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The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Tarot: The Hanged Man
8th and Main: A Jake Malone story.
753 words

Back in the day, I heard a song by a band named Megedeth called “Peace Sells”. I always looked at the title and the same thought would always cross my mind.

Bull loving poo poo.

If peace really did sell, we would’ve had it a long time ago. The only real peace one could truly have is the peace within themselves. There was this one gal I met, whom I still wonder to this day if she ever found it.

I was over in the Bronx for a job, asked to look into a man named Jimmy Tweed. He claimed to be an ancestor of Boss Tweed, the head of the old Tamanny Hall. I looked into his home over on 8th and main, and drove over there, hoping to get some info from the man himself. It was when I got there that I first met her.

Jackie O’brien was the kind of girl that she seemed like she might’ve been a servant for Tweed, but didn’t have the appearance of one. An average looking girl with an average looking build. She didn’t seem like the kind of person working for someone like Tweed. Soon after, I started talking to her.

“Hello. I’m here to see Mr. Tweed?”

“Oh, he’s not here at the moment. May I tell him you were here?”

“No, no need.” I figured she might have some information, so I pressed on. “Jake Malone, Private Eye. Could I ask you a few questions?”

“Uh…sure?” She seemed quite nervous.

“How are you associated with Mr. Tweed?”

“Though I don’t look like it, I take care of the house while Mr. Tweed is gone.”

“Really! Does he pay you?”

“Oh, he doesn’t pay me, I just work for him out of obligation.”

The way she said it confused me. “What kind of obligation?”

“I…” she paused for a moment. “Excuse me a moment, I’ll be right back.” She left the room. From what I heard, it sounded like she was going upstairs.

Curious, I looked close by for some stairs. When I found some, I went up. I faintly heard a baby crying. Going closer, I saw Miss O’Brien with said baby. She was shocked when I came, then quickly calmed down.

“Mr. Malone,” she said. “Meet my obligation.”

She explained to me what was going on. She had the child under wedlock, and the father was none other than Jimmy Tweed. I put all the pieces together. Except for one.

“Mr. Tweed, does he do all of this out of love?

“Not at all,” Jackie said. “He threatened to expose me, and make it so, as he says it, ‘all of New York will know i’m a whore’.”

“Let me guess, he threatened to kill you if you exposed that he was the father?”

“That’s exactly right, Mr. Malone,” a man’s voice said from behind me. “And now you must die.”

It was a big man in a suit. He had an aura of corruption, and was holding a gun. I knew exactly who it was.

“You must be Jimmy Tweed.”

“Come now, old boy,” Tweed said. “drat near everyone in New York has heard of me!” I knew he was running for mayor, but that was about it.

“Do you consider Miss O’Brien a threat to getting elected?”

Tweed laughed. “Threat? I already own New York!”

In an act of desperation, Jackie ran out with her child and went upstairs. Both Tweed and I followed her. She was up on the roof, close to the edge.

“I’m so sorry Malone,” she said. “I thought you could help me. But now I know you can’t! No one can!” and in an act of desperation, she jumped off the roof, her serene face looking towards me while jumping.

Tweed ran back inside, heading downstairs. I started to follow. When I started to go through the door, a man stopped me. I recognized him as the NYPD’s commissioner.

“Where in the hell do you think you’re going?” he asked.

“Where’s Tweed?” I said.

“Hold on, buddy!” The Commissioner said. “I was brought in by Mr. Tweed so you wouldn’t bother him anymore!”

Tweed was right. He already had control of New York. I was playing a losing game from the start.

“Now, let’s take you home, okay?”

As I left Tweed’s home, I was haunted by Jackie’s expression when she fell. It seemed so peaceful. Perhaps she found peace within herself? Whether she did or not, it was too late to tell.


Apr 12, 2006

sephiRoth IRA posted:

Your Inner Guide Speaks:


An old man, carrying a staff, The Hermit is associated with earth, and the planet Mercury. The Hermit carries a lantern, the light of introspection, of study, and suggests you meditate on your path forward. Seek solitude and search your soul.

Ninkyō Dantai
1000 words

As the man spoke, I could see the edges of the gangster tattoos on his chest. He hadn’t buttoned his shirt all the way to the neck. He was a hand talker, too, and he gestured I could catch glimpses of something in a holster under his arm. A butcher knife, probably. Maybe a pistol.

“-so, yeah, I decided after that that I needed to cut my long, beautiful hair, you know? It was such a liability in a fight. I take a razor, schp, schp, schp, shave it off. And what do the guys do? First they call me Hollywood because of my hair and then I take it off and they call me… Little Priest! How funny is that? Bunch of jokers. Great guys! I mean, why do you join an organization like this if not to have a little fun? And look at me now! Chatting with a real priest in a real Buddhist temple! Wow!”

In my mind, I tried to conjure the words of the nenbutsu... but I was filled with such rage! I’d never felt such rage! The calligraphy brush trembled between my fingers. My temple had been corrupted!

“You shouldn’t be here,” I said.

Little Priest paused. “I have an appointment.”

“With Takumi Kudo?”

Takumi Kudo. The boss of one of the most bloody families. Arrested, charged, on trial, definitively guilty, and the government let him become a monk! Saving taxpayers dollars, they said. I’m sure there were multiple generous donations to numerous campaigns to allow such a deal. Including one to my temple. And it filled. Me. With. Rage.

“Hey, buddy, buddy,” Little Priest said. “That is not his name anymore. He is a monk. Use his monk name. Don’t be rude.”

“He is not a monk. He is a criminal boss. And you are a criminal. And you are here to do crime. And you are in a temple and that is very, very wrong!”

“You are extremely rude for a Buddhist. You know that right?”

Unable to control myself, my hands clenched into fists and I accidentally snapped the brush. The tip fell onto the page, splattering ink over the name of the Buddha. Little Priest’s eyes widened. Then he grinned, reached over, and tugged on my robe, peering at my skin.

“Ah! What were you before you joined the temple? I don’t see any tattoos!”

I smacked his hand away. “I was a boxer.”

“I can see it.” He shadowboxed a few punches. “With your height, your frame, you could do some real damage, I bet.”

“I didn’t like hurting people.”

“Who does?”

He smiled again and pulled out a cigarette. “Do you mind?”


He shrugged and lit it anyway. “I don’t like hurting people,” he said. “I mean, I do it. A lot. But I don’t like it. It’s a job, you know? Like you being a boxer.” He exalted a stream of smoke into the air. “I bet, if we met when we were younger, we would have been good friends. Maybe best friends.”

I shook my head. He didn’t seem to notice.

“Oh, what’s the line from that American musical?” he asked. “Rent. You seen it? No? Oh, right, you live in a temple. It’s very good! I’ve seen it live twice.” He snapped his fingers. “‘No day like today!’ Let’s start today. Being friends.”

“I’m not going to be your friend.”

Little Priest gave me a disappointed look. “You are so rude for a Buddhist. You should talk to the head of the temple about that. I’m sure it is going to interfere with your enlightenment.”

I wanted to punch him in the mouth. Punch him and not stop until his face was a red smear across the floor. And then go to Takumi Kudo with my bloody knuckles and do the same. I desired it! I took a breath. I summoned my mantra.

