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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?




Judges, can I have an unusual living situation and a supernatural being as flashrules?
your character lives with all of their exes and I’d ask chairchucker to supply the supernatural being but I’m sure he’d just say it’s a goblin


Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

I'll be the third judge on this

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010


Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


rohan posted:

I’d ask chairchucker to supply the supernatural being but I’m sure he’d just say it’s a goblin


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?


What’s round the twist week without a little twist?

When you sign up, you can now nominate (or be assigned) an episode title from the show to be the title of your story. Titles are first-come, first-served, and will add an extra 500 words to your story.

If you’ve already signed up, feel free to take a title as well, or if you’ve already started a story and don’t want to call it “Skeleton on the Dunny” for some strange reason, I’ll also accept a :toxx: for the bounty.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


In with "Radio Da Da" (#50)

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Give me an unusual living situation and a supernatural being.

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?


Bad Seafood posted:


Give me an unusual living situation and a supernatural being.
two words: submarine werewolves

My Shark Waifuu
Dec 9, 2012

Crits for Week #547

Staggy - Bob’s Monster Hands:
I enjoyed the dark fairytale vibe. The ending was unexpected as throughout the story Bob’s been a generous, eager-to-please monster, but at the end he stoops to the same level as the other monsters by stealing their hands through violence. The moral of the story isn’t to stand up for yourself and set boundaries, it’s that a monster’s still a monster, no matter how obliging they seem. I liked this dark twist, but I think that Bob’s latent monster-ness could be hinted at earlier to make it part of the story (is Bob going to rise above his monster nature? Nope!)

Admiralty Flag - Negotiate the Dark, Curving Ribbon:
This story felt disjointed to me. The three sections offer three distinct motivations for Brian to be quitting his job. In the first section he’s quitting the corporate rat race, in the second section, his goal seems to be reconnecting with Julia, and in the third section, we get the cancer bombshell, so his goal is reframed as enjoying life while he can. These goals can coexist, but in a story this short, I’d prefer the narrative to dig into any one of them. The cancer reveal seemed like it was meant to be the reason Brian left his job and wanted to spend time with his wife, but it didn’t land because those decisions didn’t need justifying. For the reader, I think “OK, he left his job, now what?”, “he wants to reconnect, now what?” and the story never really answered that question.

rohan - The Promise of Bare Branches:
This was a nice cozy story. The opening scene of the witch waking up and dashing out into the rain to gather its magic was strong and set the tone of the story well. The relationship between the witch and wizard is well-done too, but I stumbled a bit when they were discussing his magic. I didn’t understand what she meant by “my fortune and your fortune may as well be the sun and the moon” (does he get his magic from summer heat?) and the “blasted evergreens” line came out of nowhere. His thing is leaf magic, right? Sometimes making readers figure these things out is fine, good even, but in a story this cozy I want to feel like I know what’s going on.

Dicere - Visitation or Returning:
This story was wild. I like the idea of the story’s point of view zooming in all the way from 30,000 feet (“Our story seeks to explain”) to Tiffany’s thoughts and feelings to the Buddhist enlightenment in her subconscious, as a reflection of the themes of compassion and non-attachment. However, the execution doesn’t live up to this idea. The first two paragraphs are repetitive, typos and odd word choices pull me out of the story, and the tone is inconsistent, especially when it dips into slang like “wanted to flex.” Tiffany also doesn’t go through much of a character journey, despite her enlightenment, as we see she was already happy and compassionate beforehand. The experience was so significant, how did it change her?

Chernobyl Princess - The Silly, Silly, Silly Kindred:
This was a breezy read with solid, relatable characters, but I was missing a bit of emotional depth. When Jon’s contemplating Patrick’s condition and remembering his own death, the story says that he’s angry. This makes sense, I thought, he suffered a traumatic death and they’re surrounded by poor plague victims, yet Patrick the village gently caress-up gets to squander his life. But no, the story goes on to say that Jon’s just mad that someone was mean to Patrick. That was a letdown and weakened Henry’s choice to step in and suggest they help Patrick realize the error of his ways. Or the beginning of the story could be written with the same silliness as the end to bypass the issue altogether.

Antivehicular - Dignity for Mr. Hudson:
This story has a strong concept, presented powerfully and succinctly in the first paragraph (other domers, take notes). The situation and the characters are then introduced well and we see the Deact process. Then, he has dinner with his family, where his daughter takes the news that her orchestra teacher died and was temporarily a zombie before her dad zapped him remarkably well. The story has the potential for conflict (in the plot sense) but as it is now it feels like it ends before it begins. Kayla’s response is a realistic initial reaction to the news, but grief takes time to process. How does she react when she has to go back to school and her teacher’s not there? How do her reactions challenge Daniel’s desire to stay detached from the work?

WindwardAway - The Scientist and the Kraken:
In a week of kid-inspired stories, this one was the most kid-friendly, both in content and in the simple rhyming structure. After reading Staggy’s story, I did get worried when I got to the part where the kraken gave Jamie a hug, but to my relief it stayed wholesome throughout. After the initial focus on Jamie’s scientific studies, his fairly restrained reaction to the appearance of a mythical creature was a little jarring; a bumpy mental gear change from “real world” to “world with talking krakens.” Like Penguin, I also struggled getting into the meter. Each stanza is internally consistent but different from each other, meaning I don’t know what rhythm to expect with each new verse. Standardizing a few, repeated patterns would go a long way to smoothing out the reading experience.

Thranguy - Messing with Folklore:
This story established a strong voice from the start, but then doesn’t do much with it. The first half is the wizards arguing and reminiscing, so by the time Josif gets around to becoming Death, the story rushes through his adventure. The bear stuff is unexpected and great, but we barely get time with the death bears before the story wraps up. Glossing over Josif’s struggles means that we don’t really get the importance of what he’s doing, even if all he’s trying to do is to keep the status quo. I also didn’t understand the last line, which is partially because I didn’t get the reference and partially because Ivan didn’t come off as a jerk (or much of a character at all) earlier in the story.

Yoruichi - --A tornado is a violently rotating column of air.:
This story’s strength was its prose. The dry factual statements with the surreal actions inside the tornado illustrated the fundamental differences between Ellen and Ewan well, and the man riding a galloping horse as they fly in a tornado was one of my favorite images of the week. With such a short word count, I’d like to see a little more of the wider context to their lives, especially what the farm (and losing it) means to them. These details would ground the story and increase the stakes even more. But I’d keep the element of unreality, it made the story stand out.

BeefSupreme - The Education of Eileen:
The characters let down this story. The biggest issue is that Eileen isn’t much of a character at all, so we don’t have a journey to go on. Without that narrative, it’s just a series of silly things happening to her, and the author’s overture of friendship falls flat. Speaking of the author, his antics were too far along the monkey-cheese randomness scale for me to find him charming (but that’s just my opinion). We also don’t get a sense of him as a person, why he is the way he is. If you did an editing pass on both of the characters, this story would be more successful.

Chairchucker - The Goblin’s Jape:
These are some fun characters and a clever take on the usual “three wishes” story. Instead of punishing (sorry, japing) Horace too hard for his simple requests, as is typical of these stories, the goblin just goes with it to see what he’ll do. As Penguin pointed out, it’s like an adult following a kid’s reasoning instead of enforcing their view of the world, and everyone has more fun that way. With a story this jokey, though, I think it needs a stronger punchline than the goblin getting thrown out of the pub, especially in a rushed final sentence. Something involving Horace’s final wish would be traditional, or something that indicates character growth. Currently, the only thing that changes is that Horace is now modestly rich.

CaligulaKangaroo - Big Koalhuna:
This story was aiming to be cute, but it got off on the wrong foot. A fire with kids in peril was too serious to be the catalyst for his otherwise light-hearted adventures. It instantly reminded me of the sad photos of koalas with burnt, bandaged paws from the wildfires a few years ago. As a result, for the rest of the story I was thinking, “why isn’t anyone rescuing this poor little koala.” The typos, emphasis on things a koala wouldn’t need to know (microchip, tides, fiberglass), and tense issues further kept me from getting back into the story. The ending is also a little weird, with Rick’s nervousness and the focus turning to the park’s financial solvency. With a premise like a surfing koala, I wanted the rest of the story to be equally light-hearted.

sebmojo - We must imagine Sisyphus happy:
Typos aside, I enjoyed reading this story. The casual tone in the face of Hell’s torments is a fun juxtaposition, but does prevent us from gaining an understanding of why he wants to escape so badly that he’s willing to cut his hand off. It also means we don’t know what he loses by failing. In the end, he doesn’t seem to have much regret or urgency: is it because he’s just doing this to pass the time? Or because he knows he has all eternity to figure out how to escape? A little more insight into his motivations would get the reader more invested in his efforts.

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 technically closed but if you still want to sign up go for it, I just won’t be distributing any flashes

Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

Rent Free
1,199 words

Lydia woke up to the sight of a ghost floating over her bed.

It wasn’t a particularly scary ghost but in the moment the shock caused her to throw a pillow at - through - it. There was a soft sucking sound and a worryingly damp pillow hit the floor.

“Do you mind?” the ghost asked.

“Do you mind?” Lydia snapped back. “Who do you think you are, floating into my house and watching me sleep?”

“Well you may have turned it into your house,” the ghost said, “but I think you’ll find it was - and still is - my skull.”

