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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:

Brawltimore with a friendly penguin and Chili

A Bad Summon
2000 words

The warehouse smelled like a butcher’s shop as Penny set up her summoning circle. Heaps of lamb bones and viscera steamed slightly in the cool, autumn air, as did the bucket of blood with which she painted arcane symbols on the walls and floor. She checked her borrowed summoning book frequently. Magic left no room for error.

She blended suet and blood together in a small mortar and painted lines of thick, sticky fat across her cheeks, forehead, and arms. She snapped open an Elizabeth Arden compact mirror and nodded, satisfied. Penny stood just outside the circle and began the incantation: simple, rhythmic dog Latin mixed with Greek, followed by the recitation of a twenty-seven syllable name ending in -gari.

Gary wasn’t a demon, but it was greedy and extraplanar and disgusting, so close enough for government work. The carcasses rolled across the floor, meat and sinew bubbling and popping as Gary made a body for itself.

“Speak, summoner, and tell me what you desire.” Gary’s voice was a rotten-meat whisper.

“My mind has been overshadowed,” Penny said. “I need it to be free.”

Gary tilted its borrowed skull, amber lights shining in its sockets and sinuses as it regarded her. “I have seen these spells before. The Ordo Draconis. It puzzles me that dragon hunters would bind their people so tightly. Are you not compelled by the crusade?”

“Fighting the good fight is one thing,” she said. “Interfering with my work is another. I can’t bear the intrusion any longer.”

Gary waved a limb towards her. A subliminal tightness behind Penny’s neck relaxed as the fog clouding her mind lifted. Yes. There it was. All of her research, back again. She closed her eyes for a moment, picturing the process for making her mostly-mundane oncology treatments work and sighed. “Yes,” she said. “That’s what I need. What do you ask for in payment?”

“Generally I ask for an earthly tether to allow me to manifest on this plane. But I am already under contract to another. His contract requires that I keep his family safe from monsters and witches. Like yourself.”

“What’s he paying you? I can double it.”

Gary contrived to look sad despite its dead, alien features. “Alas, the contract is quite clear. Unless…” it paused for dramatic effect. Penny kept her impatience off her face. “Unless you were to dispatch my present contract-holder.”

“I’m not an assassin,” she said. “I can’t just kill people.”

Gary chuckled, sending a maggot-like ripple through its flesh. “He’s hardly people. My current contract-holder is the Dragon of Loss and Discord.”


The problem with being a modern dragon hunter was that dragons didn’t look like dragons anymore. Tens of thousands of years ago, the founders of her order performed some incredible feat of magic and ripped the dragon souls out of their bodies, trapping them instead in an endless reincarnation cycle as humans. That should have been the end of it. But no dragon was content living like a person. They all worked constantly to return to their place of supremacy, thwarted only by the Ordo Draconis.

She found the Dragon of Loss and Discord on Tinder, of all places, and felt insulted that they were a 95% match. The man, Thomas Owens, was holding a fish in his profile picture for Christ’s sake. Was a dragon supposed to be this basic? Penny worked very hard to never see or be seen by her enemies, raiding their collections while they were away, so she didn’t have much experience. But she felt deeply that a dragon incarnation should be imposing. Proud. Not taking group selfies in front of Dick’s Last Resort wearing a paper hat with puerile insults on it.

Whatever. She sent him a message. He sent one back. She flirted at him, he flirted back. Over the next few days they sent the requisite pictures and agreed to meet up for a hike, thus completing the late-twenties-early-thirties mating ritual. It was deeply tedious, but the mental clarity would be worth it.

So she found herself hiking up a secluded trail behind her ancient enemy, who gave every indication of being the goofy, outdoorsy himbo that his profile indicated. They chatted amiably as they walked, their favorite hikes, their preferred restaurants and nightclubs in Concord. It was a relatively wholesome first date experience. Penny almost felt disappointment about killing him. Almost.

“So when did you realize you were a dragon?” She asked as they crested a ridge.

Thomas’s foot lingered a half second longer in the air before hitting the ground. He answered in the same, casual tone they’d maintained previously. “The nightmares started when I was around nine. I didn’t figure it out until I was thirteen. When did you join the Ordo?”

“Can’t talk about it,” Penny waved at her temple. “Mind control, you know. Keeps all the secrets in house.”

“Mind control,” Thomas scoffed. “I can’t believe you people think you’re the good guys.”

“Hey, my research could extend the average lifespan of renal cancer patients by 40%. Where do you think that funding comes from?”

“Theft,” he said. “Robbing my people’s graves. That you put us in.” He turned around, smiling widely. “Thanks for making this easy, by the way. Walking all the way out here with me. Not sure if you’re brave or stupid, but it sure is convenient.”

Penny smiled back. “Maybe I’m just prepared.”

They went for their guns at the same time. Thomas flicked his off hand out to the side in an unfamiliar gesture, and a stream of amber smoke wound through the air and into the brush, where it rapidly animated an unnoticed whitetail carcass.

Surrounded by decay to fuel itself, Gary’s new body towered over Penny. Tiny scraps of animal corpses rustled across the forest floor, adding themselves to its mass. She called a dismissal spell to her fingertips, knowing it wouldn’t do much without a circle containing the spirit, and kept her gun trained on Thomas.

“Two on one now, Ordo,” he smirked. “I like those odds.”

“Gary,” Penny said, not taking her eyes off the dragon. “Remember our deal.”

Its antlered skull swung toward her. “Alas, Mistress Penelope, he is not yet dead.”

“I’m working on it,” she muttered. Thomas glared at the creature he’d summoned.

“You made a deal with her?” He asked, his tone incredulous, almost hurt. Its skull dipped in affirmation.

“Her mind freed in exchange for my freedom from our pact,” it said. “How do you think she knew where to find you?”

“Freedom from our pact? You were keeping my brother’s kids safe! What the hell was so bad about that?”

The meat of Gary rippled in a shudder. “To look on small, helpless creatures, whose skin and sinews and bones should rightfully be mine, and do nothing to usher them to me? Your contract is torture.”

“We had a deal!”

Gary was silent. Thomas scowled at Penny, then looked back at the creature and shrugged.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I hate the Ordo and you, personally, will be first against the wall when we rise again. But I can’t abide traitors.” His gun tracked away from Penny. Her eyes widened as she realized the fatal mistake he was about to make.

“Wait!” Penny cried out. But it was too late. Thomas pulled the trigger, shooting Gary in the skull. Penny barely had time to throw a cloaking spell around herself before the spirit roared and charged Thomas.

The limb of decayed flesh and sharpened bone slammed into the spot where Thomas had been a split second before. He fired two more shots as he retreated, swearing.

Penny had a choice. She could run and leave Thomas to his grisly fate, but that meant she’d have to outrun a decay spirit in a forest. It was free, unbound by a circle, unbound by the agreements of Thomas’s initial summon, and would happily kill her and add her corpse to its terrible form. And then it would probably go ahead and start breaking poo poo in Concord as well. Or she could risk helping the dragon.

As weird at it sounded, helping the dragon was a matter of self preservation. And she could always find and kill him later. Penny managed to grab his arm and drag him behind a rock and under her wards without him shooting her.

“Breathe on this,” she hissed, holding up a silver marble. He stared at her but complied. Penny threw the marble down the hill and an illusory Thomas booked it down the mountainside, crashing through the underbrush in a big, noisy distraction. Gary bought the illusion and charged after it, limbs thrashing through the trees.

“Why did it do that?” Thomas complained. He wasn’t even breathing hard. “I thought I had it bound.”

“Part of a binding is a mutual no-harm agreement. You shattered that when you shot it. It had a tether,” Penny said, urgently. “Some object that’s tying it to our plane. We’ve got to destroy it before it comes back and eats us.”

Thomas worked a ring off of his right little finger. “Cool. So what’s stopping me from killing you?” He looked around for a rock. Found nothing. “You got anything heavy?”

She shook her head, her attention on bolstering their shield. In the distance Gary howled, having discovered her trick. Thomas cupped the ring in one hand, closing his eyes.

The power he channeled into the ring was subtle as a sledgehammer. A pattern of gold-edged scales appeared on his cheekbones. Light glinted off of horns that didn’t quite exist, wings that weren’t there cast unreal shadows around them.

Gary roared, louder now. It didn’t sound like it was in pain. It sounded bigger. Angrier. “What are you doing?” Penny hissed.

“Entropy magic,” he snapped. “I’m Loss. It’s my thing. The ring should be falling apart.”

Penny almost hit him. “You idiot! It’s a decay spirit! You’re charging it up!”

As if on cue Gary burst through the trees, the stench of rot clinging to its tractor-sized form, its limbs churning up the ground. Thomas swore and aimed his pistol at the creature again, for all the good that would do. He tossed the ring to Penny. “You figure it out!”

There was no time to analyze its structure. Instead she went for the same, brute-force method as the dragon, instead pouring raw pattern into the thaumaturgical matrix that bound Gary to this plane. Enforcing order, preservation, stability, on the chaotic presence at the core of the ring. Thomas’s pistol barked beside her, deafening. She redoubled her attack.

Gary let out a high-pitched scream, rearing back on malformed, spindly legs as Penny ripped the spirit out of its borrowed flesh. It collapsed, the moldering parts falling into a foul, reeking pile. The amber eyelights in the deer skull sputtered and went out.

Penny waited ten breaths to drop her spells, then collapsed against the rock, breathing hard. Thomas put a few more bullets into the pile for good measure.

“You’re the worst dragon hunter ever,” he said.

Penny groaned and covered her eyes. “You’re welcome, dickhole.”

“I should kill you now.”

“I wish you wouldn’t.” Penny pushed herself up onto her elbows. Thomas had holstered his gun. The pattern of scales around his eyes faded slowly. “Besides, I’m pretty sure you owe me for saving your rear end from your own summon.”

“Whatever.” Thomas knelt next to her. She tried to prepare a spell, but instead of strangling her to death, the dragon pressed a hand against her forehead. A sharp, lancing pain shot through her skull, and suddenly her mind was clear again. She could remember it all.

“Now we’re even,” he said. “And if I see you again, you’re dead.” He left her alone on the trail, lying in a heap next to the empty corpse of Gary.


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, prompt, :toxx: I will crit everybody

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:

Subprompt: Honey admired the newspaper's old-fashioned trees, breath held tight.


With help from a solid guillotine, the newspaper saved the world.

Paper Hearts
1365 words

Honey admired her husband in his old-fashioned, red checkered coat as he walked out of the forest toward her. His arms were creased at the shoulder and elbow. She always saw the crease, always thought about the matching creases on her own arms. It was unfashionable for a doll to be creased, but they couldn’t help it, their bodies longed for one another. And as Heinrich put down his precious cargo, Honey pressed herself to him, her arms folding around him as his folded around her, pressing their painted faces together in a kiss, the same way they had a month before when Honey had whispered into Heinrich’s ear “Let’s make a baby.”

They’d been practicing, sketching with cheap pencils on the backs of their old clothes and on the unused walls of their house. They debated her eyes, argued over the shape of her ears, and considered all the options for the delicate tones of her skin. After ages of debate and revision and practice, they revealed their plans to the village at large.

They had not wagered on the fact that nobody had the right kind of paper.

“How can that be?” Heinrich demanded. “The Creator drops some off every time she brings a new doll, doesn’t she?”

The village elders looked at one another, their beautifully painted faces grave. “When is the last time you saw a new doll, Heinrich?” Asked one of them.

He frowned. “That was Isabella, yes? About six, maybe seven winters ago?”

“It has been many years since the Creator has graced us with her presence,” another elder said. “We used much of the paper reserves to create the forest of trees that protects our village. We’ve been using newsprint and leaf litter from the forest beyond mixed with glue to patch our houses or mend ourselves.”

Astonished, Honey gripped her husband’s hand tight enough to fold it. He didn’t flinch. “What have we done to cause her to abandon us?” She asked. “Have we displeased her in some way?”

