Fortnightly Writing Competition: Junkyard (Contest Closed! Finally...)

Started by Durinde, Sat 09/03/2024 12:18:21

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Who wrote the best story

Renegade - Sinitrena
1 (16.7%)
Loopy & Doofy Go Shopping - Lorenzo
0 (0%)
Memoirs of a Trashy Woman - Baron
2 (33.3%)
Rags and Bones Men - Mandle
3 (50%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Voting closed: Thu 04/04/2024 14:08:59


One man's trash right?

Write a story around some sort of junkyard. Be it a space junkyard where scrapped ships lie floating, waiting to be stripped down, or your run of the mill community one guarded by a grumpy old man and his dog, interesting things can happen in junkyards. 

Maybe there's a lost item someone is searching for? Or perhaps the local kids are running a clubhouse out of an abandoned bus? Whatever you choose, I want to read!

Update: Added poll


Got my idea for my story just now while sitting on the toilet. Hope it comes out solid and not too on-the-nose.


I started working on a MAGs game from the 10th of this month. Making decent progress and should get it playable before deadline, but the scope of the story I had planned for FWC is probably too large. I do have another shorter idea I may be able to bash out.



The graveyard lay at the edge of the village. Several mausoleums stood at the southern side, their backs facing the high walls. Further westwards, a wrought iron gate stood slightly ajar after the gardener and warden had just passed through it.

Caven watched him from afar as he slowly, hobbling, hunched over, let his fingers glide over the iron before closing the gate, then locking it with an old key.

He sighed deeply, cocking his head slightly towards one of the soldiers at his side. "He'll be a problem," he said, "This region is... strange."

"Yes, sir." the soldier, a young lieutenant by the name of Goljan, answered non-committal at first, then he thought better of it. Simple obedience would not do for his current master. "Not to worry, sir, we know how to deal with renegades, sir."

"Renegades?" Caven asked with an amused smile in his voice, "An old man doing his duty? Misguided as he might be, due to the province he lives in and the lack of education, the lack of nation pride and duty he might suffer from?"

The young soldier swallowed. "I didn't mean – I only meant -"

Caven turned towards the soldier and put his flat hand on his chest. "He will obey, as will you. As is the duty of all and the will of the Seven and our Lord. We might need to educated him, we might need to force him if education and duty are not enough, but stupidity does not make one a renegade, boy."

A flare of anger sizzled in the lieutenant's eyes. Boy, that was what his father called him when he send him away. But Lieutenant Goljan swallowed his pride. "Yes, sir," he said instead, "He will obey, sir."

"Well, then, shall we?" Caven asked with his usual jovial smile and started to walk towards the cemetery. "For our duty, for the king!"

"Yes, sir!" Goljan repeated, "For our duty, for the king!" and the five other soldiers joined in.

The gate was locked when Caven stepped in front of it, but that didn't bother him. Witch a snap of his fingers the lock clicked open. The old gardener had a hut right next to the gate, small and old but well-kept.

Caven knocked at the door but didn't bother for any reaction, instead pushing it open with his foot.

The gardener was sitting at a small table, over a bowl of thin soup. "Yes? Can I help you? Do you need my services?"

"We do," Caven said and stepped into the hut, "though probably not in a way you are used to."


"But before we continue, it is just rude not to introduce oneself, is it not? I am Caven, High Caster of his Majesty, king Gwenlon II, and who might you be?" The friendly smile never left Caven's lips, but there was a certain hardness to his voice from years and years of service in the king's armies.

The old man almost jumped to his feet and bowed, though the movement was hardly visible as he was so hunched-over to begin with. "Belikon, sir – master, sir, Warden of the cemetery of..."

"Yes, yes, of course. I know where I am."

"Yes, sir, sorry, I am here to serve."

"Of course you, are. Well, then, shall we?" And with the smallest gesture of his hand, he invited Lieutenant Goljan into the hut. A raised eyebrow was the only order he gave the soldier.

Lieutenant Goljan cleared his throat and removed a piece of paper from his vest. Unfolding it slowly, he began to read before it was fully straight: "In the name of his Majesty, King Gwenlon II, by the grace of the Seven Lord of Kamifan, Ruler of Jeleon, Protector of the Peoples of Samin and Melov, second of his name, heir of the Great Divide and chosen by the Divine Temple, ..."

"It's a chore with all these titles, isn't it?" Caven commented amused and put one hand on the old man's shoulder. He was small, the top of his head hardly reaching under Caven's chest, his white hair was lacking and thin.

Two answered slipped through Belikon's mind, one agreeing with the High Caster, for he did not dare disagree with him, one pointing out the necessary respect for the king. He spoke neither, as the Lieutenant continued:

"... it is hereby ordered that every village, town and minor dwelling has to provide, according to the number of subjects currently residing in said village, town or other dwelling, the following bodies in addition to the already supplied soldiers and provisions requested in the year of the Seven 235:
1. for every ten inhabitants: 1 complete skeleton
2. for every five inhabitants: 1 addition skeletal arm
3. for every twenty inhabitants: 1 body still with flesh intact"

"Don't worry about the math, Belikon," Caven said and dug his fingers into Belikon's shoulder blade, "we'll figure it out together. It's not nearly as complicated as you think."

It wasn't complicated, not for Belikon. The village housed about 100 people, so the High Caster demanded 10 skeletons, 20 additional arms and 5 intact, recently interred bodies. A moment of sickness rushed over his face as he tried to grasp what the High Caster might need the dead for. He hardly heard the next words of the declaration:

"The bodies are to be exhumed and laid out before the High Caster or any representative authorized by the High Caster for inspection and either immediate or later awakening by the High Caster, so that they may thereby be able to serve king and country in the military's war efforts. It is, in the name of the king, the royal and divine duty of all subjects, with special regard to all cemetery wardens, to support the High Caster in all manners possible to acquire said bodies."

Belikon slowly shook his head. Necromancy was against the rules of the Seven. It wasn't taken seriously in all parts of the country, but here it was. Here, even burning a body was considered blasphemous, as flesh and bone were supposed to pass the threshold together.

"Signed, in the year of the Seven 236, Lord Vanven of Melovan, minister of war, in the name of his Majesty, King Gwenlon II."

"Well, then, shall we?" Caven asked, pointing towards the door of the little hut and the dusk that slowly settled over the graveyard.

The soldiers had brought their own shovels and didn't bother to wait for any additional orders.

