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Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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



Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Nae posted:

Spessartine 'Mandarin' Garnet

The Octahedron
1199 words

The sunlight streamed through the oval design carved in the octahedron walls. It reached the almandite jewel perched in the triple-headed eagle claws atop the Staff of Khar. A brownish red beam emerged from the jewel, but instead of pinpointing the burial location of Empress Mephita the Scaled, it instead targeted the closest person to the Staff of Khar. A simple research intern who screamed as the beam burnt him into a pile of smoldering ashes.

"Ugh, another intern gone!" Dr. Hawkeye Lee huffed as she leaned against the large statue she hid behind. "At least it wasn't the dog."

"I told you, we need a Mandarin Spessartite Garnet, not this crappy red brown junk." Professor Specs MacFarland whacked Hawkeye on the arm with the largest book she was carrying. "Short cuts will not work! As my father once said-"

"You try finding a Spessartite that is orange enough to steal on this damned planet, the United Earth Corps have plundered this place dry!" Hawkeye pushed herself off the wall and headed for the exit. "Scout, stop licking your balls, it’s time for lunch!"

At the sound of "lunch", the retriever mix jumped to attention and trotted after Hawkeye. Specs followed at the rear, weighed down by her usual stack of books. Outside the octahedron, they jumped in their crocohorse carriage and headed for town. Hawkeye called their university liaison, James.

"We’re going to need some new interns, see if you can get some with at least a semester under their belts," Hawkeye demanded. She briefly tried to recall the name of that poor intern, but failed.

"Very well, I'll put out the word," James replied, “but you’re going to run out of kids looking for three free credit hours soon.”

“As the University has shown repeatedly, as long as their checks clear, they don’t care what the students do!” Hawkeye replied.

They headed to the usual place, a nameless food shack that served local cuisine and spirits. The owner, Borhum, specialized in locating rare items for clients, but so far had come up empty this time. "Ladies,” he greeted them, then frowned. “" Scout bounded to in the middle of the tables and starting licking a guest's chair. Borhum rolled his eyes, and addressed the women as he poured their usuals.

"I finally got a lead on that orange mandarin jewel you were asking about. There was an idol for Salasifrango the Goddess of the Claw, and the eyes were said to be the orangest garnets in the region!"

"Yes, the Cursed Avia idol, housed in the lost Claw Temple of Salasifrango," dismissed Hawkeye. “and who describes garnets as orangest?”

"Long lost no longer," Borhum said, "sewer construction on the east side found a new set of unmarked tunnels, one leads to the Claw Temple of Salasifrango."

Hawkeye placed two gold coins on the counter. "We are going to need that library location!" She eyed James herding two new prospective interns their way, "This sounds like a great audition for our job opening!"

"This sounds incredibly dangerous," said one of the interns after being explained their task of retrieving the jewel.

"Nonsense," Hawkeye insisted, "this is only moderately dangerous. If it was really dangerous, we’d lie more about the safety!"


“Just don’t step on the hexagon tiles with flowers, and only step on the square tiles with flutterbirds!” Hawkeye repeated.

"Make sense to me!" declared the other candidate. He lasted almost an entire floor before he stepped on a flowered hexagon tile and became a pin cushion for poison darts. The skeptical intern successfully dodged the falling rock traps and escaped, visibly shaken but holding the coiled bird head idol with the bright orange jewel eye.

Hawkeye snatched it away immediately and started prying out the eye. “Perfect, perfect! Congrats on getting the job. Now take Scout for a walk!”

“I haven’t slept in three days!”

“You can sleep on the ride back to the octahedron. Hurry, before Scout pees on that tapestry!” Hawkeye pushed them out the door. She returned to the jewel, holding it up to the light. The orange was brilliant, the gem looked like something out of a fantasy drama, such as that old cinema that gave the Empress the map idea. This one had to work! They’d find out in the morning.

“Specs, wake up!” Hawkeye kicked the chair Specs was sleeping in, her face buried in an ancient text. Specs sat up, her glasses squished flat and against her face, confused until Hawkeye told her the news. They needed to leave immediately to get to the octahedron in time.

The Staff of Khar seemed full of extra Khar today. Hawkeye planted it triumphantly in its stand, the orange mandarin sparkling at the top. Hawkeye and Specs ran and hid behind a statue of a crocohorse, which bore scars from prior attempts to discover the tomb location. The skeptical intern stood confused for a second, then realized what they were doing and tried to find his own hiding place. Scout continued to sniff near some statues of long dead emperors, just in case they were somehow carrying snacks.

Sunlight rays poured through the oval and streamed directly into the orange mandarin. It glowed, vibrated, and shot out an orange beam. Instead of zapping whoever was closest, it aimed at the carved regional map on the floor. Hawkeye peered over the rump of the crocohorse. Blast, the beam was directly in the center of Rokuton Square, under the Palace of the Frog Hermit. They’d have to march through the ancient sewer lines, two thousand years of unmapped, unregulated pipes, just to find the tomb of Empress Mephita the Scaled. Time to get stinky.

“Hey, kid, congrats on surviving the week. What’s your name?”

“It’s Vicente-”

“First names only, I don’t want to learn your life story unless you manage to stick around for a few weeks! Heck, Specs here has been working for me for the past five years, and I don’t even know her real name!”

Specs popped up from behind the statue at the sound of her name. “Um, actually, as the Primary Investigator for the University, you technically work for me-”

“See? Learning about your coworkers is always a drag. Get your boots on, we’re headed to the sewer!”

Vicente stayed where he stood. “Well, the thing is…”

“I get it, I get it. Take these fragments from the last jewel we tried as hazard pay. Just think about how with the three credit hours, you won’t have to take Galactic Dynasties 101!”

Vicente was shocked. The jewel fragments were more than he made at his last job in three months. He might even be able to pay for his mom to see a doctor. “Thank you,” was all he managed to say.

“No problem, kid, just sell it fast because all this stuff is cursed. We’ll have tons of jewels like that after we raid tomb. Some we can even keep for ourselves! Now pack up our stuff!”

Vicente rolled the Staff of Khar back into its cloth wrap and picked up Spec’s stack of books. Scout had peed on every statue in the octahedron before he had finished.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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


Wanted to wait until I had a draft to commit as this week got busy late at night

Chernobyl Princess posted:

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.

a friendly penguin posted:

Tars Tarkas – The Octahedron

Chekhov’s dog. This is trying to be fun and lighthearted, but it’s also trying too many things for the word count and instead of people feeling as if they have characteristics and goals I care about, they’re all just punchlines. This also suffers for having no single central goal. All of the goals that we see in scene are achieved with no in-scene difficulties.

Descriptions of action and set dressing are short and sweet. Just enough to get an idea of where they are and what’s going on which is perfect for a flash piece. But characters and direction are lacking.

Both perfectly fair, it is very obvious the original piece was way too long and busy. This week's will hopefully be better structured without me throwing everything in I can think of that doesn't need to be there. Can you tell I'm used to just writing long rambling things?

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

The Dance
1497 words

As the light receded and darkness won, the mayfly searched for a safe space to molt into his final form. The excitement of finally being able to perform the Dance almost eclipsed all other thoughts. Three bright lights glowed by the lake, a large rectangle between two smaller squares. That was not the watching moon, but these lights were attractive. The warmth that accompanied them was the big draw that drew him close.

The mayfly subimago flew into the larger rectangle of light. It was a cave! There were plenty of extrusions and dark cervices to hide and molt, keeping him safe from those that stalk in the dark until the light returned outside. After a bit of search, he found the perfect spot behind some large cylinders and set to work emerging as an adult.

The mayfly's mind was being reformed, thoughts of pond life faded to distant memories. Now the urge to perform the Dance was paramount. His body metamorphosed, the wings stronger, the legs longer, the genitals paired and activated. Very activated, it was as if they were issuing the commands to Dance. His whole being was bathed in the urge.

The imago form burst through his subimago’s exoskeleton as the mayfly left his immature stages behind. He was fully realized and knew that after the next light faded he would be no more. All that mattered now was the Dance. It began at first light, the mayfly stayed put to keep safe, positioned to admire the night stars from one of the square cave openings. He never had a good look at them in his years in the pond, going that close to the surface was dangerous.

Shortly before light broke, sounds of a giant rumbled as it stomped through the cave, its deep voiced boomed out as it harvested the bounty that lay inside. It had a form of bioluminescence that flashed around the cave as it stomped. There was a large slam, and the pounding steps grew softer as it returned back the outside, towards the lake. The mayfly chanced a look, and saw to his puzzlement the largest entryway to the cave had disappeared. Perhaps the giant had dislodged rock slide. The two smaller square entrances remained, and through the one he spied through he saw the glow that preceded the breaking of the light. It was time to get ready for the Dance!

He flapped his mature wings, pausing to appreciate the boost in power. The increase in speed and lift would be amazing! He could not hold back and took off, circling the interior of the cave a few times as he grew comfortable with his new body. One pass knocked over a colorful rectangular container that was lighter than it looked, it tumbled to the floor, spilling its contents, brightly colored triangles. They smelled full of complex nutrition that he would have loved as a nymph had the triangles landed in the pond. Now with no functional mouth, they were just curiosities. There was no time to investigate, all he required was the Dance. He headed out one of the two smaller exits.

What is this? Something refused to let the mayfly pass through! Some sort of invisible barrier was keeping him inside. He tried again and again.




This cannot be! He must perform the Dance!

The mayfly doubled, tripled, hundred-folded his efforts. The barrier would not yield. The lake remained tantalizingly in sight but out of reach. He saw the first Dancers arriving and starting their moves. The mayfly tried the other small exit only to find a barrier there as well. The mayfly was stunned, he did not know what to do. All he wanted, all he lived for was the Dance. He saw the promised land, but could not enter it.

The mayfly landed on a high shelf and surveyed the cave. There were multiple ledges at regular intervals, each packed with mysterious items the giant rummaged through. The far wall had more items hung in a display. Perhaps this was a worship temple, instead of the Dance in public, the giants would Dance in private. The mayfly did not want to anger the gods the giants Danced for, perhaps that was why the barriers formed.

