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Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:


The Cut of Your Jib posted:

CKM!

"I just can't get over the way BLUE-JAY got that corn"
STABBING CORNS

Quoting. This way, my story is sandwiched between two mentions of my flash rule.

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The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



514 subs closed

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 514 lADies and lADdies Judgment

:siren:Winner-Antivehicular
Couldn't really separate the three HMs, they were all good in different ways, and as a solo judge I might have had to flip a three sided coin to choose between them if that crankypants Antivehicular hadn't crapped out a probiotic gem at the 11:59th hour. Maybe it's a little generous with HMs, but with only five entries total, oh well. Enjoy the easy judging and thanks for playing!

I didn't factor in prompt use to judging, everybody was pretty clear in how they used the ads, but CKM's corn holder killing an alligator mayor was the most outside the box twist.
HM-Carl Killer Miller
HM-Thranguy
HM-Yoruichi

No DM

No losers except for these failures, the blood god weeps:
sparksbloom
BabyRyoga
flerp
QuoProQuid

Thus rendered. Take it away, you rube.

Carl Killer Miller posted:


Down in the Belly
1495 Words
_
If you move the declaration that it’s an alligator after the by-laws discussion, I think it’s a bigger surprise about who the mayor is and maybe could make this seem like an old-timey autopsy (aside from the word ‘photocopied’, which probably could be omitted without much fuss. I did sort of imagine it at first as guys in tall hats at first, enjoying a brisket before digging into a corpse. So a few touch ups and you can flip it that they’re not actually too, too sanitary since it’s an animal autopsy.

The particulars are vivid but not too disgusting, but the iconic animal autopsy is the first shark caught in Jaws, and they don’t go through all the rigamarole, just open it right on the dock and fish out the license plate. I like the progression of running through Lobo’s last meal.
One thing though, is that alligators can take a long time to digest food, so maybe could have done something with that, passing blame to some rival’s previous barbecue as a hypothetical, but it works fine as is. The conniving at the end is good too.

I like throwing the extra chatter about the factory and election in but a few mutterings more throughout would have given some more character to Hubes and Whes. Like Hubes reads the by-laws and seems more bookish and maybe ‘the nerd’ but then joins in with Whes “town’s goin’ to seed, I tell ya” and from there they kind of sound the same, making it tough to distinguish the two.

Well done overall.
STABBING CORNS


Thranguy posted:


ControlIt The Heart of the Power Plant
Makers of the famous Brach Lightning Arresters

A Manifesto Written on Lightning-charred Paper

1051 words
_
I wonder if the title doesn’t give the game away that this is an epistolary from beyond the grave, and surely the author wouldn’t have simply tucked it in his pocket before charging for the master circuit.

‘shock-prods that the enforcers weird against the helpless,’ A typo of wield? I like when words are used in an unusual way, but if it’s intentional, it doesn’t quite fit with the deliberate and methodical elucidations of the author.

I also wonder about this as a call to action in-universe. Some of this would be common knowledge so it’s writing for the reader and not really for the audience of the person-on-the-street. It’s also a little dry for inciting a revolution. But that’s also sort of the strength of it; I feel a well defined history and the backstory of the world is full. I’d definitely read more about this world, but on the fence about whether Jovethian’s letter would be successful. I suppose the master of contracts might not be too rousing. Anyway.


The man called M posted:

Manly Games on the Sea
524 Words
_
Strange name choice to reference Roosevelt then have a character named Ted right there, but whatevs.

Funny twist at the end. But the match is just straightforward and not really exciting. There’s no tension, and if you insist on the Manly Man competition, maybe one of them has some self-doubt about not living up to the expectations society expects. Some internal conflict even if they’re being MEN on the outside.

You seem to have a running thread about gender roles and stereotypes. Even in that story about a robot, there were things like a scandal because women called each other names. Like I can’t tell if this is supposed to be a satire, everything is utterly perfect and the characters put on a show and then the punchline of the Titanic. Given the setting, I doubt very much that these men would be shirtless. If you wanted to make a statement about masculinity with their glistening bodies, there’s always the famous Top Gun volleyball scene to rely on as people watch it and suddenly catch a case of the “not gay.” Like if they shared a manly shirtless hug at the end instead of a handshake I would have thought way differently about what you were trying to do.

I dunno, the writing is all competent and clear, you know how to do that. But I don’t feel any of the thrills that the competitors claim they felt. It reads like fluff sports reporting or promotional material from the makers of Knufo. So in the sense that it’s a continuation of the photo, yes, everything is there. But I’m not really interested in the bland reconstruction of the game, get absurd with it in a fun way, or take the old-timey language and tell a modern story. You even end their game with them giving up from boredom. Can do that if there’s a lot of funny to back up the story, but any stakes would have been nice.


