Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Second Chance (again) - Results  (Read 1702 times)

Sinitrena

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  • Wheel of Fate
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Hello, welcome.

I received a single suggestion for a topic after my request in the last FWC, but because it was just a rehash of a topic we had nearly exactly two years ago, I decided to go with my backup, which is also a topic we already had, but from three years ago (the longer ago, the fresher it feels!)

If you are a regular, you might remember my Second Chance topic from October 2017. This is a very special topic, as it is literally all topics we ever had here. It is not about a character giving or getting a second chance. It's about all you lovely writers getting a second chance to write for a topic we had here before. Be it that you missed a deadline, didn't see a thread, had a computer crash, were not around in the forums yet when the topic was originally set or were the original administrator and therefore not allowed to write for your own topic, this is your chance to remedy this and write for an old topic. It is also specifically a chance to finish unfinished older entries, as long as about at least three quarters of the text is original material written for this new competition here.

The rules:

- Write or finish an entry for any old FWC
- Follow the original rules of the topic
(including word limits; otherwise, as applicable)
- Let us know which topic you chose
- Let us know if parts of your entry were finished earlier
- You may enter for a topic you originally administered
- You can continue stories you already submitted including for the same topic
(this is different from the last time)
- At least 3/4 should be new material
- You can enter more than once (votes are given for the stories, not the writer)



A list of old topics can be found here in the Competitions Topic Master List - the list is as complete as possible but no guarantees.

Deadline is August 14 2020.
Extended: 17. August
« Last Edit: 24 Aug 2020, 19:15 by Sinitrena »

Baron

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  • AGS Baker
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    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Wait, wait, wait.  October 2017 was three YEARS ago?   :shocked:  Oh, how the time flies....

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
You made me question my math skills there for a moment...  (roll)

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
So, since this isn't really a premeditated topic, are you going to enter?

Mandle

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I'm gonna go with the 144 word story theme again as described here:

The Artist

The artist dragged his brush up the canvas, and then pushed it sideways.

The two strokes made a bold "L" shape.

He brought the brush around to the next side of the canvas.

The artist gripped the brush firmly and drew the same shape in reverse across the first.

He stood back and stroked his little mustache in contemplation of the stark red symbol on the white canvas laid down on the floor of his loft.

His brush still struggled feebly in his grasp, bleeding out from where he had sliced her open.

"Well, Jew-bitch, let's get this finished.", the artist said.

He picked up the long knife.

After he was done painting the two extra lines on the ends of the double "L" with her severed head he stood back and said:

"So, I'm not good enough for art-school, am I?"


« Last Edit: 10 Aug 2020, 11:13 by Mandle »

Baron

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  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
OK, I've decided to rehash the Spooky Party topic.  And by "rehash" I mean "do for the first time", since I managed to completely miss it the first time around.  (roll)  I can't remember any ideas for the topic, so this will be a completely fresh attempt.

Sinitrena

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    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
So, since this isn't really a premeditated topic, are you going to enter?

I think there should always be a neutral party who doesn't enter, so no. (But it would be nice if someone else starts a Second Chance topic in a couple of years for me to also enter.)

I'm gonna go with the 144 word story theme again as described here:

Somehow, I expected you to choose this topic. No idea why.  ;)


Keep them coming, guys!

Baron

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    •  
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OK, I tried to plan ahead, I really did.  We're off on this camping trip tomorrow, and I've been poking around at my story for a couple days now, trying to get it ready before we leave.  But the whole thing is just a hot mess.  I've got flat characters bumping into each other like it's a cardboard-cutout convention, more loose plot threads then the ripped knee holes of an 8 year old's favourite pair of pants, and a setting that's about as spooky as a loaf of bread on a tricycle.  I need more time to do some serious editing and rewriting.  What's the extension market looking like these days?

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I need more time to do some serious editing and rewriting.  What's the extension market looking like these days?

Unfortunate, considering the general economic situation and inflation, add to that the current exchange rate... The market looks really bad right now, extensions are incredibly expensive.