“She is… very old. And made of flesh, not paper. We will stay bright and young and beautiful for as long as we have new pigment and keep ourselves out of the rain. But people of flesh…” the elder doll shook his head. He was old indeed, his back side had no paint at all, only the shadows of the folded tabs of his clothing marred the expanse of pure, white cardstock. “They crumble. Eventually they die.”

“That’s impossible,” Honey said, stubbornly. “The Creator can’t die. She’s the whole world.”

“She can,” said the miserable elder. “And when she does, our village is doomed. We can only repair ourselves so much without her cardstock. We can’t make more of ourselves without her divine hands. If she has fallen, then so have we, we just haven’t hit the ground yet.”


Heinrich and Honey left the next morning to brave the wild, dangerous world beyond the paper village and seek out the Creator.

“It can’t be far,” Honey said as they started out. “She walked her by herself all those years ago. I remember that she said it was only a half an hour’s walk away from her house. She’s certainly far larger than we are, but she is also very old, so she must be quite slow.”

The walk was arduous. Neither Honey nor Heinrich had ever been this far from the paper village, only leaving its walls to help plant the paper trees that towered above them. The first tree of living wood they saw staggered them both, causing them to clutch at one another in awe and terror. And then there were the birds.

They were harassed by red, crested birds, and striped birds of blue and black, and horrifying, jet black creatures that croaked hideously and threatened to pull them into the air. Heinrich fended them off with a twig, and once the foul creatures realized that the dolls weren’t particularly edible, they lost interest.

The couple sheltered in the roots of a tree larger than they had believed possible overnight, wrapping themselves in leaves in an attempt to keep off the morning dew. It was yet more hours of walking before they found themselves at the front step of the Creator’s cottage.

Like the rest of the world outside the village, it was impossibly huge. The dolls slipped sideways through the gap between the door and its frame, and found themselves in a one-room home the size of their entire village. A fire crackled threateningly in a hearth, and in front of it, knitting with needles longer than Heinrich was tall, sat the Creator, her soft, wrinkled face turned toward the sound of their entry.

“Who is there?” she asked, her voice creaking.

Honey stepped forward. “Honey and Heinrich, from the paper village, Creator. We come asking for your gift of life.”

“It has been years since a new doll was made,” Heinrich said, bowing low. “Please, we… Honey and I want a child. More than anything.”

The ancient, holy mouth made a little, soundless “O.” Her gray eyes filled with tears.

“Oh, my little dolls. My lovely little dolls, I’m so sorry. I’ve been blind these last three years. I can’t…” she gestured toward a table, where a neat stack of paper lay, crisp and white, next to a beautiful paper cutter. “I can’t draw for you anymore.”

Heinrich crumpled, despair cutting his legs out from under him like scissors. Honey stood, frozen in place with shock. “No,” she whispered. “That’s not possible…”

“I’m afraid it is.” The elderly woman lifted her tangle of knitting. “I’m doing this by feel. And I can feel I’m making a hash of it. I tried to teach my children how to make paper dolls, but none of them had the knack.” She folded her hands back into her lap. “If you don’t have the passion, the magic won’t happen. You can draw and draw as pretty as you like, but if your heart isn’t in it you can’t just… make life.” A sad smile touched her lips. “It’s easier for us big folks, in that way.”

“We can draw,” Honey said. “We have the passion for it. Show us what to do, Creator, and we will do it.”

The blind face turned again toward the paper and the cutter. “I don’t think that will work. It’s the cutter, you see. Even I can’t make a living doll without it. Scissors won’t work. Razor blades won’t work. That thing was enchanted by a witch, you see. And both of you put together along with every other doll I’ve made don’t weigh enough to shift that blade.”

Heinrich looked up. He climbed lightly up the table legs and stood by the cutter, examining it from all sides. “Can you still move it?” he asked, his voice still slightly shaky.

“I’m blind, not feeble. But still…”

“I have a plan,” Heinrich said firmly. “And if it works… it might just keep our village from falling apart.”


Honey sketched while Heinrich sharpened the guillotine blade of the paper cutter. The Creator fussed at him, fretting that he’d cut himself. Heinrich assured her that Honey could patch any tear, but still she insisted that he slow down every time she heard the whetstone move too fast for her tastes.

When it was all ready, when their daughter was sketched with perfect lips and ears and skin, Heinrich and Honey held the paper under the cutter.

“Ready?” The Creator asked, the handle in her grip.

“Ready,” the dolls said in unison. And the life-giving blade dropped slowly, carefully, and almost soundlessly through the heavy cardstock. As it did, Honey and Heinrich shifted the paper around so that the blade traced the outline of Honey’s drawing. After three drops of the blade, the first new paper doll in years had been cut, and her creators stood over her with baited breath, waiting for the spark of life to ignite within her.

The eyes fluttered. “Mama? Papa?”

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:

I can't believe I HMed! I am going to take this overconfidence and declare myself IN

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 493 Crits

Organburner's Royce at the end of the world

The one where a kid lights a wishing chalice and wishes his school into the shadow realm.

This was actually a little hard for me to follow initially. Things just kept happening in a slightly discordant way, jumping from the principal's office to a troll ripping up some bullies to the void at the end of all things to being Okay With The Void, Actually. You probably would have done better to focus more tightly on the bullies and on a series of increasing “accidents,” a more personal apocalypse for Royce, rather than a sudden “okay I guess we're here now,” which might have given it more of an emotional punch. As it is it feels like you're traveling through some well-worn set pieces, making them happen at Magic High School didn't quite freshen them up.

Ceighk's Johan, Johan!

The one where a spymaster falls in murderlust with an assassin.

Ok I'll be honest, I'm kind of a sucker for a good murderlust story. So this is thematically up my alley. I agree with the prior crits that my attention wavered in the conversation with the Queen, but otherwise it worked well enough to be a story where everything felt in its place.

Staggy The Monument

The one where the world is ending, but we're building a monument to our existence anyway.

I liked this a lot. I liked that it didn't bother trying to answer the question of why the world is ending, just that it is. I think that the central conflict of destruction vs creation is echoed really nicely in the protagonist first wrecking his apartment, before deciding to build the monument, then the Reverend almost burning the monument down before deciding to go back to work on it. It was a very human moment of consciously making a choice to not give in to despair. Good stuff, imo.

SurrpetitiousMuffin's To Those Who Came After

The one where robots develop faith and hope while chasing generation ships.

From the Pratchett reference, to “it is not orangical, but it is true,” to the robots smearing coolant over themselves to simulate their orange hazard paint decoration, everything about this story is beautiful. The repetition helps move the story through time without getting preachy or weird. You manage to encapsulate generations of time so neatly within the word limit. I'm mightily impressed and if this had not won it would have been a crime.

Noah's Don't Forget to get a To-Go Plate

The one where the Afterlife is ending but this woman has a wedding planned and it's not going to end until she says so, god drat it.

I've spent some time thinking about why the vagueness of Staggy's ending works so well and why I don' think it works as well here, and I've come to the conclusion that it's the sheer crush of characters that you have. In Staggy's story, you've really just got the narrator. In this, you've got Roda and Joe and the Usher and the Planner and the band and the photographer and and and and it all kind of stacks on itself with so much specificity that the lack of specific apocalypse becomes questionable. You clearly know how to set a scene, the emotional energy between the characters exists and works, but it doesn't seem to have anywhere to go. Not quite a story and not quite a vignette.

My Shark Waifuu's Goblin-Mother

The one where a witch protects goblins from adventurers.

For such a life and death setting, there isn't a lot of tension here. I am interested in Griselda's whole deal, but I kind of wish you'd written a story about her early goblin-saving career. This “haha silly adventurers, your guild cannot protect you against my chicken magic!” doesn't feel as satisfying. Especially with the adventurers making the quite cogent point that the sudden goblin population boom is loving up the environment in a whole lot of other ways. There's a lot of ink spilled and to be spilled on the theme of Dungeons and Dragons Morality, but this didn't leave me walking away feeling hopeful about anybody's decisions.

Albatrossy_Rodent's The Sea Turtle and the Octopus

The one where a sea turtle and an octopus try to make sure her eggs hatch female.

You mentioned already in the discord but a single line about how climate change has made sea turtles hatch overwhelmingly male would have resolved a lot of questions left over in this story, so I won't harp on that. Ultimately though, the dreary sighing of the sea turtle and the pompous frumphing of the octopus didn't leave me with a lot of character to enjoy, which definitely tempered the “world is ending but life moves on, yeah?” vibe of the piece.

Idle Amalgam's Super Crypto Bros.

The one where a guy gets waaaaay too into cryptocurrencies

Oof. I get where you were going with the foolishness of hope thing here, but man, what a bleak place to take it. I liked this story while reading it, but for this week's prompts it kind of fell flat. I feel bad for the guy, and I don't exactly feel hopeful for humanity or the future.

GrandmaParty Priorities

The one where a mercenary captain convinces a young soldier to leave his post.

Sometimes all a person is looking for is the permission to do the thing they desperately want, and know in their heart of hearts is the right thing to do. And I liked the way this showcased that. Who knows if the Wenland army is telling the truth? It doesn't matter. Davis got to live another day and see his family, and Slow Hand got a bag of money. Everybody with a name wins. A good, simple, story with a neat twist.

Chernobyl Princess Paper Hearts

The one I wrote

Yeah, you probably should have wrote the version where the village burned down and Honey and Heinrich were rebuilding it. Next time don't wait until seven hours before deadline before you start putting words on paper.

Tyrannosaurus's in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news

The one where a good boy helps a banjo player with his anxiety.

This was my favorite because it had a good dog in it. I like good dogs. I generally like absurd trees that grow musical instruments, but honestly that kind of took me out of the story. I don't know why talking dogs are totally within bounds and guitartubers and violastalks are out of bounds, but it's probably that one is a standard fictional character and the other is a Cool New Thing I Want To Know More About. But I don''t get to know more about it, because it's flash fiction.

Antivehicular's The Ride-Along

The one where a group of people with D-tier superpowers try to find a better place to live.

Of all the stories this week, this one stuck in my head the most. The limited cast of characters helps you out a lot, you manage to put a ton of personality into each of them. The tragedy of Dee knowing nothing about cars and having a car-based power is painfully funny in the best sort of way. While this story feels complete in itself, it very much makes me want to read a full length novel set in this world.

Thranguy's The Basilisk Score

The one where a galaxy brain invents a guy to be mad at break into a bank for it

This is a super cool idea that I really feel like you needed 4-500 more words to really explore, which is such a lovely crit to give. Sorry about that. The last line is what fails it, because it's not a complete sentence. “Better x than y” would have been fine, but we just got “Better X and here's a random slam on Robin Hood out of nowhere.” Cutting some of the musings on hell and making sure you'd completed your final thought would have improved this a ton, and you probably could have done it in under 48 words.

The man called M's How Andy became a man

The one where a transdude sleds down a dangerous hill and maybe interacts with a supernatural monster?

So yeah, I'm not super sure what happened there. The plot was a little muddled and you keep Doing That Thing where you Capitalize random Nouns. It's always going to read as stilted. You can claim it's a stylistic choice all you want, but if it's not a consistent stylistic choice, nobody will be able to tell the difference between it and a typo. If you're going to call it Sledding instead of just sledding, then it needs to be capitalized every time you use it.

Another feature of your writing that I've noticed is that you almost never say “said,” it's always “yelled” or “exclaimed” or “cried.” I kind of get why, this is a problem I had when I first entered Thunderdome. You get told by writing teachers to use descriptive verbs, and they always say “for example, don't use 'said' when you can use 'yelled' or 'exclaimed' or 'cried.'” But that's terrible advice, because it makes your stories feel like they're full of barely-hanging-on weirdos. There are other ways to indicate emotion than dialogue tags, and I'd encourage you to explore those more!

