin, literally pulled out into the rain with him — but his accusation about the protag’s assertion the Sovh don’t lie, the “sore spot”, feels a bit out of place in this reading.
Sitting Here - big stick ideology:
Yep this was good, I liked this a lot. Everything about this story just feels, not just plausible, but obvious — if there really was a big stick holding up the sky, of course the village around it would celebrate it in festivals. Of course someone would get drunk and bump into it, and someone would become fiercely protective. And of course there are mushrooms that make you vomit ghosts. (I mean, out of everything in this story, that’s probably the least fantastic element.) It’s a well-considered story where I was constantly being both surprised by the inventiveness on offer, and satisfied by the sheer plausibility and sense of it all.
And this plausibility extends out, of course, to the characters, and the relationships between them. A lovely read.
Where the story fell apart a little bit for me is in the foreshadowing around stoplights, neon lights, airport tarmac. On a first read I wasn’t sure if, at this point, stoplights were something that existed elsewhere in this world, but this village was too old and untouched for progress. But on a second read I think it becomes clearer that the narrator only knows how to describe the lights because, in the present day of the telling, they can use the descriptors they’ve come to understand. (See also: “doughnut”. It feels almost too glib for the story, giving it a present-day feel which cheapens the imagery for me a little. I’d err for “torus”, but then, maybe this modern imagery is intentional?)
The man called M - Cat's still in the Cradle:
This is, I think, definitely your best story yet. There’s a solid emotional core to the story, there are characters with wants and needs, there’s conflict, and there’s a satisfying resolution. In many weeks this would not have lost.
I feel like there’s some missed opportunity around the treehouse. You set up the treehouse as being something that Jack and Nate worked on together; and then when Nate runs off, both Jack and Sara “knew that he went to the treehouse”. This is, of course, a completely natural assumption.
But what if you didn’t state it outright, and let your characters discover it on their own?
For me, I think it would be immensely more satisfying if, rather than immediately head out to the treehouse, Jack first went to Nate’s room — further establishing through his actions here that he’s not a very attentive father — and finds it empty. Maybe he wonders where his son is. But then he looks through the window, to the lit window of the treehouse. His son has gone to find refuge in the one place where he has happy memories of his father. Maybe Jack remembers something about them building it together. Maybe there’s a memory there—where Nate is excited to show the treehouse off to his friends, but Jack has to go to work—that he’s now re-evaluating. He goes up to see his son, and the rest plays out as it does.
That’s just an idea. Maybe it wouldn’t work. But I do feel there’s more potential here for you to show us how Jack’s failed as a father, and how he’s learned to make amends.
The Cut of Your Jib - Where the Rubber Meets the Road:
I have no idea what this story is about and I think you took about four half-drafts and smushed them together, but … I kind of dig it? It reads like it was fun to write. I’m not sure there’s much more to say. Much like Pegs’ work, I reckon this could’ve done with an extra read over for grammar and typos, but realistically this needed a few extra drafts to become a cohesive story.
|# ? May 10, 2022 11:35|
In, gimmie a pic.
|# ? May 10, 2022 13:15|
Thanks for the crits, Rohan!
Once again, I don't own these images. Most of them have watermarks from the artist so look them up if you like them
In, I'll take a pic.
In, gimmie a pic.
|# ? May 10, 2022 15:53|
|# ? May 10, 2022 16:08|
In. Picture, please.
|# ? May 10, 2022 16:18|
okay i'll do it.
i hope you have a nice relaxing and cozy weekend reading the stories, sh
|# ? May 10, 2022 18:15|
Since Sitting Here was before me, and Jib after, here are my crits for them.
Sitting Here-big stick ideology
This here is deep. Not the kind of crap you find in r/im14andthisisdeep, but actually deep. It seems like this is the kind of story where one might add, “You know what this says about society?” And it would fit. I could see why this won.
Only one real screw up at the end. (Ghosts like, was it supposed to be Ghost-like?)
Cut of My Jib-Where the Rubber Meets the Road
This, however, pissed me off. First of all, look at this sentence:
some idiot posted:
Vera and the Valkyries, leather vests with nametags and a custom embroidery that matched the professionally stenciled logo on their jet black matching Vespas, the were torment incarnate.
