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Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Revolutionary Prices 476 words

Earl Plinkerton glanced over as the little tinkle of the bell alerted him to someone walking through the door. “Welcome to Plinkerton’s Trinketons, can I help you with anything?”

She raised a hand briefly in greeting. “No thanks. Just having a look around.”

Earl nodded and tended to his behind the counter pre-event knick-knacks. After a few minutes, he walked over to where she was; her search appeared methodical. This didn’t look like random browsing, this looked like she wanted a specific thing, and if she wanted a thing, he wanted her to find that thing, or the nearest closest approximation, in his shop.

And then buy it, obviously.

“G’day, uh, Ma’am,” he said.

“Oh, just Leah is fine.”

“G’day Leah. I’m Earl. You seem like you’re after something in particular.”

She shrugged. “You have a bunch of pre-event paraphernalia, right?”

“Absolutely, Ma – Leah, here at Plinkerton’s Trinketons, we are the foremost purveyor of pre-event doodads, knick-knacks and gadgets.”

“I’m after something very specific,” she said.

“Great!” said Earl. “All of our items are very specific! I’m sure any one of them might suit your needs.”

“I have a photo,” she said. She pulled it out of her purse and handed it to Earl, who looked at it and raised an eyebrow. “Can you help me?”

Earl nodded and looked around the store. No one else was there. No wait, there were a couple of soldiers approaching from outside. “This way,” he said. He ushered her into the back room, pressed a hidden button, and a section of the floor slid away to reveal stairs. As she descended the stairs, he heard the tinkle of the door again; he pressed the button and closed the trapdoor behind her, then walked back behind the counter and paid some closer attention to the knick-knacks.

“You there,” said one of the soldiers, “shop assistant.”

“Owner, actually, Sir,” said Earl. “Welcome to Plinkerton’s Trinketons. Can I interest you in the finest selection of pre-event gizmos?”

“We’re looking for someone,” said the soldier. “A woman.”

“Sorry,” said Earl, “I don’t stock those. I exclusively sell pre-event objects.”

“She’s a dangerous dissident,” said the soldier. “We saw her coming this way.” He turned to the others. “Tear the place apart!”

“Do you mean a doll?” asked Earl. “We have some of those.”

“A doll?!” The soldier let out a cry of frustration and knocked over one of the shelves.

Earl shrugged. “Just trying to help.” He smiled to himself as the soldiers destroyed his store. It’s fine, it had served its purpose. They were so engrossed in smashing all the gadgets that they didn’t notice him slip out the back. It would not be until hours later that they would discover the trapdoor, or the tunnel, and by that time, the two of them would be well on their way.


Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


New Growth

A medicinal plant garden aboard a ship heading to colonize a new planet.
1200 words

Nyx knelt by the planters, gloved articulators supporting tendrils of starmint, and swore subvocally. There, at the end of each vine, where new growth should by now have matured into leaves ripe for collection, sputtered only rough-cut ends. Dropping the vines back into the moss-carpeted planter, they stretched back up with a pneumatic hiss, joints creaking, and looked further down the rows, coming to the only conclusion they thought possible.

The ship had been infected by voracious, herb-eating parasites.

Nothing else made any sense. Starmint was so named for its spiky, shimmery leaves; not for any resemblance to the taste of its terrestrial namesake. As often as they’d been approached by the ship’s cook for space to grow culinary herbs, he’d never resort to stealing their plants. At least, not more than once: the patients prescribed starmint could well attest to the unpleasantness of the lip-puckering, throat-numbing remedy.

Leaning forward, Nyx rolled down the rows of as-yet-untouched plants, sensors alert for any errant lifeforms in the garden. They had no idea what a voracious, herb-eating parasite would look like, but they had some idea: enormous mandibles, nacreous carapace, a dozen eyes faceted like jewels; plump and full-to-bursting with ill-gotten gains.

There—a heat signature! A … very large heat signature. They rounded a corner and stretched up to full height, articulators whirring in preparation, lens array cycling through focal lengths to resolve the image of—a juvenile human, huddled in the corner, whimpering with arms around its pulled-up knees.

‘You’re not a voracious, herb-eating parasite,’ they said, leaning closer. ‘Are you?’

At the sight of Nyx, the human yelped and squeezed further toward the wall, eyes darting frantically around. A thought occurred to them: ‘Oh! Are you—hiding from the voracious, herb-eating parasites?’

‘I don’t … what?’ the child managed, relaxing slightly as Nyx’s articulators slowed and lowered.

Something,’ Nyx continued, ‘has been eating the starmint. Given the scale of depredation, something quite ravenous.’

‘Oh,’ the child said, shifting slightly toward the nearest corridor of planters, eyes not leaving Nyx’s lens array. ‘No, sorry, I—’

Nyx’s lens array narrowed, and they rolled toward the child, closing their slow-gained gap. ‘You’re not crew,’ Nyx said, realisation dawning. ‘You’re a colonist. Oh! Do you have a malady? Did you come here for treatment?’

‘N—no,’ the child managed, retreating faster now, scooting backwards on hands and feet. ‘I just came here to get some—fresh air—’

They’d almost reached the end of the row, when the child slipped on some grease spilt from Nyx’s investigation and fell heavily back onto the floor, their jacket billowing open, hundreds of starmint leaves scattering about the tableau. Nyx paused; zoomed in. The child squeezed its eyes closed. No voracious, herb-eating parasites descended to feast.

‘Oh ho!’ Nyx exclaimed, rolling up to inspect the scene. ‘You are the voracious, herb-eating parasite!’

The child yelped, covering their eyes with quivering arms. Moments passed. When Nyx’s articulators failed to turn into chainsaws to slice up their body, the child lowered their arms and squinted up at the gardener-droid, mouth slack.

‘You’re not—’ the child managed, staggering up, ‘going to … hurt me?’

‘Of course not!’ Nyx exclaimed. ‘My programming forbids it, for one. And you must be in severe gastrointestinal distress already, to be needing this much starmint. Now. If you help me gather them together, we can work on a tonic that may be easier for you to digest.’

The child watched as Nyx extended a suctioned articulator from somewhere within their shell, and began plucking leaves from the tiles and depositing them into a nearby bucket. They bent down to help, and worked in silence until the bucket was full. ‘Go on,’ Nyx said, proffering the bucket with its gloved articulator. ‘Take this, and follow me.’

The child held its hands up and shook its head, stepping back from the gardener. ‘I—I can’t,’ they said, head sagging. ‘I’m—not actually taking these as medicine.’

‘Oh,’ Nyx said, lowering the bucket. ‘You weren’t going to eat them, were you?’

‘No!’ the child said. ‘No. Ew. It’s—well—it’s silly.’

‘Sillier than expecting a garden-droid to attack you?’

The child smiled at this, and wiped their eyes. ‘I—it was a dare. Dyxon dared me to sneak in and steal as much starmint as I can. I’m sorry.’

Nyx’s faceplate shifted into a frown, and they wheeled back to deposit the bucket near the workbench. ‘Sneak in to steal starmint?’ they mused. ‘There’s no reason for that. If you’d ask, I’d prescribe as much as you need.’

‘I know. But, Dyxon—he said if I could do this, he’d tell the others I was cool, and—’

‘Hm,’ Nyx interrupted. ‘Renegade gardening is cool, then?’

‘Well—it’s more, y’know. Starmint. Um. Dyxon said, if you smoke it—’

‘—you’ll set off the fire suppression systems, and end up with a very scratchy throat,’ Nyx finished. ‘Of all the organisms I’ve dispensed herbs for, none find starmint pleasant in any way.’

‘Oh,’ the child sighed. ‘So Dyxon lied—’

‘Well,’ Nyx said, lowering down to see the child lens-to-eye. ‘Perhaps he would have told the others you were “cool”. Perhaps he would have just told them you were gullible. Why does it matter, though, what Dyxon tells them?’

‘Because—’ the child lay back on the tiles, eyes on the ceiling. ‘Because this is my fifth colony trip, and mum keeps shipping me away from every friend I make, and I thought, this time, if I could make a friend on the ship, maybe I’d have a little bit more time before the next time—’

‘Well,’ Nyx said. ‘It’s my ninetieth.’ They paused, remembering what an itinerant herbalist eight colonies ago had mentioned about how growing plants responded to soothing words. Perhaps— ‘But I don’t get to go planet-side, like you do. That must be nice?’

