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The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Warning: The following is meant to be very disturbing, and a severe basturdization of Christianity. The author tried to make this as unrealistic as possible, but if there is any truth to this story, do NOT let him know. Also, there's implied rape.

Masturbating for Jesus
503 Words

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was very young, about five or six, when I witnessed my daddy doing the deed with a woman who wasn’t mommy. I asked what was going on, and he said,

“Son, by doing what I usually do with your mother with another woman, I’m doing it with Jesus.”

That changed my life forever.

When I was twelve, I started to take an interest in the opposite sex, as any good Christian boy would. I was taught in health class that girls would eventually get some things in their chest that they call breasts. I was fondly reminded of the breasts they sold at the grocery store. They were delicious! I always wondered if a girl’s breasts were delicious, as well.

About a year later, my wiener began to feel funny. The only way it stopped feeling funny was when I touched it. It felt good. During school, I learned that touching my wiener was known as, “masturbation”. When I first found out why folks masterbate, I was overjoyed! I vowed on that day that whenever I masturbate, I would masturbate for Jesus.

Around fourteen years old, I first found my daddy’s magazines. It amazed me just how beautiful women could be! It was through them that I found out that, yes, a woman’s breasts are delicious! Ever since then, I opened one of those magazines, masturbated, and thanked God everyday for women.

I never had a girlfriend in high school. The girls there were as beautiful as God could make them, but they tended to stay away from me. Could being a Christian be such a turn off? I was the most holy one there! Why are they not trying to have sex with me? Why??

I graduated high school, and went to a nice college. The women there were plainer than back at high school. Even then, I feasted with my eyes as much as I feasted with my stomach. While I never acted out of instinct, I felt a desire for something more. After all, man cannot live by bread alone.

It was a few days before I would’ve graduated when I finally snapped.

I had the most godly desire for sex. I didn’t know where to have it, I just knew I had to have it soon. As soon as I tackled the first woman I could find, one thought crossed my mind.

I love you Jesus!!”

And nowadays, I sit in this cell. It’s a nice, quiet place. I know many of my fellow prisoners are able to worship when the soap drops. If it gets them blessed, then I’m all for it. Whenever I get lonely in my cell, I just do my thing, and sing the same song.

“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”



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

Grey Sky, Distant Sea, Rubber Ball
1015 words

Ted shouldn't have been the first to die.

Everyone in the Elysium pilot group had known it would be him, the oldest and sickest, and he'd thought he was ready to make them proud; it wasn't until he stood in the empty expanse of Elysium, the first mind transported to the digital afterlife, that he realized just how inadequate he was to the task before him. The grey sky flickered with only the faintest swirls of cloud, and the hard-packed earth beneath Ted's feet spread uninterrupted to the horizon, where the shimmer of blue implied the vague possibility of a sea. The emptiness was half-bug, half-feature: a measure to let the server team focus on uploading and maintenance, not creating content, and a way to let the inhabitants create their own Heaven. Efficient, and brilliant in its way, but what use was Ted here?

The first mind in Elysium should have been someone else. The rest of the pilot group had been imaginative sorts, poets and theorists and architects, and even the laborers had known how to build something. Ted had been an accountant with no mind for the fantastic. What was he supposed to do -- fill this world with spreadsheets and equations?

When you didn't have imagination, Ted decided, you had to start with the concrete. He had himself, at least, as good as he'd ever been: his body heavy and sturdy, at his pre-chemo weight, and his mind free of pain-fog. It was all he'd really ever asked from Elysium, this solid persistence of the self; even if there were nothing for him but sky and ground, that was enough. But this wasn't just for him, was it? It was for the pilot group, and for the future, and for the investors. If he couldn't demonstrate Elysium's capabilities, it was going to look like a digital Purgatory, and there went the VC money, and the servers, and the dream. (And Ted, but it was hard to work from pure self-interest. Maybe he just didn't have the right glands for fear anymore.)

Start from memory, they'd told him during the training. Every mind is a treasure trove. Ted held out a hand and searched for something tangible, and a form materialized: one of the blue racquetballs he'd spent his childhood stealing from his dad's gym bag. He squeezed it, feeling the springy give of the rubber, just right. Ted threw it on the ground, where it gave an uneven dull bounce -- as it should have, because Elysium was still raw soil. That wouldn't do.

Ted started with a 10-by-10 square of linoleum, in a pattern he only belatedly remembered as that of a childhood friend's kitchen floor, scuffed grey-and-green floral. The next bounce was much better, a clean elastic return, his emulated body remembering the rhythm of throw and catch even after decades. The racquetballs had always been second best, though, after a good solid Superball, smaller and more chaotic. Ted reached out his hand and willed one there, only for his hand to stay empty. Of course they wouldn't come that easy, would they? The racquetballs had always been there, but the Superballs were things you lost and hunted for and lost again, vanished under furniture or into oblivion. His mind wouldn't just let him call one up. Where was best to hunt, then?

The scene sprang to life before Ted could even think of it consciously: a chunk of his elementary-school gym, rubber floor and an expanse of bleachers bigger than life, where his favorite Superball had bounced between the boards and disappeared into the ether. His memories allowed him a child's ease in slipping beneath them for the search, but there the simulation wavered -- he'd never been allowed down here in life, and Elysium had nothing to draw on. All right, then: what should the space under the bleachers feel like? Dark, of course. Dusty, but not filthy. Ted ignored his mind's urgings about how much trash there really ought to be and focused instead on the lost ball, the subconscious memory of its trajectory and where it might have landed. He crawled forward on his hands and knees into a space that felt more solid by the moment, seeking a spot of color in the beams of light that filtered down through the boards, and then he saw it -- the Superball. Not wherever it had ended up in life, of course, because he'd never known, but where it might have. Something he'd imagined, in the space he'd imagined. Something very much like creation.

Late elementary school, with its constant parade of lost and found Superballs, had also been Ted's world-mythology phase. As he sat in the dark, contemplating the familiar rubber form in his hand, he thought of the very beginnings, the stories of formless dark and the first gods to wake up there. He'd always wondered just how they knew what to make of it; if you'd never seen a world before, how did you figure out earth and water and sky? How did you figure out people? He'd never come up with a good answer, and now that he was in their place, he wasn't sure he understood any better -- but he'd made something here. Maybe that was enough for now, until the artists arrived.

Ted climbed out from under the bleachers to find a full gymnasium around him, banners hanging from the rafters: patterns of swirling void and polychromatic chaos, landscapes of fire and ice, the primordial worlds that the gods had made into Paradise. There was no ceiling, and above him, the sky of Elysium was its same marbled grey. Maybe blue would come later, or maybe grey was good enough. Ted had always liked neutrals.

Ted sat down on the top row of bleachers, pocketing the Superball and bringing out the racquetball again, squeezing it slowly in his hand as he watched the sky. The clouds were shifting, almost too slowly to track, but he had as long as it'd take to watch the fractal unfold. Elysium was empty. Elysium was alive.

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.


941 words

"Unfocus your eyes," droned Doctor Wheeler as the brew of drugs he'd given me started to kick in. It was harder to disobey; I went with the flow, and the space between us fuzzed away and bloomed into colors, kirlian auras swirling in fractal rainbows filling all the space in the old classroom. And there it was, swimming in that red yellow green blue ocean behind normal space. The devilfish, big as a tiger, forcing through the colors with its thrashing tail, eyes fixed and glaring, mouth open wide to show a hundred sharp teeth.

And it bit Mitchell on the shoulder, sending a spray of greens and purples into the air as it dug into his body.

"Dani," someone said. Terry? Dr. Wheeler? There was a hand on my shoulder, gently pushing me back into my chair. "You're freaking out." I blinked, snapped out of the visionary space. Mitchell looked fine. Someone handed me a glass of warm orange juice, which tasted too sweet.

We all wrote it off as a bad trip, nothing more. Dr. Wheeler adjusted the mix, and the colors were less intense, but still there, consistent and provable. We each described the same colors and features for each of our auras, on surveys taken separately. The paper was taking form, getting ready for publication.

And then Joni died.

An accident, they said. She fell off the bell tower balcony. Drunk, but no more than usual for a Friday night. We all found out together. She was the one who could get away with partying hard, the one who had the intuitive leaps that she could back up with logic and a few hours scribbling. The rest of us worked hard, through the weekends usually. We were all up doing neurochemical modeling when Dr. Wheeler called. The campus police called him, and he called us.

Mitchell was hit hard. I mean, we all were, but Mitchell and Joni had been a real thing for a while, way back in the beginning. She wasn't technically his first; there was a whole sad high school story that he told us all about one late night truth only truth or dare session, but yeah, she might as well have been.

We talked all night, telling Joni stories, which all seemed kind of sad even without the context. Nobody said it, but we all thought it I think. That maybe she didn't just fall.

Dr. Wheeler left first, then Terri and Jim, so me and Mitchell walked across campus together. Our rooms were in adjacent buildings, and when we got to mine he gave me this look, just a little bit of puppy eyes, and I just sort of snap decision moved in close, and there was his mouth, his tongue, his body pressed close.

I hadn't thought about the fish for months. But I dreamed about it, chasing me through colors, sharp teeth scraping my ankles. I snapped awake and had the sudden urge to grab a pillow and suffocate Mitchell right there. I was frozen there, not even breathing until I had no choice, then loudly gasping in air. His green eyes opened. He smiled groggy and reached for my breast. I batted his hand away and he shrugged, grunted, went back to sleep.

I got up, put on last night's clothes, and slipped out of the building. The sun was rising. I walked to the lab.

I was looking for the old notes. Dr. Wheeler kept his own records under his account, but there were handwritten notes too, Joni's notes, which should still be at her desk. That's where I went. I pulled out the square bound notebooks and started leafing through them. I found what I was looking for, sort of. Where it should have been. Lists of formulae and mixes, and one page, bookmarked with a group photo of the whole team, was half torn out.

I cursed and stared at the photo for a long time. Then I heard the door open, and that jolted me into realizing what I had been looking at so long. Mitchell's eyes. In the photo they were brown.

It was Dr. Wheeler. I did a quick eye check. Blue in the picture. Blue in front of me. I relaxed, just a bit. I thought about explaining everything to him, but I couldn't think of a way that didn't sound crazy. 

"You're up early," he said.

"I had something I wanted to check on," I said.


"The earlier formulations," I said. "I think we may have tamped down the visual intensity too much. That we're losing possibly relevant information."

He frowned, and my perception flipped, like a switch, complete with an electric sensation inside my skull. Just for a second I saw those bright kirlian colors again, and I saw that fish, hovering over Dr. Wheeler's shoulder like a balloon on a string. Then I felt the zap again, and I was back to normal.

