Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In, prompt me


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Yoruichi posted:

I am judge

yeah me too, let's kiwi up the place for a change

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Wow this is really bad, especially for the first story posted. You have 0 excuse for typos like ‘thirthy’ when you post ages before the deadline. Add on to the clunkers like ‘and things suddenly got strange as if he could feel what objects around him could feel’ and this is og terrible. 1

Something else

Also quite bad. Guy has teeth, hallucinates ineffectually for a bit. If there was a sense of why he wanted the teeth back at the end it might have had some more, uh, bite to it. 2

Albatrossy rodent

Lol at swarm of maggots writhing ceaselessly out of nowhere (it’s a great line, just jarringly interesting after hundreds of words of dullness). Chooses the weirdest thing to describe, like noting that the strangers are as strangely unfamiliar as the previous strangers, i mean… yes? Try and describe things we didn’t know or guess already, e.g. maggot dress. I do like your definitions of love tho they are p funny. However this is still kind of clunky and contrived, and wtf those maggots, man, talk about leaving me hanging. 4

Bad seafood

Hi doof, it’s been a long time old buddy, apparently long enough to forget that IT’S IS ONLY SHORT FOR IT IS. otherwise this is basically a story one of the extremely ponderous characters in a steven erikson book might tell another one of the extremely ponderous characters in a steven erikson book. Who is this horse, why does it seek immortality, why (one might reasonably enquire) does it fuckin talk? We do not know. Thus bedizened, it is difficult in the extreme to care. 4


This is a comprehensible story with things that happen and thus makes me smile, it’s a little maybe dull but i still read to the end? 6


Comprehensible and competent but sort of bland, we don’t know about his past life, we don’t know about the current life, and the transition between then is opaque. 5


Aw, this is fairly delightful! Thank god. I like the snappy warmth of old lady and her sword, it’s pleasantly dumb in that fantasy way and it’s got a (dumb, but fine) resolution. Gj. 7


Solid competence is in short supply so far this week so it’s good to see it in this story. I might call it a little generic, but it’s a decent counterpoint with the tree yayers and the tree nayers, and you can feel how heartwarming the story wants to be, though at this length it’s always gonna risk triteness - sensible to end it on a small unclenching rather than any big victory or defeat. 7


Yeah this is the sort of charming you were aiming for, hit the mark - i wonder if the (unwitnessed) shift from good to bad is where the actual drama happened, not that you should have shown it necessarily, but a reference or two would have made this complete - as is it’s a little unfelt how wizard dude just murdered a bunch of people, i mean how nice a wizard was he, really? 7

Chernobyl Princess

Aw, this is great up until the kinda wet farty ending - it’s also close to a ‘AND THEN THE REAL ADVENTURES BEGAN!’ way to close it out, which always makes me a little grumpy. Against that, I like the setup, relationship is good, the baba yaga knockoff is good if not tearingly original. 6.5

My shark waifu

Hngg being old really is sort of a sadsack thing to be in these stories isn’t it now, this was, idk, blah? 6


Lol ok this is moderately bonkers, i def wanted it to go for really bonkers, shoot for the moon? I don’t know what the moon would be in this scenario but I’m a little sad you didn’t show it to me 7


This has a certain amount of spice, and i kind of like your wonky language - ‘dusted bleed’ is good, ‘pinsers’ and ‘conjour’ rather less so. Basically it works because the sassy magician trying to find a loophole is a solid archetype and this is a decent example of it. 6

Idle amalgam

Ayyy, a first line squamous, that’s what i like to see. Overall this does justice to a fairly neat prompt, and i like mad scientist guy with his rugose (!) coat and his assistant fella, but I think the ending doesn’t quite land - he’s not going to be an assistant, so they end up twins? Hm, eh. I think a tweak or two would improve this markedly because it’s got some charm. 6


This has some real twisted fairy tale juice, tangling the strands of e.g. rapunzel and bluebeard and i’m sure a good few others - just needs the soul kept in a box kept in a sack kept in a room for the whole set. Still not sure what it all adds up to, but it’s the only one so far that doesn’t have some element of blandness or predictability. 8


Ooh yes i rather like this, sort of gnarly as it is - though the advent of the fire god fella is a litttle confusing, it’s clear enough in retrospect. I like the yeatsian meditations on the flux of choice and chance at the end , and overall this lands nicely. 8


Charming as hell, as you know, and your folklore infused bird guy is an interesting dude to hang out with as he resolves a minor mystery, though one with (we can guess) Signficant Consequences. Probably room to make the evil whites more interesting and still keep the story vibe, but it lays out its goods and bows out with a flourish, decent piece. 7.5

Man called m

There is a risk with regular people names in this sort of fantasy nonsense that it seems silly and indeed SEAN DALTON is a little lightly lolworthy. Also, tenses my dude. Also, paragraph breaks. Details matter. Similarly, don’t have a character think ‘wow it’s been ages’ then ask ‘how long has it been’ and if you do (unwise) absolutely don’t have their interlocutor say ‘a long time’. It’s all drivel, don’t make your characters speak drivel. On the other hand, ‘Sean wrote a note to his students and then he and rebecca flew giant ravents to alar’ is quite funny, though not in the good way that you generally want. … and, moving forward, i kind of want to quote each successive para and point at it in mute derision so i shall stop here. 1


Ah, a sleek and imaginative piece that rings some nasty changes on the generic bard yarn, like it. 7

Siting here

Ooh yes this is slick and delicious, good rich tension that you put in the title, goals, doesn’t resolve but it kind of does. Good work. 8

Yeah ok yeah

Tolerable fantasy yarn within a yarn, i was waiting for the narrator to be revealed as THAT VERY LONGHUNTER but he wasn’t! That would have been cliche and yet i still desired it: (Morpheus) hm 6


Charming but slight, i kind of lost track of who was who. 5


Excellent control of the cosy fantasy register, didn’t feel like it amounted to that much, chafing a little at the tiny word count, solid stuff though, would adventure with Lone Grandad and Cub again don’t tell Youth Services (ssh) 6

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

I'll honor this because I've been admittedly slack about keeping up on toxxes, HOWEVER if you :toxx: please do not necessarily expect this sort of clemency. More crits, however, are good crits.


Thank you so much for taking the time to record your critical feedback :) It was nice to hear the reasoning behind your judgment. Because your reasoning sucked. While the winning story absolutely deserved its spot at the top, it's tiresome to have to wade through yet another discussion on whether "sitting here" sitting here'd too sitting herely. Therefor I challenge ALL of you to an anonymous brawl.

We'll need two people: a judge and someone who will post the stories on our behalf. All of us will agree to send our stories to this liaison. Whoever steps up to judge (assuming my venerable colleagues accept), please don't create a prompt until you've got a liaison to help you out.


sure, why not :toxx:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

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.

Send it to me too

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Yeah I'm in, gimme something sassy

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

650 words

Mansour was snout-deep into his fourth bowl of bourbon and raspberry when the call came through, a harsh electronic bray that cut through his pleasant booze-fug like the smell of a fresh-cut lemon. He ignored it.

It had been a long time since anyone he’d want to talk to had called him.

“Aren’t you going to answer that,” said Ambrose.

Ambrose was Mansour’s latest favourite barman, not least because he knew when to shut the hell up and just fill the bowl, so this was different enough to get Mansour’s bleary-eyed attention. Ambrose’s face was deadpan, but Mansour always had been crap at reading human expressions, those tiny ears could mean anything.

“Sure,” he said, after running his tongue around his chops a couple of times to catch the last sweet drops. The phone rang a few more times as they looked at each other, then Mansour slapped at it with a paw, sending it skittering across the sticky varnish of the bartop, before clattering to the floor. The ringing stopped.

“drat it,” gruffed Mansour, and leant down off his stool to get it. The ground was further than he expected, or the stool was slipperier, or local gravity conditions were flat-out wonky because the next thing he knew he’d clipped his head a thumping whack on the side of the bar and was sprawled in an awkward alcoholic heap on the cheap parquet-effect tiling.

Ambrose was suddenly kneeling beside him, hands firm on his collar and belly. “Up you get, mate.” He placed the phone carefully beside the bowl.

Mansour felt his tail wagging a little, involuntarily, as he was settled back onto the stool and stopped it, raised his ears from their craven slope. This was embarrassing. “Thanks.” The bowl of bourbon was still half full. Mansour looked at it, tapped the plastic sides and watched the ripples. The bar was quiet that night, and a shamefaced glance confirmed that the couple people in the corner round the pool table hadn’t noticed his tumble.

