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Creative Production => Competitions & Activities => Topic started by: JudasFm on 28 Oct 2018, 06:05

Title: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (RESULTS!)
Post by: JudasFm on 28 Oct 2018, 06:05
What's that, you say?
A Fortnightly Writing Competition with restrictions on the main character?

But That's Inhuman!


Some of the most interesting and well-loved books have been written from the point of view of non-human characters, along with some of the most iconic movies (Lion King, anyone? Monsters Inc? Dumbo?) I love reading and writing xenofiction, and there needs to be more of it in the world! More, I say! More!

With that in mind, I present The Inhuman Contest!

The story is up to you. The genre is up to you. The setting is up to you. The length and style are all up to you. There is only one main rule: your main character cannot be a human. That doesn't mean that you can't have humans in your story, just that they can't be the protagonist (ie, if you're writing a story from the POV of a dog, feel free to include the dog's owners ;)) Half-humans are also not allowed, but races with traditionally human parts, such as centaurs and mermaids, are fine. Vampires and werewolves are also okay, so long as they weren't human when they were turned. What about a fairy werewolf? Or a centaur vampire?

This doesn't mean you have to create an entire race from scratch (unless you want to!) A story told from the point of view of the family pet works just as well. Or a dolphin. Or a tree. Or a chair. Basically, if it's not human, you're good to go :-D

Categories are:

Most Convincing Protagonist: Is the main character believable as a non-human? Even Wind in the Willows pulled this off; despite interacting with humans on a more-or-less equal basis, Mole and Badger both lived underground, and Rat lived in a hole by the river bank.
Best Story: How good was the story? Did it make you believe in the world the writer created?
Best Writing: Even the best story ideas need a strong turn of phrase (nod)

You have until Sunday November 11 Wednesday November 14 to get your entries in! Have fun :D
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: WHAM on 29 Oct 2018, 14:45
I have something, and unlike the last competition I think I'll actually be able to deliver this time.

Expect mice!

Because mice are nice
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: Tabata on 29 Oct 2018, 21:00
Expect mice!
   (    ( (

Because mice are nice
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: JudasFm on 05 Nov 2018, 04:16
One week left!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: WHAM on 05 Nov 2018, 07:45
An Alliance


The farm buildings were wreathed in a light fog, which swirled slowly around the structures, clinging low over the recently cut grass of the yard. The barn was silent, the lights in the house had gone out an hour ago and even the birds of the night seemed to sit and wait in anticipation. The narrow dirt road, that separated its buildings from the broad open fields to the east and to the north, glistened under the light of the moon and the stars, the small puddles upon its surface stood still. To the west the hills and the forest extended for miles, their leaves yellow and orange and red as the autumn grew colder by the day.

In the corner of the farm, close to the rickety old fence, sat the old potato cellar. Its wooden structures had crumbled and been worn away by the many years, but the stone steps still remained, as did the skeletal, empty crates and the cracked old glass bottles. All was not quiet, however.

Faint shafts of moonlight crept in down the stairs and through the narrow gaps on the wooden floorboards, with a central pillar of pale light forming underneath the Speakers Knothole. There, upon an old jam jar lid (raspberry, if one must know), stood Old White. Her beady red eyes scanned the gathered crowd, her withered pink tail twitching restlessly as she gazed past the flecks of dust floating in the air. Her name was as much a title as it was a description, as age had bleached the colour from her once soft and pristine fur. The soft chittering sounds of the Assembly filled the shadowy space, created by the crude angular vaults of the support beams and floorboards above, as dozens upon dozens of beady rodent eyes stared back at Old White. Teeth glimmered and clawed hands gripped bald tails, twisting nervously over and over again as hushed whispers carried over one another in conflicting waves. Only the Grey Guards, strongest of the mice, their claws sharpened and their eyes always watchful, stood still and stoic. Rumors were plentiful here on the best of nights (usually on the subject of theft, which was both condemned and also a daily occurrence), but tonight the tone of these whispers was frantic, alarmed and fearful.

Old White clutched the White Pebble in her hand, raised it to the air so that the reflecting light made it shine under the light, and struck it down against the metal edge of the jam jar lid. The harsh clang echoed around the enclosed space, and the voices fell silent at once. On the outside Old White was calm, emotionless, enveloped in wisdom and power granted to her by her many years, but on the inside she smiled as she saw her power was still respected. Not many saw such age as she did, or ruled for so long. The years had been good to her. Slowly she inhaled, feeling the stale, musty air, warm from the press of myriad bodies so close together, filling her lungs. Then she spoke, her voice clear even in its croaky, ancient tone (that she greatly enjoyed exaggerating for effect).

“Representative of the Browns, step forth.”

To her left, among two loosely formed ranks of skittering, matte-brown rodents, a single mouse stepped forward and stood up on his hind legs. No words were spoken, or needed, as the representative nodded to confirm his presence. Orderly. Organized. The Browns had outdone themselves. Old White knew this mouse well, even as she'd tried to put his name from her mind for a long time. They had been friends once. They might have been lovers (many had believed so, and suffered for spreading such rumors) if not for a harsh disagreement during that one equally harsh winter. Under his leadership the Browns had kept their chain of supply running well, the hidden passages into the two-legged-giants grain silos were producing plentiful food that fed the young and the old, and made for good trading. Old White nodded in return, then scanned the gathered crowd for the next tribe to be called.

“Representative of the Voles of the Field, step forth.”

A different crowd erupted in soft skittering that sounded much like a debate (it was). Smaller than all others in stature, thought certainly not in numbers, the voles argued (fiercely), shoved and pushed (and bit), until finally one of their kind was forced to the fore. As the rank of her companions closed up tightly behind her, the singular vole lowered her head and stepped forth (while looking rather miserable), declaring her presence with a meager squeak. The voles did not enjoy the attention. Their representative was often elected on the spot, as the previously elected one fled or refused to stand, and rarely had much to say.

“Representative of-” A scraping sound, of claw on stone, interrupted Old White. She wheeled around to face the offender, disbelief flickering in her expression, only to come face to face with the glare of red eyes and sharp half-rotted teeth. Old White clenched her jaw, the twitching of her tail the only remaining sign of her nerves as she regarded the newly arrived envoy (and struggled not to gag at the smell of that breath). “I see the Great Blacks have deemed it suitable to join, albeit late.”

The words were followed by a deep silence (several of the voles covered their eyes). Without a reply the rat bowed his head, then rose up to his full and formidable height as he reached a great clawed hand forward. As the fingers parted, a set of six severed tails fell to the edge of the jam jar lid, bloodless and dead. The silence no longer held as shocked gasps and fearful whispers rose anew (one of the voles had fainted). Old White raised the White Pebble again, and its clang on the metal lid served to mostly restore order.

“I bring to you betrayal and death!” -the rat declared, towering over Old White, addressing the gathered mice about her directly. Old White knew this one, too. Red Tooth they had called him, for his bloodlust and prowess in battle, long before his teeth rotted and he earned a less pleasant name, not to be used in polite conversation. The Great Blacks, warrior rats, defenders and keepers of order (through swift violence), as long as the council kept them well fed. “Six tails you see here before you, and for each of these three more are devoured and lost! Death and destruction have been brought to us, and the Legion of the Great Blacks demand justice!”