But we do take care of our most loyal customers and have this special offer: the weekend special. It's a whole three days free of charge! How does this sound?

Deadline extended: 17. August

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
This was written for the "Spooky Party" theme that I missed back in October of 2019.  According to the rules, the only serious requirements are that there must be a party with a spooky element.  All of the story is brand new, although the more I wrote the more I kind of remembered having a similar idea at some point (I'm not sure if it was for the same competition....  (roll)).

Lunar Shadow

   The silent stillness of space has a kind of serene dignity not afforded the busier domains of matter and energy.  Or at least it did until the Epic Party Bus blasted by, blaring its techno-garbage music at a decibel level sufficient to create Doppler-effect sound-ripples in the very void itself.

   “It's party time!” shouted Palarie from the pilot's chair, rolling the volume dial to supermax and punching the air happily.  “Am I right?”

   “This is so awesome!” Kinsey shouted back from the co-pilot's chair, head swivelling like a lawn-watering spigot so as not to miss even a fraction of the cosmic panorama stretching out in front of them.  It was Kinsey's birthday, and she'd never been to space before.  Her best friend Palarie had a knack for making these occasions memorable, but this time she had outdone herself.

   “Party still going in the back?” Palarie called behind her.

   “Yes sir, captain sir!” Breaux shouted back.  “Engineering reports that the party drive is revving at full capacity!

   “Yeah, man!” Dudjak shouted, reaching over to cheers his buddy.  Unfortunately they would have had to clink their bottles together with enough force to smash them to pieces to make the sound audible over the music, but it was the thought that counted.

   “This is Party One,” Palarie announced.  “All party stations please report in.”

   “Party Two, standing by!” Breaux shouted.

   “Party Three, standing by!” Kinsey hooted.

   “Party Four, standing by!” Dudjak parroted.

   The techno-garbage music funked along, filling the awkward pause in the party roll-call. 

   “Hold on a second,” Palarie said, dialing the music volume down to background levels.  “Engineering, I think we've got a malfunction in Party Five station.  Please confirm.”

   All eyes turned to Woeber, who sat with her arms crossed in the middle of the back seat, eyes rolled towards the ceiling.  “Party Five, standing by,” she mumbled, and everyone cheered happily.

   “I still can't believe we're doing this!” Kinsey gushed.  “What did your boss say about you borrowing the ship?”

   “You wanna know what he said?” Palarie asked.  She turned to the back row: “You all wanna know what he said?”

   “Uh, yeah?” said Dudjak uncertainly.

   “He said 'DON'T FORGET TO GET INTO THE PLASMA SHOOTERS IN THE COOLER!” Palarie cried, and the crew erupted into another chorus of cheers.

   “Ooo, I want blue!” Kinsey called.

   “Save me a purple!” Palarie shouted.  “Captain's orders!”

   “That's not what he said,” Woeber muttered, as an orange plasma shooter was thrust upon her.

   “So where's this party at?” Breaux asked.  “It looks like we blew past Mars back there.”

   “What?!” Kinsey cried, pressing her face to the glass.  “We're not just cruising?”

   “No way, Kins!” Palarie replied.  “We are jamming it up at the most exclusive Jovian orbital bar, Chez Europa!”

   “Hey, I heard of that place!” Dudjak said between shooters.  “Isn't that the place with the zero-gravity lounge?”

   “No man, you're thinking of Europa Blitz,” Breaux answered.  “I've never heard of Chez Europa.”

   “Well, it's a new club just doing a soft-opening for now,” Palarie informed the crew.  “Apparently it's highly automated, the view of dawn over Jupiter is to die for, and it's already had multiple A-lister sightings posted on Who's-App!”

   “Woo!” Kinsey shouted, ogling the golden entry tickets that Palarie handed to her.