Lydia’s eyes flicked to the ivory arc of the ceiling overhead. The weak sunlight of a cloudy morning shone through the glass-paned eye sockets and between them, a rough wooden door blocked off the nasal cavity. It wasn’t an easy task to match the scene with the figure floating in front of her but if she mentally stripped away the ghostly flesh and tried to picture herself looking out rather than in

“drat it,” she muttered. “She said no prior occupants. Knew the listing was too good to be true.”

“Yes,” the ghost said, rolling its eyes, “well I suppose that’s what you get for trusting a witch with a realtor’s licence. And the Valley of Fallen Gods is such an up-and-coming neighbourhood, I’m sure. Now do be a dear and clear out - this is just undignified.”

“Hey, I am not moving out!” Lydia climbed out of bed and stormed into the kitchen. “I don’t know what it was like when you were alive but the market right now is awful - I’d rather live in my own skull than look for another place.”

“When I was alive, I strode the endless plains with the north wind for my shelter and the south wind for my bedding,” the ghost replied. “Armies trembled, the heavens shook and I covered four-score leagues with every step. I may have worn the bones of my enemies but I certainly didn’t turn them into a breakfast nook.”

Lydia found her matches and pulled a bundle of sage from the herb rack. With a strike and a flare of light, she lit the bundle and shoved the smoking tips towards the ghost. It looked down at them for several seconds, before floating onto them. The fire was snuffed out and a scent like burnt wet dog filled the air.

“Sage was old when I was alive,” it said. “What’s next? Trepanning? Oh wait - you’ve already put a chimney in.”

“Worth a shot,” Lydia grumbled. “Look, don’t you have some unfinished business or something? You get your eternal rest or reward or whatever it is gods do in the afterlife and I get my house back.”

“Well,” the ghost said, “as a matter of fact, there is something that troubles me. Something that unsettles my very spirit and binds me to this mortal plane.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, you see there’s this sad woman who’s stuffed my final resting place full of quilts and dirty laundry.”

“Are you going to just float around until I agree to move out?”

“If I have to,” the ghost said in clipped tones. Despite being dressed like an ancient warrior king, it spoke like a peeved bank clerk.

Lydia groaned and sat down on a stool. “But why? What do you care if I’m living here? You’re dead!”

“Well I don’t see how that’s relevant. It’s my head and I want it nice and empty.”

“Same as ever, I’m guessing.”

“I heard that.”

“But if you force me out, where am I supposed to go?”

“Somewhere else. That does not concern me.”

“Half the valley’s dead gods!”

“Then that’s half less than is rightfully ours!”

“You can’t expect to hold onto it forever - you can’t expect the living to live in the cracks between the dead!”

“I expect my commands to be followed,” the ghost snapped. “Diminished as my stature may be, I am still a god. Now, I command you to bugger off.”

“What if I found you somewhere else to haunt?”

“I don’t want to haunt anywhere, I want my skull back!”

“Followers, then! Lots of followers, all singing your praises!”

“Hah!” the ghost laughed bitterly. “What manner of fool would worship a dead god?”

“In this economy? There’s a lot of desperate people out there. What were you a god of?”

“Fletching, whittling and oran husbandry.” The ghost caught Lydia’s puzzled expression and rolled its eyes. “A type of cattle. Extinct now, of course.”

“Of course,” Lydia said. “Well, you could retrain!”

“Or you could vacate my skull at once!”

“Picture it! Hundreds - no, thousands of people, all chanting your name! All swearing loyalty to you - it’ll be just like when you were alive!”

“Thousands, you say?” The ghost adopted a thoughtful expression. “Well … it has been a while since I’ve had a good following. And you really think there’s that sort of appetite for whittling?”

“Retraining, remember?”

“Right, right! Something new. Something … fresh.”

The ghost cast its eyes around the inside of its skull. It trailed one finger along the kitchen countertop, leaving a thin trail that made Lydia shudder.

“My skull,” it said, “you captured it yourself, yes? Cleaned it out?”

“Time cleaned it out,” Lydia said. “I put up everything you can see - but it was my landlord who ‘captured’ it, I guess. Really they just got here first.”

“To capture the body of a god is no small feat,” the ghost muttered. “Even a dead one. This … ‘landlord’. Would they need a god?”

“They could probably stand to find religion, the amount they’re charging me, but the last thing they need is a god backing them.”

“A pity,” the ghost said. “I thought perhaps, that with half the valley full of the living amongst the dead, there would be countless such lords in need of my guidance.”

“Only a handful, actually,” Lydia said.

“As I say, a pity.”

The ghost floated around the living room, peering at the boxes of unpacked clothes and assorted sediment of Lydia’s life. The windows fogged as it passed and the few houseplants that had survived the move began to wilt.

“When you were alive,” Lydia said slowly, “you say armies trembled at your presence.”

“Hmm? Oh, yes.”

“And your followers?”

“Prosperous, secure and happy,” the ghost said. “Their arrows outnumbered the stars and their cattle were fatter than the mountains.” Though it faced away from her, Lydia could see a blurred smile form through the back of its head. “Those were the days …”

“Then it’s settled!” Lydia slapped her palm on the countertop - trying not to flinch when it hit the trail of whatever it was the ghost had left behind - and stood up. “I know where we’ll find your new followers - and then you’ll let me live here in peace.”

The ghost turned slowly. “I would … consider it. But where do you expect to find such crowds?”

Lydia pulled a stack of leaflets out from under a mug. “It’s called a renter’s union,” she said with a smile, “and I think you’re exactly what they need.”

She paused.

“Well, maybe not the oran husbandry.”

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

your character lives with all of their exes and I’d ask chairchucker to supply the supernatural being but I’m sure he’d just say it’s a goblin

I love my axe as much as I love you
1100 words

“Noice exes you got there,” said the goblin. He was standing on my front doorstep and peering around me into my living room with beady black eyes.

“Do you mean axes?” I said. I hated goblins.

“Yih, that’s what Oi said,” he said. “Exes.”

For all that his accent was awful, the goblin wasn’t wrong. My axes were my exes. My weaponsmith, Kylie, who I was secretly in love with, liked to give me poo poo for refusing to sell them, but she didn’t understand. I might be a serial axe monogamist but I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else using my former weapons.

I was also a serial axe murderer, which was why the goblin was at my house.

“Name’s Todd,” said the goblin. “Oi need you to kill my ix.”

I sighed. People always wanted their exes murdered. That’s why I stuck with axes. Sure, sometimes I thought it might be nice to… An image of Kylie’s face came unbidden into my mind. The way her sweat sizzled when it hit the forge, her hammer arm rising and falling, rising and falling… I shook my head.

A dwarf’s gotta get paid, so I told Todd I’d take the job. I whistled for my battle-triceratops, Irene, and slung a double-seated saddle onto her back and my double-headed battleaxe, Cassie, onto mine.

Irene’s feet kicked up a cloud of red dust as we trotted across town. There was a red glow on the horizon. Ominous, I thought, could be Lava People. I pointed it out to Todd, and he patted the knife on his hip and said that’s why he always carried one of those. I said I was more of an axe man myself, and we entered into a robust debate about the pros and cons of each. Todd’s knowledge was impressive, and I started to think that he might not be such a bad oval office after all. I was still struggling to imagine who’d want to be with a goblin though.

“So, who is your ex anyway?” I said.

Before he could answer, an ungodly scream split the hot afternoon air and Kylie, mounted on her emotionally unstable velociraptor, Steve, burst from the alleyway that lead to her workshop. She had bloody Steve muzzled at least, but the predator’s sudden appearance spooked poor Irene, who bucked, dumping Todd into the red dirt. Kylie pointed at Todd and drew the thumb of her other hand across her throat. Never one to be subtle, was Kylie.

“That’s her!” Todd yelled to me, before turning and bolting down the alley. Kylie spurred Steve after him.

The alley was too small for Irene so I had to chase them on foot. When I got to the workshop I found the door kicked in and Kylie trying to fish Todd out from under a bench with a polearm.

I unslung Cassie from my back. Kylie hadn’t even noticed me yet. I could get this job done in one clean hit. Get paid, go home. My hands were sweating against Cassie’s handle. Kylie’s the best weaponsmith this side of the Lava Sea, I thought. But that wasn’t it. As I watched the murderous intensity with which she was trying to skewer Todd a thought rose up in me, that maybe, if I told her how I felt, it might be possible, if I found the right words, for her to feel the same passion about me...

That’s when I spotted the most beautiful axe I’d ever laid eyes on. Its blue steel glittered. My heart stopped, and I forgot to breathe. Cassie dropped from my slack fingers with a clang. The blue axe was hanging at the back of the forge, and my feet carried me unbidden across the flagstones to lift her reverently down from the wall.

Then the town’s alarm klaxons started to blare. The Lava People were attacking.

“poo poo poo poo poo poo,” said Kylie. She dropped the polearm and started scrabbling through the unfinished weapons on her bench.

Cassie was lying where I’d dropped her on the stone floor. A familiar surge of guilt made my face feel hot. I picked her up, one axe in each hand, and started to think about where I’d hang Cassie at home. She deserved a good spot, I might have to move Sandra…

The thunderous roar of a war-tyrannosaurus broke my train of thought, following by the crack and boom of a lava-trebuchet. Kylie’s eyes met mine, and all the things I wanted to say to her rushed to get out my mouth at once, so that they piled up in my throat and in the end only one made it out.

“Here!” I said. I thrust Cassie at her. My heart felt like it might burst. I had never let someone else use one of my ex-axes before. I searched Kylie’s face for some sign she understood.

“Cheers ears,” Kylie said, and boosted battlewards. I heard Steve’s demented blood-scream as Kylie loosed his jaws from the muzzle.