Old White lowered her gaze, staring at the severed tails. She'd known of the danger, of course. She'd known that something new lurked the farm at night. The Browns had lost a few. The voles spoke of many disappearances (thought these were not uncommon to begin with) and even Old White and her Grey Guards had felt the uneasiness in the air. All of this was precisely why she had called the council this night, to quell the rumors, to learn what each of the tribes knew, to assess the threat to her people, but even she had not fully understood the severity of the situation.

Not until now.

“Calm yourself, Red Tooth of the Great Blacks. We gather tonight to end such loss, not to place blame.”

Red (Brown) Tooth snarled in response, rancid spittle flying off his cracked lips as his claws stroked his fur to dislodge flecks of dried blood and dirt. “Betrayal!” -he snapped back, pointing his claw at the crowd, slowly turning left to right as if to see who among the crowd would flinch (the voles did so, collectively). Finally that pointed claw found its intended mark, a small, ragged collection of mice at the outer edge of the assembly, standing among the upturned roots of a dead plant. “The Watchers of the Wood!” -the rat snarled. “Theirs was the task of signalling us, to let us know of the danger! Such was the agreement we signed, and yet the lights remain dark and the bells have not tolled!” Red (Brown) Tooth's voice was dripping with venom, and Old White had to step back to keep his rancid saliva from dripping upon her nose. The Grey Guards stood to the side, whiskers twitching as they tried to decide if they should intervene. Caution (or fear) won the night, and Old White was left to fend for herself before such verbal onslaught. She held up her hands, the White Pebble glowing brightly in the shaft of moonlight coming from above. She demanded silence. Red (Brown) tooth, however, was not quite done: “They hide in the roots and the trees while my cohorts are thinned out and decimated! Curse them! Curse them all!”

With the last of his venomous words spoken, his defiance made clear, Red (Brown) Tooth stepped back, shaking his head in disgust. It was rare for the Great Blacks to mourn their dead (as such deaths were commonly caused by the very members of the Great Blacks), but they did make a fine show of their loss, to bargain for more food and living space. This time, however, Old White felt their anger might have been sincere and not just misdirected frustration.

“Representative of the Watchers in the Wood, step forth and answer this accusation!”

It took several moments for the answer to come. The dark-brown fur of the Watcher clan blended almost completely into the shadows among mounds of dirt, dust and ancient, cracked wood. In his hand he clutched a staff carved of wood, upon which he leaned so that he could stand alone. Old White did not recognize this one. This one was thin, almost sickly-looking, with a black pit in his head where the left eye should be. His voice shook as he spoke.

“I bring no tails to this council. Only a warning: the Watchers have failed.”

The true meaning of these words took a while to sink into the crowd. The Watchers of the Wood were tasked with trade with the outside world, with delivering messages to and fro, and with ensuring that the tribes always had safe passages prepared in case the two-legged-giants brought the fog of death on the tribes again. They were also the lookouts,tasked with keeping an eye on those that passed from the woods, under the great Fence of the Two-Legged-Giants and into the Home Realms. The one-eyed wood mouse shook his head, his tail clutched tightly in his free hand. In a fit of unexpected anger he cast aside his own tail, then continued on.

“The seven of us you see here today are all whom remain. The rest are dead, or have fled. We, too, will go as they have gone, once the moon is out. The hills are no longer safe-”

“COWARDS!” -spat Red Tooth from the corner where he'd been sulking, shaking his fist in the air. Others joined the outcry, emboldened by the anger of the black rat (even some of the voles squeaked angrily). Baring his chipped teeth the one-eyed envoy hissed back: “She has returned!”

The uproar that had enveloped the assembly died out in an instant. It was not uncommon for wild things from the woods to come and go. Often the warnings from the outlooks came in time, preventing any loss of life. But this intruder was not just any wild thing. It was Her.

“Then it is as we had feared.” The voice of Old White came through clearly in the sudden silence, as she stepped to the edge of the jam jar lid with the White Pebble under her arm. “We knew this day might come. We prepared for it! We have plans and contingencies in place...”

“She is greater than before!” -the one-eyed mouse cried in protest. “More wicked, crazed with bloodlust and vengeful! She stalks the night, rending eyes and tails and silencing lookouts! She has grown wild and feral, her hunger not for meat and blood, but for sport!”

Old White pitied the one-eyed mouse. She knew by the tone of his voice, as well as from his scarred appearance, that he had lost much already. If action was not taken swiftly, they all would.

Many had hoped that the Great Feline Deviless would never return. Two winters had gone since the two-legged-giants of old had left, leaving the Feline Deviless behind. Some say they fled her, too, for she was fierce even then. As She was left to fend for herself, hunger drove her into a frenzy as She ravaged the mouse tribes, and only after many fierce battles that had cost countless lives she had retreated into the woods, bleeding and dying, or so the tribes had thought. In time her name had become a legend, a tale told to the young to keep them from venturing too far, for in the darkest parts of the distant wood, the Feline Deviless would devour them whole.

Long She must have nursed her wounds from those battles of old, and great her hunger for retribution must be if She had scoured the woods and sent the Watchers fleeing. And now it was clear to see: She had made her first move, and was poised to enter the Home Realms proper. Not even the Great Blacks could hold her back.

The voles had disappeared during the fiery speech, leaving behind only many sets of footprints (and stinking wet spots) in the dirt. Old White cursed their fearful nature under her breath, then collected herself.

“We have an ally to call upon. An alliance was forged when the new two-legged-giants arrived in the winter. Representative of the Giants House, step forth!”

A light-grey mouse skittered forward, clutching a disc-shaped object wrapped in a pouch woven of black hair. He looked uncertain, despite his best efforts to the contrary, and repeatedly glanced over his shoulders at the gathering of his kin. Their silent support was as uncertain as he looked.

“Will he truly aid us, still? Will he even recall us?” -the spiteful Red (Brown) Tooth wondered out loud, his loud voice bringing to question the validity of this final gambit. Old White wanted to smack him over his thick skull with the White Pebble, but contained herself and instead gestured to the carrier of the Token. With a nod the grey mouse peeled off the pouch and revealed the great brass disk, a ring of glimmering metal attached to its side, and three arcane symbols carved upon its surface: R E X. Others stepped forth, dragging behind them great red-and-yellow bag of crinkling, shiny material, inside of which resided the Brown Cakes. Said to have been baked by the two-legged-giants themselves in some infernal furnace far away, their shape was that of a great, thick bone, with seven holes pressed into their surface. As the shiny material was parted, their scent poured forth, pungent and strong, and all those present felt their mouths watering. The bag looked light. Too light.

“How many have we left?” Old White's voice was tainted with worry.

“Nine remain.” -came the answer of the grey mouse, followed by a spiteful glance at the black rat. “We have cut up and traded many during the long winter months, sparing as many as we could.” Old White shook her head slowly, then raised the White Pebble above her head.