Who in blazes would look at that, and think, “Yeah, that’s a bloody good sentence, boy howdy!” Not even I would mess up like that! And this is freaking me we’re talking about!
Other than that, there were some Rentboy quality spelling errors (That didn't have the excuse the poster from the story gave.) that partially ruined an amusing story.
[some weird poo poo deleted by sitting here]
Somebody fucked around with this message at 05:33 on May 11, 2022
|# ? May 11, 2022 05:00|
Uh thanks for the crit, but your crit of Jib is pretty uncalled for. I'm going to edit out the last three lines because they aren't a crit, it's just a really weird and potentially upsetting thing to say.
|# ? May 11, 2022 05:32|
I'd like to be comfortable for once.
in, wrap me in a cozy picture blanket.
|# ? May 11, 2022 07:44|
I’m also in.
|# ? May 11, 2022 08:10|
I'm in, gimme a cozy pic.
|# ? May 11, 2022 18:33|
|# ? May 11, 2022 19:14|
| CHAIN CRITS!|
| CHAIN CRITS!|
| CHAIN CRITS!|
| CHAIN CRITS!|
| CHAIN CRITS!|
I thought this was one of the better concepts of the week, though it doesn't really go anywhere. Which is part of the concept, Senya didn't go anywhere, she was trapped in the same hell she tried to escape. It echoes the feeling of right now in history watching this planet go to pieces and not being able to do anything. This concept would work perfectly as part of a larger story (I read in one of the other crits it's inspired by a book on my to-read list, it also reminded me of a story set up as a wikipedia entry about a bootable consciousness), the good part about concepts is you can just do your own version of it and it will be radically different from others. Good stuff!
Court Case #TYR509 - Exhibit F
Awesome debut, love the format, did sort of remind me of some chat/IM based stories I read recently. Reread the beginning about halfway through as I started to get confused with the story flow (time travel or clones?) then got it after that. Ending felt rushed but as someone who works in research I've seen a lot of logs with similar terse writing (I do it myself if nothing weird is going on) Usually there are more unexplained terms in those logs that outsiders wouldn't understand, but this seemed like a combo journal/lab notebook so she may not do that. Enjoyed a bit of the vagueness as there are a few possibilities about Ryan which could go either way. Is it IBEX because that's close to TREX aka Tyrannosaurus? Good stuff!
My story trapped between two strong entrants is another reminder to up my game. Hope my crits weren't too useless, hard to give advice to already good stuff. I do like the chain crits thing and think it should be semi-perminent as a suggestion (not required)
|# ? May 11, 2022 20:21|
i think the beginning here is a bit flimsy. it works at what it needs to setup but i dont get much enjoyment out of it for its own sake, if that makes sense. theres a few neat things, namely the big stick, but i dont get much out of it except knowing that it will build into something, so it made the first read kinda boring. i dont think there's much to cut, but i feel like i need a bit more of the protag's personality here. they have an understanding of the sister, apparently, but i dont really feel that and i cant really get a feel for the protag here at the beginning. i just dont really feel like they have a voice in the sense where i feel like they are distinct. they feel kind of like a generic protag and i wanted more personality or distinction from them rather than being a mostly unbiased observer. i also want to like the part where she grows to hate her sister, but its very prefunctory. its just a tossed in line and i wished i got to see the protag grow into her distaste more esp when compared to the beginning where the protag was apparently very in-touch with her sister's emotions. i can understand why the protag would grow to dislike her sister, but i think it wouldve shown a lot about the protag if we got to see in what ways she grows to dislike her sister, how she expresses it, what specific words she uses (you use "jeer" and "torment" but those feel really unspecific to me). afterwards, i think the story progresses really nicely and i like most of it, and the ending is cool and neat, but i feel like if we had a stronger feeling for the sisterly bond (and the subsequent breaking or weakening of that bond), it would land a bit harder emotionally.
a man called m
Jake Gato remembered listening to the oldies on the radio. He was always amazed at how good the songs of yesterday were. Growing up, he would always be reminded of the songs of old, even those that weren’t old when he was young. One certain song that reminded him of his life was the 1974 Harry Chapin hit, “The Cat’s in the Cradle”. Not because he saw himself in the father in the song, but in the son.