The child frowned. ‘You don’t ever leave the ship?’

‘Not ever. Just there and back again. No exciting adventures for me.’

‘How do you—where do all these plants come from, then?’

Nyx shrugged. ‘I put in orders with the captain. And she sees what can be done, in the small time between launches. It’s not always easy, though. Especially not when a crop gets lost to voracious, herb-eating parasites.’

The child blushed, and Nyx chuckled. ‘Well,’ Nyx amended. ‘Starmint’s a medicinal plant. And loneliness is a serious condition. So. Perhaps, in this case, it was well prescribed. Go on,’ they said, returning the bucket to the space between them. ‘Take some leaves—tell Dyxon you fought off a whole brood of parasites to get them.’

The child considered the bucket, and then shook its head. ‘No,’ they said. ‘It’s okay. Dyxon’s full of it—’

‘More than you know,’ Nyx muttered. ‘To be needing all that starmint…’

‘But, I was thinking … perhaps … while I’m planetside, I could maybe … find some plants, for you? And then, next time we ship out, we could plant them—together?’

‘I’d like that,’ Nyx said. ‘I’ll send you a list. But remember—you can’t tell anybody what any of the colonists need, okay? Even if they do believe you can get high from stomach medicine…’

Fat Jesus
Jul 13, 2011

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Interprompt Dream Thing

Helga's Broom of Doom

Ella lazily dodged the ogre's mighty blow as she delivered the final cut that sent the evil beast back to Hel. As the sorcerer once again raised his staff to bring forth yet another demon from below, she sprang at the evil conjurer with her Sword of the Unicorn, her blinding speed leaving a trail of dust and leaves as she covered the fifty yards in the blink of an eye.
Her sword flashes upwards as she rolls between his legs, taking away the sorcerer's withered old todger and plums. She springs to her feet with smooth elan, sword raised high.
It flashes down, taking the sorcerer's other weapon. His right arm holding the staff aloft falls to the ground in a spray of green blood, as he screams at the small potion of meat and two veg laying bloody at his feet.
Ella stands in triumph, leaning one hand on a cocked hip grinning at the once cowering pretty girls, now applauding their savior as she spins in a flash of pink, taking the sorcerer's head.
As his body falls, her grin turns to a frown, realising the Sorcerer has conjured one final beast! Some dark looming thing of massive bulk. She hears the cries as it comes for her.
"Ella!" She dodged but it was too late, the beast swatting her back with it's thrashing tail, knocking her senseless to the soft ground. "ELLA!" She was helpless under the merciless onslaught as the thing brought it's tail down on her backside again and again.
What the gently caress?

"Ella! Off your bum lazy girl! Up, up up!" Ella's mother continued to beat her useless daughter with the broom, raising dust and finally Ella herself. "Alright alright I was dreaming is all." grunting as she pulled herself into a shabby brown cotton dress.
"About boys no doubt." Mother threw as she marched back to the kitchen past her sleeping father with the cats going up and down on his belly as he snored. "That's where it starts. Mark my words. You're marryin' that Jovak boy, best dream about him."
Yeah I'm gonna dream of that moron.
Her mother had stopped ranting and was staring at her snoring husband as Ella marched out to the chickens, thick florid fist reaching for her broom as the cats knowingly fled.

Anders leaned back in his steaming hot tub drinking ale, enjoying the ministrations of the four beautiful maidens, smiling and fawning over the great size that towered before them as he pondered which golden hills to first climb. Suddenly the roof had collapsed! A mighty shadow loomed above as the maidens fled, he shrunk to nothingness, feeling the sky rain down on his head.
What the gently caress?

Oct 9, 2012

Bummerdome Brawl entry

987 words

Three days. That’s how long Waris had been on the run. Three days without her phone, of stealing clothes so she didn’t look the same, of putting one foot in front of the other. She wasn’t dumb. She knew she didn’t have much of anything to run to. She could worry about that later. Right now, she was running *from*. She just had to get away.

For her parents, the UK was the dream. They sold everything they owned and more to travel in shipping crates and overcrowded dinghies. They made it into the back of a truck headed through Calais, and they claimed asylum when they arrived. They were among the last people with successful claims. On Waris’s second birthday, the government authorised the Navy to sink any unauthorised boats trying to cross into the UK, international law be damned. She was five when Ireland reunified, eight when Scotland declared independence. For as long as she could remember she’d wanted to find somewhere — anywhere — that didn’t treat people like poo poo.

Then one day immigration control officers had showed up at her home, with body armour and automatic weapons. She overheard them shouting about illegal immigrants, but she was already running. She’d made it into the shared attic of the row of houses, managed to get to the end of the row and out. Even as she ran she had to act normal; England may be the most surveilled country in the world but she could fade into the crowd. In three days, she’d made it to one of the façades: fake houses built years ago so posh people didn’t have to look at the Underground.

She’d managed some sleep, curled up in one of the arches, headphones cranked up against the noise of the trains. Her parents had escaped a loving war zone, and here she was scared to get out of a city in peacetime. After midnight, she could head into the tunnels, try to get to a station. From there, she could find a way to get _somewhere_.

* * *

Greg Alderton didn’t think of himself as a bad person. He was just another victim of the gig economy that’d seen him driving for whoever and delivering takeaways at the same time and still not making his rent. His latest gig was different, though. He’d got lucky, got into a pilot scheme. So now he was a stringer working for the Metropolitan Police by way of G4S who’d subcontracted to Uber. They paid him to find petty thieves, escaped immigrants. The petty criminals who stopped the police going after real scum — groomers, paedos, terrorists. He knew they were everywhere. He’d read it in the Daily Mail.

All of which explains why a nondescript fiftysomething with greying hair and a bad cardigan was sat in his silver Ford Mondeo, staring intently at his phone. His target had managed to dodge CCTV, but now the police used social media, scanning photos and videos to find people. Figures that his target didn’t know that. So he flew his drone over the area, using its night-vision camera to search nooks and crannies for people.

She may just be a fifteen year old girl, but she wasn’t daft. She’d clearly picked up some tradecraft, probably read some Lee Child. But that’s the thing, she might think she was a spy, but she was just a runaway illegal who was due to be relocated. She should’ve stayed home, Greg reckoned. If she hadn’t done anything wrong, he wouldn’t have got her details.

The drone captured a grey blur climbing down onto the tracks behind the false fronts. He swept it in closer as she slipped into the tunnels. Cunning. Still three hours until the next train. Greg yawned, popped open a can of supermarket own-brand Red Bull, and pondered. She was heading towards Paddington. Plenty of connections there, and plenty of people even first thing. He slipped the car into gear, and went to find a car park for a couple of hours’ shut-eye.

* * *

Had it really come to this? Walking through a tube tunnel at two in the morning, trying to keep away from the electrified rails, with only a pocket flashlight to help?

At least what Waris had read on the Internet about trains not running between midnight and 5am on weekdays was right. This early in the morning, Waris is pretty sure she can sneak into Paddington station. Stay in the tunnels, then hop up to the platform as the station opens up and the first people get onto their trains. Yeah. She can make this work.

The waiting is the worst part. The tunnels are cold and cramped, and more than once Waris wishes that she’d stolen warmer clothes. But she’s got to make do with what she has, so she huddles down and tries to keep herself warm despite her shivering fingers.

It feels like an age down there in the darkness, but in the end she can hear doors opening, gates clanging, the sound of voices coming and going. She hops the gate on to the platform, and lurks at one end until the first early-morning commuters show themselves.

She tries to hang back, make herself look tired and bored, hide in the crowd. The train pulls in with a roar. The doors hiss open. She puts one foot in front of the other. Four paces to go. Three.

A hand on her shoulder.

“Waris Duale?”

She hesitates. That’s her mistake, letting Greg hit her with the stun gun.

“It’s alright,” he calls to the crowd, brandishing his cheap laminated ID badge. “Immigration.”

People’s eyes turn away. They don’t care or they don’t want to be seen to care. Either way, nobody gets in his way as he carries the unconscious girl to his car, the first stop on her journey to Rwanda or wherever the Home Office has chosen this month.

Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

saturn's rings
900 w


derp fucked around with this message at 00:58 on Dec 15, 2023

May 11, 2009

Humanity's real enemy is me!
Hya hya foowah!
The submission window for Thunderdome Week DLXVII is closed. Thank you to all participants.

Judges' verdicts will be forthcoming.

Aug 25, 2022

Fat Jesus posted:

Whispers of the Sun

Yeah nah. You don't go ' pulling in a single, quick motion', no. Our boy isn't going to hit poo poo. Nor do you bother burying some dead small furry animal when you apparently live on land big enough for harvests. It shall be dealt with in due time by nature herself. And shooting clay is like, a rich persons thing in the olden days? but now they're drinking moonshine. No, we are not in rural England after all. I get the feeling times are hard, so let's go shoot me last shell at expensive clay targets!
I love harvest time myself, but truly cannot remember it being party zone with everyone stressed as gently caress and working 18 hour days. Maybe it's different in America or Opposite World. Maybe somebody who lived in a city their entire life wouldn't mind all that. Dialogue isn't too bad but needs work especially the speech about Paw and his paw. In the last paragraph you start to get somewhere, so there is hope for you yet, as there is for all.

admittedly I rushed through the description. But i gotta be honest, my family isn't rich- our grandparents grew up on a subsitence farm in southern georgia, and we'd go clay shooting out there all the time. You just gotta have someone throw the clays with a hand tosser, and with a little birdshot there's not much else too it. My grandfather used one of those old iver johnson single barrels for it. I hosed up the worldbuilding in the story a lot admittedly, but for the sake of my own family history, i gotta fight the idea that clay shooting is a rich person thing.

Sep 11, 2018

I never said I was a role model.


derp vs DigitalRaven

You both made me read some stories that were somewhat effective in giving me the sads, though it seemed like you both pulled your punches a bit. Still, one of you succeeded at making me feel like I’d glimpsed the void, and for that, derp gets the victory.

Onto crits.

Runaway by DigitalRaven

A decent setup that I thought painted a pretty bleak picture, but could have been tighter. It was a little rambly as it was, and I think could have been a few sentences shorter without losing its effectiveness. Otherwise, this is a grounded setting that doesn’t require a leap of faith from me.

I’ve read some gut-wrenching refugee stories, and while I didn’t expect this to rip my guts out, I think it lost out on potential emotionality by cutting to your immigration officer (eff that guy.) This scene didn’t do you many favors, really, it switched to past tense in places where it wasn’t necessary, so it felt like I was tripping over passive voice when I didn’t need to. A drat shame since the Waris scenes generally flowed nicely. The rug pull moment works alright, but we see it coming from miles away. So this sort of ends up being a serviceable, but flat story of inevitable disappointment without any visceral heartbreak.

saturn's rings by derp

Listen. Listen. I can respect the commitment to the run-on, but my eyeballs can’t. And I think this story would be just as effective with periods instead of comma after comma. You lose nothing by separating your sentences; the fact that this is one continuous thought pulled into many isn’t what sells it–it’s the specific moments we glimpse throughout. The attempt at saving face when your character runs into the new squeeze, the pining for what was but can never be again because all things must die and no feeling is forever.

The heartache here is relatable, and your final, yet SECOND (or third?) sentence is a banger. I like this story a lot and it's extremely my poo poo, I just don’t love the formatting choice.

Beezus fucked around with this message at 04:39 on Jun 20, 2023

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Crits for Week #566

LurchinTard - Cutting up the Hours:
Solid opening, starts drawing a vivid image immediately. The title is interesting but doesn't quite connect or pay off. I don't like the two sentences in a row with the same structure, xxxxing thr yyy, I... Still, I liked this one a bit more than the others did.

DigitalRaven - The Women of Troy:
The title is simple, a promise that is felivered on. Weaker opening, a bit too detached for the material. Sort of a problem throughout. Not enough vividness, too much in the future rather than this moment.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Bonelord Trevor:
Amusing opening and title, both working to set up the story.Fund for find typo. Doesn't get much more humor than a sensible chuckle or two, largely because it's such a straight line from start to end here.

Flyerant - Proselytize My Child, of the Darkest Black:
The title here is pretty good, distinctive and fitting. Weak opening, too abstract. Diametric is incomplete without opposite, and the color names are overwritten. 'Sanguine' from an entity with no experience of blood? The idea is interesting, maybe not post- enough regarding its apocalypse.

Mrenda - The Eye of the Aftermath:
Interesting opening. I'm not sure I completely buy the logistics here, of the narrator's survival and ability to do what she does. Still, vividly described.

Cephas - Chernobyl in Verdigris:
Fairly solid opening, establishes a lot of situation efficiently, and the title is also evocative in a way that satisfyingly comes back. Solid piece overall.

Yoruichi - Thousands have been reported missing:
Okay opening. The title establishes stakes and builds a little situation. A bit more of a disaster story than a full apocalypse, with electricity still running to charge the phone and the towers eventually up.

flerp - Let us touch on the birds.:
The title and opening basically echo each other here, possibly in a redundant way. Second paragraph is hard to follow, may be saying the opposite of what it means with a double negative. It's a weird apocalypse, geographically violent but too well-survived.

Wahad - When the World Ends:
Opening is a bit too abstract. Again, the title and opening line echo each other, but at this level of abstractness it does more harm than good. It's the Dies the Fire scenario, I see. But this is summary, not a moment, not a detail.

Dicere - We’ll Be Right Back:
Interesting opening, and the title works perfectly once you get to the punchline. Okay, this is a pretty cute conceit, sure. Maybe a bit less exposition and more in the moment.

MockingQuantum - City Limits:
Okay opening, and the title is simple and works and directly evokes the flash. And a sort of interesting little piece, one that manages to blend voice and interesting world details and end up working.

Simply Simon - Peace Orb:
Odd opening, odd point of view, a sort of third person boasting. The title sort of pays off. I don't like this much. It just seems empty. The ending doesn't do enough, the ambiguity between whether the Orb is having a supernatural effect on the main character or not is more annoying than intriguing.

Beezus - I Slept Through the End of the World:
Decent opening, and the title works with it okay. They sets up an interesting situation, but can't do much with it thanks to the amnesiac, blank protagonist.

Idle Amalgam - When the Sleeper Wakes:
Okay opening, and the title is reasonably catchy and makes sense by the end, although it promises a different moment than you're delivering. The second paragraph may be doing to much in way of summary of moments that ought to land. And without that you can't really sell the nihilism.

Slightly Lions - The Line Is All:
Interesting opening, sets up the premise, and the title reinforces it. But what follows is dry backstory more than anything else. One-note, alas, and a little too meme-y.

derp - the pack:
Good opening, and the title is simple buy strong too. Solid nonhuman pov writing here.

rohan - it’s all about the timing:
Catchy opening. And it's a cute play on an old joke, but one that is taking words from your own story. The title works okay, although it's not the usual punchline. I wonder if it would work at all with a reader who hasn't heard that one before, though.

SurreptitiousMuffin - Occupational Health and Safety:
Certainly a vivid opening. Undercut a bit by the title, which adds a bit more irony than fits well with the horror here. And it's a vivid moment, again more during an apocalypse than after one, but still, solid.

Antivehicular - A Thousand Flowers:
Solid opener. The title is okay, although it evokes Mao in a way that doesn't pay off. And a solid piece, with a strong emotional core.

Tars Tarkas - The Dance Boss of Disco City:
Run-ons in the opener, distracting. The title is straightforward and appropriate enough. Absurdist, but not in a very interesting way. It's a premise that could work, though.

Chairchucker - Footy on the Brain:
Okay opening, and the title is okay, draws attention to the ongoing eerieness of the odd priorities. There's something interesting about the unbreakable deadpan of it all, but it's not really enough to completely work.

curlingiron - You Are Mine:
Pretty solid opening, and the title is a very strong payoff to the ending, I read it telling us what the narrator says at the end. And the story itself is solid as well, although I am very concerned regarding the future consequences of raising a near-feral child. We're social animals, and raising a child alone in the wild is tough enough without deliberately raising them barely verbal.

Djeser - How to Forget the End of the World:
Interesting opening. Possible early typo, part for party? The title doesn't quite work exactly. We have an interesting conceit here, with some deliberate obfuscation, but the idea of wasteland kid Socrates (or Diogenese) poring over printed GBS threads to understand their apocalypse is compelling.