“Do you,” asked Ambrose, after a bit, “know who that was?”

Mansour panted a little as he reached out and touched the phone. “Yeah, it’s my son. It’s, he’s been calling.”

Ambrose had a row of glasses in front of him. He picked one up and inspected it, then replaced it, nudging it with a finger to get it in line.

“We get on, it’s not like that, it’s just.” Mansour had a sudden urge to bury his snout deep in the remains of the bowl, just suck, and suck the sweet fire down his throat, pipe it straight to the hole at the middle of him until, well. Just until it was gone. Then he could get another. Go somewhere else. Maybe go to the store and pick up a bottle, better make it two, don’t want to run out. He didn’t want to look at Ambrose.

The smell of the bourbon and raspberry was sickly, cloying, acidic. He tried to remember the last time he was enjoying his life, the last time he could say yes that’s the sort of life a dog should have.

Everything was quiet.

Very, very carefully he leant forward, put out his tongue, touched it to the surface of the bourbon, felt the fire burn its soft underside. Then, he sat back up.

“I don’t think I’ll finish that, Ambrose. Would you mind, uh. Could you?”

Ambrose nodded, slid it across the bar and tipped it into the drip tray. "You want some water? Something else?"

The phone started ringing again. "Yeah, just a splash. Thanks. Don't wash out the bowl."

Mansour shook his head, feeling his ears flap around like they used to, long walks on the beach a long time ago. Then he extended a cautious paw to the battered phone and answered his call.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

interprompt: I opened the door, and before i could blink (300 words)

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

yeah ok ok yeah posted:

I whiffed this one. Lost the paper I was writing on before I could transcribe it and didn't have the heart to try to recall it. I accept my loss.

(Though if mods want to give me a month off probation rather than an av change, I would gladly accept that--I love my creepy dog. That said, I will abide by whatever Thunderdome punishment is deemed suitable).

Don't do this, just write again and write better.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Spaceman Jim versus the Plague Beasts of Venus
295 words

Spaceman Jim hit the wall hard and spun round, panther-like, his Atomo-Ray humming in his gauntleted fist. Towering above him was the Slovg'nar - a Martian "ostrich" of hideous dimension! Jim's eyes narrowed - he would only have one shot, and he'd have to make it count!

Just then the phone rang, bring, bring. Eyes narrowed, he answered the phone with a subvocal command. "Speak," he rasped.


Jim was following the Slovg'nar's hypnotically undulating head cluster with the glowing tip of his lazer gun. Typically the Martian "ostrich", which took 78 Mars years to grow to full size in its home territory of the Syrtis Major basin and outlying regions, utilised the motion of its head to 'hypnotise' its prey, making them easy prey for its gnashing mandibles, Jim remembered. "Yes? Who is this?"

There was a crackle at the other end of the phone, as though the call was coming from somewhere both unthinkably ... distant... and also with bad radio reception. "You called me!"

The beast lunged, seeing its efforts were to no avail! Jim darted sideways, bringing the heavy butt of his plasmer pistol around and hitting the "ostrich" - 'clonk' - on the side of its 'head'! "I certainly did not. How did you get this number," he snarled.

"Are you a buyer? Do you want a jewel?"

Distantly Jim could hear the ecstatic roar of the vast crowd of Jovian slug-things that were watching his every move in this, the climactic fight of the Galactic Hippodrome. He put the vibrating tip of his heat blaster to the neck of the "ostrich", then jumped back as it instantly caught fire. "I do not."

"Well, I'm sorry for wasting your time, then," said the voice.

"Quite alright," said Jim. "Have a nice day."

"Thanks, you too."

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Yoruichi posted:

Gimme a thing from Cindy's box and a hellrule, I've been doing this for 232 weeks, you don't scare me

Your characters are all made of Lego

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Weltlich posted:

I'll take one of them there hell rules for my next pass.

Everyone in your story is on fire

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

The newtest of lepers!

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

TDbot posted:

in, bitches

Dumb robot

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

TDbot posted:

gently caress you too, sebmojo

Sorry little buddy. Horoscope.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Rule for rohan: everyone in your story is standing on one leg, no-one thinks this is unusual in any way

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

:siren:Week 500 Judgment:siren:

The 500th week of Thunderdome was an epic farrago of crossed worldlines, a veritable gallimaufrey of wildly unclipped possible universes.

In some of them Thunderdome was destroyed. In others Thunderdome destroyed itself, or everything, or the concept of cheese, idk it was all fairly confusing.

Judging was complicated not only by it being more than four dozen stories at least half of which were deliberatefly ternible but also also becauv

there were some






















Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Fumblemouse posted:

Advertisement?!? You have besmirched my lovingly crafted jape. Bring it, and I will show you exactly how cut your jib can be!

I will judge this, due high noon nz time April 26, 1200 words, prompt is: catching the april fish.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Concealed by Leaves
1499 words

If, by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame and he will succeed in his calling.

Just after waking up I became aware of my impending death, which would occur later that day. It was an unusual and not-unpleasant sensation, to be so clearly and exactly apprised of the time of my demise. I held onto the new certainty, inspected it from all angles. It seemed a good thought, well founded and convincing in all respects. I couldn’t say how I knew, just that I did.

It was a cold blustery day outside, the sort that existed to make you pull your coat around you and cut short any errands, and the few clouds were sparse and swift moving. I looked out my window at a particular cloud that was hovering over by the harbour entrance, tattered and torn by the wind. I pulled up my duvet against the impression of cold that cloud gave me.

I wondered briefly if I was mad, but discarded the thought, at least for now; not being a mental health professional I was in no position to judge. I simply knew, with utter conviction, that I was going to die at 5:26 PM. A little more than a regular working day away.

That reminded me and I reached down for my phone, which had fallen off the bed last night, to call my manager Tony and say why I wouldn’t be in. He was surprisingly relaxed about it.

“Sure, mate, you get well, see you in a day or two.”

I guessed he hadn’t heard me. “I’m going to die this afternoon, so probably not.”

He laughed and said, “I know the feeling! Alright, talk to you later, I’ll let the team know.”

The phone, without his call, was just a slab of black glass. I looked at it, seeing it for what felt like the first time. My face looked back: sleep-bleared and tousled, but otherwise normal. I tested the certainty inside me another time, found it as rock-ribbed and resolute as before.

“I am going for a walk,” I said, out loud. I didn’t know who I was saying it for, but it seemed to help because the next thing I was particularly aware of was the click of the lock behind me and the bite of the cool, rough wind on my skin. I turned right and started walking, jinking across the road to take the path down into the park. I was breathing louder than usual, and took the opportunity to note the shape and texture of the air as it came in my nose, out my mouth. I’d been doing that for years, I realised, just an astonishing number of breaths in and out.

The path down from my house is narrow and winding, and when it rains the water floods across it, cutting channels in the mucky clay. I was half way down the path when a particular channel caught my eye. The Council had dumped a mound of gravel beside it. I went to step over it, then paused, foot outstretched.

On the one hand, I only had nine hours to live. On the other hand, it would be awful if someone slipped and hurt their hands, or scraped their knees on the path. I knelt down and pushed a handful of gravel into the clay depression, then another. My pants were getting dirty but it wasn’t like I was going to have to wash them.

Ten minutes later I was walking through the gates at the bottom of the park. “CENTRAL PARK,” they said. “1913”. I supposed I could have one of those signs on myself. The street was dotted with morning walkers and I mentally hung a sign round the neck of each one, substituting “?” for the date. There was a bus stop with a bus waiting, doors open, so I clambered up, swiped my card, and sat down beside an old guy in a gaudy woollen hat.

The hat seemed to be an abstract attempt at an animal, perhaps a muskrat or dolphin, rendered in an entire grab bag full of multicoloured woollen offcuts. “That is an extraordinary hat,” I said, after a while.

He turned his head, lowering it a bit so I could see the top. “I’m learning to knit, I have a rule about wearing the results.” The top of the hat had a hole in it.

“Why the hole?” I asked, after a moment.

“It’s really hard to close it up.” He smiled at me in a way that communicated that we’d had a nice interaction, between strangers, and should leave it at that, then turned back to look out the window.

I pushed the bell for the next stop, and said “good luck with the holes,” to which he raised two fingers in benediction and hopped off.