Yoruichi posted:


16,000 pounds of ice cubes a year

Family
1260 words
_
I too, am a little confused as to why Carol is staying there instead of at Andrew’s. Since Viv has such a low opinion of Carol, and it’s implied that lawyer bills have added up, which sounds like a contentious divorce, I expect the mother-in-law to be a little more acrimonious but I suppose Carol is a good witch.

At the very least, I would expect Vivienne to try and dodge a little bit more up front to prevent Carol from staying there. The scene of Carol showing up and wriggling into the apartment is of interest to me and would like to see that fleshed out instead of just a recap. Maybe that could have given a little more sass to Carol too, since I get the sense Carol always has a loud opinion. Then, the silent pat at the end is more powerful as she bites her tongue for once.
I guess it’s because my takeaway is that Vivienne thinks of Carol as kind of a dragon, but the conversation presents Carol as extremely perceptive and adroit in finding the right thing to say (or not). Not sure if this is intentional but ‘and waited for whatever wisdom she was about to dispense.’ sounds a little sarcastic to me, and I think Vivienne is appreciative at that point, so it doesn’t read like her opinion of Carol has really changed much when I think it probably has.

Seeding the beginning of the story with magic-themed words is a nice touch.

#TeamSpagBol

Antivehicular posted:

Self-Poisoning
1126 words
Prompt:
_
Why doesn’t the doctor prescribe an orderly to shadow Magpie and stop the illicit eating? Like preservation of the human race in a poisoned world doesn’t really seem to be a priority.

I don’t think sweating removes any meaningful amount of toxins from the body, that’s junk science, but also could just be the “Wellness Center” philosophy.

Hitting a detail like pulling the rose hip hairs sells it. I must have zoned on the line the first time through, and went back to check and sure enough it was there.

All the meditation on free will and compliance and doing something you know isn’t good for you but provides a moment of pleasure is really beautiful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAgPIE

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011


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

THUNDERDOME DXV: Fun-Sized Thunderdome 2: Blood in a Juice Box


Back in November 2018, I ran a micro-flash week as a weird counterpart to NaNoWriMo. This week, I'm running a micro-flash week for one simple reason: we all need to bleed.

The rules for this week are as follows:

1. Your maximum word count for the week is 400 words. You can toxx to increase that to 500.
2. Everyone who signs up can submit up to three stories. These stories must not be connected in any way (i.e. no writing a regular-length TD entry and posting it in three chunks).

Flash rules will be available by request, up to three per person. They will probably just be whatever song lyric I have in my head at the moment.

No erotica, fanfiction, political screeds, or Google Docs/archive-breaking formatting. Otherwise, go nuts.

Word Count: 400 x3 (500 x3 with toxx)
Sign-Ups Close: 11:59 PM Pacific time, Friday, June 17th
Submissions Close: 11:59 PM Pacific time, Sunday, June 19th

Judges:
Antivehicular
??
???

Writers:
1. rohan :toxx:
2. Chernobyl Princess
3. Carl Killer Miller
4. Thranguy
5. derp
6. Albatrossy_Rodent
7. kurona_bright
8. Copernic
9. Bad Seafood
10. Chili :toxx:
11. BeefSupreme :toxx:
12. Tyrannosaurus :toxx:
13. Sitting Here
14. The Cut of Your Jib
15. MockingQuantum
16. Gorka :toxx:
17. Yoruichi
18. hard counter :toxx:

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 23:31 on Jun 19, 2022

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:




I’m in for this week and :toxx: to write up crits for both the preceding week and also the overdue crits for the Naelich brawl of last month by the time subs close

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In!

One flash rule please and thank you.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:


I'm in!

Thranguy
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.
In, three flashes. (Bftbg)

derp
Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy
in, and i'd like to request three animals/plants/insects because i like to write about nature

Albatrossy_Rodent
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

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013
In, two flashes

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

rohan posted:

I’m in for this week and :toxx: to write up crits for both the preceding week and also the overdue crits for the Naelich brawl of last month by the time subs close

According to my records, you have an outstanding toxx already!

However! Since you have toxxed to do crits, I will give you a one time, at-my-discretion offer. If you donate :10bux: to the charity of your choice, AND submit AND post you crits, I will forgive your previous toxx.

Copernic
Sep 16, 2006

...A Champion, who by mettle of his glowing personal charm alone, saved the universe...
In

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010


If you must blink, do it now.
In.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe
In :toxx:

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe
Week 515 Entry

Corporate Climbing
500 Words

I walk out of my promotion interview at Equicorp feeling nothing. There is no way that they will ever promote me to manager. I’m not just being humble or trying to protect my ego from expecting something good.

I asked for the interview to retain my dignity. If I didn’t ask for it, they would have invited me. I can barely stomach the charade as it is without another layer of artifice on top of the mountain of bullshit that already is my career in this hellscape of cubicles.