while the beginning of this is incredibly bad, i see honest improvement here. you have a story here with characters wanting things and there being conflicts between them. i think you need to think about your characters more, though, and make them start to feel alive. they need a level of nuance, of feeling like people who have their own desires and traits and personality and that they have problems with themselves. think about Jake in this story and ask yourself why would Jake not be able to connect to his son? does he hold lingering trauma from his relationship with his dad? does he have difficulty just connecting with people in general? is his son more emotional and he's never had to deal with that? does his son have interests outside his own that make it difficult for him to understand his son? there's a myriad of reasons that you can choose that would be believable and meaningful and i think if you included something that made Joe more nuance, having a reason for his distance and working on himself to try and get past that issue, your story will move away from "dad just decides to be good" and becomes "dad struggles to become good despite who he is or what's happened." and the latter is much more interesting. i feel like you tried to do this with this set up of Joe, but it doesnt work because we dont see it. which gets into my other point:
show! instead of telling us Jake isnt there for Nate, show us! show us skipping his soccer games or not helping him with the treehouse because Jake has to go to work and show us Nate sitting in the school parking lot because Jake was late because he needed to pick up cigarretes but the gas station he went to didn't have his brand so he had to go to a different one and he lost track of time. you dont need to do these specifically, but theyre the kinds of things you should be showing. theyre interesting and tell us about the character and they push the story along. i dont want to see any details about anyone's food at dinner. show us the yelling, show us the argument, show us the reactions and how they affect Jake and Sara and Nate. Give us characters! Make us feel! I want to feel Jake as a bad father, I want to feel his pain of realizing that he's a bad father, and I want to feel him reconcilling or learning to be better. That's what stories are about (to me, at least)
|# ? May 12, 2022 00:30|
Thanks for the crit flerpo
As usual, pics do not belong to me. If there is a watermark, go check out the original artist! Also please note that if your image has an animal subject, that doesn't mean I necessarily expect you to write about animals (although that is certainly welcome). Likewise, if your image has a human subject, don't feel like you have to write about a human! The main thing is the vibe.
I'm in, gimme a cozy pic.
In. Picture, please.
I'd like to be comfortable for once.
|# ? May 12, 2022 00:46|
|# ? May 12, 2022 01:16|
Chain crits for week 509
ty previous critters
fair deuce that I'm especially bad at proofreading and editing so I'll leave those kinds of suggestions for more skilled hands.
Here are spitball crits: interpretations; questions and other things you made me think about while reading; suggestions I would make if we were writing collaboratively, which may or may not be good
Motivations: Young Gabe just wants a sense of normalcy and disruptions like finding your underwear missing can be challenging to a six-ish year old. Gabriel wants to prevent a childhood event that haunts him, but also STOP 9/11 in the same day.
*the italics speaking to Gabriel, vs. internal thought, vs. external speech were all clear and I was never confused so the structure there was successful.
Gabe is already on the path to some body issues, since his parents have instilled in him a sense that sex is a bad word, even if Gabriel didn’t rip into him about being naked and mentioning his tiny baby penis. There aren’t any indications on the tone Gabriel is using through this speech; it could be the time-traveler hurried exposition tone, real sympathy, Gabriel could be honestly laughing and see his past self as pathetic, or be full of spite. Given the sarcastic quips later, I’m inclined to think Gabriel was kind of making fun of little Gabe, and thinking himself past that point now that he’s got a perfect insight into his own psyche and encourages young him to be OK with being the butt of a joke, but it strikes me that Gabriel is immediately self-sabotaging.
To me, I think being called a baby is what would set a six-year-old off more than being naked, and they would push back on that (even to a voice in their head). The bullies certainly capitalize on it, and call him a baby more than they actually say Naky.
Somehow, Gabe isn’t self-conscious and ready to go in the hallway until older Gabriel’s intervention, and maybe part of that is Gabriel’s fault in that circular ironic time travel, Gabriel tells him he will be embarrassed, and thus will be.