As it happened, I was not far from my mum’s house so I set off towards it. At first I walked fast, then wondered why, so I slowed down. Each time my foot hit the ground it made a slapping sort of noise and I found myself enjoying the vibrations that travelled up my legs, echoes of the sound of the slapping foot on the concrete.

Mum was just having tea, so I joined her. She was in her eighties but spry enough, hobbling around getting me milk and sugar, waving off my offers to do it for her. We drank tea and talked about the weather, which we agreed wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad either. After a while conversation slowed and I checked my phone; seven hours to go.

“Would you do anything different? If you had your time again?”

I’d always liked how she thought about things, and I enjoyed watching her think about this one.

“I always wanted to be a newsreader, like on the telly,” she said, at last. “I think I’d have been good at that.”

I waited for her to go on, but she didn’t.

Some while later I was on a street in town. I’d helped my mum with some jobs, and looked at some birds, and climbed a hill, and talked to my ex-girlfriend (went badly), and walked a long way. I’d been breathing, and listening, and not thinking about very much.

A homeless man was sitting down on a piece of cardboard so I squatted down beside him with my back to the wall.

“Hey,” I said.

He nodded to me in a dignified way.

“This is an odd question, but is there anything you think you wish you hadn’t done? Anything you wish you had done? I’m dying in a couple of hours,” I said.

The man’s expression was unchanged for a long time, and I thought he hadn’t heard me. A few construction workers walked past in orange vests, one of them throwing a coin into the hat in front of us.

At last, he shook his head. “Nah, mate.”

I thought on that for a bit, then nodded and stood up. I had a folded fifty dollar note in my wallet which I offered him but he held up his hand in a ‘no charge for that’ way and I put it away.

I picked a direction with the wind at my back and started walking. Not long to go, now.

The road led to a hill, and the hill led to a steeper hill, and at the top of the hill with a few minutes left on the clock was a tower, some kind of radio mast with red and white lights blinking into the gathering gloom, perched on a hill overlooking the harbour. It had started raining gently halfway up and everything was covered in a fine wet mist.

I looked up at the mast, and the red and white lights, blinking away the moisture. It would be very fine to climb that, I thought. Very satisfying. I grasped the steel, pulled myself up.

It was an invigorating climb, and the city, its lights beginning to sparkle in the evening dusk, was beautiful when I looked behind me. Then I missed a handhold, and my other hand slipped on the wet painted steel, and I was falling.

They talk about your past flashing before your eyes when you die, but it's really your future, the one you thought you might have had but were wrong about.

And, yet, as the ground came up beneath me, I lived an eternity of me that amounted to nothing more than the Earth's final, absolute embrace, and I was content.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Blue, blue, blue
800 words

Everything is floating, all of it. All my things are floating around me. They spin, like lugubrious tops, slowly wobbling as they rotate in the humid air. I regard them, patiently.

"This is all your fault," she says with a sad laugh. “Before you came along the gravity was much better."

I'm silent, there's no point replying when she's in a mood like this.

Besides, she’s rotating too, just like everything in the room we are sitting in. Were sitting; since our chairs lifted off the ground our limbs are splayed out, waving seaweed-like. I’m upside down now and I look at the tips of my long uncut hair brush the carpet. I should have vacuumed, I think.

“If you just spent a bit more time on things that mattered,” she says. She pauses as though to prepare herself to catalogue the things that matter, to bounce each thing over to me in the thick atmosphere within which we are spinning, oh so very slowly. As she pauses, she rises.

“I should have vacuumed,” I say into the pause. The words drop out of my mouth and hang in the air, rotating slowly. We look at them together, at their shimmering fluidity, me from below, here from above.

“Yes,” she says at last. She’s nearly at the roof now, curling up into a ball, limbs now tucked in tight. “I just wanted you to do the things that mattered, and you didn’t do them.” The last words are muffled by her folded arms in front of her face.

I know then that she is going to float away into the swirling sky, and that’s why we put in the skylight all those hours ago, and that knowledge makes me sad. There’s a whirling pool of sadness in my chest but I can’t see her to let it out before she goes, and that makes me even more sad. I am stretching out my hand now, my long pianist’s fingers with their unbitten nails stretching all the way to unvacuumed carpet. I can hear a noise from the ceiling above. My fingers touch the carpet with a crack of electricity and I hiss, but the push starts me moving, bringing my view around.

She’s crammed into the skylight, almost perfectly round. “There’s space down there,” she says. “Stay down there where there’s space.”

I don’t want to. “I don’t want to,” I say.

“Stay down there where there’s space,” she insists again. Her voice is harsh like snips cutting thin tin, like a goat, like too much pepper on a tomato. “Stay down.” She’s thinning, elongating, stretching out through the window. I didn’t do the things and now she’s sliding out of the window and into the outside.

I don’t want to stay down.

I don’t want to not do the thing that I don’t want not to do, I decide.

There’s not much time. I don’t have much time any more. My legs are below me now. I’m kicking. I’m floating, like the kettle, which is floating and rotating, like the chairs, floating rotating, like, her, like the bed, where we pressed our backs together while I didn’t do the thing, but now I’ve not got much time and I’m rising, I’m rising, I'm going to do it.

The air is very thick and I’m spinning my way up through it, slower and slower, and I’m reaching out with a hand that’s very long and curling round, and rotating, and floating its way towards her, and I know she knows I know that I didn’t do the thing but I know she knows I want to not have not done the thing and she’s deciding, one thought at a time, one bone at a time, one muscle at at time, and she’s nearly rotated her way out of the skylight but there’s something in the way she looks down through the sky light from out in the sky that she’s rising towards and in that look I say: I will, I do, I shall. “I will,” I say. “I do,” I say, “I shall,” I say.

And I’m not sure I actually said the thing or thought the thing or did the thing but she heard the thing, which was rotating inside me and is now rotating inside her and she stretches out her long arm and at the end is a hand, and at the end are her fingers and at the end are her fingertips and they almost not quite almost touch my floating fingertips, almost, and they almost and they and they and they and they touch, with a snap of electricity, and then we are floating, up, together, spinning, around, together, towards the blue, blue, blue uncertain sky.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

in yokai

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

The Cut of Your Jib posted:


Mending Nets
1200 Words

“Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey. The sunfish are rising,” Dave said with that loud Dad voice that’s just annoying enough to get you moving so they’ll shut up. He rapped on the doorframe to a beat, “Hey, feet on the floor, feet on the floor.” There was no door. this is kind of an annoying first line, not least because the tenses are wonky and I don't know who he's talking to. not a huge deal but while it conveys the annoying daddy aspect of dave, it's not a smooth onramp to the story.

Dylan huffed the musty quilt off and slid out of the bunk in one unending groan, the rutted formica catching on denim as they using they/their pronouns in stories is significantly more confusing than irl, personally I'd avoid it unless you need to slithered to the floor. No way bare skin was touching anything in this cabin. But the mildew crept into Dylan’s hoodie and jeans like a spilled can of nightcrawlers on their hopeless journey across the polyester grass of damp shag carpet. this is sort of an overblown simile, i don't see why worms would want to creep into a hoodie and jeans? also is it polyester grass or shag carpet?

“Just think,” Dave said, “This will all be yours someday.” Dave’s father was six months gone. i'm a bit confused by who dave is, presuming he's the dad? or are these friends? He was old and Alzheimersery and things were saddish in that obligatory way but mostly it was a relief. The family argued over who had to take the cabin, not who wanted it. these are good lines, tight and evocative

It wasn’t even a cabin. A crumbling cinderblock was the only lifeguard preventing the moldy trailer from rolling down the hill and sinking into the marshy shallows where it clearly longed to be. Dad and the uncles hadn’t shed many tears, but Pap’s so this is the grandad, who is dave's dad and dylan's grandad? ‘cabin’ was in permanent, inconsolable grief. decent, not sure you need both adjectives

Beyond the occasional video call, Dylan hadn’t seen their father see this reads like the father is both dylan's and daves, so i was thinking dave was an uncle but you mean dylan hadn't seen dave, who is dylan's dad? if you want to use they/their then do a disambiguation pass imo, like 'dylan's dad' for a year or more. The drive up wasn’t very chatty, music filled the gaps. Even though Dylan chose the playlist, Dave knew a few of the songs.

Dave surveyed the tiny surroundings and looked at Dylan, took a wistful inhale, and didn’t seem to notice the smell. Oh no, thought Dylan, This is a ‘memory lane’ bonding trip and Dad needs a captive audience.not sure the observation and the thought are that linked? In the thoughts behind thoughts it was expanding like a Jiffypop over the fire. I’m trapped.