“Then nine must do.” -she intoned, releasing her grip on the White Pebble, allowing it to fall upon the metal of the jam jar lid. Its sound signalled a final decision. Her will and leadership would either save the tribes, or cast them into chaos and destruction. Her life depended on the outcome of this night.

“We must deliver the offerings, and our plea, to the Hound. We must secure His aid, lest we all be lost before that fall of first snow.”

The wheels of thought churned in Old White's rodent skull. She hadn't left the nest-homes for longer than she could comfortably recall, but knew she had but one option here.

“I will lead the delegation.” -she finally declared, to the joint murmuring of the Assembly. It was unheard of, unthinkable. But surely she would not go alone. Surely the others (except for the voles) would see the importance of this task. She took a deep breath, her clawed fingers gripping the White Pebble tightly to keep herself from shaking. She could ill afford to show fear now. “Those who would join me, step forth now!”

They all shrunk back. Even the carrier of the Token glanced over his shoulder, as if wishing he, too, could slip away from this task. Like Old White, he was trapped in the open, held in place by fear and shame. A great black hand gripped Old White's shoulder. She could smell the vile stench of the black rat's breath, and feel the tips of those razor-sharp claws underneath her fur.

“I will go!” -the rat declared, loud and boisterous. “The Blacks stand with you!”

Old White hadn't known what to expect, but the words soothed her soul. Even the stench of that breath felt tolerable all of a sudden. Another mouse stepped up to the edge of the jam jar lid, the light from the Speakers Knothole illuminating his quivering nose. It was the speaker of the Browns. Old White's heart fluttered in her chest, and she had to suppress a surprised squeak so as not to appear like the young, excitable girl she suddenly felt like inside. The rat's hand on her shoulder squeezed her (was he trying to reassure her?) and then slid off so she could stand strong by herself. Red (Brown) Tooth was grinning as if he knew something he shouldn't have.

“I shall represent the Browns, and in doing so, go with you, my Lady!”

He bowed his head to Old White, just as he'd done back then. She wanted to say something, to thank him, to speak his name, or to...

“Then I cannot stand aside.” The voice interrupted Old White's thoughts and left her blinking to see who it was that spoke. That voice belonged to the one-eyed mouse of the woods. He stepped in close with a solemn and serious air of the kind only great experience and age could grant, standing side-by-side with the Brown representative. The carrier of the Token stood up as well, and approached the light. He was smiling now, given confidence by those around him, even though his beady eyes betrayed his nerves.

“And with that...” The one-eyed mouse noted, looking around at the five rodents gathered in the light of the Speakers Knothole. “...I believe you have all the tribes (save for the voles, obviously) at your side!”

Fear turned to hope, and a great cheer echoed throughout the basement. A new Alliance had been formed that night.


Writer's notes
Spoiler: ShowHide
I wanted to write something inspired by my childhood. I've always had a soft spot for small, furry creatures, so cutesy little rodents seemed like a solid basis for this story. At its core I felt like I was writing a children's book, with simple and likeable characters, a grand and adventurous setting, a clear and imminent danger and just enough elements of more violent and frightening themes that they would stir that excited feeling in the reader that I recall experiencing so vividly as I was subjected to the children's literature and some early cartoons as a child (I'm looking at you, Watership Down!). I wanted to write something that a child of, say, 7-10 years old could read and understand, with enough complexity to it that the tale wouldn't feel condescending to such a reader, that they might feel a little older and braver and stronger for having read the tale.

I hope you had as much fun reading this little tale as I had writing it! And who knows... perhaps I will write more some day, of how the five rodent party face challenges both great and small as they seek their ally. Thank you to everyone who helped me edit this tale and provided their feedback! Tabata, you deserve a special mention here, you mouse maniac, you! :grin:

Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: JudasFm on 09 Nov 2018, 13:53
YAY! We have our first entry! Hopefully more will come soon :-D
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: jahnocli on 09 Nov 2018, 16:40
A fox knows many things...
A Short Story
by jahnocli


Reynard Fox walked over to the window and reflected on his secluded surroundings. It was a foggy day, but it didn't matter -- he knew the countryside around here like the back of his paw. He had always loved this damp glade in Lower Woodton forest, with its rough, mossy riverbank, and was counting on such nostalgia to protect him from melancholy at times like this.

Then he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the hunched figure of Prickly Hedgehog. Prickly was a ne'er-do-well with a ready smile and a bank of implausible excuses for his frequent brushes with the law. Reynard's heart sank. He couldn't pretend he wasn't in -- Prickly had already seen him.

Reynard glanced at his own reflection and swallowed nervously. He was a cautious, intelligent animal with a quick mind. His friends saw him as a perfect cultivated foil for Prickly's base peasant cunning. The unlikely duo were as thick as proverbial (and actual) thieves, but it was usually Prickly that got caught...

The fog teased like dry ice, masking Prickly's shambling approach.

As Reynard stepped outside and Prickly came closer, he could see a devilish glint in his eye. The wood was unnaturally quiet.

"I have discovered something that may be to our mutual advantage," Prickly whispered slyly, even though there was nobody about. He occasionally came over all Dickensian when he was plotting to relieve some unfortunate of a valuable object. "Are you going to invite me in or are we going to stand around here all day?"

Prickly always seemed ingratiating with strangers, but he could be quite irritable with his friends, hence the nickname. It wasn't just about his spines. Reynard made him some nettle tea. It was supposed to have a calming influence.

Prickly smoothed back the whiskers away from his face. "What's the best kind of crime?", he asked, carefully placing his cup back on the saucer.

"Life's too short for guessing games", replied Reynard shortly. He was a little annoyed with Prickly's conspiratorial mood.

"There are two kinds." continued Prickly, oblivious. "One where nobody knows a crime has been committed, and one where the victim is too embarassed to report it".

"What kind is this?"

Prickly allowed himself a little smile. "With a bit of luck, it could be the former", he said, "but even if we are out of luck, it could still be the latter!", he added triumphantly, rising from his chair.

"That's a lot of words like 'luck' and 'if' and 'could'", countered Reynard.

"Just being cautious, old boy - hear me out..."

Prickly unfolded a newspaper cutting from the Lower Woodton Gazette and laid it out on the table.

"You remember the Woodland Relief Fund?", he asked, "when the river burst its banks downstream and all those poor creatures were made homeless?"

"Of course", replied Reynard, "we both contributed to that fund. Even though we're usually on the wrong side of the law, that doesn't mean we're completely heartless. Three years ago, wasn't it?"

"It was indeed. Well, a little bird told me that only half of that money ever found its way to the victims."


"Yes." Prickly sat down heavily. "We all thought Barnard Owl's credentials were impeccable, but turns out he has an online gambling problem nobody knew about. He's gradually working through his ill-gotten gains."

"Stealing from the homeless, eh? Well, we're no Robin Hoods, but that's pretty low. You obviously have a plan. What is it?"

"It's very simple. We corner Barnard and threaten to expose him unless he pays us some hush money. Not terribly subtle, but it would probably work."