"Sorry," I said. "I have to-" I pushed past him, toward the exit. I smelled ozone. I felt scraping across my ribcage. I broke into a run as soon as the lab door closed behind me. And I didn't stop running until I was halfway across the country. 

I still sometimes get those flashbacks, those electric sensations followed by a few seconds of visions. Less and less often, thank goodness. I haven't seen the fish since I left the university, but when I look at myself I can still see the scars, on my ankle, on my chest, thin lines in bright violet, slowly oozing color out into the radiant ocean between us all.

hard counter
Jan 2, 2015


Adolescence's Autumn
(1369 words)

Something had gone wrong with the séance. Somehow, when Dahn’s mind was projected into the swale between life and death, he'd become trapped. Dahn was assured that the séance would only grant him a glance of the Other Side. Nothing more was required of his first time. He was assured that there’d be no deep splunking, and that the kind of wild safaris where Mystiks plumbed the depths of the Other Side for months on end were never foisted on highschool seniors. All Dahn needed to do was to get a sense of what the Other Side looked like to him. He’d write a report about the journey, complete the graduation requirement, and then he could go on to do all the things he loved without the threat of the things hated always looming over him.

Dahn’s anxiety spiked again, and he resented it. He knew he was uncommonly jittery, and could be a slave to his nerves sometimes. He surveyed the landscape again to avoid a panic spiral. It nearly failed, because ahead lay a great ashen swamp, one rife with death. Withered trees, being eaten alive by fungi, hung rotting leaves from stems that coiled around their stalks like nooses. A pallid, orange halo forever clung to the dark horizon, and earthy graveyard scents fumed the air. The bogwood was completely waterlogged, and frozen mountains walled every side.

The sight only made Dahn queasier. Why didn’t anybody else see things like this coming? Dahn knew a séance could go wrong a billion different ways. Why didn’t anyone else think the way he did?

“Listen, we’ve been at this for hours,” A spirit guide wearing Dahn’s face and voice scolded, “Just go into the copse, find a friendly spirit, and they’ll tell you how to leave. They want you out as badly as you want out.”

“And what about the unfriendly spirits?” Dahn protested.

“poo poo happens man, sometimes you just gotta roll with it.”

“I tried ‘rolling’, and all I got was you.”

“Well, just keep on rolling and spin on in.”

Dahn glared back. Even if the dusk did hold forever, he supposed its lights would disappear under a bogwood canopy that thick. He could run blind into the jealous spirits that protected the Other Side’s secrets from intruders. Things would get real ugly then.

“They’re probably coming to get you already. They can smell the material world on you. You’d better get moving,” the spirit guide chided.

Dahn frowned. What a disaster. When he realized he was stuck, he tried conjuring a powerful spirit guide to teach him the way out, but all he got was some kind of manifestation of himself. An incarnation of his own superego, Dahn supposed, for his guide wouldn’t tell him anything that he didn’t already know.

“Blaming me isn’t going to fix things. Going in might.”

Dahn’s anxieties swelled. Oh, why couldn’t he have just found a way to fake this assignment? Or at least delay it? Didn’t he always find ways of evading the things he hated most? And who would've known? Everyone experiences the Other Side differently. Its true architecture’s too abstract for humans to fully grasp, so each mind imagines its own details to make sense of it. Its landscapes are always disguised in clothes from the psyche’s wardrobe. Dahn knew these were childish thoughts, but he voraciously consumed hundreds of books about the Other Side, so if anyone could fake it, he could.

“This isn’t like your driving exam. You can’t put this off until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready.”

Dahn loathed being so subservient to his doubts all the time, but he couldn’t deny how safe and successful they’ve kept him. Was it finally time to doubt his doubts?

“And you know how a séance’ll leave someone’s mind behind sometimes...”

Dahn paced the entry to the bogwoods, trying to rile himself up. A slimy, shallow stream led the way inward.

“...And you know how they have to find their own way out. Stop agonizing and grow a backbone.”

It wasn’t courage that drove him into the bogwoods, Dahn knew, but that same old fear of failure that made him so cautious in the first place. Dahn tested the murky stream with his feet, and waded in.


The light held through the bogwood’s canopy, letting Dahn see the strange creatures that fritted about its mossy shores. A huge, soft-looking, pink blob slurped some tree sap that looked watery and bland. If only it knew that a plump young human was nearby! Yet, it seemed fixated on the sap. The blob consumed it voraciously, without any thought for its surroundings. Dahn presumed it to be hostile and tested its awareness from afar with rocks, but nothing shifted it. Dahn easily passed it by.

Further upstream, immense beasts cloaked themselves in mists that now lifted from the stream. Though invisible in the fog, their awesome size couldn’t be concealed. They created huge voids in the thickets they barrelled through, and their footprints were enormous. Dahn tested their awareness from afar with a rock, making sure to hide himself after the throw, but they all fled in a gross panic! Dahn couldn’t believe such beasts would stampede away from something so small.

“Ironically, they seem touchy about things they can’t see,” the spirit guide smirked, giving voice to Dahn’s thoughts.

The two eventually passed a whole cavalcade of ludicrous beasts. Dreaming manticores that never stirred, hungry wyverns too timid of their wings to take flight, grotesque bees stuck in their own honey, baby phoenixes that only peaked through their eggshells. Dahn couldn’t make any sense of this parade of misfits. Where were the jealous spirits? Did his teachers deceive him? Were all those warnings of the Other Side’s dangers just lies? Fables to make the reckless shy? The questions began to crescendo in Dahn’s head. Something from his own psyche must be creating these feeble illusions. Where were the friendly spirit among all these oddities? Perhaps they all were...

“-Now you’re getting it,” the spirit guide interrupted, “And, yes, we’re all friendly spirits-”

Dahn blinked, letting insight blossom in his mind. His mind ran a mile a minute now.

“... and we’re all explaining how to leave. See, we don’t talk the way you do. We’re a little more... abstract.”

The spirit guide took the form of a turtle but retained Dahn’s voice.

“It’s alright to be slow and steady. To have your own passions, but no matter where you are, you’re always going to be stuck if you keep making such ordeals of everything.”

A leviathan slithered out of the guide’s turtleshell and snaked atop the stream’s waters.

“Listen, you’re still young, and you’ve almost figured out all this dumb teenager poo poo anyway. Otherwise, I couldn’t use your own voice to tell you, but what you’ve got to do now is puzzle out the exit. I’m showing you, but you know I can’t tell you. You have enough to decipher it anyway. Good luck.”

Without another word, the spirit guide slipped into the murky waters, and that was that. Dahn’s mind still raced. While the guide’s words were still fresh, Dahn seized at every idea. It was like he’d entered some kind of lightning round.

If his psyche could conjure such strange beasts, perhaps it could conjure an exit?

Nothing appeared.

If his psyche was the palette that painted this world, perhaps he could flag the exit with bright red?

Nothing changed.

If the guide could take his shape, could he take the guide’s shape and find a hidden exit?

Nothing transformed.

Strangely, these misses didn’t agonize Dahn. They energized him. They felt more like stepping stones showing him the way home. He continued.

What would this world look like if he wasn’t so sombre about things he didn’t enjoy?

Something happened. The Other Side shifted. A fresh autumn beauty coursed through its morphing architecture. It was breathtaking, but what did its loveliness accomplish?

The bogwater disappeared, and its absence left behind a gaping cosmic fissure. Dahn could see the séance table he departed from peeking through the fold. Without thought he prepared a running leap, making, for once in his life, a brazen jump without any hesitation.

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:

562 words

You built this coop with your own two hands and all of the crappy, twisted lumber you could buy from Lowes. You did your research. It’s lined with hardware cloth, not chicken wire, and the cloth is buried six inches below the ground to deter digging predators.

Despite all your efforts, your birds lie dead. You want it to have been an animal, not a person. You don’t want to think about the kind of person who would break into a chicken coop and twist the heads off of eight lovely, friendly hens and their loyal, if dumb as a brick, rooster. But the door that had been locked was still locked. And the bodies hadn’t been gnawed on, just thrown down to the ground.

You can’t find the heads.

The farm has, like all farms, always been plagued by mice. But these days you’re noticing less damage. It seems like a good deal to you until you find the springtime nests splattered with dry blood, tiny furry bodies stained with gore. Good riddance, your father-in-law says. But you see how his hands shake when he clears the nests from the attic. Maybe they’ll go after the squirrels next, he says hopefully.

When the squirrels start to die he says nothing, simply surveys the ring of broken, decapitated bodies that now surround every tree on the property. He goes into the office and sees no one for the rest of the day.

The barn cats are next. You don’t see it. Your father-in-law stops you from seeing it, he knows you loved them. You cry harder than you’ve cried since your mother died. You work, the farm doesn’t stop, after all, but you weep into your PPE while you spray antifungals into the orchard. Your tears leave trails of saltwater on the tractor, on the linkage for the bailer.

That night you see your father-in-law has listed the farm for sale. The farm that has been in his family for generations. Nobody, not even your husband, argues with him.

No animals have managed to survive more than a night on your farm since the chickens. Something is broken inside the land, and it’s breaking you. You had been trying for a baby once, but stopped after the chickens. You were convinced any fetus would be anencephalic. You couldn’t do that. You couldn’t survive that.

But it’s not your problem anymore.

The sale takes months, but it gets done at last. A young couple from Google wants to grow hops and start a brewery. You give it three years before the whole place sells to a developer and becomes another suburban patchwork of homes. Nobody in the family cares anymore, you just want to leave.

The last night you spend in the family farmhouse you dream of a lizard man amid a pile of skulls. His size warps in your perception, first small enough to creep through the eye sockets of the baby mouse and then looming, terrible, staring down at you and your land, drooling thick blood from his sharp teeth.

You think you recognize an expression on that cruel and alien face: satisfaction at a job well done.

He notices you. He leers. He creeps forward.

You feel something unzippering inside your throat. Something fleshy and important.

You pray that you will wake before it finishes.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

I hereby CLOSE submissions. Now you must all stay as still as statues and await my judgement.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


This week, the things we liked we really liked, each for completely different reasons. The rest of your vague, meandering stories we meet with stony silence (for now, crits to come).

Winner: Demonic by Chernobyl Princess
HM: the brain is like a web spun by an idiot by flerp
HM: Adolescence's Autumn by hard counter
Loser: Masturbating for Jesus by The man called M

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Crits for Week #532

Sailor Viy - The King's Cat:
This is a nice fast read in an unusual world, so that in itself is an accomplishment. I see everything clearly and even get a feel for the world as I read. Beyond that? Eh, I mean we’ve got a little caper that goes kinda well, and then recall to action ending. I’m more broadly interested in seeing the consequences of sea people vs plains people than the heist here which feels a bit uninspired.