I followed her outside to find the air filled with the stench of sulphur and a Lava Man about to crush Todd into a pancake with one massive fist.

I swung the blue axe and she veritably sung as she sliced the monster in half. The Lava Man disintegrated into a shower of hot coals, making Todd yelp as he danced out of the way.

“That’s a noice exe!” he said, then, “duck!” as he schiing’d a throwing knife over my head and straight into a firey eyeball. Another rain of hot rocks clattered down around us.

“So, what are you going to name her?” he said, nodding at the blue axe.

Through the clouds of red dust and sulphur fumes I could just see the flash of Cassie’s blade rising and falling, rising and falling. “I thought I might call her… Kylie.”

Todd nodded, understanding. Then I whistled for Irene, and held the blade of the blue axe out towards Todd. He did the same with his knife, and we kissed the blades of each of our weapons for luck, then mounted up. Irene roared as we charged into battle, where we fought alongside Kylie until the Lava People turned their molten tails and ran.

Afterwards, their differences resolved, Kylie and Todd as if I wanted to join them at the pub for beers, but I said nah, it was getting late. I hauled myself up onto a battle-weary Irene, and as we walked slowly home I smiled, delighted at the way the starlight glittered on Kylie’s blue steel blade.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Radio Da Da (episode title #50)
1726 words

Sammy turned the key, tapping on the gas. A rattling chattered under the hood. He released both. “C’mon, Bucky.” He massaged the dashboard, then turned the key again. A second’s hesitation, a sputtering, then a rhythmic brushing rewarded him. “Knew you could do it, buddy. Came through in the clutch.”

He turned on the lights and wended his way out of Jake’s back lot. Jake was cool. He had said Sammy could park his van on the cement pad by the barn until he got his feet back under him, just as long as he didn’t disturb the house. And Jake didn’t need to know van life wasn’t a temporary thing. Sammy had seen how square life had killed his father.

Now for the drive into work. He had screwed up synching his phone and lost all his music, even the homemade demos of his garage — well, barn — band, and there was no computer to back up from, not since he sold it. There was spotty internet on the drive, so no streaming. He turned on the radio for the trip. Only one station played loud enough music this early: WMTL, “All Metal.”

He drove in that half-awake daze of highway hypnosis where the miles slip by in a slight dissociative state, lost in the music, drumming on the steering wheel. The radio played on. “…Pantera with ‘Revolution is My Name,’ and thanks for listening, Sammy Webster. Next up, Megadeth—”

He snapped to attention. Had they said his name? They had! Was it a contest? No, he never phoned in to the station. Must’ve been Tyrone or Biggs down at the warehouse calling in, getting them to mention him.


No one had fessed up to calling the station. Bunch of chickens. Anyway, it’s not like Sammy was angry. Actually, it was cool someone thought enough about him to get his name on the air. Another eight hours done, he pulled Bucky out of the lot and pointed her toward Jake’s farm.

He stopped at the Pic-and-Pac near work to get dinner: a deli sandwich and a six-pack of Miller Genuine Draft. He was almost all the way home when he realized Metallica’s ‘One’ had been playing since he got in the van after work. He pulled onto the cement pad and waited for the song to end. It started up again. He pressed the tuner buttons, but the station wouldn’t change. “Hell of a time for the radio to break.” He turned Bucky off and went into the back.

He texted Jake, “Got a sixer of MGD, u free?” He should have stopped at the gym to shower if he wanted to go into the house, because Noreen would pitch a fit at his stank.

It didn’t matter. Jake texted back, “Can’t, kids up early 2morrow.” Ahh, forget it, more beer for him. He popped one open.

Sammy was two beers deep when he thought about the Metallica song again, something about the video. He pulled it up on his phone. Yeah, some old movie, a kid injured in a war, trapped inside himself, can’t communicate except by banging his head against the pillow. Weird. He opened another beer and sucked half of it down while thumbing through internet sites.

The radio came on.

It was Stormtroopers of Death, ‘Identity.’ “You prove that the apple / never falls far from the tree. / Identity! Identity! Identity!”

Maybe it was the beers, maybe he was going insane, but Sammy asked, “Bucky? That you?”

With a record scratch, the music stopped. The glow of the radio faceplate shone, but no other dash lights were on. He scrambled forward and piled into the driver’s seat. He ran his hand along the dashboard. “Talk to me, Bucky.”

“Do you think your van is speaking to you?” The radio’s glow pulsed in time with the words.

“What do you mean?”

“Like you could buy a talking van for a dollar. Heh, millennials. Be back soon.”

“Who are you?”

Sammy awaited a response. He crouch-paced around the van, browsed some more internet sites, finished another beer, and drummed out a tune on his thighs, yet nothing happened. “Where are you, man?” Had anything happened in the first place? Or was he going crazy? “I’m right here, dude!” Frustrated and bored, he picked up his guitar and strummed it. He slid into a well-practiced rhythm and belted out lyrics. “Orphaned by the black sun / the never-wanted one / alone on the earth / abandoned from birth…” He played and sang the entire song. As he finished with “…Never sought for / never fought for / not a thought for / meeeee,” the radio burst forth with applause and cheers.

As the ruckus died down, the radio said, “Sammy, that was fantastic. You have an amazing musical talent. Did you write that song?”

A blush grew on Sammy’s cheeks. “Yeah. It’s nothing special.”

“Bull! It’s dripping with feeling. I can hear your pain. Only someone who’s suffered a great loss could write and perform something like that…Tell me what happened.”

Sammy sat quietly, hair hiding his eyes. When he looked up, tears had formed at their corners. “My dad died when I was fifteen. He was an accountant, worked all the time, I barely ever saw him. Had a heart attack one day, just died at his desk at work.”

“I’m so sorry, son.” The radio fell silent for a moment. “Do you perform?”

“Aw, Jake and me get together sometimes in the barn and let it rip. I play guitar, and he plays bass. This other guy, Bill, plays drums.”

“You ought to put on a show. I’ve heard on WMTL there’s an open mic night in town this Saturday. The three of you should perform. You’re really good.”

Sammy shook his head. “Not good enough to get on a stage and sing! And my playing sucks! You’re crazy.”

“Look, I’m not really a magic radio—”

“You’re not?”

“You ever heard of a poltergeist?”

“Like that old movie?”

“Yeah. Poltergeist means ‘noisy spirit.’ They like making themselves known by moving stuff around, making a racket, that sort of thing. I’m sort of the same way. I’m what they call an elektrogeist. I live in devices like this radio, and I control them. So, you play acoustic, and I can regulate the PA system. If you sing off key, I can fix that. If you play a note wrong, I can change it. I can make sure you come out pitch perfect.”

“I don’t know, man. What’s in it for me?”

“Come on, Sammy, what’ll it hurt? Besides, there are prizes – a grand for first place…Anyone who plays and sings as well as you do must want to perform. Here’s your chance to do it without risk, with me backing you up. What do you say?”

“I don’t know…”

“OK, here’s why you’ll do it. The van’s alternator is about to go bad. I’ll keep it going if you perform. Deal?”

“That’s not fair.”

“Them’s the breaks. Show biz is tough.”


Sammy pulled Bucky onto the cement pad and put it in park. Jake hopped out, slid the side door open, and pulled out his bass. “Dude, I can’t get over it! $1000 three ways! … Wanna come in for a beer?”

“I’m tired as hell, bro. I came down from the rush driving back. Manaña?”

Jake shot Sammy a grin and a one-handed fingergun. “You’re on. Come by around noon.” He walked toward the house, whistling ‘Black Sun Orphan.’

As soon as he was out of sight, Sammy said, “He’s gone. You can come out now.” The radio’s faceplate lit up. Sammy shook his head. “Man, you’re a fake.”

“What do you mean?”

“I heard me sing. I heard us play. You didn’t change anything.”

“I didn’t need to, Sammy. Was your performance perfect? Whose is? But was your song better than anyone else’s? Yeah, by a mile. Your friends are pretty good, but you – you’ve got something special. Why not go for it? Work doing whatever during the week, and play whenever you can at nights and on the weekend?”

Sammy patted the dash. “You’re an angel who’s sent to show me things, like in It’s a Wonderful Life, aren’t you?” He chuckled. “Well, you got your wings. I’m going to keep playing with the guys, trying to get more gigs. But I’m not giving up van life—”

“I never told you to—”

“Good, ‘cause I’d have ripped you out by your wires. Not giving up van life, but yeah, I can do something besides work in a warehouse. Maybe I can make some other people happy with my music. Maybe make myself happy with it.”

The radio said, “Sammy, all I ever wanted was for you to be happy.”

Sammy bolted upright, banging his head on the roof of the van. “Ow! Wait, what do you mean?”

Static started to creep into the edges of the radio’s voice. “It’s all your mother and I ever wanted for you: not to be rich, not to be powerful, just to be happy with your life.”


It was getting difficult to make out the words now through the interference. “It took me a long time to earn this chance…”

“Dad, what’s happening? Come back!”

“…Son, I’m so proud of you…”

“You can’t go! I need you to keep helping me!”

A weird oscillating noise began to overlay the static. Sammy strained to listen to the radio. He adjusted its dials, to no effect. “…You don’t get it, do you? Sure, I helped you. But you helped me more…you gave me the chance to be your father one last time, and to do a good job of it, for once—” A burst of noise blotted out some words. “—on’t worry about me. Things are going to be happier now for me. And for you. I love you, son. I always ha—” Anything further was lost in a squelching shriek, and the radio fell silent.