I survive my job by having no expectations that anyone, at any point, will ever do the right thing. Then, at 5 PM, I leave my cynicism behind me and rejoin the world.

It works. It also guarantees that I will stay right where I am and never go up or down. I’m fine with that. Aspiration has never been available to me, and I’m reminded of that as I pass Brenda’s cubicle on the way to my own.

“How’d you do, Baby?” I wish I could say the moniker was borne out of a romantic affectation, but that’s not the case. It’s what I’m known as around here by everyone.

“Fine,” I nod.

“I’ll bet you get it!” She says in the exuberant tone I heard her use with Stew from accounting a mere hour ago.

Truth is, Stew will probably get it. He wears suspenders and certainly looks the part. And it’s for that reason that I won’t get it. I’m 36 years old, but I look like I’m fresh out of high school. I’ve tried every possible strategy to age myself up, to no avail.

Can’t grow facial hair, hats make me look like a PEZ dispenser, and when I go more formal, it seems like I’m about to attend my first communion.

I can’t grow, in any sense, and that’s fine. Just fine.

I don’t need these people, and I don’t need anything.

And it’s that energy that I carried into my interview. I had nothing and, therefore, nothing to lose.

They asked me a question, and I answered with one of my own. They proposed a scenario for me to respond to. I told them the literal, disappointing truth colored by my apathy and don’t-do attitude. I surprised them, at least.

*****

A week passes by. I have forgotten about the interview. I’m more concerned with my phone and the current run of the recent roguelike I’ve been dabbling with. Others walk with nervous energy and hope that will soon blow out when Stew from accounting takes the reigns.

The PA blares out, and after a cough, an announcement beckons all of us to the conference room. We are sat down and told to wait a moment.

Brenda wheels in a rectangular box atop a cart. A decision has been made, and they decided to go with an inside hire.

“Congratulations!” they all shout as they rip off the cover to reveal a freshly frosted cake that says:

boss baby

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:




Redemption for Week 513

Wisewoman
1200 words

It was Roisin who picked the lock, when five minutes of knocking went unanswered. ‘Maybe she’s not home?’ Tilly suggested, already half-off the doorstep. Roisin rolled her eyes and dropped nimbly to stare into the keyhole’s workings, finagling entry with a dexterity Tilly admired without interrogation.

‘She’s all yours,’ Roisin smiled, straightening up and gesturing inside.

‘You’re not coming?’

‘Yeah, nah. I shouldn’t’ve even come this far.’

‘You’re just scared,’ Tilly jeered. Harder to tremble through a smirk.

Roisin shrugged expansively. ‘Maybe,’ she said. ‘Maybe I’ll be too scared to wait. Maybe I’ll head back while there’s still light out here.’

Tilly couldn’t make out her expression, backlit by the setting sun. Behind, the distant flames of the hab’s towers flickered above the palisades, the switchback stairs she’d descended hours ago, and the junkyard where she’d met up with Roisin after her shift. Roisin, who spent four out of five shifts digging through ancient metal for parts—with as much luck as a doctor seeking transplants in a morgue—had agreed to join on the proviso Tilly took one of her scullery shifts; a condition generous to the point of formality. Maybe she’d hoped to find something on the way, but the path was well-worn and predictably picked clean.

‘I’ll be quick,’ Tilly said, looking into the house for the first time since they’d arrived.

‘Attagirl.’

Tilly stepped inside, telling herself there was nothing to be afraid of. She didn’t believe the stories. Because, well, they were stories, and even a story told faithfully to the first generation becomes falsehood for the second, muddied by time like third-shift bathwater. Maybe a wisewoman had lived here, once, in her grandparent’s day or earlier; her mythic predictions ensuring an immortality of sorts. Maybe every generation since had merely been complicit in keeping the story, at least, alive. What kind of girl would go to all the effort of finding the wisewoman’s cottage, and then reveal the whole thing to be a sham? Better, surely, to claim the old crone told her precisely what she wanted to hear, to parlay generations of myth into a very real boon.

All she had to do was find the wisewoman’s table—in the stories, it was always in the farthest room, in the coldest part of the house—and return with a souvenir to prove her pilgrimage. This she would then barter, along with the wisewoman’s words—supposed words—at tomorrow’s ceremony, to show that her wishes carried with them the gravity of tradition. The pilgrimage itself was nothing more than a formality, really. Just evidence she held true to the power of stories. Just evidence she’d play along with whatever other rituals came up. Just a bit of make-believe.