WindwardAway - Old Gods:
Found this one a bit frustrating. The setting of the story feels distant and far away from this universe and then suddenly there’s ambulances. Also, you spend nearly the entire first half kinda glancing at a lot of stuff that happens, and the story doesn’t really begin in earnest until the mother gets sick. I kept waiting for something to happen and when that did I was pretty underwhelmed. A lot of time is spent on the world and less the characters so when the inciting event has to do with a character I don’t care as much as I want to.

The ending of the story makes sense but I’m curious about what compelled you to tell it in the first place. Like yeah, she doesn’t take the help, or maybe there’s something about the kid not believing enough, but so what?

flerp - the brain is like a web spun by an idiot:
This sort of ‘what could/would/should have been style of story isn’t usually my thing, but this is pretty effective. The way it works, at least for me, is in how it triggers the senses in the second person. It’s easy enough to identify with the narrator as l’appel du vide is not only a universal concept but one that triggers all of our collective curiosity. I’ve struggled with 2nd person stories because oftentimes when I read ‘you want’ I feel like ‘no I don’t rear end in a top hat, gently caress off’ but I didn’t catch that here making this a rare natural fit for the device.

dervinosdoom - Lost Sea Memories:
From a technical level this story has some problems. The exclamations become slapdash and overused, so it kinda feels like the story is randomly shouting things. You’ve also got comma splices riddled through this which disrupts the flow of the read. The last sentence in your second paragraph is a particularly fiendish culprit here.

Beyond that…. Why is this guy struggling with his memory? How does it enhance the story? It just makes the reading of it kind of confusing and it complicates the impact of your ending. Why does the king feel that with this result “all is lost” and does your narrator agree? What does he want beyond survival. Being lost at sea and struggling to survive is a good trope to try and play around but it’s a solid structure because usually the motivation is clear, here, I’m not really sure why I should care about this guy, or the king.

The Cut of Your Jib - Syncretism:

OK, so we have what ends up being a separated-at-birth story with some kind of message about not trying to figure out the truth or you’ll bring a drought.

I don’t know. I don’t really get this. I followed you with regards to these kids wanting to know more about their origin but apart from some admittedly pretty prose what else is going here that’s all that interesting? I want more from this.

Idle Amalgam - La Sangre Del Dios Sol:
I want this entry to either be about the first half or focus on the lore of the second. As it is we get a somewhat dry and trite ‘we gotta hunt ol’ billy down’ kinda story followed up by an expository telling of a mythos. Pick one, do it better than 600 words for each.

The man called M - Masturbating for Jesus:
I don’t want to crit this because I have nothing particularly new to say. Here’s what I will say.

Stop writing stories where bad things happen to women, or homeless people, or trans people.

Stop writing things that are cruel.

Stop writing things that are ugly and mean.

None of this is ‘disturbing’. It’s annoying. It’s annoying because it’s just thrown out without seeming regard for an agenda. You’re just doing this poo poo for the sake of it. If there’s some deeper reason, it’s certainly lost on me.

Just try and tell a drat story where someone wants something and tries to get it without it being a giant god drat reference or something that “everybody just doesn’t get”.

Antivehicular - Grey Sky, Distant Sea, Rubber Ball:
This started off incredibly strong. I love the concept and was excited to see where it went. Once the superball stuff started I got a little less interested and then it kinda stayed there for awhile and I stopped feeling as engaged.

This doesn’t feel like a good story for a flash entry, this feels like the beginning for something much stronger. I’d love to see what happens as more people arrive, what comes next and such. As it is, it’s got elements of brilliance and strength in it but I got a little lost when things got abstract.

Thranguy - Devilfish:
This is effective for what it is. The story is small and personal and also pretty harrowing and disturbing. I don’t quite know much about this cohort, how its organized, or what their agenda is and I think I’d like to but it would also take away from the central thrust of one person’s dark and sad journey. It still feels like it’s missing something, it kinda just feels a bit cautionary which isn’t all that interesting.

hard counter - Adolescence's Autumn:
Oh, I like this! For a bunch of reasons. I like the suggestion of what school this is where people just kinda do seances. At first I wanted to see more of it, but then I was happier that you kept it to Dahn. I also dug the worldbuilding which never felt gratuitous or heavy handed and was directly tied in with the narrative. And hey, what can I say? I’m a sap for that kind of ending. There’s growth and development of character and lots of stuff here. I liked this a lot!

Chernobyl Princess - Demonic:
Appreciation for the natural comes through here and the blight on the land feels sobering and solemn. The story had me going and feeling how I imagined you wanted me to feel until the google couple and nods to suburban development kind of hit me over the head with your messaging. That kinda betrayed the larger impact of the piece. As with the other 2nd person entry this week, you found a good home for the device since this is poo poo anyone with half a brain feels worried about on any given day. So, well done there. I know you were a bit pressed for time but I do think expanding on some of the more harrowing details and the responses to it could have gone a long way. Otherwise, this is effective and mostly well done.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Week #532 Crits

Demonic - Chernobyl Princess
I love how spooky this is. The grounded details and the second person voice really worked to connect me with the story. The story doesn't overstay its welcome by a moment, and the reveal of the demon's true face at the end was perfect. I dunno what to tell ya, I feel like some sort of horror zine would publish this, it's pretty dang good!

the brain is a web spun by an idiot - flerp
My initial reaction was, "Metaphor, baby!! Yeehaw!!!" I feel like TD sees relatively few stories like this, where the feeling and meaning of the piece take primacy over character arc or plot. And it's definitely not the sort of thing I write, so I find your deft executions of these types of stories very impressive. The descriptions of the spider are great, extremely tactile. You make me feel what it's like to eat this spider. Also, this wouldn't be my first guess for an example of an intrusive thought, and yet it's very relatable. The second person voice serves you pretty well here, except for the line "You want to want to do those things because that’s normal, you’re normal, normal people don’t eat spiders, but you don’t want to." which seems clumsy to me. Ultimately, I felt like this slice of time was quite interesting, but I wanted to take the next step, eat the spider, and find out the consequences, particularly with a good deal left in the word limit.

Adolescence's Autumn - hard counter
The great thing about this story is the clarity. We have a setup, we have a character arc, and the character arc gets resolved. Excellent structure and a relatable arc too. In the context of this week's crop, that stuff really stands out. However, I felt that the fundamental character problem of "Doesn't want to do thing" made for an uninteresting opening half of the story, especially without much of a ticking clock to raise the stakes. This first half of the story spends a long time spinning wheels, which is appropriate to the character, but probably too long to make for a great story. In the second half, I felt that the overabundance of spirits was repetitive and didn't serve the story well. Maybe it would be cleaner to have one great scene with one type of spirit, like the invisible giants, than a whole bunch at surface level. Finally, it seemed like once Dahn hooks into the right way to make headway in his journey, it's too easy to get to the finish line. Better balance is needed.

La Sangre Del Dios Sol - Idle Amalgam
The action scene is well-written, it's all clear and it flows well. Although it's too easy for Lane to deal with this monstrous version of his former mentor. It's missing some fundamental level of emotionality, or exploration of its absence. And I sort of feel like I have seen this scene before, in a vampire movie. That doesn't really take away from the merits of it. The lore dump scene did nothing for me. What this story is really missing is some sort of mirroring between Billy and Lane's relationship story, and the lore story. How are Billy and Lane like the sun and moon gods? Why does this lore dump get matched up with their physical struggle in this story?

The King's Cat - Sailor Viy
This is solid - I like the worldbuilding, and the notion of a heist in this kind of setting excites me. However, I think what makes heists work in stories is the minute-by-minute tension created between the plan and execution. In this, we get no sense of the plan, and the execution is rushed in favor filling the word count with character & setting background. Also, I think the ending would hit harder if the POV character was the one to get turned into a cat, rather than being a distant observer to that fact. It's hard to do a heist without a gonzo tone, but it's also hard to do a gonzo tone in this kind of setting, but if you could pull it off I think it would kick rear end.

Devilfish - Thranguy
I find the base premise of a university study into psychedelic drugs resulting in demonic contact very intriguing. That's my type of poo poo. But I couldn't really follow the plot action here or clock the significance of the events. I think the story is too big for the word limit and you didn't work very hard to condense it or show me only the most interesting scenes. My only really specific gripe is that the tension around the eye color seemed clumsy - there's a moment where you describe Mitchell's "puppy eyes" but you awkwardly shoehorn in that they're green a couple lines after that to set up the photo where he has brown eyes. And then that tension doesn't seem to go anywhere. Like my co-judge I feel like I'm missing something.

Syncretism - The Cut of Your Jib
I think the overall arc and tone of this story is decent! In other words the vibes are good. I liked the very last line a lot too. The opening scene was confusing for me, I kept having to reread to see who was being referenced between Juche, "the mother", the priestess, and the baby all being referred to as "she". Also, I think you chose less interesting scenes to show us than would be in the best version of this story. The separate scenes of Cao and Tao finding out about Glaosem felt like wasted time when you could have had them meet up sooner so we can spend time in the good poo poo, which is estranged siblings Cao and Tao learning about each other.

Lost Sea Memories - dervinosdoom
Okay, while this is very sloppy... I kinda don't mind in the context of the story. It succeeds at giving the feeling of the recollections of a dehydrated traumatized elder. This would be an epistolary story but the setting doesn't have writing utensils. So we get this. And I chuckled at the quick turnaround from eating the dog, to "This is because we ate the dog!" Now, the problem is, nothing very interesting happens in the story. The POV character is blank, and the events of the journey are pretty unimaginative.

Grey Sky, Distant Sea, Rubber Ball - Antivehicular
I felt betrayed by a strong start to this story. The setup is super intriguing! But you picked a bad character to write this story about, at least with the story going in this direction. This is an old, old man who has lived a whole life. Sure, he had a boring job, but he wasn't a sociopath, right? He has had an emotional life, presumably. And yet the only details he can pull from a long life of experience are from his childhood, and they don't seem particularly emotionally charged. This bummed me out.

Old Gods - WindwardAway
This story has decent structure. It moves right along. And I think you picked an image to close the story that feels true - firelight on art is the very stuff of gods, in ancient human conception at least. But overall this story feels pretty vague and the lack of specificity hurts it. The vagueness seems sort of intended to create a sense of timelessness, which could work, but the outcome of it all isn't profound or universal enough to warrant that. In the opening of the story it's a little confusing because I can't get a grip on when and where I should be imagining this story taking place. Also, the narrator seems to contradict herself - we're told they acclimate to their new home for the most part, but later the narrator complains they're treated like savages, which we never really got to see. And she also lets herself down without acknowledging it by trusting her obviously untrustworthy mother to take the medicine.