After a minute, it started up again into the trailing notes of a song. “And that was Creed with ‘With Arms Wide Open.’ Next up on WMTL, a little something from Down Under, ‘My Father’s Son,’ by the Amity Affliction.”

Sammy’s tears were met by the smile on his face.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010



Pham Nuwen fucked around with this message at 22:40 on Mar 21, 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.

880 words

It was a magic kind of summer, Todd and Cheryl and Ryan and me on tour in Southern Indiana and Ohio, playing bars and clubs in towns that hadn't heard anything better, not live. We were the Monkeyshines, playing fifties songs in a nineties style, sleeping in the van most nights, at least those of us who weren't getting laid any given night. And it was a hell of a van, too, with a sweet mural on the sides of a great big red devil goblin wizard guy shooting lightning out of his middle fingers. Magic. Right up until the day the van broke down.

Now, this happened in a postage-stamp town in Indiana called Clement, and I didn't notice that the Van wasn't going to go until after the gig, around ten past midnight. Clement is a place that rolls up the sidewalks around ten, with that club and a few trucker bars being the only exception. If it had just been the battery I might have managed a jump, but twenty-four hour tow service was a Jeffrrsonville thing.

Todd and Cheryl had picked out one of the fans, chatted her up between sets, and left with her right after. They were big into threescore, which makes sense because they were each just a bit more than half a decent lay. And Ryan ran into one of his exes during that same break, and Ryan's exes are all on good terms forever. Well, apart from Connie from Cincinnati, who tried to stab him with a knitting needle and got herself thrown in jail. But the one there was good with it, in the "stay up all night with him talking, if the current boyfriend doesn't understand then he wasn't worth keeping anyway" kind of way. So that left me with the van.

Now, I've slept in the van before, but not alone. Stayed up all night in the van too, when nobody else could take a shift watching our gear. But that was with the others just a thin wall away, not completely alone in the dark club parking lot. But it wasn't like I could get a taxi to the Motel 6, since first, that would wipe out my share of the night's pay, money we'd need on repairs anyhow, and there was the matter of the gear. Instruments and amps.

So, there I was, alone, in the dark, trying to wait out the night.

"Hello, Joanna."

I jumped, and the only reason I didn't hit my head on the roof of the van is because I'm only five foot two. Then I turned, and jumped, and did hit that ceiling.

He was glowing. That's the first thing. Red skin, glowing. Short knobby horns. He didn't look quite the same as the goblin on our mural, but he could have been a cousin. He was wearing a 3XL Monkeyshines t-shirt, which thankfully went down almost to his knees because that was it, he was Donald Ducking it. And he was smiling. Shiny black teeth.

"Hey," he said. Voice like, well, a goblin. High pitched, a little rumble, a bit of laughing like he's the only one in on a joke. "I'm not going to hurt you. Do I look like I'm going to hurt you?"

"Kind of, yes," I said.

"What, this?" He sort of shrugged. He got a little less glowy. 

"What do you want?" I said. "And how do you know my name?"

"I've been watching. Well, listening mostly," he said. "Through that portal." He thumbed at the side of the van. "I'm Cauldron, by the way."

"Portal?" I said. "Fantastic, I'm living in a van with a portal to hell on the side."

"Hell?", said Cauldron. "You'd better not let Queen Yrsa hear you call it that."

"Who?" I said. "Listen, what do you want?"

"I want to be in the band," he said.

"Do you play any instruments?" I said. The weird thing is that I wasn't scared of him anymore. I've dealt with wannabes before.

"I can play bass," he said.

"Todd already covers that," I said. "Are you better than him?"

"No," said Cauldron. "I do play a mean tuba though."

"Do we sound like a Ska band to you?"

He shrugged sadly. "Well, I bet I could probably play the drums. How hard could it be, just hitting things with sticks." I was glaring at him so hard I was seeing spots. Not just because he was glowing neither. "Kidding, kidding."

"Well, what else can you offer?"

It took until the sun came up, but we finally made a deal. Pyrotechnics was what he could do, fire and lightning effects that are only as real as he wants. Light without heat, faerie fire lightshows that can't burn down the house. And in return, I got protection. Not just for the night, but forever. He's a bit over-zealous: one time a guy wound up completely hairless for standing me up. I mean, eyelashes to ankles, like a competitive swimmer. But he means well. And some nights, for the last encore, we'll drag out some eighties power ballad that has a horn part in it and he'll come out and play that mean horn before shooting fire and lightning out his middle fingers.

Jul 26, 2012

The Kenning House
Words: 1429

Back in the mines, the old folks used to tell me all these stories just to scare us. “Don’t go too deep by yourself, Teddy,” they’d always say. “The devil’s gonna snatch you and put a Changeling in your place.” But he never showed up. I started hopping rails when I was twelve in 1912. It’s 1913 now. Still nothing. But this kid might be the closest thing.

That steam whistle comes blowing down the rail. We both haul it right to that bright yellow dot. The old bum I hit with the rock ain’t quit chasing us since we got out of the hobo camp. But him and his goony friends are still screaming at us. And the stuff they’re saying about the kid running with me. Yeah, this kid might have skin like spinach and ears like knives. But he’s still only gotta be like eight years old. And these palookas got faces like the side of a cliff. Who are they gonna call ugly? The old dummies throw the few cans of beans they got left at us but I hop on the first open boxcar. I put my hand out for the kid, who climbs up like a champ, only stumbling when he burns his hand on something.

We tear past our pursuers in the wooden. When the coast is clear, I get up to look, but it just seems like the frame of the car. It ain’t even hot when I touch it. But I heard the hiss and his hand’s still steaming. There was a burn. “You okay, kid?” I ask.

“It’s the iron,” the kids says. “I can’t touch the iron.”

I use one of the couple old rags lying around to wrap up the kid’s hand. “What’s your name?”

“Albert,” he tells me. “Albert Kenning.”

“Teddy Lawson. At your service.”

“You saved me.”

Don’t know why that felt weird to hear, but it did. “It’s just what you do, you know? Life on the road ain’t easy. Ain’t too many people helping each other out. Speaking of which, you hungry? I didn’t grab any of those cans they were throwing at us. But I still got some bread left over–” Barely even got the loaf out of my coat before this little gremlin grabs it and starts gnawing like some sorta demonic hamster. He slows down when he catches me staring. I think he’s embarrassed. “How long since you ate last?”

“I don’t know. A while. I didn’t get hungry back there.”

“Never get hungry? I gotta know where that is.”

“They called it the Feywild. The fairies took me to live there from my mommy and daddy’s farm. But I don’t wanna live in the Feywild. I wanna go home.” That’s when little Albert starts getting real weepy. “They told me I couldn’t go home. They said I was Feytouched now. That I was weird now. And that people would be afraid of me.”

I ain’t no good with tears. But I think I see where this kid’s coming from. “I ain’t scared of you. And if your folks got any sense, they ain’t gonna be scared of you neither. So how about you tell me where we can find your mommy and daddy.”

“Wappinger Falls. Can this train take us there?”

“Nope! But we can catch the next line once we hit Valdosta.”

“Thank you.” Albert gets quiet for a minute. But then he hits me with it. “Do you have a family?”

Aw geez. This kid’s been through enough, right? He doesn’t want my whole sad spiel. “Naw kid. I didn’t get one of those. I just got hungry.”

We switch trains right before the station, so we don’t get no trouble from the bulls. When we get to our destination, we find out that station ain’t too far from the market. The same market Albert’s mommy and daddy would sell their veggies every couple of days in the spring. Kid remembers the exact way back from there. Most of the trip is country, but I see the chalk markers. Vagabond roads here. No idea how long this kid’s family been living here, but if they still up around, they ain’t got neighbors, Maybe you can call the dried husks around here crops, you probably gotta have farmers to have a farm. And these old houses ain’t been lived in a good while. When we get to the kid’s old place and he can’t make sense of.

“This isn’t it,” Albert tells me, that little quake in his voice. “This can’t be it!”

“It’s gotta be,” I tell him. “It’s the same address!”

“It can’t be. It just can’t.”

Boarded up windows. Dry soil. Wood that’d look more at home in a shipwreck than your living room. There ain’t nobody been in so long. I see the look on the kid’s face. Seeing that garden color demon maw droop all heartbroken like got in my head. My head says I should just tell him thems the breaks kid, deal with it. Because that’s what I gotta tell myself on the rail. But I don’t wanna kick this kid. Helps I don’t have to.

“Old Kennings used to live here,” says a voice from the dried grass. Another bum. He probably could have pulled the boards off the doors or windows. But it doesn’t look like he's been keeping his strength up to do that. “They moved. Moved all the way into the city.”

“You know where?” I ask him.

“Uptown! Up up town! You can’t miss it.”

The kid and I hop on a wagon heading to the city, and it don’t take much to find the way. “Trust me, kid. Town this rich, no one wants to look at us anyway,” I tell Albert as we slip through the alley and I do the talking. These large brick buildings are all pristine. Bunch of them got gold plaques saying exactly which old money bigwigs run the joint. But the whole city seems to circle around the biggest house, with the biggest fence, and the goldest plaque. Kenning Manor sticks out like a sore thumb, even around the other bozos with way too much in their pocketbook. Like it ain’t even seem like it was built. Seemed more like Wall Street planted it and grew it right in the middle of town. Just through the gate, we see two hoity toity types walking from their carriage into the front door. I look at the kid, and ol’ Albert shakes eagerly.