I take refuge in the Tathagata of Unobstructed Light Suffusing the Ten Directions.

“Hey, buddy,” Little Priest said. “Do you want this? You look like you could use it.”

I opened my eyes and the cigarette was inches away from me. There was no religious restriction to smoking. But I gave it up when I joined. That was eleven years ago. But I thought, better this than violence. And I took it. And I breathed deep. The buzz was immediate and refreshing and good.

“Nice, right?” he said. “I rolled it myself. Cheaper than if you buy a pack at the store. Better, too, if I do say so myself.”

A gangster in a suit stepped into the room and motioned for Little Priest to follow. Little Priest patted my shoulder and said, “Enjoy it. I’ve got a whole pack.”

I couldn’t find peace after that. For the next several weeks, I watched in anger as gangsters traipsed through the holy temple, meeting with Takumi Kudo at all hours. Kudo himself sauntered through the rooms like he owned the place, tattoos bared, a cigarette in hand. I smelled liquor on him. I confronted the head priest, explained my emotions, my rage, my fear of corruption, and got only a sad smile and a weak explanation that: ‘this is how it is now.’

I quit. And no one tried to stop me. That hurt more than anything. I just wanted to know if one person cared the way that I did. No one said a word. As I was walking out the door, my meager collection of belonging in a box under one arm, I bumped into Little Priest.

“You’re leaving?” he asked. “Did I sell you on Rent? No, it doesn’t open for another month…”

“I quit.”

“Ah, well, it’s not for everyone right?”

I didn’t respond. Little Priest wrapped his arm around my shoulders.

“You know what, buddy? You look like you could use a drink! When was the last time you had a drink?”

“Eleven years ago.”

“C’mon! I know a place!”

With his arm around my shoulder, he led me down the sidewalk. I looked back at my temple, a piece of antiquity nestled in the shadow of modern skyscrapers, and I stared until we turned a corner and it disappeared from view.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

A nasty woman, I think you should try is, Jess.

Tarot card – Death

Welcome To The Eternal Empire - 992 words

Hextember 13, 631 (Year of Dog)

The town alarm rang and Billward Batson rushed as fast he could. The war had long ago required all of Mapleton’s horses, he and the rest of the townsfolk arrived on foot (except for Old Coot who rode his mule, Betsy.) Billward had a sickly hand that kept him from being impressed to serve like his brothers, but he would still defend the town from raiders. Instead, he found the town council standing glum before goblish dignitaries in Central Park. Runners were sent to gather the stragglers, but by then the rumors had spread. The Kingdom had fallen, the Undying One had taken the capital and the barons were swearing fealty one by one. When the lead goblish spoke, many of the eyes were shedding tears.

“The Undying One welcomes you to the Eternal Empire! Life will continue as normal with only a few changes. As a welcome present, taxes are suspended for the rest of the year. Prisoners of war and members of surrendering armies will return home, barring a few important officers. The draft your former king operated is ended. The Empire will be protected by volunteers, criminals, and animated dead. Humans, goblish, trolls, and krasue all now have equal rights, discrimination is punishable by impression into military service. Speaking ill of the Undying One or in favor of the deposed royal family is treason and is punishable by death, with the corpse to be animated for Imperial defense. Eternal glory to the Undying One!”

Billward had no loyalty to the crown, the soldiers confiscating his horses had ended that. He did hope to see his brothers again, though poor Eddward died of blue plague in the winter. Some of the goblish remained in Mapleton to help the reorganization, but none ventured out to the Batson farm.

Mrelsh 5, 633 (Year of Oxen)

As had become the dedicated time, the lead goblish speaker read the Spring Pronouncements to the gathered townsfolk. Billward stood aside Jimward, his only brother who returned. Formerly a gregarious speaker, now Jimward only stared ahead in silence, occasionally mumbling to himself while rocking back and forth.

“The Undying One sends their wishes for a bountiful planting season! Due to recent incursions from the Free Splendor Kingdom, military volunteers are encouraged. Report any suspicious sightings of magical beings to the proper Imperial authorities. Imperial officials will initiate the public education system in autumn. All future job placement and advancement will be due to merit, not inheritance. Discover your future today! While worship of the Luminous Goddess is not banned, it is discouraged while that deity favors our enemies. Please explore options at the Night Eternal Temple. Eternal glory to the Undying One!”

After the pronouncements, there was the usual feast and festival. Billward finally worked up the courage to ask Liz to dance.

Mrelsh 7, 641 (Year of Rat)

Billward held his youngest as his two boys rough-housed as they waited for the Spring Pronouncements. Liz was at the new hospital, recovering from blue plague. She and half the town would have died were it not for the goblish doctors. Billward was uncomfortable around them at first, but the troll he hired a few seasons ago made plowing and harvesting more efficient. Liz even talked him into seeing Dr. Scrabbin about his lame hand, some medicine and dark magic later, Billward had full use of his left hand again.

Outside of a captured Free Splendor spy, most pronouncements were public works being initiated or improved.

Mrelsh 6, 664 (Year of Frog)

Billward’s eldest was now a doctor at the very hospital he was birthed at, with a few kids of his own. His middle son was even dating a nice goblish lady, a nurse at the hospital, while he finished medical apprenticeship. His daughter Melle was accepted to the capital university in the fall, some sort of magical science study that just made Billward’s head spin.

The troll machines had more than tripled harvest, Billward would be able to hire two more hands next season and just relax. It would be great to spend more quality time with Liz.

The Free Splendor Kingdom was making noise again, the King’s eldest son declaring the Luminous Goddess had anointed him to destroy the Undying One. The goblish mayor tried to downplay the risk, but Mapleton was in a border province and would be setting up defenses just in case. There would be some reanimated defenders on patrol, Billward would never feel easy around them. Hopefully they weren’t anyone he knew.

Fawntobre 17, 667 (Year of Dragon)

Mapleton burned. The survivors were corralled in Central Park by the Free Splendor forces. Their king’s son was making a speech about how Mapleton was now free from tyranny. The nobility system was being reinstated, all commoners in professional jobs were to be executed for heresy. Billward only knew the fate of his daughter-in-law, who threw herself down the well to avoid the excesses of the invaders. His wife and two sons were not among the gathered survivors, he heard his wife scream as the farmhouse was aflame and hoped her death was quick.

Jimward had spoken for the first time in decades as he laid dying, telling Billward he loved him and to make it count. Billward had managed to smuggle along a knife. He was no fighter, knew he would die but perhaps he could kill the ranting fighter, the son of the king. He was still too busy ranting to pay attention to the crowd.

He got close enough for a glancing blow, a scratch in the ribs. The hero even laughed as he struck Billward down with an ax. The last thing Billward heard was “Throw the survivors in the temple and burn it to ash.” He’d never learn the hero’s wound turn infected. Billward was dressing a chicken with the knife when the attackers came, he had no time to clean it.

Apr 21, 2010

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

Prompt:The Emperor
882 words

To: <Jan>
From: Aa777@ZeroZero.drop <Aaron>
Subject: The Caesar of Port Galveston

In downtown Galveston, right in front of the constantly under construction City Hall, there is a statue in bronze of Hector Allisandre, the dock worker who noticed something wrong with the tags on container 646 off of the Ebon Sparrow, and, by doing so, prevented what would have been the first act of nuclear terrorism. Had the device detonated as planned the town and port would have been rendered uninhabitable for a century's, with uncountable casualties, according to both the plaque and the article linked by the virtual tag, so it must be true.