Lily Catts - Though I Fear, I Still Walk:
The opening puts us right into the action, which is a solid choice, and the title does a good.jon connecting to a bigger picture. Another not exactly post- concept, doing more plot than should fit in this count. But it's still charming.

sebmojo - Ozymandias:
Tight opening, and the title is strong if a touch oncious.I like this one a lot, characterless prose is high degree of difficulty and it's pulled off here, apart from some logistical oddities.

Lord Zedd-Repulsa - They Were Right:
Functional opening, does what it needs but not much more. The title is much the same, stating the premise but not adding much to it. And the same can be said of the entire piece; it's barely more than its premise.

Bad Seafood - In the Garden:
Interestingly sparse opening. The title is one of the more semantically overloaded phrases in our culture, and you do interesting things with ambiguity throughout. And a solid piece overall.

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.

I swear by all that's sweet and holy that I'll-

80 words

Oct 31, 2005
Non plaudite modo pecuniam jacite.

Interprompt submission

Past Maturity
79 words

I swear by all that’s sweet and holy that I’ll
make these years
I’ll remain
loving and dependable
to all I’ve ever loved,
women especially.
In my time, I’ll be good and rich
instead of evil
or poor.
And when I finally go,
may the records read
Teacher. Artist. Servant.
But allow me this truth
for only you:
these covenants bind
to no effect.
For when the note comes finally due,
I’ll be nowhere to collect.

Jan 20, 2012

78 words


Sep 11, 2019

Cutest In The World, Six Time DDT Ironheavymetalweight champion, Two Time International Princess champion, winner of two tournaments, a Princess Tag Team champion, And a pretty good singer too!
"When I was an idol, I felt nothing every day but now that I'm a pro wrestler I'm in pain constantly!"

Interprompt submission 76 words

I swear by all that is holy that I’ll be free of these mice one day.
I will hear no scratching.
I will hear no squeaking.
My life will be filled with a peaceful silence.
I will be free of these mice.
I will use all means to dispatch them.
I will use chemical weapons.
I will destroy them.
The mice are my enemy.
I will be free of the mice.
The mice are my enemy.

May 11, 2009

Humanity's real enemy is me!
Hya hya foowah!
Thunderdome DLXVII: You’re Gonna Be OK

Thank you to everyone who participated. The prompt of “Hopepunk” brought out some wonderful submissions. We also had some comically dark turns. I appreciate all the attempts to find hope in adversity. Ultimately, along with overall quality of prose, judgment leaned toward stories that successfully managed to embody meaningful and earned hopefulness.

Dishonorable mention to “Pep Talk” by silmarillionaire and loss to “A Brother’s Love” by Fat Jesus. Both these pieces fell short on the prompt, lacking a sense that the characters were working toward positive change, radical kindness, and communal response to challenges.

Honorable mention to “Falling” by Chernobyl Princess and “Self-Maintenance” by MockingQuantum.

The winner for Thunderdome DLXVII is “New Growth” by rohan! Congratulations.

May you ride, shiny and chrome, to valhalla!

Failures: flerp, Crabrock, Idle Amalgam

Critiques will be forthcoming.

Cephas fucked around with this message at 04:07 on Jun 21, 2023

May 11, 2009

Humanity's real enemy is me!
Hya hya foowah!
Critiques for Thunderdome DLXVII: You're Gonna Be OK

Fat Jesus
“A Brother’s Love”
Flash: A coffee shop in the middle of a multi-species city, in the dead-rear end first 10 minutes of opening for the day.

I’m not going to disqualify you even though this technically could be considered fanfiction, since it’s not overwhelmingly so. I will say though, I think the Middle Earth references are very distracting. Just making them generic orcs would be an improvement.

This reads to me like the pitch for a Robot Chicken skit or something akin to it. I appreciate the cheekiness of taking a “hopepunk” prompt and effectively setting it as two murderous orcs in hell. I think that can be really fun—they’re horrible, but at least they’re decent brothers. I think an issue with this piece is that the most physicality in the story occurs in a flashback. We get an affair, a locked legs, dulcet tones, leaking pus, laughing orcs, thrusting hips, decapitations, beatings with a severed arm. So much happens in a mental flashback, but the “present” of the story largely consists of alternating dialog tags.

This has a bit of an unbalancing effect where the flashback is more interesting than the scene itself. I think a more balanced approach would be to excise the flashback, which is really the summary of a different scene, and instead focus on making the current scene more physical. Show the aftermath of that previous night, allude to it the way two brothers who jostle each other would, while they’re working on opening for the day.

Digital Raven
“The Resurrectionists”

You navigated the hellrule effectively. I think, in an ideal circumstance, the humans-with-crab-claws could maybe tie into the story itself, since you wrote about species revivalism and theoretical alternate histories. You did a great job introducing the auspex window; I think it’s impressive that you were able to so naturally introduce two complex inventions in a single conversation.

Your dialog is competently written but a little long in the tooth, in my opinion. I feel like it spends a too much of its economy on the business transaction and not enough on revealing character. Is Archis a opportunistic venture capitalist or does he have a vision for society? Is Volante in it for the intellectual challenge or for ecological idealism? I think a scene like this can both propel the story forward and also develop character.

“Baby’s rear end”

This story kind of slipped away from me as I read it. The idea that people living in cyberspace would self-identify as “brains,” and keep a window open with a view of their physical brains in jars and have neighborly brain squabbles, stretches credulity, especially if the parents remember renouncing their human bodies. It seems rather nightmarish and grotesque to me. I’m not exactly sure why Alison threw up when she looked at the reflection of her avatar. Between the unhinged premise and the bonding over coming up with insults to hurl at a teenage girl, I’m not exactly sure that I would consider this a hopeful or kind story.

I do like the idea of a story about parents trying to raise a child in cyberspace though, as well as the idea that perhaps the parents became virtual beings partway through their lives while their child is literally a digital native. But I think the body horror stuff overwhelms the story.

“Pep Talk”

I think this is pretty definitively grimdark. The pov character comes across as a bit of a sociopath; he manipulates the captain to get the response he wants, but we don’t really know what he himself feels other than condescending frustration. I appreciate taking a big swing to try to put a hopeful spin on something like accidental martial planetary destruction, but I think there are some point of view issues with the implementation. First off, ending the piece with the reveal that it was planetary destruction. That sort of rugpull on the reader makes it feel like the characters were tiptoeing around spoiling the twist. Especially when it’s being compared to dropping a glass ball at a functionary event, which is just very disproportionate.

I do think a story about someone causing great harm accidentally can have a kindhearted or meaningfully positive spin on it, but probably not in the moment right after it just happened. So a point-of-view issue can also be “when is the right time for the story to happen?” Maybe when the captain is older, or has spent time trying to make amends. But right after it has happened—that seems like a moment of pure despair, and nothing can sugarcoat it.

“Whispers of the Sun”
Flash: A summer night festival.

This is a good scene. The first two paragraphs have crisp, clear imagery that unfolds with easy naturalism, each image drawing us into the next. Then the narrative is given room to breathe as the character thinks about the heat. The raccoon burial leading into the sudden opening up about the fathers’ ill health is affecting and feels real.

The dialog goes on a bit too long after “There was more silence,” with a bit of repetition that takes away some of its punch. I also think that the conclusion skirts around the issue by looking for solace by doubling down on youthful vitality, rather than directly addressing the relationship with the dying father. So the tension in the story doesn’t really find a resolution as much as a distraction from the tension. This is a tough story to bring to a hopeful conclusion. It brings to mind the film The Straight Story by David Lynch, which handles the topic of aging and death with grace.

Flash: The core of an unstable reactor.

I like it. Anisa’s curt dialog and narration sell her as a no-nonsense but benevolent mechanic, observant in an exacting kind of way. Schenk’s full toolkit is a great detail—all in one prop, you connect his sensibilities and place in the world to his connection with his father, while also setting up the story’s ending. I think you captured the spirit of this genre as well, showing an inventive response to a broken system.

The line “I think we can just—“ signals to me that the damage done to the shield was only superficial, but later on Schenk says “You really hosed it up.” There are some places for narrative ambiguity, but I think that the immediate stability of a malfunctioning reactor is not quite one of them.