"I've got a better idea," said Reynard.

Prickly leaned forward in his chair.

"If something goes wrong with your plan," Reynard continued, "we'll be implicated. We'll look no better than Barnard, and in the future people will be less inclined to ah, 'look the other way' when it matters."

"My plan is more indirect. We need to enlist the help of one of those flooded-out unfortunates who've received little or no money to date. They'd visit Barnard and ask for some help with their bills or something."

"Barnard's too cute to hide the money at his place. It's going to be stored somewhere else, so, if it's found, he can deny all knowledge."

"He can hardly refuse help to someone who hasn't had any money yet from the Relief Fund. My guess is he'll offer to bring some cash to our unfortunate refugee in the next few days. So we stake out Barnard's place, follow him to his stash, and relieve him of most of his money when the coast is clear."

"Most? Why not all?" Prickly was puzzled.

"It's good to leave a victim some wiggle room. We'll hide a note with the money that's left, say it's a goodwill gesture because we might need his help in the future. He's obviously good at creative accounting. Meanwhile we contact the Lower Woodton Gazette and tell them that Barnard will donate the last of the Fund money to our 'refugee'. Barnard will look good, we'll be a little richer and he'll be in our debt. With the exception of a few flood victims, everybody wins. And that's the perfect crime."

"I'll drink to that!", said Prickly. "How about some more nettle tea?"

                              THE END
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: Sinitrena on 10 Nov 2018, 12:30
I'm working on something but I probably won't be able to finish it in time. Could I have two or three days more, lovely squid? :-*
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman!
Post by: JudasFm on 10 Nov 2018, 15:14
The Squid approves! (Flattery will get you everywhere where squids are concerned, they're very vain :-D)

EDIT: The Squid also seems to have swum off somewhere; my avatar's not showing up. I'll try and fix it at some point...
The Squid has returned! All Hail The Squid!

New deadline: Wednesday 14 November (because Thursday's my day off and so I can draw the trophies for everyone then!)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (NEW DEADLINE: Nov 14)
Post by: Baron on 11 Nov 2018, 04:25
I'm also working on something.  About half-finished.  I should easily be able to make a Wednesday deadline.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (NEW DEADLINE: Nov 14)
Post by: Sinitrena on 14 Nov 2018, 00:52
EDIT: The Squid also seems to have swum off somewhere; my avatar's not showing up. I'll try and fix it at some point...
The Squid has returned! All Hail The Squid!

Has he/she/it swum away again? I don't see it. :~( (Can't remember where I read it but it seems that every time you change something on your profile, the avatar disappears, which is slightly annoying but easy to keep in mind.)


The girls were sitting around one of the little tables in the corner, giggling over something or other on their phones. There were three of them, none older than sixteen. The ice-cream in their cups had become a sluggish mush and their sodas were watery and flat from the ice that had melted into them.

But the girls didn't really care. They were joking and laughing, gossiping, and only looked up from time to time when the waitress passed by their table or when the door of the diner opened, and then it was just a quick look to figure out if they knew the new person who had entered.

They were absorbed in their own world. Their exams were done for the semester, the summer just started to get into full swing and the Whats-App chats from their friends were far more interesting than anything else going on around them. Mostly. Occasionally, there were comments about the muscles of one of the workman from the construction side nearby who didn't bother to put his shirt back on before he jogged across the street for a quick drink, or about the teenaged boy who was obviously out of town and just passing through with his parents on a road-trip.

They did not notice the man who rushed into the diner on the heels of the local pastor, half obscured by the wide shadow of his broad form. When he waved the waitress away with an impatient gesture and instead stared at them, they did feel the eyes burning into their backs.

Kessryn was the first to look up but soon her eyes met with them of her friends and they all felt a shudder run down their spine.

“Did y'all also feel...?” Elena asked but left the question hanging.

“Yeah...;” said Zoë, pushing her rimless glasses back on her nose.

They all looked around for anything out of the ordinary but noticed nothing. Nervous giggles followed and they returned their attention to the phone between them, which was far more interesting than random shudders.

At least, Elena's and Zoë's attention was back on the picture of Elena's newest crush, posing far too sure of himself in the trunks of the swimming team, his shaved head glittering from water and sunbeams. But Kessryn couldn't shake the feeling so easily. Again and again she turned around, searching for a familiar face in the not very full diner. There were familiar faces, many of them, as the town was on the smaller side and she knew almost everybody by sight, but nobody who should distract her like that and nobody who paid more attention to her – to them – than was normal.

Was there anything out of the ordinary? There was a guy at the bar she had never seen before who obviously annoyed the waitress. She talked to him but he didn't listen. Kessryn's look passed by him a couple of times but it never managed to focus on his face. The short glimpses her mind seemed to allow her told her that he was good-looking, pleasing to the eye but not in a GQ-cover-kind-of-way but like the next-door-neighbor you knew since you were one year old and looked at like a brother or close cousin.

“Look at his ass!” Zoë's near-scream – indicating another picture on Elena's phone - dragged her out of her musings. She jerked up and knocked over one of the nearly forgotten glasses on the table. Former ice-cream, now just a watery slush, dripped down the side of the table.

“Skittish much?” Elena asked, laughing and straightening the glass up again. “Where'd your mind hide now?”

“Nowhere, sorry. Who's an ass?”

The two other girls looked at each other for a moment. “You are!” they then said in unison.

After a few seconds, the table dissolved into giggles again, the strange feeling that had caught them and especially Kessryn all but forgotten.

It came back to the them in the form of its source, standing silently with his sandal-clad toes right at the border of the puddle on the ground. His shadow fell on the table forcing the girls to look up at him. He stared at them and they stared back, waiting for him to say anything.

In the end, he didn't and so Kessryn blew a stray lock out of her naturally dark face and asked: “Yes? Do we know you?”

Another moment of uncomfortable silence followed and Kessryn soon realized that the stranger wasn't staring at all of them but at her and only at her. Eyes of the deepest blue fixated her and seemed to pin her to her chair. A shudder ran down her spine and this time there was no doubt where it was coming from.

“You are Kessryn,” he finally said with a monotone voice, “Kessryn Nicols.”

Kessryn shook her head, a gesture more to her friends - that did not need the hint - than to him. “Sorry, you got the wrong one,” she said slowly.

“No. You are Kessryn. I do not lie. I could not lie. Therefore, you are Kessryn Nicols.”

“Cree-py!” Zoë let the P pop audibly in a futile attempt to lighten the atmosphere.

“I would prefer to talk to you alone, Kessryn. You will want to hear what I have to say.”

“And we would prefer,” Elena said, “if you'd piss off!”

The man, his dirty-brown hair hanging half over his eyes, never took them off Kessryn. “I know your words to be true, these at least, friend of Kessryn. But I also know mine to be true and so I know, Kessryn, that you want to hear what I have to say. I am unable to lie, so you have to understand the truth of my words.”

“That doesn't make any sense at all. And I don't think you could say anything worth listening to. And I don't even know why we humor you as much as we do. LEAVE US ALONE!” Kessryn said the last words loud enough for several people to turn around and look at them, some curious, some already alarmed. Nobody came over, not yet.