“Mommy! Daddy!” Albert shouts before running up the gates. I follow the best I can, but he can move. He manages to push through the door. I crawl up to a window just to look in. Hoping I could have see a happier reunion, but Albert just stares. His evening dressed mommy and daddy look at him with anger as a human child looks on in confusion. A human child who looks like Albert with pinker skin and more sensible ears. Then he gets mad. His mouth opens like a shark and his teeth sharpen into needles. And the noise he makes! The horrible, nasty squeal like a pig choking on a parrot in the loudest way possible.

I pound on the window, but I still hear the commotion inside. “You little brat!” The old man yells at Albert. “You won’t take this from us!” I bust out the window with a rock. Pop open the window. And dive in, running straight for their fancy cream colored fire place. Specifically the iron pokers next to it. Needle mouth kid stays back, even as he screeches at me. It don’t matter. It’s long enough for Albert to get out. And for me to follow. They stay back, but I still see that look in his parents’ eyes. I hope it’s shame. But it might be the look of a couple get-rich-quick patsies whose big deal got complicated.

We hop the fence. I want to run back to the tracks, but then I see the kid plop down on the grown. “They didn’t want me,” he says. “I came back from the hidden place and they didn’t want me.”

He ain’t even sad. I don’t think his brain has made sense of everything enough for him to get sad. I try to come up with something to smart to say right now, but everything’s coming up blank. Although, I do remember something. “Kid, you said you didn’t need to eat in that feywild?”


“You wanna show me?”

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

rohan posted:

two words: submarine werewolves
The Kennel (1,100 words)

The submarine languished along the coast, caught up on the rocks, abandoned by God. Vasily took care as he clambered aboard. With workman's gloves he examined the rust.

Helinka stood back with her hands in her pockets. She was wearing his coat, smoking his cigarettes. She had dark, sleepless eyes. She grinned without thinking. She inhaled the sea breeze and exhaled smoke.

"Must've been quite the storm," she said.

Vasily nodded.

"There's a lot of rust." *He said, stepping down from the wreckage. "Will take some time, I think."

"We've got time."

Vasily sauntered down the beach. "I've got time," he corrected her, coolly. Helinka sighed, avoiding his gaze. Having drawn close, he towered above her. His face was grim, but his eyes betrayed him. His soft, somber pupils were wells of sorrow. Taking off his gloves, he extended a finger. He lifted her chin with a delicate touch. Helinka removed the bent cigarette. She handed it to him. He took it, and kissed her.

"Then you've got no time she waste," she said.

He put the cigarette to his own mouth, partaking. It'd been three years since they'd taken to the road. A find like this was miraculous indeed. Helinka turned to fetch their things.

He checked his revolver: two bullets, one silver.

The interior of the sub had fared a little better. As they'd hoped, one chamber still remained sealed. It was some hours work to scrape off the rust. The air trapped inside was stale and sickly. The first to step inside, Helinka started coughing.

"We'll need to let it breath," said Vasily. He fanned the air with a look of displeasure.

Helinka's tried to channel her cough into a laugh. "Better than waking up naked in a field."

Naked, confused, covered in blood. Whose was uncertain. They'd had to leave quickly.

They'd heard about the sub from an equally remote fishing village, whose elderly inhabits would moonlight as scroungers. Much had already been stripped for parts, but only what oculd be easily salvaged. "You took look capable," they'd said to the nomads. "Maybe there's something worth prying it open." It was this that stoked hope in both of their hearts. Having finally found it, they could now hatch a plan. Low on supplies, needing both salt and vinegar, Vasily headed back. Helinka stayed behind.

It was the middle of the day and the men were out fishing. Vasily found two women repairing an old boat.

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

Vasily nodded.

"Well that's wonderful. You here to sell?"

"Buying," said Vasily. He held a crumpled note.

"You watch yourself out there. They say there's a killer. I heard it on the radio."

Vasily clicked his tongue. "I'll be careful," he replied.

The walk back to the submarine seemed longer than before. They only had a few days. They needed to prepare. He found Helinka waiting for him, sitting on the rocks. Hunched over, she faced the sea, supporting her head with her palm.

"What's for lunch?" she asked without looking away from the water.


"And if I don't like fish?"


She chuckled. "Fish it is."

The week that followed was tedious and tiresome. They arose in the morning and immediately set to work, scrapping off as much rust as time would allow. Every waking moment they could spare was spent cleaning. Sometimes they'd talk. Usually they didn't.

Gonna be a real shame to leave this all behind," said Helinka as she scrubbed. Unlike Vasily, she could use her bare hands. "After all this work to make this place hospitable."

Vasily smiled softly. "If this works, we can stay."

"We can't stay forever."

"As long as we can."

Helinka sighed a little. "As long as we can."

Something would go wrong. Something always went wrong. Three years was a long time to learn and relearn that lesson.

By the end of the week they'd done it, having cleared a modest space. The rest of the sub needed tending to, but the airtight room was finished, and the door leading to it. "Not too shabby," Helinka said, her sleeves rolled up, massaging Vasily's shoulders. Vasily was sitting. He lit a cigarette. "Let's hope it holds," he said, tapping the door.

He left her again to fetch food from the village. Maybe some alcohol. A little indulgence before the long night.

He was careful not to slow down when he was the provincial police. An inspector had arrived. He was chatting up the headman.

"You again?" asked the man in the store. "You two living out there?"

"No," Vasily lied.

He was quick to return before it was dark. Helinka was pacing. She looked lean and restless. Seeing him approach, she took two step back. She cradled herself, licked her lips without thinking.

"Where have you been?"

He held up a bottle.

The two of them ate and watched the sea. They were sitting apart. Her decision, and his. She held up her hand as he offered a drink. "In the morning," she said. She smiled sadly, as did he.

An early moon could be seen in the sky. Vasily grimaced. "It's time," he said. Helinka stood and entered the sub. Vasily followed at a comfortable distance. Helinka stepped into the formerly sealed room. She let loose an exhale, shuddering slightly. Vasily placed his hand on the door. He began to shut it.

"I'm sorry," she said. She was clutching herself. She couldn't face him, but her voice was trembling.

Vasily hesitated. He shut his eyes. "I forgive you," he said, and sealed her away. Turning the handle, he closed off the chamber, several inches of steel between him and it. Turning around, he slumped to the ground, his back against the door, bracing its against any possible attack. From his belt he produced his revolver. He checked it: two bullets, one silver. He held it at the ready.

As nighttime fell she began to howl, painfully, fiercely. He heard her through the door. He could hear her scratching at the walls with her fingers, long and clawed, denting the interior. But the metal casket held. Vasily breathed slowly. He held the gun aloft just in case. Just in case.

It felt like an eternity before she died down. Vasily exhaled, lowering his gun. Through a hole in the roof he surveyed the night sky.

Maybe this time...something would go right.

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?


submissions are closed!

one story still missing by my count, if it lands before judgment I’ll still crit it

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Friendly Beef Brawl

I’d Go Through Hell For You; I Just Wish It Were Cheaper
Word Count: 1449

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 17:02 on Jan 2, 2024

Jun 28, 2018

You weren't born to just pay bills and die.

You must suffer.

A lot.
Week 546 Crits

Late because of travel/illness - thank you.

A Sea of Nothing by Albatrossy_Rodent
There’s something about the tense in the first paragraph that feels jilted to me - present tense? Right next to ‘had just nodded off’ seems a bit disjointed. I don’t have any context for why the strait being in this state is abnormal either, which means the sense of dread isn’t hitting like I think it’s supposed to. Also the ‘Darling’ and ‘Yeah duh’ are not typical to ‘Oh no, this is going wrong’ situations in the wilderness which means the dialogue doesn’t add to the dread I think you were aiming to build. Nervous laughter or ‘How far are we from Vancouver?’ - ‘Doesn’t matter, without wind we aren’t moving’ is an example of what feels a bit more realistic. The idle conversation and mention of brands makes me think the story is going a different direction, but then we’re back to ‘something very strange going on’ without me getting a sense that they are actually worried or in danger. But if they’re going to wax and wane about death and life they need to be far more hypothermic/delirious in some way. I guess I never got the sense that it was actually the end of time because there’s no dread build up, which means I can only come to the conclusion she’s clinically depressed on a sailboat and her phone stopped working instead. It also is weak on the tax.

GORP by Staggy
I quite like this story. The pacing is a little stilted - more on the front end than I think was necessary - I’m not entirely sure who Kerry is and there is more ‘telling’ in why we don’t like Kyle other than he throws rocks at birds and people who do that aren’t cool. Dialogue is strong though and I think the framework of the story, while simple, is relatable and pleasant. It definitely checks all the flash rule boxes and the ask of the prompt.

The Last Trumpet by Cptn_dr
This story has a lot of potential but needs more meat. I want to feel the dread that her friends have been replaced with something else. I want to hear more about that hosed up bird. We spent more time on the state of the ice cream and its vegan status than we did on some of the parts of this story that could have benefited from a bit more dread - how does she know hours have passed? What’s the sun doing? For having no food, you don’t mention hunger. Are her feet blistering? Have her shoes ripped apart? She’s just in shorts and powered by ice cream - I’d expect more suffering than we chat about. I love the coming back into service realization but I’m not entirely sure what apocalyptic scenario hits at the end or how it relates to the other aspects of the story.