Slightly Lions
Flash: Aboard a train headed somewhere otherworldly.

I think you are on to something very cool and atmospheric here. I want to talk about the things that work for me and the things I see potential in. A musician with an unopened guitar case exploring a train bound to hell and staffed by quietly menacing demons—it just sounds like a real mood, you know? I’m here for it. The quiet conversation between Al and Clyde is good. Clyde’s sympathy for suicide cases does a lot to quickly show the timbre and dimension of his character.

The opening begins with sensory details of the train. These are good, the swaying of the lamp having a musicality to it sets a great mood. I think I would like to see the dialog distilled down a bit more, and some more sensory detail and physicality added to the scene.

I think one of the challenges this piece has is what I’ll call “opening sequence syndrome.” The scene is setup for a cool and interesting story that we do not get to see (because this is a 1,200 word flash fic). So the “maybe you can catch a northbound train… maybe you can… maybe” dialog, and the dialog about kicking a demon in the sack to help a stranger—all awesome ideas! But as a standalone flash fic, I don’t get to see those things happen. What I get instead is an interesting opening sequence to a story that doesn’t exist.

I think this can happen when a writer is exploring an idea they find interesting. It’s perfectly valid as part of the process. But by the same measure, as a reader, I would have preferred the version of this piece that happens later into the story, where we get to see Al in the most fascinating and fulfilling part of his cosmic train adventure, rather than right at the quiet atmospheric start of the adventure. Because to a reader, a flash fic is like a one-time encounter on a busy street: there’s nowhere to place a bookmark and continue from; there’s no chapter 2.

Chernobyl Princess
Flash: A snow-covered village, but the houses are all empty.

This is a delightful adventure piece. You cover a lot of ground (heh) in a pretty compact space, going from aerial war to an intimate hearth with ease. I really like the detail about how the dragon’s scales are more like a snake’s than a crocodile’s. It has the effect of an extreme closeup, giving a tactile element and verisimilitude to the writing. Dialog and description are balanced very well for a piece of this length. The only suggestion I really have is that Marie and Shurra’s voices are a little bit too similar to me. Even if they find that they are birds of a feather, I think it would be beneficial for there to be some difference in their speech patterns.

“A Light in the Dark”
Flash: A pilgrim’s shrine to the god of darkness.

There are some things I really like about your story, but I think the specific point in time that we are seeing may be limiting the story. The things I am digging: I like the idea that a shrine to the god of darkness goes downward. That creates a very specific idea of what worship would look like for this god. The darkness god being an accommodating and accepting god is also a neat idea for a story about a character who has found themself outcast. The guide being an older, blind woman is interesting as well; it sets up an interesting dynamic between the two characters.

I think we’re maybe looking at the wrong slice of time for the story, if it’s to be a standalone piece of writing. A lot of the piece is spent on introductions, both between the characters and in introducing certain things to the reader. I think the part of this story that I would really like to see is a bit more in medias res, once they’re further in the temple—what kind of experiences does this temple hold, and how does Nico’s reaction differ from Constance’s? This feels like a story where the external action might seem gentle, but there could be quite a bit of inner turmoil and emotional depth.

Fuschia tude
“Ergo Sum”
Flash: The server room hosting an AI hive mind political ruler.

I think this story is maybe trying to fit too much plot into too small a space. So much happens that we don’t get to spend much time with any one plot beat. For instance, Nixie reuniting with Zara and realizing that the machine had made her a janitor—that in itself could be an entire scene. Convincing Zara that she’s been duped can be an entire scene. Having all these things happen so quickly makes it feel a bit like an episode of a TV show, where we are pushing to conclude things in time for the end credits. There are some bits of dialog that could also use revising—“You created this… monster,” and “we need to fight back—tonight” are a bit cliche.

“Third (Ten Years After Christmas)”
Flash: A college dorm during finals week.

This is an odd one, but it’s definitely interesting. I am going to be honest, I had to read it about 3 times to clear up some misunderstandings in my head. I think an early issue with tense contributed to this. “The Shouters were very social animals” but “A solitary Shouter goes mad.” I had some difficulty telling if the Shouters were a living species or extinct, much less whether the characters with very human names were humans or not.

I dig the idea that they’re studying an alien language that has a radical effect on cognition when you are working within its framework. That’s an awesome concept. I would love to see the crunchy scifi bits where they are working with the language for their final project.

The idea is really interesting and is developed well, but as a narrative I think the piece has some issues. I wouldn’t exactly call this a single scene, because so much of the bulk of it is spent in summary mode, setting up the situation. I also think the piece does not quite feel like it ends, as much as it stops.

“Revolutionary Prices”
Flash: An antique store with wares from a simpler time.

This piece feels underdeveloped. “Pre-event” is pretty vague, so even though we are surrounded by “pre-event goods” it is basically impossible to imagine what it looks like. There’s a photograph and we also do not get a description of it. So I think on the descriptive side we have a dearth of attention. There is also not very much at stake for anyone; the woman with the photo escapes tidily, the soldiers wreck the place with no resistance, and Plinkerton floats into the story and out of the story with not much of a care in the world.

“New Growth”
Flash: A medicinal plant garden aboard a ship heading to colonize a new planet.

Cute, cute, cute. This is basically a cute and wholesome story that I enjoyed. I think you achieved what you set out to do; it’s a very cozy little piece. I only really have 4 bits of feedback.

1. I think the child could probably use a name, since Nyx has one and even the child’s friend has one, and if the story ends with the child saying they will return, I imagine Nyx would want to know their name.
2. The line “When Nyx’s articulators failed to turn into chainsaws to slice up their body” is off-PoV to me. The story is otherwise from Nyx’s perspective, so it reads as if Nyx is surprised that their chainsaws aren’t working. I had to work backwards to determine that it was the child’s imagination jumping to conclusions.
3. I think you can trim the usage of “voracious, herb-eating parasites” 2 or 3 times from the story. It is used 7 times. I think using it a little at the beginning is fine, because it sets up for a cute encounter where the android accuses the child of being one. And it makes sense that, as an android, it would stick to the language that it has deemed accurate. But using the same phrase 7 times in a 1,200 word story gets to be distracting, to me at least.
4. The closing line, “you can’t tell anybody what any of the colonists need, okay?” raises a question as soon as the story ends. There might be some room to develop a through-line to set this up earlier in the story. But as it is, that line kind of sticks out and distracts me just a few words before the story is over.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Cephas posted:

Critiques for Thunderdome DLXVII: You're Gonna Be OK

Thank you!

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Fat Jesus A Brother's Love 3 L
some nice energy, but lacking control with its use of splatterpunk

DigitalRaven The Resurrectionarians 4 dm
intensely dull, also disappointed not to get more crabclaw hijinx! how does he light his pipe, digital raven?!

Copernic Baby’s rear end
deranged premise that executes well

silmarillionaire Pep Talk
8 hm
normally i hate this kind of last line stinger since it's generally a vehicle for a twist ending the requires taking out important story flesh, but in this case you are really just paying off the story as a whole

LurchinTard Whispers of the Sun 5
competent words but jesus god this is pointlessly grim and does not even slightly meet the prompt

MockingQuantum Self-Maintenance 6
decent meat and potatoes story words, 'solution' is a little implausible given you're hitting a nuclear reactor so someone can get health care, but hey, in the current political environment, am i right?

Slightly Lions Southbound 6.5
well written, i like these guys! which makes me want them to have actual adventures togehter rather than have that happen after the story ends

Chernobyl Princess Falling 8.5 w
this is strong on multiple levels, from the girls adventure pulp notes of the beginning to the effective character interactions of the second half. it' s a good example of not leaving the meat of the story out, because although these guys could well have new adventures and I'd love to read them, this is a natural and satisfying arc

curlingiron A Light in the Dark 7.5
small and tidy. i like these too, and it's one of the stories that really gets the prompt - finding a small bit of hope in a place you might not expect to.

Fuschia tude Ergo Sum 6
i mean, sure, ok, yes making a big gesture but also completely pointless! i don't think making your big gestures competely pointless is a good idea.