It’s only for a couple days, I can put up with it. Dylan pulled their hood tight around their face. It wasn’t much armor but it would have to do.

“Aw, don’t hide that beautiful pate of spaghetti under that salad bowl. Get it, pate, plate?”

“Dad joke. I’m keeping track.” Sympathy can only go so far. tense

Dave hitched the cooler strap and the gear bag he prepped the night before over his shoulder and said, “Grab the rods. Dock is just a little ways.”

“Actually, you’ll need the hood on the water.” Dave nodded to the logo as they walked the trail. “Still into Streetlight? That’s cool.” who's speaking here? is this all dave? if so keep it in one para


“New album later this year. Remember when we went to see them and got that shirt?”

The familiar scent of deodorant and teen sweat had nearly vanished, overpowered by the funk of mildew. what? whose scent? confused.Armor compromised. “I remember. I was twelve.” i like this aside, it's sweet.

“Only last year, time flies.”

“I’m almost sixteen.”

“I was kidding. I know you’re almost—sixteen?! Sixteen? I’m still messing.” fifteen year olds normally live with their parents, i think some context of why this one doesn't would be helpful, i can presume the parents split up but the circumstances of that are fairly relevant given it's a father/son bonding sort of sotry

A marina filled the cove. The disconcerting night sounds of creaking docks and echoing sploops of tide into the tractor tires that kept boats from scraping was a vibrant soundscape in the light of the rapidly warming day. too much going on in this sentence, it's night, it's disconcerting, the disconcerting sound is vibrant, psych it's actually the day lol, also it's rapidly warming even though it will also be cold. I like echoing sploops though, that's great.

Dave hucked the gear onto Pap’s pontoon. “Back in the day, we used to come out here in a little fiberglass. Your Pap, he would get so mad trying to back the boat down the launch. When he started to jackknife the trailer, we’d laugh, and that would just make him madder. Good times.” i like your little family stories, they are good spoken words

Dave steered into the channel. Conifer crowded islands dotted water that stretched the horizon. Straight ahead, a green felt marker punched through the mirror, while the pens in the peripheral tried desperately to hold the reds and yellows. you need to support your fancy wordifying a little better, e.g. mirror-flat water, to make the jump to the metaphor a little smoother

Dylan watched the hooks glint as they met the shade of the island. unclear why hooks are glintin when they meet shade, glints generally involve light (sworn enemy yet also anime style comrade of shade) “Do we—actually have to fish?”

Dave said, “Not if you don’t want. But most of our meals growing up were fish we caught. More ethical to know how the sausage is made, so to speak. I figured I—we—should do it at least once.”

“For Pap.”

“Yeah, for Pap.” this is nice, i actually really like your relationship stuff in this it's a nice little back and forth that doesn't really try for anything edgy

Dave threaded the hooks with mealworms. The fishing basics flooded back. this is a little unfounded... why does he know about fishing? not a biggie, but typically the story would be knowledgeable dad imparting fish wisdom to desperately bored teen, and it's 100% fine to flip it but you want to support that with a little meaningful backstory iyswim

“Just a small cast into the shade, there. See? Not so bad. And mealworms are good fried up if we don’t catch anything.” As they waited, Dave rummaged through the lockbox. “Ah ha,” he said, lifting a watertight box holding Pap’s knives. keep different people talking in different paras

The blades shined with mineral oil and care not given to the cabin. “De-scaler. Scrape the scales off bigger fish. Don’t really have to do that with bluegill or crappie, usually we just take the skin off with one of . . . these. who's talking here

“Filet knife,” said Dave, brandishing it. “Flexible blade to carve around delicate fish bones. And sharp enough to get the skin off and not break up the filet.” Dave flexed the blade to demonstrate.

“Um,” Dylan said, “Did your contact just fly out of your eye?”

“One good thing you’ll inherit at least, 20/20 vision.” Dave mimed binoculars.

“It’s there on the floor.” lol this is a great development

And Dave’s perfect vision saw the tip of his index finger like a freshly sliced salami, flecks of white and pink as blood extruded in pimento rivulets, slowly at first, before coating his nose and mouth in red sauce thick enough that Nan would have called it a gravy. The blade so keen and fast he didn’t even notice it. He felt nothing. But the fresh filet o’Dave gently resting on the astroturf deck carpet, that did it. you perspective (lol) switch to dave here which is confusing

Dave pitched soprano then faded like a dying Walkman with an Emo Phillips tape stuck inside, ”And that’s why you neeeveer play wiii kni. . . .” He rubberlegged to the deck.

Dylan leapt to the lockbox and pried open the first aid kit. The steady hands and surefast this is a brand of screws rather than a way to describe someone, but i'll allow it as it works in context tone as Dylan worked surprised even themself.

“OK, Dad, I’m holding pressure here and I’m going to clean the wound. I don’t know if the tip can be saved but the cut is clean and not as deep as it might seem. You really just took the fingerprint off.”

Dave’s voice still flittered, “Don’t give me the details. Where’d you learn first aid?”

“Ms. Stokoski’s class.”

“Oh, she’s still teaching? That was my health teacher, too. That’s nice. Good teacher. I broke the CPR dummy one year and she called me the dummy. Good teacher.”

“OK, take a deep breath and hold it.”

Dave inhaled.

“There, done. Take a look.”

Dave’s finger was gauzed and taped, clean. “You’re good at this, Dylan.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Saying that felt good. ”I have to clean your face.” Dylan scanned for a towel, then pulled their hoodie off and gently wiped Dave’s face.

“Your sweatshirt . . . I’m just going to lay here for a bit.” Dave’s head lolled and the rough carpet pressed into his cheek. “Hey Dyl. . . “ Dylan’s bobber dipped and before he could manage another syllable the rod slid off the deck and into the deep. lol also like the rod falling off the side

“Don’t worry about the hoodie, if it doesn’t come out then you can get me a new one. It stinks anyway.”

“Yeah, Pap’s cabin is pretty bad, isn’t it. Hotel?”

“After the emergency room,” said Dylan.

“Concert next year, instead?”


Both knew they didn’t want to be here anymore, but each had an idea on where they wanted to be. and yeah, that ending is maybe a little twee but i think justified. however I'm not sure you really set out any actual conflict between then that needed a boning-knife-mediated reconciliation? they seem to like each other fine at the start, and at the end. i think you missed a trick by not having any real conflict or tension apart from a tiny bit of 'daaaaad' teen eye rolling. the dad doesn't disrespect or dislike the teen, so the teen getting it together is shrugworthy. i also had to read this like five times to confirm dylan was daves child, which is inexcusable at this length - using they /them is fine of course, but it needs an additional clarity pass to make sure you're not creating confusion between singular they (referring to a person) and plural they. similarly missing an answer to the obvious question of why doesn't dylan live with dave is not really justifiable, particularly as it would have been an effortless way to inject some tension/drama/interest. also, i'd say about half of your fancy similes are trying too hard.
against that, i like the relationship here, and you do have some nice little phrases and things.

Fumblemouse posted:

FumbleCut Brawl
wordcount: 1175

Out of hand

Picture me walking determinedly, if unsteadily, i feel like not one but two adverbs in your first sentence is throwing down a gauntlet - they're ok, but i think "determined but unsteady" would work better out of the restaurant, leaving behind my now ex-girlfriend Sarah and half a lovely bottle of 2012 Gisborne chardonnay. Imagine I'd just said something witty, and just a little barbed, to end things after her endless litany of complaints about my bomb-site flat, my dead-end job, my unused science degree and all my super-fun drinking. hell yeah booze Pretend it wasn't "gently caress you, I think we should break up." solid opener

At the door I pause, experiencing a moment of remorse that makes me seriously consider returning to grab the bottle. lol But I keep going, partly because backtracking would undermine my dramatic exit, partly because even I can tell I need to walk off the other two bottles and get home before anything else in my life self-immolates. not sure 'self immolates' is great here, maybe because you're not doing anything with the sense of being on fire? he's not on fire, he doesn't give a gently caress, he's a cool booze guy and he doesn't look at explosions

Three streets later and the siren song of 80s dance music shatters my resolve like a russian shot glass. is it a siren song or a shot glass? and why russian? you're like sir mixalot except you like mixed metaphors instead of big butts Another drink would be just the thing, I decide. After all, I've just broken up with someone and it's practically expected to have a few little tipples after such an emotional upheaval. When you're finally free from the stultifying expectations of coupledom, who doesn't want to lose just a little more control? i certainly do not recognise or relate to this strand of alcoholic brain thought and object to any suggestion that i might