Masturbating for Jesus - The man called M
This feels like less of a story than a really wordy version of a dirty joke or a limerick or something. It doesn't really have narrative progression. You didn't really try to do anything with this one. And I feel like it's a missed opportunity, because if you take this setup seriously, there is horror and/or comedy you could explore in someone who thinks of Jesus whenever they get horny. All of it being in service of a moment of sexual violence is very unpleasant. Next time you enter, please remember that you have an audience to play to that's made of real people, and try to win instead of loving around. If this sort of attention-seeking, "aren't I naughty" type of story is all you're willing to put even minimal effort into, is it really worth your time?

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:

WEEK 533


It's Halloween season and I am an unrepentant sap! Write me a paranormal/supernatural love story in 2000 words or less. When you sign up I can provide you with either a type of monster or a romantic relationship problem to be featured, or both!

To clarify, the relationship problem does not need to be the central conflict of the story, but ideally it will show up in the interplay between the characters.

No happily ever after is required, but they are appreciated!

No erotica
No google docs
No political screeds

Sign ups will close around 7am EST on Saturday Oct 22nd
Submissions will close around 7am EST on Monday, Oct 24

Chernobyl Princess

Chairchucker: Oread, your characters met while in relationships with other people
The Saddest Rhino: Angel, one of your characters suffers from an addiction
Nethilia: Golem, a partner has a wandering eye
Pththya-lyi: Vampire, meddlesome in-laws
Idle Amalgam: Devil, household chores are not done to one partner's liking
The man called M: Sylph, parents do not approve of the relationship, may not use violence to resolve the problem
Flerp: Troll, one partner does not respect the other's hobbies
Thranguy: Minotaur, disagreements in parenting
Antivehicular: Dragon, recent unemployment
rohan: Sphinx, health problems leave a partner struggling
FrozenGoldfishGod: Mermaid
Bad Seafood: ShadowPerson, one or both members of the couple are constantly in chaos

Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 20:59 on Oct 21, 2022

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


hello gimme both please

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

Gimme both thank you

Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition

I've been called out to write paranormal kissy stuff and so I guess I'd better get in on it.

Hit me with both.

Nov 8, 2009

Gimmie a twofer

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
In, romantic relationship problem heck and a monster too.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


In. Both, please.

At least it will be better than last week’s poo poo.

Feb 25, 2014
in both :toxx:

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, both.

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:

Chairchucker posted:

hello gimme both please

Supernatural Figure: Oread
Relationship Drama: Your characters met while in relationships with other people

The Saddest Rhino posted:

Gimme both thank you

Supernatural Figure: Angel
Relationship Drama: One of your characters suffers from an addiction

Nethilia posted:

I've been called out to write paranormal kissy stuff and so I guess I'd better get in on it.

Hit me with both.

Supernatural Figure: Golem
Relationship Drama: A partner has a wandering eye. Metaphorically. Or maybe literally. Maybe both!

Pththya-lyi posted:

Gimmie a twofer

Supernatural Figure: Vampire
Relationship Drama: Meddlesome in-laws

Idle Amalgam posted:

In, romantic relationship problem heck and a monster too.

Supernatural figure: Devil
Relationship Drama: Household chores are not done to one partner's liking

The man called M posted:

In. Both, please.

At least it will be better than last week’s poo poo.

Supernatural Figure: Sylph
Relationship Drama: Parents do not approve of the relationship

...M you also have an additional challenge: the resolution of this problem cannot involve interpersonal violence.

flerp posted:

in both :toxx:

Supernatural Figure: Troll
Relationship Drama: One partner does not respect the other's hobbies

Thranguy posted:

In, both.

Supernatural Figure: Minotaur
Relationship Drama: Disagreements in parenting

Sep 11, 2018

I never said I was a role model.

Redemption: Week 530 - ANTI-CORP PROPAGANDA

Night of the Living and Dead
Words: 1487

Zolla stared across the street watching a cashier hose a lake of blood off the sidewalk in front of a convenience store. Dawn had broken nearly an hour ago and Zolla was stuck somewhere between exhaustion and bone-rattling anxiety. Her bus was late.

She’d spent the night in a tent that wasn’t hers. Whoever owned it never showed up to claim it. So it became her home for a few hours. Someone bigger than Zolla muscled it away from her the next morning.

Mercy House wouldn’t take her anymore. The county changed the rules, they said. No shelter for people like her. How else would the poor vamps get their food?

Zolla thought about trying to get her hands on a dose of ReWrite to hide the fair game marker in her blood, but she watched a guy attempt the same thing that afternoon. The door staff took his blood and almost let him in. But the machine corrected the reading before he could get through the door. Zolla had to look away when the guy started sobbing.

The marker was difficult to hide. SangGenys made sure of that. Zolla didn’t even bother trying to get through the scanner; she’d light up like a Christmas tree. She could still get food and a bus ticket. The attendant seemed like she wanted a gold star when she told Zolla she’d snuck her a couple of extra apples.

‘I might die tonight,’ Zolla wanted to reply.

“Thanks,” she mumbled instead.

Then the countdown to night began.

Zolla spent the last bit of daylight hitting up all the shelters on the east side. She had food to last the week, a plush wool scarf, and a baggie with a new toothbrush in it. Nice things. Just not what she needed.

What she needed was four walls, a roof.

The vamp-free zones went away when the city let SangGenys build a lab downtown. She walked down Tenth Avenue toward the bridge at Danner Street. Zolla reached out to let her fingers graze the chain link fence that separated the nice apartments from the sidewalk. Crucifixes of all shapes and sizes hung from the links, fashioned out of everything from tin foil to masts of derelict boats. She touched a wooden cross with a little plastic Jesus affixed to it, hoping it’d bless her or something.

What Zolla really needed was a miracle.

There wasn’t a soul under the Danner Bridge. The bare dirt slope was once covered by makeshift shelters. Cops must have come through and swept them out. She spotted what looked like a tiny shipping pallet cabin in progress. Whoever started building it was long gone.

That was likely as good as it was going to get for Zolla tonight. There wasn’t enough light left for her to go any farther. Full dark was nearly here. A cool breeze blew up a cloud of dust. Zolla reached into the bag and wrapped the scarf around her neck.

Zolla parted the tarps draped over the pallet hutt and frowned at the dark pile on the ground. A foul odor wafted up from the mass, making her eyes water. It figured they’d leave their trash.

She leapt backward, nearly falling on her rear end when the pile shuddered.

A gnarled hand shot out from under a heavy blanket. Skin like ancient parchment wrapped around bones so stark, she could count each phalange in the dark. The head of a corpse emerged.

“Help… me,” it rasped.

The stench of its breath reached her even feet away. At once, she recognized the scent of stale blood. That was no zombie in front of her.

“gently caress off,” she sneered and she kicked at the outstretched hand. The vampire recoiled with a snarl.

“I’ll pay,” it wheezed, though it had yet to draw breath. “Have… money.”

“Yeah right,” Zolla spat on the ground, trying to get the metallic tang out of her mouth. She quickly scooped up her bag and turned toward the fence. She had nowhere else to go, but she couldn’t stay here.

“Take it,” it called out.

Against Zolla’s better judgment, she turned around. Curiosity won out. Her eyes widened as the vampire produced a thick roll of bills. How did a vamp that loaded end up starving under a bridge? It could pay for the luxury of a willing donor. It didn’t need scraps like Zolla, who could never afford the SangGenys infusion that kept the vampires away.

She stood still, eyes never leaving the money in its hand.

“Your blood is clean,” it keened, “I can smell it.”

“You’ll kill me,” Zolla replied.

“I won’t,” it replied. The vampire finally crawled out of the pallet hut. It let out a guttural groan as it pushed up on its knees. The vamp wore a suit. A loving suit. It’d seen better days, but it was a suit all the same. “I swear on my sire, you will live.”

Zolla’s mind raced. If she got any closer, the markers in her blood would ignite. She’d turn into a human glowstick. It’d be lights out for her.

She shook the thought from her head. The state it was in? Surely Zolla could overpower it – him? Her neck was covered; he’d never know. gently caress, she needed the money. She could buy her way into a shelter that wouldn’t ask questions. Maybe this was her ticket.

The dirt crunched under her boots as she stalked toward him. She bent down to scoop up the corner of a broken cinder block.

“Money first. And you stop when I say, or I’ll bash your skull in.” It would only slow him down a little. Their heads just re-inflated like balloons. She had to watch a documentary about vampires before they let her out on parole.

“Deal,” he rasped eagerly. He threw the cash at her. She reached down to pick it up. Her heart leapt in her chest. There had to be at least a grand in her hand. What sort of person – vampire – walked around with that much money in their pocket? And why was he rotting under a bridge?

Zolla took a deep breath and knelt on the ground in front of him. She rolled up her sleeve and offered her arm.

She couldn’t track the pupil in his eyes, but she felt him staring at her all the same. With a low growl, he reached for her wrist and jerked it to his mouth. His fangs sank into her flesh without warning. Zolla let out a sharp cry of pain.

Her head swam immediately. This wasn’t anything like the blood draws she’d had before. She actually felt the blood leaving her body. An awful sensation. Her yelp of pain morphed into a groan.

“Let go,” Zolla panted. “I’m gonna be sick.”

He obeyed. His fangs came free with a wet squelching noise. Zolla fell onto her hands and knees and retched into the dirt, blood pooling between her fingers. When the sickness subsided, she sat back on her heels.

The vampire had bright yellow eyes set in a face that looked almost human. He even had a full head of hair now. But his blood-stained lips were curved in a wicked grin that made Zolla’s empty stomach drop.

A faint red glow out of the corner of her eye made her want to throw up all over again. The scarf had slid down, baring the luminous marks to the vampire.

Their eyes met, and for what felt like eons, they simply stared at one another. Neither moving an inch. Zolla thought she’d choke on the tension. Would he kill her? Could she outrun him? He looked so much more… alive now. She hadn’t expected that. He’d only been latched for a few seconds.

“You swore,” Zolla said through a trembling breath.

“I did,” the vampire replied with a voice like molten silver. He sat back on his heels, mirroring her.

Zolla swallowed thickly. Hope fluttered to life in her chest. “You’ll let me go?”

“I said I’d let you live,” he replied in a tone that sent her into a state of panic.

Zolla leapt to her feet, nearly toppling sideways as a fresh bout of vertigo took her by surprise. The vampire caught her by the waist. She swung the broken block at him, but he swatted it out of her hand effortlessly.

“Relax,” he dragged her up against his chest. She writhed violently against him to no avail; his grip was too strong. He smelled like death and she wanted to be as far from him as possible. But as she glanced up to meet the golden eyes boring down into her, she saw it. A SangGyns code stamped into the skin below his jaw. A mark exactly like hers. Vampires didn’t get marked.