What you don't get in the virtual tour, what you have to come here to see, is the back of the statue, which has had the word 'narc' graffitied across the back of bronze Hector's union jacket, written and washed off so many times that even when the paint isn't there the word is still readable in the parts of the statue that are shiny rather than dull.

This is the kind of place your big brother found himself spending February in. At least it wasn't July.

I came here to speak to Hector. The real one, not the bronze. He's not an easy person to get in touch with, understandably. Doesn’t do interviews any more. Unlisted numbers, private address, and the local P.I.s won't even take your money. Most hung up when I mentioned the name. Some cursed or threatened me first. But you know I couldn't leave it alone.

So, when you need to cut through the obstacles, I've always found the best course is to find the person in charge. Really in charge, not nominally. When in Rome, go find Caesar. The local Caesar has the right name, August 'Augie' Snipe. An oilman who moved hard out of fuel and into plastics at the exact right time. A lot easier to find, easier to get a few minutes with, if you have my resume at least.

"So you want me to get you in touch with old Hector," said Augie. He insists on the nickname. I think it's some weird power move. "We're not exactly on speaking terms, you know."

"I know that there's not much you can't make happen with a text," I said.

"Could be, could be," he said. "And why do you want to see him? You don't mean the man harm, do you?"

"No," I said, choking back a 'sir' that I'm sure would have cost me points and got me an I-work-for-a-living. "I just have a few questions."

"You think you can get him to remember something all the guys from the letter agencies couldn't? Something that slipped all the reporter's minds?" He was strangely calm as he said that.

"Maybe," I said. "I've been investigating-"

"Your mother," he said. I affected a little bit of surprise. "I do my research. Other side of the country, but she vanished the same day." One year and four months before Christmas.

"It's a very busy day," I said. I didn't need to say more, to point out that it was the day Augie made a series of stock moves that, by year's end, added two zeroes onto his net worth. I knew, he knew I knew, and so on.

"Bet you've got quite the corkboard," he said. "Lots of different kinds of string. Like to see it sometime."

"Virtual," I said. "I sometimes use them professionally too. Maybe I'll show you when it's done."

"I expect you mean to pay me in trade, that right?" I nodded. "Tell you what. I'll have one of my people take you out to Platform Eight. Take what time you need and write up the report. If you find two things my security guys don't already know about I'll set up your meeting."

I took my time, gave a full week workup. It wasn't a great time; I've never liked being at sea and a drilling platform isn't much better than a boat, seasickness-wise. Can't say much more without breaking the NDA, but Augie said I found three unknown vulnerabilities in their system. My guess is it was more like five, but you've got to let Caesar save face.

After that, I got my interview. Hector was wary at first, but he relaxed a little when he learned I spoke Spanish for real, honestly acquired Mexican Spanish and not the laggy unnatural cadences of real-time machine translation, and a little more when I started asking my questions.

I didn't get everything I needed, but I did get something. I'll tell you in person if I can get back there around your Spring Break. For now, I know where I need to go next. Italy, here I come.

To: <Jan>
From: Aa777@ZeroZero.drop <Aaron>
Subject: Do Not Reply

Was not aboard plane, bugged out when the story hit the news. Obviously not suicide. Obviously not coincidence. Shutting down this address permanently. Next one may go straight to spam so keep an eye out. You'll know it when you see it.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

Week 512 Submission

Prompt: The Devil

Masques Off
570 words

What, is there none of Pygmalion's images, newly made woman, to be
had now, for putting the hand in the pocket and extracting it clutch'd?
-Measure for Measure (Act III, Scene II, 1555), William Shakespeare?

Funeral of Ralph Crane, King's Men scribe, in small London Apartments


Were we to live on, some pen must record
Our faintest scratch in the noblest of blood.
The spear of kings honed in the glint of heav’n
And the staves of fell-composed rogues polished
In the shivering dark. The scribe’s hand flowing
O’er innocent sheaves, steady as it smooths
Each pulpy vein and leaves the parchment taut,
Ready to such receive soulful gifts.
So he did willingly, for a score of years,
Swallowing the words departed Willy
Thrust upon him with hearty appetite.

Middleton, you knave, the goodwife’s right here.
Hold your tongue firmer at least for the hour.
Keep your good sense clean, and when tavern-bound
Unlatch the rusty porthole and release
The tawny Thames upon the devils ‘lo.
I’ll pinch my nostrils whilst you loose your steady stream.

Apologies for sorry words, goodwife,
Old habits remain difficult to mend.
Nary another wimple from this lout.
Uncloister thine country ears from city shouts.
I shall lay Middleton’s thick tongue to rest,
And lift thy grim spirit as we raise our cups.

Crane, we monikered that glorious beak,
Plunging headwise into murky waters
Angling like the preternatural where
The trout jump and culling languid minnows.

Now whose deft tongue seeks the bawd I wonder?
Though I shant weep if the robed Sister’s
eye dampens like the mer-kin of the deep
Rending her penitent haircloth asunder.

Prefix’d twelve years by the bard of Avon,
He rejoins the friend, the good fisherman
Who wove flaxen rope to tales tall and caught
Crane in his sonnet. He was friend to all.

The tailor’s son was deft of cut with shears,
Measure for Measure equal’d Shakespeare
Shaping from whole cloth the patterns divine,
And excising the scrap of wasted lines.
His mortal squawk was one of his device,
Feather inked and notion spill’d upon page.
Prithee listen to words, suppose, his own.
Ralph the scrivener lays in final repose.

Gentle Goodwife, pray the soul to heaven,
As Ralph Crane guided all the King’s Men.
The rough sir and I shall manage baser
Matters beyond your ken. Ever, Amen.

O, fie, that we should not mourn in proper
Until these accurs’d contracts rest as well.

I am of the mind, brother, that we tread
The boards with care to preserve the truth
And grace laid bare by these two gentlemen
Of virtue whilst minting a coin or two.

Troth, as words belong to the world whole,
I merely intend to sweeten these tarts.
Laughter’s the benediction of the soul
I shall keep the good humour of Richard
inside my lion’s heart.
Good sir, Jonson, collect the manuscripts
Edited by his cold, unsullied hand
That we might make folios of them all.

Now away with us to the public house,
For a dram of prose and flagon of souse.
I spied a maid who deals in fortune cards,
Whilst we make a fortune and spend it same.
O, to give the queen of wands full regard
By education in a new card game
Drawing hearts and clubs of which I’m well vers’d
Until the ante empties my coinpurse!

Exeunt Jonson and Middleton, [pursued by a bear]

May 21, 2001

Prompt: Justice

Justice is Eyeless

1000 words

With a tick, the grandfather's dusty hands met at twelve. Jed could feel it in his blood before the chimes echoed through the cabin - the day had come. Forty-two years of life.

For men in his line, birthdays were feared. Upon reaching the age, it would come for them.