“Did you ever wonder why your eyes are purple?” the man asked, completely ignoring all the words spoken before.

“Oh, come on, stop trying to -“

Elena's words were cut short by the stranger turning towards her for a split-second and fixating her with his icy eyes. “I. Am. Not. Talking. To. You.”

A cold shudder ran down Elena's spine, freezing the words in her throat and making her hands shake next to the ice-crystals of a tipped over cup of forgotten ice-cream.

“You are making this particularly difficult, Kessryn. But I have no choice. It is the day that your life turns for the sixteenth time and it is my duty to inform you that you are a member of the Winter Court, changeling of the fae -”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Kessryn's voice was filled with nervous laughter. “That's your pick-up line? You're a wizard, Harry? Are you fucking kidding me? FUCK OFF!”

“Kessryn, it is of paramount importance -”

He didn't get to finish his sentence even though Kessryn didn't bother to warn him again. Without much thought, she picked up her own glass of ice cream and threw it at the stranger's head. He got out of the way before he got hit but the movement let him stumble backwards and against the bar. Strong hands grabbed him and pushed him forward again, towards the door of the small-town diner.  He turned back to the girls but a wall of faces stared him down, shielding the girls from him. No words were spoken but the sentiment was clear enough. With a scornful sigh and his tail between his legs, the stranger stumbled out of the diner, holding his hip that had brushed painfully against the bar.

After that, the late afternoon became a rather somber affair. Elena went back to her phone and picked out other pictures to look at but they just couldn't catch their attention like before, not least because they were all distracted. Their giggles and laughter became forced and strained, their eyes shifted to the people around them, nervous that the guy would return or that someone else would show up they did not want to talk to. Kessryn's look always jumped back to the frozen glass cup of her ice-cream that was miraculous not cracked and had instead rolled under one of the bar-stools and even though Zoë tried to joke about the strange creep it hardly elicited any laughs from her friends. They all got shudders down their spines again just thinking about him.

When it was time for Zoë and Elena to leave to their dancing lessons, they both hesitated.

“You sure you'll be okay, Kessy? This guy was after you, after all.” Elena asked.

“I'll be fine...”

“If you want us to stay... Mrs. Fellini sure would understand,” Zoë added.

“I'll be fine,” Kessryn said again, “Dad'll be here in a minute anyway and I'll just wait here inside for him.”

“You sure?”

They weren't convinced but in the end they left Kessryn alone in the diner.

Her eyes followed them out of the door and down the street as far as she could see and then in her mind further along Main Street, past the gas station and the hardware store and then into the little side street where Mrs. Fellini's ballet studio was nestled between a liquor store and a house that looked like it should have been torn down years ago. In her mind, she counted the steps and the minutes, though she had no real idea how many steps it were exactly or how fast or slow her friends would walk on this day. Slower, because they were worried about their friend? Faster, because an indefinable feeling of dread pushed them away?

Only when they should have covered the distance twice over did Kessryn stand up from the table and recovered the long forgotten ice-cream cup from the ground. She put the thawed remnants back on the table and left the diner with slow and measured steps, not waiting for her father, neither in the restaurant nor in front of it.

In the alleyway next to the diner, where the staff entrance to the kitchen lead to and where the trash cans stood behind the back wall she asked the empty air: “So, I am a changeling?”

There was no answer from the empty alleyway, only the noise of the street behind her. Kessryn waited, her black locks forming a veil in front of her piercing purple eyes.

“And you expect me to believe this?”

The stranger appeared in a cloud of ice and snow, his cold eyes still ignoring everything around him except the girl.

“Nice trick,” Kessryn said dryly, staring back at him, completely calm.

“It is the truth. Have you never wondered why your eyes -”

“You already fed me this line. But honestly, that's what you're going for? My eyes? Of all the things...

“Kessryn, you need to understand what you are -”

“Stop calling me that. It's Kessy and it always was Kessy. And I understand perfectly what I am.” Kessryn walked in a half-circle in front of the man, who stood with his back against the wall of the diner.

Outwardly, he seemed relaxed. He had his arms crossed in front of his chest and stood on one leg, the other foot pressed against the wall behind him. His unruly hair hung deep over his eyes, which followed her as she marched up and down.

“My eye color!” she continued, “Not the fact that I can't cook anything because the stove never gets hot? That I constantly get sunburned, even in the rain? Or the voices in my head?”

Kessryn's eyes sparkled dangerously and with every word the purple in them seemed to become more defined. She kneaded her hands nervously, holding onto them with cramped fingers whenever she tried to move them away from each other.

“You are one of the fae, Kessryn. You might have powers you do not understand. It is unfortunate that they manifested in a way that was uncomfortable to you. But you will now be able to return to your true family and you will be able to learn to control the magic that surges through your veins.”

“Uncomfortable?” Kessryn spat the word as if it was a bitter slob of ear-wax. Her hands shot forward and a second later icicles bored themselves into the wall next to the fae's head. He flinched and suddenly stood rigid in front of the rather tiny girl. “Do you know anything about the world I live in? Do you know what it's like to start hearing the thoughts of your friends when you are ten and people think you're crazy? Do you know that medication doesn't work against magic but side effects still appear? We figured it out, after a while. My parents and me, we figured it out after going to seven different psychologists, when they finally listened to what my voices said. We got DNA tests done when my mom got leukemia. Do you know what DNA is? I wasn't their daughter. They contacted the hospital but there was no mix-up. And when I was twelve the ice started to form on my fingertips whenever I got upset. That's when we looked up fae and changelings. Mom and Dad cried for months and I know perfectly well what I am!” A second set of icicles shot out of the girl's fingertips, causing the fae to jump out of the way.

“You will learn to control it.” he said from a couple of steps further away, “You will live among your own people, who understand and support you.”

Kessryn hissed angrily and a thin layer of ice formed on the ground between them. “My parents understand me. My parents support me. And I'm perfectly capable of controlling my powers without your help. And they didn't abandon me when I was just a few days old!”

The fae hesitated a moment, looking for the right words, now more wary of the changeling than anything else. “Your family -”

“Lives here. Here. And I'm not interested in you or your people. Leave, and never come back.”

The fae made a step towards Kessryn but she held her hand up and stopped him. “Kessryn, we are -” he said.

“Strangers. You are -”

She didn't finish her sentence because a male voice called from the direction of the main street.

“Kessy? Where are you, Kessy?”

“Coming, Daddy!” Kessryn called and turned around, jogging towards her father and ignoring the fae, who was staring after her, lost for words. That was not what he had expected.

Her father was waiting for her, his brow furrowed. “What where you doing back there?” he asked as soon as she jumped into his arms, “I was worried. The folks in the diner said something about a stranger harassing you?”

“Don't worry, Daddy. It was just a fae, coming for me.”

“About time!” he grumbled, “Did he mention your sister?”