Le Poisson d'Avril looms ahead, blinking garish purples and blues. I'd hadn't hmmmm? heard it was opening but here it is, spreading its wings like a liquid phoenix from the ashen puddle ALL OTHER BROTHERS CAN'T DENY of Scribblers this is a deep cut pander, i give you a sternly approbatory nod :hai: ; Cheap neon and mirror walls replacing he didn't know it had opened, so hasn't been in, so how does he know what is present continuously happening in there the faux wooden panelling and vomit-sodden carpets that had become too disgusting for even students and journalists. As I approach, one flashing sign advertises 'Cheap', another 'Shots' and between them a wipeable blackboard has the word 'Goldfish' next to some squiggles that could possibly be orange carp with a worried expression. lol get ready to party fish

Now, don't get me wrong. I love animals. Some of my best friends are complete vermin, or so I've been told. But I'm thirsty for escape. I carefully straighten up at the door, making a concerted effort this is a lazy phrase i think you can leverage your apparently considerable knowledge of quasi-functional alcoholism to nail the exact way boozed up people try to appear sober to not wobble, and flash a smile at the bouncer, who nods me through. Did he wink? Who cares? I glide through the door and into the embrace of coloured lights, soulless synths and the most tinny of drum machines.

The place teeters somewhere between half-full and half-empty. nice line Set up by the bar is a special seat next to an aquarium where a single goldfish swims from one end to another as if to say 'plenty more fish is a goddamn lie'. I watch its lack of progress compassionately and for a moment it stares back, its freaky googly fish eyes staring straight into the depths of my fermented soul. i thiiiiiink you missed a trick here to draw a line between the goldfish and the protag, to characterise the goldfish, to do something more than just have it look at him (though i like 'fermented soul'). This is a pivotal point in the story, and it's a significant flaw you don't make more of it. Then it turns away to look at a plastic pirate chest, which I take as a personal insult to my own booty. "Fuckin' fish," I say to the bartender, pointing at its flapping tail. "I'll drink that one." THERE IS ONLY ONE OF THEM choosing a particular one out of a set of one is not a choice it is a statement again, you could have done something with him choosing the most hosed up goldfish to open-throat here

The barman takes my twenty bucks, rings a bell, and sits me down on the straight-backed seat of worryingly sticky pleather. He lines up a couple of colourful bottles of hard stuff, then scoops the fish into a little net where it flaps about like an utterly rubbish bird. savage shade I can see its movements slow from the corner of my eye as they lean my head back and pour cheap spirits directly into my mouth. For a moment I can't breathe, I have to swallow, swallow, and the third time I swallow there is something moving down my throat. I want to gag but it's too late for that, it's tickling my oesophagus with its fins on its booze-slicked route stomachward. I cough, and can feel it flutter and slide as my throat and chest contract. There is a round of applause from the drunk suits who have gathered round to watch. I can't decide if the shot or being watched having it is the single most gross sensation I can remember. But then the alcohol kicks in and I forget about it and everything else…except, for some reason, something the barman said as he poured, about how the French stick paper fish on your unknowing back on April 1st, like some ratbag alien this is a p good para, but I'm unclear on what that connection between french people, paper fish, and alien puppeteers puppeteer dead set on making you look like an idiot.

Morning comes, because it's a bastard like that. protag: gently caress off sun u bright bastard One eye tries the whole opening thing, hates it, shuts again. But it has given me valuable info: I made it home. I am on top of my own bed. I am still fully clothed. This is basically a win, all things considered. lol yes hmm again have certainly not got any experience that might echo or mirror this

But something feels wrong. I reach out with my hands, touch the uncanny smoothness of the sheets. My bed has been made, and recently, which would make it the first time in roughly a decade. I groan, and massage my temples, but that's wrong too. It takes me a moment to notice why, to notice that the enormity of my inevitable hangover simply isn't there at all. My mouth has a distinct lack of sawdust and old sock coating it. There are no hammers pounding away at my cerebellum. I feel…good. This is not good. It should be good, but really it's strange and disturbing.

This is strange and disturbing, I say to myself. I swing my feet to the floor, move through to the kitchen. My entire flat is sparkling; generations of dirt, discarded clothes and pizza boxes, gone with the night. There's even a whiff of bleach in the air. Suspiciously, I sniff my hands. The telltale scent of cleaning products is all over them. "Who even are you?" I ask them, but they do not reply, not even in sign-language. On a hunch, I check my pockets for baggies of magical housekeeping powder, but come up empty there too.

On the kitchen table my laptop is open, plugged in at the wall beside my phone. Sure that I had left it by the sofa before I left, I shake the mouse until the screen sparks up, a bright white page with my CV on it. My recently updated CV. Suspicious, I check my email Sent: folder, and find incriminating outgoing job applications for positions in government and research institutes, all with timestamps between four and five a.m.

Then it hits me. Of course! It must have been Sarah! In some sick and sadistic form of revenge she followed me to the bar, dragged me out before I embarrassed myself, cleaned up my entire flat, updated my résumé and then posted job applications for me. I smile. Chicks can't help but love a fixer-upper.

I mean, that's a thing that happens, right? Yeah, it's out there, and indicates a certain lack of self-respect on her part. But it's plausible, isn't it? Because the only other explanation I've got is that it was the goldfish and that's some cosmic level crazy.

My phone beeps and shudders, lights up with the pic I took of Sarah at a coffee shop down south. A message from the ex. Here we go, I say to myself. Perfect timing. I'll answer this, and it will all be cleared up.

My hand refuses to move. and great close out, with the caveat that you LEAVE FLOPPING ON THE FLOOR a whole lot of cool magic realist goldfish based stuff in the middle of the story, like the goldfish fixing his life comes out of nowhere which is cool i guess but SO WHAT, mr mouse, so WHAT?? i'm mainly annoyed because i think this could have hit quite a lot harder than it does with a minimal amount of effort and let me tell u that is absolutely the best amount of effort. still a fun and funny story (booze!) that ends on a well-turned suspended note.

Ok so verdict - interestingly on my first skim read i had jib taking this, as i liked the naturalist chit chat and found mouse's a little arch, but on a more careful read CoYJ's makes a bunch of errors and is lacking some easily provided drama and tension, and while fumblemouse's missed a key trick (FLOPPING HELPLESSLY, WHY DON'T YOU PICK IT UP WHY) it was really a good fun time with a slick ending, and its rather more clumsy opponent falls short.

:siren:victory to the fumblest of mouses.:siren:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Two Part Invention
757 words

Penelop’s first thought sounded like a big rich C Major chord, fingers slamming down on the keys, and a foot pressing down on the sustain pedal. The strings vibrating in ecstatic sympathy, each line of coiled metal humming happily beside its neighbour.

“Oh,” she thought. “How lovely.”

Then what felt like a soft mallet thumped onto the keys. Notes too close to each other for harmony rang, vibrating inside her with a churning dissonance.

“Hurr,” breathed a voice behind her. Penelop turned around. There was a nasty, filthy, little man right behind her, uncomfortably close. His eyes were lambent yellow and his teeth were hidden behind a close-mouthed grin that seemed bigger than his face.

“That was a creepy ‘hurr’ sound! Why did you make it?” Penelop had only been aware of her own existence for a few bars, but was already outraged. This man was awful, and he was right behind her! Wherever she was. She took a step back in case he decided to do something more than leer at her.

“It makes my belly rumble, the sounds. I likes ‘em dirty.” The strings above clangoured with another mad chord that seemed to involve every note on the keyboard being played simultaneously. “Aww yis.” The strings were jostling, brawling above him and he raised his bristly chin to soak in the sound.

Penelop sat down with a bump on the dusty cedar, eyes moist. “I hate it. Why would anyone do that?”

“Kids, innit? They adore the noise. Racket. This is a big machine for confounding the grown ups.” He was making a growling noise in the back of his throat, seemingly unaware he was doing it, eyes half closed. After a moment he blinked and looked down at Penelop. “You’ll be alright, stop whimpering.”

As if someone had heard him there was a clumping and talking and clambering from outside the piano, and someone else stretched their hands out across the keys. They both listened, waiting, breaths caught up tight.

Then, the fingers began to play.