What was he?

He bent his head to hiss in her ear. “I think we can help each other.”

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

In -- creature and conflict, please.

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?


alright, this is the inspiration I needed after three failures

I’ll take a creature and a conflict please

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:

Antivehicular posted:

In -- creature and conflict, please.

Supernatural Figure: Dragon
Relationship Drama: Recent unemployment

rohan posted:

alright, this is the inspiration I needed after three failures

I’ll take a creature and a conflict please

Supernatural Figure: Sphinx
Relationship Drama: Health problems leave a partner struggling

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!


Oct 29, 2009


In, monster only please.

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:

FrozenGoldfishGod posted:

In, monster only please.

Supernatural Figure: Mermaid

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Give me a monster and a problem.

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:

Bad Seafood posted:


Give me a monster and a problem.

Supernatural Figure: Shadow Person
Relationship Drama: One or both members of the couple are constantly in chaotic situations

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!

My Dear Abigail
1749 words

I awaken in an unfamiliar room, the only warmth the little flame cased in the gas-lantern. A little moonbeam sneaks in through cracks in the boarded window. I am frightened, and call out for my husband.

"Richard! Richard!"

There is a flurry of footsteps from outside the room, and the door opens. A man comes in wearing Richard's Union blues. After a moment, it becomes clear the man is Richard himself, and I blame my doubt on the dark.

"Abigail, my dear Abigail, what is wrong?" he says.

"I don't know this place. Where are we?"

"Oh dear, you don't remember," says Richard. "The sickness is getting worse, isn't it?" He sits on the bed beside me. "We're in the city. It's the only place we can buy your medicine."

"Oh," I say. "Can I go out and get some fresh air?"

"No," says Richard. "Doctor's orders. You're not supposed to exert yourself. Don't worry about a thing. I will take care of you." And he starts kissing me, and his lips feel strange and alien, and I return the kiss, because what else am I to do?

It is the third night in a row I am awoken by the horrible screaming noise. Richard says that it's a train whistle, but it sounds like no train I've ever heard.

"Can you wake me in the morning, please?" I say. "I want to see the sunshine."

"Not in your condition," says Richard. "While you're sick, the sun will…"

"Cover me in horrible boils, I know," I say. "At least let me look out the window. I won't let the sunbeams touch me, I swear."

Richard shakes his head. "Not yet, I don't want to lose you. I'll talk to the doctor, see if we can make an exception…"

"Bring the doctor here. I would like to speak to him myself," I say.

"But Abigail…"

"This sickness is ravaging my body and mind, it's only right that I should be able to speak with the doctor myself."

Richard sighs. "Okay," he says.

"What's that?"

"Yes. Yes. Of course."

"So, you haven't been able to stay awake during the day at all?" says Dr. Harrison. Richard is pacing by the bedside.

"It's more than that," I say. "I don't wake up in the day at all. I try staying up until sunrise, and before I know it, I'm waking at twilight. I haven't seen daylight since we came to the city."

"Curious," says Harrison.

"Doctor," I say. "What is the name of my condition?"

"Oh. You're really putting me on the spot here, aren't you?"

"It's just, if I knew its name, perhaps I could procure some reading material?"

"I see," says Harrison. "I'm afraid what you have doesn't have much in regards to medical literature, and I don't know how to pronounce it. Here, let me write it down for you. Richard, do you have a pen and paper?"

"Of course," says Richard. "In the other room."

Richard leaves for a moment, then returns with the whitest paper I have ever seen. Harrison writes something on the paper with a simple but bizarre pen that he never dipped in ink, then hands the paper to me.


It does indeed feel like something weird is going on here, but what are these numbers here at the end?

In the daytime I dream of an old man, dressed in his old Union blues, wandering the churchyard cemetery with his ragged bloodhound beside him, setting his flowers beside me.

"Why do you lust for me now, in my illness?" I ask Richard, putting my gown on again.

"How do you mean?" he says, buttoning his coat.

"You know perfectly well," I say. "Our love has never been passionate, has it, except when we're trying to concei–"

I must truly be consumed with illness, for how have I forgotten?

"Richard, where are the children?"

"It's okay," he says calmly. "They are okay."

He keeps using that odd word.

"Where are they?"

"Abigail, they are staying with their uncle while…"

"What uncle? I have no siblings and your brother died at Antietam."

"Of course! With your illness you have no memory of my brother Abraham…"

How old are Emily and Adam now? Had not Emily married that Miller boy? How old am I? Where is my walking stick?

"Who's the president?" I say.

"What?" Richard says.

"Who is the President of the United States?"

"Lincoln, of course."

"Lincoln was shot on the first night of our honeymoon! He's been dead for…well, how long has he been dead for?"

"Enough!" says Richard, standing from the bedside. "My darling Abigail, this sickness is clearly driving you mad!"

I can't help but agree. I certainly feel mad.

"I'm sorry," I say meekly. "Please blame my bedevilment on the Devil, and not on me."

"Of course," says Richard.

"Bring Dr. Harrison back here," I say. "Clearly, I need more medicine."

I dream of the old town church being torn down by enormous machines, louder than I could have ever imagined dreaming if I were not dreaming it now, as I sit cross-legged in the cemetery.

"Well, she certainly seems healthy," says Dr. Harrison, removing his hand from my wrist after taking my pulse. "But I would like to do a more thorough assessment. Can you leave the room please, Richard?"

"I'm her husband. I have the right to stay."

"Please, Richard. I need to ask your wife some personal questions."

"I deserve to know what you discuss with my wife!" Richard shouts.

"Richard, you need to leave," I say. "Those are the doctor's orders."

Richard glares hatefully at Dr. Harrison, then leaves, slamming the door behind him.

"What the gently caress is going on here?" says Harrison. "Are you okay?"

"What is 'okay?'" I say.

"We can drop the eighteen-hundreds poo poo. I just want to know what the hell is going on. Is this like a weird sex thing? All Devin told me was that you guys were doing some like, historical LARP stuff, and asked me if I wanted to join, but this whole thing just seems…"

"Excuse me. Who is Devin?"

"Your boyfriend. Devin."

"I am confused. I have no 'boy friend.' Just my husband, Richard. Are you a real doctor?"

"Real doctor? What? No. I'm a cashier at the GameStop Devin manages. He only asked me to do this because I own a Sweeney Todd Halloween costume."

The torrent of strange and stupid words is coming so fast that I can barely discern any meaning.

"So that man isn't Richard?" I say.

"No!" says Harrison.

"Then please help me," I say. "Get me out of here. Bring me to my husband and children. You have kind eyes, won't you help me?"

"Whoa. This is messed up," says Harrison. "Yeah, I can try to get you out of here." He goes to the door and tries to open it, but of course, it is locked.

"Hey, Richard, we're finished up in here. You can come back in," says Harrison.

As soon as the door opens slightly, Harrison rips it open and pushes the false Richard to the ground.

"Go!" Harrison yells. I grab the lantern and dash over Richard, but the light is rendered obsolete; Harrison flips a switch on the wall, and what must be an electric light ignites in the center of the room. For a moment I am blinded, as though seeing the sun for the first time, and when my eyes adjust I can recognize very few of the items in the room. The false Richard rises to his feet and in the light I can see the little differences between him and the real thing; a missing mole here, an unchipped tooth there. A photograph hangs on a wall, a handsome groom and his young, beautiful bride. Written near the bottom: Richard and Abigail Baker, April 8, 1865.

"Come on!" Harrison shouts, hurling open the door into an apartment corridor.

"Abigail, my love!" the false Richard roars. "Don't trust him! He lies!"

"No," I say. "My existence is a lie. I lived, I grew old, I died. I gave my soul to Christ, but you, Devin, you have stolen it."

"Yes," says Devin. "I brought you back from the dead, out of love. You're welcome."

"Love?" I say. "You look like Richard. His blood must run in you. My blood must run in you. No. Your love is sick."

"Okay then," says Devin. He lifts a human skull, my skull, from a table. "Go. Tomorrow night I will summon you again, and again the next night, and the night after that, and you will be mine until every day until..."

I hurl the lantern at him, and it hits him square in the chest. His shirt, surely the genuine article of his ancestor, catches fire, and he drops my skull as he goes to put it out. By then the carpet is also lit ablaze, but my ghost hands don't burn as I lift my skull from the floor. I follow Harrison out the door as Devin screams and frantically searches for whatever futuristic contraption might extinguish a fire.

Giant horseless carriages spitting red and blue lights screech through the night, making that screaming train-horn noise.

"So, you're a ghost?" says Harrison.

"It seems so," I say. "Is Harrison your real name?"

"No," he says. "It's my father's. Call me Ben. I can bring you to the cemetery. Then we can bring your skull back to where it was stolen. Bring you back to your husband."

"No," I say. "As much as I detest the circumstances of my resurrection, I cannot deny that it feels good to be alive, to be young, and now, to be free. Richard was always kind to me, and I appreciate the love he gave me, but he was never much interested in women. I feel no obligation to lie with him in death when I barely did in life."

"What are you saying?" says Ben.

"Keep the skull. Learn Devin's magic. Then, when you need a friend, I would very much enjoy a proper tour of the future."

"Sounds cool," says Ben. "I'd love to show you what video games are."

I smile. "I'll see you." The first beam of sun peeks over the horizon, and I fade into dreaming.

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Creature: Sylph
Problem: Parents don't approve
Extra: Problem Cannot be solved with violence

The Dancing Winds
833 words.

Princess Tinklebottom, of the Sylvan Kingdom of Dew, was distressed.

She had been interested for quite some time in some of the worst stories written by men,and even had a group of friends participate in a bad story book club. But the story she saw on the Sylph Net last week was so horrific, even an avid reader of gastly material such as herself could not enjoy it! But today, it was not the time to worry about that, for it was time for the annual Dew Kingdom Gala!

The Dew Kingdom Gala was an annual event hosted by Tinklebottom’s father, the Great King Baja. It was the traditional affair where the elder sylphs talked about boring matters such as politics, while the younger sylphs (age 50-300) would dance. Of course, every respectable sylph knew that one could not dance without a partner! Normally, Tinklebottom would dance with her friends, but when she came to this year’s event, a certain gentlesylph caught her eye.

Earlier in the day, Prince Oatmeal of the Cookie Kingdom was in his room, bored of life. He was also a purveyor of the bad stories of man, and was also not a fan of the story he saw from the Sylph Net last week. Distressed, he walked out to the courtyard, and noticed a flier close by.

“Dew Kingdom Gala…?” he said out loud. He honestly wasn’t sure why there was a flier for any of the Dew Kingdom’s things, especially since they were at war! Sure, it dealt more with pranks, instead of the bloodshed that the wars of man, but it was war, nonetheless! Normally, he would not dabble in Dew Kingdom affairs, but he was so bored, he figured, what the hey.