No one remembered what or why. Only vague details that dated a forgotten number of decades. His ancestry traced back through generations of serfs, and it was said that one had committed an atrocity against a family of higher social standing. No further official details followed, but the local gossip was abound with rumors of the occult. It was no secret that the connections nobility in these backwater burgs maintained historically went beyond politics, into the unorthodox as privilege dictated.

Every generation there was exactly one male heir, and none suffered sickness or untimely death. Men of the bloodline were not particularly superstitious by nature, but were haunted by an ambiguous sense of dread from childhood that started like an uncatchable itch under the skin, intensifying with age. Uncomfortable feelings of déjà vu over nothing to outlandish nightmares, and dreadfully realistic premonitions of forbidden unintelligible knowledge beyond their comprehension. Finally, when the time was right, the men would have the talk with their sons. Though the details of the blight were very much imperfect, there was a ritual of sorts - it was important to pass down the little information, to warn, and prepare them for the inevitable. Each of the lineage felt at their very core that they were destined to finish something that was started long ago, with a greater sense that doing so was what was just.

Now it was Jed's turn. He fortified his resolve, glancing over to a framed portrait of his father, Mort that rested on the mantle. As if he had not yet accepted his fate as depicted, Mort was standing confidently in the fields outside with an energetic smile and piercing blues eyes that gleamed like sapphires. It was captivating enough for Jed to reclaim a brief moment of meditation and prepare himself.

He thought of his family. His wife and teenage son knew the rumors, thus they weren't taken off-guard when Jed had confronted them two weeks prior. He followed the preparations like clockwork, as his father had. The conversations reverberated in the back of his head, still.

"Why alone? That's suicide." the last words he could remember from his son. He didn't have an answer. Or perhaps couldn't remember his answer to his son's concerns. Fog was slowly seeping into the room from the mists of the night. He realized he couldn't remember exactly how he had parted ways with his family either, or if they were even safe. The curse that tainted his bloodline had fogged his recollection.

He cocked his shotgun, and rattled his head from side to side a few times, feeling that his grip on reality was slowly slipping.

His brain was telling him a shrieking noise like a hound crying in pain was bouncing around the walls of his head, though he wasn't experiencing it through the sense of hearing. Through some arcane science, it was something he could taste, sour like spoiled milk. In his perception, he sensed the yelling intensify and began to gag at the wretched curdling taste in his throat. As he retched and frantically tried to spit all the saliva in his mouth onto the ground, he noticed in the corner of his vision two objects shining through the ever-thickening fog

Cold, cerulean eyes, outlined with a thin circle of crimson. They were getting closer. Before long, he was staring at them from an inch away. Neither the bone-chilling mist, nor the vile taste in his mouth was enough to distract him during the moment that he realized he was staring into his father's eyes once again. His consciousness froze as he tried to grasp the significance. Many thoughts swirled in his head, abruptly ceasing as the blue wisps in front of him faded, leaving only the red outline. His face was numb with the coldest of colds he had ever experienced. Panic set in as he could no longer feel any of his limbs. He was screaming, but nothing was coming out. Something caught his vision from below - it was the eyes he identified as his father's slowly losing any light they had to them as they rolled to a stop. He was looking at bony claws for feet.

Jed looked up and saw what he thought was his own face. A line of blood dripped from the holes where his eyes had been. He couldn't scream because he had been severed from his body, through some witchcraft.

Jed consciousness faded into a vision - of a hooded man torturing a wild canine-like animal, which shrieked as it lay, a bloody mess in a field. The man held the beast's jaw closed with one hand as it twitched in its weakened state, and was prying at the thing's eye with a spade, trying to dislodge it. A man with a warm, familiar appearance ran up and struck the beast's assailant with several blows, sending him running off. The beast had to be put to death. Several hooded men came later to collect the remains of the beast, but yielded as it was no longer fresh enough for whatever proposed ritual they were were planning. The premonition ended with the men vexed, as if their collective was disgraced, seeking what a just solution and willing to do so eternally.

Then he was looking at the bloody spade laying by his corpse through his own eyes, though they now belonged to some manner of beast, undying and rotting. Jed could do nothing but watch as the beast shrieked and limped away. As it headed back into the mists of the night, Jed could only think about how much he wanted to see his son again

And one day, he did.

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan
Subs closed

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan
Week 512: Let the Bad Guy Win, for Once


If the bad guy was was a ton of stories and the hero was me judging in a coherent and organized manner, the villain won for sure. Thank you everyone for your entertaining tales of villains, or sometimes just evil, or sometimes something else entirely, winning the day.

I'm a bad news kind of dude so first, we have our loss for the week: The man called M, with 8th and Main: A Jake Malone story. Chinatown was not built in a day, my friend.

A DM goes to derp, with while he was sleeping for bumming us the hell out.

Now the good news (ugh)

an HM goes to Albatrossy_Rodent with Dreams Come True because the "gently caress THIS guy in particular" vibes were strong

an HM goes to Nae with No One Can Stop Me for having imo the clearest villain among the bunch. It was like I was reading wheel of time all over again!

the winner of this week is Hawklad with The Formicarium! :buddy: Excellent work leveraging childhood trauma to put up a W

Thank you all for putting up with tarot flash rules and a wide open prompt. Let's give a round of applause to Hawklad!

Crits to follow

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
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I like reading this a good bit, but the ending felt predictable. In a week where the bad guy needs to win, I suppose that’s gonna be a tough thing to avoid, but we’ll see how your fellow combatants do. I think my big beef with this though is that in many ways both of your characters are victims. Holly was an innocent who fell victim to a trap and a very cruel fate, and your protag is stuck with them. I don’t see Holly really “winning” her, but she does kinda get what she thinks she wants, so maybe? Either way, it felt like this was some kind of a metaphor for the concept of being abused into staying by a harmful person. It works, but I almost wish that Holly’s being trapped in the tree was more a result of her own doing or a consequence of her actions.


This is a decent snapshot of a world that feels a lot bigger. It’s more of a systemic evil that wins here and I don’t necessarily mind that, but I find it less fun than just a dick in the yard stealing people’s poo poo.The language is formal and the characters aren’t quite developed in a way that makes the story feel a bit cold and lessens the horrific outcome if I were made to care a bit more about the fate of your narrator. But, it was well written and pretty efficiently done!


I’ll be real with you. Stories like this, no matter how effectively written are just not what I want to be reading right now. I don’t even know who wants to read things like this. Yeah the planet’s in big loving trouble. There’s nothing new there and there’s not much new here. Sure this is pretty logical and the expected outcome of the scenario you propose. Who cares? The story is clear and fine, but the outcomes are obvious and there’s “winning” here.

Chernobyl Princess’s

Yick. yick yick yick yick. This hurts to read, the right kind of way. Saw the outcome coming from a mile away but it was still effectively done and I really like that the villain of the piece is clear, and is also off screen. It’s a neat little touch and also makes Kim feel even more powerless. I just wish I haven’t seen this story play out a bunch of times in my life, as I’m guessing you probably have too, but yick. Yick. This is gross. Gross and bad, but good job.


Man Called M’s

It’s starting to seem like you’re trying really hard to find an appropriate place to use the word whore without getting reprimanded.

The story itself is whatever. A simple tale with characters who aren’t fleshed out. The evil is obvious and predictable but things escalate at a hilarious pace and the outcomes are sloppy and silly.