Or not- since it’s mentioned in story, I guess BttF has one mutable timeline, but the Marty protagonist never changes a point that stops himself from time traveling, thus he always visited the past. Small changes like the Chuck Berry song don’t really Butterfly Effect his 1985 in a significant way. Did Gabe beating up that other kid change everything? Why? That’s an important question when time travel is brought in. Back to the Future rules have a little wiggle room, and things don’t have to be identical, Marty can change things so long as the important event happens properly. If future Gabriel is fading away, then something major changed. It did, but a traumatic event happened to Gabe in the exact same place at the exact same time, it was just the fighting happened too. So would Gabriel fade, or just suddenly feel the younger self’s anger?
I’m not too concerned really about the time travel rules except you bring them up in the story a few times, with an explicit nod to Back to the Future, so thinking about that is only natural. And there are interesting places you could go with it.
I mean, Psycho Gabe who went animal on Chris K isn’t much better than Naky Gaby. I’d go so far as to say there’s going to be more involvement with real authorities and psychologists and even the internal monologue indicates that there’s a bigger problem. Even if you take the most chauvinist boys will be boys fight, you’re expecting some wrestling and punching, but charging even a bully and biting and scratching them when defenseless is going to light up alarms in every teacher and school administrator for years to come. Young Gabe is actually worse off after being visited by future self. And if future self is vanished, then what happened, besides a weird time traveler suicide mission?
If it’s the parting advice from older Gabriel that actually makes the difference, then maybe older Gabriel should have been a little more aware about dealing with the six-year-old version and not put all that on him at the beginning.
Older Gabriel feels shame as the primary feeling he has from the moment he understood people were making fun of him. Young Gabe has a reservoir of anger that takes Gabriel by surprise. Gabriel just says it’s OK, don’t worry about it, getting in trouble doesn’t matter too much, but I think he says that because he doesn’t know what else to say. There’s something interesting there about either the repressed anger or a time travely reason why Gabriel doesn’t remember. Maybe not enough space or the purpose of this story to dig into recursive timelines or multiple Gabriels bouncing around the same day but the differences in young Gabe and older Gabriel are pronounced. Young Gabe doesn’t act like a chrysalis form of the older version. They’re pretty different aside from knowing about surface level stuff like when they were fans of Batman or dinosaurs.
At the end, they don’t even laugh the same. After running the gauntlet, Gabriel can come out an entirely different personality than his kid self, but it’s tough to change your natural laugh. You can fake it, sure, but this seems like a genuine moment. That could have been a good, if slightly corny, capper—Hehehe, butt. Some things never change.
So Gabriel gets access to a time machine, why didn’t he travel back an extra day or even an hour to either prevent Gabe from getting wet or hide an extra set of underwear in the bathroom? Gabriel arrives too late and the underwear are already stolen.
There wasn’t a problem with wearing the swim trunks a minute ago, so he could have instructed young Gabe to put them back on and go find a grown up.
OK, it’s a summer school water balloon fight, fine. And plausible in a small enough school that sixteen year old students would be in the same building with first graders. But how was Sandy somehow in charge without an actual adult around? If Sandy was there because she’s interested in elementary education, or even at any point had some babysitting experience I doubt she’d be shielding her eyes and stuff at a naked little kid. She’d get him a towel or something until they sorted it out. Oh yes, swim trunks but Gabe didn’t have a towel? There are some logistical questions about the setting. If you just needed a teenager to be embarrassed about it so adult Gabriel could remember it and feel embarrassed, then having Gabe wander naked into the wrong room in summer school could have done the trick and probably been more effective.
But this part is instead mixed with the 9/11 save the world bit. You don’t have to go down a conspiracy rabbit hole to know that information about the hijackers came out pretty early on, including the revelation that the CIA already knew about most of them, and some for years and years. I guess there are open questions on how much the FBI knew but if I had a couple hours and could only use my six-year-old brain to stop 9/11, then I’d probably take a different tack and not just throw it in as an afterthought while young Gabe’s in the middle of what Gabriel considers his life-defining moment. It’s not mentioned again. Once back in the bedroom, even. Say it with me, Gabe. Mohamed Atta, BOOM! FBI. Mohamed Atta, BOOM! FBI. And a kid saying a Muslim name in the 1990s over and over again with an explosion sound effect would definitely get noticed.