Oatmeal came wearing his finest attire, as well as a mask. After all, if any Dewites knew he would be here, they would punish him with a swirlie! He wanted to make sure his father’s name, the name of the great King Chocolate Chip, would not be tarnished, so no swirlies for him. When he began to mingle in the party, he just so happened to notice a certain lady sylph…

Tinklebottom was enamored by the mysterious masked sylph, and she wasn’t exactly sure why. She went up to him, and asked,

“I know a gentlesylph normally asks this, but may I have this dance?”

The question surprised Oatmeal. He didn’t expect to dance so quickly, or even at all! He was also not the kind to turn down a ladysylph’s offer, even one that looked so familiar as her.

“But of course.”

The dances of the sylph are a surreal affair. If a human were to see them, they would see green fluorescent lights, scattering across the sky. To humans it may appear odd…yet also beautiful.

After the most recent dance, Tinklebottom and Oatmeal went to the side to have a little chat. After all, they would both like to know who they just danced with!

“Apologies, I know these kinds of conveniences come from bad human stories.” Said Oatmeal, noticing the cliche-ness of the situation.

“Well,” said Tinklebottom. “I’m actually a fan of those kind of stories, so it’s no big deal.” They both laugh and smile. “I’m Tinklebottom, by the way.”

As soon as Oatmeal was about to introduce himself, they both heard someone yell.

Tinklebottom! What in the world of man are you doing?!”

It was a loud voice that was quite familiar to Tinklebottom…her father, King Baja.

Do you even know who this is?” Baja blasts. “It’s the Prince of the Cookie Kingdom!”

Prince Oatmeal? Tinklebottom thought. Well, that does explain the mask. Oatmeal unmasked. While she did recognize him after he unmasked, she was still pleased that her dance partner was quite handsome.

Guards!” Baja yelled. “Take the prince to get…a swirlie.”

Wait!” Tinklebottom yelled. “Father, why do you do this?!”

“He’s a Prince of an enemy country! I have to!”

“You most certainly do not! Do you even know why we even have this manned war in the first place?”

“How am I supposed to know?!”

Exactly.” Tinklebottom mentions a matter-of-factly. “Wars fought for no reason are silly.”

“But…men do that all the time!”

So?” Snaps Tinklebottom. “In case you haven’t noticed, we are not men.

King Baja thought for a little while.

“You know what… you are right. This war is quite silly.” Baja said, scared and flustered.

“Now, if you will excuse me, I would like to dance with Prince Oatmeal.”

“Er… yes. Of course” Baja ordered his guards to stand down.

“Thanks,” said Oatmeal. “I owe you one.” The next song was starting.

“Come,” said Tinklebottom. “Let us enjoy this, ‘one’.”

And so they danced and enjoyed the night away. They realized that what happened seemed like a plot convenience found in a bad story, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. Perhaps in the future they will marry. Perhaps in the future they’ll have a child.

But tonight…

…they danced.

Feb 25, 2014

Chernobyl Princess posted:

Supernatural Figure: Troll
Relationship Drama: One partner does not respect the other's hobbies

What I Want is a Day


flerp fucked around with this message at 22:11 on Jan 3, 2023

Nov 8, 2009

Real Vampires, Fake Relationship

1678/2000 words
Vampire/Meddlesome in-laws

The vampire entered Chez Nicolas on the arm of her consort – or at least, that’s how she meant it to look.

Can you hear me okay? Valeria spoke through the psychic link she’d made with her date. Say something.

Sam cut her a sardonic smile. Something.

Valeria snorted. You’re so corny.

I know. Sam kept smirking as the maître d’ led them into the restaurant, past candle-lit tables filled by elegantly-dressed patrons. The diners didn’t even try to hide their curiosity about the couple. Valeria ignored them. As the only childe of Brunhilde, Princess of Minneapolis and St. Paul, she was used to both humans and vampires watching her every move.

Your judgment sucks, Valeria. Nobody’d believe a corny human guy like me would be a vampire’s consort. Especially not for the polished, pedigreed, perfect vampire princess –

I am
not perfect –

– True. For some reason you thought a doorman at your apartment building would make a good fake boyfriend to impress your parents with. You sure you couldn’t ask any of your vampire friends to do this for you?

I don’t have a lot of vampire friends.
Vampires lied and schemed as naturally as breathing. She couldn’t trust any of them not to blackmail her for favors in the future. At least Sam wouldn’t do that. Sam was a decent sort. Straightforward. Reliable. Besides, they’re not my true parents. My mother and father died centuries ago. Brunhilde is the vampire who Embraced me, and Olaf is her consort.

And now I have to impress both of them – the two most powerful vamps in the Twin Cities – so they’ll get off your back about settling down, and so you can give me some of your vampire money for my Mom’s cancer treatment.
His smirk fading, Sam adjusted his tie. Right. No pressure.

You’ll do fine.
Valeria smoothed Sam’s shoulder in what she hoped was a soothing gesture. I’ll feed you answers through the psychic link if you get stuck. And you do scrub up nicely, for what it’s worth. Indeed, with Sam’s permanent scruff shaved off and his doorman uniform exchanged for a tux, he actually looked good for once. His black curls set off his olive skin nicely, and for the first time ever she noticed the golden flecks in his chocolate brown eyes. It was lucky Sam turned out to be attractive: Brunhilde and Olaf loved to surround themselves with beautiful people, and they’d accept a good-looking consort more readily than an ugly one. Yes, Valeria was lucky to have a handsome date for that reason and that reason alone.

The maître d’ led them to a back room of the restaurant and flung open the doors. A man and a woman, swathed in black silks that set off their ice-pale skin and platinum blond hair, sat at the single round table. The couple looked to be in their early middle-age, but Valeria knew they were already old when the first Europeans settled this land.

“My Princess.” Valeria knelt before her sire, kissed the elder vampire’s hand. “Good hunting.”

“Good hunting to you, my childe,” Brunhilde said with her typical cool formality. Most vampires took human blood for money these days rather than by force or guile, but the Princess was nothing if not a stickler for tradition. “And this must be your consort! Welcome…Sam, is it? Come, young thrall.” Brunhilde extended her arm to the man, regarding him as though he was a museum specimen.

“G-good hunting, my lady.” Sam copied Valeria’s gestures. Jesus, your mom’s an ice queen. Has she always been this scary?

She means well. They both do, really. They just … don’t know how to talk to humans. Now let’s kiss Olaf’s hand and take our seats.
And so they did, Valeria going through centuries-practiced motions and Sam stiffly imitating.

“We were surprised, Valeria, when you told us you’d taken a human as your consort,” Brunhilde said as Sam pushed Valeria’s chair in. “This was … not done in our younger nights.” A waiter appeared as if from nowhere and filled Valeria’s wine glass from a carafe of blood. Valeria took a sip so Brunhilde and Olaf couldn’t see how her hands shook.

“But as I reminded your sire –” Consort Olaf patted Brunhilde’s hand “—this world is always changing, and we must change with it if we are to survive.”

“My consort is right.” Brunhilde squeezed Olaf’s hand back and gave him an indulgent smile. “I suppose we must all learn to be more – what is the word I’m looking for, my star? The word the humans are always using.”


“Awoken. Yes. We must be more awoken about unusual arrangements.” Brunhilde sipped from her own glass of blood as Sam stifled a laugh. Valeria only hoped she hadn’t noticed that. Sometimes her sire being out-of-touch was embarrassing, but vampires changed slowly, if at all. It was lucky that Brunhilde was even willing to consider Sam.

Olaf fixed Sam with the stare that the Princess’ enemies knew to fear. Sam showed admirable courage, meeting Olaf’s eyes. “We simply want to be sure you can be a proper consort to Valeria,” Olaf said. “She is like a daughter to us, and we wish for her happiness. Surely you can understand why we need to put you to the question?”

Valeria, are they for real?

The fact that they’re going to interrogate you is a great sign. If they really hated you, you’d already be exsanguinated.

What have I gotten myself into?

The next hour went remarkably smoothly. After upbraiding the server for announcing the lobster special – “Disgusting, bottom-feeding creatures! Not even fit for prisoners!” – Olaf ordered more blood for the vampires and red wine and a tenderloin for Sam. Sam seemed to enjoy his steak, even though, he admitted, I like it more medium well than rare. Throughout the dinner, Brunhilde and Olaf peppered Sam with questions: What is your family pedigree? Your job prospects? Are you looking after your hematologic health? Every time, Sam paused and assumed a thoughtful expression as Valeria fed him an appropriate answer through the link. Before the entrée and the bloody glasses had been cleared away, Brunhilde and Olaf were smiling and nodding whenever Sam spoke. All the while, Valeria remained quiet and unobtrusive, sipping her blood, giving Sam a chance to shine. He was doing amazing.

And as Sam smiled at her and took her hand over the table, Valeria knew he was amazing. Nobody could doubt his performance as the loving, attentive consort. They’d get through the dessert course, say their courtesies, and leave. Valeria would cut Sam a check, tell her parents they’d broken up next week, and leave it alone. They’d never have to talk to each other again. Valeria looked back at Sam, in those chocolate brown eyes. Why did thinking about that make her so sad?

“Stop.” Brunhilde leaned forward, fixing Valeria in a gimlet gaze. “I know what you are doing, my childe.”

Valeria blinked. “W-whatever do you mean, my lady?”

“You are using a psychic link with your consort. You are feeding him all the right answers so that we will be impressed with him and consent to let him stay with you.”

Oh gently caress. Sam gave Valeria a sidelong glance. Should I be running?

Valeria glared back at him. Don’t be ridiculous. This is my sire and her consort we’re talking about. You’d never make it to the front doors.

Brunhilde smiled with a warmth Valeria had rarely seen from her. “You must truly love this man to resort to such trickery. You remind me of how devious I had to be, to win Olaf for myself.”

“We must tell you the story someday,” Olaf said, kissing his princess up her arm with wet smacks.

“But for now we must depart.” Brunhilde stood and took her consort’s hand. “Let us leave these two to their lovers’ caresses.” And with that, the pair walked, stately and serene, out of Chez Nicolas.

“Holy crap.” Sam clapped Valeria on the shoulder. “I don’t know how, but we loving did it. It’s over.”

“Yeah.” Valeria forced a smile on her face. “It’s over. It’s all over.” She had no reason to be upset. Everything had worked out the way she wanted it to, hadn’t it? It shouldn’t feel like she’d failed. Like she’d lost something she didn’t even know she’d wanted.

“Well, tonight doesn’t have to end.” Sam gave her a mischievous grin. “Why don’t we order some more? Your parents are paying, right?”