Thranguy Third (Ten Years After Christmas) 5
neat concept, muddled execution

Chairchucker Revolutionary Prices 5.5
this is the first few paras of a cool story

rohan New Growth 7.5 hm
aww that is sweet, and contains a lot of nice world and character in a fairly compact space.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Oh hey I missed these were crits at first. But thanks! I think!

And you too

Fat Jesus
Jul 13, 2011

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


LOSS gently caress YEAH

Fat Jesus fucked around with this message at 06:11 on Jun 21, 2023

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

one of us

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


TD 568 - across the thunder-verse

I love reading stories about unlikely combinations of characters who are introduced through circumstance or misadventure, and end up forming found families who support each other through difficult times.

This week, when you sign up, I’d like you to introduce a character from your upcoming story. There doesn’t have to be a huge amount of detail — a name, occupation, rough age, something interesting about them; enough to make them recognisable.

Then, when you write your story, I’d like you to pick as many other entrants’ characters as you like and treat them as a found family. Each character will add 500 words to your wordcount, assuming they’re used to reasonable effect (so please don’t just namedrop everyone’s characters to write a novella about your own).

Otherwise, go nuts! Feel free to collaborate (or not!) when interpreting other characters and working them into your story. Feel free to wrangle characters into genre-appropriate versions, as long as they’re still recognisable as the original source. Flashes on request.

Usual rules apply: no fanfic*, google docs, political screeds, or erotica.

Base wordcount: 500 words
Signup deadline: Friday 11:59PM PST
Submission deadline: Sunday 11:59PM PST

Bad Seafood

sebmojo: James Spaceman, rockribbed explorer of the Galactic Wastes
Fat Jesus: Anders the medieval fantasy peasant, enjoys drinking, eternally poor.
Chairchucker: Cave(wo)man Sam, enjoys foraging berries, hunting the wily sabretooth tiger, and clobbering ne'er-do-wells with their club.
Thranguy: "Dollar" Bill Hennessy, former Florida state senator turned bank robber.
derp: a bitter old man who plays chess in public (park, mall, wherever they put chess tables)
Dicere: Shelton Masters, moved from Dublin, OH to Nashville to take his country music career to the next level
almost there: a homesteader, of generally rough quality, with a penchant for the works of Shakespeare.
Albatrossy_Rodent: Talamar the Strong
Flyerant: 54Rah

* fanfic of TD characters obviously welcome and expected

rohan fucked around with this message at 01:48 on Jun 22, 2023

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

James Spaceman, rockribbed explorer of the Galactic Wastes.

Fat Jesus
Jul 13, 2011

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Anders the medieval fantasy peasant, enjoys drinking, eternally poor.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Cave(wo)man Sam, enjoys foraging berries, hunting the wily sabretooth tiger, and clobbering ne'er-do-wells with their club.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
"Dollar" Bill Hennessy, former Florida state senator turned bank robber.

Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy
in with a bitter old man who plays chess in public (park, mall, wherever they put chess tables)

Oct 31, 2005
Non plaudite modo pecuniam jacite.

Name: Shelton Masters
Real name: Shelton Hafemeister
Age: 34
White male, 5'10", light brown hair, brown eyes.
Moved from Dublin, OH to Nashville to take his country music career to the next level.
Will be opening for Florida Georgia Line this summer.
A trained eye can spot he's had work done.

almost there
Sep 13, 2016

I'm in.

I think I'll commit to a homesteader, of generally rough quality, with a penchant for the works of Shakespeare.

Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!


Talamar the Strong

The God of Death on 217 worlds, God of War on another 117, Creator God to twelve. The only consistent elements of his disparate mythologies are that he was born a peasant and that he is always male (or whatever is closest to male to whichever alien species he encounters).

Jun 4, 2021

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Hello, I am 54Rah. After the thing they called a world engine failed, my mom and dad put me in this body so I can dance in the wind forever! Won't you be my friend?

Jun 16, 2023

What's the sort of division between this thread and the Lounge re: discussing a piece you submitted? I really appreciate the feedback so far!

As much as I want to see someone write about an alcoholic tugboat who only speaks in bawdy haikus or contemplative limericks, I think I need to sit out this week's main prompt due to a lack of free time. I do look forward to reading them, and hopefully getting a chance to post some crits from last week!

Love the idea of an interprompt to scratch that writing itch:

Obliterati posted:


I swear by all that's sweet and holy that I'll-

80 words

Interprompt: 68 words

I swear by all that's sweet and holy that
I'll vanquish the Licorice King.
That vile usurper
sits upon a throne of lies
a disgusting mockery
of all candykind.

For too long have we
humble chocolates,
patient lollies,
and kindly gummies
borne his injustices,
wrought in our name.

No more!
I shall unwind
his every crimson thread
with my bare hads, and
cast him down
into The Bin.

Jun 4, 2021

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


silmarillionaire posted:

What's the sort of division between this thread and the Lounge re: discussing a piece you submitted? I really appreciate the feedback so far!

Lounge would be to go to discuss your piece

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


silmarillionaire posted:

What's the sort of division between this thread and the Lounge re: discussing a piece you submitted? I really appreciate the feedback so far!

TD is the place to post in, post prompt, post story, post interprompt, post crits.

Lounge is the place to post otherly

Fat Jesus
Jul 13, 2011

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


The Epic of Anders

1000 words

Anders woke in the ditch not yet noticing he was soaking wet or where he was, holding his head that was pounding from the 6 ales from the night before. Staggering to his feet, he wondered if he'd pissed himself again but saw he'd been sleeping in 2 inches of water. Nothing was certain. He lurched forward unsteadily, still affected by the 7 whiskey chasers from the night before, finally and painfully reaching the road. His head felt as to explode with each wincing step as he held his aching cranium, cursing and hoping for death.
The sudden need to vomit overcame his urge not to move his head and he spewed out a raging river of stink, possibly brought on by the 5 brandies from the night before. He stood, breathing unsteadily and wiping his mouth on a sleeve as a village dog came and started on the puddle, and he lurched off again.
By the time he'd walked half a mile he had worn off the worst of the effects of the 9 lagers from the night before, and stopped to feel inside his pocket. 3 pfennigs. He started to feel sick again.

Oh poo poo what will I tell her I am so loving dead.

He trudged on towards his fate, fingers to his ears as he passed the blacksmiths, when he saw something glinting in the sun. He picked up the gold ring and broke into a smile, not even the queasy feeling that permeated his being due to the 8 meads from the night before stopping the eventual wide grin.
He looked around seeing nothing and tried it on. As he admired his new ring he realised something was very amiss. The world had begun to spin, and he was sure it had nothing to do with the night before. Anders found himself falling at great speed through what appeared a swirling tube of colors, screaming as he tumbled through the maze of rainbows, certain a morrigan had entrapped him.


Talamar the Strong, Overlord of the Universe, God of Death on 217 worlds, God of War on another 117, Creator God to 12, sighed. He looked at the thing he had summoned from.. where? Um, yeah, Elvoria. Built that one myself, He mused proudly.
He watched as the thing in rags rolled around trying to hide behind nothing since he was in an empty expanse some trillion light years round. Empty, except for Talamar the Strong and his massive throne of black diamond.
Anders stared in amazement at the the large shining man. "Allfather!" he cried, then vomited again spreading a large greenish yellow puddle on the gleaming infinite floor. Talamar the Strong's initial revulsion and desire to send this thing to the dark realms was overcome by a foreboding, he looked at the stinking drunk peasant, and It sure as gently caress wasn't Gilgamesh.
That Yahweh rear end in a top hat was loving with him again, He knew with omniscient certainty. I'll show that hairy old bastard. He turned an eye to the gibbering peasant.

"Behold!" the voice filled everything including Anders, who stood in confusion taking off his hat and rubbing his head. "I am your Allfather, I have brought you forth for your might!"
" best run that past us again Allfather." he said, " I ..dead?"
Talamar the Strong knew a peasant could not comprehend His greatness yet alone His mind, for He had been one once Himself. He changed form in an instant, becoming a noble looking gentleman from Anders' time.
"Who are you, where's the Allfather go, I need a drink..."
"Call me Talamar, we have plans to discuss, my friend."
"Plans? For gettin' home I hope, where's this, are you a wizard?"
"The Allfather wishes to send you on a great quest, one with much drink and merriment!"
Anders broke into a wide smile. "Anything for the Allfather! Let's get to this tavern, guv!"
"First things first. I shall swap ye that there ring for this here sword." He produced a gleaming sword that shone with a blue radiance.
"Ahh, dunno, what else ya got?"
"This sword is priceless, it can bring you wealth beyond measure!" Anders rubbed his chin, unsure.
"I shall also give you a magic cup that never runs empty, Sword and cup for the ring?" Anders nodded vigorously as the sword and cup appeared in his hands, now minus the ring.
"My friend, I must tell you of the place you are to go and how the evil god there has enslaved man, and you better listen good because this concerns YOU!" Talamar's finger pointed straight at Anders forehead and he watched as the strange man's finger grew towards him. When it touched him Anders saw and knew what was to be done.