I'm focusing on that for now because those are practical things you can use, I straight up did not understand what happened in this story with the weird igloo and the bones and poo poo, did Andy fight a witch? I wish I'd seen him fight a witch, that would have been badass, but as it is I just know he sledded down a scary hill and a douchebag thought he might have died but then he didn't.

Yeah ok ok yeah's Deep Rich, Excursion 385

The one where a robot finds a cat in a deserted lab.

You do such a great job setting up a grim and creepy tone with little blasts of chipper humor and then don't do anything really with it. The lab is a great setting, the clues left behind by the scientists are unsettling. Is the result of their experiment? Or is it the lone survivor? Ultimately the questions I have left over prevent me from feeling relief from the grim and creepy tone, and I can only assume that this robot is accidentally unleashing the Thing.

A Classy Ghost's The Dead City Marches On

The one where blue collar necromancers learn about class solidarity and bargaining

I love your ridiculous names, I love your horrifying dead city, I love your gross necromantic pill bugs. I have no good critique. I just want to read more hosed up necropolis maintenance worker fiction.

CaligulaKangaroo's Final Exam

The one where a cyberpunk stays in a bad situation and finishes his high school exit exam.

I liked the layers of guilt and shame that this built up slowly. I like the complicated feelings. I don't understand when he decided he was going to stay and take this test and risk certain death by scavengers or baron's men looking for holdouts. The emotional stakes make sense to me, but it's undermined by the physical stakes not being fully clear. I think another editing pass would make this a really solid story.

Crabrock's Liebrary

The one where a team of librarians (and one non-librarian) are a super sentai team

No crit I can give could possibly be as harsh as the one I know you received from your wife. You know what you did.

...nah legit you had the legs of a decently funny story here but couldn't quite form the head. It reads like you tried to pack every Teen Superhero League trope into a suitcase. It's frustrating because it's so close to being something enjoyable.

Flerp's To the Reclaimers

The one where a person at the end of the world considers all the life around them.

A beautiful scene, a beautiful musing on resilience and peace. I like the fact that the conflict they experience, running from predators, isn't the focus. I like the kind of peaceful resistance to the idea of death, neither flinching from it nor succumbing to it. I know some people prefer a full story rather than just a lovely vignette, but for me this worked.

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:

Heron House
1199 words

this is two old people, a sweet old couple who bicker but love each other deeply

Imelda was sweeping the floor of Heron House, preparing for their next guests, when Soren wrapped his golden arms around her, pressing his chest against her back.

“You’re doing things in the kitchen,” he whispered into her ear. “You know how intensely erotic that is.”

Imelda laughed and swatted him away with the broom. “Get away, you old letch!” She gave him a peck on the cheek and returned to her chores. “Did you turn the beds down upstairs?”

“All except ours. Thought we could give me a reason to change the sheets first.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. It was exactly as tempting as it was when they’d first met. So not that tempting at all, because she was busy, and she told him so.

Soren bore the rejection cheerfully, kissing the back of her hand before leaving the kitchen. He paused on the way up the stairs, swaying slightly as the house moved underneath him. “Are you alright, love? You seem distracted.”

A thousand sharp responses buzzed to Imelda’s tongue. Yes, you’re distracting me and what about not wanting a midday gently caress makes you think I’m not okay? And another dozen, crueler phrases lined themselves up to launch.

But you don’t travel with a man for half of your young adulthood, then stay married to him for nearly two hundred years by snapping at him every time you’re stressed. Imelda looked out the window at the low marshlands that Heron House waded through. “We’re heading east,” she said softly. “Toward the Rift.”

Soren froze for a moment. His gnarled hands clenched on the banister. “Oh,” he said, lightly. “Well. It’ll be nice to see Johan again.”


The sky around the Rift was locked in a carmine twilight. It cast weird shadows around Heron House as it picked its way through the mud toward the village. Incredible, really, that anyone would try to build so close to the raw, magical radiation that poured from this awful crack in reality. Most of the houses were abandoned, but three people had been here and three people had died here, so now Soren and Imelda were here to shepherd them on to their afterlives before necromancers got to them, or before death trauma mutated them into some kind of mind-eating horror.

Soren and Imelda stood in the attic, leaning out the highest window, eyes squinted against the wind and light. Soren waved to a dark figure in the roiling center of the Rift.

“Hullo, Yo!” He called. “How’s eternal life treating you? Have you brought my sister back yet?”

Imelda scanned the horizon, looking for the glimmering spirits within the wreckage of the village.

“There,” she said, pointing to a trio of silvery wisps gathered around a broken fountain, their features indistinct with death trauma. The house groaned as it dropped, long, stilt-like legs folding beneath it. The spirits darted away as soon as they touched down.

“Ugh,” Soren groaned. “I hate it when they run.”

Imelda nudged him in the ribs playfully. “Oh, your poor knees. Your poor back. So much for legendary Kiver stamina.”

“‘Legendary Kiver stamina’ my gilded rear end. I didn’t think I’d spend my dotage chasing ghosts. We were supposed to open a pub in Eristhell with Yo and Hulda.” He glared back up at the Rift. “And then someone went and hosed it all up!”

Imelda patted her husband’s hand, then pulled on her dusky blue cloak of office and left to go find some dead people.

Unfortunately the necromancers got there first.

There were three of them, dressed the way they probably thought psychopomps dressed instead of the two-hundred years out of style clothing that Imelda and Soren actually wore. Lots of black. Lots of pointy silver jewelry.

“Love the look,” Soren said as they approached. “Wish I could get away with that. But even when I was your age black made me look brassy.”

Imelda drifted silently behind him, watching the spirits as they blurred in the necromancer’s web of magic. Necros couldn’t resolve death trauma the way the keepers of Heron House could, they got their magic from heightening it. She hadn’t appreciated that when she’d been properly alive.

“Get out of here, grandpa,” one of the necros said, her voice heavy with exhaustion. “Unless you really want to donate your soul.”

Soren squinted at them. “You’d need a lot more than three souls to close the Rift,” he said. “Do you know what opened it?”

“The Rift opened a gate to hell. Necromancy opened it, necromancy will close it.”

“It wasn’t necromancy,” Soren said. “And that isn’t hell. Johan killed the God of Death, the Rift opened as a consequence.” He glanced back at Imelda. “He probably wouldn’t have done it if he’d known what was coming.”

“He was always insane over Hulda,” Imelda said. “He’d still have done it. Now you, stop torturing that ghost and hand it over or I’ll feed your souls straight to Heron House.”

“We’re necromancers, lady,” one of the others said. “You don’t have any power here.”

He might have said more, but Imelda threw her knife at him. It wasn’t meant for throwing, the hilt merely bonked into his chest, but the shock disrupted his concentration. The spell collapsed and the spirits were free. Imelda opened her cloak and the ghosts, now so stripped of what they’d been in life that they didn’t know to fear her, darted into the shelter she provided.

Soren moved. It was easy to forget how fast he could be with the way he bitched and moaned about the stairs every morning. By the time the last spirit clung to Imelda’s back like a chilly infant he’d disabled two necromancers and had retrieved Imelda’s knife. He approached the third necro, fingers flickering through some spell that Imelda didn’t know.

“Wait,” the last necro said, holding up her hands. “If you are who I think you are, we can help one another.”

“You torture dead souls for power and think a pair of conscripted psychopomps will want to work with you?”

“It’s not… I can’t help that,” she said, desperate. “But I can help you. You’re the ones who survived, the ones who answered the call, who took the place of Death after Johan the Accursed killed him. Please, I know how to close the Rift and save your friend!”

That gave Soren pause. “Do you now?”

“I think so. I just need power.” She pulled back her hood. She was painfully young, bright eyes in a dark face that hadn’t cracked to time. “Please, if you are the caretakers of Heron House… let me come with you. I’ll work. I’ll serve. I’ll never practice necromancy again, if you just help me fix this!”

Imelda shared a look with Soren. He shrugged and looked back up at the crack in the sky, magical radiation making the land unstable and unusable, and their friend hovering in the gap. “It’s worth a shot,” he said.

A shadow fell across the world as the veil that kept it hidden from the living world fell away and the House stood up behind them. The young necromancer’s eyes widened.

“Welcome to Heron House.”

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 495

I love relationships. The ones that break, the ones that heal, the ones that shouldn't work but manage to hold on, the ones that are perfect on paper but fall apart with the slightest stress... they're just great. This week I want to read stories about people working on relationships in distress. This means your story must have:

1. At least two characters who are
2. Extremely emotionally invested in one another in some way
3. Experiencing a serious test to that emotional investment.

While romantic relationships are my personal cup of tea, this can be deep friendship, parents and children, obsessive enemies, a person and their dog, a wookie and their human, whatever (no fanfic rule applies, unless it's really good). What I want to see is intensity of feeling.

Word limit: 1500 words

No fanfic, political screeds, or erotica.

Declare entry by Saturday the 29th, 3am PST
Signups closed Monday the 31st, 3am PST

Chernobyl Princess

Idle Amalgam
t a s t e :toxx:
The man called M
steeltoedsneakers :toxx:
Bird Tyrant

Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 20:51 on Jan 29, 2022

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 man called M posted:

…You know what, screw it. In.

Could you please give me a certain relationship (like lovers, for example?)

Also, :toxx: to send a draft to Sitting Here by Saturday.

The members of your relationship are college students in rival fraternities/sororities who have to plan a holiday party together for the entire greek community

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:

Sign ups closed!

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:

Entries closed!

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:


Well, you tried, and that's what matters.

This week we were able to judge eleven of nineteen entrants, with flerp posting while we were in the middle of judgechat. To the seven who did not post, that is sorrowful, y'all. Truly sorrowful. Just bash your face into the keyboard a few times and hit post, we'll probably like it anyway.

Those who did post, thanks for making it easy on us, I guess? Thranguy comes in with the obvious win for a story that was touching, sad, and grabbed all of our attention. We all agreed that we wanted to know more about the world and the T-rift, but that the story really didn't feel like it needed more space.

For an HM we have t a s t e with Cut Outs, a story that needed a couple more nouns to be really perfect, but was solid and we all enjoyed the characters.

For DM, Chairchucker with a story that felt entirely wooden with too many characters to explore any one relationship in depth.

And for the Loss... sorry The Man Called M, you're getting better, but it's hard to read a story with the phrase "they simultaneously say at the same time," especially when the rest of the story is in past tense.

If you would like to hear and even see your judges judge you judgmentally, I present you with this finely crafted Youtube video, courtesy of Chili:

Over to you, Thranguy!

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 is Zoe and her best friend Homer:

Zoe is the fastest racing unicorn in Go City. Homer gets lost a lot.

Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 22:23 on Feb 8, 2022

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:

989 words

Family gone. Dog asleep. Flag dropped. Time to race.

Zoe’s six hooves pounded against the track. The sleek, blue, horselike creature’s pink-tipped antennae streamed behind her, huge eyes covered by a blindfold as she outpaced most of the competition. The hated Monster Truck was the only one who could outpace her, the heat of his engine as bright against her thermal sense as his green paint would be to her eyes.

“Left turn, soft change, slow turn…” chanted her spotter, a floppy-legged horse named Homer. They careened from hardwood onto plush hallway carpet. “Monster swinging wide, straight and speed, go Zoe go!”

Zoe wasn’t a new racer, but Homer had ages of experience. He’d been a racer himself before “the accident” that flung him into the dog’s kennel. Unable or unwilling to tell the difference between its own toys and those belonging to the Child, the dog had gnawed the stuffing out of Homer’s legs before anyone was able to help him.

She’d been in the stands that day. She knew it wasn’t an accident. She’d seen Monster Truck shove him into the kennel. She’d been practicing every night for the past year for the opportunity to beat that cheater and make her friend proud.

So the second her hooves touched carpet Zoe poured on the speed. She pulled alongside her rival, neck stretched out, reaching with her nose to try to catch millimeters of advantage.

But Monster wasn’t called that just because he was a monster truck. Zoe heard the slight change of tone as he swooped toward her, almost before Homer screamed at her to pull back.