There are lots of other present day things I would want to tell my six-year-old self, some personal tragedy that has a much better shot at being prevented, or even pull a Biff and do some sports gambling. Superbowl winner and a year is easy enough for a kid to remember. Or forget about and get a feeling in twenty years. But time traveler Gabriel’s parting words of consciousness before fading away forever is gently caress off.
Like there could have been some ambiguity there if say, Gabriel goaded young Gabe into the fight, and said the only way to overcome this is to beat the snot out of Chris K. Then, wait a minute. Is this voice in this kid’s head really a time traveler? Or just a voice, not even like multiple personality, but the voice of all this kid’s impulses. I didn’t read the dream interpretation at first to just look at the story on its own. But going back to see if there was something in the dream log or the interpretation that you got hung up on, but it’s all pretty loose.
Then I saw that you made a conclusion that “villains are gym teachers.” Oh, so what if Chris K is actually the gym teacher and it’s like an abuse situation seen from the POV of a kid who doesn’t understand it. I don’t think that holds up, but cutting the 9/11 stuff and tweaking a few things here and there could make that interpretation a possibility.
Either way, the simple premise is sound. Kid gets humiliated, that haunts him for thirty he tries to fix it. Since we don’t have IRL time travel (probably), a Gabriel would have to move on through therapy/whatever. A young Gabe could have an internal monologue (for good or bad) that’s not from the future, or an ally in another student to talk to, or even a favorite toy, and resolve or fail to resolve his bully crisis (because I think the fight actually made things worse, no matter what future Gabe says). It’s just the story announces itself immediately but hardly deals with any possible shenanigans. It’s just a device to have future perspective, and that could have been accomplished with just an unexplained phenomenon that doesn’t have the baggage: There’s a ripple in the air and I realize I’m not in Kansas anymore. This is my old school. Hello? Who’s in my head? Is this me when I was six? I’m six. Holy crap.This is the day Chris K stole my underwear. I’m in my younger self’s head. I can change things.
Can't Fight the Flood
Motivaations: Kevin-on the surface, physical survival with the person he wants to be with, but also confronting loneliness in an increasingly isolated world
Narrator-whether this is a world they want to be in, confronting doubt in authority
The interesting bit about ‘people just being people’ to me is that after second flood, people still want to make appeals to the virtue of something they know two things about : it’s destroying human civilization. And it lies.
Schemes to thwart the Sovh failed, so pleas for mercy from an unknowable morality are next. When the people are steering the rafts into them, it seems like an odd way to put it that 'it was all anyone could think to do.' Especially with the smug linguist at the end, I would guess there’d be quite a bit of religious fervor around space angels. Immediately, and probably before a linguist, translations would be coming from preachers from every pulpit and street corner.
Instead of the shrug about the rafts, people could literally be going into the light, thinking the beams will provide communion with the higher beings. And there are already UFO kooks, and coupled with those predisposed to metaphysical belief either trying to fit aliens into their belief structure or flipping to a new space angel cult, I’d wager most of the first rafts were some sort of zealots, one way or another.
Nevermind that linguistics can be a fuzzy discipline and what if the official scientific translation was wrong. It’s a touchy subject for our survivors, but Kevin could have offered that rationalization up especially since he wants his love to carry on beside him, when they both know people who chose to go.
Of course, our protag, who thought and is still thinking about giving up, seems more on the rational side, and hanging ten into a space laser is probably more merciful than watching the planet slowly drown. Kevin does play a guilt card towards the end. Survive, for me. It isn’t like an existential kind of dread or depression, which even in that case would be a long discussion, but in the scenario where humanity faces its end, is suicide inherently selfish? If it was just a fleeting thought, sure, Kevin can be excused, but the way the narrator frames it, this question has been bouncing around in their head for a while, Kevin knew it, but they never talked it through.
Maybe some physical location details would help make a case quickly. Since it’s pretty close to the ocean, I’m guessing Savannah, Georgia, and maybe they escaped farther inland as the waters rose, but without space magic, I don’t think the Blue Ridge or any of the Appalachians would ever be under water. And if it is some terraforming project that will make a 100% ocean world, then it’d be nice to know how far along it is and how much time they have left so a couple could decide to make the most of trying to survive as long as they can and the reader knows if they have a shot.