She moved a bit quicker, impatience characteristically shoving caution aside. As she progressed further into the house, the chill burrowed into her and she wrapped her arms tight. As she crossed the threshold of the final room, she blinked as light exploded out from a ball above, shining down on a table covered by a red tablecloth, enclosed by chairs, on the farthest of which sat—

‘Ah,’ the wisewoman intoned, her ancient face turning up and blinking in the sudden light. ‘Tilly Dea.’

‘I—’ Tilly stood, still, in the doorway. ‘I didn’t think you’d really be—’

‘Here?’ the old woman asked, eyes glimmering as if lit from within. Her mouth lifted into a tight smile. ‘Where else should I be? Now, your pairing day. You’ve come to see if anyone’s asked for your name, yes?’

Tilly stared, slowly pulling out one of the empty chairs before sitting down heavily in it.

‘Only one,’ she managed. ‘Paul Driscoll.’

‘Paul?’ the old woman’s eyes darted up, crinkling at the edges like burning paper. ‘Try again, lass. Does he even know you exist?’

Tilly frowned. She’d be surprised if Paul knew anyone existed, to be perfectly honest. Anyone outside one of the books he kept his nose in. But they’d talked, once or twice, and she figured they were both as likely as the other to end up with no matches on pairing day…

‘Ryan?’ she asked, thinking. The old lady shook her head, not unkindly. ‘Dennis? Jack?’

‘Slow down, girl,’ the wisewoman chided, standing up and walking around the table to face her. ‘You’re talking to the wisewoman, and all you can think of is boys?’

Tilly frowned. ‘It’s my pairing day tomorrow,’ she said, meekly, in the shadow of the older woman. ‘I need to know which boy—’

The lady frowned, taking Tilly in. ‘I thought you came to ask,’ she went on, at length, ‘if anyone had asked for your name. I’ll tell you freely that somebody has.’

Tilly glared. ‘I’m not here for tricks,’ she spat. ‘I just need a name! I said I’d be quick, Roisin’s waiting just outside—’

At Roisin’s name, the old woman’s smile returned, and she raised a single eyebrow. Tilly paused, and then—‘no,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘That’s not—’

‘Oh, a single scullery shift!’ the old lady smiled. ‘That’s no price. Come, girl. You never questioned how she works four shifts in the scrapyard but is spotlessly clean when you meet?’

‘How—how did you know about the scullery shift?’ Tilly asked. The old woman’s smile stayed fixed, her eyes glimmering. ‘How do you know how clean—’

She pushed her chair back as the old woman came closer; a chair leg caught on the rug underfoot, and she tripped on the sudden ridge of fabric. Reaching out for purchase, her hands clasped on the wisewoman’s shoulder, and they collapsed to the ground with a sickening crash. Tilly found herself atop the wisewoman’s prone form, and staggered upright as she heard a gasp from the doorway.

‘I—I didn’t mean to—’ Tilly stammered, before Roisin dropped nimbly down to her haunches and rolled the wisewoman over. One of her eyes was smashed—smashed, like glass—and small sparks sputtered from the cavity. Roisin supported the wisewoman’s head from behind and, without warning, twisted the entire thing, effortlessly separating head from body. The break was clean—there was no blood, but a thin trickle of grease poured out from the neck and dozens of wires snaked in the air between the … parts.

‘Of course,’ Roisin was saying, under her breath. ‘That’s how she kept going. I should’ve—how was she powered?’ she went on, heedless of Tilly shaking nearby. Roisin hefted the entire body up onto the table and squinted down into the neck, lips pursed in thought.

‘Roisin,’ Tilly started, as Roisin plunged a hand down into the wisewoman’s neck, ‘had you come here, earlier?’

Roisin turned, a thoughtful look on her face. ‘I think she must have been broken,’ she said, eventually, not looking directly at Tilly. ‘I think—if I can find the right parts—’

‘I’m—not sure she was,’ Tilly said, standing and taking hold of Roisin’s other arm, careless of the grease covering her sleeves. ‘I mean … she is now.’

‘She’s completely hosed, now,’ Roisin said.

‘Totally rooted,’ Tilly smiled. ‘Good thing you can fix things, huh? Come on. Big day tomorrow.’

Hand-in-grease-covered-hand, they set off, retreading the path home and covering unfamiliar ground.

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2022
in :toxx: two flashes please

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:




Crits for Brawl #345

Weltlich - A Slice of Starving Sky:
It’s hard to pick a favourite thing about this story to call out in particular, which I think is why I gave it the win last month — there are clear stakes set up early on, the three characters are all fleshed out well, there’s a nice sense of atmosphere (kinda want a mince pie myself, now, suffering through a Melbourne winter), and Mari Lwyd is an absolute delight. I particularly love how you leave its supernatural existence ambiguous, with hints leading either way with the hand reaching up to grab the pie, to the transmutation of the spurs into gold at the end.