Not happening. Zoe focused, relying on her heat sense and the sound of Monster’s wheels to guide her. Just before its chassis impacted her legs she leaped, converting all her forward momentum into a flawlessly smooth barrel roll that just barely took her over Monster.

Time slowed as her antennae brushed Monster’s roof. She could hear Monster’s spotter screaming at him over his radio almost as clearly as she could hear Homer screaming in her ear.

She hit the ground running, legs churning. Behind her, Monster slammed into the wall, costing him seconds and knocking him back into third place.

“Hard change,” Homer barked as the hallway carpet gave way to the tile of the kitchen. “Hard left. You’re in the lead. Stupid move, Zoe.”

“Winning move you mean!”

“It was risky! You won’t win with stupid tricks!”

“I can beat him,” she growled. “I know it.”

“If you’re smart, you’ll remember that there’s always another race. Heading into the living room. Watch… [i[Sticky trap left!”[/i]

Zoe darted right, then left again as Homer barked out the locations of the velcro plants scattered across the floor. They’d cling to her felt and hold her in place for fifteen precious seconds, destroying her lead. She counted as she dodged, there should only be nine plants after all…

“You’re heading behind Big Chair, I can’t see back there and I think there’s another sticky trap. Swing wide.”

“I counted nine.” The threatening whine of Monster’s motor approached. “I can make it!”

“Be careful!”

Zoe wasn’t listening anymore. She leaned into the turn, so close that one antenna brushed the back of Big Chair…

And her second right hoof hit a trap.

The hapless racer tumbled in a flail of limbs and antennae. She managed to roll onto her back and allow momentum to carry her a few extra inches, but came to a rest just past the chair.

Homer was silent. Then, “you counted, huh?”

Zoe closed her eyes. Monster Truck roared past her, honking mockingly. “I counted wrong.”

“Guess you did. Listen, Zoe, you’re a great racer. You’ve got promise. But you don’t listen. There’s always another race. Unless you get broken.”

“I just want to beat him,” Zoe said softly. “For what he did to you.”

“Then we’ll do it together. You’ve got two more laps,” he said as the trap released her and she struggled back to her feet. “Are you ready?”

In answer, Zoe took off. Monster was upsettingly far ahead. Every instinct told her to just run as fast as she possibly could, but Homer kept holding her back slightly on the straights and pushing her through turns.

Homer had been studying Monster for years. He knew every weakness, from the slowness of his acceleration to his inability to take corners. By the time she finished the second loop she was back on Monster’s tail. She could feel his heat, he was close as they entered the kitchen. Closer still into the dining room. Her forelegs were in line with his back tires. Just one push and she’d win it…

“Slow!” Homer barked. “Slow slow slow Zoe!”

Against every impulse in her body, Zoe hit the proverbial brakes, letting Monster zoom ahead, toward the finish line…

…and the dog, now awake and extremely interested in the speedy toy. The beast leaped off of the couch and onto Monster, knocking him off his wheels, trying to investigate the source of the whine with its claws and teeth.

Zoe hesitated. She could win this now, avenge Homer, and Monster would never race again.

But an RC car that didn’t run would end up in the dump. She couldn’t have that on her conscience.

Zoe veered off the track and slammed into the dog with as much force as her plush body could muster. The dog yelped and let go of Monster, who managed to flip back onto his wheels and ram the dog’s legs with his bumper. The creature leaped back onto the couch, whining and licking its paw, while Zoe and Monster made their escape.

“He’ll never thank you for forfeiting,” Homer said as they watched the other toys enter the winner’s circle.

“That’s okay,” Zoe said. “There’s always another race.” She threw her foreleg over Homer’s shoulders, smiling as widely as any winner ever could.

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:

I am judge

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:

I would like something from Dr. Cindy's Box 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:

Sitting Here posted:

WEEK 500DRED Prologue

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Spaceman Jim Discovers The Secret of the Universe

Thranguy posted:

a soul again congealing

447 words

Johan Godkiller fell out of the Rift, the distance and height making it seem like he was drifting slowly downward. Ember had seen enough death by falling by now to know the urgency. She strained within the thicket of roots that burrowed through her flesh, urging Heron House forward, nervous system to nervous system.

On the roof, Soren, Imelda, and the ancient souls that had bound themselves to the House out of love and duty braced themselves against the sudden sprint and prepared to snatch Johan out of the air without killing him. Soren’s hands interlaced and danced through the Sign of the Web. The spell caught and the air below Johan interlaced with brilliant strands of light, thick as Imelda’s wrist.

Johan tore through the magic netting, but the spell had its desired effect: to slow his descent. Imelda called the souls to her, and with their aid managed to catch her old friend without falling off the roof or cracking all of her ribs. The House raced onward, Ember directing it as far away from the Rift as she could get.

“Thanks,” Johan said when they got him inside. “Holy poo poo,” he said again when he saw Ember disengaging from the root network. “That was some fancy work, lady.”

Ember blushed. Johan hadn’t aged a day in the over two hundred years he’d been locked in the temporal stasis of the Rift, and he’d been handsome in his day. Imelda found his youth unnatural now, obscene. And frankly a little embarrassing. The magics of Heron House kept her and Soren and now Ember in fighting trim, but it did little for their vanity.

Soren didn’t waste time, stomping down from the attic to wave a furious, golden finger in front of Johan’s nose. “You stupid motherfucker! Where the hell is my sister?!”

Johan’s smile washed away in the face of Soren’s anger. He glanced at Imelda, who scowled back, arms crossed. “She wasn’t there,” he said, slowly. “There was another woman wearing a white coat, someone I’d never seen before. And a man. He gave me this.” Johan produced a massive, bejeweled egg from inside his coat. “Then something rang, and another voice told me what we have to do.”

He fell silent, pausing for dramatic effect. Neither Imelda nor Soren fell for that particular trick, but Ember hadn’t spent a lifetime with the gregarious Johan, and took the bait immediately. “What?” She asked. “What do we need to do?”

Soren leaned forward and pressed a hidden latch on the egg. It swung open, revealing fine, black sand that seemed to drink the light. “We have to help the Spacemen. We have to kill Thunderdome.”

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:

Crits from week 499

The Cut Of Your Jib

The one where a mom tries to guilt her son into taking over their failing pawn/antiques business.

I liked the setup, the emotions felt real, they seemed like real people, but nothing really caught me. I think more focus on the things they bought from people, how their money helped people, would have been more interesting and gripping than the repetition of mom’s guilt trip.



The one where everyone disagrees on the best way to get somewhere.

Hah, I liked this. It was short and silly and wasn’t trying to be anything else. I liked the way the same argument repeated and the way the actions got more ridiculous each time. This was fun. In a bigger week it would probably fall to the middle, but I thought this was genuinely good.



The one where brothers fight about texts at their father’s funeral

This… wrapped too neatly for my tastes, which is usually a sign that it was a well done story. I liked the argument, I liked how natural the explosion felt, but when it ended with “You better text her then.” instead of some rolled eyes or someone biting their tongue or Tony engaging in some visible effort not to be a snide rear end… it just felt a bit too sitcom pat to me. You had a handful of words left, you could have done it.



The one where a space psychopomp in training eats marmalade and then saves her supervisor from a bad spaceship fight

I have no idea what is happening here but I had fun while reading it. You’re good at this sort of “here is the world, figure it out” style writing, but I think the flashrule kind of crippled you here.



The one where two dudes are in love with some guy’s AI.

Another sort of messy middle story. You definitely get points for making it a different type of love triangle, but it was also a little hard to figure out. The way they got mad at one another didn’t feel realistic, and I extremely didn’t understand why they were just hanging out in this man’s house, other than to chat with his AI. I wish I’d gotten some of that background. You could have done it.



The one where they steal the wrong car because they disagree on colors.

Cute. Starts strong but ends kind of weakly. I like the characters and I like the reasoning about the colors. Might be stronger if you’d focused a little on what could go wrong with transposing or forgetting a number rather than just “only people on TV do that.” Or even just being like “yeah so I’m dyslexic that poo poo won’t work.”

4-6/10 depending on my mood when reading it.

Bad Seafood

The one where bad roommates fight about a toaster and then break the toaster.

Holy poo poo did you spy on my conversations with my terrible roommate? This feels extremely realistic, including the deeply stupid escalation to flinging the toaster out the window. I enjoyed it.


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, give me some weirdos and a problem 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:

Project Cicada
1223 words
A group of put upon staffers thwarts an eldritch invasion

Jackson wheeled a cart loaded with gemstones and bags of blood past Meredith’s desk at 5:05 on a Friday. “Hey, Mere, you got a second?”

Meredith glanced at her phone. It was turned off, as all phones should be when at ones desk at Carcosa Enterprises. “I was supposed to go on a date tonight,” she complained, standing to help adjust the items on Jackson’s cart. “Linda conned me into staying late. Holy crap, Jax, why would you put the knife on top of the blood?”

“poo poo, sorry. I wasn’t thinking. You know they switched all the coffee in the break room to decaf a few weeks back? Said it would lower our health insurance premiums.” Jackson shook his head, disgusted. “I tell you what, Mere, it’s a sad day when desk jockeys like us can’t get a caffeine fix.”

“It can’t be good for productivity, at any rate.” Meredith reorganized the cart so that the stabby bits were carefully separated from the squishy bits. “There you go. Where’s this headed?”

“Conference room 3. You know, the nice one,” Jackson said, cheerfully. “Some big deal ritual sacrifice going down for Project Cicada. I asked Bob about it and he got that look in his eye and started chanting. ‘The sleepers will rise! The sleepers will rise!’” Jackson laughed and shook his head. “You know how he gets.”

“Hey, at least it wasn’t that one language that makes your ears bleed this time. I still haven’t figured out how to get those stains out of the collar of the shirt I was wearing.”

Meredith fell into step beside Jackson and his cart, chatting idly about the upcoming sacrifice. Neither of them noticed the stealthy figure lurking along the beige walled and blue carpeted corridors until the door to conference room 3 shut behind all three of them.

The speed at which Meredith drew a knife from the cart and launched herself at the masked and hooded person would have surprised her, her body responding to their presence before her mind really had a chance to register it. But whatever gave her speed didn’t automatically provide skill, her knife slashed the air with abandon and without touching its target. The person pulled something out of a pocket, not a gun as Meredith first assumed, but a tiny spray bottle. They misted the air in front of Meredith and Jackson’s faces and continued to dodge both worker’s clumsy attacks.

Gradually, Meredith realized she’d been screaming. She looked over at Jackson, who had also been screaming. She stopped. Dropped the knife. Massaged her jaw. “What… What happened?” She sniffed the air. “Augh, what is that smell?”

“The finest weapon we’ve ever developed against the occult,” said a familiar, feminine voice from beneath the hood. “Jeppson’s Malort. Scares the evil humors away like nothing else. Welcome back, guys.” She threw the hood back, revealing the mousy features and coke bottle glasses of Meredith’s cubicle neighbor.

“Chloe?” Jackson shook his head, confused. “Ugh. I have the worst headache all of a sudden. What’s going on?”

“We don’t have much time,” Chloe said, striding into the room. “You’ve got a cartload of ritual objects that are supposed to be somewhere.”

“Here, we think,” Meredith said. She rubbed her eyes. “Wait, poo poo, that’s blood! Why are we carting around blood?!”

“And all this jewelry too!” Jackson picked up a massive yellowish-green crystal. “What even is this?”

Chloe glanced at it. “That’s andradite. Yellow garnet. And like I said, we don’t have much time. The bosses here have been rewiring everyone’s minds to get people to do their bidding, and their bidding is to summon some nasty loving monsters from beyond. Think, what have you been hearing?”

Meredith grimaced. “Uh. Project Cicada. Awakening the sleepers. Oh, poo poo, they need this stuff for the sacrifice tonight, and it’s supposed to be here!”

Chloe patted the air in a calming gesture. “Hey, don’t worry about that, I forged the orders so you’d wind up here.”