The narrator wears glasses, but they’re washed clear at the start. When Kevin says to come with him, his eyes go serious, like eyes of twin hurricanes. This makes me imagine danger swirling around Kevin, and maybe narrator should go their own way. For example, His eyes go calm, like eyes in twin hurricanes, that makes me think Kevin is the safer option. Kevin is resolved and not conflicted about what he wants, so the storm imagery feels a little off to me. And maybe the glasses bit is just a little flavor at the beginning, but the narrator can see clearly and by the end they’re going along with what Kevin wants in their passions and their glasses are too rained out to see anything. I feel like I’m supposed to feel a bit hopeful at the end, but when the glasses motif bookends the story in the opposite way that I’d expect, it stood out.
And a minor comment about the building, I’m a northerner, but there’s a man made reservoir around here with a house in the middle of it that’s been there since the 1940s. Savannah’s in a flood plain, hurricane area and talking about sea level abatement, so I don’t know if just being flooded would collapse an apartment. Maybe an indicator that they are farther inland where things aren’t so weatherproofed, or just change it from the water level to, like, it won’t last much longer with these waves hitting it. Maybe I’m off about quick and dirty construction around there and you can school me by the Krystals sackful.
The protestor. I’m struggling that any eminent domain claim in the US would be authorized for apartments over a detached house. I dunno, it conjures a lot of questions about US housing, and Kevin knows about this specific building and devotes like 100 words out of a 600 word story to it. If it were a disdainful ‘luxury condos’ instead of apartments maybe, or the bank repo’d and sold the lots out from under them, you could say “At least, the property developers aren’t space angels” and generate sympathy for a home owner trying to stop an apartment block from going up, since that seems like a net positive to me.
If this is a 1-to-1 about terraforming so aliens can move in, maybe I’m just thinking too hard about it, but that also makes me think about the messages themselves. Like if aliens arrived to terraform the earth, it’d probably be closer to Hitchhiker’s Guide where they just don’t say a word and do their thing unless they're purposefully cruel.
[there's something about the they/our in the messages that I can't put my finger on. Like the aliens wrote and encoded them in the POV of the (priests/linguists?) rather than a direct message: When they say this is for our benefit, we must not disagree. It's clearly intentional, and even if the smug linguist is filling the role of a priest/secular religion here, I still don't know why the aliens make these pronouncements or what they get out of it]
But I find some meta-purpose to them. As I read through them, it seems like a pretty good analogy for any sort of inequality or marginalization (or worse) and an indifferent response to it, especially by those with the levers of power, but really pops on real climate change with the environmental upheaval just thrown in your face.
|# ? May 12, 2022 15:46|
|# ? May 12, 2022 17:38|
|# ? May 12, 2022 20:48|
Week 510 Entry
Living the Dream
Zari pulled up to Metropolitan Mercy and sighed as she glanced up at her ID badge on her mirror. The smile that looked back at her was the professional expression she had grown weary of wearing. Through high school, college, and grad school, the smile was an obnoxious sidekick that guaranteed each step forward to this: a good, yet grueling, job.
She grabbed the badge, hooked it onto her white coat, and left her car. The frigid wintry air stung her face as she pulled her jacket tight. She rushed across the parking lot and through the main entrance of the hospital.
"May I help you?" A cheerful man behind the desk looked up over his TV guide.
"Zari Daniels," she said as she curled her lips up. "I'm the new overnight hospitalist."
He tilted his head toward the elevator.
The doors opened and out walked Dr. Marion, the woman who hired her.
"Zari! So glad to finally have you on board. Come on," she said as she turned around. "I'll show you your office."
They stepped into the elevator together. Dr. Marion pushed the '8' button.
"Excited to get started?" Dr. Marion asked.
"Of course!" Zari squeezed through her teeth. "This is going to be a great experience."
"Now that's the kind of attitude we need around here. Someone who will go the extra mile you know? Sacrifice a little."
"I'll be honest with you," Dr. Marion continued. "This isn't the most glamorous position. But try and think of it as a stepping stone to greater things."
