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I'm also working on something.  About half-finished.  I should easily be able to make a Wednesday deadline.

All righty then!  I figured Sinitrena had this one in the bag, so all the trophies are skull-sperms. :=  Sorry!

First place goes to JudasFm for her Blade Runner-esque tale of flawed clones escaping from flawed humans.  I was a little confused by a weak introduction of the fifth member of the party (Astra), but in the end I was able to piece it all together.  Your notes on the broader story make me intrigued to read further as well!  I liked how all of your characters were so distinct from each other physically and personality-wise, although I suppose that's also why their alliance crumbled so easily....  It's like a rogue mutant clone just can't catch any breaks, right?

Second place goes to Sinitrena, which hopefully results in some sort of fraternal twin scenario since otherwise the second place sperm is sadly redundant.  I for one would be interested in at least a synopsis of your lost work....

So I guess that's it for another round.  True to any Dwindling Party horror trope, the real heroes are the supporting cast who crashed out of the competition in order that our two finalists could successfully submit their entries in the end.  Hopefully everyone shows equal dedication next round by sticking to the theme with equal vigour. :P

Take it away, JudasFm!

Too busy to close this properly at the moment, so I'll leave it open for voting until Friday.  Sorry! :-[

Brilliant, we've got a competition! ;-D

Our contestants are, in order of brevity:

Sinitrena: Sperm
JudasFm: Measure of a Man

Entries are to be judged on the following criteria:

Best Character: the most believable/captivating/magnetic/unique character
Best Misfortune: best death or misfortune that removes a character from the group
Best Atmosphere: the eerie, suspenseful, or possibly comical sense that anyone could be next!
Best Writing: the technical category for polish, word-choice, conciseness, etc.
Best Unpredictability: could you figure out who would make it from the outset?  If so, don't award this vote!

Voting will remain open until Tuesday October 23, 2018.

Very well.  All competitors now have until Thursday Oct 18 to complete their entries.

24 hours left to top that! :=

CaptainD got his arm stuck up a vending machine, and WHAM fell into a vat of liquid mutagen.  Sinitrena got stuck on a velcro wall, and Stupot fell down a well.  Mandle got kidnapped by a flock of ravens, and Frodo got thrown into prison for tax fraud.  Kyriakos got sucked into another dimension, while Ponch slipped between the cushions of his lazyboy recliner and hasn't been heard from since.  Who is left to see this competition through to the end, I wonder?  This party is dwindling like the booze ran out.... (roll)

Something approximating a week left.  Get on your horse and write!

You announce an exciting writing competition theme.  Several friends volunteer to participate.  But then mysteriously they begin to drop out, one by one.  It looks like you have yourself a serious case of...

The Dwindling Party

But that would never happen here. :)

In all seriousness, the Dwindling Party is a long established trope in fiction.  Done properly, it can be full of mystery and suspense.  But beware of the pitfalls!  Don't kill off your poor Red Shirts before the reader has a chance to empathize with them.  The misfortunes themselves need to blend into the plot, and not be glaringly obvious from the offset.  Three misfortunes, that's possible.  Seven misfortunes, there's an outside chance.  But nine misfortunes-- I'd like to see that! :=

Entries will probably be judged on the following criteria:

Best Character: the most believable/captivating/magnetic/unique character
Best Misfortune: best death or misfortune that removes a character from the group
Best Atmosphere: the eerie, suspenseful, or possibly comical sense that anyone could be next!
Best Writing: the technical category for polish, word-choice, conciseness, etc.
Best Unpredictability: don't make it obvious who's next, but don't make it so not obvious that it's obvious either. ;)

You have until Monday October 15 to submit a story, poem, or the best dang op-ed piece that anyone will ever read!

Good luck! ;-D

Whoa, a come from behind victory!  Thanks for all the votes folks! :)
It was really interesting how the three of us entrants took the theme in completely different directions.

I'll try to get the next competition up and running soon.

Best Character: I'm going with Frodo and her Queen bacterium, or whatever she was.  Although her resurrecting Man 5/Jesus figure was a close second. ;)

Best Plot: Definitely Frodo, as her story was more plot based.  It was a fun read! ;-D

Best Writing: I'm going with KyriakosCH on this one.  There were small technical errors in both pieces, but I felt KyriakosCH's writing used a more in-depth vocabulary. ;) :P :-D

Best Atmosphere: Eeeeee.  I'm going with KyriakosCH by a whisker.  But, jeez, he's been tormented since childhood: just pull on the rope already! :)

Best use of topic: I think Frodo wins this category.  Her story took the theme in an unexpected direction.