His perch allowed him to see outside the closest portal. The lake was beautiful in the light, but not as beautiful as what he could see of the Dance happening above it. Untold numbers of mayflies engaged in a complex display, living their brief adult life to the fullest in hopes of attracting the highest quality of mates.

Maybe the way out is open! He tried again, but was still prevented from exiting towards the lake. The other square opening continued to be barred by the barrier too. The mayfly traced the outline of the entrance, looking for any weak spot he could fly through.

Exhausted, he landed at the bottom of a square entrance. There, he recoiled at a grisly sight. Dozens of bodies, a few insects he recognized and many he did not. Worst of all was two other mayfly corpses, long dried up. All trapped forever in this cave for all eternity. It was a trap, and he fell for it.

Without any other recourse, the mayfly mindlessly did the Dance by himself, a lone production mirroring the countless swarm happening just outside. As he flew up, down, left, right, forward, back, he saw moves performed by some of the Dancers that he began to mimic too. Soon he had swirls, loops, and all sorts of flourishes. He couldn't be in the big Dance, but he was doing his own solo production. Perhaps that would be enough tribute, he may not find a partner but may still attain salvation.

After a few hours he was on another break. The light outside was beginning to fade. The Dance was still ongoing, but the numbers were dwindling. He surveyed the cave again before it got too dark.

The triangles were moving!

That demanded a closer look. He flew lower to inspect. They weren't moving by themselves, there was something else down there. A lot of somethings. Innumerable tiny insects! The mayfly saw they were working together to move, dismantle, and collect the triangles. In a sense, they were doing a Dance of their own.

The mayfly watched them work, fascinated by creatures both similar but so different. He was so absorbed it took him a while to realize the insects had to have come from somewhere. THEY COULD GET OUT OF THIS CAVE!

The mayfly darted to action, swooping down low and buzzing the tiny insects. They remained focused on their work. They were formed in a line, as if they were directing the solution for the mayfly. He followed to a crack in the corner that they were marching through. It was small. Maybe too small.

The mayfly hustled into a gap in their Dance line and squeezed in. He did not want to disrupt their Dance, instead becoming part of it. What mayfly could claim to be part of so many Dances? He got to the crack, but his wings were too tall! He could not fit. The tiny insect behind him paused, bewildered, antennae wiggling. He was disrupting their Dance. He had to hurry, he had to get through. The mayfly leaned so he was almost horizontal, a move from his own Dance, and squeezed to get through. It was failure, he was stuck. He could not risk hurting his wings, so he did the only thing he had left, he pushed through and ripped off two legs.

The pain exploded in his head, overloading all the other senses. But he was free! He was out of the cave! He wobbled a few steps, his four remaining legs barely strong enough to hold up his body. The pain began to fade as he spread his wings and took off! He whizzed to join the Dance. Joy of his newfound freedom caused an exuberance to his moves, he flew corkscrews, loops, even a triangle pattern to celebrate his release. He also flew the moves he instinctively knew - exact, precise, and deliberate. The mayfly had already switched through multiple patterns when the female grabbed him. Mating occurs in the air, and the mayfly had attracted one of the few remaining females. It was magical, and it was the only thing holding his body together.

After that brief moment of triumph, the mayfly irregularly descended near the shoreline. His energy was drained. He crawled under a large bush as the light dimmed. He watched the Dance dwindle with fewer and fewer participants. There would be a new Dance next year, with a new generation of mayflies. A few years later, the children he sired tonight would participate in their own Dance. The mayfly left the world just before the light did, staring at the stars, wondering if they would watch his children Dance.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Hey, can I get a discord invite too? The one higher on this page is no longer valid


Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

no busy life chores this week (so far!) which means IN and gimme a song please thanks

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Rance Bammer and the Lost Idol of Kumatt
1549 words

“We’ve spent three hundred years and sixty-thousand ships searching for the Lost Idol of Kumatt, and now it will finally pay off!” Fleet Commander Rance Bammer announced to his gathered captains as they examined the map of the Omelon system. After annihilating the Kuthin Rebels, the data scavenged from their ruined ships provided the clue they needed to go to Omelon. It was an ancient diary from the Grand Emperor’s missing son, who fled with the Idol twelve centuries prior.

“It’s here, somewhere. We’ve divided the system into zones, your ships will be assigned an amount dependent on your size. The Idol is top priority, over supply recovery or crew rest. You have your assignments. Dismissed!”

The fleet scattered in the Omelon system like leaves in the wind, each headed to their assigned search location. Rance had saved the most likely plums for himself. Where else could the Idol be than at a temple named for the missing son, Polobonia? Finding the Idol would cement his family’s legacy in the Star Empire and give him the accolades he needed to gain access to actual immortality. The pseudoinfinity drugs he had been taking the past few centuries were becoming less and less effective. He even thought he saw a few gray hairs creep in. Rance had ordered his doctor killed for that failure. There could be no hint of old age, no hint of weakness if he wanted to use his position to gain access to the Grand Emperor’s court. Even perhaps be adopted into the Grand Emperor’s legacy line?

Bammer landed near the temple with his usual survey crew. Science Lord Flong, Geology Lord Boffo, Artificial Construct 31-55, and the nameless Spidergong whose antennarms were attuned to the frequency of the Idol of Kumatt’s warp accelerator. All top crew, all projecting the aura of youthful confidence the Star Empire demanded. A lone White Monk stood at the entrance of the Polobonia Temple, Rance scoffed to himself at the dust on the man’s white robe.

“The Unclean may not sully this sacred space!” the White Monk announced. The survey crew did not even slow down, 31-55 waved his left arm at the White Monk, who screamed as his body burned away to ash. They burst through the temple’s grand doors. The first room was empty, there was no exit out of it save to back outside.

“This can’t be right. Find the secret entrance!” Rance demanded. They spread around the white room, examining every micron of its round walls for something. Anything. The Spidergong sat in the center of the room, its antennarms inactive. Nothing was found.

“The unclean will find only emptiness here!” declared the White Monk. As everyone saw him killed mere minutes ago, his reappearance in a sealed room was most alarming. Rance grabbed him before 31-55 burnt the Monk away once more.

“What is this? We serve the Grand Emperor!” Rance suddenly pulled away, he had saw his own hands when they grabbed the Monk, they looked eighty years older than the rest of his body. It was starting! His body was breaking down, the pseudoinfinity drugs had become ineffective. He needed to solve this mystery soon, or he would waste away in this empty room with this crazed Monk.

“I serve a higher power,” the White Monk stated flatly. “You want into another room? Granted!”

The color suddenly shifted from white to blue. The walls were the same featureless room, but now they were blue. His team was tinted blue. Rance looked at his body, he was not tinted like the others, but his once black hair was now gray. Geology Lord Boffo began juggling blue flames, now wearing a unitard.

“What is this sorcery?” Rance demanded of the White Monk. But the White Monk was gone.

“Sir?” asked 31-55. Its eyes blinked off and on.

“Where did the White Monk go?”

“This unit ashed him outside the temple.”

“He was just here! The room was white, and why is Boffo juggling?”

“The room has always been blue, sir. Who is Boffo?”

“A better question to ask,” said the Blue Monk, “is why aren’t you juggling!” He burst into laughter. Rance swung at him, but the Blue Monk moved faster than light and Rance’s fist found empty air. As he recovered the swing, the room was now green, and 31-55 was now dressed in a top hat and sawing Science Lord Flong in two.

Rance raised his arm again to grab 31-55, but his arthritis racked his body. He fell to the floor, too in pain to speak. He saw his gray hair now scattered across the ground.

“The greatest trick of the ages!” announced 31-55. Flong just smiled as the saw sliced through him.

“Poor Rance, should have never tried were you not clean!” the Green Monk said.

Rance grit his teeth and stood despite the pain. “Surrender the lost Idol!” he ordered. The dentures he was now wearing flew from his mouth as he spoke.

“Why, Rance, you seem to be falling to pieces!” the Green Monk mocked. He laughed and spun, vanishing behind a juggling Boffo. Rance chased, but the room was yellow by the time he reached Boffo. The Monk was not around, but the Spidergong was now an animal that he had seen in ancient Earth record tapes called a gorilla. It had joined the performance and was now prancing around with the other crew.

“Okay, ‘Yellow’ Monk, let’s just cycle through all the colors and get to the end of this!” Rance pouted in the center of the room, his former crew now circling him. He ignored the juggling, the flipping, the robot pulling creatures out of its hat. After he reclaimed the Idol he would bombard this planet down to its molten mantle.

“End?” the voice of the Monk spoke. “What makes you think this has an end? Or a beginning?”

Rance rolled his eyes at that, just as the room went purple. Boffo was now juggling heads with flaming eyes, it was the heads of the crew. Including Boffo’s own head, which was not attached to his body. All of the crew still pranced around dancing and clapping without their head, including the gorilla. Rance sat on the floor, even sitting caused every muscle in his body to feel like they were set on fire.

“You’re the Emperor’s Lost Son, aren’t you, Monk? Playing one final game before your father comes to smite you. I hope you are enjoying yourself.”

“We are beyond games,” said the Purple Monk. “The Lost Son died long ago. We are but echos of the Idol of Kumatt now. As are you, Rance Bammer.”

“If I am part of your Idol, then why aren’t I being affected like the others?”

“In truth, we offer a deal, we can return the Lost Idol of Kumatt and the body of your Grand Emperor’s son, but you will stuck here, now, trapped in time, permanently at the level of health you are in now. Or we restore you to youth, gift you immortality, and you lead our fleet in rebellion against the Grand Emperor.”

“What? That’s it?”

“You have two color cycles to make your decision. After that, your body will decay too far to save.”

Rance felt his body decline in every atom of his body. He could not stand this body as it was. To be trapped this way for eternity was beyond torture. No matter the grand accolades he had won in service of his Grand Emperor, they were not worth the pain and helplessness. “No need to wait. Give me the immortality.”

“My son, and I truly mean my son, you have chosen poorly!” the Grand Emperor declared.