"It is, ... it is against the rules of the Seven." Belikon protested mildly as the High Caster stirred him, too, towards the entrance of the hut.

"Shhh," he said, "it's the king's order and the king is anointed by the Seven. Therefore, whatever he asks of us is in the name and of the will of the Seven. Just don't think too much about it and show us good graves to forage and we'll be out of your hair -" at these words he started to play with the stringy locks on the old man's head, "- real soon."

"The villagers, they will not..."

"Ts, ts, ts, it doesn't matter. They'll obey, won't they? As will you?"

Belikon swallowed and shook his head, then nodded. "What will..., what will you do with... with the bodies?"

"Well, is that not obvious? I shall animate them. So many people have fallen already, and our good king would really like to protect his subjects, would he not? And so would you, would you not? And the villagers, they want to fight for their king, don't they? But they also need to till their fields, herd their cows, or whatever else they need to do?"

Meanwhile, the soldiers had already started to dig up graves, ramming the sharp edges of the shovels into the slightly moist ground. The day before, it had rained and so far the night wasn't so cold to freeze the ground. It was an easy task, a routine task by now. They didn't bother to read the tombstones, they didn't care about status or age of the dead. One shovelful after the other landed next to the graves, to the two graves the soldiers were currently working on. If the graves were old or new didn't matter for the first few, if the cadavers were fresh or rotten didn't matter.

"Please, sir," Belikon begged weakly, knowing full well that his words meant nothing and that he could never stop them on his own.

"It's all right, Belikon." Caven said, standing next to him and observing the soldiers working. "Just tell me which graves have good bones in them."

"Good bones?"

Caven sighed deeply. "Don't make this more difficult then it needs to be. You know exactly what I mean."

Belikon nodded. "I do." he said coldly. "And I know the rules of the Seven. And I know the duties of a warden. Digging graves is my duty, opening them is not."

The hand Caven still had on the old man's shoulder twitched and a second later a fist plunked into his face. Belikon stumbled backwards against his table, before he caught himself again. "Do not forget your duty to your king, do not forget your duty to your country."

Belikon hesitated a moment while he stood back up. "Duty," he said slowly, "Is it not a strange word? It so easily replaces right and just. And so often it means obedience and requires you to not think. I do know my duty, sir, for king and for country. For victory, for a just life, right?"

"It will save lives." Caven said now, the jovial, friendly smile back on his lips. "Why should the living die, when the dead can just as easily fight?"

Now it was Belikon's turn to sigh. "And have you not enough dead on the battlefields? Killed by our own, killed by our enemies?"

"Low quality." Caven shrugged. "Mauled, ripped apart, still with their minds close to their being."

"And still you're also asking for the freshly buried?"

"They shall serve their purpose."

"Of course they shall."

"I'm glad you're seeing my point, warden."

The soldiers had heaved up three coffins by now and put them next to their graves. One had picked up a crowbar and started to pry them open. The lid cracked with a squealing screech before it snapped and revealed strewn about bones. Caven stepped over to the coffin and examined the skeleton, taking up one bone after the other, then putting it back in perfect position.

It did not take long for the soldiers to reveal a second body. This coffin had not withstood the weight of the earth above it and had cracked. Dirt had dripped into the box, the lid had pressed onto the bones.

Looking up from his task, the High Caster said with a shrug: "Find the arms, maybe they are still good."

The soldiers did not hesitate, bringing a pair of arms over to Caven soon after, so that he could place them into the first coffin. "That will do," he said absentmindedly.

Everyone ignored the old man, busy with their gruesome yet well-versed task. Belikon hobbled around the six men towards the side of his hut where a shed opened to the outside. He carefully slipped inside. First, he locked at the old sword, rusty and long disused, then at his own shovel, pristine and shiny, then at the candles and other supplies he kept here, some seldom used, some part of his daily routine.

When he returned, the High Caster had placed the two additional arms next to the skeleton and candles and already prepared plaques of arcane symbols lay around the unnatural display. Caven stood at the head of the corpse, his hands high in the air. It seemed like the rain from the day before had returned with dark clouds and lightning and thunder, though only over the graveyard.

Slowly, Belikon walked towards the other side of the ritual, so that he stood at the feet of the dead man. The soldiers formed a circle, though Belikon ignored them, only looking from the skeleton to the High Caster and back again, but soon he had enough of the spectacle. Carefully, groaning, he stretched his hunched back until he stood straight. He was still nearly a head shorter than Caven but when he now rammed an old, knotty staff in the ground, it still seemed to call to the storm stronger than the High Caster's ritual.

Still, lightning jerked towards the skeleton, one flash, two three, then hundreds, into this bone, into that. Again and again Belikon had to look away from the blinding light, again and again the soldiers flinched under the loud impacts. Then, every bone had been struck and for a moment quiet returned to the cemetery. The clouds cleared from the sky as quickly as they had and on the wet ground a four-armed skeleton moaned.

"What... order... master?" the skeleton clattered. It drew itself up until it stared at Belikon.

"Dig!", Caven ordered, pointing to one of the other graves the soldiers had started on.

Staring into the black-glowing eyes of the former member of his village, Belikon hesitated a moment. Caven had not noticed it yet. He could still mumble the same order, pretend that everything was according to the High Caster's will.

"This is my scrapyard," the old man grumbled though, "and I don't like thieves."

"Dig!" Caven repeated, now slightly impatient because his thrall did not follow his orders.

Slowly, Belikon raised his arms until the storm returned a second time. "Dig!", he said mockingly, not referring to the skeleton sitting on its former grave, but to all the others still in the ground. "Dig and rise, for you are mine, and mine alone. This is my graveyard, this is my scrapyard, mine, and mine alone!" A dark laughter filled his throat. "Kill!" he ordered then, "Kill them all."

Lieutenant Goljan reached for his sword when he heard the mocking laughter of the old man, but it was already too late. A cold, squishy hand grabbed his arm and pulled him to the ground, relentless. The skeleton Caven believed to control jumped up almost virile, two of its arms clutching the caster's own, while one of the others filled his mouth with bones and the third pressed down on the man's Adam's apple.

"It took me long enough to find this nice little village in the middle of nowhere to advance my studies, so many parts to experiment with, so many old bones and fresh cadavers. And you come here, here to my scrapyard and try to steal some of my best calcium. No no no. Kill them all!"