To an extent, though, this ambiguity works against the prompt: having a character with such an ambiguous identity seems contra to the spirit of omniscient third-person, delightful as that character may be. I’ll allow it, in this case, grudgingly.

Otherwise: I found some of the references to “Neo Swansea” and the “digital bell” a bit incongruous, and I wasn’t sure if you meant to take some of these worldbuilding elements further or if it was just a way to add some more cyberpunk-ish flavour to the setting.

Well-written overall, no gripes with the plot or the pacing, and each character’s arc reaches a neat conclusion through the story.

Nae - The Miracle at the Night Market:
… meanwhile, for all you don’t want Mari Lwyd eating you out of house and home, Mari seems like a perfectly lovely guest compared to Three-D Eddie. Well done on creating such a detestable character!

I think, as with Weltlich’s story, I would have really liked to see some more from the third character — in this case, we spend barely a sentence from Eddie’s perspective, before it’s back to Olivia judging his appearance. I think you could have established more of his (terrible) character by giving us some more of his viewpoint. Bits like “no it’s not Miracle Whip!” might also work better from the omniscient narrator, rather than directly through dialogue; there’s a lot of potential here for dramatic irony, waiting for either Olivia or John to call it Miracle Whip and trigger his rage, and I think you spiked your guns a bit by having Eddie tell Olivia about it early on.

I also feel like the first two paragraphs are out-of-place in the rest of the story; they introduce John’s character, but the second paragraph in particular feels too expository given we’re about to see a very specific case of intolerable tourists.

(Also, I was kind of waiting for the mayonnaise to actually be some miracle ingredient that completely redeemed Eddie’s character, but I’m glad you didn’t go that route and the ending was solid, even if John didn’t get any kind of resolution to his arc.)

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Yo, Jib, brawl me!

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



curlingiron posted:

Yo, Jib, brawl me!

My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain
Than terms can give thee out.

Terms: at least a week deadline so's I can do some official TD subs over the weekend

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.

Jib, curling, you two are being extremely unreasonable, which is why your brawl prompt is The Curse of the Reasonable Person!

As described in the E/N posts of yore, the curse of the reasonable person is that reasonable people will always be forced to give into unreasonable people, because unreasonable people will throw an absolute poo poo-fit if they don't get their way. If you've ever been told 'don't rock the boat' when you point out that someone is drilling through the center of the boat and screaming at everyone who tries to stop them, congratulations, you are the reasonable person!

You each have 600 words to write a story involving the curse of the reasonable person. It can be funny, sad, disturbing, bleak, uplifting, absurd, or whatever else you can think of. As long as it's not fanfic or erotica, it's fair game.

Stories are due on Thursday the 23rd at 11:59 Pacific, or whenever I wake up the next morning. Good luck with your curses!

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006
In :toxx:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
in

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



in, one lyrical prompt pls

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011


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

Chernobyl Princess posted:

In!

One flash rule please and thank you.

He thinks he'll be all right, but he doesn't know for sure
Like every other unindicted co-conspirator


Thranguy posted:

In, three flashes. (Bftbg)

Departure, Godspeed, bless his heart, Good Lord
What a fuckup, what a fighter


In my dreams, it seems
That my eyes are always shooting laser beams


Just because you don't believe it doesn't mean I didn't mean it

derp posted:

in, and i'd like to request three animals/plants/insects because i like to write about nature

Wilson's storm petrel

Cattleya orchids

Citrus flatid planthopper

kurona_bright posted:

In, two flashes

Throughout this entire ugly outing
I've been mumbling the convex of what I should be shouting


Now and then I stumble on
What I've misplaced but never lost


BeefSupreme posted:

in :toxx: two flashes please

Wearing long sleeves to hide the mark of Cain

Colour my life with the chaos of trouble
'Cause anything's better than posh isolation


The Cut of Your Jib posted:

in, one lyrical prompt pls

The refrigerators house the frogs
The conduit is the hollow log

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012



In, two flashes plz

Copernic
Sep 16, 2006

...A Champion, who by mettle of his glowing personal charm alone, saved the universe...
Week 515 "Straight Shooting"

“Knock on the door, polite request, we are speaking on behalf of the Neighborhood about the gunfire,” Arnie said. He had to shift his weight and half-turn to find Will. The kid stuck to his shadow.

Both shadows – overhead the discs divided sunlight into on and off. Their shadows carved the neighborhood lawns into arcs of light and dark. On a clear blue day the aliens puckered the sky, turned it into bubble wrap. Younger kids skipped around their silhouettes, and the adults had sore necks.

Others had opened fire.

Arnie avoided walking on their lawn, dead as it was. The worst truck in town crapped oil on the driveway. It had bumper stickers Arnie didn’t agree with at all. Also the owners shot a rifle into the sky, attempting to strike the metal underbelly of possible invaders.