“What? How?” The lights in the room switched back to white. Doors opened in the smooth room, and technicians strolled through them. One carried a wheelbarrow full of android monks dressed in various colors, Rance heard them recite sentences he heard earlier as they moved past. The members of his crew had their heads back and were now getting snacks from a craft table. “How could this be a set? We’ve been searching for this Idol for three centuries!”

“There was no Lost Idol of Kumatt. There was only this test! It is long by necessity, we even ran a few other tests during yours!” The Grand Emperor leaned forward to whisper into Rance’s ear, “You have been the only one of sons I hoped would pass. But you FAILED!” He shook his head. “Trapped in time, permanently? What nonsense!”

The Grand Emperor stood up and walked towards his waiting aide, Barkle Toothgrowl, as Rance stammered, unable to speak with that revelation. The Grand Emperor did not even turn to watch 31-55 turn his son into ash. “Which of my children are we testing next?”

Barkle looked at his datapad. “One of your daughters was raised by farmers. We are setting up the old ‘get her to join the rebels then find out she is your daughter’ trick. First we have to set up another rebellion.”

“A classic, a classic!”

“My Lord, a question. Why the elaborate tests? We could easily just run a simulation on all your secret offspring to find an heir?”

“What can I say, it’s boring being Grand Emperor!”

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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


Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Tyrannosaurus posted:

This isn't the dream but a little bit of context: I dreamed of the same places often and sometimes, even when I was asleep, I was capable of recognizing that. This was one of those situations. In the dream, I was on the bank of a specific river, one where I'd been dragged under by a gator an uncountable number of times. I realize that I was baptized here when I was younger. It was at one of those real old timey religion, Evangelical revival type things. Take you into the river and dunk you. Full submersion baptism. And I know that I'm dreaming. And I know that, eventually, somehow, for some reason, I'm gonna end up in that water and an alligator is gonna death roll me. I'm wearing these fancy dress shoes I bought in the 9th grade and wore every day to school because I wanted to look sophisticated. They're muddy now. I take them off, take off my slack, my dress shirt, fold everything real neat and lay it on the grass. I walk into the water. When the gator's head emerges in front of me, I place my right arm in it's mouth like Tyr with Fenrir and it takes me under.

The Interpretation:
You're both stuck on renewal and stuck on the inevitability of your demise. You want a fresh start, but the starts are laced with danger. The danger is there, so you just step right into it, again and again. Each attempt to create a new life has just ended with the life destroyed, even for the smallest of reasons, and you come crawling back to renew again. Like a video game character running through a 40 life cheat code. Problem is, there is only a finite number of lives, a finite number of renewals. You've gotten to comfortable with your cycle of renewal, you might have even missed the extra lives counter ticking down to zero. Better do something about that gator, then!

The Story:

As I Went Down In The River...
1664 words

The river was calm and the current lazy, yet the water retained a look of murk and clouded mud. The participants hummed sweet hymns and wore their whitest whites, to symbolize the purity they hoped to attain. It did not matter that the rebirth turned their whites a brownish-gray that even the fancy name-brand detergents could not remove. A man screamed above the din of the hymnal, promising purity in the midst of fire and hellstorm. This was his production, and he was the ringmaster.

That was the memory, at least. Jackson stared at the riverbank from so long ago. The current was quicker than before, but the murk remained. The church had long ago collected enough donations to purchase land up-river, where the water was actual shades of blue. No one came down here now, the fishing was as bad as the view, rusted food processing plants pumping their grime into the flow. Jackson was unsure of why he was even there. Maybe because all those graphic design classes lead him to a career slinging lattes. Jackson spied wooden sticks shaped into crosses discarded among the tree line. As a child, Jackson had gripped his cross tight while he was submerged. Later, he buried it in the backyard, that was eleven houses ago.

Jackson hadn’t even noticed he was in the water until it was up to his waste. The mud squished between his toes, his left hand gripping a still filthy stick cross. He took one last look at the clothes he had folded oh so neatly upon the fallen log, then leaned back. Whatever Jackson expected, this was not it. The same feeling of renewal was not present. Perhaps without the pastor…

Still submerged, Jackson opened his eyes. The first surprise was the water was a lot clearer beneath the surface. The second was the alligator studying him. Jackson panicked for a whole second before old memories welled to the surface. The familiar face of the alligator, the comforting feel of the warm water. The alligator’s eyes had a look of warmth. It opened its mouth, but did not move an inch. It was simply waiting.

Under any normal circumstance, Jackson would have sprinted for the surface the moment he saw the creature. Now Jackson just hesitated. Were his memories and dream fragments correct? Or was he about to become dinner? The alligator continued to hold in place, jaws open. Jackson placed his left arm into the jaw of the beast. Religion was about faith, right?

The gator closed its snout with professional restraint, then zoomed away, taking Jackson with it. Jackson looked and saw the bright lights, the enormous domes. The underwater city awaited him again. His dreams had merged with memories of long past to create a haze even he could not be sure of the accuracy.

The gator popped through an invisible barrier and reached air and dry ground. Several men stood waiting, wearing important robes and brandishing intricate staffs. “Come with us!” boomed the one with the fanciest staff. “But first, your admittance cross!”

Jackson remembered. The tests awaited! He handed over his wooden cross and went with the men. “Back again?” chastised the fanciest staffed man. “Birth is a process, not a switch. You got to work for it.” Thus Jackson worked through the Seven Challenges. The first six were always a breeze, it was the Final Challenge that always took the most time and effort.

“Reassemble this puzzle,” ordered another staffed man. He waved at a pile of puzzle pieces on a nearby table.

Simple enough, except all the pieces were the same shade of dark blue on both sides. None of them were end pieces. The only exception was a singular piece made of solid gold, with one flat edge.

“You must try to hurry. Before the alligator gets hungry.” the fanciest staffed man said. Jackson set to work. He never really cared for puzzles, but soon found himself in a zen state trying all sides of all pieces into each other. Before he knew it, he had a big ugly blob of puzzle pieces connected together. Try as he might, the golden piece did not fit anywhere. He tried every open connection, every direction, but nothing.

“That piece is part of your puzzle, but not part of that puzzle,” announced the fanciest staffed man. “Only when you figure out the solution, will you find the peace you are searching for. Now hurry, the alligator may not be hungry yet.”

The men guided Jackson back towards the entrance to await the alligator’s return. It swam closer, ready to transport Jackson up to the surface. It looked different this time, its eyes glared at Jackson with a hunger. It’s mouth salivated and dripped, dropping back into the water. It opened its mouth.

“Too late, kid! I hunger!”

Jackson shivered, and gripped the golden piece tight.

“That means it’s time for my lunch break!” The alligator pulled a lunch bag out of its pocket. “You’ll have to wait until the hour is up!”

Relief washed through Jackson as he breathed again. “Might as well join me, kid! Those staff guys only eat back in their tower.” The alligator strode over to a park bench and started pulling food from his bag. It looked like human fingers in hot dog buns. The alligator spread ketchup on them, stating “Mustard is for cowards!” He started shoving them into his jaws. “So, why are you back again?”


“Most people, they come through here once, get renewed, no problems. Occasionally we get some poor soul who lost their way, did something terrible, no problem. The pastors collect their tithes either way. But you, this is the ninth time you’ve been here! You can’t possibly be sinning that much!”

“I don’t know. Sometimes I just feel like I need a fresh start. Things never go the way I plan, it just seems easier to restart, you know?”

The alligator stuffed finger dogs into his mouth as Jackson spoke. “What you’re doing isn’t a fresh start, kid. You’re not even starting! You are addicted to a feeling of a time and trying to permanently stay there. It’s just unhealthy mentally, and it gives us all extra work!”

Jackson considered what the alligator was saying. He didn’t feel like he was accomplishing anything, all he was doing was returning to restart his life. He was forever in search of a perfect beginning to the new life. Maybe the alligator was right, maybe all the time spent looking for perfect beginning was keeping him from actually living. He was about to thank the alligator when he noticed the gator had finished all his food.

“All done here, kid! Time for you to go home.” Jackson saw the alligator was still looking at him with the peculiar hunger he had when he first laid eyes on him. A sense of dread cast over him. Perhaps a sense of inevitability. The pair walked back towards the entrance, the alligator slipping back into the water and raising its jaw. Jackson paused, then gripped his gold puzzle piece tighter. The dream fragments in his mind were screaming, but he couldn’t remember what they were saying. He extended his left arm and put it into the alligator’s mouth. The gator clamped down, just hard enough to get a firm grip, then began to swim to the surface.

Maybe I’m just paranoid, Jackson thought as they rose in the water. Just then he felt the shift, the alligator was gripping tighter. The uncomfortable press was now painful from the pressure. He looked, he saw the eyes of the alligator. He heard in his mind “Sorry, kid, turns out I’m still hungry. A gator’s gotta eat!”

The gator spun rapidly, yanking Jackson along for the ride. Jackson was also suddenly aware that he couldn’t breathe. That had never been a problem before, but it definitely was now, his lungs were screaming for air! The twisting, the pain, the burning chest. Jackson opened his eyes and saw red trails in the water. His blood! He could not even attempt to scream.

Jackson did have the golden puzzle piece. He desperately swung it with his one free arm, aiming for anywhere he could connect on the alligator. His mind was going cloudy, his brain getting fuzzy without oxygen. He kept swinging, unaware if was connecting, hoping the swirls of his crimson blood was joined by the alligator’s own. All went black.

Jackson awoke on the shore, his back damp from water, but his front half dried from the afternoon sun. He sat up, and saw he had both of his arms. The left one now had old scars that looked like teeth marks. His right hand still gripped tight to a golden prize, it’s shape now recognizable as the wooden cross he carried into the river. How it had become solid gold was a mystery that the river would keep.

His clothes were folded where he left them, except for his fancy dress shoes. They were missing, but Jackson found a pair of alligator skin boots in their place. Hesitant to wear them at first, now he never takes them off.

No one ever used the river for baptisms ever again. Preachers just got bad feelings and went elsewhere, while the former church sold their river property and bought a lake. Jackson never felt the need to refresh again, he was too busy working and living his life. Once he felt nostalgia for his old spiritual haunt, but when he returned, the magic just wasn’t there. No alligator came to escort him, and no underwater city was present when he peered beneath the murky river.