Under the blazing desert sun The Prophet staggered drunkenly overlooking the masses of equally drunken Israelites, holding aloft his sword and pouring a river of wine from his cup.
"Drink up and hail Talamar the Strong! Not that Yahweh shitstain! What's he done for us, what?" The crowd roared their drunken approval. "He's got us walkin' round a bloody desert holdin' our dicks for what? Well gently caress him, Talamar The Strong is the bloke we want now, free piss and gently caress who you like!"
The crowd went wild as more people were flooding in, the blue light from the sword guiding them to the word of the One True God.


Helga's fists smashed the long haired bearded man she had caught going through the house as Ella clung to his back, clawing at his eyes as they screamed and swore at him.
"Rape! Thief! Rape!" they cried as the man in the strange dusty bedclothes wailed. Helga's boot swung into the bloodied man's nuts, dropping him to the floor, barely conscious and bleeding. He felt himself dragged through the mud and a rope being put around his neck, sadly realising either his Father had forsaken him, or that Talamar fuckhead had made his dad eat poo poo again.

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


sign-ups are closed

one judge spot still open!

Feb 25, 2014
me yudge

Jun 4, 2021

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Breaking Out of Familia Orbit to Be With You Forever
967 words

Home always beckons James Spaceman to return and even though he has endured everything the Galactic Wastes have thrown at him, nothing is as painful as the trip back home.
With a heavy sigh, he enters the ship. In the same time it takes the airlock to pressurize, the ship has produced a cup of hot joe alongside a plate of beans and bacon. A delectable delight compared to the rehydrated meals that James has become accustomed to. Soft dulcet tones of a cowboy longing for country roads fill the cabin as James sites down at the pilot chair and looks at the offering of food.
"Stay here forever? Explore the stars forever?" A small voice asks him over the ship's speaker.
James has got a ma anxiously waiting for him, a brother too. "Take me home 54Rah," he says.
The ship rumbles to life, rougher than usual. His rebuke has roused 54Rah's ire. She examines the word "Home" and dissects its etymology to understand it.
"Home is safe. Home provides food. This is home!" 54Rah says.
James simply smiles and sips the coffee. It's a good coup of joe, but nothing compared to his ma's. "It is, but also not."
He remembers the time his ma offered him his first cup of joe. The bitter taste as he sipped it, and the surprising, but not unwelcome, aftertaste of mint. As they travel, 54Rah asks him about home. He tells her about the little house he lived in, right next to the fusion waste plant. Tells her about his ma, who grows older in a city that is too large for the very planet it came from. Tells her about the vid-screen that towers above all and provides sunlight. "Home is complicated."
54Rah takes a moment to record his thoughts and process this. "I'm way better. That home sounds dumb."
James smiles. "Reckon you might be right... But it's my home."


It's been almost five years since James found 54Rah keening in a crater next to a grave. She kept asking if she could have done better, over and over, and he consoled her. He didn't have an answer then, and he doesn't now. He is so old, he almost can't recognize himself in the mirror. Now he's nursing a leg that didn't land right when he fell into a crevice. 54Rah's robotic hands dress his wound with tender care — knowledge she downloaded immediately after their first trip — and pause every time he winces, or takes a sip of coffee that she made for him.
"Why go to that home when you have a better one?" 54Rah asks.
James has learned she is a jealous ship. Not petty, nor wrathful, thank goodness. But she has a righteous condemnation against anything that takes him away from her.
He can count the reasons on a single hand. "I have a mom, brother and a best friend at home."
The ship's engine purrs, the vibration soothing the ache in James' leg. A slight hiss and a door opens to reveal four cabins. They are nothing like back home. These cabins have room to stretch your legs, and the beds have clean sheets.
"They could come and stay with me forever!"
He doesn't know if her single-minded focus is a flaw cause by what she told him was the uploading process, or if this is simply who she was before she freed herself from her physical form. He doesn't know a lot of things about her, but he accepts her all the same. James already knows what his family's answer will be. He barely managed to leave last time, his mother having cried as walked to the docks. His brother hugged him and told him to give up exploring the wastes — he was making their mother worry. His best friend gave him a half-hearted goodbye before going to work at the waste plant. James doesn't want to return to a city that has replaced the sun with a vid-screen.
"They hurt you," 54Rah says.
"Being hurt is part of being human."
There is no menace in her voice, just longing as 54Rah says, "I'd never hurt you."
James nods. He knows. He's been tempted to stay. To take her up on her offer and aim the ship to the second star on the right and straight on till morning. With 54Rah's technology, he could survive forever and explore the stars forever. But then, he would never go home. And he could not live with that. "That's not the point."
"They don't understand you."
"Perhaps, but that's not the point either."
54Rah gives out a long sigh, the lights blinking off down the rows of cabins and turning back on. "So, what is?"
James thinks about it for a moment. Ponders as the wound on his leg aches, along with his heart. He explains the point in one word. "Love."


With a heavy sigh, James Spaceman enters the ship. In the same time it takes the airlock to pressurize, the ship has produced a cup of hot joe alongside a plate of beans and bacon. James looks forward to the meal, and also 54Rah's revision to her cup of joe.
"Stay here forever? Explore the stars forever?" A small voice comes from the ship's intercom.
One day, James knows he will say yes. When his mother is gone, when he barely recognizes the man his brother has become, and when his best friend is too busy to realize James is missing.
"Someday," James says.
54Rah asks, "Will you love me as much as them?"
James looks out at the Galactic Wastes, watching the sun dip below the asteroid belt. He sips the cup of hot joe 54Rah made him, appreciating the bitterness and the slight aftertaste of mint. Then he responds.