Another stepping stone, Zari sighed.
The elevator opened and Dr. Marion exited and pointed toward the end of the hall.
“Last door on the left. When you get settled, call extension 730. That’s Dr. Zaheer. He’ll give you your marching orders.”
Zari nodded and walked off. She arrived at the back corner of the 8th floor and opened the door.
It was less an office and more like a dormitory. One that resembled something like the ones she used to live in when she was grinding her way through undergrad and barely stopped to rest.
A bed sat under a window and the dusk light cast a cool glow on the folded beige blanket and crisp white pillow that sat atop it. A door to an adjoining bathroom was slightly ajar and the noise from the fan hummed softly and filled the room with a gentle thrumming.
Zari put her things on the bed and re-opened the door, which had shut. She couldn’t find a doorstopper, so she wadded up some paper towels and stuck them underneath it.
Even if you’re not busy, look busy, her father’s words echoed in her head as she sat down at the desk.
Almost immediately, there was a knock on the door.
“Ma’am?” It was the night custodian.
“Yes!” Zari turned and greeted him.
“Gotta keep this closed, OK? Security protocol.”
He removed the paper towels and walked off. The door closed and Zari's shoulders loosened as her smile rested. She examined her surroundings. There was a hot water kettle on the desk and a small selection of tea next to it. Mentally, she selected a satchel of Lemon Zing. She picked up the phone, dialed extension 730, and asked:
"What would you like me to do?"
"Rest up." Dr. Zaheer sounded from the phone. "We'll call you when we need you."
Zari's mouth fell open for a second as she swiveled in her chair and looked at the bed. "How uh," she stammered. "How often might you usually need me?"
"Oh, once a night maybe. Gotta run, go ahead and get settled."
The phone clicked off on the other end and Zari hung up. She rolled her chair over to the bed and patted the threadbare hospital blanket.
It was the softest thing she had ever felt.
She wheeled back to the desk and turned the kettle on. A light rattling stirred inside the kettle as the element warmed. She opened the tea box and selected a decaf tea, knowing that she would never even get to it.
She walked over to the bed, lied down, and pulled the blanket over herself. The sun was nearly done with its course for the day and only a sliver of purply pink peeked out over the horizon. She rested her hand on the sill and admired the view. She felt warm air envelop her forearm as she realized the bed was right next to the heating unit for the room.
Some slippers, was her last thought, definitely need some slippers.
The hot water heater clicked off and Zari fell fast asleep.
|# ? May 13, 2022 05:22|
As many of you are aware, Thunderdome's 10th birthday is this August. What does that mean? It means that while the last decade was busy farting in its own mouth, we were busy churning out upwards of ten million words. loving look at these numbers:
We have written through every major event of the last decade. Think about that. A bunch of storytellers supporting each others' crafts through fear and sadness and uncertainty that many of us couldn't have imagined in August of 2012.
But the gods of Thunderdome are hungry! As we near the beginning of a new decade of Thunderdome, the blood gods demand a great bounty. To assist us in this venerable duty, they have given us THE BLOOD-O-METER*
In accordance with the gods' wishes, I must insist that Thunderdome produce 222 stories between this week and the Thunderdome week ending July 31. Every single story will fill the Blood-o-Meter with delicious blood!
I don't think I need to describe what will happen if we fail. And if we succeed? Well, to be honest, the year ten birthday week is still in the works. I can promise you that we will do something extraordinarily cool if Thunderdome succeeds. The current plan is to create some genuinely commemorative stuff. I'll provide more information when we're closer to the date.
The bloodcount starts this very week! So if you're reading this post before 11:59:59PM PST on Friday the 13th, do consider signing up and ensuring the prevention of our future demise, now!
*Image by Tyrannosaurus, stupid name by me. I don't even have a defense because people gave me better name suggestions.
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 08:29 on May 13, 2022
|# ? May 13, 2022 08:15|
Are we just doing brawls or is there a specific prompt? Or just the normal prompts?
|# ? May 13, 2022 14:18|
Week 510 Entry
Rainwater ran down the blown-out edge of the tiny dagger inked under Ben’s left eye. His clothes were soaked and the daily ritual of aimlessly wandering the worst parts of Tacoma looking for any place he would go unnoticed for the night felt like climbing a mountain. Frenchie had hopped a bus a few weeks back to San Fran, and Matt left yesterday after he said he called his mom and she wanted him back home. Now it was just Ben.