Jackson had his own life and a newfound zest for it. His acquaintances and strangers noticed his hungry eyes, and some were afraid. A few who had found religion of their own recognized a kindred spirit, nodded, and strutted away wearing their own pair of alligator boots.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄|
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/   づ

Uranium Phoenix
The Work

I thought this was one of the better concepts of the week, though it doesn't really go anywhere. Which is part of the concept, Senya didn't go anywhere, she was trapped in the same hell she tried to escape. It echoes the feeling of right now in history watching this planet go to pieces and not being able to do anything. This concept would work perfectly as part of a larger story (I read in one of the other crits it's inspired by a book on my to-read list, it also reminded me of a story set up as a wikipedia entry about a bootable consciousness), the good part about concepts is you can just do your own version of it and it will be radically different from others. Good stuff!

Court Case #TYR509 - Exhibit F

Awesome debut, love the format, did sort of remind me of some chat/IM based stories I read recently. Reread the beginning about halfway through as I started to get confused with the story flow (time travel or clones?) then got it after that. Ending felt rushed but as someone who works in research I've seen a lot of logs with similar terse writing (I do it myself if nothing weird is going on) Usually there are more unexplained terms in those logs that outsiders wouldn't understand, but this seemed like a combo journal/lab notebook so she may not do that. Enjoyed a bit of the vagueness as there are a few possibilities about Ryan which could go either way. Is it IBEX because that's close to TREX aka Tyrannosaurus? Good stuff!

My story trapped between two strong entrants is another reminder to up my game. Hope my crits weren't too useless, hard to give advice to already good stuff. I do like the chain crits thing and think it should be semi-perminent as a suggestion (not required)

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

In and deal me a card!

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Tarot card – Death

Welcome To The Eternal Empire - 992 words

Hextember 13, 631 (Year of Dog)

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

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

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

Mrelsh 5, 633 (Year of Oxen)

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

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

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

Mrelsh 7, 641 (Year of Rat)

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

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

Mrelsh 6, 664 (Year of Frog)

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

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

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

Fawntobre 17, 667 (Year of Dragon)

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

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

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

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

In on the work prompt

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Week 517 entry
1101 words

Sleep All Night and Work All Day

John Timbers silently swore as the coffee he was pouring spilled on his hand. He was running behind and today was the big pitch to the mystery client. Little Jacob had been up most of the night crying, and Melanie needed her rest if she was going to handle a gassy baby all day. He wiped up the coffee and grabbed some heavy cream, it smelled as if it was turning but not quite yet, so he loaded up the coffee. A kiss to Jacob and Melanie, then grabbing his briefcase and he was out the door. Melanie's "Good luck!" rang in his ear while John ignored the frantic texts of coworkers who had been working overnight. He'd address them on the train, but for now it was driving time, and nothing was going to stop blasting Journey as he zoomed over the speed bumps towards the station.

The train was running late, so late the one that arrived was supposed to be there twenty minutes earlier. There was just enough room for John to squeeze onboard, but not enough to type quickly with one hand explaining to Simmons how to reset the copier. Seriously, Simmons, just wait until I'm in to print copies of the media spend plans. At least Kathy's presentation order suggestion was legitimate, and probably correct. The boss Sarah Fillman insisted the clients wanted it all hush-hush so no one would know anything until the meeting began, which had put most the office into a panic cycle. Not John, he could move in the moment and already had half-thought ideas for over a dozen industries. John was still typing off a reply to Barb when the train hit Lone Pine Station and he walked off with the crowd. By the time he hit send, he noticed the crowd was keeping its distance. He looked up to see a man glaring at him, blocking his path.

"Excuse me," John said, attempting to go around. The man moved to block him.

"Jonathan Noah Timbers," the man said. John paused at hearing his full name, usually only spoken by his angry mother. He gripped his suitcase tighter.

"Who wants to know?" John replied.

The man grinned at that response, teeth yellow behind a bushy dark red beard. "It is you, Jonathan. You've been a very bad boy. You are coming with me!" He reached out.

John dodged to the side. "I don't have time for this today!" he said as he pushed by.

"You have to come back, Jonathan. You have to come back to the forest!"

John froze. Suddenly he realized the man was wearing a flannel shirt. He hadn't been in the forests for years, not since he quit and moved back to the city. He turned to look at the man.

"You broke it, Jonathan."

Broke? John had not broken anything. "What are you talking about?"

"You broke the Lumberjack's Code! Now it is time to pay!"

"Look, friend, I quit being a lumberjack years ago."

"No one quits, Jonathan, not without facing the tribunal. You are coming back with us!"

"Us?" John asked, then he saw them. The twins, Jeff and Jim, dressed in the same red and black flannel as the man before him. They were walking slowly, carrying a big two-man saw between them with smaller axes strapped to their sides. He had worked crews with both twins, Jeff was far more reasonable than Jim, but they were both excitable and mean.

"Huh huh huh!" laughed Jeff and Jim. "We will take your flannel!"

"Jeff, Jim, I'm not wearing flannel, not since I left. I’m no longer satisfied with just chopping things down, I want to build things up. Please, go back to the forests and let me live my life."

"Your life is lumberjack life, and lumberjack life is our life!" yelled the stranger, and the twins charged. John sighed, then sprung into action. He leapt into the air and landed on the side of the big saw carried between them, forcing it down. The twins barely had time to turn their heads before John’s blows reached their faces. The force knocked each twin flying in opposite directions, Jeff slammed into the wall and shattered tiles, while Jim tumbled into the tracks. John stood atop the saw, then jabbed the blade with his heel and snapped it in two. The station signal for an incoming train rang in the air.

"You better get your brother," John warned the groaning Jeff. John advanced towards the stranger, who stood still in shock. He tried to back away slowly, swinging an ax. John easily swiped it from him and broke the handle over his knee, tossing the ax head aside. He shoved the snapped handle stub into the man’s hand and grabbed him by his flannel shirt. "Take this back to the Chief Operators and tell them don’t EVER come after me again, understand?"

"H-h-how?!" gasped the stranger. "You aren't wearing the flannel!"

A gust of wind from the incoming train caused John's tie to flutter. On the back, a stripe of flannel was visible. John winked and then headbutted the stranger, who fell unconscious. “I lied, friend.” He ripped the stranger’s flannel, a mark of shame that would take the stranger months to earn new red and blacks. It would maybe give John a few months of peace. Jeff and Jim watched John pick up his suitcase and leave from the platform's edge, they made no move to stop him.

John arrived to work almost forty-five minutes late. The team was in chaos, the clients were due to arrive soon, and Sarah Fillman was running around trying to organize. She was excited, this was the biggest client her firm had ever had the opportunity to pitch, and they had approached Fillman & Associates’ advertising firm first! After a few minutes, John had his team in order and helped Sarah whip the rest into shape, and the whole company waited as Darren brought in the clients. Half a dozen important looking people in crisp suits marched in and began shaking everyone's hands. John noticed the long beards, the firm grips, their friendly eyes switching to all-consuming hatred when they caught his. That's when John found out who this mystery client was.


The clients had blocked the door, and were all tearing off their white shirts to reveal red and black flannel underneath their suit jackets. The whole firm was confused, except for John, who unlocked his briefcase and pulled out two short axes.

"I should have insisted this was a Zoom," John sighed. "Typical Monday."

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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


Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Week 520 entry

994 words

Save A Million Dreams!
Help Grandma Bear Beat Cancer!
Together We Spay All the Cats!
Give Clarence A Decent Funeral!

Debs Miller watched the numbers roll in on those GoFundUs fundraisers. She was proud of their take, and why shouldn’t she be? She set them all up, and all those thousands of donations were going right into her pocket.

Debs didn’t set out to be the Queen of GoFundUs, but after seeing far too many of her friends and family post fundraisers on Facebook, some quite successful, the lure of money was too strong to resist. She went from an initial test post to an entire racket. Debs had to set up spreadsheets to keep track of the legion of fraudulent accounts, fake photos – Debs switched from photoshop to AI generated images, and social media histories. She is paying a writer to plant fake news articles, thanks to the death of journalism it became far too easy to get published if you give the “news” away! Debs even has a contact at GoFundUs who makes sure some of her fundraisers get promoted in exchange for a small fee.

Originally Debs justified this because of her loans, her mom’s medical debt, her no-good brother’s child support payments. The truth of the matter is, Debs just wanted the money. She hid it well, still living in the same trailer she had when she started, but she had almost half a million squirreled away in different accounts. It was almost enough.

Until that bitch showed up!

Someone had stolen the sweet spot, getting the top placements above actual fundraisers, and even worse, were placed above Debs’s planted fundraisers. The stories looked real, only Debs trained eye recognized the pattern. One techniques for success is to copy the styles of stories that go viral, and soon Debs noticed her postings were being mimicked. They even fundraised off a fake mass shooting Debs and her writer spend a month planning! It went viral on Twitter, but this new person somehow got their imagined victim’s fundraiser higher in the algorithm and raked in three times the cash.

No one stays on top forever, but Debs was not about to relinquish her crown to some upstart. The resentment from being cut from dance squad in school one too many times festered, now Debs never settled for second best. She only wanted to retire on her terms. Beyond that, too many frauds would spoil the con.

This new person was good, separate accounts on all the payments, AI generated pictures, writing just amateurish enough to look real (if the stories are too copy-edited they just sound fake!) There were even updates from the happy families, and even videos using actors. Just apply a bunch of filters and suddenly you have a grieving widow, a family that can't pay for mom's funeral, or desperate people needing insulin or baby formula.

Despite the skill, they made one mistake. They pissed off Debs. Okay, they made two mistakes. An email accounted was connected with enough real people that Debs could use that to triangulate their real identity. Thanks to a decade of weaving false identities, Debs knew all the tricks to reverse and follow the breadcrumbs until she found them.

Devon Marie Robinson. That bitch!