The Mountain Hare by WindwardAway
Boy howdy do I love rabbit stories so here we are. Oh and it’s dead.
Set up is solid - there’s some details that are repetitive like the mention that they’re eating rabbit for the sixth time in a row and how many times they’ve used the cooking stove to cook hare a few paragraphs later. It’s a bit weird that Arlo’s perspective references his dad by name and not relation, only because I keep forgetting they’re related as a result. The descriptors also may have benefited moving farther up in the story - closer to the ‘scuttling meekly’ paragraph so I could better envision the two of them and orient within their relationship quicker. The descriptors in here are absolutely lovely though - I really am enjoying the setting and ‘wilderness’ you’ve built out. It’s a clean story with an impactful ending and good pacing - I quite enjoyed it. The ‘Like a mountain hare, Timothy remained frozen in place’ is good framing.

An Infinite Storm of Beauty by BeefSupreme
Hell yeah, Desolation Wilderness is the best and I definitely hiked it this last summer so now I’m biased haha. It’s fairly obvious you ran with whatever word count you felt like and there’s some measure of indulgence in that - listing out every tree species is something that would have been cut with a more judicious hand plus some of the language around god’s paintbrush and the destitution of human heartbreak seemed superfluous. But there’s other details I really enjoy - the descriptors of the wind and the bedrock of the mountain ‘that mankind could not tear down’ are all solid.’Tress into grenades and tents into lightning rods’ is also fantastic. This story honestly delivers on what we asked for - there’s no huge and horrible stakes and anyone who has been in the wilderness in a similar situation has sat there with a Personal Locator wondering if it’s worth the hassle or not. A good dog who is probably better than Kira anyways.

Corpse Reader by IdleAmalgam
Okay we’re back in a post apocalypse/steampunk setting - this one by contrast to Sensory Overload takes a little more time telling me stuff to orient me. Let’s see if it pays off. I’ll be honest - you probably could have excluded the (Stu and Mina) portion and just said ‘The technician Stu’ and ‘the other technician Mina’ to embed it a bit better into the dialogue and story. I don’t read a lot of Steampunk so maybe the ( distinctions ) are more common in the genre. Other than that - your pacing is solid and your descriptors clean - though you may have been able to cut out some of the first paragraph verbiage and just start telling me the reader what Max is doing to orient me in the world/story. It was right on the verge of too much telling instead of showing there at the start. However, you seemed to get it out of the way and the pacing picked up well - I really enjoyed the last two paragraphs. I think it’s a little weak on both prompt aspects but… an interesting take on the sentient GPS device piece that I can nod to.

Dead Weight by Thranguy
I’m too dumb for this story - I think there’s a catch in here or something that I’m supposed to go ‘oh snap’ but it just doesn’t land for me. I like climbing accidents though, and I knew exactly what was occurring in that context outside of just being a little unsure of if Connor is actually there or if Jake has gone completely mad and who is wearing a rose corsage or if they actually are or? Maybe that’s the point though. Unreliable first person narrator and all that.

Sensory Overload by a friendly penguin
This is an interesting take on the prompt - and I appreciate that you were able to ‘show’ instead of tell us through the setting. Cyberpunk(ish) settings can be exhausting but this one came together pretty effortlessly without a lot of wasted descriptors or details. The ending feels a bit weak - I’m not sure why their experience mattered or if Jonah learned much about himself. I get the impression he will go right back to virtual reality and never come back to this place or appreciate its existence - except that now it’s tied to a girl he’s attracted to. It’s a fine ending but ‘just fine’ - cheapens the stakes a little.

Ramrod the Rhinelander by PhantomMuzzles
An interesting little story - there’s some details in here that could have been cut like the caterpillar as they don’t seem to add much, and the monster needs a second pass. The start of it is strong and I really liked the ‘All the parts of him are there but they are empty and wet.’ The rest of that paragraph gets a bit jumbled though and loses steam. For example, ‘Monster then leaves.’ is the start of a series of short sentences that seem very stilted without being impactful. Overall it felt rushed - as if some of the syntax choices weren't done intentionally - just to spit something out and be done with the story.

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?


Before I present judgment: I’d like to acknowledge that this judgepost is being written on the lands of the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin nation, and I pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Small showing this week! Generally, every story had at least something to recommend it — but every story also had some fairly significant flaws we had to overlook, or some potential that remained tragically unmined. I think if the stories had gone through another draft or two, we’d be seeing some very different results this week.

As it is: the judges conferred, and we decided no stories were measurably worse than the others. As a result, there is no loss and no DMs this week.

Some stories did stand above the others: first, for some beautiful prose and a really strong voice, Pham Nuwen takes a HM for Ula.

The Winner came in at the eleventh hour with a story that has its technical issues and some definite first-draft problems, but is still a lean and evocative story that the judges loved unanimously. Congrats Bad Seafood!

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

Week 548 Crits

Staggy - Rent Free
I like the back-and-forth here with Lydia trying to find some sort of quest she can do to appease the ghost, and the ghost repeatedly refusing to play ball. That's an interesting character trait for Lydia--a dogged determination to find compromise--but the way you frame it makes it seem more like genre-awareness. And I don't like genre-awareness.
I'd like to see more physical details and worldbuilding--even just a peek out the window to see what the Valley of Fallen Gods looks like. Particularly in the middle of the story it gets very "voices in a white room". Also, worldbuilding would give more context for why Lydia *must* live in this god skull instead of just moving elsewhere.
The ending falls flat for me because I don't *really* see the connection between the god's domains and the renter's union. Nor for that matter do I see how it's a good deal for the god--"You let me live in your skull, and in return you can help the renter's union."
The details about the ghost being slightly wet are good.

Yoruichi - i love my axe as much as i love you
This story had a smile on my face most of the way through, so I think you accomplished what you set out to do.
I would have rather seen more relationship drama between Kylie, Todd and the narrator instead of a big fight against some random bad guys. Will the narrator overcome his prejudice against goblins? What did Todd do to Kylie that made her so mad at him? These are more interesting questions that didn't get answered.

Admiralty Flag - Radio Da Da
The opening of this is really good. I like the setup of Sammy's precarious living situation, and the detail that he's deliberately committed himself to van life is an interesting twist.
Once the supernatural element enters the story it becomes a rush of talking heads and clunky exposition. The part where Sammy tells the story of his dad's death is particularly info dumpy.
The ending is so sweet my palate rebels against it.

Pham Nuwen - Ula
This is a decent story. I like the sailing details and the general vibe of the sailor's life. Selkies are always fun. The ending comes around again nicely.
This is the 3rd story this week with overly aggressive expository dialogue. I know you've got limited space but try to find a more interesting way to explain your supernatural creature than just having them talk about themselves in a big lump of dialogue.
What would have made this story sing would be more details about the narrator's character (in the past) and something that gives him a motive to pursue Ula beyond aimless curiosity. You hint a few times at the narrator being a womaniser, so it might have been better if he *did* know what selkies were and *was* trying to make her his wife. That way, his curse would be a consequence of his character flaw rather than random bad luck.

Thranguy - Monkeyshines
Another rock & roll van story, but with less of a character hook than Admiralty Flag's had.
Where's the conflict? A goblin shows up, asks to be in the band, gets to be in the band. That's it. "And in return, I got protection." Wait, what? The goblin's already doing them a favour, the protag should be doing something for *him* in return.

CaligulaKangaroo - The Kenning House
"they called it the Feywild" OK, it's gonna be hard for me to take your faerie otherworld seriously if it literally has the same name as in Dungeons & Dragons
The bones of this story are dead solid. The journey, characters, the twist with the parents. What's lacking is the polish. There are a lot of grammatical errors and garbled sentences, plus odd phrasings that make it hard to follow the story. Finding out what the parents had done would have landed better if it was clearer and had more space to breathe.
Based on the first paragraph the protagonist is 13 years old, but for the rest of the story he talks like a grizzled old-timer.
The ending is a flop. You should have sat with the emotional impact of the parents' betrayal and thought about how the two protagonists could move forward together. But instead you went for a random comment that didn't relate to the rest of the story.

Bad Seafood - The Kennel

Proofread your story! Spelling mistakes throw me out of what is otherwise rather smooth prose.
The setting and vibe of this is excellent. Misery, extremity, decay. I love to see someone take a silly prompt and treat it as seriously as they can.
Structure is the weakest point here. The story meanders about a bit and then just ends. An inspector shows up but has no impact on the conclusion.
I would have liked to see some kind of climax at the end--it can and should be small, but it needs to have more impact than "idk, maybe this submarine thing will work out?"
If you're looking to write more stories like this, I recommend reading "In the Cart" by Anton Chekhov, or better yet "A Swim in the Pond in the Rain" by George Saunders, which includes and analyzes "In the Cart". It's a great example of a story where nothing much happens externally but something important happens internally.
8/ 10

Thanks for all your stories! :)

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?


Crits for Week #548
Given it’s Aussie week, I’m going to compare each of your stories to a classic Aussie food. Enjoy!

Staggy - Rent Free:
I enjoyed the start of this. The premise was fun and inventive, and I appreciate how the two prompt rules are neatly interweaved. There are some really fun lines, like “I may have worn the bones of my enemies but I certainly didn’t turn them into a breakfast nook”.

Beyond that: most of the story is dialogue, which is fine, but I think your characters run out of conflict halfway through and it feels like they’re spinning tires through most of the story. It’s hard to sustain the fun back-and-forth you open with through the story when nothing is meaningfully changing outside their conversation, and when we get to the ending it feels strangely abrupt. There’s a fake-out toward the end where the god considers if the landlords need a god, but when that gets dismissed it kills a lot of the momentum the story had until that point.

It also feels a bit internally inconsistent that the god knows about witches with realtor’s licenses, but doesn’t know what a “landlord” is.

Your story is a slice of fairy bread: colourful, fun to eat, ultimately a bit unsatisfying.

Yoruichi - I love my axe as much as I love you:
lol accints

This was a fun story that’s hurting from just having too much stuff. There were parts where I had to double-back to get the names straight, which is death in a piece that’s supposed to be a quick and exciting read. Most frustratingly, most of that confusion could be avoided — removing the triceratop’s and the velociraptor’s names would help a lot with this, or maybe calling them something more obviously dinosaur-ish.

Is Todd a reference to something? Steve, Cassie, and Kylie can all be read as Aussie references, but Todd’s drawing a blank for me.

Your story is a pavlova, piled high with stuff and a bit messy, but lots of fun.

Admiralty Flag - Radio Da Da (episode title #50):
Thanks to the flash rule, this is the longest story this week by a long way, but I can’t help but think it’d be better at half the length.

In what’s becoming a pretty consistent refrain this week, there’s just too much going on in this piece, and there’s a fair amount of exposition we could do without. I don’t really need to know, so early in the piece, why he’s listening to the radio, for instance … all the talk about syncing and no streaming etc is distracting so early in the story. Jake and Noreen are introduced fairly on but have no real bearing on the plot. etc.

Once you introduce the idea that the radio’s talking to Sammy the story picked up a lot — this is the exact sort of weird happening I can see in a Round the Twist episode. The problem is that it feels like you didn’t know going in that the van would end up being the voice of his dad (despite it being heavily implied by your chosen title), so the voice feels inconsistent: we go from the radio being snarky (“like you could buy a talking van for a dollar”) to supportive (“you have an amazing musical talent”) in just over a paragraph. And then when the radio says it’s a poltergeist, it feels like all of the mystery and intrigue is drained from the story in favour of telling a (fairly familiar) story of someone encouraged to follow their dreams (only to be told the magic was inside them the entire time) … but oh, wait, eleventh hour twist, the radio is his father! … by which time I’m exhausted by the story’s tonal shifts and the ending falls completely flat, because by now I’ve completely forgotten the earlier setup about his father.

This story’s a bit frustrating because it seems to have potential, and the idea of a radio being possessed by the ghost of his father is a nice one … perhaps you could play up the angle that his strait-laced father is now trying to connect with his son through the music he knows his son likes?

Your story is a vanilla slice, thick and dense and sickly sweet, and best enjoyed on a roadtrip through some small country town.

Pham Nuwen - Ula:
I’m always a fan of a strong character voice, and I think the narration and framing in this story works well.

A nitpick: I’m not a fan of “crazy” in the prose. “Mad” probably works better for the voice. This is a small detail that took me out of the prose a bit.

The stakes don’t feel as strong or as defined as they maybe should. The selkie’s spell is introduced far too late in the piece for us to get a sense of how the search affects the narrator. I feel like his journey from wanting to marry the selkie to wanting to kill her happens far too abruptly, and I’m sure there’s more you could mine from this story — maybe the villagers tell tales of this man and his strange quest, maybe he comes to miss his former womanising lifestyle and comes to resent the selkie. Maybe he considers giving up and ending it all, but holds on for the chance to kill her himself. Right now there’s a lot of character development glossed over toward the end, which I think could be a story in itself.

Your story is a pack of tim tams, rich and moreish, and over too soon.

Thranguy - Monkeyshines:

Like some other stories this week, this has a fun premise but gets bogged down in some early detail that doesn’t amount to much, and the conclusion feels rushed and unsatisfying.

“Goblin from van mural coming alive and wanting to join the band” is a neat premise. Everything leading up to this feels a bit pointless, I don’t really care about who’s having threesomes with who, or why I should be remembering all these names. (It’s also, I think, pushing the prompt after-school TV friendly rating a bit far, but I can’t say I paid too much attention to that while reading the stories.) I think the goblin’s introduction could be a bit more active than him just arriving and being all “hi”, maybe someone tries to steal their amps but he scares them off and then asks to be in the band as payment, something like that.

Your story is vegemite on toast; I want to like it more than I do, but mostly I’m just thinking of ways it could be improved.

CaligulaKangaroo - The Kenning House:
The start of this is needlessly confusing. We probably don’t need the changeling exposition so early, and the story jumps around too much before we get to the present-tense story. Exposition about changelings, quick reference to hopping rails, mention of a kid, and now they’re running from a hobo camp and there’s something about hitting a bum with a rock … ?

Be careful with your language around bums and hobos, as they’re not interchangeable. Hobos travel and work; bums stay put and don’t work.

Some of the language could do another editing pass. “that garden color demon maw droop all heartbroken like” took me a few goes to parse properly, and there are a few missing words here and there.

When we actually get to his parent’s house, I’m still a bit confused by where the story’s going, and here I could use some more exposition to know what’s going on. Did the parents … sell Albert to the feywild somehow? You’ve introduced the devil, and changelings, and the feywild, and the fact that Albert can’t touch iron, but none of it’s quite hanging together cohesively for me. When Teddy fetches the poker at the end, I wasn’t sure if he was going to attack Albert or the changeling, based on the earlier exposition about iron.

Your story is a south melbourne dim sim; some of the ingredients are a bit suspect, but I’d happily include it in my order alongside flake and minimum chips.

Bad Seafood - The Kennel:
As I said in the judgepost, this is lean and evocative, and the prose is, for the most part, tight and spare. The story is well-defined and, while the conflict is mostly internal, the stakes are nicely established which help drive the motivations.

This isn’t a slight on your story, but I am curious how it would read to someone unfamiliar with the flashrule. Does the werewolf angle come across clearly enough? I’d argue the silver bullets are enough, but I can’t help wonder if it would be a stronger or weaker story if I needed to work out the conflict myself.

If I had a nitpick (beyond the need for a proofreading edit), I’m not sold on the last line. Through the story, there’s been a sense of fatalism through the proceedings, that the characters are doing what they can for now, that things will necessarily go wrong, and they’ll have to go through this all over again somewhere else. It’s been about surviving and not being able to plan too far ahead. But “something would go right” makes it sound as if they’ll take some action to solve their problem that the rest of the story doesn’t support. Essentially, I don’t think “something will go right” is the opposite of “something will go wrong”, as the story seems to suggest. (But “maybe, this time … nothing will go wrong” doesn’t have any power at all as an ending.)

Your story is a sausage sizzle: simple and satisfying, but hold the dead horse on mine.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Friendly Penguin Brawl

Put On Your Dancing Shoes
1500 words

“Kenny. It’s a joke, right?” Dexter held the phone in one hand, a folded card in the other. He was pacing back and forth on the 6-foot wide balcony of his apartment, which afforded him about two-and-a-half steps before he had to turn around. He felt a little bit like a Roomba stuck in a hallway.

“Gee, nice to hear from you, too.”

“It has to be a joke. I know it does. You wouldn’t do your best friend like this.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny whether I would do such a thing. Because I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

“Diane? Of all the people in your wedding party, you pair me with Diane?”

“Wait. What? Do you know Diane?”

Dexter stopped his pacing and stared at his phone screen, as if Kenny could see his withering stare. “It’s worse than that. Wait, how do you not know this?”

“Know what? What are you talking about?”

“Dude, I dated her sister.

“Oh, poo poo!” Kenny blurted, and Dexter exhaled. Kenny was sympathetic to his troubles, and they’d swap things out. It would be awkward enough without being her partner all weekend.

“Yeah, rough stuff. Thanks—”

“Oh, hell yeah. This is going to be hilarious.”

“Wait. What? No. No it’s—”

“Elaine! Come here! You gotta hear this!” Dexter’s face scrunched up like a crushed napkin.


“Listen, Dex, it’s gonna be fine. Fun, even.”

“What? No. Fun? Listen, first of all, a combined bachelor/bachelorette party is already a horrible idea. Three days in Tahoe, and we’re all, all 18 of us, staying in the same cabin? I can think of few worse ideas. Second of all, I dated her sister. Which you seem to be missing the significance of that. So I don’t know.” Dex sat in the middle of the backseat of Kenny and Elaine’s too small hatchback as the three of them drove up a particular windy stretch of highway 80, one hand on each of the seats in front of him. “I mean, you could have put me with Nora, I love Nora!”

“Pete’s wife. Who is… Also my groomsman.”

“Okay, Alana! She’s fun.”

“Andre’s wife? Who is also my groomsman?” Kenny flashed a look behind him. “Did you look at the list? All of my groomsmen are married. And all of Elaine’s bridesmaids are married. To each other.”

“Well, except for you and Diane,” Elaine added from the shotgun seat as she munched on a handful of almonds. “When did you even date Suzanne? I don’t remember you two dating.”

“Oh, uhhh,” stammered Dexter, his frustration morphing into awkwardness. “We dated at the start of COVID. For like 3 months.”

Elaine turned in her seat and stared at Dexter through a pair a oversized dark sunglasses. They hid her eyes but could not hide her smirk. “You. Were. A quarantine fling?!”

“Well, when you say it like that…”

Elaine cackled and punched her fiancé in the shoulder. Dexter’s face flushed and he sent daggers at the back of Elaine’s head. “So you didn’t really date Suzanne, so much as bone down for a few hot months? No wonder I never heard about this!” Elaine cackled again.

“And no wonder you’re not so hot on her sister,” Kenny added, helpfully.

“Okay, okay. Yeah. Suzanne and I met like right before COVID lockdowns, and she lived like across the street. So we hung out. Okay?”

“Hung out, he says!”

“Wait, Dex, did you ever even meet Diane?”

“Kenny, it doesn’t sound like they had a meet-the-family kind of relationship.”

“Whatever,” Dexter said with an attempt at forcefulness that made him feel feeble even as he said it. “This could have been avoided if you’d have just made me your best man. I am your best friend, after all.”

“So you are,” Kenny said, and looked in the rearview mirror for a moment. “But you’re not really the best man type, man.”

Dexter exhaled softly, and Elaine frowned at Kenny. She turned again and put her hand on Dexter’s. “What he means is, planner isn’t your best mode. When you plan things, you get all anxious and uptight. And that is not what you’re here for. You’re here to be Big Dex! You know, bring the energy, the dancing, the fun!”

Dexter sighed and nodded. “Yeah, alright. But I’ll tell you this, if I had planned it, we wouldn’t be doing all sorts of couples games, in which I’m paired with my ex’s sister!”

“Another reason that we didn’t let you plan it,” Kenny said.

Dexter glowered at the two of them and crossed his arm, realizing as he did it that looked mostly like an oversized petulant toddler, so he immediately uncrossed his arms and rolled his eyes, graduating to annoyed teenager. Kenny and Elaine just giggled.

“And where am I supposed to sleep?”

Elaine laughed devilishly before replying. “Diane’s got a room to herself. Why don’t you ask her?” Dexter immediately recrossed his arms as his face turned several shades of angry purple.


A few more hours in the car softened Dexter’s anger, and as they were walking to the cabin, he was dancing up the steps, snapping his fingers, and mumbling along to some song in his head. Three cars had arrived before them, and so when they got to the door, Dexter flung it open and leaped through. “WHAT IS UP, TAHOEEEEEE?! Yeeeow, let’s get it. Pete! Drinks. Nicole. Music!”

Yelps of laughter came from the living room, and the people came and greeted the crew. Pete stuffed a beer in Dexter’s hand and hugged him, and as instructed, Nicole fired up the speakers.

The next few hours were a whirlwind as Dexter, all energy now, ricocheted between divebombs into the pool, dance parties in the kitchen, and a variety of small talk conversations. Dexter was, as Kenny predicted, in his element.
Then, the door banged open again, and a second whirlwind entered the weather system. “WHAT IS UP, TAHOEEEEEE?!” In the doorway stood a tall, beautiful, dark-haired woman, arms raised in triumph, head slung low like 70’s iconoclast. Dexter froze in mid-sentence as he stared at the doorway, but was bailed out from having to continue by the chorus of “Diane” that the buzzed assembly shouted as they descended to greet their newest guest.

“Alright, everybody. Diane’s here, which means we can go dancing for real,” shouted Henry, Kenny’s best man, and everyone cheered—except Dexter. “Grab your shoes, grab your partner, we’re headed to the Sunset Saloon.”
Everyone dispersed to their rooms, and Dexter slid out the back door, waiting for his impending doom. He stared out at the dusky pink sky, sipping his beer and idly humming a nonsense rhythm while he staved off the deep annoyance he was harboring at his best friend and tried to psyche himself up to go dancing with his ex’s sister.

“Dexter, I presume?” an unfamiliar voice asked from the sliding glass door, though Dexter knew immediately who the voice belonged to.

“Uh, yeah. Dex. Diane?” Dexter turned forced a smile, and was certain he looked like an imbecile.

“How’d you guess?” Diane asked, flatly and sarcastically.

“Process of elimation,” Dexter said lamely.

“Process of elimation. Uh huh.” Diane walked toward Dexter, who stood rooted to the spot. “Whatcha lookin at out here?”

“Uhh. Sunset. Stars. 1000 lightyears of infinite void I’m hoping will swallow me up.”

Diane chuckled and wrapped a hand around Dexter’s elbow as she stood next to him. Lightning cascaded down Dexter’s spine—but not the kind he was hoping for, that might end his misery. A different kind, more associated with pleasure and excitement. “Elaine said you were nervous. And you are nervous.”

Dexter looked at the hand on his arm and at Diane’s face, which was softly smiling and staring out at the sky. Either she was unaware of his past with her sister—unlikely—or she was utterly unconcerned. Dexter’s face scrunched up and he turned to face her.

“Hold on. You don’t… You’re not… Mad at me?”

“Mad at you? What would give you that idea?” Diane’s eyes danced with laughter as she smirked at Dexter.

“Because me—and your sister—and—“ Dexter stopped himself as his words fought each other, and took a deep breath. “You do know your sister and I dated?”

“Hah, yes. And Suz had plenty of good things to say about you.” Dex looked at Diane with confusion on his face. “Anyways, you guys ‘dated’ for like three months, and then she broke up with you.”

“Okay, true.”

“And Dex, we’re just here to have a good time.”

“Also true.”

“So let’s go dancing?” She said, with a question and an invitation in her voice.

Dexter looked at the gorgeous woman in front of him, and then looked back inside the house. Kenny and Elaine and two other couples were standing there, and all of them were dorkily giving him a thumbs up. Dexter laughed.

“Hah. Let’s go dancing. Screw it.”

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Week No. 548 - Welcome to the Hotel California

I have an idle fascination with hotels, whether grand or decaying, both storied and weird. Excusing the perpetually put-upon staffers, everyone you meet is going somewhere, only not right now; right now they're here. Most of these people will never meet again. For this night only their lives intersect. That's probably what makes them such popular settings. Thrillers, romance, period pieces, murder. It's a wonderful place for people to collide, with enough breathing room for something to happen.

This week I want stories set in a hotel, following ships that pass in the night. That's not to say they've all gotta be strangers, but I'm after that feeling of a chance encounter in transitory space.

Words are good. I like words. I'd like around a 1,000 words, preferably good. I've got an extra 500 if you'd like, provided you're willing to eat a flash rule.

No screeds, no fanfiction, keep it in your pants. You know the rules. Sign up by Friday, February 10th, at 11:59 PM PST, and be ready to submit two days later, same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Hotel Staff
Bad Seafood
Chernobyl Princess

Staggy - Your hotel is the former jewel of an imperial power, left to languish in a colonized country, a decrepit reminder of fleeting foreign arrogance.
CaligulaKangaroo - A luggage mix-up has catastrophic consequences.
Strange Cares
Thranguy - The Sonic Mania OST, Studiopolis Act 1.
Admiralty Flag - A key component of your story is someone getting locked out of their room.
BeefSupreme - Your hotel is hosting several guest speakers who've arrived in town for a decidedly niche convention.
Dicere - Your hotel was clearly something else before someone took it and hastily remodeled it.
WindwardAway - Game Changer, the Angel and Devil on Zach's Shoulder.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 10:16 on Feb 13, 2023

Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

In, please give me a flash rule.

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?


checking in

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!

Friendly Beef Brawl judgement

This was rather easy imo. One story was more creative, more interesting, more funny, and most importantly, gave me a good reason to want the characters to be together. Friendly Penguin wins. Crits later.

Jul 26, 2012

Checking in.

Requesting a flash rule from room service.

Strange Cares
Nov 22, 2007


Checking In for my first Thunderdome.

Apr 21, 2010

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

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Staggy posted:

In, please give me a flash rule.
Your hotel is the former jewel of an imperial power, left to languish in a colonized country, a decrepit reminder of fleeting foreign arrogance.

CaligulaKangaroo posted:

Checking in.

Requesting a flash rule from room service.
A luggage mix-up has catastrophic consequences.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


In, with a flash rule, please

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

hi, checking in, yes i'd like to add the optional flash service to my bill

Oct 31, 2005
Non plaudite modo pecuniam jacite.

In with a flash rule

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Admiralty Flag posted:

In, with a flash rule, please
A key component of your story is someone getting locked out of their room.

BeefSupreme posted:

hi, checking in, yes i'd like to add the optional flash service to my bill
Your hotel is hosting several guest speakers who've arrived in town for a decidedly niche convention.

Dicere posted:

In with a flash rule
Your hotel was clearly something else before someone took it and hastily remodeled it.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crit for BeefSupreme brawl story

The first section of this is the perfect setup for a romantic comedy. Two people about to be put into a situation that is bound to be awkward and full of goofy misunderstandings. If the other person is oblivious to what would make the first person act like a goof, that’s got potential for hilarious happenings. And if both of them are aware of each other but haven’t really spent time together, then they’ll both be coming to the situation with predetermined thoughts on how the situation will go. And that clash between expectations can also lead to amusing circumstances. Perfect.

But then we spend a lot of words on unnecessary backstory in a car on the way to the house and then a lot more time at the house without the romantic aspect showing up until the last third of the story. And then nothing really happens between them. They clear up any misunderstanding immediately and agree to just go dancing. Which is actually the perfect ending to this, but only after they’ve made fools of themselves dancing around each other either trying to avoid the awkwardness or falling face first into it. And either both of them can be making the mistakes or one of them with the other person being the “straight man” in the relationship.

That relationship is the crux of a romantic comedy. Yes, there can be comedy unrelated to the romantic partners, but most of it revolves around how they interact and come together either as a romantic pair or settle on being friends. But they’ve worked through that initial awkwardness. But this is no easy task since romance can be pretty easy, but comedy is one of the hardest things in writing to do. I think Dex was a good character for it though. Basically this story was a good beginning and with a little more time dedicated to it, it could have been slimmed down to focus on the interpersonal relationships.

Aug 22, 2022

Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.
Checking in, please put a flash rule on my room tab

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

WindwardAway posted:

Checking in, please put a flash rule on my room tab


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
Submissions are closed, but I still need two capable co-judges.

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