This was a cool concept but man, the villain didn’t win! The protag does a bad thing but the villain is the bully! And the bully lost big time!

I mean sure, in most revenge stories the protagonist ends up exacting revenge in ways that, with a deeper read, makes them look pretty bad but meh. I just want a bad guy to be a bad guy and get away with it! Like why not have Stephen grow up to be the head scientist guy and have him further torment people with his sun laser thing?

Anyway, it was still pretty effective and well told. The jumping around in time was clear and easy to parse.


So I don’t really get what the protag is playing at but I was sorta seeing them as the doctor from eternal sunshine. I read it quickly, followed it fine, and was curious to see what would happen in the end. So I guess the person’s head toyed with in a dream and then they were set up to do something bad. And this was done just to see if it could be done. I mean that’s fine I guess? I don’t know this is ultimately a fun read but pretty forgettable.


Ugh, you had me going for a bit! And then it gets into more sad things about how all people are bad. And then the villain doesn’t win again! Sure, they win the fight but they don’t get what they want. They essentially end the story by saying as much. Ultimately, this is a short scene that plays out over combat, and it’s fine, the action is followable and I kinda did empathize, at least a little with the protag. I do like that the protag was the bad guy at least.


This is my favorite so far. The victory is subtle and the villain is rather triumphant in their victory. I like the call to have the battleground be moreso over the soul of the individual than the institution they seem to uphold. The story works for me in a way others haven’t this week and it’s largely due to the resentment and how it’s handled of this intruding presence. It feels raw and ugly.


The structure of this is imposing and makes for a largely uncomfortable read. The story is told through formal proclamations in the first half doesn’t do it any favors in getting me to care about the individuals and by the time you start fleshing them out I’m already kinda glazed over. The writing feels very stylized to be something that would look good in a book with a bunch of wizards on it but beyond that, it’s hard for me to find much in here that I’ll hold onto tomorrow.


So the protag figured out the dirt and then got killed right? I’m not quite sure what they were trying to figure out or what they did figure out. I couldn’t follow much of this to be honest. Some kind of corruption tale where the villain is very well protected but we also don’t really care about or get to see the villain enough for any of this to have any real heft.


Not gonna lie, this is just way the gently caress over and around my head. I have heard enough time reading things that aren’t in verse. Now I could watch the hell out of this and if it were performed well could maybe even be moved but I really don’t know what this is. Call it a blindspot but I hardly feel equipped to say much else about it, so I won’t.


Takes a long rear end time to get started and when it does I’m kinda glazed over and bogged down by the expository universe building. Once it does get going things feel a bit over the top and caricaturish. Also, it’s a brassy play to include Cerulean and Crimson as to colors in one sentence. That’s chutzpah right there, and I appreciate it but I didn’t love the overwrought overwritten descriptors found throughout the piece.

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan
Crits - lemme know if you'd like something more fleshed out

Sparkbloom - Sitting in a Tree

I liked the weirdness of this one. It gave me flashbacks to that Final Fantasy movie a long time ago (must be like 20 years+?). Really great build up of dread, and I enjoyed your interpretation of Judgment into multiple layers - Holly’s judgment of Claire’s intentions to leave, the idea of rebirth and Holly’s new form, although I think I would not agree that she was acting as her best self.

Overall I think there were some limitations in terms of how much development your characters received. The story moved fast, and the time from setup to climax didn’t give me enough time to appreciate a true villain/hero pairing. I think if you had expanded on how much time Claire has spent dealing with Holly, it might have strengthened your buildup into the climax. I couldn’t get a good sense of the timeline. There was also one or two typos. “unlucky enough to take trap to the chest”

Ceighk - Our Lady of Truth

The Chariot definitely felt present here, in that your story drove it’s hero forward at a breakneck pace. Really effective use of dropping the reader into the same situation your novice was in, where we were put on the back foot and really couldn’t see where the story was going until it was there.

Your villain/hero play was subtle and I liked it. The idea of the novice railroaded into knowledge (and with it success in the order, from what it sounds like, although possibly unwilling) was a fun one.

Your story was held back a little bit by some clunky phrasing in places. Some of the word choices, like “Father Cestus is going to beam” were awkward enough to take me out of the story a bit.

derp - while he was sleeping

A morality play that takes into account both our love of destroying Earth’s resources and police brutality. For me, this one was a little too one note - by the end of it, I had got the message several times over. While Thereza was an angel (and thus probably singular with purpose), it was hard for me to connect with her as a character as opposed to plot device. Similar to the unnamed humans.

Your use of temperance was interesting. You used the card literally, featuring an angel, and then used the opposite of what the card meant for your theme, although Thereza did show a great amount of temperance in her approach to the broken world. Overall I like the idea, but I’m not sure I liked the execution.

Chernobyl Princess - Red Flags

This was pretty funny. Not necessarily the story itself, that was actually super depressing, but I read a ton of the relationships thread here on SA and this was just one of those repacked as a fun little “OP doubles down on her bad decisions” story. Jack, despite not being on screen, was a real scumbag and seeing him win bummed me out. The little snapshots felt real, with Kim and Corey having unique voices. That said it would have been nice to focus down on Corey’s relationship with Jack a bit more.

The Fool was also incorporated, although while it’s meant to be a card of winning naivete, here it was more literally someone who was too naive to see the red flags.

I did not like the line “And don’t be afraid to call me if anything happens!” - it read very flippant for me compared to the rest of that section, with the planning and canceling of credit cards.

Hawklad - The Formicarium

I enjoyed this one. You have to appreciate multiple levels of villains winning. You did a great job in making me want to root for Marcus and then making me realize, oh, wait, he’s a piece of poo poo, that’s not cool at all. The Very Large Solar Array with the sun laser was a little silly, and some of the tone doesn’t play quite as well. The end paragraph, with the little girl getting fried, felt much darker and violent compared to the overall story of what is essentially a death ray. But overall well-written and entertaining.

Obviously your use of the Sun was there, although less the metaphysical meaning of the card as opposed to literally the Sun. Definitely no happiness or joy - even Mark seemed to feel a little bad at the collateral damage.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Dream Come True

Your unnamed villain was fun to hate. I think what I liked best was the fact that they even liked Nate, but were doing what they had to in order to enrich their own life, and Nate was just collateral damage. There were some issues for me in terms of understanding the “reality is a dream” bit and why Nate said what he said - even if he was dreaming, if he’s screaming slurs he’s probably not a good person. But it’s less of a big deal in terms of the story getting across. It was really funny to see one guy in particular, a nobody, get screwed for no reason.

The shadow work of the Moon was here for sure. Messing with dreams was a fun way to go about the multiple layers of meaning.

Nae - No One Can Stop Me

Set (Eric), your tortured villain, was fun and I enjoyed reading from his perspective. The story was a bit cliche, but I think you did a good job trying to establish your characters’ motivations without leaning too heavily on expository dialogue or prose. The dialogue was a bit stilted in places, which held your story back from the top runners, as did some of your nomenclature. “Final Fires” makes me think of Final Fantasy for some reason and did not seem appropriate for a world-ending cataclysm.
I liked your fight choreography. It was snappy and served itself and the story well. The last line is a bit hokey.

Good use of the Tower, both literal and metaphorical.