Not only that, Devon Robinson lived only three hours away! Debs didn't own a car, she needed to keep invisible in case someone tried to backtrack her. But her no good brother Dalton had one. She even thought about leaving him a note, but he was still passed out from last night's bender. He'd probably just think he left it parked downtown again. The tires kicked up gravel and dust as she peeled out. She didn’t know what she’d do, but she eyed Dalton’s Beretta M9 she had taken from the glove box and placed on the seat. It seemed to know what to do.


GoFundUs CEO Brogan Bartlett dropped by Knowledge Manager Kellan Smith’s office with a bottle of Merlot. “Kel, it’s time to celebrate! GoFundUs just had a record breaking quarter, and the publicity boost from those scammers going down will drive a round of new users!”

Kellan smiled as he took his glass. “I heard those two ladies shot each other and half a subdivision, strange to think they were responsible for almost all of the fake fundraisers posted. Finally, the site will be legitimate!”

“Hate to break it to you, Kel, but we are continuing their fundraisers. From now on all their new crowdsourcing will go directly to GoFundUs, that way we get 100% of the money. I've even retained the same ghost writers, they work for pennies compared to how much the last team cost.”

“Wow, Brogan, that's crazy. I had no idea this company was so ruthless.”

“If you think that is crazy, wait until you see our stock prices after next quarter’s earnings report! The reservations will melt away." The CEO raised a glass. "To the stock price tripling!"

"I'll drink to that!" Kel took a big swig of the wine. "Are you sure all our bases are covered? I'd hate for this to blow up in our faces after how bad this press was."

"Don't worry, Kel. I've made sure to tie up all the loose ends." Brogan nodded towards the glass of wine Kel just drank from. Kel’s eyes widen, but suddenly he grabs at his chest, unable to speak. “It will look like a heart attack,” Brogan continued. “You just worked yourself to death! Too busy not letting me in on your cut of promoting the sham postings. Of course, there will be a fundraiser for your wife and kids. They might even see some of the money.” The CEO leaned close. “But GoFundUs will see most of it!”

Help an Innocent Bystander Walk Again!
Let’s Help Debs Get a Proper Lawyer!
Get a New Car For a Poor Single Father!
Give a Father of Three a Proper Send-off!

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Gang brawl

The Golden Ear
491 words

Years ago Morgan saw the Golden Ear. He was on the bus riding home from second grade, and saw the shining as they past the corn field. The second he hopped off the bus he sprinted back and grabbed it. The explosion flattened half an acre and knocked down the remains of the old Dairy Queen. Morgan was singed but lived, the Golden Ear vanished. Later he learned that you need to be one with the maize to be able to use the Golden Ear.

Morgan spent the past twelve years walking the rows. The detasseling jobs were an excuse to make some serious cash for a kid who would otherwise need a work permit, but also allowed access to the corn field itself. Access to its power. He would find the Golden Ear again, and gain the power of the Corn!

Near the end of the day, Morgan wasn’t even detasseling any longer, just searching. He dodged sweet Poppy, Farmer McBroom’s daughter, she was just a distraction. He heard the calling, felt it in his soul. Then he saw it, that flint of gold. Morgan raced, but just as he grabbed at the Golden Ear, another hand landed on the cob. Orville Ahabacher!

“That Ear is mine!” Orville declared.

“Never!” Morgan replied.

“We must settle this the olden ways!” Both Orville and Morgan pulled back, Orville ripping off his bow tie as it transformed into two razor sharp fans.

“That is not the technique I expected!” Morgan thought as he dodged the fans. Morgan had nunchucks fashioned from a rare heirloom corn, and swung them around, striking several blows on Orville’s body.

“You insolent child, I’ve been chasing the Golden Ear since your grandpappy was in diapers, and I will prevail!” Orville’s eyes glowed and he rose in the air. That’s when Morgan noticed Orville’s leg was not a leg at all, but a gigantic corn cob! Said corn cob leg then slammed Morgan’s face, flattening him.

“As a child, I did not have the strength to hold the Golden Ear, but at long last, it is mine!” Orville’s voice rang in Morgan’s head. All this work was for naught, now this freak was going to claim his prize. Morgan struggled up, it wasn’t over.

It was over. Orville did not claim the Ear, he looked with jaw agape at Poppy. The Golden Ear was part of her now, and she radiated a yellow glow. “I NO LONGER WALK AMONG THE ROWS, THE ROWS BEND TO ME!”

“NO!” yelled Orville, but a tangle of corn silk wrapped around him and pulled him into a giant husk. Morgan froze, unsure what to do. Poppy turned to him. “User of my heart! Face the wrath of the kernels!” A constant popping sound emitted from her body as popped corn poured from her sleeves, the tide of which overwhelmed Morgan. His body fertilized next season’s corn. The pigs that ate it were delicious!

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Goat Army Gangfight entry

Greatest Of All Trojans
363 words

The guards watched in disbelief as the giant wooden goat was wheeled to the front of the fortress. The workers knocked on the gate lightly than ran back into the moonlight night. The Captain rolled his eyes, "The goat is full of soldiers, let's just go kill them." He picked a squad and opened the gates, creeping towards the statue. From inside, it sounded as if there was screaming going on. Whoever was packed inside was not having a good time.

The Captain tapped the pretty obvious door with his spear, and it fell forward into a ramp. Instead of human soldiers inside, a herd of goats burst forward, bleating and screaming. They started running everywhere as the soldiers just stared.

"Why would they give us a bunch of goats?" asked one guard.

"I don't know. Just round them all up, we can have goat stew tonight," the Captain replied. A chorus of cheers went up as the soldiers chased after the goats and began to drag them back inside the fortress. It was near dawn, the full moon was setting, and the cook was setting up the pots as the goats were herded in.

"Cut their necks and hang them up here!" the cook ordered.

"Uh, Cookie, this goat's neck won't stay cut!" exclaimed one of the guards.

"What in tarnation?" grumbled the cook. The latest draft had gotten troops even more useless than usual. "Let me see that. You see the proper way is to do it like this!" He gripped the goat's head and cut the throat. Blood spurted out, but then suddenly stopped. The neck was fully healed.

"WHAT IN TARNATION?" Cookie yelled.

The goat grabbed the knife. Its arms were human arms, its legs were human lets, and its head morphed into a human head.

"Thanks!" was all the man said before the stabbing spree began.

"They're were-goats!" the Captain yelled. By then it was too late, the outpost was overrun. A were-goat soldier lowered its flag and raised the army standard.

An advisor put down his spyglass. "My Lord, it worked again!" Lord William smiled, and ordered the army to wheel the goat to the next fortress.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

| GANG |
| CRITS!!! |
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/   づ

Huh, both the ones I got to crit were the winners, the lesson is just post right after me!

The Roundup
A nice slice of life from a possible future, a guy stuck to the old ways while the world moved on to the new ways, both of which are ahead of our current ways. Everyone with jobs has ran into the old coworker who still does things the way people stopped years ago, sometimes they make sense, sometimes not. I'm down on climate change stories as someone who is in the sciences but enjoyed the bit of optimism at the end.
Good defined character types, good world building, not sure if the info dump would work better spread out a bit and as part of conversation but maybe not.
Also your story seems to affect reality by winning coin flips so maybe take it to the store for some lotto numbers!

The Battle of Highway 17
I almost wrote something similar as I see goats on the regular in Palo Alto being used for lawn maintenance, and said goats would probably feel at home on the real life California Highway 17 full of its twists and turns over the mountain. Glad I did not as it wouldn't have measured up. Good descriptive vegetation work, thorny blackberries are a mess (at home we got ones specifically bred to not have thorns but sadly they taste too sour right now lol) Breanna has good characterization though I would have enjoyed more goat action than munches and the little bit at the end.

General advice for both - stop writing stuff so good it makes it hard for me to crit!

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

In, Omega, and please fill in my prompts

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

sebmojo posted:

A [Empire State Building] agonizes about [werewolf]
Agony and Empire
846 words

Over the years, the Empire State Building had been climbed by so many monsters that just the mere sight of some new giant parakeet or lizard caused the building to begin shuddering. The thought of a new monster free climbing up her side like it was a wall at the gym, disgusting! These monsters were rough, smashing up facades, breaking windows, rattling pipes. Some of them shed hair or skin, at least two built nests, there was one cocoon, and the janitors had never been able to remove the giant fleas from floor 63. Empire had been put on a top ten list for every monster to climb, and no monster wanted to be left out. It was repulsive!

The city council considered installing gripping handles to minimize facade damage and get the monsters up high faster so the assault planes could gun them down. That was vetoed when Iguanageddon ripped the Sears Tower out of his foundation using the climbing handles and hurled that poor building into the moon. Sears Tower used to tell the funniest jokes at the skyscraper parties, he even kept his good humor after being knocked off the tallest building list. Now he was the tallest building on the moon, though the Moonites vowed revenge on Earth despite the free building.

By the next full moon there was a gigantic werewolf stomping around New York City. Leather jacket, shirtless, ripped jeans, Elvis hair. This was a Party Werewolf! Empire could see it from half the city away. It took one look at the magnificent building, pointed, and howled, then started running towards it at full speed.

Oh no! Empire shuddered, cracks spreading along the exterior before it was even close. The workers on the scaffolding fled, just in time to avoid the tears. The spray of water from the pipes that burst, Empire twisting them in knots worried about how badly the Party Werewolf was going to shake them loose.

“Ha ha ha, you’re screwed!” laughed Freedom Tower.

“Shut up, Sam!” admonished Chrysler Building, her windows lighting up in a pattern that flashed a middle finger at the upstart tower. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. You know I’d help if I could!” Chrysler was Empire’s oldest friend, but what could a skyscraper do?

The Party Werewolf stomped closer, tanks and fighter jets blasting away, doing nothing but singeing the leather jacket. “Why aren’t those fools using silver?” Empire cried. “Nothing can stop the Party Werewolf. He’s going to bring down the whole block!” The bawling had gotten louder, manhole covers in the nearby street flew in the air as the sewer waters boiled, the pressures in the pipes below built up to the point where they just couldn’t take it. Sewer water sprayed everywhere, the civilians ran, even the brave few who had stayed during prior monster attacks. This one just felt different.