“So if they’re missing this stuff they can’t do the ritual, right?” Jackson frowned. “Or… no. I remember a bunch of emails about redundancy being the better part of valor or something stupid like that.”

Chloe nodded. “Yeah. Usually they’d at least need some crusty old book, but they’ve backed everything up digitally. I think they’re using iPads to do their ritual.”

Meredith perked up at that. “Oh, really? That’s interesting.”

“How so?”

“Well, it gives me an idea, at least. So you know the joke that’s been going around, how we make a quarter of what our bosses make just because they don’t know how to use Excel?”


In a deep basement, his robes stained crimson with the blood of a dozen species of animal, one of which was human, Bob addressed his fellow middle managers of darkness. “We have waited seventeen times seventeen years for this opportunity,” he said. “The stars are finally right. We have one chance, my brothers, to return the world to its rightful state.” He gestured to the flawless geometry of the summoning circle and the perfect separation of flesh from bone from the sacrifices that lay before him. “Perfect order. Perfect reason. The weak under the strong, the strong under the mighty, and all under the Great One, who sleeps beyond time.”

His watch chimed, signaling the beginning of the ritual. Bob took a deep breath and lifted his iPad over his head. “With the turning of these pages, I shall awaken the sleepers,” he intoned. “With the opening of this book, I open the gates. Come forth, o kings beyond time! Come forth, o giants of cosmic radiance!”

The symbols painted in blood began to glow in response to the words and to the moment, the stars all aligned in a pattern that read, to those who knew, OPEN.

He touched the symbol on the tablet, appreciating for a moment how modern technology so perfectly synergized with ancient ritual.

System error: failed install

He stared at the text on the screen. “What…” He dismissed the error message and tried again.

System error: No subscription

Bob looked around the room at the other robed figures. “Does anyone here know how this piece of poo poo works?”


“Yeah, so turns out the company only has one Office 365 license,” Meredith said, turning around in her chair. “They’ve been doing all sorts of stupid IT shenanigans to make it work. Super easy to just turn all of that off.”

Chloe grinned and punched the air. “Yes! Awesome! Okay, we’ve got to go. The cops should be here soon and we don’t want to be in the building for this.”

The three of them snuck out the back, and watched the news at a nearby Greene Turtle about the ritualistic murder scene that local cops busted over at Carcosa Enterprises.

“Welp,” Jackson said, sipping his beer. “Looks like we won’t be getting a reference.”

Chloe shrugged. “Oh, I dunno about that…” She slid them both a pair of business cards, which read Mancini’s Monster Removal: We Don’t HAGgle in bold, serif font. “Think about it. There’s always work for those willing to stare unblinking into the abyss.”

Meredith looked at the card, then looked at Jackson. She shrugged. “Hey, it can’t be worse than retail.”

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, please give me some of your words

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:

1301 words
“There ain’t no rule in the rulebook that a brachiosaurus can’t play basketball,” the old janitor said.

A lime green ankylosaurus landed in my cup, splattering me and the dog in hot coffee. The dog yelped and scrambled away, her overlong claws making a racket on the floor, as I took a deep breath and counted.

“Oliver,” I said, attempting an even tone. “What’s the rule?”

“If you huck it, you… um…” my son’s look of cherubic confusion was equal parts hilarious and infuriating. “You get it back!”

“It’s the opposite, buddy. If you huck it, you don’t have it.” I picked up the plastic dinosaur and put it on a shelf. This prompted the anticipated whining, complete with throwing himself onto his hands and knees and wailing. “Come on, little dude. Help me clean up. Can you get me a wipe?”

“But I want my dino!” He wailed.

“Help me wipe up the mess and I’ll consider it. Get me a wipe, please.”


I shrugged and left the living room to get a towel and refill my mug. The dog followed me, looking forlorn. I smiled and stroked her head. “You already ate breakfast,” I said to her. “I know, because I fed you.”

“Feeding her is my job,” Oliver said, petulantly, stomping into the kitchen. “Mommy? Can I have a water?”

“Sure, buddy.”

“Can we go to the donut store?”

My first impulse was to say gently caress no, you little monster, you’ve been destroying the house since you woke up and the very concept of bringing you anywhere without your father to help manage your shenanigans is like nails on a goddamn chalkboard. But I recognized that this was the lack of caffeine talking. Mostly. It was also the recent scalding talking.

“Yeah, we can go to the donut store. Let mommy finish her coffee, then you’ll sit on the potty and we can take the wagon into town.”

Being the naturally tough negotiator that all three year olds are, Oliver convinced me that he should be permitted to watch a show first. His father would have been appalled, but his father was in Cali-loving-fornia doing the son-of-a-bitching JP Morgan pharmaceuticals conference, and so he didn’t get a vote at this point. We’d probably have mac and cheese with sriracha and frozen peas mixed into it for dinner tonight, too. I refused to feel guilty about it.

Yeah. I felt super guilty about it.

I loaded the boy into his wagon and we set out. He chattered about his imaginary friend, Albert, and I nodded and made interested sounds. God. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just enjoy this? It was a beautiful spring day, all bright sun and cool breeze, and my child was finally the age where we could look at shapes in the clouds and tell each other stories about what we saw. This was what I had hoped for. So why did it feel so… leaden?

I waved to my neighbors as we passed, exchanging cheerful comments about the weather. Oliver jumped out of his wagon to kick his soccer ball around a field. I took a few pictures to send to his father. I scrolled through Twitter and my Discord notifications. I tried to feel happy.

We made it to the coffee shop that made the donuts. There was a line, which Oliver surprised me by not griping about waiting in. He had a little fuschia brachiosaur gripped in one fist. “Mommy?” He said softly. “Can I have an apple donut?”

I grinned at him. “Of course. Apple donuts are my favorite too. Do you want some milk too?”

“Hmmm. I think maybe just a chocolate milk.”

“Not on the menu today, buddy. Sorry.”

“Oh. Okay. Just a regular milk then. Mommy? Albert has chocolate milk. He puts it in his cereal.”

I squeezed his hand. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah! Mommy? Where does chocolate milk come from?”

“Brown cows,” I said, approaching the counter.

“BROWN COWS?!” He shouted, and collapsed to the floor in a fit of giggles. “Brown cows!”

I gave the standard parental half-grimace, half-smile of apology to the people in line behind me as I scooped up my flailing child and put in our order. Thankfully we’d moved to a place with a lot of other young families, so I didn’t catch a lot of flack when he did completely normal child behaviors like this. But it was still embarrassing. Like, a good mom wouldn’t have her child howling with exaggerated laughter and shrieking “brown cows!” in the middle of a coffee shop.

But I didn’t claim to be a good mom. I was just the one that Oliver was stuck with.

For a while things were okay. Oliver ate his donut, I drank my latte. He was a lot more outgoing than I was, chattering happily to everyone who passed by while I sort of smiled and mumbled awkwardly. At least he didn’t get the social awkwardness from you, I thought.

“That’s a nice brontosaurus,” said the janitor, who was sweeping up next to our table.

“Actually,” Oliver said, “it’s a brachiosaurus. It said so on the box.”

“Well, you know what they say. There ain’t no rule in the rulebook that a brachiosaurus can’t play basketball,” the old janitor said.

Oliver just looked at him. I smiled and said “He’s still a little young for Air Bud. He’ll get it in a few years.”

“Just long enough to stop being fascinated by dinosaurs,” he laughed. “You have a nice day, ma’am.”

The walk back was a bit nicer. Fortified by a breakfast sandwich, it was easier to appreciate the sun and the clouds and the idle, child-prattle. I still felt wretched, but it was dialed down to background noise. Even a wretch could enjoy the sunshine.

“I’ve been off all day,” I complained to his father while on the routine bedtime phone call. He was wearing one of his nicer suits, the jacket folded over the hotel chair behind him. God, he looked good. I missed him so much, even when he was gone for just a few days. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t seem to get it together.”

“Hmm.” He paused. It was the same pause that Oliver made while he thought. I hadn’t noticed that before. It was adorable. They were both adorable. God, why was I so pathetic while being surrounded by such adorable people? “Did you take your Zoloft last night?”

“Of course I did,” I snapped. Then I paused as realization dawned. “Oh. Wait. No. I meant to get that refilled today. I ran out on Friday.”

“Well, there you have it.” He smiled at me, gentle and understanding. “You’ll feel better once you’re back on it. You know you will.”


“Daddy!” Oliver ran over to show his father a new book we’d picked up while we were in town. “Daddy, look at this! It’s about basketball and soccer ball and baseball!”

“Wow! I can’t wait to read it with you!”

Again, I felt that stab of guilt. My husband was so natural with our child. I felt like I was faking it all the time. Or. Okay, no. Not all the time. Just when I forgot to take the stupid brain pills.

That was a relief. I set a reminder in my phone to go to the pharmacy the next day. It sucked to feel like this. I hated it. None of the guilt or lovely thoughts ever felt like lying to myself until I realized what it was. God, I was so lucky the pills worked.

I went to bed shortly after Oliver, the dog lying on my feet as she always did, and felt relatively secure in the knowledge that tomorrow would at least feel like a better day.

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:


One day, one beautiful, shining day, I will be on top of my poo poo enough to get my crits out before the next week's entries have all been submitted. But this is not that day.

Bullets on the Horizon by Hawklad

I found this kind of difficult to read. I didn't connect to any characters and the action was hard to follow, as Rohan said. There's the core of something interesting here, high gravity duels of patience... neat. But there's almost too much Western and absurdist set dressing to make it actually work, or not enough length for those things to properly pay off.

I'll admit I didn't get the Schwartzchild pun until Rohan pointed it out.

Creepy Pasta by Beezus

I enjoyed this when I read it the first time. It was a cute little monsters in the closet vignette. But the second read left me confused. Mom is a witch? Why would a bogeyman be interested in witches? Why is mom afraid of linguine? Why did it leave linguine in her pocket? I am so confused. I think you mentioned in the Discord that an explanatory line got cut accidentally, which is a shame. This had all the tone and pacing right, it just sort of tripped over the ending.

Dinner At Home by derp

This is the kind of breakup story that I love. Just pure loneliness amidst the driving need to keep acting like everything is Normal and Fine. I liked the fretfulness of the spoon about to crack. I liked the repetition of things Changing. I don't know if this has anything to it other than a Mood, but it's a Mood that I like, and that I liked a lot more than the other judges did.

To Die For by Man called M

What? What is happening? Mafia dudes kill a bunch of chickens that are being kept in a basement (what?) of a restaurant (what?!) and so another Mafia dude kills them with a flamethrower he stole from an army base (WHAT?!) Weirdly, if you worked on your actual writing (grammar, tense, sentence structure) this is almost salvageable as a piece of absurdist fiction

Also, keeping chickens in a basement would not be a secret for long. They are stinky birds when enclosed. Also-also, replacing chickens is not expensive or difficult (though emotionally hard), you can buy them in bulk online or at a tractor supply. It wouldn't ruin a business. Also-also-also, chickens are rad and more stories should involve them so you get props from me on that.

Weird Nutmeg by Albatrossy_Rodent

This was fun! I liked the coming of age revelation and I liked the frankness of "this is our silly family tradition: actual magic!" The repetition of "The Andersens" kept making me question if the POV character was an Andersen, but that could just have been me not reading very well. It was very enjoyable and 100% deserved the win.

The Cat That Walks on its Hindlegs by The Saddest Rhino

This is also a Mood, but it's a Mood I don't relate to or understand. it's well written, but I'm not sure it's evoking whatever it's trying to evoke.

...and it was Garfield. What the gently caress. That's hilarious.

Hate is the Spice by Thranguy

Clearly written, emotional without being maudlin, and the prompt is present without being the Main Thing. Well done. I really enjoyed this a lot, enough to overlook the grammatical errors and spellcheck flubs. But my fellow judges correctly pointed out that you've been doing this for long enough that you should know better. I have no legs to stand on in that particular argument.