Lieutenant Goljan died to his own sword, blood splashing onto the wet ground, and the other four soldiers followed just as quick, while the necromancer Belikon stood in the middle of the graveyard, arms high in the sky. Only the High Caster was not dealt with so quickly. Forced onto his knees, unable to speak with a boney gag, unable to fight off the four-armed skeleton, he could do nothing but watch.

"Duty?" Belikon mocked, "Or the rules of the Seven? You think I care for either? Or for the king? For his endless wars and all those poor dead of his armies? I don't. You tried to steal from me. Thief."

He snapped his fingers and the skeleton snapped the High Caster's neck.

The next moment, the old man's shoulders slumped again and the storm stopped. "Well then," he said as jovial as Caven before, "back to sleep, and take them with you, please."


This is a bit rushed, because I only came up with an idea 2 days ago and I don't have time to do a proper review, so sorry about that.


I'm out this time unfortunately. My MAGS game is consuming my free time.
They/them. Here are some of my games:


I started writing late, but I hope my story isn't too rough!
It's based on two characters I wrote and drew some comics for (although I never put them online), about their days at school together and their silly hijinks.

Anyway, story below! I put it in spoilers because I hate scrolling the most recent posts and accidentally seeing the endings to these stories.  (laugh)


Loopy & Doofy Go Shopping

During the summer vacations, when the schools are closed and all the rich kids go to the sea, there is not much to do for those of us who have to stay in the city. Just two months of torrid weather, scorching sun, and sweaty boredom.
So, as usual, I went to visit my deskmate and best friend, Loopy. She lives in a rather run-down part of town, where the rents are low and people's mood isn't much higher.
I stepped off the bus and was greeted by a whiff of hot wind that felt like a hair dryer blown onto my face. Leaning against a broken lamppost, in search of some shadow, I took a gander at Loopy's flat. Every time I look at that building, I wonder how it's still standing: it must be one of those miracles science can't explain.
I tried the doorbell, but it was – unsurprisingly – out of order. Has anything ever been in order in that building? I shouted my friend's name, but her bedroom window was closed – and knowing her, she was probably still sleeping. So, I had to rely on a different method. I grabbed a small pebble from the ground and threw it at her window.
So I took another pebble and threw it. Then another. And another.
By coincidence, right in the middle of my fifth throwing, Loopy opened the window and my pebble hit her right on the forehead.
"Ouch!" Came a voice from inside." Doofy, is that you?" A messy mop of hair appeared in the window and began searching for a culprit." You idiot, you hit me right on the head!"
"Nothing important has been damaged then." I replied.
"Yeah..." she chuckled. "Come on in, the main door is unlocked, and my parents are out."

After a flight of stairs – the lift was out of order, naturally – I entered Loopy's house and reached her bedroom. It looked like a bomb had hit the place. There was junk everywhere: empty cookie bags, dirty cups containing unsavoury-looking liquids, teaspoons left inside slippers ("so I don't lose them"), comic books with socks used as bookmarks, and other assorted rubbish.
"What got into your head?" muttered Loopy as I entered. "Why did you hit me with a rock?"
"Sorry! I didn't realise your window was open." I said, coyly.
"I was letting some fresh air inside, you know. Cleaning the room and all that."
"Cleaning?!" I looked around." What were you cleaning? This place is a mess!"
"Maybe for you... But I know exactly where things are. Everything is stored according to perfect logic. For example, say am looking for..."
"Homework." I suggested.
"What for? I don't do homework when we're in school, why would I start during the summer?"
"Er, what if you're looking for a t-shirt then?"
"I just keep them on the floor."
I looked down. The floor was a gunky moquette made of sweaty, stained clothes thrown around and stuck there.
"That's disgusting, Loopy!"
"Don't diss it 'till you try it. It saves me a lot of time when I need to dress up. Plus, it makes walking in the room barefooted quite nice."
"Right. So, shall we go?"
"Shopping! Have you forgotten already?"
Loopy scratched her head." Er... No, of course not. Follow me to the kitchen, so I can finish dressing and we go out."
Dumbfounded, I followed Loopy to the kitchen, where she opened the fridge and fished out a pair of socks.
"You keep socks in the refrigerator?!" I asked.
"I would be crazy to keep them in my room, with this heat!" she replied, nonchalantly putting on a pair of mismatched socks. "This way, they're fresh when I need 'em. Especially if it's the same socks for a few days, right?"

It was a scorching day outside, even hotter than before. We had already walked for what seemed an hour, and I was getting tired. It didn't help that we had started in the less glamorous parts of the city, we had already passed through the depressing neighbourhoods and we now were traversing the seedy ones.
"Are we there yet, Loopy?"
"Almost!" She replied, happily smiling. "You'll love this place, Doofy!"
"Are we going to that new shopping centre they recently opened?" I said.
"Nope! Much, much better." Loopy pointed proudly at the filthy backpack she had on her back. "See this beauty?"
"Where?" I asked, earnestly. "I see nothing that could be even remotely associated with beauty there, Loopy."
"The backpack, Doofy! It's a genuine Invidius in a pristine state. Well, almost pristine. I got it at the place we're heading to! What a bargain. And then there is..."
But before finishing the sentence, Loopy started jumping up and down excitedly. "Here we are!"

In front of us stood the biggest pile of rubbish I had ever seen – and I've seen Loopy's bedroom. As far as the eye could see, huge heaps of broken, rusty metal; squashed cars, shattered glass, flat tyres, bent sheets. An air of neglect and desolation permeated the place. It made me think of war-torn countries, abandoned cities, long-forgotten remains of a past civilisation, the relics of a...
"What a beauty, eh?!" shouted Loopy, breaking my depressing (but poetic) visions.
"Where are we? What is this mess?! Just look at it!" I cried.
"Yeah!... Reminds me of home." sighed nostalgically Loopy.