The neighborhood looked abandoned. He crept into an alley between two houses, lowering himself against the siding. He tried to find a comfortable position for his head against the buckles and wet canvas of his bag. Embraced by wet earth, his eyes began to flutter closed.
He was up and grabbing his bag before he really was aware, hurt-dog memory taking over, pushing toward the street on cramping legs.
Ben stopped. She sounded like his grandma. He turned, seeing she even looked like a grandma – grey hair, floral dress, wool sweater, glasses. She stood on the steps of her back porch, one hand stretched out and held low, a gesture of calm. Golden light from her kitchen radiated behind her.
“Are you okay?”
She couldn’t know it was a bullet, aimed at his vulnerable, secret hope. Hope that now flared in his heart, making his eyes sting. He looked back up the street, into the rain, the road stretching off into infinite darkness. The woman stepped off the porch, hand still raised.
She asked again. “Are you okay?”
Ben nodded this time, clutching his bag. He took a step forward; the woman remained motionless, waiting. Eventually they were just a few feet apart.
She looked him up and down. “Do you want to come in? Just for a bit?”
He stood dripping water all over her floor. The kitchen was plain, with laminate counters and appliances from the 80s, but the familial setting felt alien to him. He wasn’t sure where to put his hands, and he grimaced when she had left him alone in the room.
Her name was Pam, and she had asked a few questions, got his name, but didn’t seem put off when he clammed up after that. He stared the photographs on the wall, where Pam stood smiling next to a progressively older boy.
A few minutes later she returned, handing him a towel. “There’s a bathroom at the end of the hall, and if you go into the bedroom on the left, you’ll find some clothes after you shower.” She spoke in the urging, no-nonsense tones of a mom.
The shower was a rebirth. He cocooned himself in purifying steam, enjoying the clean smells of soap and shampoo and watching months of filth wash down the drain. In the bedroom, he found worn flannel pajama pants and a faded blue t-shirt with the Mariners logo. The feel of clean clothes on scrubbed skin made him wonder if he might be dreaming.
The living room was dark except for the glow from a robust fire. Pam was in a recliner, eyes closed, gently rocking. Ben sat on the couch, eying a plate of cheese and crackers accompanied by a steaming mug of hot chocolate on the coffee table. The couch was the kind with deep cushions. The temptation to roll to his side and sleep was overwhelming.
“Go on. It’ll get cold.” She still hadn’t opened her eyes.
The mug looked like it was made by a child, simple crockery with a hand-painted tulip. He sipped, listening to the flames’ low crackle.
“Is that your son in the pictures?”
He waited what felt like minutes, wondering if maybe it was a mistake to ask. Pam opened her eyes then, meeting Ben’s. The lines in her face looked deep in the firelight.
“Yes. His name was Peter. He went to Afghanistan.” There was no need for more. Ben continued to eat until the food was gone. The evening passed in silence. The awkwardness he felt in Pam’s kitchen melted away. His head found the pillow and he watched Pam continue to rock, warm as he could remember.
“Ben? Do you want to talk? About why you’re out here?”
It was perhaps too soon, too familiar, risking too much, but she couldn’t stop herself.
“May I give you a hug?”
Ben sat up, his face flushed, his chest buzzing.
She sat forward and opened her arms, face drawn tight with her need, a need they shared. He rose from the couch, letting his hope carry him away. Folding his gangly teenage frame into Pam’s lap, he pressed his face into the soft wool of her shoulder. Pam hugged him close.
“Oh, my boy,” she murmured, “my boy.”
|# ? May 13, 2022 14:55|
|# ? Dec 10, 2022 05:42|
Are we just doing brawls or is there a specific prompt? Or just the normal prompts?
You looking for trouble, friend? Cos if you're looking, look no further. I will get mad for no reason and talk as much crap about you, myself, anyone or anything if need be.
|# ? May 13, 2022 14:59|