Gonna Leave One Hell of a Yelp Review Though by Chairchucker

I feel like this is the story Man Called M was going for. It's fine. It's a story. I'm not mad that I read it. It's hard to follow the constant streams of dialogue the way they're written, but it's good and campy and fun dialogue so I was happy enough to put in the effort.

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

Really great worldbuilding here, a cool character arc, but I kind of also don't understand why she doesn't just leave. Feels like the Wicked Spirits tip their hand by being all murder hungry when they could tempt her away more subtly. But great bleak fantasy vibes. I would love to read more of this.


This was funny and I liked it. All the depth of a puddle, but hey, it doesn't have to be deep, it just has to get written. As Nae and Penguin have said it would have been a lot better if we saw these dudes doing more cool stuff together.


A super cool introduction to your Call of Cthulhu character. More seriously, the prose in this is lovely but the scene itself is confusing. There isn't enough Here here for me to determine whether or not this is a guy going insane, having a bad magical thing happen, having a regular nightmare... and there isn't enough backdrop for that uncertainty to feel earned and worthwhile.


Yes! Bizarre body horror rock eating! hosed up magic! Vomiting rocks like a weird Ito Junji short story! This was probably the weirdest story of the week, and I loved it. I actually didn't even notice the second person issues that my fellow judges did, because jargon-heavy science-fantasy is absolutely my poo poo. I also appreciated how the choices the main character made and their reasoning behind them served to define the world in which they lived. It made it feel real instead of contrived.

Also I just loving love the line "There is a broken miracle inside you."


Heartbreaking. The phrase "Find out why you think you're like this" is brutal. Well written and very sweet use of the gem, definitely a well-written story and would have had the win in a less strong week. I liked that the main character stuck to his guns and didn't take the ring, though there was a large part of me going "sell that poo poo you fool! Accept it and sell it!" But that would mean accepting all the maternal baggage that goes with it, so ultimately not worth it.

Tars Tarkas

Spacing in between scenes would have made this read a lot cleaner. The goofiness was kind of fun, given that a lot of folks went grimdark this week, but I feel like we got a lot of scene setting and not a lot of scene. Cutting your cast of characters down a bit and focusing on one plot thread in the future will help a lot.

Man Called M

It's a story! Characters that want things! Whose actions move them toward those things! It's ridiculous and the framing is a little roll-eyesy, but there's a marked improvement over your previous work here. I think it's probably a good idea to continue playing in these well-worn tropes for a while to practice technique.


A cute, weird story that doesn't quite go anywhere or resolve anything. But it's well written enough and I was interested right up until the end where it just... ended. Sometimes that happens, this guy was super thrilled to find the next Tiger King and then... nope. But it didn't feel like there was any resolution to the story. No character payoff.


More excellent grim fantasy! I love this little thieves/assassins guild concept, so many of these styles of stories wind up romanticizing the theft-and-murder bits. I like that this kept things grimy. But still, it was the first half of the first chapter of a novel. Please write that novel.


gently caress you I'm not here to read torture porn. you had plenty of words to write an actual story in.


Lovely slice of life fantasy. I feel like the sisters wrapped things up a little too easily by the end, and some of the blocking around the middle was a bit confusing, but it was real and grounded in itself, and it used Magic Rocks in a cool way.


Another extremely cinematic piece from Chairchucker. I want to watch this Pixar movie.

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:


I am hopped up on lack of sleep and postpartum hormones and I challenge you to a SLEEPLESS MOM BRAWL.

Fite me with words!

A friendly penguin will judge us, as a mom who may get slightly more sleep than we do.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, card me

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:

Red Flags
925 words
prompt: The Fool

The day of Kim’s wedding was one of the high points of her entire life. From seeing her husband in his seersucker suit standing at the altar to delicately feeding one another pieces of cake at the reception to teaching her mother in law how to floss, she loved every minute of it. She was so happy, fulfilled, and, frankly, so tipsy on good champagne that she genuinely thought that the day had been completely drama free. It wasn’t until her next coffee date with Mandy that she found out about the complex schemes the other bridesmaids had been engaging in to keep her day free from stress.

“So, you know the bouquet toss? You know who caught it, right?”

Kim’s eyes widened. “Oh, jeez. Corey. Did Jack get weird about it?”

Mandy nodded, drumming her fingernails against her coffee cup in delighted horror. “Oh yeah. He turned white as a sheet and almost called an uber. She had to beg him to stay, and then he got crazy drunk and we had to help him back into the car.”

“Yikes, I’m sorry you guys had to deal with that.”

Mandy waved her hand, dismissing the comment. “Not a problem, you’d do the same for us.”

The next time Corey and Kim met up for a hike, Kim asked about the wedding. Corey flushed, embarrassed.

“I’m really sorry about that, he’s usually so chill.”

“It’s okay, Mandy and the crew made sure I didn’t even hear about it, so it couldn’t have been that bad.”

“Yeah. He was just grumpy. How’s marriage treating you?”

Kim griped about her now-husband’s tendency to shave his beard into the sink and not wipe up the hair. Corey laughed. “Man, I wish Jack would just shave at this point. It’s been weeks and his beard has gotten scraggly.”

“Oh, wild. Didn’t he say his boss was weird about facial hair?”

Corey grimaced. “Oh. Yeah. So. He lost that job a while ago.”

Kim stared at Corey, who just kept trudging up the trail. “How the hell do you lose a construction job these days?”

“Show up drunk and flirt with the boss’s daughter,” said Corey, flatly. “He was super depressed. Still is. I’m trying to help, but he doesn’t make it easy. It’s like every time I try to bring up some little issue he freaks out and goes into some weird spiral. I wind up comforting him every time I’m mad.”

“That sucks.”

Corey shrugged. “It is what it is. Nobody said love was easy.”

“It shouldn’t be that hard, though. Y’all have been together for what, like six months? You sure it’s worth it?”

Another shrug. “Hey, have you been keeping up with Lore Olympus? I just caught back up.”

Three months later, Corey was sobbing on Kim’s couch. “I can’t believe he cheated on me,” she wailed. “After everything I’ve done for him? After all we’ve been through? How could he do this?”

“He always rubbed me the wrong way,” Kim said. “Still, I can’t believe he did this to you, what an rear end in a top hat, you guys seemed so in love.”

“I was in love! Apparently he wasn’t!”

Kim patted her on the back and sent her husband out to get them ice cream. They talked all night. They made plans to get Corey’s stuff out of their apartment and to cancel the credit card that she’d given him access to.

“I’m done,” Corey said with finality the next morning. “His friends have been texting me all night, telling me how irrational and stupid I’m being. I’m done with this poo poo.”

“Good for you,” Kim said. “He doesn’t deserve you, kick him to the curb! And don’t be afraid to call me if anything happens!”

Another month went by without a word from Corey. Kim was a little worried, but figured that it was finals time and Corey was just distracted. Still, she was relieved to get a lunch invite to chat and catch up.

Corey looked nervous and drawn when Kim arrived. She had a coffee in a to-go cup. “Hey,” she said as soon as Kim sat. “So. I figured I owe you a conversation.”

Kim blinked, a weird, cold shiver traveling down her spine as her friend’s tone brought back every break-up conversation she’d ever had. “Wait, what?”

Corey twisted a ring around her right index finger. “So I kicked Jack out, but he didn’t have anywhere else to go and I didn’t want him to be homeless, so I let him sleep on the couch for a few nights. And we got to talking. And we decided to try again.”

“Corey, he cheated on you! He treated you like a maid! Are you crazy?”

She shook her head. “He says it was his friend’s influence. So he’s cut them off, and we’re going to try again. But without outside influence, you know? His friends didn’t like me, and I know you guys don’t like him, so we’re going forward without that.”

Kim’s stomach dropped. “Jesus. He’s trying to isolate you, this is textbook stuff, Corey.”

Sudden anger twisted Corey’s features. “gently caress you, Kim! You’ve been lovely about him since he screwed up at your wedding.”

“That’s not true, I don’t–”

Corey stood, abruptly. “Don’t call me, I’ll call you. In fact, maybe just lose my number.”

“Corey, wait!”

But Corey was already striding out the door, her coffee forgotten behind her. Kim watched as her old friend got into a badly dented pickup truck and drove out of her life forever.

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:

Sleepless Mom Brawl

Thorns and Stillness
899 words

The seeds I’d planted in the garden bed, the ones that had survived the late freezes and the groundhogs and the digging squirrels, had germinated and sent up shoots beneath me. Just yesterday I’d run my hands over their bright, almost neon-green leaves. Overnight they’d become huge brambles. Now these great, thorny arches bind me to the earth.

Movement hurts, so I cultivate stillness. I recline, eyes closed. I’ve been moving and running and preparing for this thing and that thing for ages. I’m tired. The enforced rest feels necessary, even pleasant.

It takes a little while before I realize that it’s not restorative. My eyelids are as heavy when they open in the morning as when they closed at night. They try to flutter closed again all the time. The pressure of the dirt beneath me and the vines above are as draining as movement.

And then there’s the pain. The vines weave into my skin. Their biting thorns draw blood. I bite my lip, trying to ride it out. If I can just ride it out, it’ll get better. Probably. Maybe. Unless it doesn’t and I’m just stuck here, hurting, for months and months until I decide that maybe I can stop and feed this wretched joy with something other than my own body.

Why am I doing this? I wonder sometimes. But I know why. Another gardener, a long, long time ago, once told me that I never could bear pain, and so would probably never want to do my own gardening. Intellectually I know that she was speaking out of frustration, much in the same way I will speak to these vines one day. But I’m determined to prove that ancient voice wrong. I grit my teeth until I start to worry about cracking my fillings.

How will I go to a dentist like this? I think. Who takes their plants with them to the dentist?

Gradually, mercifully, the sharp pains fade. They never disappear, exactly, but the low, throbbing ache is more bearable. I stop worrying about my teeth.

But there are other pressures. I see the weeds forming in the rest of the garden. The grass that needs mowing, the strawberries that need picking, the beets that need to be thinned before they encroach on one another. But I can’t do any of it, I’m trapped by the sweet brambles. Movement no longer pains me, but the thorns still cling. It’s hard to shift from this spot without disturbing them.

I am able to build some space for myself, to clutch at nearby weeds and toss them away from the bed. Sometimes I can lift a hose and spray water on dry places in the yard. I am thrilled with these basic accomplishments. The vines dont judge, for better or for worse. They just Need.

I can feel my body atrophying. My muscles are decaying. I feel slack and limp and useless. I feel discarded. Other people move around the bed, sometimes they check in on me. I smile up at them, aiming for beatific, but I haven’t showered in days and there’s dirt in my hair. I ask for water and cleansing wipes for my face. I end up giving half of my water to the vines.

“That looks uncomfortable.” I squint up at the speaker, my good friend who has always stood firm in her intention to never plant a garden. “Give me those.”

I demur, despite my desperate longing. And I mean it. These vines are my precious burden, I shouldn’t need anyone’s help. This is my job. And besides, nobody knows better than I do how much this sucks. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone who doesn’t want this.

“You think martyring yourself is going to make this easier?” She shows me her arms, the thick sleeves she’s wearing to protect herself from the bite of my garden. “Come on. Go inside. Clean up. Be a person instead of a sack of fertilizer for like half an hour.”

The vines cling and cry when I break away, despite how gentle I am at handing them over to my friend. It almost breaks my resolve, but they twine around her just as greedily as they’d wound around me. I’m almost insulted about how quickly I am replaced. She looks at me and gestures, imperious: “Go on, now!”

Hot water. My body feels alien and bare without the vines attached. Hot water. I smooth my wrinkled, cracked skin with my hands and let myself soak, plant-like again, in the bliss that is hot water and gentle, scented soap. I guzzle water and a sneaky, guilty glass of wine, reveling in the freedom to do so. I stretch and bend and roll around on my old and scratchy towels and they might as well be made of silk and clouds for how luxurious it feels to just move.