“I didn't ask. I'm sure it wasn't his last visit. We'll find out later if she's alive and happy with them  – as happy as I am. And if not...” Icicles danced on her finger-tips.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (NEW DEADLINE: Nov 14)
Post by: JudasFm on 14 Nov 2018, 11:19
Has he/she/it swum away again? I don't see it. :~( (Can't remember where I read it but it seems that every time you change something on your profile, the avatar disappears, which is slightly annoying but easy to keep in mind.)

Fixed! Thanks for your help; the Squid is now back, hopefully for good.
(I think the Squid is a he, but I'm not sure ;) The Squid is very reticent on the matter...)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (NEW DEADLINE: Nov 14)
Post by: Baron on 15 Nov 2018, 04:16
Leave No Stoner Unturned

   “Aw, c'mon Toad.  Don't be such a stick in the mud.”

   “That's how I hibernate....” Toad grumbled, squelching himself deeper into the chilly muck.  A brisk north wind foretold the coming of the snows.  Like it, lump it, or stick it, now was the time to hole up for the winter.

   But Mouse would give his friend Toad no peace.  Mouse was a mangy looking creature with a crazed glint to his eyes, the product of too many long seasons sleeping rough and living hard.  His claws were cracked and caked with dirt, and his teeth were stained an unhealthy orange.  Yet although his scars and creases belied his years of hardships, his voice as always conveyed a sense of lazy mischief.

   “I mean....” Mouse drawled on casually, “That mud looks awfully wet and cold.”

   Toad grimaced unhappily and sniffled despite himself.  He was, in many ways, an unlikely friend for Mouse.  Toad was fat while Mouse was thin.  Toad was vain while Mouse was unkempt.  But the biggest difference was in terms of their personalities.  Whereas Mouse was perfectly content to ride out life's hardships with a joke and a smile, Toad was perhaps the world's most miserable whiner.  He made such wretched company, in fact, that none but the most desperate extrovert would ever seek him out intentionally. 

   Mouse was, of course, that desperate extrovert.  Sociable to a fault, he was also careless in his reckless hedonism and had long since burned through the goodwill of all his real friends.  But still he needed someone to share life with.  Toad, for his part, just needed someone to complain to.  And so each got something of value from what seemed on the outside to be a pitiable arrangement.

   Toad licked his eyeball and frowned sullenly.  “Well?” he asked at length.

   Mouse drew his lips up into a crooked smile.  “It's over the hillock and across the field.  Nice place.  Warm.  Good food.  You could nap in style in a warm bed and on a full stomach.  And when you're feeling up to it, we could play bones and smoke mushrooms!”

   Toad licked his other eyeball.  He was rather fond of smoking mushrooms, if only because it distracted him from the misery of his existence.  “Sounds too good to be true,” he moaned.  “You're not squatting again, are you?  I remember what happened last time....”

   “No, no, no.  It ain't like that, buddy.  This is more of a.... co-habitation arrangement.  It's all above board.”  Mouse gave Toad a double wink.

   Toad farted in the mud.  He didn't much like the sound of it, but anything was better then another half-frozen winter hibernating in the bog.  Last year he developed an ice-lens in his sinus that gave him a splitting headache until it finally thawed out in May.  Reluctantly he hauled his corpulent body up and out of the muck.

   “Gaaaaah!  How can the air be colder than the frigid muck!” he complained, stepping gingerly onto a rock. 

   “Hey, hey!  The faster you hop, the faster we get in out of the cold,” Mouse coaxed.

   “Hrmph,” was Toad's reply.  He'd get there when he bloody well felt like it.

   *   *   *   *   *   

   “You gotta be kidding me,” Toad groaned, staring up at the towering wall of masonry in front of him.

   “No, no no.  This is great,” Mouse said.  “Here me out.  So the people here are 'over-housed'.  You ever heard of that?  They got too much space.  Gotta fill it up, see?  We're gonna help them out.”

   Toad groaned again.  He felt the buyer's remorse, just like after his third sex-change.  “They got any cats or dogs?  What about snakes?”

   “No, no, none of that.  I cased the place, man!  This place is meant for us.”  Mouse flashed an orange smile at his friend.

   Toad groaned for a third time.  “Tell me at least you got the mushrooms,” he grumbled.

   “Hey, yeah, sure thing!  Well, not on me.  They're in there!  I've already moved in.”

   Toad and Mouse hopped under the porch steps and through the accumulated detritus to a small crack in the foundation of the house.

   “You gotta be kidding me,” Toad complained.  “I can't fit through that!”

   “Ah, sure you can, buddy!  I've seen you singing in the springtime.  You're two-thirds air!  You just gotta deflate yourself a bit, and I'll bung you through.”

   Toad half-heartedly tried to squeeze his mass through the crack, but ended up looking more like someone had tried to plaster over the crack with a wad of warty goo.  “This isn't going to work,” he said flatly.

   “Sure it is!  Toads are made of rubber.  You just gotta bend your bones into the gaps.”

   “What.... That doesn't even make sense!”

   “You're breathing too much.  You gotta deflate.  You want me to suck at one end?”  Mouse drew up close to Toad's face with puckered lips.  A waft of foul breath settled around Toad's airspace, and he instinctively recoiled deeper into the fissure.

   “That-a-boy, Toady my man.  Keep going!”

   “Oh god, it hurts!”

   “All the more reason to squeeze through faster!”  Mouse pulled out a miniature toilet plunger from under a pile of rotting leaves.

   “What the-?!?  What is THAT??” Toad asked in a panicked tone, willing himself to recede further into the tiny gap and away from Mouse's new toy.

   “I made it!” Mouse chuckled proudly.  “Out of a broken pencil and a plastic popper toy!  You should see the humans use them when they're playing with their droppings!”  He aped a human dancing around a puddle of scat, jamming the plunger furiously in and out and in and out.

   Toad whimpered in fear.  “Mouse... I don't want you to stick that thing on me.”

   Mouse gave his friend another double wink, then raised the plunger.

   “Mouse...  I thought we were pals?”  Toad squeaked, lamenting inwardly that he did not have the eyebrows required to make his expression more pitiful looking.

   SMLURP!  Mouse jammed his improvised toilet plunger right into toad's face and started to agitate it vigorously.

   “Mrrrrmmfummmuggurrrr!” Toad screamed in a distant, muffled kind of way.  Mouse could not see it, but he would have surely chuckled at the way that the changing air pressure inside the plunger made Toad's eye bulge to twice its normal size on every upstroke.  Slowly but surely the mangy rodent was able to drive Toad deeper and deeper into the crack.  Only when he was dripping with sweat and exhausted from the effort did he relent.

   Toad gasped for breath with two disembodied lips, the rest of his body being now hidden in the twisted depths of the crevice.  “I can't feel my legs!” he whined.  “My arm is bent backwards, and there's something sticking up my ass.  It might be one of my legs!  My head is pinched to half its width and stretched to twice its normal height.  And there's something jagged sticking up my nose!  Oh god, the pain!  Mouse, there's no way this is worth it!”

   “Huh?” Mouse muttered pensively.  “Yeah, maybe you're right.  Maybe I should just go off and smoke this mushroom here.  All by my lonesome.  Thinking on what a bad idea this all was.  Well, see ya buddy.”