I was in total dismay. What were we doing in this place?! Loopy, in the meantime, looked as happy as a pig in the mud – which is an apt simile for the situation, actually. She was jumping around from one pile of trash to the next, checking inside broken cars, getting rust and dirt all over her shirt, grabbing random mucky old stuff from inside car boots, and putting it in her equally filthy backpack. Dreadful.
"What a place, eh?" She asked, seemingly unconscious of my feeling of disgust towards it.
"It's certainly a place." I said. "Listen. I don't want to put a damper on your excitement, Loopy, but..."
"What's a damper?" asked Loopy, cleaning her motor oil-covered hands on her t-shirt.
"A damper is a..."
"And where are you putting it?"
"That's not the point! The thing is... can't you catch tetanus touching this stuff here?"
"I don't know... What's tetanus?"
"It's an infection, Loopy! Don't you pay any attention in class?!"
Loopy scratched her head, was absorbed in deep thought for a moment, then turned back to me. "Nope. ...maybe you mean titanium? There's got to be some around here, with all this metal... Speaking of metal, what do you think of this?"
She pointed at a piece of protruding wire.
"It's that stuff that is worth a fortune, isn't it?"
I shook my head. "Nah, it's just rusty metal. I think you are mistaking it with copper."
"Coppers?" asked Loopy. "You don't worry about that! It's all legal and free in here. Imagine throwing away this cool stuff. One man's trash, eh?"
"Loopy! This is all trash! This place is a... a junkyard!"
"Yeah..." said Loopy, smiling. "Amazing isn't it?"

We spent the rest of the evening at the junkyard. I found an almost decent spot to sit on and watched while Loopy was having a whale of a time jumping around, rummaging through the most disgusting places, without a care in the world. Finally, when the sun was going down, we started returning home.
During the journey, I stopped at a small shop, while Loopy waited outside checking all the "treasure" she picked up at the junkyard.
I returned with a small bag.
"What did you buy, Doofy?" asked Loopy, curious.
"After today? Soap... lot of soap..."
Loopy looked at me with heartfelt sadness on her face. "I'm sorry you couldn't find anything nice to grab at the junkyard, Doofy!"
"Yeah..." I shrugged. "I guess I was just, er... unlucky."
"Don't worry about it!" smiled Loopy, patting me on the back, leaving black fingerprints all over my shirt. "We can return to the junkyard tomorrow!"
It'll be a long summer.


I guarantee you it was Mandle that liked the previous post.  (laugh)  Hide tags for all!

I've finally got an idea.  Should be able to bash it out by tomorrow night.  Fingers crossed.


Quote from: Baron on Sat 23/03/2024 00:44:54I guarantee you it was Mandle that liked the previous post.  (laugh)  Hide tags for all!

I've finally got an idea.  Should be able to bash it out by tomorrow night.  Fingers crossed.

It wasn't, but I did just now.

Any chance of an extension on the deadline of 2 days or so? My original story idea solidified in my mind this morning and now I have to write it but doubt I can get it finished by the current deadline. Pweeeaaase?!


Quote from: Mandle on Sat 23/03/2024 05:34:02
Quote from: Baron on Sat 23/03/2024 00:44:54I guarantee you it was Mandle that liked the previous post.  (laugh)  Hide tags for all!

I've finally got an idea.  Should be able to bash it out by tomorrow night.  Fingers crossed.

It wasn't, but I did just now.

Any chance of an extension on the deadline of 2 days or so? My original story idea solidified in my mind this morning and now I have to write it but doubt I can get it finished by the current deadline. Pweeeaaase?!

Sure. Extending to the 25th unless there are any objections by the other writers?


Quote from: Mandle on Mon 11/03/2024 14:59:28Got my idea for my story just now while sitting on the toilet. Hope it comes out solid and not too on-the-nose.

Quote from: Mandle on Sat 23/03/2024 05:34:02My original story idea solidified in my mind this morning
Nice to see it finally solidified. All this time sitting on the toilet can't be good for you! You should eat less fiber.

Quote from: Durinde on Sat 23/03/2024 08:59:35Sure. Extending to the 25th unless there are any objections by the other writers?
Sure! The more entries, the merrier. Oh, wait. Is it for Mandle? Then I object.


Quote from: Durinde on Sat 23/03/2024 08:59:35Sure. Extending to the 25th unless there are any objections by the other writers?

Most regulars have asked for an extansion at least once (more like, at least 10 times), nobody will object. Maybe I'll have time to properly proofread mine, too.



My story's done, but it's a bit of a rushed job.  This extension should give me time to gussy 'er up a bit.  ;-D


Quote from: lorenzo on Sat 23/03/2024 12:48:11Sure! The more entries, the merrier. Oh, wait. Is it for Mandle? Then I object.



I'm glad to see a few more people than usual entering because I've had to scrap what I was working on. I had a good idea, then I had another good idea, then I tried to combine the two ideas into one story, but it got too big, so I decided to stick to the first idea but then I realised it was all so bad I wouldn't even let my dog read it.

If I can pull out a cheeky micro or limerick then I will but better to assume I'm out. Sorry guys. Great theme too.


Wait, we're not supposed to post if it's so bad we wouldn't show it to a dog?  :=


Memoirs of a Trashy Woman

Her nostrils flared to the smell of garbage burning.  It was strong and acrid, like the smell of charred caffeine powder that Moloch used to brew at the beginning of each cycle in order to drive off the adenosine fog.  Now she couldn't help but associate the smell with what the locals called "morning", when the sky in the east was lit on fire and most of the megavermin went dormant.  Soon it would be day.

The girl cracked an eyelid, noting the dim haze through the slats of her shanty that seemed to cast everything in a hint of sepia.  She would like nothing better than to sleep another hour, for she always dreamed in colours more vibrant than her reality.  But the heat of the sun would soon make the shanty air unbearable.  With a heavy reluctance that dragged at her limbs she forced herself out of her nest of plastic sheeting to face another day.

She checked the roach traps to see if there was any breakfast but was not terribly disappointed to find them empty.  She was not a fussy eater - she had been raised on Moloch's nutrient paste, after all, a substance barely more palatable than the scouring powder they had used to bathe - but even still she had never quite gotten used to the taste of cockroach.  The surface had its marvels, but culinary successes weren't among them.

"Hey Trog," muttered the mangy urchin who slept under the wing of an ancient flying machine adjacent to the girl's shanty.  He was several years younger than the girl, not more than nine or ten, but already his skin was wrinkled and his patchy hair greying.

"That's not my name," the girl called Trog sighed.

"Whatever, Trog."  The urchin boy scratched at the goiter that marked him as a surface dweller from birth, and then pulled a large tuft of hair out of his head, a sure sign that he was already suffering from the decay.  He spat his nonchalance, the splattered phlegm revealing flecks of blood, and then hunched down to drink out of a puddle sheathed in oily scum. 

The girl called Trog watched the spectacle with a sense of pity more than revulsion.  Back in Moloch's subterranean lab much stress had been put on health and hygiene, and those habits of mind died hard.  But how would a surface dweller understand that there was any better way?