    “Sorry party peeps,” Palarie shouted.  “I can't dock this bucket without some mean base rhythms to bounce us home.”  She turned the music back up to full blast as the Epic Party Bus made it's final approach towards a small space station orbiting the Jovian moon of Europa.  Shockingly as it docked, it's floorboards rattled to the even greater bass vibrations of even louder music emanating from the space club.  “Shit, this place is hopping!” Palarie gasped.

   Quickly the party crew disembarked onto Chez Europa, although not before Palarie had downed her purple plasma shot as well as Weober's orange one.  Soon they were through the airlock and waiting in line behind a couple of zorkrons in tight skirts and a group of people in old astronaut suits.

   “Damn, why didn't you tell me it was retro night?” Dudjak asked.  “I coulda worn my bell-bottoms!”  The zorkrons rolled their ocular tentacles at him.

   “Why did we fly halfway across the solar system just to line up?” Woeber asked, arms still crossed.

   “This place is exclusive, Woebs!” Palarie tutted her friend.

   “Yeah, wouldn't be exclusive without the line,” Breaux commented, discreetly sipping from his hip-flask to keep his buzz going.

   “Hey, d'ja bring one of those for me?” Kinsey asked, smacking Breaux in the chest.  Instead of soft flesh she hit what felt like metal armour.  “Ow!  What the- ?!?”

   Breaux just smiled.  He turned away from the robotic bouncer at the door and opened his jacket to reveal a range of flasks from which to choose.

   “Yeah dude!” Dudjak cried.

   “Is that another plasma shooter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” Palarie flirted.

   “It could be both things!” Breaux winked, producing a pink plasma shooter for his captain.

   “Bouncer....” Woeber hissed discreetly, grabbing the golden tickets from Kinsey and waving them distractingly in front of the robot bouncer while the rest of the gang subtly hid their outside booze.

   “Welcome human females and other miscellaneous humans,” the robot bouncer announced, scanning the offered tickets with laser beams from its friendly blue eyes.  “Please kneel to conduct the breathalizer procedure as per our space tavern license requirements.”  An articulated straw shot out of the logo plate towards the bottom of the robot bouncer's torso.

   “Whoa!” the whole crew spoke up at once, backing away.

   “That's just..... creepy, man!” Dudjak exclaimed.

   “Woeber, you're pretty much sober,” Palarie nudged her friend.  “Get down there and give the robot a blow for us, would ya?”

   “Yeah freakin' right!” Woeber shot back.

   “Ha, ha, ha!” the bouncer laughed in a robotic monotone as it withdrew the articulated straw.  “You'd be surprised how often that works.  But seriously, our only requirement for entry is valid age identification.”  Four of the five friends chortled with laughter while Woeber just sighed to herself.  “Remember patrons,” the bouncer continued after all of the IDs were scanned, “at Chez Europa half-priced moon-mojitos are optional, but good times are mandatory!”

   The group walked past the bouncer.  Soon they were wandering futuristic tunnels filled with blinking lights and artificial mist, and the heavy base vibrations of some crazy sci-fi dance rhythms. 

   “Which way to the bar?” Breaux shouted.

   “Which way to the dance floor?!” Palarie cried.

   “Which way to the bathroom?” asked Kinsey, grabbing onto Palarie's shoulder.

   “Ha!  We'll meet up with you guys on the dance floor,” Palarie said, taking her friend down one of the psychedelic tubes. 

   The other three friends wandered through another tunnel and through an automatic hatch to emerge in the club proper.  Beings of all sizes and descriptions danced or lounged beneath a great glass dome through which the queasily vast crescent of Jupiter loomed.

   “Awesome!” Dudjak marvelled, busting out some muted dance moves.  Woeber noticed that Breaux had already slipped away, presumably to the bar, so she followed Dudjak as he weaved through dancing droids and aliens over a dance floor decorated with contorted rings that changed colour when stepped on.  She followed Dudjak's bobbing form up a short flight of stairs to an observation lounge.  The lounge was surprisingly less crowded, and there were a few empty couches with views of both the dance floor and the planet.  Sporadically throughout the lounge area there were bizarre plants and alien art pieces, and a few objects that could pass for both.