   “Mouse!” Toad squeaked desperately.  “Mouse, you bastard!  You can't leave me like this!  You gotta pull me out of here.  But let's have that mushroom first, to help with the pain.”

   Mouse was a generous creature at heart, if rather thoughtless in deed.  Quickly the mushroom was lit and with some considerable dexterity on Mouse's part even Toad was able to partake in the psychedelic pleasures of the purple smoke.  And then, more then just a little addled, the two tried to extricate poor Toad.  They tried pushing and pulling, and lubing him up some jelly Mouse had found in a bedside drawer from the house.  They even tried tying a spider thread around one of Toad's exposed limbs and tying the other end to the people vehicle out in the driveway, but due to some remarkable non-newtonian property of toad-flesh it managed to rip through his body and out the other side without budging him in the least.

   “I'll be stuck here forever!” Toad lamented.

   “Nah!” Mouse countered, ever the optimist.  “You'll slowly starve, thinner and thinner.  And then come springtime you'll slip on out of there.  Like the droppings out of a rabbit butt!”

   “Ooooooh!” Toad groaned.

   Mouse did his half-assed best to jury rig a shelter over the opening of the crack using broken chunks of wood and a few torn bits of plastic bag.  He was then obliged to spend the whole winter heating the tiny space by burning through his considerable stores of mushrooms.  Toad complained frequently, of course, but one might argue somewhat less than usual, and at least now with a great deal more cause.  Five months hot-boxed in a contortionist's nightmare might even have changed his perspective on life for the better were he not mistakenly hoovered up by a rogue anteater the following April, just as he was starting to loosen out of his predicament.

   The anteater, for his part, got a wicked crazy mind-trip out of the experience.

   As for Mouse, he became a boxcar hobo after that, drifting from town to town like a scruffy skeleton-ghost, cackling gleefully sometimes for no apparent reason and always responding to voices that no one else ever heard.  Well, that was until he was converted to an esoteric branch of evangelist Christianity by a hard-speaking street missionary, but that, my friends, is another tale entirely. 
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (NEW DEADLINE: Nov 14)
Post by: JudasFm on 15 Nov 2018, 07:53
Aaaand we're done! The Squid and I hereby declare this contest CLOSED FOR VOTING!

To sum it up, the entries are:

An Alliance by WHAM
A fox knows many things... by jahnocli
Ice-cream by Sinitrena
Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron

Categories are:

Most Convincing Protagonist: Is the main character believable as a non-human? Even Wind in the Willows pulled this off; despite interacting with humans on a more-or-less equal basis, Mole and Badger both lived underground, and Rat lived in a hole by the river bank.
Best Story: How good was the story? Did it make you believe in the world the writer created?
Best Writing: Even the best story ideas need a strong turn of phrase (nod)

You have until November 18 to get those votes in! And with four entrants but only three prizes up for grabs (trophies coming soon, I promise!) every vote counts. Vote, vote, vote! (laugh)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: Baron on 16 Nov 2018, 01:29
You have until November 14 to get those votes in!

Gah!  I'll never make it in time! :shocked:
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: WHAM on 16 Nov 2018, 08:49
>> A fox knows many things... by jahnocli
> Most Convincing Protagonist: Reynard Fox. We don't learn a whole lot about him, his background or history, just a few basic descriptors and a rough outline of his roguish character type. There was much room for more here.
> Best Story: Something about the setting rubs me the wrong way. Having a newspaper distributed is cute in a lot of ways, but an Owl with an online gambling problem feels a bit too modern for my tastes here. Perhaps that's just my nostalgia goggles speaking, though.
> Best Writing: Some of the descriptions come off as stiff and unnatural, but serve their purpose well enough.

>> Ice-cream by Sinitrena
> Most Convincing Protagonist: The frightening nature of budding adulthood told through the metaphor of magical powers and the protagonist struggling to accept or even rejecting the change so that they may cling on to their fading childhood innocence for a moment longer? It feels a tad cliche.
> Best Story: The whole "You're a wizard Harry" reference felt a bit too on the nose here. Apart from the protagonist rejecting the secret reality of her existence on some level, choosing to live among the 'muggles' instead, this felt a lot like a modern Harry Potter re-hash.
> Best Writing: Apart from a few very small typos, this was very much the usual high-quality work of Sinitrena. Hard to beat.

>> Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Most Convincing Protagonist: I like this Toad character. I feel a strange and deep kinship toward him, like he's my long lost identical twin, and he's also described in a way that combines his non-human nature with a fine sense of humour.
Best Story: I needed this tale in my life right now. Some crude and witty humour, absurd ideas and events, a sadistic mouse character and an ending that drops a brick on any and all sense this tale might have held. I hope there will be a sequel about the Anteater.
Best Writing: The descriptions and themes used raised this one well over the average, and I think Baron inches out a win in this category as well!

Final votes:

Most Convincing Protagonist: Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Best Story: Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Best Writing: Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: jahnocli on 16 Nov 2018, 09:31
An Alliance by WHAM
Best Story: I thought there was insufficient depth to this idea, and it was a little bloated; I felt the content did not justify the length.
Best writing: Seemed a little over-dramatic. Again, I felt that the story did not warrant the flights of fancy
Most Convincing Protagonist: Old White, I guess - the other characters were all very much cast in supporting roles

Ice-cream by Sinitrena
Best Story: The ending left me kind of confused - as a 'rites of passage' story everything seemed uncertain in terms of any development, and it was unconvincing that Kessy's friends would not have noticed her 'otherness'
Best writing: Nice contemporary conversational style
Most Convincing Protagonist: Unfortunately, for me, I don't think there was one

Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Best Story: It was fine, and quite funny, up until the bit where an anteater could eat a toad. Anteaters are specialised animals, and , even allowing for some suspension of disbelief, this would not be credible
Best writing: Nicely written, and good pacing
Most Convincing Protagonist: Toad, but Mouse came a close second!

Final votes:

Most Convincing Protagonist: Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Best Story: Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Best Writing: Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: Sinitrena on 16 Nov 2018, 17:50
My three competitors all choose animal characters, which makes it easy to compare the stories.

An Alliance by WHAM

I love the atmosphere! The beginning is great. It pulls you right into a world of farm life and of rodents - for a second I even believed to smell a bit of hay. I just wish the rest of the story could keep me as engaged as the beginning. I was hoping for adventure, for mystery, for characters doing something. Instead, I read about rodent politics. Basically, I wish you had written the party going to speak to the dog instead of them talking about it.

A fox knows many things... by jahnocli

You were going for something close to a fable, weren't you? With the classical roles of the animals (the sly fox, for example) and the animal characters standing in for humans in a way. I don't think it works. There is just nothing specific to the characters being animals. On the contrary, it is of no consequence at all. Change a couple words and it is the same story with humans. That they are very modern (online gambling, etc...) as WHAM points out doesn't help either.