Police and fire, and the military, were very busy. Arnie knocked on the door. He’d rolled up his sleeves on an oxford shirt.

He was prepared for the dogs – they were locally notorious and, before the intrusion of an alien layer, the largest local threats. He displayed no fear.

“Can we have a word?” Arnie called out, into a general gloom. The screen door opened, and the dogs loped out, to hunt solitary toddlers.

“Neighbor,” the man was short, and bald, with beautiful and expressive brown eyes. He wore a t-shirt with a latin expression, not one Arnie knew. It seemed bad. “Arnie, yeah? Yeah.”

“Yeah, it’s Arnie,” Arnie said. He crossed his arms, uncrossed them. “About the–” he pointed a finger skyward. “That you’re shooting at.”

“Uh-huh,” the neighbor said. “Yeah.”

“Can you not shoot at them.” There, he had said it. He glanced down. The man was barefoot.

“At the aliens right up there.”

Arnie risked a nod.

“The ones shading your grass, right now. Waiting for whatever order nine-nine-eight, or whatever the gently caress. No shooting.”

“Yes,” Arnie said.

The neighbor worked on this. Behind him, labradors exercised dominion.

“Because it’s… too loud? Are we setting up hours?”

“We don’t want to…” Arnie tried to meet the man’s eyes. They were perfectly round, pools of light around the iris. “...piss them off. Sir.”

“SIR,” the neighbor contemplated. He shook his head, cast his alarming gaze back up. “Arnie, buddy, question for you. You moved in, what, four years ago?”

“Y-yeah,” Arnie said. Will tugged on his shirt.

“What’s my NAME?”

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011


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

MockingQuantum posted:

In, two flashes plz

It never hurts to give thanks to the navigator
Even when he's spitting out random numbers


Through the vines and the street
Slants the light and the heat
As narrow as the archer’s window grows

rohan
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?


:siren:"THEIR":siren:




Crits for Week #514


Carl Killer Miller - Down in the Belly:
On a first read, I was a bit irritated by how close the first corn cob reference is to Frenchy pulling out the offending holder. On a second, I’m more accepting of it, but I think it comes down to where the story’s intentions lie: as a mystery about how the alligator was killed, I would have preferred Chekhov’s Corn Cob to be dropped earlier in the piece, and then returned to as more of a reveal. But as part of a comic reflection on how easy it is to destroy “apex predators”, and how tenuous power is, the construction works well.

I do like that it’s clearly established as an alligator upfront, and don’t think that needs to be a reveal in itself. I think, in fact, fooling the reader into picturing a human autopsy before revealing it’s actually an alligator would just be frustrating.

Thranguy - A Manifesto Written on Lightning-charred Paper:
I’m with Jib in that this doesn’t read as an in-universe epistolary, at least from the beginning. It feels like this conceit becomes clearer as the piece progresses, but until then it reads more as a monologue.

I’ll freely admit I got incredibly lost reading this with all the names coming thick and fast, and I do think there’s just too much happening here for me to get emotionally invested in the protagonist’s plight. Cedina, for one, could be mentioned earlier in the piece, as a bit of foreshadowing for Jovethian’s eventual intent. Right now their mention feels a bit arbitrary at the end, when I’m already exhausted keeping track of so many names. (And it would be trivial, I think, to cut the number of names: Flivnis is mentioned once to no real effect, Darvae could be removed entirely if his role in setting up Katsoval’s cruelty is replaced by an earlier introduction of Cedina, Alixstan could just become “Vladovarus’ father”, etc).

Otherwise, I’m not completely sure I understand Jovethian’s motivations: he’s killing himself, and in doing so shorting their engines, which will provide the optimum conditions for the rising … that he’s trying to instigate through this letter? Unless his death is going to cause the machinery to fail extensively, it feels a bit premature.

The man called M - Manly Games on the Sea:
Once again, there are tense issues in the opening, but at least they seem limited there — once the story gets going in earnest, it all looks to be past-tense.

The prose is serviceable enough, but it’s lacking any kind of tension or stakes. You say “his pride was on the line”, but outside of that reference it doesn’t feel as if there’s any consequence to who wins or loses. It doesn’t help that the narration flips between each character in turn, so as a reader I’m not sure who I should be rooting for to win the thing. Ted and Jackson are fairly indistinguishable as characters and I don’t really get the “thrill of competition” from their match.

The ending is a bit “eh”, for me. It does feel like your entire story basically exists as a build-up to deliver the punchline about it being the Titanic, which isn’t great, but in the context of the story it also doesn’t make much sense. If I were on a cruise, I wouldn’t watch a tennis match and say “wow, I hope that’s the most exciting thing I see”.