        Punder the Sea

   The tiny penny fish flit cautiously through weeds, aware that the hypnotic dance of the sunlight from the waves above could easily conceal a stealthy predator.  Then again, if he were to be eaten en route he would at least miss his odious appointment.  Summoning the courage to temp fate, the penny fish darted out from the weeds and raced through the grandiose marble columns of the First Bank of Atlantis.  Unfortunately, he made it.

   “Mr. Blobfish will see you now,” the bug-eyed secretary fish called to him.  The penny fish sighed and entered his banker's ornate office.

   “Mr. Penny,” the Blobfish scowled at him in greeting.  “How's the family?”

   “Mostly eaten, I'm afraid.”

   “Good, good,” the Blobfish replied absently, clearly glad that the formal niceties were now over.  “Now, let's get down to business.  The Bank is concerned that you are having something of a cash flow crisis.”

   “Not true, sir!” the penny fish piped up, trying to head off the inevitable fee-laden rate-hike that Mr. Blobfish was notorious for.

   “Hmmmmm....” the blobfish frowned, his jowls quivering slightly as the syllable drew out.  “It says here your mortgage is underwater.”

   “Well, yes, that much I concede, but-”

   “And you're still in school.”

   “Yes.  Obviously.  I mean, after all, I am a-”

   “Investments are mostly illiquid....”

   “Now I can explain that-”

   “And your credit rating is plumbing new depths.”

   “Uh.... Is it?”

   “Mr. Penny,” the blobfish gurgled sourly, “surely I needn't remind you that the Bank is built on minimizing risk.”  He eyed the penny fish disdainfully.  “The Bank must insist on a rate-hike commensurate with your abysmal risk-profile.”

   “Wait!” the little penny fish interrupted.  “You gotta give me a chance!  You're bleeding me dry here!”

   “Humph,” the blobfish humphed.  “Are you telling me you would prefer to take your business elsewhere?”

   “Uh.... no.  I'm not saying that.”

   “I hear the loan sharks on the upper east side specialize in dealing with minnows like you.”

   “Ha ha.  No, what I meant was-”

   “Or perhaps you think a customer of your net worth would fair better at the Grand Banks?”

   “That's not what I-”

   “Mr. Penny,” the blobfish grimaced, “Your assets are tanking and you are on the hook for a titanic sum.  You are in desperate need of liquidity.  Under the circumstances, I can't imagine you getting a better deal anywhere else.  Sign here.”

   The penny fish moved his mouth wordlessly.

   “Well?  I'm a very busy financier, and there are many other fish in the sea.”

   “It's just that...” the penny fish began slowly, working up his nerve.  “It's just that, well, I've been planning to start up my own business.”

   “What?”  The blobfish's eyes bulged in disbelief.

   “Uh, that's right.  I'm going into the hydroponics business.”

   “Hydroponics!  I'm not investing in the tech bubble.”

   “No, wait.  Hear me out.  My angle is to diversify into the cephalopod market.  I've already inked a contract for an octopus's garden in the shade.”

   “I've got a sinking feeling about this enterprise....”

   “And look at the macroeconomic picture!  The labour market is buoyant and stocks are rebounding.  The tide raises all ships!  Now is the time to channel investments into sectors about to face a sea-change.”

   “I can not fathom why I am even considering this....”

   “Remember Bait-coin?  You can turn drops into gallons when all those frothy revenues start pouring in.  After our flagship product makes a big splash, we'll be swimming in the money!”

   “All right, all right!  I'll take the plunge!  Where do I sign?  How much do you need?!”