Chrysler was desperate to help her friend, if she wasn’t careful, she’d bring herself down before the Party Werewolf even got there. Chrysler turned on her color displays, and attempted to display a soothing pattern for Empire to focus on. “Empire, sweetie, stay with me! Look at the colors, don’t look at the street!”

That was easier said than done, the Party Werewolf was kicking tanks around like footballs and had somehow gotten a giant beer truck, which it was gorging on, oblivious to all the broken glass. With a final howl the Party Werewolf began his final charge at the Empire State Building.

“I can’t focus, Chrys! I can’t! There’s just too many. I’ve seen the end, and it’s howling this way!”

“Empire, I know it is rough, but you are strong and powerful! You can survive this! You can survive anything! These monsters all want to climb you, because YOU ARE THE BEST!”

“I’m not, I’M NOT!”

“Yes you are! Even with the Twins were here, who was the building everyone came to? You’re a legend for a reason, now you need to own that legend and show this Werewolf he is just a mangy mutt!”

“I, but I…” Empire saw the Party Werewolf stomping forward. Empire saw the mess in the streets, the sewer damage, the cracks, the chaos that accompanied so many nights like this.

“How many of these monsters have come for you, and you’re still standing?”

Empire realized there were so many, she couldn’t even count them all. Most were nameless, faceless, only a small few monsters achieving any sort of memory. She was the attraction. She was the reason they were here. She shifted her windows and flexed her lightning rod. “Someone tell the Party Werewolf…the party is over!” With a stretch, Empire seemed to grow taller, the outer decorations all smoothed flat, making any climb harder.

“That’s my Empire!” Chrysler beamed. The Party Werewolf halted when he reached 34th Street. He took one look at the smooth facade, and stared at the mess in the street. He was hesitating. Empire did not know if he would try to climb, but she was prepared if he did. This puppy was already neutered.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

I will take a spin for round 2 #spinthewheel

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Week 522: Omega Prompt #2
Wheel Prize - - $10 to the charity of your choice - I choose Friends of Watsonville Animal Shelter (FOWAS) as they helped us when we found a bunch of kittens we couldn't keep and have been donating to them annually ever since

Some Might Say I Am A Fan Of Cinema
1159 words

It was 1:30 AM when I stumbled across the list of film titles. The website was in Bengali, which at this point auto-translated poorly. Luckily a different film blog had put up the titles of their films in both English and Bengali script, and after some Find commands I knew what part of the title looked like in Bengali (or Bangla as almost everyone who spoke Bengali wrote it as online) and had a few potential candidates. A few Google searches later, and eight of the ten potentials were uploaded to YouTube or other streaming sites. All I had to do was flip through the timeline for a clue and identify the target.

The thing about Bangla films is they usually star the same few people, who will often appear in hundreds of films. This was actually very common in South and Southeast Asian cinema. It did make identifying which film was which all the tougher, as the star Manna was in every single candidate. Give each film a minimum run time of 150 minutes, and the prints looking like they were dragged behind a motorcycle through a swamp, the action films started to blur together. Then, by 2:30 AM, I spotted it. Manna was being operated on, and ancient computer graphics showed a robot. I had found it, a Bangladeshi knockoff of The Terminator and Robocop called Machine Man. I quickly downloaded the YouTube file, then safely stored the quarry away on an external hard drive.

What, watch the movie? My friends, I don't have time to watch. I'm too busy tracking down other prey. An Indian Spider-Man movie sponsored by a Milk Company? A Turkish version of Flash Gordon that aired on Turkish MTV when it was thought lost? An Indian film called King Kong, which co-stars a wrestler who was billed as King Kong, but is mostly influenced by Italian Peplum films despite star Dara Singh battling a random giant dinosaur in the first few minutes? I have them all. Some I've even watched! Over the years I have discovered, the joy isn't in watching the media, the joy is discovering it. The chase, the hunt, the thrill of discovery. I spent countless hours plugging away as my wife sleeps, the investigations keeping me awake more efficiently than any caffeine. Okay, I do admit I drank a lot of caffeine. In service of the hunt!

Over the years, the methods have changed. The late nineties was filled with scouring flea markets, thrift stores, and neat stores in ethnic neighborhoods. By the Napster era, DVDs had made film distribution much easier, and overseas a cheaper format known as VCD allowed studios to pump out hundreds of their back catalog into the hands of eager consumers. Many of those disks made it overseas, and I probably flipped past them with my fingers while tracking down something or other. Ebay opened doors that neighborhood shops could not, and fans would gleefully trade knowledge of which foreign movie shops would ship to America. I soon owned more VCDs and DVDs than I could ever watch in a lifetime. I had boxes of old VHS tapes, with artwork to delight or terrify, bearing no resemblance to the films they advertised in the slightest. The arrival of bittorrent made trading films easier than ever. Sure I want to buy a legit copy of the Turkish Wizard of Oz, but it was only released legally on VHS thirty-five years ago.

Digitizing became essential. I'd moved beyond the need for thousands of discs taking up space when they could be put in just a few hard drives. Out came my rare tapes—alternative cuts of Godzilla movies, recordings of television horror hosts I made as a child, Mystery Science Theater episodes with rights issues, corporate training videos—all dubbed to huge mpeg files and converted to custom disc images and stores in duplicate. Soon a few hard drives became more than a few, but they were all there, backed up and redundant. Plenty of discs I couldn’t give up even with backups in place. Physical media is superior, just takes up too much space. Yet the hunt never stopped. There were still films out there to discover. Whispers of new, weird and wonderful features. The lure, it pulls.

I've made a comfortable home in the tiny niche of people who watch global pop cinema. I run a site talking up all the things I found to let others know they exist. I've made friends across the globe due to shared interests. It became even an icebreaker, suddenly talking about movies from someone's homeland. Through that, I've found even more friends and more leads on neat films to find. There are dedicated film lovers who will throw a hundred Hong Kong films from the 1950s up on YouTube, all recorded off of network broadcasts and none released on any format ever. One of my local good friends was even more obsessed than I, and more importantly, a much better writer. He died way too early, but not without gifting the world with a massive amount of creative output. Cancer is a motherfucker. I'm attempting to live up to his example, worried I can only be a pale imitation. He’s even why I started writing fiction again, something I loved in high school but hadn’t touched in twenty years. Giving up never gets you anywhere, so I continue to strive. Working to become better, as a writer, as a promoter of neat and overlooked cinema, and at welcoming newcomers. Recent changes has made discovering new film harder than ever, and anything to break open that barrier is a win for everyone.

Even now, blessed with a young child, even less time than ever to watch strange things, the temptation is there. The list of celluloid targets to find never went away. There's even a list Holy Grails, lost films that will never be seen again by humankind. Yet, occasionally, one turns up. Hidden away in an attic, miraculously surviving world wars and mild humidity, meticulously restored by lovers of cinema. Often the films aren't even good or entertaining, but they exist, and they're fun to find and fun to talk about. I can spend hours explaining scattered history of Thai, Korean, Taiwanese, even Filipino cinema. They become more than just movies, it's a whole cinematic experience played out over hours, days, years on my laptop. I have a laundry list of films I search for news on every few months, and sometimes I get lucky. I don't think this impulse will ever go away, it's become a part of me. I'm just better at channeling it into being useful. After all, it is late at night again, and I got a lot of words to type up to get them out of me and where they belong. Then it’s time to check some film archive accounts on YouTube. See what got posted the past few weeks...

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

In on Omega Prompt #3

and SPIN THE WHEEL!!! #Spin #the #Wheel

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Omega Prompt #3
Wheel result - Birthdaytar

On the Way to Fuzzy Wuzzy World
226 words

The brochure was hidden among the dozens at the rack in the hotel lobby. Flipping through the procured advertisements, the carnival of colors promised hours of entertainment at Fuzzy Wuzzy World. Most of the rest were just dumped in recycling. The Statue was an afterthought, only five minutes out of the way on the Fuzzy route. They hurried ahead of the dark clouds, tumbled out of the car to see this statue. The great hero stood in the empty field, erected long before history by those long vanished, only the monument remained of their deeds. The daughter looked bored, the son tapped away on his phone, the mother frowned and went to wander in the field. The father stared, he could not look away. The statue grew large in his mind, he was lost in its eyes. He saw through the hero’s eyes. Centuries of history, lives of happiness and sadness. Good times and bad, war and peace. A people came together to build, to fight for freedom from tyranny, to create a great nation, and were destroyed by forces outside and in. An entire epoch in the blink of an eye. Lost in the splendor of what was. He didn't notice the rain starting until the mother tugged on his arm. The father was thankful the rain hid the tears. The statue continued to cry.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

In for Omega Prompt #4, give me a wizard! Give me a spin!

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Omega Prompt #4 entry for the wizard story!
Spin - Balance the stick WINNER! This time around, we made sure Chili couldn't cheat.
Wizard -

Sitting Here posted:

You see the flow of information between people and things like a series of intersecting roads or rivers. You aren't all-knowing; rather, you see information when it's in transit between informer and informee. Sometimes, if you're very careful, you can dam or change the flow.

The Wizard Watched Trading Places Right Before This Story
1219 words

The E-Class Mercedes slammed into the rear of the Toyoda Corolla, and the drivers stepped out to scream at and blame each other. They paused only when their phones lit up and vibrated, their messengers pelted with video clips from every internet connected camera in a block radius, which clearly showed the Mercedes driver was playing a game on her phone when she crashed into the Corolla.

Balan smiled as he kept walking, he had done it just to test his magic skills, but it was satisfying to see someone get totally exposed at causing trouble. Balan was an informancer, he could see how things communicated and do things to affect where and how they did. It meant he was regularly redirecting nearby messages to create copies on his phones to flip through later, and it also meant he found a lot of secrets. One of those secrets he was planning to use to make some major money.

Balan himself did not need any income, when you can affect bank payments so the amounts are never debited from your account, you tend not to want for material things. It did take a lot of effort to reroute money, banks had their defensive wards and active threat tracers. Copying emails and using that information to buy the right kinds of futures contracts was way easier. It would still be a challenge to his skills, to make this investment look believable, without a trace of any of his informancy. Regulators really frowned on that. He took the door on the left to the Wizard's Brew Cafe.