Yoruichi - Family:
Is “spag bog” an NZ thing? I mentally corrected the first instance of “spaghetti bolognaise” to “spag bol”, which I thought better matched the register introduced with “yeet”, so I was glad it was shortened on second reference, even if to a weird other variant.

Some of the blocking confused me a little, which ordinarily wouldn’t be an issue, but I wasn’t quite sure if some of the magical references are meant to be clues that Carol’s actually a witch, or if it’s just an ongoing riff. Part of me was expecting the fridge to turn into some sort of Narnia / Tardis-esque refuge from the heat. Maybe it does, and the “too-small fridge interior” is a clue that this happens, but it could probably stand to be slightly more acknowledged?

The characters are all well-established and I get their motivations, even the odd aspects like why Carol’s there in the first place. I’m not sure you could entirely justify that without writing a much longer story, but I think the references to Andrew’s family being different and more attached go a long way to explaining this.

Probably the strangest part of the story, for me, was Vivienne lamenting the lack of physical letters from her family in a time where the word “yeet” exists.

Antivehicular - Self-Poisoning:
‘Magpie’ is such a good name for this character. I don’t know if it’s her given name or a name she’s chosen for herself — she seems the type to adopt her own name. The worldbuilding is effortless; there’s enough familiarity for me to latch onto, and things like the Forest work well as signifiers even if the story never quite makes their reality clear. It’s a lovely read with a lot to ruminate on.

The ending fell apart a little bit, for me. “maybe she can accept not getting old if it means remembering what she was” is fantastic, and the final line lands, but there’s a fair amount of additional worldbuilding in between that’s perhaps coming in too late, which risks the beauty of Magpie just enjoying this forbidden pleasure. I think it probably needs a structural shuffle to really get the most from it — I’m also eyeing the earlier line “Nobody in the Forest ever lived to get old”, which feels misplaced at the moment — but the bones are definitely there. The only change I can recommend off-hand is fixing the repeated “buts” in the second-to-last line, which break the flow a bit.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006
Breaking News: Industrial Giant Caterpillar To Relocate From Illinois to Texas
500 words

archived

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 20:51 on Jun 13, 2024

Albatrossy_Rodent
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!


Combination
314 words

"I'm hungry," I said. We hadn't eaten since we'd landed on the Crab People Planet, sightseeing about the endless cliffy beaches. "Any place to eat around here?"

"Yeah," said Max. "We should have enough Crab Bucks to stop at the Taco Bell."

"Hold on," I said. "We're a million light years from Earth. How is there a Taco Bell here?"

Max had been on all sorts of space adventures with her mad-scientist mom, and now that she had her driver's license, she was trusted to take friends out across the universe.

"Humans aren't the only people in the universe to come up with the idea of wrapping protein in a thin layer of bread for portability, and to develop a chain franchise that sells that product for cheap. The name doesn't translate to 'Taco Bell,' it's more…Tacos, with an exclamation point? Roughly speaking."

We walked into the enormous seashell.

"Hold on. What are you ordering?" she asks.

"Uh…do they have cheesy gordita crunch here?"

"This planet has no mammals, so there's no cheese, but also…yes, there's a rough equivalent to the cheesy gordita crunch." She turns to the cashier.

"Clickclackclickclackclackclickclackclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclackclackclackclickclackclickclickclackclackclickclickclickclickclackclackclick," she says.

The cashier affirms her order by clicking thrice with its left pincers and clacking twice with its right pincers.

"Hey," I say as we accept our tacos in a seaweed-paper sack. "What's that over there?" There's a second line, where Crab People are busy ordering what looks like sauce and whatever they have instead of cheese on top of bread.

"Oh," says Max. "That's another restaurant. They share the same building."

"So what you're saying is…I'm at the Piz…"

"Finish that sentence and I'm stranding you in space forever."

I laugh. We dig into our tacos, surrounded by the lovely chatter of clicks and clacks. They're pretty good, fine, okay, as any Taco Bell should be, anywhere in the universe.

Gorka
Aug 18, 2014

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021
In :toxx:

derp
Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy
Cattleya orchids

bad soil
300w


Something’s killing my orchids. They’re wilting. They have enough water, and I put fertilizer and there is full sun in my yard and yet they wilt. They droop, they bow down and their petals fall off and they die. There’s no moles, I’ve killed them, and I’ve killed the voles, I’ve sprayed for fungus, I have sprayed for gnats and aphids, I have looked under every individual leaf of every plant for eggs or ants or larvae and no, there is nothing. Yet they die.

Handfuls of dirt, between my fingers, under my nails, I don’t wear gloves. I get splinters from the tiny bits of wood, decomposing wood in the soil, tiny little needles that work their way into my skin. I dig down around the orchid bulb and the thick, fleshy roots cling and grasp to my fingers, pleading with me to save them. There are worms, beetles, other unknown movements. It’s raining, and the dirt becomes mud and I’m digging down, there must be something down there killing them.