The man called M - 8th and Main: A Jake Malone story.

Clearly Jake didn’t actually listen to Peace Sells, because that particular lyric (AND THE ALBUM) ends in “but who’s buying?” You definitely were writing for the sacrifice portion of the Hanged Man, but I would argue that Jake was not really making a willing sacrifice, but rather was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The story was too big to tell in 1000w, and because of that everything suffers. The pace of the story is too fast (the turn from meeting Jackie, to the reveal, to her death) and all the little details are cliche or underdeveloped. The dialogue is a bit rough and clipped, but I think that’s a product of the compressed nature of the story. I didn’t particularly like your characterization of Jackie. It felt cruel, and objectifying.

Tyrannosaurus - Ninkyō Dantai

The first half of the story was really compelling, but the back half fell a little flat, starting with your protag taking the cigarette. I feel like if he was brimming with rage, he wouldn’t have taken it. Overall the story seemed to end too early, like the ending itself was rushed. I didn’t get some of the closure I needed or wanted. Little Priest was a fun character, however, and well written.

I see your use of the Hermit in the Buddhist temple setting, but some of the themes (solitude, study) were missing from the story itself. It would have been nice to see a bit more development of the hurt you mentioned the protag feeling when he quit.

A couple typos were present.

Tars Tarkas - Welcome To The Eternal Empire

I enjoyed the fantastical setting, and while it seems the Undying One is your villain, the slow build to the Free Splendor worked well. It’s hard to say that villain truly won, since Bill got in his final blow, but otherwise I think you achieved the goal.

The final paragraph held the rest of the story back. As vignettes, everything worked mostly well but the last one wasn’t as effective. I didn’t know if I believed Bill could try to stab the son of the king, nor did I like the casual way Bill treated his wife’s death. Could be written off to the horrors of war, but I did not like it. Overall this would be better as a fleshed out story vs vignettes.

Great use of the Death card.

Thranguy - The Caesar of Port Galveston

I don’t know if I get it. The story really flew over my head. There’s a nuke, and a missing mom, and I guess they’re connected and there’s a conspiracy? For me, there’s no clear hero or villain in this story. The plot is too scant for me to grab hold of anything concrete. It’s hard to say whether the Emperor was used or not. I think this one needs some additional fleshing out.

The Cut of Your Jib - Masques Off

Once I made it through the prose, this was a fun back-and-forth between two assholes. I think the setting serves the characters and plot well. The language was fine, although in some places it was a little over the top. It definitely reads as a send-up of Shakespeare. “[pursued by a bear]” was a little over-clever.

Overall I’m not sure how I like the play format. In one way it lines up well with your subject, but on the other I’m not sure it is as effective as if you had written it as prose. It was also hard to find your character’s unique voices because of the play setting and limited word count.

Fine use of the Devil, as these two knaves very likely loved the excess.

BabyRyoga - Justice is Eyeless

This was a little over-the-top, and reads like a mishmash fanfic of King and other horror writers (Laird Barron comes to mind). The pacing of your paragraphs was hit and miss, with some being too long and crammed with detail such that I had a hard time reading through and needed to go back to re-read. The plot was fine, although the title was a bit on the nose.

The play between hero and villain was absent here. This is less a story about a villain than a family curse. Because of this the story suffers and it was hard to say that you met the prompt. While you did incorporate justice, its use was indirect and a little clumsy.

sephiRoth IRA fucked around with this message at 02:47 on May 31, 2022

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice
Thunderdome DXIII – The World After

This week we will write stories set in a world after the Singularity – the moment when machine intelligence outstrips that of humans. Many scientists predict this moment may occur in the next few decades, and there are many theories of that that might mean. Will it help solve humanity’s problems, or make them worse? Will we enter into an out-of-control positive feedback loop where computers become infinitely smarter than us? Will our machines become benevolent overlords, freeing humans from a lifetime of labor, or will they enslave us to harvest our bodily energy, Matrix-style? What does ordering a pizza look like when your phone is smarter than you?

You do not have to write about the Singularity itself, just a story set in a world that has passed this event horizon. In other words, it should inform your story, but does not necessarily have to be the focus of it. Also, in honor of the very first Thunderdome I entered (Week 217), your story must pass the Bechdel test, and none of your characters can be straight, white males. And if your story happens to be metal as gently caress, that never hurts.

No genre restrictions, but please no Google docs, porno, or fanfic.

Word limit – 1200
Deadline to sign up – Friday Midnight MST
Deadline to submit – Sunday Midnight MST



sephiRoth IRA
The man called M
Beef Supreme
hard counter

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 15:50 on Jun 4, 2022

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan

Also down for a 500w flash brawl

Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy

sephiRoth IRA posted:


Also down for a 500w flash brawl


sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009



Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

sephiRoth IRA posted:


Also down for a 500w flash brawl

derp posted:


derpiroth brawl

We'll keep it short and sweet, just like your word count. Your theme is mystery. 500 words, due June 14th. Toxx up, and let me know if you need a date change.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Over on Discord, Nae challenged me to a Brawl. Foolishly, I accepted.

Sep 3, 2020


ManCalledM has been CalledOut! Let the blood rain down!

Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy

curlingiron posted:

derpiroth brawl

We'll keep it short and sweet, just like your word count. Your theme is mystery. 500 words, due June 14th. Toxx up, and let me know if you need a date change.

:toxx: i'll be posting mine sunday or earlier

Sep 3, 2020


Also I'm in for singularity week.

Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy
also in :getin:

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan

derp posted:

:toxx: i'll be posting mine sunday or earlier

:toxx: same here

Apr 21, 2010

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

Apr 12, 2006
:siren: Nae-M Brawl :siren:

You have decided to bloody the sands -- good! Your brawl is open ended, free for exploration of theme and character and genre, but must end with the following sentence:

"drat! That was a lucky shot!"

666 words. Due midnight tonight EST>.

Oct 6, 2021

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

Villain week chain crits


This is one of my favorite TD stories now. There's a glaring typo in the first paragraph, but it became such a WHO CARES by the end. There's a moment where the reader suddenly understands what's going to happen, and can do nothing to stop it, that is perfect. The flashback structure can be annoying but you nailed it. Don't change anything except that typo. I want to see this as a Love Death Robots episode.

I'm really impressed with the completeness of this story at 1000 words.


Ah, a classic fantasy villain in an evil tower. Dope.

I think your pro/antag switches from "ugh this is mildly annoying" to PLEASE KILL ME too abruptly. I would have liked to see more of that hesitance earlier on. I also would have liked to see the Set/John personal history laid out more, but perhaps wordcount wouldnt allow that. As John was Obamaing, what his reaction to Set getting into that prestigious Supervillain Studies Masters program?

But whatever. This is cool. The Dark Souls vibes were on point, and it was fun to see one of these base itself around such a classic capital-V Villain.

Oct 6, 2021

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

In. Though no flash rules were offered, I would like one, if possible.

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

In. Though no flash rules were offered, I would like one, if possible.

Certainly! Your story must take place primarily underwater.

Sep 3, 2020


Nothing But Net
644 words

11:54 am
Attempt #1

“Okay, man,” says Joel, “All I need you to do is stand there, point the phone at me, and hit record. Then when I sink the basket, you say, ‘drat! That was a lucky shot!’ Got that?”