   In an ocean this big, there's a sucker born every minute. :=

My plan was to keep quiet and then post something a few minutes before the time expired, so as to win by default :~(

That was my plan all along as well! 8-)  Great minds think alike, I suppose. (roll)

Oh man, I was so tired when I read that the "dozing" just didn't register as an adjective, even after I went back and reread it to make sure.  Sorry Sinitrena! (roll)

BEST CHARACTER - Ferrungis by WHAM.  He's like an overworked middle-aged dad, once all powerful but now ground down by taxes, inflation, and the general indignities of growing ever more feeble.  Not exactly charismatic, but he sure played to my demographic. ;)

BEST WRITING - I'm going with WHAM, with Sinitrena as a very close second.  Both painted terrific pictures in my mind, but some editing lapses in Sinitrena's work broke the spell.  Tickling a dozing?  Er.... :)

BEST STORY - Now this category must be Sinitrena.  That... was... EPIC!  Before I started reading I was a little apprehensive of the length, but on finishing it I'm thinking it's actually too short.  You've got material here for at least five chapters in a larger novel.  I'm with Wiggy on this one: flesh it out as a novel and try to get it published.  I'll even offer my editing services for a discounted fee.... ;-D

BEST ATMOSPHERE - Again Sinitrena, for creating a complex world of magic and misery.  I should note that I liked WHAM's grungy world as well, but I think Sinitrena's spoke more to my soul.

BEST DRAGON - Eeeee....  I think in terms of character it must be Ferrungis by WHAM.  Sinitrena's dragons didn't relate enough at our human level (until the end) to really get to know them.  Durinde's dragon did a cute little cameo, but I never really felt like I knew... er, them.  And Wiggy's ladies seem, uh... a little less than magical. (roll)

Overall another good outing, folks!

The Rumpus Room / Re: I'm back. What did I miss?
« on: 28 Aug 2018, 02:50 »
You're never drinking alone in Canada, eh? ;-D

If you keep extending the deadline, I'll keep procrastinating! ;-D  As it stands now I'm already planning to retire further west so that I can eke out a few more hours before the comps officially close. (roll)

Quest for Concord

   “Decay, destruction, ruin, and woe,” Carla Fae pronounced as she surveyed the devastation of the ruined city.  Great skeletons of steel stood sentinel over the tumbled concrete and rust that made the whole terrain a treacherous web of danger.

   “That's catchy,” Debbie Lee replied as she spat dust through the gap of her missing front teeth.  “You gonna put that in your dairy book?”

   Carla Fae shook her head.  “I think it's Shakespeare.  And it's a diary, not a dairy.”

   Debbie Lee took a big swig of brown water.  It might have been clear once, before she added a dram of whiskey to kill off the bacteria.  But chances were it was brown from the start.  “One forgotten word's as good as another,” she said.

   There was a long moment of silence as the two women listened to the distant bleating of a motorcycle echoing through the desolation.

   “There are still those of us who believe that there is much knowledge to be gleaned from the Olden Days,” Carla Fae said at last.

   Debbie Lee waved her hand over the ruined landscape.  “Yeah, looks like them folk had it all figured out.”

   “Maybe older Olden Days,” Carla Fae conceded.  “Before the Tyranny of Science, people believed in powerful beings that could raze the Earth and remake it again.”

   Debbie Lee spat again.  “I'm not interested in you running your mouth on about Gord.”

   “It's god, not Gord.  And I'm not talking about some invisible man in the sky.  I'm talking about the dragons.”

   Debbie Lee rolled her eyes skyward but said nothing.

   “Think about it,” Carla Fae continued.  “The metal-faced wizard visits in the night.  The king meets with his council and summons all his knights for a quest.  The knights all charge off on their bikes into this nest of shrapnel and debris.  There's something important going on here, and I think it has to do with dragons.”

   “Why dragons?” Debbie Lee asked skeptically.  “Why not something real, like sky spiders or zombie coyotes?”

   “Because of the mark,” Carla Fae said simply.  She remade the complicated design in the dust.  Debbie Lee recognized the stick-boy kicking the ball next to the number five, above an A and an E, both with too many cross lines.  The men had all painted it on to their shields before roaring off into the purple haze of dawn.  “It means dragon in old take-out speak.”

   “So what?  The knights couldn't find shit if it was dangling from the ends of their noses.  Remember that Grail fiasco?”

   Carla Fae shook her head.  “We both know the men folk are all just quish junkies and paste heads.  That's why we have to do this.”

   Debbie Lee looked sideways at her bookish friend.  “You said we were raiding an abandoned hooch mart!”

   “That was just to get you out of the brooding hall.  I tell you, Dee-El, there's something to the legends, and the metal-faced wizard sure thought he was on to something this time.  What do you say, old pal?  Care to show the boys how questing should really be done?”