The girl called Trog began to clamber up the pile of refuse from which she had carved her tiny shanty, being careful not to step on sharps or solvents.  The surface had many marvels that were unheard of in Moloch's dungeon realm, but it also had many more dangers.  The slightest slip could land you with an injury or infection that would swiftly end your days.  She had not escaped Moloch's depths just to end as an invalid swarmed by piranha flies.  No, she was on a quest to find something better, something half-remembered from her vivid dreams.

She crested the little pile of junk to survey the awesome spectacle of the sun.  Its rays were cancerous by midday, she knew, but here in the gentle early hours she could imagine how its majesty must have presided over the world before the Reckoning.  Bold colours danced through the smog, light and gas dancing in a glorious spectacle.  When she had finally stumbled out of the depths several months ago it had been dawn, and to this day she gaped at its power.  So bright and full of promise, like her dreams come true.

The rest of the landscape was not quite as she had hoped.  Yes, it was spacious in a way that Moloch's underground compound could never be, and the light here was solid and sure unlike his flickering luminescent inventions.  But whereas Morloch's lair had been meticulously cleaned and organized, the surface was instead a jumbled chaos of refuse from another age.  As far as her eye could see, mountains of trash competed with each other to bask in the morning light.  Tumbleweeds of shredded plastic bags rolled down the desolate laneways that weaved between these heaps, and already she could make out the stooped and sorry forms of the surface dwellers beginning their daily search for ekings in the piles.

It was a precarious and empty existence - nasty, brutish, and short.  But was it any worse than Moloch's cavernous world of tyranny and spite?  Here at least there was the wind in your hair and the prospect of finding something better over the next heap.  In the depths there was nothing to look forward to except the bleak monotony of time slowly counting up to infinity.  Yes, Moloch possessed the arcane powers of the ancients, able to mend wounds and hatch broods of children such as herself from tubes, but existence under his regimented despotism lacked any kind of fun, creativity, or adventure.  For the girl called Trog, hope and freedom counted for more than oppressive hyper-safety.

And so she had escaped through the pipes that conveyed the compound's waste to the surface.  She had staked all on a whim and a dream, and once tainted by the surface there was no return.  Moloch's cold judgement and scientific curiosity would be harsh in equal measure.  No, the only sensible path now was onward, wherever that led to.  The girl named Trog shimmied down the pile of garbage to find her new beginning.

She had already explored a good chunk of what the locals called Sector 38, from the pits that seemed to burn perpetually to the scum pond that acted like a putrid sink.  The north and east was occupied by violent gangs that burnt ancient lubricant to fuel their roaring vehicles, but these were vulnerable in the narrower laneways of the rest of the sector.  To the south the locals suffered from a lung plague that turned phlegm black, and the girl had no wish to discover how contagious it was.  Thus, as was her habit lately, she went west.

Here the heaps of trash were more massive, and the steeper slopes made for more dangerous footing.  Still, this meant that they were not as picked over as some of the other parts of the sector, and she had made more discoveries here than the rest of the sector combined.  Here she had found the patched tarpaulin that kept her shanty dry and whose drooping rain-fed puddles provided her with precious clean drinking water.  Here she had found the old boots tied together whose steel shanks saved her soles from cuts and junk snake bites.  And here she had found the old crumpled paper that an old goitered crone had called a leaf.

Keen to make fresh discoveries the girl began to poke about on a heap she'd never visited before.  There were the usual vehicle carcasses and rotting furnishings and the ever present plastic baubles.  But there, in the depths of a crevice, the glint of something interesting caught her eye.  Was it shiny or did it cast its own light?  Intrigued, she looked to see how she might retrieve the object safely.

The grating sound of trash tumbling in a mini-avalanche brought her out of her curiosity, and she suddenly realised that she had not been paying attention to her surroundings.  This was dangerous on the surface, for desperation made both man and beast a potential threat.  She turned around with trepidation to notice a pack of omnirats, their scruffy fur and barred fangs glinting in the mid-morning haze.  They were the size of the sickly dog that used to eat mouldy old shoes down by the scum pond, and she knew from Moloch's seminars that they were among the more deadly megavermin.  Several mutations in the years since the Reckoning had given them claws like steel knives and the ability to spit acid at their victims. 

The omnirats did not appear to have spotted the girl yet, but they had definitely found the scent of her trail.  Not daring to double back towards her shanty, the girl instead began to climb, slowly and cautiously, hoping against hope that the pack found something else of interest before they found her.  Up she climbed, higher and higher into the garbage strewn hills, up towards where the land met the sky itself. 

The braying of omnirats in the distance indicated that the pack was onto something.  The girl quickened her pace, but suddenly stopped, for along the height of land there was a high metal wall.  She had found the end of Sector 38 elsewhere, but had somehow assumed the sector extended further in this direction.  In a panic she looked around for an appliance to hide in, but nothing in the heaps of refuse seemed to offer any sanctuary.

The howl of omnirats was much closer now, and she knew she had only moments in which to hide or escape.  In desperation she slipped into a blue booth that stood against the wall and pulled its plastic door set on rusty hinges shut behind her.  In mere moments the booth was surrounded by the scuffling sound of giant rodents on the prowl.

The girl held her breath.  The door was held in place by a flimsy plastic latch that was only just less solid looking than the rusty hinges on the other side.  A determined attack by the predators would rip the door off in no time.  There was nothing in the booth with which to defend herself, although there was a seat with a mysterious hole in the middle.  The girl called Trog did not make a habit of squeezing into strange dark places, but the hole did seem just large enough for her and yet too narrow for an omnirat.  Considering that she was dead anyway if she got caught, she swallowed her fears and squeezed head first down through the mysterious hole.

It was dark, and moist, and smelled of rot so old that it had begun to smell like the earth itself.  Scratching sounds echoed from the plastic booth up above, and so the girl squirmed like a grub through the blackness, discovering that the hole extended quite some way.  The sounds of scratching faded, but the confines of the hole were so tight that she doubted she could turn around even if she tried.  And so on she ooched forward, blindly, into the unknown.  The only sensible path now was onward, wherever that might lead to.