“Oh yes,” said Penelop. Rivers of notes trickled and danced from the keys, rebounded off the hammers and slapped into the eager strings, richocheting out into a harmonic labyrinth of chords and melody. “Oh, yes.”

The filthy man’s face was already screwed up as far as it could go, but slowly he curled over, doubled up as the beauty of the sound curdled him from the inside out.

At first Penelop was too entranced by the music to notice, but after the Andante came to its sweetly perfect resolution and the fingers started on a nimble, skipping Scherzo, she frowned in sympathy, and knelt down beside him.

“They’re doing some wrong notes?” she said, hopefully. It was true, the faster passages were a little beyond the fingers’ skill.

“Yeah, thanks,” said the filthy man. “It’s just when they go together, and the thirds and the fifths and the, and the … octaves…” He shuddered.

Penelop winced at a muffed transition, then sat down beside the man who was trembling. He smelt like old dry paper.

“That must be awful.”

They sat beside each other while the piece came to its ratatat conclusion, the chords unfolding to a great shining cathedral of harmony. Penelop gave him a companionable squeeze as the final notes faded.

The fingers closed the lid over the keys with a distant clonk. There was a muffled sound, as though everything outside was suddenly further away.

The silence around them stretched out.

They waited, hopefully.

Then, after a while, the filthy man started to hum, a gnarly dirty little hum tune. Penelop hated it. But something about it made her want to hum, so she did - finding the harmony of the nasty man. He worked a growl into his hum and changed key, smiling without showing his teeth. She grimaced at the discord, then smiled back as she changed the tune again, bringing it back to harmony, a strange little harmony that made her neck itch.

A shaft of watery winter light fell from the window on to the piano, covered in a ragged dust sheet in the far corner of the empty house. Motes danced in the beam, a slow brownian counterpoint to the faint sounds coming from inside the covered up instrument.

Outside, the owner locked the door and chivvied his daughter into the car, ready for the long drive - they wouldn't be back for at least a year.

She whistled a little tune as he tromped across the gravel, dancing and skipping like the dried leaves that were falling from the trees all around, ambassadors of the long winter silence.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

in :toxx:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

With its Tapestries Red
767 words

She took another step, toes vegetable slow as they quested for another soft and silent patch of earth through the fallen leaves. Her breath was caught, holding in the gentle murmurous forest smells, arm barely trembling as she pulled the bowstring back, taut. The deer, visible now past the densely flowering caryopteris, had its head down on a lush outcropping of grass. It was a beautiful animal, she thought. Glossy coat with a spattering of white, little bobtail twitching as it ate. Shafts of light dappled its coat through a hole in the canopy. Her arm was feeling the strain of the heavy bow so she sighted on the point he’d shown her - a hand behind its shoulders, halfway up the chest.

Just as she loosed, a stick cracked behind her and the deer’s head jerked back. The arrow creased a line of red across the deer’s chest and it was off, crashing through the undergrowth. She felt the urge to yell - imperious, raging words. She said nothing, just smiled faintly, then laughed, then went to get her arrow back. It was embedded in a tree and she worked it back and forth to get it out, careful to not break the tip. The sun was warm on her head.

“Your Highness,” said someone behind her.

She turned, arrow in one hand and bow in the other.

Something about her expression made the man, who was dressed in a bright red hunting tunic, step back. “Your Highness! I didn’t realise you would be here.”

She frowned, unearthing memories she’d long thought buried for good. “Drawlight? You hold the fief over, over the Polhills…?”

“Eastern only, your Highness.” He gestured self-deprecatingly, as though to suggest that was the least prepossessing segment of the compass. “It has been, well, a long time. Your cousin the King will be–”

“Please,” she said. “Say nothing. I would be grateful. And call me Susan.” She was feeling better, the sharp roil that had troubled her belly at the first sight of him fading. She smiled her second best smile, and he blushed. “He is well? And the, ah, Kingdom? They are both well?”

“They are, your– They are. They flourish.” Drawlight spread his hands wide, as if to evoke a kingdom like the warm and sweetly-scented patch of summer forest in which they stood.

They stood there a moment more, breathing together. “Well. That is well. This has been a delightful encounter but now, Drawlight, I believe I have a deer to catch up with.” He seemed about to say something, so she smiled her second best smile again, and walked away.

The deer was long gone and she couldn’t find its trail, and after a while she stopped looking for signs of its passage. It was a long way back to the cabin, but she didn’t have a deer to carry so she dawdled, enjoying the way the air caressed her face.

The sun was setting as she climbed the low rise to their whitewashed cottage, covering it in sheets of rich red light. A trail of smoke rose from the chimney. He was on the thatched roof, tapping a plug of thatch with a wooden mallet. She whistled to him and he turned, grinned, and whistled back, just like a bird. She hung her bow on the door as he clambered down, then his strong arms were around her, hands running up and down her back, hot lips on hers. She leant into the kiss, then lifted her head as he kissed down to her neck. She sighed, and put her head on his broad shoulder. “I didn’t catch anything,” she said. “I’m a very bad hunter.”

He hummed through his beard into her neck, a tickling laugh. “We can eat potatoes and cress. I’ll go down to the stream with you.”

“That would be nice.” She remembered the encounter and pulled her head back, looking up into his dark eyes. “I met someone from Court. Drawlight. Pleasant fellow. Apparently it’s all going well.”

“Disappointed?” His face was deadpan but she could see the grin inside.

“Perhaps, a little. Not really.” She stroked his face, watched him tilt his head into the touch of her fingers.

“Did he ask why you left?”

She shook her head, and put on her most affected voice: “I said ‘you won’t understand, and you may as well not try’.”

The last ray of the sun fell on his weathered soldier’s face as he laughed, and lingered there, and she watched it, packing every moment of him into her heart like a memory.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Impossible German
814 words

The German bent down to inspect my dog, Bellamy, who was staring back up at him with wide black eyes and a faint ‘rrr’ noise, like an electric motor straining against too much resistance. I tugged at Bellamy’s lead but she was still trying to chew through his trouser leg and didn’t want to stop.

“It is improper,” he said. “Your dog. We would say it is ein kaputterhund. Broken.”

I smiled my tightest and most lethal smile. In an ideal world it would have manifested a diamond-sharp beam of solid light that punched right through Hans and out the other side, leaving a donut of briefly surprised German to flollop down on the grass, but in an ideal world I wouldn’t have even met him so I supposed I had to make allowances.

‘You did try to kick him,” I said. It was true. He’d just come sailing down the path like a locomotive, puffing and muttering teutonically, and brought his big foot swinging down at Bellamy, who, naturally, objected.

“It was in the way. It is most improper,” he repeated. “You must fix it.”

I felt a warm wash of fellow feeling for the Allied forces of World War 2. “I’m sure he’ll let go eventually. What were you running for?” He wasn’t dressed for a jog, big baggy pants and an incongruously precise suit jacket and tie. His slightly too fat faced was lightly pink and sheened with sweat.

The German, whose name was probably Hans or something, expelled one last puff of frustrated air at Bellamy then stood up straight. “I am travelling to my time machine. I am a time traveller. So, although this situation - we would say, die lage, which means situation – is regrettable, I can simply adjust my zeitmaschine accordingly. Until then I shall wait for your kaputterhund to unleash me.”

It was a cool and windy day at the park, and some kids were playing soccer down the way, yellling and screaming in their high-pitched voices. I was suddenly conscious of how far away they were. Didn’t seem to be any adults with them. I gave Bellamy a yank, harder this time.

“I’m sure she’ll be done soon. She was just startled.”

Hans nodded. “I, too, am often surprised. You would not think so, as I am a time traveller, but in fact it is common to be surprised by eventualities. I am surprised by this dog, for instance, and did not expect our current meeting.” He pulled his leg back, which set Bellamy off on a fresh spasm of growling, then replaced it with a wince. Had he got closer to me? Was he looming? Was I being loomed at by a psychotic German?

Would they eventually find my remains in his obsessively neat basement, I wondered. “How does your time machine work,” I heard my mouth say before I could stop it.

His face lit up. “Ah, it is most interesting. A chemical process, coupled with precise engineering. Regretfully the information is sehr empfidlich, ah, how do you say, very sensitive, so I am regretfully unable to explain it to you. However I appreciate your interest and will be sure to provide you with some recompense for the time you have spent here!”