At last I go back outside where my friend is holding my daughter. My perfect, beautiful, flawless, daughter with her suspicious squint and her cradle cap and her absurd, riotous farts. It’s only been half an hour, okay, maybe forty-five minutes, but I missed her. I reach out to take her. My friend grins and holds her up, offering her back to me.

“Perfect timing,” she says. “I think she just loaded her diaper.”

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:


One flash rule please and thank you.

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:

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

395 words

“Is she gonna snitch?”

Fifteen, ear pressed to Dr. Yi’s door, waved for silence. –I’m trying to listen,-- he sent to their secure channel. He could barely hear Niner’s voice. Yi’s angry ranting at catching her in his office was a lot clearer.

Rather than shut up, Fourteen hissed in Fifteen’s other ear. “If she snitches we’ll need to have our own story straight.”

–You have secure comms wired into your actual brain, numbnuts, use it!--

“They monitor our internal systems.”

--If you don’t trust my code then we’ve got bigger problems.-- An alert triggered at the edge of Fifteen’s vision. --Seventy seconds before cameras come back. Let’s go.-- He activated the stealth nanites in his skin, faded from view and slipped down the hallway, trusting that Fourteen would follow.

They were swift and silent, pausing briefly to deactivate and reactivate the security measures put in place to prevent them from doing exactly what they’d done tonight. They were too dangerous, too expensive to be allowed freedom.

--I won’t let them decommission me,-- Fourteen sent as they slipped back through the vents into their assigned dorm. Their nanobots traveled in a cloud behind them, clearing the evidence of their “escape.” --I won’t do it, Fifteen!--

--Niner has never snitched,-- Fifteen sent. --And the risk was worth it.-- He accessed the file they’d copied from Yi’s computer.

Steadman-Zhang Nanogen Prototype Series IV Operating Manual

Fifteen dumped the file into the shared NGP-4 workspace and started his readthrough, eyes glassy and unfocused. He could feel Fourteen poking sullenly at the information alongside him, until a paragraph by Dr. Yi made them both sit bolt upright in their bunks.

While the Nanogen prototypes are not children, and to think of them as such would be dangerous to the point of absurdity, it is true that they resemble human teens, and evince similar traits. In order to maintain authority over these sentient weapons, it will be important to allow carefully managed illusions of agency and choice.

“He even suggests letting us raid his office,” Fourteen whispered. “gently caress. We played right into it.”

Niner strode into the room at that moment, looking smug and excited. “He bought it!” She chirped. Then she paused. “Hey, why the long faces?”

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:

Shiny Things
283 words

You were walking a path you'd walked a dozen times before when you saw the most beautiful rock you’d ever seen in your life glittering in the dust. You stopped and knelt down next to it, fascinated

The word “rock” didn’t do this structure justice, according to you. “Rock” sounded bland, conjuring images of dull, brown lumps. This was anything but. It drank in sunlight and reflected it back in countless rainbows. You saw colors in this rock that you'd only seen on the wings of the grackles that flocked around your house. It was beautiful. You picked it up. It was warm in your hands, with a rough surface that reminded you of a crisp oatmeal cookie. It even smelled nice, like sunny days in the park.

You didn’t have the words to describe what you felt. It was overwhelming in its beauty. On another day it might have brought you to tears. Instead, you brought it to me.

“Mommy! Look!”

You pushed your newest discovery into my leg. I held out my hands, accepting your treasure with a slightly bewildered smile. “Oh, how lovely. It's a piece of asphalt.”

“It’s beautiful,” you said, awed. “It’s so shiny. So pretty. It’s for you. I want to keep it. Can you hold it for me?”

“Sure, bud.”

I carried it for you back to the house. By the time we got home you’d forgotten about it completely, distracted by promises of ice cream and Octonauts. I placed the chunk of asphalt next to the front door, by the other rocks and pinecones and assorted treasures of previous walks.

I hope the world is this beautiful to you forever.

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:


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:

1481 words

Some people said that a life well lived was the best revenge. Since Sebastian had been killed and turned by the head of the Ruby Syndicate, a wretched vampire by the name of Cassius Corvus back in 1988, he was pretty sure it no longer applied. So he supposed he’d just have to settle for regular old revenge.

Not that he hadn't done well. He'd built Haven Casino from the ground up to be a place for mortals to spend their money and a place where the supernatural community could feel safe. The fact that he used Cassius's money to do it rankled slightly, but he figured he earned it by enduring night after night of the man's attentions.

If today went well, he wouldn't have to endure it much longer.

“Cornerstone restaurant group’s contract is almost up,” his executive assistant said, flipping through the morning schedule as Sebastian settled into his office for the day. “They’ve indicated that they’re interested in renewing. The new croupier you hired has been agitating for unionization, not many people are listening, but the ones who are have a lot of clout. I read over the rider for that singer you have coming in next weekend; there are some unique clauses that make me think she’s from the weird side of the street. I’ve flagged them for you. Also Mr. Starlight is here for your meeting.”

Sebastian steepled his fingers, trying to ignore the sudden rush of adrenaline. Ellis, owner of the Starlight Lounge, the premiere nightclub for the supernatural, was pivotal to his plans. He was too important to lie to, and as a duke of a Fae court he was too powerful to be open with comfortably. If Ellis revealed even the smallest piece of the plan to Cassius…

“All right,” Sebastian said. “Send Cornerstone's contract to legal and see if there’s anything in there to complicate us renewing the contract. See if Sharon can draft some pro-unionization public statement, I’m not going to fight that. Leave the rider on my desk, I’ll check it over.” He took a deep breath. “And give me two minutes before you send Ellis in.”

As soon as Sebastian was alone he jumped up and tried to check his teeth in a mirror. gently caress. He’d been a vampire for what, forty years? How was he still forgetting that he didn’t have a reflection?

When Sebastian had been young and alive he’d gone on a ski trip with a friend. The trip was an unmitigated disaster on all fronts, but Sebastian remembered the way the mountain smelled. Crisp air, clean snow, and the distant tang of wood smoke. Ellis smelled like that every time he was close by. It made Sebastian a little dizzy. It made him feel a little lonely when the man left.

Sebastian told himself it was just nerves. This meeting was going to decide his future. If it went well, everything he’d been planning for the last fifteen years would come together. Cassius and his followers would be done for. He was taking a hell of a risk, but it was worth it. Anything was worth getting out from under Cassius.

And I'd hardly mind if it puts me under Ellis instead…

He shook the stray thought out of his mind. It was a distraction that he didn’t have time for.

Ellis entered, all charm and smiles, gracefully accepting the seat across the desk.“You’re looking well, Sebastian. What a lovely place you have. You know, you’ve actually become my primary competitor in the night life industry?” His voice was light and lilting and his smile showed perfectly even teeth. “And you know what I am, as I know what you are. So I wonder: what does my vampiric competition want so badly that he’s invited me into his place of power?”

Sebastian leaned back. Ellis was starting on the offensive. Good. Fine. He planned for this. “What do you think of Cassius Corvus?”

Ellis tilted his head to one side. “The head of the Ruby Syndicate? He’s fine. Cheats at poker. The Syndicate keeps buying up properties that I want to turn into lovely luxury condos and turning them into awful luxury condos. And then he refuses to let me manage his in-house clubs, which is just insult to injury.”

“Do you know how vampires maintain order among their ranks?”

A brief flicker of emotion, too fast for Sebastian to identify, touched Ellis’s face. “Of course,” he said, his tone still light and airy. “Mental manipulation, drinking the blood of subordinates, and the threat of murder by sunlight. Classy. Classic.”

“Do you think it’s right?”

Ellis laughed. “My dear competitor, I am the son of the Winter Queen herself. I can hardly pass moral judgment. And one might make the argument that you’ve profited extensively from your… relationship with Cassius and his methods.”

A spasm of rage twisted Sebastian’s jaw. An eyebrow twitch told him that Ellis saw the brief lapse of control. “My 'significant pause' relationship with Cassius is not what it looks like from the outside.”

Ellis leaned forward, a wicked smile on his face. “I do love a bit of gossip. So there's trouble in paradise?”

Oh, God, he had to stop this conversation before he lost his absolute poo poo. Sebastian took a deep breath and got to the point. “I have a plan that will neutralize Corvus, place you in control of all Ruby Syndicate assets, and kill every vampire in the city.”

Ellis laughed, but his heart had begun beating faster. “Oh really? Is that all?”

Sebastian shrugged. “It’s a start.”

“What would you need from me?”

“I need people who have certain powers I don’t have access to. I need people who can keep secrets. And most importantly I need a safe place to stash the squirrely son of a bitch while we’re working.”

“Oh, it’s we already, is it?” Ellis chuckled and brushed nonexistent lint from the shoulders of his tailored coat and leaned in. He was interested. Or at least interested in being perceived as interested. God, the Fae were worse than vampires sometimes.

Sebastian just gave another self-deprecating laugh and spread his hands. “It had better be. Otherwise I just handed my primary rival the perfect way to unmake me.” He let a slow smile spread across his features. “But I think you and I would be much happier working together.”

Ellis grinned back. “Yes, I think so.” He stood, the movement just slightly too quick to be human. Well drat, the man was actually excited by this. Sebastian must have baited the hook correctly. “All the vampires, you say?”

“All the vampires.”

“Including yourself?”

Sebastian shrugged again. “If I were human I’d be well into my seventies,” he said. “Seems a reasonable lifespan.”

Ellis froze in place, one hand on the back of his chair. Frost crept up the collar of his shirt and into the corners of his dark eyes. Sebastian could feel the chill rolling off of the man. “Um,” he said, cleverly. He wasn’t expecting that kind of response to what he considered the least important part of the plan. “But if we find a way around that it would be fine, I suppose.”

“Hmm.” Disapproval dripped from Ellis’s voice. “I despise waste. We’ll workshop it.”


The frost cleared slowly. Ellis paced Sebastian’s office. “A saferoom, you say? I can do that. Winter has many prisons. Power? I have that in spades. Secrets… the type of secrets you are asking me to keep would pit me against my mother. The current balance of power suits her. The Queen of Winter does not make a good enemy, Sebastian, and my decision to live in this realm of iron already puts me on her shitlist.”

gently caress gently caress gently caress he was going to scuttle the deal and tell the Queen and she’d tell Cassius and it was all going to be ruined forever and I absolutely do not have time to freak out about this.

“Surely you must have some way of keeping things secret from her. No child ever tells his mother everything.”

Ellis laughed at that. Some warmth came back into his features. He approached Sebastian and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Too true. I know of a way. There’s a special type of contract we can make that will give us a year and a day of privacy, but no more without,” he paused and looked Sebastian up and down, some alien emotion playing across his handsome features. “Additional binding clauses.”

“That timeline is acceptable,” Sebastian said. He smiled, the adrenaline rush from earlier was back, but smoother, more manageable. It was working. It was going to work. Soon enough he’d be free. He held out a hand to his new partner. Ellis took it, smiling broadly.

“We’re in business.”

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:


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:

OH poo poo I forgot that I did crits for week 513. Ask in Discord for any more clarification. I definitely differed from the head judge on occasion.


SephiRoth IRA

Gods of the Southern Sea

I liked this but it didn't stick with me much. It was technically sound and the descriptions were neat and the action all very understandable, but it seemed very clinical, very sterile. I would have liked a bit more humanity in the humans that remained, some more panic or upset or even bickering, something to contrast them to their robot overlords.


(I Always Feel Like) Somebody's Watching Me

This was hilarious. A lot of people wrote about the dystopic elements of a potential singularity, and this one did so in the most comical way. Going from “we're friends having lunch” to straight up snitching on her friend seemed pretty lovely of Beez. But I really liked the listing of advertising identifiers to the robots, and I enjoyed the concept of an algorithm loving up dinner orders.

Hard counter
A Heap of Grains

This is the type of story I was expecting more of. Something a little more hopeful, a little more focused on what machines and man can do together and why they might do it. I'm not sure how to feel about both characters being representations of the same character, but that's the head judge's decision. This is high for me, a possible HM.