And then there was a pale light ahead of her, and the girl called Trog slithered towards it, daring to hope that she might survive her second subterranean ordeal.  She emerged into a kind of rustling temple, decorated with vivid hues of green that put even her dreams to shame.  Everything around her seemed alive, and yet nonthreatening.  There was a feeling of peace to this place, and the smells reminded her of something latent in her subconscious.  A pool of water had ponded just ahead of her, not oily and scummy but clear like the bottles Moloch kept in the depths.

The girl turned, and noticed the metal wall towering behind her, the faded paint indicating that this was Sector 42.  She must have passed under the wall!  Moloch had lectured that all of the surface was a wasteland - the girl called Trog had not even considered that different sectors might have different environments.  She scratched her head in wonder.

"Who are you?"

The girl tensed immediately, for the trickle of water had drowned out the approach of the boy.  He looked to be healthy - not the sterile kind of healthy of Moloch's broods, pasty and scrawny from rationed light and nutrients.  No, this boy's skin was bronzed - he showed a lot of it, she now noticed - and beneath it there was more meat than she'd seen in her life.  But he did not seem inclined to use it to his advantage.  Instead he looked just as confused as she felt.

"Sorry.  You want to know my name?  My real name?" she responded.  "No one has ever asked."

The boy shrugged.  "How else would I know who you really are?"

The girl referred to as Trog was impressed, but still suspicious.  "You tell me your name first."

The boy gave her a shy smile.  "I'm Adam."

Now it was the girl's turn to smile.  "I was named Eve."


I wrote my story out in about a ten-hour marathon today. I will sleep on it and then proofread and post in the morning about 8-9 hours from now. And I will post in spoiler tags because, infuriatingly, I just saw the last line of Baron's story while composing this post, probably spoiling the story for me. Grrr.


Quote from: Baron on Sun 24/03/2024 19:24:47Wait, we're not supposed to post if it's so bad we wouldn't show it to a dog?  :=
Didn't stop me from posting mine  (laugh)

Quote from: Mandle on Mon 25/03/2024 14:20:10And I will post in spoiler tags because, infuriatingly, I just saw the last line of Baron's story while composing this post, probably spoiling the story for me. Grrr.
Same happened to me, I saw the ending before having a chance to read it. I still enjoyed the story, however.
People in favour of spoiler tags, unite!


Rags and Bones Men

The Posterity Club's humble single-door entrance had faced slantways onto the intersection of 6th Avenue and 47th Street for a very long time. The building's square-cut sandstone buttresses that had once gleamed a golden yellow orange in the sunlight now stood dull and grey, oxidized by the slow crawl of years and the advent of motor traffic, the three-story structure cast into eternal shadow by the edifices that had grown to tower above it over the past century.

Winston Arthurs was a member in long standing. In his younger years, he had enjoyed the two-block walk from Rockefeller Center Station, watching the somewhat Egyptian-looking building with its green bronze roof and gables grow closer, enjoying the solid squatness of it. But those times were long gone.

Instead, Winston had his driver stop right on the corner. The black Bently's rear door opened automatically and, grabbing the assist rail mounted on it, the old, old man tremblingly pulled himself out of the car. His driver, Jun, came around just in time for an offered hand and the final heave to upright. A valet wearing a smart burgundy vest appeared as if from nowhere, and Jun handed him the Bently's key fob. The snappily dressed Japanese driver/butler/confidant then leant Winston the crook of his arm and helped him shuffle through the passing morning throngs to the club's dull rust-red door with its modest brass plaque reading "P.C."

Winston pushed the middle period between the P and the C, presented his membership card with a trembling hand before the second period, and waited. A few seconds later a voice spoke from a hidden speaker set in the solid stone eave of the recessed entrance.

Heavily voice-modulated, the voice said, "Come right in, Monsieur."

The door swung silently inwards at a polite pace and Jun helped his master across the threshold into the reception hall of the club, as he had many times before. Once the door has clicked closed behind them, the two men stood in the semi-circular alcove of the reception with a wide hall leading off from it before them.

The walls were polished mahogany, gleaming in soft circles of gaslight from the elegant lead-glass lamps set into the smooth curves of evenly-spaced half-pillars. His footfalls cushioned by the garland-patterned red-and-gold carpeting, the doorman of the club approached from down the hall. His name was merely Druford with no second, or possibly first, name accompanying, and never an honorific applied.

"Welcome, Monsieur Arthurs," the tall wiry man beamed, teeth spotlessly white and even, despite his own obviously advanced age. His accent was close to French in the same way Paris is close to Glasgow on a geographic scale. He continued, "Non, non, no need for the ID, old friend. We had your approach eagerly monitored from the moment Monsieur Nagai drove into the Lincoln Tunnel." and the stocky, tanned Jun gave an almost imperceptible nod to Druford at the acknowledgement of his presence.

Winston looked up from his bent posture, one eye squinted, white and rheumy, the other wide, a bright pale blue, and brusquely trembled, "I'm here for my semiannual checkup."


Druford cut his stride by half and walked beside the pair down the dim hall, making polite chitchat, completely unfazed by the lack of even the slightest hint of response. He gestured them on grandly where the long hall let out into the club's reading room, and then took his leave.

The spacious room, empty of other members at this hour, was longer by half than it was wide. The original mezzanine deck and high plaster ceiling had been removed at some point mid last century, leaving the rows of blocky desks with their green-shaded reading lamps crouching at the bottom of a huge airy space.

The pair, one huddled by age, the other by assistance, made their shuffling way through the shadowy vastness cut through by pale rays slanting through the row of tall windows along the north-eastern wall. The light came down at a low angle comparable, mused Winston, to the gradient of the all-access ramps he would probably never grow decrepit enough to ever find himself in need of. Far above, three stories up over the pair's heads, arced the building's green-hued bronze roof. The long-gone plaster ceiling and insulation space of the structure rendered redundant by a thinly applied layer of epoxy on the roof's bare underside. Just one among the many inventions by club members the establishment was able to keep exclusively to itself.

At the threshold of another hall, narrower than the first, at the far end of the reading room, the lavish carpeting gave way to a white-and-grey marble checkered-tile floor. This hall was lit by filament bulbs of unaltered 19th Century design; ones that lasted for decades. Traversing the club was almost like slowly moving forward though time.

But, today, Winston and Jun would not be continuing this metaphorical journey through the previous few centuries all the way to the marvelous post-space-age labs at the rear of the building. Instead, they stopped at a doorway on the left of the hall next to a bust of an illustrious past, long-dead patron of the club, carved from the same white marble that made up half the tiles of the hall's floor.