Jan 21, 2010

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

Lipstick Apathy

It is disgusting, and embarrassing as well, I thought sitting on my bench in the park, as I always do sunday mornings, it is embarrassing, I thought, the lack of cleanliness in this park, the utter lack of will of the staff these days, the complete disregard for cleanliness, I thought, leaning over the chessboard that was built into the stone table, whereupon a white splatter of bird poo poo had landed, directly, as if by aim, on the e4 square. Completely unacceptable, I said aloud from the park bench, which held an unforgivably tarnished bronze plaque bearing my name, commemorating my accomplishments and renown in this city, a miniscule bronze plaque only six inches across and barely legible anymore, barely legible even when it was new, even then one had to bend down and squint closely to read my name. Disgusting, I said again, looking at the stained square upon which I wished to place my pawn. It was my practice, as everyone knew, to play e4 and then wait for an opponent to take the black pieces, and I had spent my sunday mornings in this way for years, many years, in fact decades in this manner, playing e4 on this exact table from this exact bench, and yet, despite this common knowledge the e4 square remained in an utterly vile and bespoiled condition. I cast my gaze around for the maintenance man who, despite the state of the working class these days, did quite regularly patrol these grounds, even on sundays, emptying the bins and watering the potted plants, but he was nowhere to be found, and the bins were full to overflowing. A complete disregard, I said aloud to myself, a complete lack of respect. I folded my arms and grimaced involuntarily at the filthy e4 square, and I observed that the other tables appeared to be spotless but for fallen leaves which could easily be brushed aside, but to move would be preposterous, to leave my bench and my table, to uproot and relocate myself because of someone else's mess, someone else’s lack of duty, would be preposterous. Suddenly and all at once the area was suffused with motion, and a dozen loudly dressed youths were cluttering the tables with their belongings. They were everywhere, moving about and blathering at one another, and not one of them paying an ounce of attention to me. You there, I shouted, you, boy! I called until one of them approached my table. He wore a dull cloth tunic and a hood-like head covering, and held a wooden tankard in one hand. Goodday m’lord, he said to me, I hope we be not disturbing ye with our racket, he said, quite respectfully, and with a deference otherwise completely absent in the youth of this generation. I demand to know what’s going on, I said, and gestured at his rabble, who had not ceased moving behind him, taking objects from their bags and placing them upon the tables, which were clearly not meant for this purpose. What is going on, I demanded, and he leaned closely and said, If it pleases ye, m’lord, we’re only putting on a little play and making some music, all for your pleasure of course m’lord, and he bowed quite politely and respectfully. These tables should be shown respect, I said, they aren’t meant for this, and you will clear them immediately when you finish, I can not stand filth on these tables! I pointed at the white spot on the e4 square, and despite the disingenuous and careless nature of his generation, this young man gasped, and gave his own look of concerned disgust, and shook his head, Forgive, m’lord, oh no, we can’t have ye sit at table with such a mess, this’ll never do, not for the likes of you m’lord, and he poured a splatter of liquid from his tankard onto the table, and to my complete astonishment he polished away the spot right then, using his own sleeve. I was frankly astounded at the upstanding nature of this young man, and I told him as much, to which he replied: I’m only doing what’s right m’lord, by my own code of honor to my betters. Behind him someone had begun plucking a stringed instrument, and a woman was singing along in tune. I found the music to be not an entirely distracting waste of time, in fact, her voice was quite calming, and she was dressed, unlike most of the youths prancing about in public these days, completely appropriately, in fact I saw not one leg or bust exposed by the lot of them. What is your name, young man? I asked him. My given name is Anders, m’lord, but you’d be right to call me any which way you please. I nodded with satisfaction. You’ll do well in life, Anders, if you maintain this kind of outlook, I said, and I played pawn to e4 on the table, and to my sheer amazement the young man reached down and immediately played pawn to e5. You play chess? I asked, unable to disguise my shock. I played my knight to f3. Oh, I only dabble m’lord, he said, and stroked his chin thoughtfully before making another move. I stared at the board in disbelief, I stared, aghast, at the e7 square where his king now resided. King e7? I stuttered and sputtered with disbelief. King e7? What is this? King e7? Booooong, Anders said in a voice completely and utterly changed and with his arms stretched wide as if expecting an embrace, and in that moment the air was filled with the vaguely familiar sound of tumbling electronic drums descending rapidly in pitch and then a crescendo of electronic synthesizers and bass guitar thunking, and Anders took a large, white cellular telephone from his pocket and placed it to his ear. Yo, bro, get down to the park we’re all here, yeah, no, yeah, no one is here we got it all to ourselves, yeah, no, yeah, see you here bro, and he turned his back on me and took a lengthy swig from his tankard, the fumes of which caught me full in the mouth and I coughed. Disgusting! I said aloud to no one from my bench, disgusting! 


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
The Elsinore Job

1093 words

(Fat Jesus, derp, Dicere, almost there)

There's an art to robbing a bank, and Bill Hennesey is its Van motherfucking Gogh. It's the face and the voice and the swagger. You're charming, you're threatening, and you're confident all at once, and you can walk in and get them to give you a satchel full of money. Your satchel, and you watch them fill it up. No dye packs, no silent alarms until your back is out the door, no heroes. Bill has done this a dozen times. He has the routine down pat. Wears contacts and big black glasses and a big old distracting fake mole so nobody recognizes his face. It's worked so far. About ten or twelve thousand a go. It's a living. But this time, now that he's ahead of the landlord for a change, he's got bigger plans.

Bigger plans means a bigger team, which is fine. Bill knows a few guys. From before the first bank, from before the state Senate. Back in the day, in the mess, in the poo poo. First up is Morgan. Morgan is key. If he can get Morgan on board the others will come along.

"Dollar," says Morgan. He's running two boards with one empty seat. Bill sits down, and lays down a fresh twenty from the bank. Morgan swivels the board around to give Bill the white pieces. Bill opens conventional, pawn to King's four. They play out a textbook opening while Morgan mates the guy on the left, takes Abe Lincoln's headshot off the kitty.

The third table has a kid at it. While Bill and Morgan start to develop their positions, Morgan and the kid trade pieces in a flurry.  He tips his own king down. "Most people," Morgan tells her, "I'd make them prove they know this one." She had two bishops against his knight left. "But I can see in your eye you do. Take your money."

After she does and leaves, Bill says "It's time."

"Not. Interested," says Morgan while moving his rook.

Bill sighs. "You've gotten old." He advances a pawn.

"Kid," says Morgan, taking the pawn with a knight, "I was old before I met you."

Bill moves his bishop and takes the knight. "Check. Not just old. You look tired."

Morgan takes the knight with his rook. "You aren't exactly trying to persuade me, are you?"

"Would it work?" Bill's knight moves to fork the rook and Morgan's queen.

"Don't think it would." Morgan moves the rook down to Bill's first rank. "Check. About the only thing that would is if you were talking about the Elsinore job."

Bill moves his king forward, unblocking his rook, offering that trade. "Funny thing," he says. "I am talking about the Elsinore."

Morgan cracks a smile. They play out the game. Bill forces a stalemate. Then they get to work.

"We keep it inside," says Morgan, at the coffeeshop. "Nobody just in it for the money. Just us in the unit. Any other way and the Fucker outbids us."

"Figured," says Bill.

"How?" says Shelton. "I'm looking at us and seeing some vital skills. Who's the wheelman, say?"

"I can drive," says Anders, staring at his coffee as though he could will a shot of Bailey's into it.

"No," say the other three at once.

"You are," says Morgan.

"Then who's working the safe?" says Shelton.

"Also you," says Morgan. "Nobody's waiting in a getaway car. We'll leave in the son of a bitch's Cressida and park it in the lake."

"Insult to injury," says Anders. "I like that."

Bill talks them through the entry plan. He has a set of staff uniforms, perfect match of the ugly tartans.

"One missing," says Anders.

"I'm going in as a guest," says Morgan.

"Won't he kick you out?" asks Shelton.

"Not so long as I'm here to gamble. Give him a woody to see me fall off that wagon." Morgan used to have a problem. Not for years though. Chess doesn't count. Someone else's money doesn't count either, he hopes. Especially when the point is to lose slow and get the owner’s attention.

The plan goes smooth. Morgan's losing money under the man's gloating grin while the others go behind the staff doors. They run into a security team. All part of the plan. Anders is good at sucker-punches, and Bill packs a taser. A few minutes later the security team is in their underwear and a closet, and the three of them have less well-fitting uniforms that get them even further inside, as well as a set of radios.

Bill bluffs through the check-ins. Shelton handles the doors. He's a song and dance man, but he has fingers for guitar and lock picks both, and ears for tunes and tumblers. 

They're in the rear end in a top hat's office, then in his secret safe, and what's inside puts a grin on "Dollar" Bill's face. Not just the cash and passports of the owner’s go bag, there's a sack of diamonds, and also, the thing they weren't expecting. The Jade Idol.

"Fucker must have bought it back," said Bill.

They found it, together. Back in the war. Honest loot. Should have gone five ways, should have set them all up back home. Except for that rear-echelon officer shitstain, who crossed them all. Anders had taken it poorly and taken a swing. He wound up with a less than honorable, and the rest took it as a warning.

They all thought he'd sold it to finance The Elsinore. And he must have. But he must have bought it back later, for sentimental reasons.

"You know we have no way to move it," says Shelton.

"I can carry it," says Anders, who was up in the owner’s liquor cabinet.

"I mean sell it," says Shelton.

"I knew that," says Anders.  He opens a bottle. "The lake?"

Bill takes the bottle away and jams the cork back in. "After."

"Hey," says Anders. "Maybe I was just going to piss in it."

"No time," says Shelton.

"Best thing I can think is to drop it off anonymously at the consulate," says Bill. "They might dredge the lake."

"It's a lot to carry," says Shelton, looking at Anders. "And it won't make us richer."

"But it'll make him a lot poorer," says Anders. "I'm in."

Back on the grounds, he's got hands on Morgan's shoulders, going all "No hard feelings" and offering a cab ride home.

"Got my own ride," Morgan says. He does

 The keys are in his pocket now. He heads down to the garage to meet the rest of the crew.

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