The Cut Of Your Jib

Sensu Eminenti

I really enjoyed reading this story, but when I went back I found I couldn't quite make sense of what happened. The woman is talking to her child, who she consistently mixes up with her partner, and they are going to destroy the computer that they are both programs in? Maybe? But there are tattoos and there is a physical world that they appear to be engaged in... So the words are very pretty and very nice but I'm not sure about the cohesiveness of the actual story itself. Though this could just be terrible reading comprehension on my part.

The man called M

The Butlerbot's Research

Hey!It's an actual story with a main character who does a thing. For the first few paragraphs I was even pretty invested. Then the turn happened right around when Butlerbot started looking at the wars. Specifically the line “(Wan being Japanese for dog)” made me stop and check the username, because suddenly I knew I was reading an M story. You have the skeleton of something kind of humorous here with the whole “machines didnt get smarter, humans got dumber” bit, but you dramatically undercut that by having your robot go get drunk, a human failing, at the end.

Still fails the Bechdel Test by not having any female characters.


Excerpts from a found journal, early first century PS

See, this is my poo poo. This is super cute. Robots are invasive and awkward and Just Trying To Help and it's actually very sweet. This one gets my vote for a win, if my votes matter.


Touching Grass

Another one that has an interesting core, teenagers chatting about the remnants of an environmental disaster, but doesn't quite get all the way there. Part of it, for me, is the number of named characters and number of speakers. That kind of took away from the “teens coping with the tragedies of history” element. The POV character also didn't get a lot of depth or description, which made it all the more confusing. Ultimately I was left feeling not so much like nothing happened, but like a lot happened that didn't get written about.

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:

976 words

The city is at war. It could be any city, at any time. It doesn’t matter to the gods what language or weapons are used. What matters is the stress, the need, and the possibility of a suitably dramatic miracle. Tiny gods cluster here, thick as flies, watching for their chance.

The little girl is eight. Inclination makes her intelligent and clever, and tragedy has made her somber and kind. Her mother died in the war. That’s good for the little god: mothers pass down religion like old jewelry. No mother means less competition. This little god is complex enough to have an emotion about that. Shame, maybe. Regret.

Gods of war are powerful. A talented war god can turn aside sword thrusts or change the trajectory of a bullet. But moving matter is complex, and the tiny god must save all its energies for the big miracle. So it moves minds. It keeps the little girl safe where it can. A soldier is distracted while she hides. A widow is driven to give her some leftovers when she and her brother are hungry. Her father is inspired to take a different path to work that will avoid pockets of violence. It’s tiring. It’s constant.

But it’s worth it. The girl has begun speaking of a guardian angel that protects her family. The recognition gives the tiny god more power. Thanks are given to the primary deity of the region, and the little god can feast along the edges.

There are other threats, too. Other gods, still small but critically larger than the tiny god, feel her faith and try to muscle in, sending her prophetic dreams or callings to war, healthcare, motherhood, or whatever their particular niche is. The tiny god has to be on alert, not so much to prevent these dreams or callings, but to subvert them, to keep the girl thinking of her guardian angel.

Specificity brings shape. In return for the tiny god’s efforts, it is given form in the girl’s mind: a kind-faced woman bearing a shield with great wings on her back. The kind-faced god now mantles her wings over the girl as she sleeps, preventing harm and corruption from the other minor deities that nip at her heels.

The girl tells her brother about the kind-faced god. This makes the god fretful, so many new religions are smothered at this point. But the boy is as desperate for something to believe in as his sister, and he clings to the kind-faced god with startling intensity. He gives her a name, Ananda, after a dog in a book their mother read to them.

A name! The kind-faced god, Ananda now, sends him dreams of comfort and peace, the way the world could be. The way the world should be. Tears are on his face when he wakes. This new seed of purpose will flower into a garden of worship if Ananda can protect and foster it.

Now she has a congregation of two. She pushes her face into their minds when they pray to the primary deity, hoping that the capital G God won’t notice. She doesn’t have the energy for a confrontation. She needs to focus on the miracle.

Planning takes effort. The miracle is too important to leave to chance. The kind-faced god leaves her children behind to scout, and Tiny, unformed gods swarm over the sleeping children while she isn’t there to guard them. Ananda must have faith in their faith.

She finds what she is looking for. Something flashy, designed to kill large groups of people and terrorize others. An explosive. Maybe lots of explosives. It will kill everyone present.

She hates this part. It is a terrible thing to be a god of kindness in a warzone. Ananda almost doesn’t go through with it, almost abandons the miracle entirely, and settles for being something in between an imaginary friend and a household deity. But she can’t avoid this. She justifies it to herself: once she is a proper god she’ll be able to protect more people. All gods do it, she tells herself. All religions start with a seed of betrayal.

She walks the family toward the attack.

It’s a beautiful, breezy day. The girl is skipping, and the boy is riding on his father’s shoulders and singing a little babbling song. The father beams with pride: he finally received his pay. The family won’t have to buy on credit this week. They share a sweet pastry at an outdoor cafe, relaxed and happy for the first time in ages.

The world explodes. The air is shrieking metal, shrieking humans, pain, terror, and cries for help. Trauma and shock slow subjective time.

The girl has seen explosions before. If anything surprises her, it’s the sense of calm that overcomes her. She knows that she’s screaming, she can hear her brother screaming. She cries out in her heart, “Ananda!”

Ananda tears through the skin of the world. She plants her shield before the girl and the fire and destruction break around them.

There is a moment of silence between the explosion and its echoes when the whole marketplace sees her: a winged woman outlined in dust and fire, fifty feet tall and holding a shield over her people. The echoes fade. The dust settles. The breeze smudges her figure into obscurity.

Afterward, the humans marvel at the great crescent carved into the pavement. News sources conspicuously avoid discussing how nothing behind that curve was damaged in the attack. But the girl knows, and she shares her story with the other survivors. Not everyone believes. Not everyone wants to believe. But some do.

Ananda, back in the place where gods reside, wraps her wings around the divine siblings, her first prophets, and feels the trickle of faith widen into a stream.

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:

MOCKINGQUANTUM I AM SICK OF YOUR poo poo! I demand satisfaction, brawl me and we will finally determine who is right and who loses!

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:

I shall pass judgement on all your secrets

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:

Mocking/Princess Brawl

For The Herd

599 words

The big Andalusian stallion, the one ridden by the Queen, approached Biscuit while they were on the ranch. “You like it here, yeah?” He asked. They were standing nose-to-tail, flicking flies away from each other’s faces in a companionable way. “Good work, good exercise, nice clean food, yeah?”

“Of course.” Biscuit didn’t say how lonely she’d been. The other horses didn’t seem to want to hang with her. She figured it was just because she was new.

“Good. You know that new trainer, Miko?”

Biscuit nodded. Miko was an rear end in a top hat. He didn’t give a poo poo. Horses were put away still sweaty, or weren’t warmed up before training.

“So last week Miko didn’t pick out Snoopy’s hooves before training,” the Andalusian went on. “He had a rock in there and bruised his foot. Now he’s limping and can’t show.”

“So Cocoa is taking his place,” Biscuit finished for him. “She’s only had a week on ranch.”

“You guessed it. Everybody loves Cocoa. Can you see where it’s going?”

Biscuit shook her mane and flapped her lips in imitation of human speech. “Why bother putting them on the ranch for two weeks if they can do three?”

“Bingo.” The Andalusian trotted around and bonked his forehead into Biscuit’s. “Everything we’ve got here, we’ve paid for in dead horses and injured riders. We’re done with that. You’re on Miko’s training roster next week. We’ve gotta run this guy off before horses get hurt. I need you to throw him.”

The idea of throwing a rider intentionally was hard for her to imagine. “What if he gets hurt?”

He snorted. “Figure it out, new girl.”


How am I going to do this? Biscuit was nervous, which made her awkward in her stall. She’d stepped on Miko’s toes three times already, and received a whack across the neck for it. Oh good, he’s making it easy.

The training ring was set up for jousting; her favorite exercise. Maybe she could make an excuse, maybe she could say she forgot…

She caught the eye of the other horse in the ring. Cocoa, there after only a week of down time. This wasn’t about her, this was about the herd.

When Miko went to put his foot in the stirrup, she stepped away. He swore and smacked her. He tried again. Biscuit waited until his foot was in the stirrup before she moved, forcing him to hop alongside her. The other riders and employees in the ring laughed, which infuriated Miko.

“Come on you stupid animal,” he growled, dragging Biscuit by her mouth over to a mounting block. Biscuit slouched one shoulder and took off running well before he was prepared, dumping him on the floor.

Miko kept on trying and Biscuit fought him the whole way. Every opportunity to bump his leg against the wall of the arena, she took. Every time his attention drifted from his hands and his seat, he found himself on the ground with Biscuit prancing away.

“drat, Miko! What did you do?” Asked another trainer, laughing as he grabbed Biscuit’s reins.

“Biscuit? Nah. She’s the sweetest. You just have to know how to do it.”

With another rider Biscuit performed flawlessly. Everything he asked her to do, she did, swishing her tail with glee.

When they returned to the mounting blocks, Miko was gone.


The big Andalusian was thrilled. “Cocoa says you was wonderful!” He brayed. He led her into a new stall, this one stamped with an obvious hoofprint. “Welcome to the United Herd of Performance Horses. You’re gonna do great.”

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:


496 words

Okay, bud. I’ve read the book and sung the song, time for you to go to sleep. Do you want me to leave your door open? This much? Perfect. Goodnight, I love you.

I’m really not sure you’ve thought through the broader implications of that kind of social policy, hon. Like, how would you even enforce it? There’s a thousand– Oh god. She’s had a blowout. Yep, she crapped on me. Can you please… thanks. I’m going to give her a bath before I change her.

Stinky, sleepy baby. Goodnight, stinky baby. I love you.

Hey buddy, what’s wrong? I’m just nursing your sister. Yes, she’s eating. What– Oh. I see. You’ve had a little accident. Let me call your dad and he’ll get you some new sheets on the bed. It’s okay, it happens.

There, is that all better? Good. See you in the morning, bud. Goodnight, I love you.

I’ll make the coffee. Are you good to take first shift? You don’t have to sleep on the couch, remember there’s a whole bed in the nursery. Let me know if you need me to take over. Goodnight, I love you.

Oh my god how is it possible for her to scream for a half hour straight? gently caress it, I’m going back downstairs. Hey babe, do you need a hand? Oh, I know, she’s a handful. Pass her over, I’ll take first shift if she’s going to be like this. No worries, I have the boobs, she’ll be fine now. Goodnight, I love you.

Mm? Buddy? Is that you? What are you doing up?

You couldn’t sleep? Oh no. That sucks. Nightmares are pretty scary. Come on, I’ll keep you company in your room for a little bit. Do you want me to sing you another song?

Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me…

Goodnight, buddy. I love you.

This stupid forum is the best ten bucks I’ve ever spent. Oh, gently caress, how is it that late? This is fine. I’ll just…

…Of course she’s crying again. Oh, well. I wanted to finish that thread anyway. Come here, kiddo. Aww, she’s asleep again. Goodnight little girl. I love you.

Hey, babe? Yeah. I’m tapping out. She’s just big mad tonight. Do you need anything? I’ll get a bottle warmed up for you. Thanks. Goodnight, I love y’all.

Oof! Hi buddy! You’re very… awake. Oh, god, it’s 7:30? My alarm didn’t… poo poo we’re going to be late. Okay, why don’t you go sit on the potty and I’ll just… I’ll just get us some clothes.

No, you can’t take Thomas Train with you to school, it’s not your share day.

Good morning, hon. Oh, coffee, thanks. I’ll take this baby too unless she’s going to stay asleep. Are you going to hit the gym after dropping him off? Rad. I’m going back to sleep. I love you both. Goodbye!


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

in for sports

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