A doorway, but lacking a door; instead, the space was covered by a thick rough hessian cloth, split down the middle. Jun used his free hand to part the cloth, and the already vague presence in the air of incense wafted much stronger out through the gap. Inside the small, closet-like nook it was like another leap through the centuries, but hugely backward instead of forward.

Once he had his master settled in the plush, high-backed chair for patients, Jun nodded once, respectfully, in the direction of the person seated at the other side of the small, round table; a hazy figure barely visible through the incense-laden air. He then turned, briefly gave Winston's bony shoulder a silent, gentle squeeze of support, and made his leave back out through the curtain and across the hall to the door to the waiting room, inside which awaited the best pancake breakfast he'd ever had.

He had only just untucked the impeccably white linen napkin from his collar, and was dabbing his mouth with its crisp folds, when a soft chime sounded from a hidden speaker, indicating that his master's check-up was over.


The reading room was empty of club members no longer as Jun helped Winston back through it, but there was still only a smattering of seated figures, some at the ground floor desks, others up on the brass-railed balcony level. Most were either deep in books or newspapers, or looking into the screens of digital tablets as was becoming a more and more frequent sight even here in this bastion of tradition. The club had even, grudgingly, installed Wi-Fi a bit less than a decade before; times were changing, and the club's members were changing along with them.

One man, a passing acquaintance of Winston's, raised his head and said, "Oh, hello, old fella. Heh." and then noticed the grim expression on the old man's face. He stopped his grinning and somberly continued, "Ah, sorry. Got your appointment from The Lady, eh? Well, chin up! You'll pull through. We all go through..." But the rest of his platitudes were lost to Winston's ears as Jun guided him further in the direction of the entry hall.

Jun paused inside the club's front door to open it, but felt resistance in the grip on his arm as his master stopped and turned back to Druford.

"I want to thank you, old friend." said Winston. "And say goodbye. You know... in case."

Druford took an alarmingly deep bow from his high waist and replied, "It's always been my honor, Mr. Arthurs. You know..." dropping the 'Monsieur' and his other French airs; his voice momentarily serious and without accent. Then a warm, crooked grin hooked up one corner of his mouth and he added, "... in case."

Winston fired off a sharp guffaw, which spilled over into a short fit of brittle coughing. Druford gave him a halting half wave, the rare feeling of being off-script an uncomfortable one for him. Then the two men were gone and he would never again see Winston Arthurs' weathered face.


An hour and a half later, around noon, Jun swung them off the New Jersey Turnpike and down a curving exit ramp. A short drive along a cracked and weedy lane running parallel to the expressway brought them to the rusty corrugated iron gates, and sign arching over them, of "Arthurs' Refuse and Recycle".

Contrary to appearances, the gates swung smoothly open at a press on the Bently's dash, and Jun drove inside, up the rutted muddy path between towers of crushed cars, stopping in front of the ramshackle trailer in tones of eye-burning yellow green that Winston called home.

Popping the rear door once more, the old man got out, shunning the assist bar this time. He straightened, not completely; he was still a very old man, but not nearly as rundown as he liked to appear. True, the rheumy eye was for real but he got by just fine with only the single clear blue one.

He nodded through the closing door to Jun, who nodded back and then drove around to the side of the trailer where the false side of a fake dumpster swung upwards at yet another remote command. Jun drove through the secret door and down the well-lit concrete ramp to his beautiful, expansive living quarters beneath the junkyard, the dumpster swinging shut behind him.


That had all been two months ago. Now, on this chilly October evening, Winston sat in his dusty, sprung La-Z-Boy on the rickety porch of his trailer. The iron woodfire stove crackling beside him sent beams of flickering orange from its many rusted-through holes out through the gossamer mist hugging the ground of the junkyard. Overhead, the full moon was swallowed by a dark cloud roughly the shape of Great Britain, casting brilliance around its edges like frozen silver lightning. The rest of the night sky was fairly clear, though, so by the time the event started, Winston knew he would have an excellent view.

He thought back:

Jun had given him a welcome squeeze of the shoulder and taken his leave. His loyal companion knew only too well that what was spoken in The Lady's little nook was for Winston's ears only. The simple comfort from the man's touch had been worth more to him in that moment than the millions his expansive stock portfolio earned in a single month.

Many times, Winston had sat before The Lady in her tiny room walled with genuine wood from a 16th Century barn, and lit around only by stumpy candles, wax hanging in long stalactites from their sconces. Yes, he had been here for the six-monthly checkups the club provided to all its members countless times before, but this time had been different.

From the skipping beats of his winding-down heart, he had known for some weeks that she would tell him she had foreseen his Appointment.

Winston was skeptical that the glitzy crystal ball on the small table between himself and The Lady was for anything but show, especially as he was almost certain that the eyes staring from her cracked, ancient face were sightless. However, he waited patiently for her to "gaze" into it anyway, not particularly minding the forestalling of his suspected fate being spoken into reality.

Incense cones burned on lacy silver platters here and there on the tabletop, both occupants of the room so still for so long that the smoke from the incense went up in perfectly straight lines to gather into a fragrant haze obscuring the low ceiling.

Then she spoke, her voice as dry and cracked as the floor of the pre-American deserts her ancestors had once reigned over.

"I see your Appointment. In the month of October. I see two circles, one big, one small. That is all I see. You may go now."

He knew it was useless to question further, to dig for details. The Lady's gift allowed her to see half a year into the future, more or less, and to see only one thing: the coming of the Grim Reaper, and never clearly at that.

Winston has mused over her words for a good portion of the trip back here, back home, when he remembered something about the month of October that made their meaning clear. And now it began to happen, pulling him back to the present as the cloud passed and the first shallow crescent of blackness started to eat away at the lower right edge of the moon.

A big circle: the Earth. And a small circle: the moon.

His heart skipped beats at a faster and faster rate as the lunar eclipse slowly progressed. He knew that the skeleton in the robe would make his entrance at totality. That's just the kind of dramatic prick he was.

And, sure enough, the moment the last sliver of the moon slipped into darkness, Winston heard footsteps dryly scraping through the dusty dirt of the junkyard, and from the amber-lit mist emerged the silhouette of Death. The orange light from the stove then described the angles of the Reaper's sharp cheekbones and brow, only falling in to be swallowed by the black holes between that were the thing's eye sockets. As the first red arc of the moon began to reappear, Death mimicked it by spinning his scythe so that the curved blade glinted orange in the darkness. Again, noted Winston through his terror: dramatic prick.