Leave No Stoner Unturned by Baron

Interesting - the characters and the plot. I don't really think they are likeable but they certainly have personallity. I really enjoyed the story, up until the last two paragraphs (and the last sentence of the third to last). They feel a bit out of place, tagged on and unnecessary. I think for the first time ever I noticed a typo in one of your stories: "Here me out." Other than that, your writing is, from a technical standpoint, on point as always.


Most Convincing Protagonist: Old White by WHAM
Best Story: Baron
Best Writing: WHAM
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: WHAM on 16 Nov 2018, 22:17
Basically, I wish you had written the party going to speak to the dog instead of them talking about it.

I didn't want to make my story too long. It's already longer than I am comfortable with posting in these competitions, to be honest. However, your wish may be granted at a later date, as I am quite fond of this little tale and may expand upon it outside of the competition.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: JudasFm on 17 Nov 2018, 12:03
You have until November 14 to get those votes in!

Gah!  I'll never make it in time! :shocked:

The fact that voting closed with the contest is no excuse! There are such things as TARDISes (TARDISii?) after all (laugh)
(But seriously, thanks for pointing that out! I've fixed it and you've now got until November 18 ;))
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: JudasFm on 18 Nov 2018, 14:04
Okay, first place is pretty much decided, but second place could change and we have a tie for third place! I'm still waiting for Baron to vote or any other last-minute votes from other people, but if that doesn't happen soon I'll go ahead and close this round...

However, your wish may be granted at a later date, as I am quite fond of this little tale and may expand upon it outside of the competition.

I keep meaning to ask; is there any rule against posting your own creative works in this forum? It mostly seems to be the same old contests, so I thought starting a topic to get feedback on things like writing wasn't allowed. Anyone able to shed some light on this? ???
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (STILL VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: Sinitrena on 18 Nov 2018, 18:05
I keep meaning to ask; is there any rule against posting your own creative works in this forum? It mostly seems to be the same old contests, so I thought starting a topic to get feedback on things like writing wasn't allowed. Anyone able to shed some light on this? ???

There is a rule, if you refer to this forum (Competitions and Activities) specifically. See here (

Quote from: Pumaman
What this forum is for:
* Taking part in the various competitions and activities organized in the AGS Community

What this forum is not for:
* Anything else

If you have an idea for a new competition, then post it in the designated thread. It will then be allowed here if it gets approval from the majority of forum members and approval by a global moderator or a moderator of this forum.

DO NOT post a new competition here without asking first

But The Critics' Lounge is open to writing as well as far as I know and General Discussion should also be okay. (I'm not a Mod, so don't hold false information against me.)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: Baron on 18 Nov 2018, 20:36
Who's making excuses? ;)  I assumed I had until the end of the 18th....

An Alliance by WHAM

I thought this was an awesome story.  The atmosphere was moody, the characters strong, and the background world pregnant with possibility.  I agree with some of the comments already posted that it might not necessarily make for the best short story, but I think the world, characters, and plot problems all have terrific potential.  I especially liked the clanish-ness of the rodent tribes and their distinct characters.  My favourite character was the one-eyed mouse of the woods, just because his body tells quite the backstory and he's obviously got quite a complex set of motivations.  Obviously this wasn't something explored in depth in the story, but I want to find out more about him, whereas other characters were more easy to figure out off the bat (e.g. the quick-tempered Red Tooth, the cerebral Old White...).  I also liked your use of language in describing the setting as "wreathed" in fog as moonlight "crept" down the stairs.  Nice strong verbs there.

A fox knows many things... by jahnocli

I very much liked the atmosphere at the beginning of the story.  It had this grim foreboding feeling, which unfortunately didn't quite pan out in the end.  My favourite character was Prickly, mostly for his "Dickensian" manner of speaking (who uses the term "mutual advantage" anymore?).  I thought their plan was sound and the story-world plausible, except for the incongruous internet gambling bit.  While painting a vivid picture in my mind, some of your descriptions also jarred a bit with the rural setting: "the fog teased like dry ice" speaks of a degree of scientific familiarity that doesn't quite seem to fit in with animals living in a forest.

Ice-cream by Sinitrena

While you've adhered to the rules, I think your entry  bends the spirit of them a bit too far.  Yes, we know there's something different about Kessy even before she goes all Elsa-ice-queen on the creepy fae guy.  But outside of her weird look and powers, there's nothing really inhuman about her.  In fact, she seems to relate more to being human than to her "real" people, right down to the shallow teenage sassy-ness of her attitude.  I was intrigued by the ending about the longer backstory of her adopted family and the fairies, but shocked at her cavalier attitude in not even enquiring after her lost sister, so self-assured she was that the fairies would try to make contact again shortly (after 15 years of nothing....).  Kessy is for sure the best character in your piece, because you've definitely nailed down the frustratingly impulsive attitude of the human teenage girl, but I'm sorry to say that I can't actually like her.


Most Convincing Protagonist: Prickly, by jahnocli
Best Story: WHAM
Best Writing: WHAM

Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (STILL VOTING UNTIL NOV 18)
Post by: JudasFm on 19 Nov 2018, 00:29
There is a rule, if you refer to this forum (Competitions and Activities) specifically. See here (

Okay, thanks :) I did wonder.

And now, my thoughts:

WHAM: I really loved reading your entry; it was believable with a little humor scattered through. The only comment I would make is that, like Sinitrena, I wish you'd written about the meeting with the dog at the end as that would have made it perfect for me. I'd certainly read more of this story if you do decide to post it.

jahnocli: The characters had their own distinct voices and you did a good job of portraying the relationship between them, but I felt your entry read more like a snippet than an actual story. I think the online gambling made the whole thing a little jarring.

Sinitrena: Your writing was excellent as always, but I have to agree with WHAM that it was a little too Harry Potter-ish. I did like the twist at the end where Kessy decides to stick with the humans instead of returning home :-D

Baron: The writing was good, but it wasn't quite my style. I like random and humor, but I felt that your story took it a little too far for me to enjoy it. That said, there was one sentence that really made me grin:
Toad half-heartedly tried to squeeze his mass through the crack, but ended up looking more like someone had tried to plaster over the crack with a wad of warty goo.
Brilliant imagery (laugh)

BUT! It's not up to me or The Squid who wins; it's up to all of you guys! So, without further ado, I present (drumroll please!)


First place goes to Baron, who gets to take home the gold DNA trophy with a whopping 7 votes!

Second place and the silver DNA trophy goes to WHAM, with 4 votes:

And finally, squeaking into third place with one vote, the winner of the bronze DNA trophy, jahnocli!

So, looks like the next contest admin will be Baron!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (RESULTS!)
Post by: WHAM on 19 Nov 2018, 13:38
Quirky humour wins the day! :-D
Congratulations, Baron!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (RESULTS!)
Post by: jahnocli on 19 Nov 2018, 14:27
Well done, Baron - you deserved it. I'm virtually polishing my bronze trophy even as we speak.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: But That's Inhuman! (RESULTS!)
Post by: Baron on 20 Nov 2018, 03:46
Thanks guys. ;-D  It's not a universal brand of humour, but I'm glad there's still a market segment for absurdist fiction. ;)

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