Ahead of Balan in line, a woman was screaming at her boyfriend. "Why did my cousin just send me a naked picture with YOUR NAME written on it?" The boyfriend tried to make an excuse but it was clear he was no longer the boyfriend as she stormed out, he meekly followed. Balan stepped up next to order and smiled at the barista. He had seen the messages coming in and it was a simple redirect to push some of photos to the woman's phone. Balan did this so often he didn't even need to tap his wand (made out of a wifi router's antenna, naturally) and it still rested in his side holster. He had access to so many secrets and learned so much about the people around him, but he barely talked with them directly. There was just so much information to sift through, who had time to talk?

Balan picked up his steaming large Americano and blew at it before taking a small sip, returning to his seat. His laptop was whirring away on the public wifi, but it would be a little while before the crop report drafts were sent for final review. Balan just had to work his magic and add a new recipient as a blind CC, then decided just how much he was going to spend.

For now? He was sifting through his usual tags on Archive of Our Own. Did he really want to read another The Office fanfic? Oooh, it was a coffee shop AU, so yes, he did. He grabbed his Americano and took a large slurp to the annoyance of the woman seated across from him. She was reading an actual book, so there was nothing Balan could do to her at the moment except smile. Just as he started reading, the cafe doors burst open and in strode another wizard.

Oh, crap.

Balan had his defensive constructs primed in his head as the wizard strode towards him. The newcomer was in traditional wizard garb, complete with an archaic moon and stars patters on his robes and tall pointed hat. His unkempt hair and beard fluttered as the breeze from outside blew in.

"BALANTHAZAR THE INFORMANCER! We meet again, for the last time!"

Balan quickly minimized the browser window. "Really? That's incredible. Just who are you?" The woman next to him scooped up her book and coffee, rolling her eyes as she headed towards the door.

"How can you not know your greatest foe?!" the wizard waved his hands in frustration.

"My greatest foe? You're the aphids that keep ruining my garden?"

"No, you buffoon! It is I, Krombolo, Master of Prismatics! Behold the rainbow of your destruction!" Krombolo waved his arm and the entire cafe was bathed in rainbow light. Balan waited for anything else to happen, but the light just faded away, ineffective.

"Okay, I'm going to ignore you now, I got important work to do." Balen turned back to his computer and brought the story back up.

"Sir, no magic in the premises," the barista called. "And you need to buy something if you want to hang out here." Krombolo huffed and stomped his foot, but got in line to order. Jim had just put Dwight's coffee in Jello when Krombolo slammed a small hot chocolate down on Balan's table.

"Now we can meet on the field of battle!" Balan raised an eyebrow. Krombolo's phone buzzed, he checked it. "Chase Fraud Alert? I don't have an account there!"

drat! Krombolo had paid in cash and Balan didn't see a card, so he had to guess which bank to try that with. Still, he had more things he could forward. The phone buzzed again as Krombolo accepted a call from his Mom. It wasn't really his mom, it was some poor other mom who was calling one of her real children at the moment. Krombolo seemed fooled at first, then started swearing at the poor woman, and began reciting a curse incantation.

“HEY!” Balan yelled, “You want to take that outside? I’m trying to read here!” Krombolo hung up with an angry tap. Three angry taps as the first two didn’t trigger the end of the call. Then he kept angry tapping as his phone was continuously vibrating due to hundreds of spam texts arriving. He eventually left the cafe in tears.

The Americano was cool by the time the crop report draft arrived. The pandemic had not affected crop quality and harvest as much as predicted. That’s all he needed to know, and set up a bunch of short orders, as the price would tumble when the news broke. That would not be for days, so all he had to do now was wait.

The coffee fic turned out only okay, the writer used too many late season characters, but did ship Jim and Dwight. Balan left to go catch a movie, pausing briefly to authorize the full New York Times article someone without a subscription was trying to read on his phone.

Outside, Krombolo was sitting on the sidewalk, staring into space. Balan paused.

“Hey, Kromb, want to catch a flick?”

A loud snort as Krombolo snapped to attention. “What?”

“They got a double feature at the Moxie, Snake Man and Son of Snake Man. I’m buying.”

“Uh, sure! But why?”

“Just keeping my enemies closer!” Balan smiled. He still had no idea who Krombolo was, but might as well indulge him for a bit. The argument in the cafe was the longest conversation he’d had in years. Maybe this guy just needs some kind words. There were always more mothers to forward to his phone if he turned out obnoxious.

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |
| IT'S |
| ____|
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/   づ

Sorry this is so late! I did two stories each way from each of my entries, with a bonus one for Saddest Rhino as they submitted two stories in one post! (17 total)

Thesis Retrospective: Results Analysis for Sub-Universe Generation Method for Obtaining Large Quantities of Iron (Final_Final_ActualFinal_2_Edited)
Uranium Phoenix
Prompt #1: An extradimensional graduate student agonizes over their hosed up thesis project

Grad school flashbacks aside, the universe being created as some barely getting by in grad school's thesis project is a rich idea. There seems to be more agonizing by the instructor than the student, who instead seems distracted and unfocused on his project. The comments might seem distracting to some who want a more straight-forward article but I think it added some flavor and some of the emotional requirement. This is the kind of thing I'd love to see written longer as a fake science paper as one of the things I do at work when I'm supposed to be reading real science papers is get distracted by other things such as writing crits for Thunderdome. As a totally theoretical example <Comment: I said please do not condescend to your readers> I do wish the footnotes existed as well, all you need to do next is put it in pdf form and charge $39 for access.

A [teenagers] agonizes about [the void]
prompt - A [teenagers] agonizes about [the void]

Nice short, to the point and has good descriptions of realistic agonizing over the unknownity of death. Parents reaction indicates that she has days where she is freaking out over all sorts of things and they just take it in stride. That's probably to be expected from someone named Xillia Ravenweave Drake, though maybe recent events at wizard school caused the latest worries. Overall pretty good, I liked it and would enjoy more XRD adventures in existential dread

I have noticed many of your stories are pretty short/stylized like phone posting, are you writing quick takes during lunch hour?

Noctilucent Cloud

Prompt - A [Angels] agonizes over [The Mesosphere]

Here we have a sad story of a dying world's last gasp and the failed watcher connected to it. My biggest complaint is the ending is set from the beginning so it is just about the journey, and while the various atmosphere levels don't provide much by themselves, the differing views is the journey. Would like to have known more of the efforts of the angel, claims they tried to help but it was too late. Overall a nice swan song for the angel but as things are far too late it was a bit difficult to connect emotionally as I prefer stories where there is still a bit of hope.

An Account of Two Most Unusual Gentlemen, In Search of Supernatural Sustenance

prompt - A [Vampires] agonizes over [teardrops]

You forgot the prompt in the post, I had to go back and look it up! This is what I expect the upcoming Nicolas Cage Dracula film will be like. Fun tale of vampire questing and discovery. Essence bit seem to imply the different bodily fluids have their own magical properties, and while most are useless to vampires, there is something there. Good to see the dilemma solved by good old fashioned ingenuity and not just chaining people up on a rack and demanding they watch Korean dramas. Overall I liked it, definitely the kind of thing bored vampires would do, and can see this spinning off into several other stories/problems if expanded on.

Stink Purse

Week 522: Omega Prompt #2
Hell Rule: You stare into the abyss but it’s bashful
Flash Rule: None
Wheel Rule: Submission grants a donation to a charity of my choice. I choose UnRestrict MN, please.

How do we know it was Spotucus that peed in the purse? Shouldn't both cats be claiming to have done it? Get with the program, Cookie J.!

I think we've all had that experience where something weird happened that we had no explanation for. Sometimes people fail to realize just how many people sit around all day looking out the window. Whenever I walk home from the bus I see at least half a dozen people gazing out the front windows to empty streets, and that doesn't even count the people taking hidden smoke breaks or other problems. On the other hand, it could have just been a very nice neighbor who happened to be at several places at the right time to see everything that happened. Like how I know way too much about my neighbor's beekeeping adventures.

Story fits more of a storyteller style, like the kind of conversion you'd have at a bar with friends. I like how it works with the hellrule, the bashful neighbor returning the purse of doom. Well, we can all hope that was the reason. Also missing my little guy I had growing up, who loved to pee everywhere out of spite.

Gravity and the Grouse

Omega prompt 2
Flash: protagonist knows their behavior is destructive, and yet…
Hell: the narrator is one of the fundamental forces

I very much enjoyed the fundamental force narration, and like that the force seemed outside the movement of linear time. I'm not 100% sure the throw a rock at a grouse/asteroid killing the dinos comparison works for me, nor the counting presentation. I think it would have worked better with just separate sentences or maybe dashes/asterisks to denote each line so you could make the outside of time concept extend further Overall I don't know, I get what it was trying to do but it just doesn't seem to come together in a format that works. Two rules is a lot so I appreciate what it did, I would have a hard time trying to make those rules work for a story.

Ski Jump
Chernobyl Princess

Birthday Omega Dome Round 2
Wheel spin: -400 because maths failed me

Wow that's an awful thing to have happened, hopefully recovery went okay and there was no lasting injuries. A heartfelt personal story with enough descriptive details to make you feel like you are there. Not much to add as it is already really good.

Luckily all your luck now seems to be good. ::checks wheel spin result:: Oh no!

The Thief of Opportunity

A [driver] agonizes over [anatomical heart]
Flash rule: Your character must describe perfection and find something positive in its opposite
Wheel prize: $10 to the Trevor Project

I liked the duality of the driver spending time and energy for years putting himself in the right moment to do something for revenge and being caught up in the moral quandary he is putting himself in and stuck in a thought loop, yet still being unsafe enough that maybe something would happen. Sometimes karma does the job for you. Here Jomo has the perfect commute in the one time he wishes it was anything but, yet then also gets perfection stealing the opportunity to choose.