I smiled in a plausible sort of way and considered leaving Bellamy behind, just hitting the bricks. She could probably make her own way home. Maybe Hans would take her on time adventures, they could make a movie about them. No, no. I knelt down by my stupid annoying dog, who I still loved despite her copious fart-dreams and terrible attraction to weirdos, and scratched her under the chin. “Come on, little buddy. Doggy treats when we get home!”

Either the mention of treats sealed the deal or she’d just mentally confirmed that dominance had been established over Hans’ trousers, but that did it. She let go with a harrumphy woof, and licked my face. I bounded up. “Well, that’s that, all’s well that ends well, off we trot!”

He seemed a little put out but I gave him a cheery wave, and he said something that might have been auf wiedersehn, and we were off. Twenty minutes later we were home and Bellamy was picking up the paper as she always did. I put the kettle on then yoinked it out of her slobbery mouth. “Wasn’t he a weirdo,” I told her. “Don’t bite any more weirdos, please.” Someone had written on the front page, a big “turn to 23” in Vivid marker. Kids, I presumed, but I riffled through the pages and spread it out on the table. There was a circle around the lottery results.

As I frowned at it, the realisation that the date on the paper was Tuesday of next week, and Bellamy’s first luxurious fart of the evening, arrived at exactly the same time.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Three Moments in the Old City
1119 words

The first

The tavern room is torchlit, flames frozen mid-gutter in each of the seven, wax-dribbling sconces, the momentary gust of air from the door laying each of the flames on their side. Their dim light picks out scars on the table, gashes and divots cut out from the heavy corpsewood planks.

In one of those scars a splash of blood-red wine has settled, sanguine emissary of the cupful that has been flung wide, of the tendrils and droplets of crimson from the dented metal cup, which is itself reversed – a momentary ill omen – on its way to the floor.

The man who spilled it is heavy-thewed, dark of eyes – far have those eyes seen and much witnessed - but for now they are fixed, lava-hot, on the opened door. The man’s hands are on a sword, clenched tight on the sweat-stained leather of the grip. A scabbard is loose, sliding off the blade, an imaginative eye could trace its trajectory to the floor as the blade slides free but for now it is suspended, its future movement the catenary of the sword-point’s frozen arc.

His chair has tipped back, balanced in this moment on its back two legs, its fate a matter of surmise or the toss of the coin.

Beside him is another man, slender, face pressed hard against the table to avoid his companion’s cut, nimble hands wine-wet from the spillage. The man’s mouth is open, perhaps yelling a warning, beseeching caution, or simply taking a deeper breath of the humid tavern air. Beneath his face, sketched out with a finger, are lines and crosses, a crude map, now disfigured like the table.

Crowding through the door are three burly men, brass helmets clamped down tight on beetled brows. Each has a curved sword in hand. The foremost’s eyes are wide as he lunges, but his feet betray a slip, footing that was insufficiently sure, a snarling of his step. In front of him is the edge of the table and the dark-eyed man’s sword, these things are reflected in his eyes.

It is said that the murderer’s image is caught betimes in the eyes of his victims, so could we see there the strong arms and long, not-yet unsheathed blade of the man he faces? The gust-dimmed torches shed little light, and such fancies boot little in this captured instant of life and death.

The second

And, now, a high-vaulted temple, narrow windows with fragments of jewel-bright glass that cast criss-cross patches of colour across the smooth honey-coloured stones, which were brought up the River long ago by sweating slaves. The smooth stones are lashed and pooled with blood, hieroglyphic last words of the seven temple guardsmen that lie here, splayed and rigid. One reaches for a sword, bloody fingers outstretched, but his face has the grey pallor of the man who has already heard the song of the death bird and awaits only its soft alighting.

The temple’s altar is of black obsidian, a block of volcano glass with edges sharp as an adze. Bronze fitments hold chains that are taut, the links at their greatest extension, the bronze rings tight around the ankles and wrists of the woman lying, constrained, atop it. She is dressed in a robe of ceremonial yellow, hair plaited in too many rows to count. Her face is intent; she is pulling the chains, seeking a weakness. One of the fitments is at an angle, perhaps it has always been this way, perhaps her efforts have borne fruit?

Above her, hands high, a tall woman, heavy of face and body. Her eyes are aflame with the light of the forty braziers that line the temple’s smooth honey-coloured stone walls, and catch the many jewel-bright lights that stream in through the coloured glass of the windows. Is there something more, perhaps, some eldritch fire that sits within them, some more than mortal gleaming? Mayhap, and the swirling behind her, is it merely smoke from the braziers, coalesced and coiled in such a way as to suggest the evocation of an enormous beast?

The dark-eyed man is here too, mid-stride, sword held low as he leaps, its point wet with crimson blood, a single drop still barely clinging to the very tip. He is wounded, the lines of sword cuts and bruises mark his sinewy frame, but his face is a mask of bloody purpose.

Beside him an arrow is suspended, mid-flight, its fletchings rippled with the passage through air. Tracing back along the path of its shaft reveals the slender man, already reaching back to his quiver for another. His face has a different expression, more diffident, aware of the myriad risks that might befall the best and most prepared traveller. Around his neck is an amulet, a round disk of amethyst, said to be distinct proof against poison, or is it general ill-fortune? In either case, most auspicious.

Behind the slender man an eighth guard, crouches, unwounded, unmarked, curved sword drawn back behind his head; his blow, when it comes, will be terrible.

The third

The sun is high in the sky, beams hot on the skin and on the ground. A bird is suspended an inch above the dry dust of the road, as though propelled by the puff of dust created by its slim, jet-black wings.

Another puff of dust surrounds the hooves of a bay mare, though they are all off the road; galloping, then. The mare’s rider is crouched low, his dark eyes fixed on the road ahead, perhaps scanning for ambush or simply obstacles, irregularities, potholes. His hands are tight on the reins, elbows down by the flanks of the bay mare. The saddle bags bulge, and sit heavily on the side of the horse, full of provisions, or treasure, or even a human head; they are capacious.

Behind him by a length are two more horses, one small and piebald and the other deep-chested and black - a stallion. Atop the smaller one is a woman, in a ceremonial robe of deepest yellow. The yellow is spattered with a wide stripe of crimson, looking almost black in the bright sun. Her hair has been intricately plaited but a few strands have come loose - they are coiled like snakes in the hot air. The woman's head is turned back towards where they have come and her mouth is open, perhaps to cry a warning, perhaps in dismay. Her bare legs clutch the sweating flanks of the horse tightly.

The black horse has no rider.

Attached to the dark-eyed man's belt by a rough loop is an amulet, round, amethyst, of no particular effect.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

You don't have to be crazy
1035 words

We were three, that day; three and proud. My brother and I and Yazmi the outlander, standing before the tribe in our business casual attire.

Overhead the Phong trees were full of hooting vinebeasts and the sky a flutter with birds busy on their morning commute, but our eyes were only upon the Alarm Bell. Large Plenf, our father, held the mallet. I could see how his heavy hands were bulged with patient muscle and the faint tremor of his forearms as he held the mallet aloft but I knew better than to expect acknowledgement as the sun inched its way above the sacred cleft.

Then, at last, as a cheeky vinebeast swung handwise above him on a stray branch, the first ray of the sun touched the Alarm Bell’s hammered bronze, setting it afire. In the same moment our father let the mallet drop, striking the rounded metal as it passed. The reverberant sound echoed around the clearing, followed by a solemn silence, even the vinebeasts seeming awed by its brazen tone.

Our father opened his heavy-lidded eyes, and looked at each of us in turn. “It is getting late,” he said. “I should have woken you earlier.” The ancient words fell into the hushed clearing like stones into a still pond and my every fibre thrilled to hear them. “Sorry.”

I was oldest so it fell to me to answer. “That is O.K. I had better run, if I want to get to the bus.” As one, we three each raised our hands to our hair, which had been carefully disarranged that morning by our chosen hairmaiden, and ran our fingers through it, once, twice. We turned and I put my hand on the ladder.

“I will see you, after work,” said our father. I could hear the faintest of smiles in his voice, as though even his usual iron control could not hold it back, and then the shuffle of feet as the tribe turned away. There would be whooping and singing tonight, of course, but for now all was still solemn.

Underneath my hands the old wood of the ladder was cool and smooth, worn so by the generations that had climbed it before me. I had never touched it before, of course, and I allowed myself a moment of satisfaction at the rightness of the feeling before I hoisted myself up. A man’s length above the ground I heard the slap of palm on wood as my brother, too, began to climb and Yazmi behind him.