The sun bounces off Mark’s cracked iPhone as he looks up from behind the screen. “But it won’t be a lucky shot if we’re doing it a bunch of times.”

“No, no, it still will be. I mean, I’m only gonna need, like, ten takes to make it.”

Mark glances from the basketball in Joel’s hands to the hoop twenty feet behind him. “You sure?”

“Yeah, man, NBA players do it all the time.”

“Not backwards.”

“Well, no, but…just start filming, okay?” Joel plasters on a big smile and readies the ball. “And don’t forget your line!”

12:17 pm
Attempt #45

“Dude, I don’t know if this is gonna work out,” says Mark. “Let’s bail and grab some Wendy’s.”

Sweat spills down Joel’s forehead. It’s almost a hundred degrees outside. “This is gonna work, man. I’ll make the shot, post it on YouTube, and then I’ll be a star and I can quit my job.”

“I thought you wanted to post it on TikTok.”

“TikTok’s dumb.”

“You told me last week you wanted to post it on Tiktok.”

“I said TikTok’s dumb!” Joel smacks the ball against the blacktop. It bounces up and catches him under the chin. He staggers, blinking like a dizzy kid.

“drat, that was a lucky shot,” says Mark.

“That wasn’t the shot!” Joel grabs the ball again. “Now start taking this seriously!”

12:45 pm
Attempt #89

“This sucks, man,” says Mark. “It’s hot as gently caress. Let’s bail.”

“We’re not bailing!” Joel screeches. “I’m gonna make the next basket, you’re gonna say, ‘drat! That was a lucky shot,’ I’m gonna upload the video to YouTube, and Melanie’s gonna take me back.”

“Wait, did Melanie dump you?”

“No, she didn’t dump me! I dumped her because she’s in love with some TikTok loser!”

“drat, dude. That’s rough. I’m really sorry.”

“I’m not, because I don’t care.”

“I thought you said you wanted her to take you back.”

“Well, yeah, so I can dump her and bang YouTube chicks.”

“Oh.” Mark nods. “Cool.”

“Yeah, it is cool. It’s very cool, which is why I need you to keep recording. Okay?”

Mark rubs his forehead. When he pulls his hand away, it’s slick with sweat and grease. He wipes it off on his jeans and picks up the camera again. “Fine. You can try, like, ten more. But after that, I’m out.”


1:04 pm
Attempt #114

“I just need one more try, dude!” says Joel. “I can make the shot!”

“No, you can’t. It’s a billion degrees, you don’t play basketball, and you’re pissed off because your girlfriend dumped you.”

“She didn’t dump me! Jesus Christ, why are you such a lovely friend?”

“Whatever. I’m gonna go get some Wendy’s. I’ll see you later.”

“You can’t go! I need you to record!”

“You have a phone, too, dumbass. Just prop it up on the bench or something.”

“But Mark!”

“Later, man. I’m out.”

2:39 pm
Attempt #135

Joel’s hands shake as he cradles the basketball to his chest. The blacktop is burning his rear end and the gravel is cutting his legs, but he can’t bring himself to stand. It’s too hot and he’s crying too hard.

“I’ll bet you think this is funny, don’t you, Melanie?” he shrieks. The phone stopped recording thirty minutes ago. “Well, how loving funny is this?”

He hurls the ball over his shoulder from the ground with a pathetic whine. His head falls forward; he whimpers at the ground.

The ball passes through the hoop with a whoosh.

His lip starts quivering. He hugs his knees to his chest and sobs. “drat…that was a lucky shot!”

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan
Chili / Sephiroth Brawl

TV Tropes - Fair Play Villain and Novelization

Rainbow Puppy Universe 2: Return to the Sugar System
1249 words

The gun rested close to Barb’s non-cigarette hand. It was long-barreled, chrome, and bigger than Nancy would have expected for a withered shrew like Barb. She could see the glint of bullets in the chambers when Barb waved it around. Nancy now sat frozen, the uncomfortable barstool nagging at her rear end, and her face still stung from the slap Barb gave her when she walked through the door. She waited for Barb to say something, but the shrew just chain-smoked, glaring at Nancy.


There used to be nine in their little group. The FunStar Animation Company had pared down the competition over the years, mostly by denying contracts. Funstar put out about 30 movies a year, and if you got passed up for everything it was the company’s way of telling you to screw off.

Nancy had been lucky to get in at all; some FunStar VP’s kid loved her Magic Mice series, and reached out to have Nancy write the novelization for one of their less popular releases, Candy Bear Kingdom 4. Her book sold more than any of the previous novelizations of the Candy Bear Kingdom movies, and it paid more than any of her Magic Mice advances. The selection committee were so pleased with the returns she quickly rose to internal stardom. Nancy was pleased with the wheelbarrow of cash she rolled home. It was a match made in heaven.

At her first communal pitch meeting, however, the reception was frostier. One fat man wearing a “Hoes Love This Dick” t-shirt muttered “gently caress you” under his breath when Nancy walked in. The meeting was brutal. The margin for creativity for this garbage was slim and thus most of the ideas were the same. In the end, Nancy couldn’t tell if it was just a popularity contest or if there was some rubric the selection committee had but refused to verbalize. “Get out the kneepads” was one of the less lurid suggestions for success from her fellow authors.

And the other authors! Jesus, if they weren’t hate-loving each other (cheating on their spouses in the process) then they were physically punching each other across the mahogany office table. Between the original nine there were eight divorces, six DUIs, and two assaults. Nancy stayed out of it, trying to bring her best ideas and land enough contracts to keep her Manhattan loft.

Now they were down to four, with the poor bastards that weren’t cut out by the committee run off by threats of violence or worse from the other authors. Penelope, the last departure, told Nancy over the phone that Barb, easily the worst of the bunch, actually threatened to have Penelope raped if she didn’t drop one of her pitches.

“She said she knew men who would do it for fun!”

Penelope was crying, although Nancy didn’t believe Barb had it in her.

“She said they’d use me like the whore I am and then throw me in the Hudson!”


FunStar had released Rainbow Puppy Universe 2: Return to the Sugar System two weeks prior to fan acclaim. The movie had made nearly half-a-loving-billion dollars since its release. The toys would earn more. When the pitch meeting finally came, with Nancy, Barb, Ted, and Sarah meeting at the familiar sweat-soaked table, the tension filled the room like sewage, making them all afraid to breathe.

Nancy scanned her competition as they all waited for the selection committee to arrive. Ted was a dumpy ex-CPA dad who didn’t have the chops for something like this, relegated to dregs like Pony Queens or that Super Starfish crap. Sarah was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, muttering to herself. Nancy was pretty sure Barb had been getting to Sarah, but in the end, it wasn’t her problem. This contract would be worth a million bucks, easy, and while Nancy wouldn’t stoop quite as low as Barb, she didn’t care about Sarah. It was just too much goddamned money.

The pitch meeting started predictably, with the committee grinning as they laid out the chum.

“So, who’s got an idea for Rainbow Puppy Universe?”

She felt Barb lash a kick into Ted’s knee as he began to open his mouth, and Barb used the dead air to launch into her pitch. It followed the plot of the movie closely, but had enough twists and turns to keep the committee hooked. Sarah just cradled herself. Nancy waited for Barb to run out of gas, searching the suits’ faces for signs of an opening. The opening came when she saw one of the suits check his watch.

Nancy cut Barb off mid-sentence. Barb’s mouth hung open, and Nancy made the pitch of her life. She pushed as close to edge of the movie’s insipid plot as she could while pulling out all of her literary tricks. When finally stopped, it was obvious she had killed it based on the shared looks of greed between the committee members. Barb just glowered.


“You really are a bitch.” Barb croaked like a toad, years of cheap booze and unfiltered cigarettes laying waste to her favorite instrument. “I never liked you.”

Nancy didn’t answer, muscles pulled taut to keep her motionless on the stool. Barb shook her head, continuing to smoke.

“You know why I never liked you?”

Barb let the rhetorical question hang in the air. When Nancy couldn’t stand it anymore, she shook her head.


“I never like you because you didn’t earn it, like the rest of us did. Do you know how much candy-coated poo poo I had to write in windowless boxes to get here? They paid me pennies! And here you are, waltzing in like some uppity kiddy book bitch, taking the prime cuts.”

She took a long drag, and then butted the cigarette directly onto the bar. She picked up the gun.

“You know why I called you here, to my ex-husband’s piece of poo poo bar?”

Barb stood and stepped over to Nancy, shoving the gun into her face.

“I was going to shoot you with this gun. I was going to make you beg your best Columbia-educated, liberal bitch begging and then I was going to do it.”

Nancy held her breath. Barb’s gun hand started to shake. Tears welled in her eyes.

“Oh, gently caress it.” Barb wilted, and tossed the gun onto the bar. She collapsed onto one of the stools, face in her hands, and started to cry.

What in the gently caress? Nancy blew a slow breath out, eyes wide as Barb continued to sob.

“B… Barb? Are you ok?”

Barb looked up.

“No, I’m not okay. I can barely pay my mortgage, I’m paying taxes on this dive thanks to the divorce, and now I’m going to lose the drat contract.”

Barb looked up and flashed Nancy a tight smile.

“You know what’s the worst of it? You are loving amazing at this. I loved Magic Mice. I love your Rainbow Puppies pitch! Those goddamned suits bring out their knives to winnow our creativity to death, and still you come up with something truly adorable, genuine, and it’s all your own. I hate you for it.”

Nancy’s eyes flicked to the gun. Barb noticed, looked at the gun, and then laughed.

“Oh, get over yourself. I’m not going to shoot you.”

Barb waved towards the front door. Nancy rose, unsteady, and made for the exit.

“Hey, Nancy.”

Nancy turned slowly back. Barb held the gun again, low against her side.

“See you tomorrow.”

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


in, :toxx:

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Nae-M Brawl
Archery Competition Heats Up in Paris
306 Words

PARIS-Not many Olympics fans pay attention to Archery, but today’s final was quite the competition.

While there were quite a few archers taking the field, the world had their eyes on American Jake Murphy, Chinese Archer Ho Lee Sit, and South Korean Archer Lee Park. To be fair, perhaps the world was watching because there was not much else going on, but the rivalry between those three provided good times for all.

When seeing these three men, it was almost as if one was taken back to the archery contests of old. As if they were seeing Robin Hood compete against the Sheriff of Nottingham. And like the archery competitions of old, there were more bullseyes than the Running of the Bulls.

Each archery pairing was a war of attrition. For many pairings, it was their goal for one of them to get the higher score. When a combination of these three men were in a pair? The loser was the one who didn’t get a bullseye. And even then, it would take quite some time to find out who would snap. In the end, while China’s Lee Sit would compete for Bronze, Park of South Korea and the American Murphy would compete for Gold.

The competition was fierce. Everybody in the arena were on their seats, wondering who would miss a bullseye first. Each archer was clearly a master of their craft, and perhaps the greatest archers in Olympic History. In the end, after an hour had passed, Park had one unlucky shot where he missed getting a bullseye by a razor thin margin. After the competition was over, the people in the stands gave a standing ovation.

After the awards ceremony (China’s Ho Lee Sit got the Bronze), Jake murphy had this to say about Park’s last shot:

“drat! That was a lucky shot!”

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan
Hello all, just wanted to post that my brawl story has a trigger warning: there is a threat of sexual assault against a woman by another woman

Please be warned ahead if you believe that would be triggering for you.

Apr 12, 2006
:siren: Nae-M Brawl Judgement :siren:

First of all, Nae wins. Let's just get that out of the way.

Second, the fact that y'all agreed to a get your knives bloody on a hella short deadline is dope as fuuuck. I love this poo poo.

Nae, the "lucky shot" line in attempt 45 legit made me laugh. If you had a week to write this, I'd probably tell you to do another pass on some of your dialogue because there are some bits that are a little stilted but you wrote this in a few hours. I'd be an rear end in a top hat to expect things to be perfect and it's very good for something you just blasted into existence from the void of nothingness. Most importantly, and most impressively, your prompt feels utterly effortless. The line is essential, integral really, but doesn't feel forced. It doesn't read like you had to make it your ending line. It just fits.

M, this... Isn't really a story? I could read this on, idk, Yahoo News or whatever and it would come across as an earnest (if not particularly well written) summary of an Olympic competition. But it isn't a story. The idea of it, the formatting, the form, isn't bad. I loving love sports and I've read plenty that are excellent reads, that say something, that make me feel something, that leave me having experienced something. But this is short and gives me nothing. The ending line doesn't feel particularly natural. "Ho Le Sit" also comes across as dangerously close to a racist "Holy poo poo" Chinese joke which I'm going to assume is just something I'm seeing and not intentional. If I'm being overly generous in this assumption, please do not correct me.

Thanks for the blood, goons.

Oct 6, 2021

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

Nae! I have opinions on your mother's weight, and also, I banged her! Are you going to take that lying down?

I challenge you to a brawl with a short word count!

Sep 3, 2020


Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

Nae! I have opinions on your mother's weight, and also, I banged her! Are you going to take that lying down?

I challenge you to a brawl with a short word count!

Your mother took it lying down last night, and I'm taking this challenge today! Hit me with a short word count brawl!

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan
Yes, blood for the TD gods! I will judge your Rodent/Nae brawl. Your word limit is 550, your deadline is Wednesday, June 8, and your prompt is that your story must feature a camping trip.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Oct 6, 2021

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

sephiRoth IRA posted:

Yes, blood for the TD gods! I will judge your Rodent/Nae brawl. Your word limit is 550, your deadline is Wednesday, June 8, and your prompt is that your story must feature a camping trip.


Sep 3, 2020


A fight broke out in discord and now Muffin and crabrock are itching to spill blood. I will judge their terrible bout! Each combatant will write me 600 words, and the due date is 11:59 Pacific on Wednesday, June 8th (or whenever I wake up the next morning).

For your prompt, your stories must in some way channel the energy of this tweet:

"@kevins_computer: *trailer for new fromsoft game* Ahh,, hosed up little man. youre so hosed up, and nasty. everything, it sucks soooo bad. only you , thje most hosed up and nasty of guys, can make it suck less"


Aug 2, 2002




technically the fight was started with on paper via international mail

I accept muffin's challenge :toxx:

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