Sneak peak at what happened to Daniel Ryde's next donated heart:

The Man with the Pantry Keys
Screaming Idiot
(posted by The Saddest Rhino)
A [wraith] agonizes over [food empire]
A - You are not allowed to call your entries bad when I am entering with worse entries. B - This was pretty good though I am wondering what the guy is coughing up if he no longer needs to eat? Glad the Noise was kept vague enough that you could fill in the blanks with whatever horrors lie in your imagination that is probably more satisfying than any concrete rules. It did seem obvious the guy was creepy from the start, maybe a bit more good ol' boy instead of humble worker would have covered it a bit, but that's also been done to death as cover for villains.

Repair Job

Wheel Spin: Circle Game
No flash rule

I like the idea of the magic of not doing things. Of course, as a homebody, I also like the idea of not doing things. Everyone knows the only reason you go to see the sights is when family/friends are in town. Actually as I've kept writing these I've been getting more introverted as the night wears on (it comes and goes with me between "very" and "very very very") and now this concept is terrifying, time to learn horrible dark magic to clear the fridge so I don't have to leave home if I don't feel like it.

Big Day Out

Flashrule: The first and the last sentence of your story must be almost identical, with exactly one word changed.
Hellrule: No items, fox only, final destination.

Fun times that was a neat slice of life and managed to satisfy both rules succinctly (and bonus points for keeping the screaming thing away from the possible horrible bad ending) Getting lost in the music at concerts can be hard to convey in written form so good job there too! Enjoyed it a lot.

Transcript of Stream #25 of Channel “Korean Food Made Blasphemous”
The Saddest Rhino

Prompt: A :kimchi: agaonizes over :birdthunk: (1000 - 200 = 800 words max)

What the, a misspelled prompt? Beyond that, this was amazing, and definitely a stream I would probably catch a clip of after the fact on social media. The increasing tension with the bird and the wonder of just what disaster was about to unfold and how that would increase the subscriber numbers was great.

This Title Originally Referred to a Parody Song Making Fun of a Problematic Musician but Then I Found Out the Parody Was Performed by an Also Problematic Comedian, so I Won’t Name It I Guess, However if You Figured Out What This Song Was Before Reading This, Good for You.
The Saddest Rhino

Prompt: Autobiography (1300 words max)

Dual stories in one post! This one didn't hit me quite as hard, I think it was a combination of the dialogue just being off from how Roy talked and a pet peeve of mine about irresponsible pet owners (that wasn't originally written as a deliberate pet-pet thing but I am keeping it) I'm hopeful Bumblebee found a good home, though the dog seems like the sort that is traded off a bunch before finding a forever home and is just happy to be around people to puke on. I have no idea what the song was so I'm just going to guess Blind Melon - No Rain

Iceberg Theory

A [Hemingway] agonizes over [erotic ice sculpture]

This was amazing, I love it all, the ridiculous pet author concept, obedience school, the male authors write women dilemma, all nicely mixed together in a way that makes you want to cheer for the tiny pervy Hemingway. I believe it is my favorite of the week.

Please Watch Dad Do a Cannonball
hard counter

prompt #4 [WIZARDS]

As a dad with a kid who is already selectively ignoring us to play with wind up bugs, I am expecting a similar scenario as he gets older. This dad seemed a bit too set in his ways as the world modernizes and unable to see perspective from his daughter's eyes. His approach works fine for the final confrontation, but we all know despite his razzle-dazzle, his attempts to impress are doomed. Though maybe he can show off with his reputation that will allow doors opened that simply pressing an app cannot. Perhaps this family can learn to act as a team over time, but for now, no.

There was a great mix of new techniques are good but not too good as they solve one problem but also caused systematic failure. Collin seemed to survive the battle more through wits than skill, while his daughter uses the same to quickly diagnose the students. Sadly neither seems to impress each other. Good wizarding slice of life with fun action and puzzle solving. Ending up in the air as opposed to crushing disappointment is the best way to go.

Magic Scrolls
Bad Seafood

Omega Prompt No. 4

Enjoyed the idea of getting energy from the social media posts, both in the concept and in the posts getting destroyed upon use. Some people go viral so rarely they'd be mortified that their clout went to smashing skeletons deep beneath the Earth, especially if they didn't even get a lot of retweets on their skeleton wars jokes. Beginning seems a bit rough like they aren't partners who work together with a rhythm nor understand how they are powering their magic (which is probably a choice to explain the system gradually for the reader, it just seems odd in retrospect/rereading it a few times) Mune seems like someone who just drops bombs on their problems but also hides from the violence while Frekie has more cautious but personable approach. A split from the normal bains/brawn dichotomy though makes it a bit harder to flesh out their personalities beyond the basics in a short story.

Good closer, good wizard concepts, doesn't seem like there is much of a plot beyond the magic demonstration, but I liked it.

That Time We Were All Wonder Woman

submission #2 for autobiography

Fun memory story of obstacle course fun but beyond the obstacles and costumes it just seems to be people doing an obstacle course. I would have probably kicked and screamed about going to one of these as a teen but ended up liking it as the day went on.

Thanks for prior crits - PhantomMuzzles, hard counter, flerp, Chernobyl Princess, Idle Amalgam!

Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

In, please bemonster me!


Tars Tarkas
Apr 13, 2003

Rock the Mok

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

Thunderdome Week DXXI: Monsters in the Margins

One Night at the Grinning Goose
1065 words

Gerald never should have let his daughter leave for the big city. It's not like he could have stopped her, she had too much of her mother in her for that. That made her his favorite child, but she was determined to set her own path instead of taking over his. He should have found a way to satisfy her craving for adventure that didn't involve her moving away to such a filthy port city. Gerald was en route to said city now, ready to meet his daughter's fiance. He wasn't even a big successful cityfolk, just the cook at the pub that his daughter worked at, Gerald did not care about that, he cared about the man, whether he would go far.

The Grinning Goose, complete with giant goose head logo with a big dumb smile on its face. Gerald scowled back as he arrived. The door was knotty wood, doused in dangerous stains. Before it was even pushed all the way open, the smell hit Gerald’s face. Garlic and cumin, but beneath them the smell of gamey meat. Gerald steeled his stomach.

The pub was surprisingly packed considering the sparsely populated streets, yet the patrons were quiet. A dozen conversations at whispered volume carried on, all spoken by customers sitting still with their hands folded in front of them. Gerald grew more suspicious as none of the customers even glanced at his direction as he arrived.

"DADDY!" came a familiar cry behind him. Finally, despite his foul mood, he was ecstatic to see his little Sarah, now not so little both in height and in how much she was spilling out of the barmaiden uniform. She absentmindedly pushed aside a customer who was leaning out of his chair, he settled against the wall, drooling. "I'm so glad you made it!"

After pleasantries, Gerald said, “It’s time to meet this partner of yours, see if he is worth our family’s time!” Sarah brought her man forth.

“This is Aggie, he’s got quite a meal plan prepared for you today, daddy!” Aggie was tall, thin, with large eyes that darted around the room. He stuck out his hand for Gerald to shake. Gerald eyed it suspiciously, but did so. Gerald also eyed the tail sticking out of Aggie’s apron. He was doing a bad job of disguising his true form, but in Gerald’s mind it clicked. The patrons acting drugged, the big eyes, the horse-like tail and food obsession. Aggie was a gourmando!

After Aggie went back to cook the food, Gerald asked, “Why didn’t you tell me he was a gourmando?”

“I didn’t know how you’d react, daddy!”

“You know I don’t care what he is, as long as he can take care of you. That’s why I’m here.”

Gerald could hate a place’s atmosphere but still like the food. From the moment the first dish arrived it was clear he was going to hate every part of this journey. The bread was bland and hard, the meat smelled worse than the sauce, the pasta crunched in his mouth. A complete mess. To make matters worse, all the food was soaked in gourmando juice. The hypnotic venom had no effect on Gerald, who had been exposed to it constantly through his work, but it added a blandness to the overall meal.

Sarah watched her father’s disappointed face as each course was served, growing more upset, not at him, but at Aggie failing to make the grade. Back by the firepits, the shouting got louder after each course as it became more obvious Aggie was not cutting it. After the last course, Aggie came out to meet Gerald again. Aggie was so upset his monster form was morphing out of his human disguise.

“No need to keep that up, Aggie, I know what you are!” Aggie shifted back to his gourmando form.

“But how?”

“There are three gourmandoes working for me! How do you think I run the most efficient farms in the territory? That’s not the problem here, the problem is this was the worst dinner I have ever been served!”

“Mr. Blackstone, this is my best cooking!”

Gerald snorted. “Your best? The beef was older than me! The shortbread pie contained no fruit, how are you going to balance the flavor with the body humors of your patrons? The food was too chunky, large pieces will not be absorbed effectively by the body.” Aggie tried to argue, but Gerald just talked over him.

“Not only that, the color of the dishes is awful, you must satisfy the eyes as well as the stomach. Food is not just about taste, it’s about presentation. This slop is not fit for the scrap pit of the vilest pig farm. You’ll never get a position cooking for royalty with this output!”

Aggie threw off his apron and sat down at the table, despondent. Gerald wasn’t phased and kept talking. “The bad food I could live with, but I’d have demanded you get a real cook for my daughter. The real problem is you are wasting your power. What are you doing, controlling a small block of people to spend money at your pub? That’s the weakest big plan I’ve ever seen! Why aren’t they working the kitchen? Bringing in more guests? Working in a factory in the basement? These people are doing nothing important beyond consuming more of your food and resources. A pointless waste. This the lack of ambition is embarrassing, and has no place in our family.”

“Mr. Blackstone, I’m sorry, this is my first time trying a scheme. I didn’t want to be too ambitious!”

“Ambition is good, but you are too cautious. The gourmandoes that work for me, they know their limits and use it to their advantage. I can see you are young, but I’d have preferred a big scheme that was failing miserably to something so small scaled that it was just a waste. Your ambition is as sloppy as your food!”

Gerald stood up. “I’ll be back again in one month. If you aren’t in the middle of the grandest scheme I’ve ever seen, I’m going back home immediately with Sarah!”

“But daddy!”

“No argument, sweetie!” Gerald turned to Aggie as he put on his hat. “Remember, think big!”

He was gone. Aggie stared at his apron, then shyly looked at Sarah. “You were right. Now let’s start your plan.”

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