And then, suddenly he was just there, right up in Winston's face, without having seemed to have crossed the final distance between them. The Grim Reaper's sharp jaw creaked and the smell from the void of his mouth was of decay and despair.

"It isss time."

"N-no, w-w-"

"It isss time."

"Wait! I get a challenge. Th-those are the rules!"

"Yesss. And I sshhall provide one."

The skeleton's face took up Winston's whole world. He was surprised that his raggedy old bowels were still holding their own. His mind scrambled to pull itself back together. He had to be lucid for the coming challenge. The Lady had given him no hint of what it might be.

And then Death told him what it was.


David June topped the stairs leading up from the Rockerfeller Center subway station and started down 6th Avenue toward the Posterity Club, a spring in his step. He enjoyed the sight of the squat Egyptian-looking building growing closer, its green bronze roof and gables gleaming dully in the second-hand light reflected from the towering edifices surrounding it.

At the top of the three grey sandstone stairs he stopped and pressed the period between the P and the C on the plaque with a flourish. He was here to obtain his ID card, so had none to show to the tiny camera in the second full stop. But the modified voice from the speaker above said, "Welcome back, Monsieur." nevertheless.

Inside the reception lobby, Druford marveled at the fresh-but-familiar-faced young man before him.

"I must say, Monsieur Arthurs..."

"Tut, tut, Druford. It's 'Dave' now."

"Yes, yes, of course. I wasn't aware yet of your new..."

"Dave June's the name. Traveling sales is my game."

"Oh, so we won't be seeing so much of..."

"Nope, not this time around, ole buddy. I'm here to pick up my card, then off to re-see the world!"

"Will Monsieur Nagai be following you on your..."

"Naw, I've given Jun the next several decades off as paid vacation until I am in need of a carer once again."

"Certainly, Monsieur June. Come with me."

As they walked the long and circuitous route through the club's deceivingly large interior, Druford found his curiosity getting the better of him. It was not generally good form to ask the members about their Appointments with the skeleton but this fresh new Dave seemed like the sort to take no offense. So he asked.

By the time they were two floors deep under the club, stepping from the accordion doors of an ancient elevator, Dave had gotten to the part of the story where Death had spoken the conditions of the challenge:

He told Druford, as they walked down the long, arched cobblestone tunnel leading to the registration room, how Death had requested from him an item from the junkyard; only one particular one out of the thousands upon thousands of pieces that had collected there over Winston Arthurs' long life. One that Death longed for and would not be able to resist buying for the price of new life for its provider.

"Oh my god, Monsieur June. That sounds an impossible task, and yet here you are. How..."

"Well, I had myself together by that point. And something occurred to me. All the other times The Lady had given me my Appointment, she had always provided a hint to assist with Death's challenge, but not this time. Or so it had seemed. You see, the lunar eclipse was maybe just a total coincidence, or maybe the Reaper had read the mistaken thought in my mind. Who knows? Her words "a big circle and a small circle" WERE the hint. And once I realized that simple fact, finding the item was easy."

Dave went on to describe to Druford the huge grin on the Reaper's face, not that that face had much of a choice, when he had pulled the item out from behind a stack of old billboards leaning against the junkyard's rusty iron fence.

"Doesss it have a ssscythe holder?"

"Well, no, but I can put one on for you in a jiffy."


As Winston had knelt on screaming, creaky knees and attached an old umbrella holder, Death had made surprisingly pleasant, if not a tad sibilant, chit-chat with him:

"From one ragsss and bonesss man to another, I don't think I've been thisss happy in ssscenturies."

"Well good to hear, old... umm, friend. That'll do 'er."

Druford stopped walking at this point in Dave's story and asked, with uncharacteristic flapping, "Wait! It was a penny-farthing bicycle! Wasn't it?!"

"Yup" replied Dave with a chuckle. "And you've never seen as weird and charming a sight as a skeleton in a robe swing up onto a penny-farthing, and then ride happily off in the moonlight, his scythe sticking up over his head from the holder I'd put on the front strut. I chased him down the lane a little, already feeling my legs growing younger, and I swear I heard him whistling, somehow or other, as he rode the damn ridiculous thing wrong way up the exit ramp of the Jersey Turnpike. I watched until he was out of sight, and I hope he stays that way for a long, long time to come."


Haha posted mine 2 mins 12 secs before deadline. Not on purpose, it was just right after I got the proofread done.


I'm missing the You can vote now post.


The story unfortunately reads in parts like a laundry list. I do this, then I do this, then this without offering any real connection to the characters. This leads to the reader waiting for something out of the ordinary to happen, but it really doesn't. Yes, Doofy finds it weird that they go to a junkyard, but given all the context, that's not really that unusual for Loopy - thought it seems that Doofy thinks so. Which gives the impression that Doofy really doesn't know Loopy all that well. It's overall a cute little slight-of-life story with little consequence.

Very dense with descriptions and still fairly little information. One can gather that it's a postapocalyptic world and that there's a glimmer of a safer, healthier life in some sort of facility underground (though with a restricted lifestyle) but all is still left rather vague. The ending is interesting: Is it just that one sector Trog/Eve first sees that is so bad off and many others are better? Is it the other way around and just one is good? Her perspective of the world is very limited and in consequence the perspective of the reader is limited. The introduction of Adam and Eve certainly dives the ending a bit of a religious message of hope, of re-building, although it is weakened somewhat by the new sector Eve just entered being better to begin with - as in, renewing something isn't necessary there. In short, the ending gives off some slightly confused message.

Two circles, one big, one small; on a junkyard. It's a bit of a stretch that Winston actually just randomly comes up with the right solution, I'm sure there are a lot of other things that fit that description. I own curtain-holders that fit that description, a glass would fit, my hand-mirror would fit to a certain degree. Otherwise, an interesting concept of a club that helps its members cheat death over and over again.

Oh, and I'll say it again: Allowing more than one vote for a poll is not a good idea. At the time of me writing this, 3 member have voted (including me) and there are only 4 votes (it should be 6, obviously). If one of the entrants votes just once either intentionally or because they don't see that they are allowed to vote twice, while another gives their two votes, it gives an advantage to the person who only voted once, the same way as not voting at all gives an advantage (as does voting for oneself, but I just assume nobody does that, even though it's impossible to control with polls, and very easy to see with open or PM voting).

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