   *   *   *   *   *

   The purple glow of dawn receded into the dull green glow of their third day in the ruins.  Debbie Lee rolled off the rusty springs that had provided her with a surprisingly comfortable night's sleep.  She  horked her morning loogie and wondered idly if she'd be lucky enough to find another pigeon to juice today.  Carla Fae was carefully reading some graffiti prophecies by roach-glow in the deeper recessions of the underpass.

   “What's that smell?” Debbie Lee asked as she approached, suddenly noticing an enticing waft.

   “What?  Oh, I couldn't sleep, so I rustled up some roadkill bacon.”


   Debbie Lee tucked happily into her breakfast while Carla Fae continued to study the wall.

   “Well?” Debbie Lee asked, licking the last of the grease from her fingers and picking the hair from between her teeth.

   “The text is damaged,” Carla Fae said absently, gesturing at the pock-marked wall.  “But, I think it's indicating the presence of a dragon temple in a pavilion on a floating mountain.”

   Debbie Lee knew most of her letters, but struggled to make any kind of sense out their infinite combinations.  “It looks like the scribblings of a booze-mummed toddler.”

   “Look here,” Carla Fae pointed.  “It's stylized, but if you squint you can see the dragon symbol.”

   Debbie Lee squinted real hard, but... wait.  Now that it was pointed out to her, it did look an awful lot like the dragon symbol they'd been chasing.  “Well, I'll be a floating brain-squid's mother.  I do see it!”

   “I'm just struggling with the floating mountain bit,” Carla Fae confided absently, deep in thought.

   Debbie Lee scrunched up her eyes and let her own mind-gears spin.  She was well aware that she was more the muscle in their partnership, but she did enjoy firing the odd neuron now and then.  “Maybe we can see the mountain from up high on one of these steel towers?” she thought aloud.

   Carla Fae shook her head.  “No, they're too precarious.  If we don't fall off, we're as likely to die in a collapse.  And there's not a lot of cover up there if it starts raining sky spiders.”

   “Good point,” Debbie Lee agreed.  She picked her ass to help get her thinking juices flowing.  “What if we went to the edge of the dust bowl?  It's nice and open there-?”

   Carla Fae snapped her fingers.  “Debbie Lee, you are a nerd-lord!  In ancient times the dust bowl was flooded by a great brine puddle.  The floating mountain was probably a hill that stuck up out of the brine, appearing to float!”

   Debbie Lee was getting excited, too.  “So all we have to do is find a hill in the dust bowl with a monument on top!  Well, that and cross the dust-bowl without being attacked by zombie yotes or sky spiders....”

   Carla Fae frowned briefly, then brightened.  “I think it's time we jacked a hog.”

   Debbie Lee smiled back.  Jacking was one of her strong points.

   *   *   *   *   * 

   The two friends climbed the great stairs in front of the monument.  Behind them stretched the parched barrens of the old brine bottom, and behind that loomed the stark skyline of the rusty ruins.  To the west a cloud of sky spiders seethed menacingly in a growing wind that was beginning to churn up the dust.

   Debbie Lee spat an impressive fourteen-footer downwind.  “Storms brewin',” she said.

   Carla Fae was entranced by the carved stone decoration of the ancients that towered above them.  “Storms are but a symptom,” she replied absently.  “They spawn from a far greater evil unleashed by the hubris of the ancients.”

   “Er....?” Debbie Lee responded.

   Carla Fae shook her head and smiled.  “Perhaps the dragons can help us?”

   “I reckon we're about to find out.”

   Together they climbed the remaining steps and passed over a great serpentine seal carved into the floor stones.  Even Debbie Lee could decipher the unmistakable pattern of the dragon's mark.  The building itself seemed to moan, and then the floor vibrated perceptibly.

   “So... what exactly is a dragon?” Debbie Lee asked with an affected calmness.

   “Heh, how silly of me not to share.  I've read a lot of conflicting accounts, but there are some basic similarities.  They are powerful armoured beasts, capable of flight and making fire out of thin air.”

   “Huh,” Debbie Lee sniffed.  “Kinda like men, then.”

   Carla Fae furrowed her brow pensively.  “Some accounts mention great wisdom,” she said at length.

   “Ah,” was all Debbie Lee replied.

   “...But others stress the qualities of greed and gluttony.”

   Debbie Lee arched an eyebrow, but said nothing.  A sudden clap of thunder made them both jump.

   “They are extremely long-lived,” Carla Fae continued in a quavering voice.  “And they have impeccable memories.  They will remember the Olden Days, and the many eras before that.  They will remember what brought the desolation upon the Earth.  In their great wisdom, they might even know how to-”

   They both froze in place as a fell shadow swooped over them, but in the merest blink it had vanished as suddenly as it had come.

   “Uh....  So what do we do when we meet a dragon?” Debbie Lee asked.

   Carla Fae opened her mouth to respond when suddenly a much louder clap of thunder crashed through the interior of the monument.  The ground lurched sideways and they both lost their footing.     

   Debbie Lee was the first back up on her feet.  “See-Fay!” she hissed, straining her senses to detect the direction of the attack.  “What do we do now?”

   But Carla Fae just lay on the ground, the most peaceful look glazed over her face.

   “Oh shit,” Debbie Lee muttered to herself.  Then there was another clap of thunder.  Almost instinctively she leapt, the sideways lurch of the ground this time sliding her unconscious friend to rest against the statue of an ugly serpent, but she herself landed safely on the ground once it had steadied once more.

   “Impressive...” a booming voice echoed.

   Debbie Lee squinted through the gloom in all directions, but she could not detect the source of the voice.  “Er.... Thanks,” was all she could manage.

   Two glowing eyes appeared against the blackness of the high ceiling, and they slowly grew until a monstrously huge face of a bearded lizard resolved out of the gloom.  “Hmmmm....  Brave and skilled, and yet also well mannered?” it rumbled.  “What is become of men at the end of days?”

   Debbie Lee did not quite know what to make of the giant talking beast.  Her bladder had already made up its mind and had completely surrendered, but something inside her mind screamed at her not to follow suit.  So, despite shaking inside worse than the floor had just moments ago, Debbie Lee drew herself up her full height and replied: “the men are a bunch of cunt-faced idiots!”

   Great.  A quest to the death to find salvation for the world, and that's what comes spilling out of her word hole?  Inwardly she kicked herself, but was careful to keep her eyes locked on the dragon's.

   To her great surprise, the beast reared its head in laughter.  The building shook, and she couldn't help glancing at her unconscious friend to make sure that no further misfortune had befallen her.

   “Too true,” the dragon boomed.   Then a guileful expression crossed its face.  “I suppose you know better?”

   Debbie Lee considered this.  She figured it was mostly true, but in her experience it had never paid to play up one's smarts.  Better to be underestimated and surprise, rather than come across as arrogant and disappoint.  “Me, I don't know nothing.”

   The dragon blinked, then lowered its head again, thankfully to a less threatening distance.  “Humble as well...  Tell me, are there any noble qualities that you do not possess?”

   “Er... I'm ok with no bull.”

   At this the dragon laughed once more.  “Tell me, my straight-talking fellow, what is it that you are trying to achieve in your quest?”

   “Uh.....” Debbie Lee stalled.  “Well, see the thing is, my friend was kind of in charge of most of the figuring on this trip.  I think....  I think she wanted to know how we could go about fixin' up this shit hole.  Or something like that.”

   The dragon stared at her for many long moments.  “Quite,” was all he said.  In a flash he struck with his tail, shattering the statue looming over Carla Fae's body, sending debris flying back away from her, but leaving a shiny orb floating in the air just above.  On the backswing the dragon caught the orb with his tail and brought it with impossible speed up to Debbie Lee's face.  “There is something you will want to see, then.”

   Debbie Lee stepped back despite herself.  “Uh, no.  I'm afraid I'm not very smart when it comes to figurin' and such.”

   The dragon's head lurched forward so that it was eye to eye with her.  “That is precisely why it must you,” he rumbled, and then his tail slowly brought the glowing orb back between them. 

   The orb seemed to open into the yawning chasm of history, and suddenly the nature of the world was perfectly clear to her.

My experience of white wine is that it's bad for the head.  Really, really bad for the head.... (roll)

My entry is about two-thirds done.  I'm pretty confident I can flesh out the rest this evening.

I have time... hopefully I'll find enough ideas this weekend to flesh it out. ;)

The Rumpus Room / Re: I'm back. What did I miss?
« on: 23 Aug 2018, 01:35 »
Drink all day and rock all night, the law come to get you if you don't walk right.... ;-D
Ready for that "pillow fight", Stu? :=
Baron: Take it to PMs or get a room  :cool:

Can't a guy hum the Grateful Dead in public anymore?  Sheesh. (roll)

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