“Y-yeah, sure. Garçon!” Valeria waved the server over, ordered drinks for both of them. Any excuse to draw out this evening – to get more time with Sam.

As they waited for their drinks, the strains of a piano sounded from the main dining room. “Oh!” Valeria cried. “This is a Satie waltz, isn’t it?”

“Don’t ask me. You’re the perfect one, remember?” But Sam held out his hand to Valeria. “We should dance, though. It’s not a romantic date without dancing.”

“But we were just pretending to be romantic.” Still, Valeria stood and let Sam draw her into the dancing position. He clearly didn’t know the steps to the waltz – all he could do was step from side-to-side. But it didn’t matter to Valeria that Sam wasn’t proper. It only mattered that he held her in those warm arms of his, that she could take in his clean scent.

“Well, we can keep pretending.” Sam hugged Valeria close. “What’s the next think I ought to do, if this was real?“

“You should tell me something sweet.” Valeria looked into Sam’s eyes, where the gold flecks sparkled. “Something that would make be believe you really liked me.”

“Okay.” Sam put on the thoughtful expression again, and Valeria couldn’t help but laugh. “How’s this?” He whispered, so Valeria was forced to lean close to his face to hear him. “‘I’m lucky – drat lucky – to be here with you. I never dreamed anybody so perfect would ever look my way.’”

Valeria pressed a kiss to his lips. “Me neither.”

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.
Minotaur, disagreements in parenting
609 words

Rules are important. No, more than important. Foremost. Paramount. Good words. Teacher gave me all the words he could give, and we mapped out the rules together. There's blood. Slowly moving down my face, hot and salty and metallic as it inches across my lips. It shouldn't be there. Blood belongs on the inside, never on the outside. Was that one of Teacher's rules? I don't remember. It doesn't sound quite like a rule, but Teacher's rules were sometimes quite complicated. 

Father's rules were simple, hard like granite or gneiss. "Don't bring shame upon the family" was the first, the most important. It turned sharp corners as I followed it. There were more. "Be silent and quiet unless called on." "Mind your studies." "Honor your oaths." The same stone with different frescoes.

Mother's rules seemed kinder, but were harder to follow. Live wood, with thorns to prick and draw blood should you try to keep a hand to those walls. "Love yourself." "Be not afraid." "Forgive." I could push through any of these rules, if I was willing to suffer the bramble-pain.

They were not enough to stop me. I was what I was. I acquired the taste for blood early on, and by all rights Mother and Father should have put me down like a beast. They did not. They brought in Teacher instead. And Teacher brought new rules, to make me behave. "Am I to be some machine, to act according to a program?" I said.

"You are a man," said Father.

"You are my son," said Mother.

We built the rules together, Teacher and I. Complex and considered, smooth varnished wood with doors and locks and keys. A rule against doing murder, was our first, but what was murder? Unjust killing, we decided, but what then was justice? When was it allowable to kill, when was it required. A maze within a maze, and that was only the first, and we revisited it often, came up with new intolerable crimes that could demand violence.

It was a long process. Many rules had sad stories behind them. I once had three brothers, who are now remembered only as rules. Teacher did not think it right to goad one into a deadly assault, even after years of torment. Teacher thought even if I did not have a general obligation to save every life at risk, if I helped create the danger...

The youngest was the hardest for Teacher to rulemake around. He was always such a melancholy child, and all I used was words. The rest was him, from start to finish: gathering the leaves, brewing them just so, mixing the poison with lemon and mint and honey to cover the taste, and drinking down every last drop.

The rules got more complex, got tighter, and I thought them finally closing in on me. And then I first saw Hunter's signs. There was a path out, is what they meant. There is an escape.

Teacher agreed with me, before I killed him. That it was just. That a prisoner held outside of law had justice in slaying his jailor. He only had seconds to understand the implications. And with him gone I can follow Hunter's signs freely.

We look at each other, when I find him, then move closer and closer. His axe feels like a kiss, cleaving my sweat-dampened stubble from my chin, leaving my cheeks bare as they were in the womb. And his kiss feels like an axe, digging through skin, through muscle, through veins and through bone to suck at the marrow inside, promising kinship, new family, and slaughter with justice side by side.

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, You Pretty Thing
1589 words
Flash creature: dragon
Flash relationship problem: recent unemployment

The worst part of unemployment, Melanie decided, was the way you could never turn it off. Work stuff could follow her home sometimes, but there was at least a pleasant productive buzz to that, letting problems percolate or racing to deadline. Unemployment was just an endless grind of tedium and fear. She couldn't even set it aside wandering through Vira's hoard; surrounded by the gleaming treasures on display, museum-grade glass cases and lighting installed in the rough walls of the cave, just made her think again about money. You weren't supposed to look at a dragon's hoard and think of something as crass as selling it -- but here they were, her and Vira, someplace she had sworn she'd never be. Six weeks unemployed, with a dragon girlfriend who wanted to start selling things.

Vira had brought it up a week ago, back when Melanie was complaining about the latest bad interview. "You know," she'd said, trying to sound casual, "I've been thinking about selling off some of the Chihuly pieces, curating the collection a little more. I'm not sure I really like him, and things are getting sort of sprawling in there. It might be time to prune, you know?" She'd smiled nervously, showing off the sharp teeth that lingered even in her human form, and Melanie's heart had been in her throat. Liquidating a hoard was the stuff of famine-and-riots emergencies -- was Melanie really making it seem that bad? She'd done her best to reassure Vira, to point out that she had savings and was getting interviews, but a week later and the thought still stung. It had been a clumsy lie; nobody who disliked Chihuly would have this drat many pieces of his, not even a dragon in their purest acquisition phase. Maybe an older one might be bored by now, but Vira was too young, too hungry, not to guard her wealth with her life. It was time for a talk.

Out in the sprawling main chamber of the cave, Vira lay on the well-worn stones of her favorite "couch," eight feet of serpentine coils and iridescent scales. Looking at her was enough to remind Melanie of the old myths about dragons taking on the appearances on their hoards; Vira always had the sheen of carnival glass about her, glossy scales throwing rainbows even in dim light. She perked up as Melanie entered the room, with a little chirp of pleasure, but her ear-fins flipped back as she saw the expression on Melanie's face. "Mels? You okay, babe?"

"Vira, we need to talk. I was walking through the hoard, and... look, are you serious about selling it off?"

"A little? It was just a thought. I think out loud sometimes. A lot of what's in there really is tacky, and I could use some liquidity for human things. Things you want. I can't bear to watch you worry, Mels, not when I could just fix it. What use is all of this if it can't make you happy? I love you! I want to help!"

That was the problem with dragons; when they were moved to feeling, it was nigh uncontrollable, and it always left them brittle. "Vira," Melanie said. "Viraniax. Listen to me for a second. I'm very grateful, but I've done my reading, and I know what selling off your hoard will do to you. Your next convocation is in a few years, isn't it? Your next molt? You need to be building for that, not shedding right now. I won't have you stunting your growth just because I'm out of work for a few months."

"I don't even know if I want to molt, though! I like being this size, and it's supposed to get harder to shift as you get bigger, and convocations are always awful anyway. Maybe I just won't go this time. Maybe I'll just stay here with you. That's another thing I thought of, you know -- that you could move in, if you have troubles with rent? We could redecorate the guest chambers!"

Melanie grimaced. The guest chambers, relics of when some distant great-granddam entertained local lords to accept their tribute, were technically inhabitable on a human scale, but even a thorough redecorating couldn't fix cave drafts or cell reception. "I really am so glad you're willing to help me," began Melanie, trying to keep her voice even, "but there are things I don't think I can accept from you, and..." Oh, to Hell with it -- rationality clearly wasn't winning the day. "If you want to know the truth? It's not just for your sake, Vira. I know you could move me in and pay for everything, but the moment you do that, I stop being someone you love and start being something you own. I know you wouldn't think of me that way, but I'd think of me that way, and it'd kill me. I need my own job and my own space, and I need you to give me time to take care of this on my own terms. Can you give me that? We've got some time -- I've got savings, and I'm getting interviews. If things get desperate, we'll see then, okay?"

Vira's ear-fins flared out, and she nodded: not a gesture native to dragons, but one that human-lovers picked up quickly. "Okay. I'm scared, but I promise I'll try. And whatever happens -- you're not just one of my pretty things, Mels. You're very pretty, but you're not a thing."

"Thank you. Look, we'll get through this, and then we'll go shopping. I think you could use some more Laliques."

"Do you think so? I've been looking at a few things, really considering. I've got headroom in the expansion fund for a decent auction or two..."


The next job interview was promising: a decent lab, an intriguing research prospectus, and an interviewer with a kirin's horns and a discreet They/Them pin on their lapel. Melanie made her way home to find her apartment unlocked and Vira sprawled on the sofa in human form, laptop on a TV tray in front of her. As usual, she was dressed in little more than a tank top and sleep shorts, her unhappy concession to the softness of human bodies and the absurdity of human dignity. "Hey, babes!" called Vira, propping herself up clumsily. "How'd it go? How were they?"

"They've got a real DEI statement," said Melanie, "and they need someone with the NMR experience. I really think this might be it. Are you working on something?" As pleasant a surprise as Vira crashing her apartment always was, it usually came down to needing wifi reception.

"Oh, yeah! I didn't tell you. I had another idea. I'm applying for jobs! I don't have a resume, but you don't need it for a lot of these, and I figured, why not? I could make a little liquid cash, and I could understand what you're doing. I could have bad interviews! Or good ones, I don't know! It seems fun."

Melanie took a seat on the couch and glanced at the laptop screen. Sure enough, the browser was open to a "thank you for your application" screen on a retail pharmacy's web portal. "Are you applying for retail and food service? I hope you understand that these aren't really fun jobs, even if you get one, and that may take a while. Do you really want this?"

"Why not? Maybe it'll be awful, but maybe it won't. And maybe I'll understand you a little better for trying. Besides, it's kind of like a game, isn't it? They've got all these personality tests, and it's fun to think of what a good human employee is supposed to say."

And that was dragons for you: privilege elevated to the level of perfect serenity, a Buddha surrounded by mountains of gold. Melanie looked into Vira's eyes, into the guileless sharp-toothed smile, and realized she really was having fun. Hell, maybe she actually would learn something, and what was the worst-case scenario? Easy to quit a bad retail job when your broodmother owned half the commercial real estate in California. "Really? Well, as long as you're enjoying it."

"I am. And... the more I think about it, the more it might be nice to have a job, just to see what it feels like. Did I ever tell you that I thought about going to college? For art? If it's fun to work retail, it seems like working in a studio would be even better."

"It might be? Start with the pharmacy. Or we could volunteer, if you wanted?"