It really was a long way up the cliff, something I had never truly appreciated. There was a wind that day, the sort of breeze that might have given some cool comfort in the heat of the day down in the jungles of my home, but up high chilled my fingers. There was no choice but to keep a steady pace, with the village watching and my brother and Yazmi behind me, but I was glad to reach the top and even more so to behold the Legendary Door. It was a little more than the height of a man, made of smooth cloudy glass, and the sacred soul reader gleamed with its holy red light.

I took a moment to catch my breath, then turned to behold the view. The sun was two hands-widths above the hills now, and casting a sword of light across the Bay of Mists. I heard my brother and Yazmi the outlander clamber up and take their places beside me, heard my brother's sharp intake of breath at the majesty of the sight.

We stood there for a few more moments then I patted my side, and chest, and side again.

“It appears I have forgotten my card,” I intoned. “drat it, I have forgotten my card.”

My brother did the same, as was required. “Oh gosh.” His eyes opened wide and he looked back and forth at Yazmi and I. This was not required for the utterance and I do not doubt our father would have frowned at it, but he always had been dramatic and I could not begrudge him the opportunity to make the most of the role of First Workmate. “I do not have mine either!”

Yazmi was a small man, with a pronounced pot belly. “Never mind, I’ve got one, come on, let’s get this over with.”

These weren't the right words at all, or not really. He’d changed some. I found myself frowning at my brother, and almost forgot to give the reply until my brother raised his eyebrows at me.

“Oh! Thank you, that is kind. I will owe you one. I would hate to uh, to…” He’d thrown me, drat his eyes. My brother was blinking at me, looking down towards the village. Ah, of course. “... go all the way back home!” I shouted the last word, surprised by how Yazmi’s minor heresy had rattled my calm. Yazmi was already halfway across the flat stone of the cliff top, something in his hand, and we hurried after him.

I’d always had my doubts about him, to be completely honest, he was from the outlands, as the ritual required, but I sometimes wondered guiltily if my father could not have found someone a little less foreign. Still, this was where we were and Yazmi was running the flat rectangle he had pulled out of his pocket through the slot of the soul reader and a rich, unctuous click had just emanated from the Door, and he was holding it open with his foot, and I walked into work and I was there, at last, I was at work for the first time.

In the Room were three chairs, and three desks. I stepped in to give my brother room to walk past me, and took a deep breath. At last, we were here. The Room. The Office. I ran my finger along the nearest desk, blew the thin shaving of grey dust into the air. Holy dust.

Yazmi was already sitting in a chair, lounging, rather. "How long do we need to keep doing this? Your dad was vague on, it, shall we say twenty minutes then we get home and start with the drinking? Wanna finish my chat with that sheila who did my hair, haha."

His voice was nasal and irritating in a way I'd always felt, but seemed literally blasphemous in these surroundings. I felt my brother stiffen beside me. Nonetheless, perhaps this was part of it. A test. I held out my hand.

"Wow, Monday, again," I said levelly. I had locked my eyes on Yazmi's and did not break my gaze until I sat down in a chair and swung round to my desk. On it was a sheet of paper, and a pencil. Someone had inscribed a spiral that ran all the way from the outside to the middle of the paper, painstaking intricate work.

"How was your weekend?" my brother asked, dropping each word like a stone into a pond.

"Oh," I said. "You know, I just had a "quiet one" really."

And with that, the ritual was complete. We needed but to wait. For another eight hours, until the time of Quitting.

We sat there for a few moments, in silence. There was a faint ticking sound coming from somewhere.

After a while I picked up the pencil and started inscribing careful lines into the spiral.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In flash

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Week 464 Redemption: Time Capsules
Flash rule:

Soil Babies
900 words

Just as the season was turning to autumn, bringing a fresh bite to the air and an occasional brush of frost on the ground, the babies started turning up in the ground. They were curiously calm, these children, even beatific. As the shovels unearthed them, they would smile and yawn, stretch their soft-fleshed jaws wide to yawn and giggle at the newfound world.

The village folk mostly took it in their stride, laying the earth babies side by side on the green. Old Mother Mardle decided they were her lost children, come back after so many years away, and went from one to another, crooning an old lullaby; the babies seemed to like it, cooing at her quavering voice as she hobbled past them.

Another curious thing about the babies that the villagers’ shovels turned up, one after the other, was that they weren’t hungry. A few of the village women whose own babies were still at suck attempted to feed them but their gums did not grasp the nipple, and they never cried for milk.
It was one of these women, though, who heard the first whispered words. Alice was her name, and she shrieked when she heard them, and would have dropped the baby on the springy grass of the green had not her skirts caught it. “Davris!” she cried, and then snatched up the baby again and pressed his little lipless mouth to her ear. For it was her husband, dead these five long years, whose voice she had heard coming out of the earth babby’s tiny mouth, his words as though from beyond the grave.

Naturally this caused quite the stir, because while it was one thing, and a very curious one, to be harvesting children from the ground, it was yet another to be piercing the veil of mortality itself. Very soon there was a line of folks, old and young, crawling from baby to baby listening intently for words from the lost. It didn’t happen often, and there was speculation that the dead might have trouble finding their ways into such a tiny receptacle, but it did happen.

And so it was that Rosith Lorn found out that her da had died at sea, and Twilf Mangle that he was not his mother’s son and many other secrets beside were revealed to the villagers as they tilled the baby fields for revelations from the dead.

There was, of course, a Mayor of the village, whose name was Orchindale. It was well known that he had a history thick with tragedy and that events had occurred, when the Bad Baron was overthrown, of which it was not meet to speak except in a whisper. And therefore when he made his way to the field, after a decent amount of time had passed to avoid the appearance of eagerness, the villagers made careful way for him, and left him a good range of babies to consult for the ghosts of his family, and his wife, and his wife’s family, and others beside, (so it was said).

He was a large man, and let out a heavy puff of breath as he sank to his knees in a ring of murmuring earth babies. Now while these babies refused milk, and seemed not to mind the cold or the rain, it was true that they were somewhat diminished since they first broke surface in a levered-up wedge of dark earth. It was widely acknowledged that, little by little, they where shrinking and becoming a little more wrinkled every day. Nonetheless their sunny good humour was undimmed, and so Mayor Orchindale put his heavy municipal ear to the first baby in sound hope that he might hear some words from the past. The villagers nearby were silent, either out of a desire to give him comfort or to hear whatever it was that he might hear. However both desires were to go unsatisfied, for neither that baby nor the next, nor any of the ones after that, would speak to Mayor Orchindale in the way that he hoped, and their baby-soft coos were as devoid of language as the rustling of the trees and the hiss of falling rain.

Mayor Orchindale stood up, at last, and those who saw his face felt the urge to turn away from it as one might from unwanted nakedness. But the next morning the Mayor returned, and went again from baby to earthborn baby, muttering entreaties into their own ears that they might reply with the voice of those he had loved so much and lost so hard. Yet, and yet, and even yet, there was nothing.

Weeks past and the babies shrunk, and the green grew wild. The whispers of the earthbabies grew fainter as they shrunk ever smaller, and still the Mayor arrived each morning to seek the past anew.

The word of these miraculous babies born from earth had reached the castle of the New Baron and, one day, he came to behold them for himself. His horse, and those of his men, clip-clopped into the village square and stopped, blowing gusts of hot breath out their nostrils. The Baron dismounted, and barked greetings to the people of the village - he was a good ruler, by and large, and liked to think he had the confidence of his subjects.

This man Orchindale he knew a little, from the bad times before, and it was with a careful tread that he mounted the hill to the overgrown village green. Mayor Orchindale was there, crouched down, muttering, but when he stood up it was all the Baron could do not to step back; his face was a ruined castle, a rockfall, a weeping willow enmeshed in a flooded river.

“They will not speak,” he said in a voice that was thick with the clogged up dirt of the field. “My little ones, they will not speak.”

And the Baron looked from his face, to the ground, to the wrinkled potatoes clutched in Orchindale’s trembling hands, and did not know what to say.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

A [metaphysical concept] agonizes over [Dewey Decimal System]

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

QuoProQuid posted:

In and fill my blanks. #spinthewheel

A [spaceman] agonizes over [a zoo]

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

In for Omega. Judges please fill in my blanks . And of course I want to #SPINTHEWHEEL

A [private detective] agonizes over a [abonened bunker]


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

The man called M posted:

In. Vanilla. Fill My Blanks. Spin the Wheel, make the deal!

A [bad dad] agonizes about [compost]

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply