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Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, please give me a genre


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

flash: Satirical modern vacation whodunnit!

The Temptation of Josh
775 words

The problem with hiking, Joshua philosophized to himself as he panted on the side of the mountain, was the scenery.

Sure, it was pretty. A riot of greenery set to a soundtrack of songbirds. It was almost exotic to the city-dwelling portion of the family. But after the fifth straight hour of trudging uphill the verdancy became a sort of visual drone. For Josh, at least. His father couldn’t get enough of this poo poo, which is why he’d dragged the whole family out to Shenandoah National Park for his 50’th birthday.

“This is stupid.”

Josh looked over at his cousin, Sam, who was glaring at the absence of data on his phone.

“It’s hard, yeah,” Josh said, as if he were agreeing.

“Why does your dad put all of us through this? It’s stupid. He just likes watching us suffer.”

Josh shouldered his backpack and started up the hill again. “Not true, he just likes it.”

“Dude, he’s literally wearing a shirt that says Sufferfest 2022 on it. His hat says Embrace the Suck.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s a joke with his gym bros.”

“I’ve got a plan,” Sam said. “The worst part is the food, yeah? But the campground has wifi. I checked this morning, UberEats will deliver there. We can have a real meal.”

Josh blinked. The thought hadn’t even occurred to him. “Nah, dude, the food is the best part. You ever get a hotdog that perfect level of crispy char on the outside? It’s the best. And your mom is gonna make her camping chili.”

“Canned chili with cheese and some eggs in it isn’t exactly gourmet,” Sam said. “Like, what kind of celebration food is that?”

“The kind my dad wants. It’s his birthday, right?”

They walked in silence for a while. Despite his vocal disdain for hiking, Sam was about at the same fitness level as Josh, which meant they maintained the same pace. It did make the trek a little easier, not being in total green solitude, but Sam wasn’t… Josh tried to reframe it to a positive… Sam and Josh cared about very different things.

They were in agreement, however, about the accommodations. Josh’s enthusiasm for camping food didn’t make sleeping on a thin mat on the ground less crappy. Sam had an answer for that too.

“Look, all we have to do is pretend to fall, right? You played soccer, pretend to twist your ankle. We’ll all go home and reschedule to a party that everyone actually wants to go to.”

Josh laughed. “Oh, yeah, just take a full dive off a rock when we meet up for lunch.” He mimed it, but overbalanced. He flailed and grabbed onto a tree, staring down the steep slope for a single, panicked moment before hauling himself back onto the path. “Uh, maybe that’s not a great idea.”

Most of their family was waiting for them at a scenic overlook, while Sam and Josh and the other stragglers caught up. Josh could hear them before he could see them, the enthusiastic voices of the more seasoned hikers. Those voices cheered him up immensely, giving him a little more energy to power through the last incline before the peak.

Sam wasn’t so happy. “Hey, listen,” he said softly. “Neither of us want to be here. We can’t sleep, the food sucks, it’s just going to leave us both feeling like poo poo at work next week. Your dad loves you. If you say that you want to go home, that you want to do something else, we can do it. poo poo, I checked the rewards points on my credit card, even if they don’t come with us we could go to some super swank hotel and get room service and complimentary champagne. Your dad wouldn’t care, you know he’d just congratulate us on having saved the money to do a thing we want.”

Josh finally rounded on Sam. “I’m not doing that, full stop. Look, has it ever occurred to you that this isn’t about you and your comfort? It’s about him. You can celebrate your 50’th birthday however the hell you want, but this weekend is Dad’s weekend, and if you keep trying to spoil it you won’t be able to have a 50’th birthday party, because nobody will want to come.”

Sam stared at him. “Maybe I’ll leave the bear box open tonight,” he said.

“Just go home if you want to go home, dude. I’m not playing games with you.”

Josh turned toward the voices of his family and pushed onward, angrier than he’d felt in a long time.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I am judge

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Week 545 Crits

Some Roads Lead From Rome by Admiralty Flag

The one where a wealthy Roman failson makes a name for himself and his hubris leads to him getting imprisoned.

Classic story structure with not much more to it. It was pleasant enough. I don't know if the dry, autobiographical voice helped it or hurt it. Sometimes it made the personal details pop out in a kind of jarring way, as opposed to a way that made them seem humanizing. The mandatory opening line was the best part of that first paragraph, imo. 6/10

Love, War, and Other Acts of Superiority by Albatrossy_Rodent

The one where the fork gets revenge on the dish for running off with the spoon.

I’m on record as not enjoying stories involving torture, so already this has got a lot of work to do to make me want to read it. Leaning into the absurdity of your genres helped a lot to lighten the unpleasantness. The use of the word “diddle” as a stand in for “gently caress” was pretty funny once and got less funny as it went. A good use of the first line though. 6/10

The Last Mariner of Port Kirney by Beezus

The retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice in the form of Lovecraft

This snared me from the first line and kept me attached. I genuinely enjoyed it. It was creepy and satisfying on both the romance and the eldritch horror fronts. It makes me want to run a Delta Green campaign.

The Veil of Veronica by Tibalt

The one where a vampire tries to steal a sacred relic.

I was shocked by how much I liked this. It was pure camp, embracing its own absurdity and refusing to not have fun at its own expense. It probably would have been better had it abandoned some of the vampire LARPer stuff and embraced more of the medieval setting, but you leaned into that bad first line in a charming way.

Hostile Work Environment by Dicere

The one where some guys on a Mars terraforming project refuse to let some other guys into their habitat because they are Chinese.

The non-combat action and motives were extremely muddy, which made the combat jump out. That was cool. Microgravity hand-to-hand is cool. Everything else was not quite so cool. I feel like there was a lot of wasted space in this story that could have been used to give people more concrete motivations and interests. You also probably could have seriously cut down on character count, there were too many guys with ranks and first and last names, it made it hard to understand who, exactly, was being The Bad Guy here.

Better than Fire by Thranguy

The one where an invisible immortal reveals how he stole a name from the creator of the world back when the gods were first formed.

This was so good, but the end was a total wet fart that told me a lot about things that I wanted to be shown. Like, I want to see this sucker negotiating with a god! I want him to realize the trick and get mad! As it is, it’s just a (admitedly cool) piece of lore with nothing really to attach to it.

My Kingdom, and a Horse by sebmojo

The one where a guy gets chased down by a lovely wizard prince and winds up getting the girl in the end.

Amusing, enjoyable, genuinely fun. Not Great Literature but I had fun reading it. I do find that the sequences of action got kind of muddled, partially due to the narrator’s voice being so snarky. It was hard to tell where reporting began and opinion ended. But that could just be me being a not particularly good reader, honestly.

Into The West by cptn_dr

The one where a security guard finds a SECRET LAB and gets killed.

This is the opening to what could be a kind of cool “how-catch-em” space detective story. It’s also my favorite spin off of the first line. It’s a pity nothing really happens in the story itself. I agree with the other judges here: a touch too ambitious for flash fiction.

Love of the Game by Chairchucker

The one where a guy plays poker, gets invited to a high roller table and then ????

Unfortunately this one kind of never had a chance. The beginning seemed irrelevant and the ending was baffling. I don’t really understand the takeaway. What’s going on with the last line? Am I suppose to know who Ulric and Jortan are? Re-reads have revealed nothing to me, other than This Guy Sure Does Like Playing Poker.

Fish and (Dead)chips by BeefSupreme

The one where a cyberpunk detective takes a job that reveals some ultra awful nasty stuff happening to kids apparently

This was pretty good! I feel like the end was abrupt, which is a common TD complaint, but I also feel like there was some fat to be trimmed in the beginning that would have let you expand on some things toward the end. Specifically the repetitions of “For real? No fish?” “For real. No fish.”

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In with “My dad goes to work to help people be dead. He has tools on his ambulance to fix people’s brains.”

I'd love him to tell me what this story should be about

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Free to a good home: "Did baby Jesus do big horrible poos? Why?"

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Flash: “My dad goes to work to help people be dead. He has tools on his ambulance to fix people’s brains.”
"It's a story called the silly, silly, silly kindred. I can't remember how it goes because it's a very old story."

The Silly, Silly, Silly Kindred

The corpse-wagon rattled along the street. One wheel squeaked, the sound boring into Jon's hyper-sensitive ears.

"This is demeaning," he grumbled to his elder. “I thought being a vampire meant sexy parties and devil worship and flying around all the time.”

Henry gnawed on the end of his unlit pipe. “In good times, yeah, and if we’s useful in the bad ones we don’t get staked out for the sun when the church remembers we’re here. Plague don’t touch us, so we handles the bodies the nice human folk don’t want to.”

“But why us?” Jon moaned. “There’s a dozen vampires in the city. Why do we get this poo poo job?”

“Because you’re the youngest and I’m the fool what made you. And you know how to drive the cart.” Henry gestured to an alleyway where three corpses had been heaped next to the drain. The smell was… well. If you started to complain about the smell of London in This Year Of Our Lord Thirteen-Hundred and Forty-Nine, you’d never stop.

Regretting every choice that brought him to this moment, Jon slouched over to the bodies. Two of them had obvious stab wounds, and one of them smelled like early plague infection. Jon slung them over his shoulders and regarded the third body for a moment, frowning. “Hey, Henry?”


“This one’s still alive.”

“You’re pulling my leg.” Henry hopped down off the cart and gawked. “I’ll be damned. Piss drunk and thrown in the gutter. Miserable thing.” He eyed Jon suspiciously. “What are you thinking? If you’re hungry these two are fresh enough.”

Jon shuddered. “God, no. No, I think I know this guy.” Jon handed off the corpses to Henry and rolled the still-living man over onto his back. “Oh, poo poo. Patrick.”

“So who is he?” Henry asked after flinging the bodies into the cart with all the care of a man handling a sack of manure, “What’s his story?”

Jon raked a hand through his hair. “This is his story, right here. If you’d asked anyone from our town ‘who’s the most likely person to wind up dead-drunk in an alley with plague corpses on top of him,” half of ‘em would say ‘Patrick.’ Last time I saw him he’d got himself thrown out of every pub in town, his mother’s house, my mother’s house, two mercenary companies and at least one church. Just had a talent for making people hate him.”

Henry joined Jon on the ground next to Patrick. “Anyone try an’ help him?”

Jon laughed. “I tried. He was at my mums place because I begged her to let him in. He insulted her cooking. Even after that I got him a job at the local merchant’s association. I drove the wagons between towns, he could muck out the horse stalls. It seemed like it was going well when I–” He stopped.

Left, he couldn’t say. Left and died. An ambush. Blades in the dark. Horses and men screaming. The wagons twisted and fell and Jon was underneath them and everything was pain at first, but then there was a lack of pain that was so, so much worse. The world went all red, except around the edges where it was slowly, slowly going a prickling, glittery black until all he could see was a man, a man with very white teeth…

“Left,” he said, finally. He ground his teeth. Henry had warned him about the memories that jumped out at you. Ten years of being a vampire and it was as fresh as yesterday. He tried to calm himself. He stared at the big vein jumping in Patrick’s neck, counting pulses. That helped. That changed the pain and confusion into anger.

What the hell had happened here? You didn’t have to be a vampire to see he was alive. He wasn’t even breathing shallowly. Sure, Patrick was the worst, but being cruel to him was like pulling the wings off of flies. No punishment created by mortal man was worse than just letting Patrick be Patrick.

Henry watched Jon, his expression closed and unreadable. “You want to turn him?”

Jon shook himself. “gently caress no, then he’d be my problem again.”

“Ah.” Henry stood and looked up at the sky, squinting. “You can fly, yeah? You like flying?”

“Yeah. It’s the only good part of being dead, flying. Why?”

The old vampire grinned, his teeth glinting in the shadows. “The way I sees it, there’s helping, and then there’s helping.


Patrick awoke hundreds of feet above the city and falling. He screamed, windmilling his arms as if he could fly. He had just enough time to envision himself speared through the steeple of a church before something hit him from the side, breaking his fall and carrying him off into the night. He clutched at the neck of his savior. “Oh God! Oh, oh God!” He was staring at the ground as it fell away, and so didn’t recognize the man carrying him until Jon spoke.

“Patrick, friend, it’s terrible to see you like this. You’ve got to clean it up.”

He goggled. Time had left no marks on Jon. No gray in his hair. No crows feet in his eyes. “I’m dreaming,” Patrick moaned. “Oh, God, I need to wake up!”

“Not a dream. Just a warning!” And with that, Jon threw him into the sky.

At the peak of Patrick’s arc, another, older man caught him. “Hi there, lad. I’m Henry. You’ve got to lay off the booze, mate.” He grinned a shark’s grin. “It’ll kill ya.”

The old man simply dropped him. Patrick fell into Jon’s arms. “And knock off insulting women. Nobody thinks it’s cute and it’s gonna get you knifed.”

Another throw to Henry. “Pay your debts on time or don’t take ‘em on.”

Back to Jon. “Don’t blame everyone else for your problems. Everyone has their own poo poo to deal with, especially these days.”

“Are you going to kill me?!” Patrick shrieked at Jon. “Are you devils?! Why are you wearing that face?!”

Jon laughed. “I’m dead, Patrick. I’m dead and it’s awful. I cart bodies around and I drink cow’s blood and I can’t even have a pint anymore. You’re still alive and you’re still cocking it up. I don’t want to kill you, I want you to stop being a prick.”

Patrick clung to Jon. “If you don’t throw me again I’ll do whatever you want! I’ll never drink again! I’ll join the bleedin’ church! I swear it!”

Jon gently placed Patrick back on the ground where he collapsed, shaking. Jon crouched next to him, his eyes red and feral with the expenditure of power. “You’ve got a chance to be better,” he whispered. “Take it. I’ll look you up again in five years. If you’re back to old tricks… well. We’ll have another chat.”

Jon patted the man on the shoulder and climbed back up onto the corpse wagon with Henry, sitting a little taller now. “You were right,” he said as they rattled and squeaked back to the mortuary. “That was fun.”

“Think it helped?”

“Guess I’ll find out in five years.”

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I will judge this

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Week 548 Judgement Post

Bellhop by Strange Cares

The one where a bellhop is responsible for managing a recent corpse at a casino/hotel that has become known for suicides.

This was genuinely interesting to me! It’s not a high-conflict story, or even an any-conflict story, it’s just a guy doing his job. But the job is interesting enough and the actions are compelling enough that it kept my attention. It’s the story that I thought the most about after reading, which is a good sign. The imagery and the voice were on point and that’s, ultimately, why this was my choice for the win.

What’s Going Down? By Admiralty Flag

The one where some folks from an office have kind of a fight in an elevator about her having sex with his friend/her boss

So… this story was high conflict but the conflict was never described. Why does this guy care? So his friend is a good guy who he doesn’t want to see being taken advantage of by a cougar, and he’s going to drop weird threats to her about it? What is his relationship with this dude that he’s willing to risk an actually pretty serious HR violation for this? Because despite what he says, you can absolutely wind up with an actionable HR complaint outside of work hours, especially if you are on work travel. Without knowing why this guy cares, this story leaves me as baffled as the poor woman who just wants to get out of the elevator and away from this moralizing weirdo.

The Grand Imperial Hotel by Staggy

The one where an imperialist hotel Maitre D assaults an arrogant streamer.

I liked this one, honestly. I liked Mr. Sykes’s outrage and obsequiousness. I liked his obsession with the carpet. I liked the obnoxiousness and arrogance of the streamer, who has good cultural reasons to hate Mr. Sykes, but whose utter douchebaggery leaves you feeling pretty okay about when Sykes bashes his head into the desk. A classic story of a wasp landing on a scorpion to predictable results.

How Far You’ll Go by rohan

The one where a guy on a trip has a pleasant conversation and receives, at last, a Snickers bar.

This was a serious win contender for me. Chris’s frustration, his bad dreams, his snapping at the receptionist who is being so profoundly unhelpful, all of it is so relatable. And I love the rising tension in Chris that this chance encounter with a woman with her own problems manages to release slightly. There’s no perfection here, no moment of benediction. Just a recognition that love and fathers are complicated.

All that said there’s bits and pieces of information that seem to be left out. The music he requests at the end sounds important, but there’s no music mentioned before. Hannah’s name gets dropped but she never introduces herself. Adding those in will make this a stronger piece.

Hailmary by Dicere

The one where a deeply-sad-but-ignoring-it businessman rescues a deeply-sad-and-can’t-ignore-it girl from a local cult by vomiting all over the cultists.

I’ve got to be honest, this has all the hallmarks of a story that I’d really like, but for whatever reason it didn’t click with me. I think it needed Bob to be sadder, to be more pathetic, and to maybe be more aware of how he is weaponizing his own patheticness to help Stacy. I think we also needed to know more about the cult that Stacy was running from, about the life choices that led her there and then away. Hard to do in 1500 words, but I think there’s some fat here that could be cut and replaced with more meat.

Speed Run by Thranguy

The one with the heist

A serviceable heist story with a cheery, light voice. I liked that it was a bit different in that their targets were people at the casino instead of the casino itself. I am left with a couple ‘why, how?’ questions, but honestly your story is paced so neatly that I think pausing to answer them would detract. Its breeziness is both its virtue and its downfall in the contest. I enjoyed it a lot but it didn’t stick with me.

The Crystal Cove by CaligulaKangaroo

The one where a professional debunker gets handed some stolen pirate gold and ends up haunted/dragged to hell.

This I think would have been better if it had started with the interview and been more about the interview. That’s the bit that interested me, I wanted to know about Emily, I wanted to know about Kevin’s show, I wanted to know a little more about Captain Dirge’s curse as it fell from Emily to Kevin. It’s sad when a story is hampered by the prompt, but I think that’s what happened here: if you hadn’t felt compelled to start it in the hotel, you’d have had more space to dig into the Good Bits.

The Last King of Lawrence by BeefSupreme

The one where a professor winds up an unwitting sacrifice in an effort to bring a dude’s wife back from the dead

I feel like I knew what was going to happen to Paul as soon as he started reading. It was cool, it was an interesting thing, but it would probably have been better with Paul having more time to really marinate in the horror of the moment. As is, we have a lot of lead-up to the drama and not enough time to really appreciate the drama itself.

The Roommates by Windward Away

The one where a guy has bad roommates and keeps trying to prevent them from making bad decisions.

The major sin here was of formatting. Put a whole line in between every paragraph, it makes it a LOT easier to read. Doing it for some paragraphs and not others made this feel choppy and difficult to read. It also kind of lacked a central point of tension or interest, it was just “guy is in a hostel, his roommates are weird and dumb.” The End. It would have been better if he’d been pulled along in their shenanigans at least a little, as it was… there just wasn’t a There there.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Also in with a guidebook

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

The Mill of Policy
673 words

Counselor Tarbulin stands, his noble features impassioned beneath his flared red hood. “Gentlemen,” he says. “I see no need to sit here and let the Mill complete its circuit. Our energy crisis has but one answer: we must declare war on the sun and take her power for ourselves.”

Can you imagine that moment, the first momentous decision made within Berty Amalfangulous’s Mill of Policy? The groans of defeat and cheers of victory from the counselors would have been almost drowned out by the creaking of gears and cackling of chickens. Had Counselor Tarbulin not written down his speech in advance, we might never have known what had been said.

The Mill of Policy was designed as a place for elected officials to debate policy. By placing their chairs and table on a moving track, they saved a great deal of time on grandstanding and long speeches. Argue for too long and the entire assembly was dumped into a pool of chilly water. By housing the community’s chickens above the mill, they assured that the only officials who ran for election were ones who truly wanted to be there, and were not in it for the social cache. The chickens, for their part, oversaw and were much entertained by the process.

In its very first use, it proved itself successful. The Council Guards, appointed to ensure the counselors did not escape the Mill until policy had been set, were shocked at the speed at which a decision had been made. Similar Mills were soon built all across Seraphinianus, and every Council voted for war.

At the time it was thought that the sun was poorly defended. After all, she had never guarded her excess before, allowing the world to passively soak up her light and heat. No one had ever seen patrols along her borders, so it was assumed that no such patrols existed.

Imagine those young Seraphinian troops who had been asked to leave mass behind and become a violent waveform aimed at the heart of their enemy. Imagine that alien surface: the intolerable heat and the blinding light. Imagine their leaders, who had assured them of the rightness of their cause and of the emptiness of the sunscape. Imagine their surprise and betrayal when the Sunbirds attacked.

Sunbirds do not fly. They hop, wings beating wildly. They scream a staccato cry from short, sharp beaks, and are crowned with flame. On that day, they steamed with the blood of unprepared Seraphinians.

Quick thinking on the part of General Archinin saved the day. The wards the Seraphinian army used to protect them from the heat could also be used to sever the Sunbirds from the source of their power. This permitted the army to retreat back to their world, nursing their wounds, to plan for the next invasion.

That invasion would never come.

General Archinin had arrived early at Counselor Tarbulin’s office for a meeting to discuss the war effort. In that office he saw correspondence between Tarbulin and the Great Rooster. It did not take him long to realize they had all been tricked into doing the dirty work of the animals they had entrusted to help keep their officials in check.

Tarbulin had accepted many bribes in the form of free eggs in order to sway the opinion of the council. He had been in the pockets of the Grand Rooster for decades, indeed it was he who suggested to Bertie Amalfangulous to use chickens instead of quail for the Mill of Policy, thus giving them access to the halls of power. Once there, they could prosecute their war on their fiery cousins, the sunbirds, and steal the energy of sunlight for themselves.

But war is not so easily diverted. The Solar War continued, despite Tarbulin’s confession and imprisonment, and whole generations were scarred. By the time peace arrived, Mills of Policy had fallen out of fashion. They dot our landscape, abandoned, monuments of a simpler, bygone era

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Eep, forgot to note that I, too, had the guidebook flash.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I'm judgin

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

1213 Words

In the archive

Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 03:39 on Jan 2, 2024

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


I've been in a permaculture design class for the last couple of months, so my mind is entirely filled with things like silvopasture systems, alternate economies, and other hippie poo poo. I'd like you all to enable this obsession with stories with characters out in the country.

I don't mean in the wilderness or backwoods, I mean in areas of cultivation: fields, farms, and pastures, or their adjacent communities.

If you'd like a flash, I will provide you with a principle of permaculture design and/or a picture of cool plants/sheep/chickens

Word Count: 1500 words
Signups Close: Friday 3/10 at midnight EST
Entries Close: Sunday 3/12 at midnight EST, or, more practically, whenever I wake up on Monday morning
No Erotica, Google Docs, Political Screeds, Fanfiction

Judges: Chernobyl Princess
Strange Cares

Chairchucker: Use Edges and Value the Marginal
Tibalt: picture of child stacking wood
SlightlyLions: Observe and Interact
derp: picture of sheep
FlippinPageman: Obtain a Yield
IdleAmalgam: Gather and Store Energy
Pham Nuwen: Design from Patterns to Details, picture of sprouting mushrooms
Thranguy: Creatively Use and Respond to Change, picture of apple guild
Windward Away: Use Small and Slow Solutions

Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 18:26 on Mar 9, 2023

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Principle 11: Use Edges and Value the Marginal

Tibalt posted:

I'm in, give me a cool picture.

Principle 1: Observe and Interact

derp posted:

i would like a picture

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

FlippinPageman posted:

In. Flash please.

3. Obtain a Yield

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Idle Amalgam posted:

In, flash please.

2. Gather and Store Energy

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Pham Nuwen posted:

In, flash and picture please

7. Design from Patterns to Details

Thranguy posted:

In, flash and picture

12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

...because it's hard to see, this is an apple guild: with two dwarf apples, three currents (two black, one champagne), some comfrey, and strawberries/grape hyacinth as ground cover

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

WindwardAway posted:

In with a flash, please!

Use Small and Slow Solutions

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Slightly Lions posted:

Is it too late to ask for a picture to go with my principle?

That brown tree is a pomegranate. It does fruit. We're in PA, that's wild to me.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Signups closed!

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Entries closed

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Week 553 Judgement

A strong week of greenery and ingenuity! I am a happy blood princess. But there can be only one winner: Pham Nuwen for in the oak-lot, proving that goblins make everything better

HM for Slightly Lions with Green-Zone, DM for Chairchucker with Use The Edges, and a loss for Windward Away with Prey

Take it away, Pham. Prompt, imo.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Judge Burps Week 551

My judgeposts are always late, I am very bad about this, I am sorry

Mermaid by Violet_Sky

The one where a girl gets a poor guy framed for murder

This story suffered mostly from poor formatting. It needed line breaks in some places, maybe some italics in others. It also suffered from a bit of heavy-handedness. This poor hard-done-by guy who sends all his money home to a sick sister... it's a little much. Let him be a sap who just wanted a thrill of following a mob boss around and gets to ogle a cute girl before her major heel turn. That would be better than giving him a Tragic Backstory.

A Tale of Two Guineas by Slightly Lions

The one where brothers separated in childhood become two different kinds of pirate

This one ranked the highest for me, because I am addicted to Vibes and this had excellent Vibes. It didn't have a lot else, though, and was plagued by formatting issues as well. Turns out google docs will sometimes put two spaces in between paragraphs when you copy and paste it over. That has happened to me a couple times. As for the story itself, it telegraphed where it was going and then it got there. I liked where it went, personally, but the other judges felt differently.

Chinook Run by Pham Nuwen

The one where some farm guys just want to go fishing but wind up in a cave possessed(?) by some awful wendigo thing

This was creepy but confusing, and the confusion knocked it out of the running. I think it needed focus, the slice-of-life was interrupted so abruptly by the supernatural that each detracted from one another rather than enhancing the story. I'd love to read an edited version though, because I think there's good bones here.

Seance by Strange Cares

The one where Houdini busts some fake seance-havers

This was funny but it didn't go anywhere, and in the end I didn't feel bad that their business got broken up or satisfied that it got broken up. The prose quality was good, I'll give you that. Disgusting, but good.

Baudry's Bandits by FlippinPageman

The one where some revolutionaries invent the free bus

This one made me mad because it's such a dope concept that didn't go anywhere. It feels like a bad introduction to an extremely cool roleplaying game. Everything that matters happens after they get the carriage, that's the meat of it, their backstories are only interesting because of that, and all we get is backstory. But I do really want to run this as a one-shot, for real.

Knowing Your Place by rohan

The one where the wives of sailors take vengeance on the bullshit landlords who are ruining them.

This had a strong sense of place, time, and character and deserved the win.

Jewels in the Dark by Bad Seafood

The one where a twin gets revenge for her brother's death

Good action, good buildup, good use of your wordcount. I liked Gabriella's plan and I liked her decision in the moment to discard her monologue and just go for revenge. I think clarifying and emphasizing exactly when she got shot would have made the ending a little less confusing, I had to go back and read it a few times to pinpoint that moment.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Judge Burps Week 553

For more details ask in the discord!

Windfall by FlippinPageman

The one where a pair of escaped prisoners(?) help some alien-robots(?) do farming

This was a strong start to a strong week. I loved the weird, wind-powered maybe-robots. I liked that you had the human drama running in the background, but didn't let it overpower the heart of the story, which is making sure that Reggie and company stay together and are able to keep working on the farm.

The Green Zone by Slightly Lions

The one where a cyberpunk gardener uses his knowledge of permaculture principles to escape from some bad actors

At first I wasn't sure if I liked the way you just listed off the principles of permaculture throughout the story, it felt a bit like pandering. But it wound up not detracting from the story you told, and it gave me a glimpse of the character and what he cared about. I like cyberpunk, I like permaculture, I like the idea of composting your enemies, and I liked this story.

In the Oak-lot by Pham Nuwen

The one where a nasty little goblin helps a truffle farmer and his hogs do away with some poachers

This story was absolutely charming, especially for a story that involves hogs killing and eating some guys. You set the scene well and the little bit of supernatural didn't detract from the natural. Good stuff.

lamb by derp

The one where a guy on the autism spectrum goes to a farm to relax and sees a lamb being slaughtered

I kind of liked the weird, herky-jerky formatting, but I'm just not sure what to make of this story. It was unsettling, and I get that it was meant to be. The narrator was slightly unpleasant, and I get that he was meant to be. In the end, it was a competent-if-weird story that just didn't land right for me, so it gets a no-mention.

Sharing Economy by rohan

The one where a girl helps out at her first farmer's market

This was good. I liked this. I liked the city-slicker shock at the concept of a sharing economy, the discomfort with raw meat, the bad pun of “muttoncard,” and the vague unease about the entire experience. What I didn't get was the line ‘We’re not … we’re not only here for my parent’s mid-life crisis.’ I suspect that you deleted some stuff to get in under the word count, and that information didn't make it in.

Leave the Edges by Chairchucker
The one where a border patrol agent deals with a racist coworker

Sorry, Chairchucker, this one just kind of overegged the pudding. While guys like Tom are absolutely out there, this wound up reading like a “everyone clapped” style takedown post. It might have been better served with just a little less obvious moral black-and-white.

The First Bite by Thranguy

The one where a man trades apples for kisses

I liked this more than the other judges did, because I am a romantic and a sap, but I'm also the head judge so my romantic sappery wins. I think the combination of this kind of magical concept of a family of handsome sons that always just exists to trade apples for kisses, and the technobabble of genetic manipulation to get an apple that tastes a specific way works. The core of that idea saved this story.

Prey by Windward Away

The one where a nice person saves a praying mantis from a bird.

Writing from the pov of the mantis was cool, but I think it just didn't land. In a week of extremely strong stories it just wound up being the weakest.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, flash me please

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

1310 words
Flash: your pet is a semi-sentient artificial creature

Dan returned to his Powers University dorm room after Chemistry lab to see his roommate frantically packing their bags.

“There has been an emergency. I have to go back to Sybla,” they said through the translator attached to their collar. Sabers Gleaming In Darkness could speak English perfectly well when they were calm, but by the way their wings were buzzing while they frantically flung books and articles of Syblid clothing into a case, calm hadn’t been an option for a minute.

“What? You’re going offworld already?” Gleam’s wing covers rattled, which was probably a nod but could just be more nervous noise. Dan caught a folder full of crumpled looseleaf notes before they scattered across the floor. “Hey, slow down. What happened?”

Gleam pressed a very human-like hand to their forehead, or whatever the equivalent anatomy was called on a pony-sized praying mantis. “My hatch-parent has done something foolish. They’re standing trial for it. I don’t have much information.” They stared at their desk, suddenly still where they’d been all motion before. “I don’t know what to do, but their pair-bond told me to come home. So. I’m going home.”

Dan sank down on his bed. “Holy poo poo, I’m so sorry, dude. Is there anything I can do?”

“I do not think so. Wait. Yes. Can you look after Cheeto for me?”

Hearing its name, the softball-sized silver orb chirped in its cradle. Suppressing a wince, Dan said: “You can’t take it with you?”

Gleam shrugged, a complicated gesture for a being with two sets of shoulders.

gently caress. “Uh. Okay. Can you set it to speak English? My Syblid is…”

“Getting better,” Gleam said, diplomatically. “And yes. Of course.” They spoke in a series of trills and staccato clicks from their mandibles, and the little lights that banded Cheeto’s equator blinked orange.

”Ownership transfer complete,” it said in a cheerful, slightly stilted voice. ”Language settings updated. Hello, Dan.”


Cheeto was named after the two syllables that appeared in both English and Syblid. Dan had found it funny at first. The little orb would spin and chirp, and it could change its shape depending on what task Gleam set it to. It was like having a parrot that could also be a flashlight or a soldering iron. Unfortunately, it was almost exactly like a parrot that could also be a soldering iron, in that it simply did not shut up.

Worse than that, it followed him everywhere. On Sybla, things like Cheeto would be used like watchdogs. They were meant to keep close to their people. But most Syblids who were wealthy enough to have a… whatever Cheeto was… had some kind of implant in their central nervous systems that let them control their weird orb friends. Without a way to control it or communicate silently, Cheeto commented out loud on everything he did.

“Your route would be 6% more efficient if you cut across the quad!”

“Scans indicate that when speaking to Lyra Kroll your heart rate increases in a manner consistent with fear or arousal!”

“You have answered question 7 incorrectly! The amygdala mediates fear, not hunger!”

That last one got him thrown out of Psychology 102.

“You appear upset,” Cheeto burbled as Dan fumed back toward his dorm room. “Would you like me to play some media? Sabers Gleaming in Darkness has uploaded many popular human songs.”

“Go away.”

Cheeto hovered in front of him, just out of reach, little lights winking on its surface. “You are upset. Upbeat music will help. THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG. PROVE I’M ALRIGHT SONG.”

People were staring. “Shut up,” Dan hissed. If anything, Cheeto played the song louder, bobbing above his head like a tiny disco ball.

“Shut up!” Dan jumped up and swatted at the bot. It zipped out of the way and chirped reproachfully, but stopped the song.

“There is no need to resort to physical violence, Daniel.”

Dan covered his face with his hands and let out a loud groan. “Oh my god, go away!

The little orb dipped. “You do not like me.”

“No! I don’t like you! I’m not surprised Gleam didn’t want to take you back to Sybla, you’re the worst!”

“I am sorry, Dan.”

“Just… go back to the dorm. Sit in your cradle. Don’t talk to me. Please.”

Cheeto hovered for a moment, silent, then zipped away, leaving Dan to feel outraged and stupid and guilty in turns.

Dan awoke to frantic pinging. He groaned and opened his mouth to cuss at Cheeto again, and then immediately started coughing. His eyes stung when he opened them, and he realized the room was full of smoke.

“What…” he tried to say, but the air was thick and choking. He stumbled out of his bed to the window. He couldn’t seem to work the latch, his hands didn’t want to work. Cheeto’s lights blinked at him from its cradle.

“There is a fire,” it said, its tone neutral. “You must exit the building immediately.”

“Cheeto… the window. I need the window open.”

It extended a pair of arms and pulled the window open. Dan stuck his head out, gulping air.

The building was on fire. Someone had set the building on fire. Why weren’t the fire alarms working? Where were the trucks?

“Cheeto call 911.”

:”Emergency services is on the way,” Cheeto said, primly. It paused. When it spoke again its voice was higher, almost panicked. “Oh. They may not be. This is not the only building on fire in the city.”

“gently caress! Cheeto, is anyone else awake? The alarms aren’t on…”

“I don’t know. My scans are limited to this room.”

“We gotta wake people up. We gotta get people out. You gotta play the loudest song you’ve got, okay? Follow me.”

Cheeto did. A crashing, shrieking noise that made Dan’s whole body flinch away emitted from its speakers as it played a Syblid opera at top volume. Dan grabbed a dust mask off his desk, figuring it would be better than nothing, and ran down the hallway, banging on doors, yelling “Fire! Fire! Everybody out!”

People fled. It was chaos. Dan did his best to keep everyone moving in one direction, but people kept trying to go back to their rooms to grab one last item. Cheeto would dive in front of them, lights flashing red with various spiky implements extended. “Returning to your room has an 85% chance of death or dismemberment,” it intoned. “Exit the building immediately.”

The evacuation took minutes. It felt like hours. It felt like seconds. Dan collapsed on the ground, his mask a wreck, his skin covered in soot. The fire was greasy, more smoke than inferno, but by the time the fire trucks arrived it was licking out the windows of the top floor.

Cheeto hovered over Dan’s chest. “Scans indicate symptoms consistent with smoke inhalation,” it said. “You will need medical support.”

“Lot of people will need medical support.” Something was wrong in his lungs, Dan could feel it. He hoped that the smoke wasn’t laced with anything weird. “gently caress. What happened here?”

It beeped. “I’m a companion bot. Not an analyst. I am not equipped to provide that information. I am not equipped for any of this. I am sorry.”

Dan closed his eyes. “I’m sorry I tried to hit you. That was hosed up.”

“It’s okay. I was being very annoying. I was angry with Gleam for leaving me.” It shifted forms, transitioning from an orb to a silvery beetle, and landed on the grass next to Dan.

There were things Dan could have said to that, things that he wanted to say. Instead he had another coughing fit. The little beetle crawled onto his shoulder. He put his hand over it, stroking its gleaming shell with his thumb while everything else he owned went up in flames.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I can judge.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


One of my favorite things is gardening. I love digging around in the dirt, I love convincing plants to grow, and I really really love cooking food from the things I grow. I like berries especially. I've got raspberries, wineberries, chokeberries, blueberries, and bush cherries growing right now, none of which are likely to set fruit this year, but eventually. It's just really pleasant to have your hand in every stage of making something.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

The Next Witch Of Freevale
1677 words, gardening and raccoons

Tania arrived in Freevale to sullen, rain-soaked protests. The handful of villagers who felt strongly enough about her presence huddled beneath a single black umbrella, clutching soggy signs that said things like “NO FORRAN WITCHES” and “WE REMEMBER THE WAR” in dribbly paint.

Tania didn’t remember the war. Tania hadn’t been born until after the armistice had been signed and all witches agreed to be bound by the laws of the Council. And the Council had declared that, after graduating from the College of Outer Mysteries, all witches shall be placed in residencies in villages across the country. The idea, as far as Tania understood it, was that witches would be far less likely to do another civil war if they were scattered throughout the land.

“It’s a nice place, really,” the cab driver said. “Don’t mind those folks. The war never even came this far north.”

“And I’m not foreign,” Tania said. “I was born here.”

He winced, tried to hide it with a cough. “Of course.”

Tania chewed her lip and looked out the window. She knew what he meant. They all spoke the same language, used the same money, and saluted the same flag, but she was from the Capitol, and this was the absolute rear end-end of nowhere. Her accent marked her as a city-dweller, and that was foreign enough.

She missed her city. She missed her apartment. She missed her roommates and the camaraderie and the late-night libraries where they’d go to drink wine and argue arcane theorems until the bouncers chased them out at 3am. She didn’t know what she’d do here. Her familiar, Preston, climbed into her lap, demanding scritches. He, at least, had no worries about the future.


The cottage was less bad than she’d thought. It was twice the size of her apartment, so still a postage stamp but, like, an international postage stamp. There was a tiny black fence that she could step over and a wrought iron arch with roses growing up it and a little brick path and little garden beds and whitewashed walls and green storm shutters and it was all just so postcard-perfect rural idyll that sometimes Tania wanted to scream.

The last witch that lived here had been old and unable to manage the stairs, so everything important was crammed onto the first floor. Preston immediately disappeared up the cluttered steps while Tania maneuvered through the piles of the dead woman’s stuff into the kitchen, where the prior resident of the cottage had left her a note.

To the next witch of Freevale,

Welcome! I hope you enjoy your time here as I have. Freevale is a wonderful village and the people are quite nice once they warm up to you. That can, admittedly, take some time. They are suspicious of magic but appreciate good sense and strong character. I found that the more I looked like a storybook witch the less afraid of me they were, which I suppose makes sense in a roundabout way. But there’s nothing for that but time, and I suspect you will be young.

I hope you can reclaim my garden.

The house has several spells on it to facilitate the summoning of certain spirits and prevent the materialization of others. In order to refresh them, you’ll need…

And on it went. Tania was far more comfortable with cleaning house and maintaining spellwork than she was with the idea that she might have to dress up in a costume to deal with people, so she dove into that. She spent the entire first week cleaning, eating out of the ample stores the last witch had left behind, letting Preston fend for himself. He was an animal, after all. Surely the raccoons of Freevale figured out how to eat. Back in the Capitol she’d have fed him herself or he’d go find a handy dumpster to rummage in. Here, at least, there were clear springs for him to wash his food.

Once the house was clean enough to live in Tania considered the gardens.

They were clearly once the crowning glory of the house. There were raised beds, in-ground beds, fruits, vegetables, and exotic flowers that shouldn’t live at their latitude. There was a chicken coop in the back, reinforced like a prison, with a mulberry tree growing next to it. There was a little greenhouse and a hoop house and a shed filled with frankly dangerous looking garden tools. Tania had no idea where to start.

“Weeding,” she said out loud, despite the fact that Preston had waddled away last night and not yet returned. “That’s what people do in gardens, right? They pull up the weeds?” She looked over at one of the raised beds and pondered how to tell the difference between a weed and a flower. Many weeds were quite useful. You could eat dandelions, for example, but, and this was an important point in Tania’s mind, why would you ever?

She had just decided to start yanking any dandelions she found out the raised beds when she heard the sound of an ATV approaching. Tania stood, half terrified of her first visitor and half grateful to be pulled back into a world she actually knew. The gratitude faded when the visitor, a youngish man with a red beard, unstrapped a cage from the back of the ATV.

“This yours?” He called out, holding up the cage while Preston screached and chittered within it.

“Preston!” Tania raced down the brick path, casting a spell to unlock the cage even as she ran. The door popped open and Preston’s round, grey body shot out like a cannonball as the fat little raccoon raced into his mistress’s arms.

The young man sighed and put his cage back on the ATV. “Thank god,” he said. “If he hadn’t been yours I was going to need a spell against rabies. He bit the poo poo out of me.”

“Serves you right, putting him in a cage!” Tania said. Preston hissed.

He gave a short, disbelieving laugh. “You’re lucky he’s just in a cage, ma’am. He’s been terrorizing every farm in five miles since you got here. Folks here don’t cuss at a raccoon for knocking over their trash cans. They shoot ‘em for killing their chickens. And Mr. Bitey here isn’t just any raccoon, he’s a familiar, so he’s smart.”

Tania stared at Preston, who looked like the picture of innocence, if your idea of innocence wore a little black mask and sharp little teeth. He pushed his muzzle into her shoulder like a baby. “So he’s been killing chickens?”

“No,” the man laughed again, this time honestly. “He stole John Mason’s keys right out of his pocket. Rolled up into his house and started eating his lunch at the table. The way I heard it told, he was holding the sandwich all proper too,” the man held up his hands, miming holding something flat, his pinkie fingers extended. “Smart critter. But not smart enough not to get caught doing it.”

“Why is this the first I’m hearing of it?” Tania demanded. “If my familiar is causing problems someone should tell me.”

The man rubbed the back of his neck and considered the house behind her before answering. “Well, see, everybody liked the last witch. She was from around here, you know?”

“She couldn’t have been. The Council never places witches close to home.”

“Yeah, sure. But she was from a place like here, then. She was always at the feed store or at the Mill or in the square just hanging out. You could always find her. When she died it was like a piece of the town died. And then they told us they were sending someone straight out of the College and it broke some people’s brains. I’m guessing you didn’t get much of a welcome.”

“Just protestors.”

“poo poo. I’m sorry.” He genuinely looked distressed. “I’d hoped the rain would keep ‘em home. I’m Cory, by the way. Hi.” He held out a hand.

Tania shook it, cautiously. “Tania. Hi.” Preston hissed at him. “I’ll put a bell on him. Or keep him here.”

Cory nodded. “And come to the feed store,” he said. “I work there, I’ll make sure the old cranks stay in line.”


It was another week before she took him up on the invitation.

This week was more eventful. The mayor stopped by, finally, to formally welcome her to the village. That seemed to open the floodgates, and suddenly her home was visited by every person with a runny nose, twisted ankle. What finally drove her from her home was the first serious incident: a woman with a completely pulverized leg from a rolled tractor.

“Get her on the table,” Tania had said. And the people had done as she commanded. The woman was in her forties and had the shocked, empty expression of someone injured beyond their bodies capacity for pain. Her leg was a swollen sack of tissues, leaking toxins into the rest of her bloodstream.

A spell to prevent infection first. Then the spell to quiet the pain and let the woman sleep. A spell to mend the bone, cast over and over and over again to catch every shattered piece. Another spell to repair the muscle fibers, another to prevent the nerves from wiggling out of their assigned pathways, and a final spell to prevent any of the little spirits and demons that frequented human habitations from taking all this magic as an invitation to make trouble.

It took nine hours. At the end of it, the woman’s family took her away, nodding their thanks to Tania but saying nothing. She’d saved the woman’s life and her leg and all she was left with was a filthy kitchen table. Plenty of places had the superstition that you never thanked a witch, but Tania couldn’t imagine the last witch of this place being treated so coldy.

She approached the store with trepidation, praying that Cody was inside.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Inftructions On The Baking of No-Knead Breadlings, By An Unkeen Huswif
417 words

creates twelve small-loaves, or breadlings, fuitable for fandwiches and toafting, as the reader fo wills.

1. Run out of bread from Jotunmart becaufe your children are empty pits to which carbohydrates are the only mirthbringers. Decide to make breadlings.

2. Firft take two pounds of whole wheat flour, furnished by the grace of God and the artifan millers of New Jerfey, and add to that fome yeaft and fome falt, mixing gently.

3. Add to this fomewhat lefs water than flour, mixing until a fticky, wet dough forms. Remember belatedly to remove your rings. Ah. You have already gotten dough entrapped in the gemholders. You are aceing this.

4. Realize that you completely hosed up and nobody wants to eat 100% whole wheat, no-knead bread. That poo poo will be weirdgrainy and bad. Imagine Paul Hollywood’s look of wry disappointment. Remember that you are American. ftop this foolishnefs.

5. Start from ftep 1 with all-purpofe flour.

6. Throw half of the whole wheat dough into the bowl with the all-purpofe dough. Throw half the all-purpofe dough into the bowl with the whole wheat dough. Mix them together with your hands, muttering that it’s okay, it’s juft marbled. It’s artifanal.

7. Place dough, covered, in a coolcheft. You will have to ufe the underhoufe one, the overhoufe coolcheft being filled with uneaten leftovers and fnacks. Let it rife there for at leaft two hours, or better overnight, or more accurately two to three overnights. You are not made of time, after all.

8. Awaken with a profound longing for bread.

9. Set oven to 450f and place a caft iron fkillet on the bottom. Wetting your hands, fcoop fmallish handfuls of dough and shape them into balls by ftretching them and tucking the dough underneath itfelf. You’re feeking larger-than-golfball but fmaller-than-bafeball fized balls here, which will bake into hamburger-bun fized breadlings. Allow to embiggen as the oven comes to temp.

10. Before you place the breadlings into the oven, pour a cup of boiling water into the caft iron fkillet. Bake breadlings for 25 minutes.

11. Let cool on a wire rack

12. Immediately burn your tongue. Turn it into a teaching moment about patience for your four year old. Pat yourfelf on the back before drowning the breadlings in honey and butter and gorging yourfelf on them for the reft of the week.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I've always been of the opinion that avatars are a good advertisement, but gangtags and av text would work the same way and not change up how anyone is presenting themselves around the forum.

What got me into Thunderdome was a week where the winner had an opportunity to get published. My story was bad and I felt bad, but the honest critique was genuinely so helpful. I think it's better with less kayfabe as well.'s also better when all judges post their crits in a timely fashion so this is me toxxing to get my outstanding crits done by the end of the week.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:


A Lovely Light by Admiralty Flag

The one where a single dad has a weekend with his kids.

One of the things I like about this is that it’s sweet without denying the sour. Those stupid bursts of anger that inspire you to be an rear end in a top hat to your kid. The absolute exhaustion. The desire to get any time to yourself, which quickly gets eaten by all the other demands of life. But all of that doesn’t matter when your kid has a nightmare and just needs you. This did a good job of showing both having to parent and getting to parent.

There are points whether the choppy detachment works against it, and points where it underscores the exhaustion of the main character. I also think it would be better if only one of the two child emergencies were a nightmare, not that that’s not realistic, but because in sub 800 word stories it feels, to me, like a waste to repeat a device.

talking in the back by flerp

The one where a little girl talks to her uncle about her dead grandfather and he has Feelings.

I liked this one, it was sweet. It featured a kid, but the kid was a device for the main character to explore his feelings (or lack thereof) about the death of his father. I think it may not ring entirely true, kids do tend to ask remarkably penetrating questions, especially about life and death. They also tend to want to tell you about Pokemon at exhausting length, and will switch back and forth between the two rapidly.

I think this would have been improved by showing a memory of the main character and his father, maybe at a different funeral, when the mc was the same age as the niece in the story. Maybe something to showcase why he’s feeling complicated.

Pegasus by Violet_Sky

The one where a pegasus takes kids to an all-kids afterlife and it’s kinda hosed up!

I’ll be honest, this went fully over my head the first time I read it. Still, there’s a seed of something extremely cool and sinister and candy-coated here that I wish I could really dig into. You did a great job on emphasizing the Vibe of this piece, it drifts neatly into its unsettling, discordant ending.

But I think you bury the lede of the Pegasus being not just inhuman but being potentially malevolent. At least how humans would interpret malevolence. I also think it ends on the wrong line, “But that was just a fairy tale” has enough menace and dissonance to it in context without the ending question. I want more of that dissonance. If you ever revisit this concept I’d love to read it.

The Blur by archduke.iago

The one where a kid’s family decides he should grow up as fast as he can.

There is an enormous pressure we put on kids to Grow Up. It’s painful. Especially if we see them struggling, we want to fast forward them through the struggle. We want them to be the people we wanted to be, and some parents will absolutely push their kid through extremes of discomfort to get them “past” all the developmentally necessary struggles of childhood.

This has rough patches, but like Pegasus it captured the Vibe of a specific discomfort so neatly that it wound up my favorite of the week.

Ollie, Ollie by Thranguy

The one where a girl learns the secret to being the Best Hider in local games of hide n seek

The world of this was built very well and very cleanly. The voice was unmistakably that of a child without the work being childish.

But I can’t shake the sense that it didn’t earn its ending. Other than his ability to go to the moon, which is presented just as a Fact, there’s nothing to indicate that Xavier is some sort of fairy creature that would need to be killed with a sprig of holly. It makes the ending jarring, and not in a “oh goodness I am worried for this child” way, but in a “wait this wasn’t the story I thought I was reading, did I miss something” way. It’s a cool ending and a cool beginning, they just don’t meld together as seamlessly as I’d like.

Someone I Respect by Chili

The one where a girl remembers meeting her best friend.

This was cute. A little snapshot of the drama of late elementary/early middle school. A look into the work it takes to actually become friends with and close with someone.

The meat of the story, when her dad questions why she isn’t trying for more, comes a little late. I think seeding some more bits of that social imperative, that searching for the absolute best social opportunity possible, would drive the ending home even more powerfully. Her choice of Helena and decision to push back on her parents is meaningful because it had been so ingrained.

But you get like a thousand bonus points for writing the only non-downer story of the week.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

In, flash

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

1196 words
Flash: a snow-covered village, but the houses are all empty


Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 03:41 on Jan 2, 2024


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

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

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I will judge. I will :toxx: to have crits up 48 hours after judgement.

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