Vira's face lit up, and she laughed, a sound that was more like a metal wind chime than like a human. Melanie could imagine her volunteering: a soup-kitchen helper in a new sweatshirt, wearing her hair low to hide the iridescent fin-edges of her ears. Honest work. If Vira was going to spite her brood at the next convocation, wouldn't that be a way to do it?

"I know a few places," said Melanie, "and I can start making calls tomorrow. For now, dinner? My treat?"

"Sure! Let's go to the diner! I want some scrambled eggs."

Vira would want at least three servings, Melanie knew; a dragon ate like a dragon, even in human form. There'd probably be pancakes, too, and some drink order that would find a way to make coffee expensive. But who was counting? She had savings, and she'd had a good interview. It was time to spoil her girl.

Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition

Miriam’s Adam
Supernatural Figure: Golem
Relationship Drama: A partner has a wandering eye.

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 11:35 on Jan 15, 2023

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Chernobyl Princess posted:

Supernatural Figure: Shadow Person
Relationship Drama: One or both members of the couple are constantly in chaotic situations
Waiting in the Margins (416 words)

Wake up in the morning; poo poo, shower, shave. Two eggs for breakfast, sunny side up. I like to make pancakes when I have the time. It’s been six months. Might be longer.

“I like to keep the apartment clean.” That’s what I tell people. Makes me sound digilent. It’s not a lie either, my place is pretty tidy. “I live out of a suitcase,” doesn’t have the same ring. Also, it’s wrong. I have two suitcases. I iron my clothes and hang them up, but everything else? Packed and ready.

At some point it’s easier to be ready than get ready.

It’s dark when I wake up, dawn when I leave. Close the door, click click, make sure it’s locked. I turn the handle twice, three times, just in case. Then I turn my head. At last, I can smile. There she is: my little ray of sunshine.

“Cock-a-doodle-doo,” she says, smiling serenely.

I read somewhere the light of the sun takes eight whole minutes to reach us. Eight whole minutes to cast a shadow. I stood there a moment, an immovable object, watching her sway in the margin I created.

“Looking sharp,” I said. I was wearing a suit. That meant she was too. She gave a wry chuckle. “You wish you looked this good,” she said, my hands on my hips. Glancing at my phone, I began to walk. She matched my pace, step for step, my sole companion, flat against the Earth.

The elevator was only ten seconds away, but withdrawn from the sun, that span felt forever. I woke up early to take the stairs. We talked the way down, framed against the wall.

“Think it’ll take?” she asks, “This new place?”

“It’ll have to do for now,” I respond.

“I dunno,” she says as I scratch my chin, “Your new boss seems like a real rear end in a top hat.”

“Everyone’s going through something.”

We briefly lose sight as I reach the first floor, reunited at last as I step outside. The sidewalks are empty at the crack of dawn. The sunrise is beautiful. It’s just for us.

“Loosen up,” she says as I wait for the crosswalk. “You only get one chance to make a good impression.”

“Like your impression of me?”

She laughs.

“I’ve had a lifetime,” she says with a wink.

Then the street turns. This is it for now. “See you in the corners,” I say, blowing a kiss. My palm touches hers, warm against the concrete.

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:

The child let me sleep in so I'm closing things late but SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Comin’ Round the Mountain 1114 words

“What’s a pretty little thing like you doing up here all by yourself?”

‘Up here’ was a mountain pass. A mountain pass in my mountain. I wasn’t the pretty little thing in question, that was a young woman who was, technically, not alone since she was leading a donkey. The speaker was a man, one of three.

“Going to meet my fiancé,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll be fine, everyone around these parts knows not to cross him.”

One of the other men chuckled. “Nice try, princess. We’ll be taking everything on the donkey, and more besides, to teach you to be quiet.”

She pulled a sturdy club from the donkey and gripped it tightly, as the three men advanced.

Strictly speaking this was none of my business. Robberies happened with some regularity in my mountain, and I ordinarily wouldn’t do anything about it. However, it’s a woman’s prerogative to occasionally change her mind and murder some would be assailants.

Rocks fell, everyone died. Well, not me of course. And not the woman or her donkey. I walked to her from the rubble.

“Stay back,” she said. The club was raised above her head.

“Some gratitude,” I said, but I stopped well short of her.

She relaxed and lowered the club. “Sorry, I thought you must’ve been – who are you, anyway?”

I chuckled and walked towards her again. “Call me Britta. This is my mountain.”

“I’m Evelyn,” she said, reaching out her hand to shake, “but friends call me Evie.”

“Nice to meet you, Evie,” I said. And I don’t know why, but instead of shaking her hand, I pulled her into a hug, and I held her. And she started quietly sobbing. “Shh,” I said. “You’re all right.”

She nodded. And then she looked up, and she kissed me.

The kiss only lasted for a moment. “Sorry,” she said. “Not sure what came over me. Just emotional, I think.”

I grinned. “No apology necessary, it was a very nice kiss.”

She blushed. “Please don’t tell my fiancé.”

I chuckled. “We don’t really travel in the same circles.”

I released her from my hug, and she looked over at the rubble. “Hmm,” she said, “guess I’m taking the long way.”

I gave the rubble a look, and it was gone. “That way seems fine to me.”

“How?” she asked.

“I told you; this is my mountain.”

She shrugged and continued on with her donkey.


“What was that about?” asked Magnus. Magnus is my husband. Nothing happens in the mountain without him seeing.

“Three on one didn’t seem fair,” I said.

“That’s not the bit I’m questioning,” he said. “Kill as many humans as you want, they barely live a hundred years anyway.”

I shrugged. “She looked like she needed a hug.”

“And you needed a kiss?”

I raised an eyebrow. “Jealous of a human?”

He chuckled. “I just know you too well. Just leave me out of it this time, all right?”

“I wouldn’t worry,” I said. “After that experience, I’m sure that’s the last we’ve seen of her.”


It was not the last we saw of her. Two weeks later, I saw leading her donkey up the same path. This time, she was calling my name. “Britta!” She must’ve looked like a crazy person to any other travellers. Looked a little odd to me, too, coming back to where she’d almost most been robbed.

“Hello Evie,” I said.

She spun around. “Where’d you come from?”

I shrugged. “Around. I told you, it’s my mountain.”

“I’m glad I found you,” she said. “I told my fiancé about what happened, and he wanted me to bring you something as a token of thanks.”

“You told him everything that happened?”

She blushed. “I told him the important bits.”

“You and I may have a different idea of what the important bits are,” I said. “But I do like gifts, so I won’t argue the point.” She pulled a box out from under her cloak and opened it. Inside were a handful of precious stones; rubies, emeralds, sapphires, other sparkly stuff. I laughed. “I’ve got a whole mountain full of these.” She dropped her head. “Sorry,” I said, “I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I’m sure a lot of thought went into this gift, but honestly, I prefer the one you gave me last time.”

“But I didn’t give you anything,” she said.

“Sure you did,” I said, and I stepped in, pulled her to me, and kissed her.

She kissed me back, but then she pulled back. “I mustn’t,” she said. “I’m betrothed.”

“Sorry,” I said, “after last time I thought you might want to.”

“It’s not about what I want. I have a responsibility.”

“I see. Well, thank your fiancé for the thought, but I don’t really need more gems.”

“Please just take them.”

I looked into her eyes. I sighed. “All right. Thank you.” I took the box of gems.

She turned to leave, then paused, and turned back and asked, “So if not gems, what kind of gift would you want?”

I shrugged. “A lady always likes to receive flowers.”

She nodded, and then left the way she’d come.


“All right,” said Magnus with a chuckle, “this time I am a bit jealous of a human.”

“You needn’t be,” I said. “She’s got a fiancé, and ideas about responsibility.”

He shook his head. “Only a hundred years or so, and they waste what little time they have.”


Responsibility or no, Evie came back and visited several times over the next month. She’d bring me flowers, and I’d kiss her, and she’d pull back, but then kiss me back, but then say she mustn’t because she was engaged, but then would be back a few days later to do it all again. Magnus always just shook his head at me afterwards. “Just leave me out of it,” he’d say.

And then for a few weeks I didn’t see her at all. “I’m sure she’s just busy,” said Magnus.

“With wedding preparations, no doubt,” I said.

Magnus shrugged. “That is possible.”

“Well,” I said, “this was only ever a brief fling.”

“Hmm,” said Magnus. “Maybe she got sick of always having to come to yours, rather than you to hers.”

I shrugged. “This is my mountain.”

“And he is her fiancé,” said Magnus. “Yet, she came.”

I raised my eyebrow. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d want me to go, anyway.”

“Well,” said Magnus, “they only live for a hundred years or so, right? I’ll still be here afterwards.”

I smiled, then reached up and kissed him. “You’re right. I’ll see you in seventy years. Give or take.”

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:


This was a good week! The good was very good and much of the middle ground was of high quality as well. And so, without further ado...

LOSS: The Dancing Winds by The man called M
Dunno what to tell you, man. You've been cautioned about going meta before.

DM: My Dear Abigail by Albatrossy_Rodent
The judges agreed that this had bits of it that were interesting, but neither the romance nor the ghost story came together.

A Sidelong Glare for Labyrinth by Thranguy
Listen, this could have been a murder ballad, you could have even doubled down and just said "gently caress you no romance" but tacking it on at the end of a genuinely cool and well-written beginning teed off the judges enough that you're getting a special Mention Other Than Honorable for it.

HM: Miriam's Adam by Nethilia
A really interesting use of the prompt, descriptive and enjoyable, but I was left wanting more romance between Miriam and Kai

WIN: Oh, You Pretty Thing by Antivehicular
Cute, good worldbuilding, I feel like I understand the relationships and why they like each other as well as how they're managing their problems. I would think about it randomly throughout the day and smile, which is what you're after from romance.

More complete crits to come. Take it away AntiV!


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

WEEK DXXXIV: The Anti-Splatterpunk Week

It's Halloween weekend week, so clearly it's horror week, but I'm looking for something a little bit different. A lot of horror relies on depictions of death, violence, and other nasty fates for its characters, the more visceral the better. This week, I'm looking to see something more in the vein of eerie, haunting kinds of horror -- horror fiction with no on-screen violence, physical or psychological/emotional. Give me creepy echoes of the past! Unnerving brushes with the supernatural! Just no werewolves disemboweling people or cosmic entities destroying anyone's sanity, please.

Word Count: 2000
Signups Close: 7AM Eastern, Saturday October 29th
Submissions Close: 7AM Eastern, Monday October 31st (oooOOOooo)


1. Idle Amalgam :toxx:
2. Albatrossy_Rodent
3. Thranguy
4. ZeBourgeoisie
5. sebmojo
6. Bad Seafood

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 10:58 on Oct 25, 2022

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