The bulb comes loose from the dirt, I lift it and it’s washed in the rain and soilwater drips down my arms to my elbows and I hold the plant up, and the roots squirm like pale eels between my fingers. “Live!” I shout, “why won’t you live!”

The orchid looks down at me, its pink mouth is open wide, yellow tongue, red velvet eyes, the leaves stretch at me, spindly twisting fingers. “LIVE!” I shake it until roots are slapping my arms and the neck is snapped and dirt is splattering my face and the petals are torn and everything is a crumpled greenbrown heap of matter in my palms.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse


In

hard counter
Jan 2, 2015





in with a :toxx:

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011


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

Oh, hey, signups are closed

Thranguy
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.
Flash: In my dreams, it seems
That my eyes are always shooting laser beams


Eye Contact

400 words

The client's back is a blank canvas in pale peach. I apply black bandage tape to mark off the area, lift my glasses, and focus. It's still a bit of a surprise when the laser beams start, when that little red dot appears. I focus harder, and hear and smell the burning skin, hear the client grunt through gritted teeth.

There's two kinds of clients: those who want the topical painkiller and those who have to feel the marks going in. She's the latter type. Recovering addict, straight edge. My eye moves slowly, the beams tracing out the pattern. His pattern, his symbol. P for Paragon. They're all a little different. Subtle things. The messy, blocky letter of the original. The missing bottom bar of the heptagon for the third one. The jagged bits for Paragon X, when they let him wear it at all. This was the classic version, clean and simple. The second one. The client told me he saved her life. So we've got that in common. 

I mean, he's saved everyone's life plenty. But personal is different.

Laser eyes. Not the best power to have when you've only got one. In a fight and you really hurt someone, maybe kill them, or else they just laugh it off, and meanwhile you're just an average guy. But it's a power, which means it was enough to get me into the Crisis Corps.

The Corps is a joke, until it isn't. Three dozen young people with minor powers a year, doing martial arts training by day and sleeping around by night. Summer camp with spandex costumes, all so we'd be ready for an emergency that needs more than every real team in Edge City. Something that's never going to come, until it does.

I still have nightmares. I'm looking him straight in the eyes, and then I'm scared and mad and his eyes explode in their sockets. That's not how it happened. In reality, in the Time War, the Chronosoldier just burned away. But in the nightmare it's the eyes.

Paragon took the time, afterward. Made sure I had someone. Checked in. There's a lot of things I didn't do, when I thought about the next visit. Same with the client. Not a Time War thing. But he helped her get straight, didn't involve the cops.

I finish the symbol. Gave her my number, too. Hope she calls.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012



Mist

archive

MockingQuantum fucked around with this message at 22:14 on Dec 10, 2022

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Daily Special: Roasted Garlic Soup (V)
400 words

You’re sitting in a pub on Bramble Street. Right by the big window facing the busy sidewalk. There’s a tree growing out of a meager square of earth; its outstretched branches shade the window from the glare of sunlight bouncing off the building opposite.

A plump bumblebee is on the wrong side of the window. Your side. She’s ramming herself into the glass over and over: tonk. Tonk. Tonk.

The pub door is open. The sidewalk is snowy with fallen seed pods, the kind that look like little helicopters. A huff of warm breeze blows a dusting of them inside and now there’s a fan-shaped carpet of tree detritus in the entryway.

Tonk. Tonk. The bee doesn’t know that freedom is three feet to her right.

There’s a solitary puddle beneath the tree, an ankle-deep pool that hasn’t yet been slurped up by the thirsty sun. Every time a car passes, the puddle trembles and a million shards of reflected sunlight tremble with it. Everything else is dry. A crow gazes dustily down at the water from the branches above.

Tonk.

There’s an old man on the other side of the pub, the only patron aside from yourself. He’s not watching you, but you think he’s aware of you, the way you’re aware of him. Your attention is mostly on the bee. You wonder if he can see the bee, and whether he thinks it’s your responsibility to help her. You’ve never been good at touching bees, even though you've seen plenty of people handle big, docile bumblebees before. Inside your mind, you explain to the old man that you’re really, strongly considering helping the bee, and it’s not that you’re scared of bees, you just don’t like the bracing for surprise, the fear of the sting. And anyway, she would die if she stung you.

Tonk.

She’ll die if she doesn’t get out of the pub. You glance at the old man; he’s looking at his soup.

You hold your breath. You reach out, place your hand on the window beside where the bee is resting, near exhaustion. You coax her onto the knuckle of your pointer finger. And then, with an abrupt gesture, you fling her out into the projector-bright afternoon, watch her spiral toward the sunlight on microthermals of warm spring air. The puddle glitters; the old man sips his soup.

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