   “What the hell is that?!?” Woeber asked, her attention caught by a slimy green pod with what looked like a discoloured human hand sticking out the top.  Cautiously she approached, instinctively reaching for the neurotoxin spray she kept in her purse.  A kaleidoscope of lights danced over the pod, making it difficult to focus on, but she could have sworn she saw....  “Oh my god, it's twitching!” she cried.

   Suddenly the hand shot up into the air, grasping at nothing.  Woeber staggered backwards, neurotoxin spray ready to deploy.  And then over the loud music she heard Breaux laughing.

   “High strung much, Woeber?” he asked, walking casually up to the pod with two drinks expertly clutched in one hand.  “It's just animatronics.  Ooo!  And chips!”  Breaux grabbed what looked like a green leaf from the base of the pod, and dipped it into the pod itself, removing a small chunk, and then popping it into his mouth.  “Mmmm!  Astro-guac!  You guys gotta try this!”

   Woeber huffed and sat down on the nearest couch.  It was disturbingly comfy and smelled like new car.  Peering between her legs she noticed that the factory tag still stuck out from beneath the cushions.

   Breaux sat down next to her, placing one of his drinks (already empty) onto a side table and reaching over with his other hand between Woeber's legs to grab at the tag.

   “Don't get any ideas,” Woeber warned him.

   “Woeber, I'm not half as drunk as I need be to get ideas,” Breaux smiled reassuringly, ripping the tag out.  He examined it intently while chugging his second drink.  “Jeez!  Interstellar Protein Corp is making sofas now,” he scoffed.  “Fucking conglomerates.”  He handed the tag to Woeber, who idly studied the pretzel shaped logo.  Then she frowned, pulling out the golden tickets again.  The same logo appeared within the Chez Europa logo as well.  Come to think of it, the breathalizer panel on the robot bouncer also had the same logo.  And.... Woeber shot up from the couch to look over the railing at the dance floor.  It was teeming with dancers bouncing on the coloured swirls, but from this height the swirls unmistakably traced out the stylized peptide logo of the Interstellar Protein Corp.

   “Freaky,” she said, more to herself since no one was within earshot.  She noticed Palarie and Kinsey on the dance floor below and waved to them.  They beckoned her to join them, but she just shrugged.  She loved her friends, but she had to work tomorrow if she was going to make rent and pay her tuition instalment by the end of the month.  She was only 22, but it seemed the older she got the harder it was for her to let go of the cares that weighed her down.  She knew she was being a downer, and couldn't help but envy the carefree immediacy of her friends' partying mania.

   Instead Woeber stared out over the dance floor, vicariously imbibing the raw energy of its occupants.  There were a lot of helmets and face masks out there, which surprised her.  If she danced half as hard as they did her helmet would be a foggy, sweaty mess.  Suddenly the song was seamlessly phased into a new one, and the entire dance floor seemed to change rhythm instantly.  “Double freaky....” she muttered. 

   Woeber turned to relate her observations to her friends, but accidentally bumped into one of the men in an astronaut suit, now wearing a massive cowboy hat overtop of it.  He tipped his hat and raised his drink to her, which would have been the end of the encounter except for the small logo which Woeber recognized on the space suit.  Interstellar Protein Corp.

   Woeber's heart skipped a beat, and her stomach felt like she really had visited the zero-gravity lounge.  But Breaux was right: panicking would get her nowhere.  “Uh....” she said, staring at herself in the astronaut's reflective visor.  “Tell me, how do you cute fellas manage to drink with those helmets on all the time?”

   The astronaut cowboy scratched his head, looking from the drink in his hand back to her. 

   Woeber stumbled into him again, this time accidentally on purpose, clutching onto his shoulder in a drunken manner.  “Do you know, I think I've had a bit too much to drink,” she lied, getting close enough to the astronaut's visor to fog it up with her breath.  Impishly she drew a smiley face in the condensation, then giggled.

   The astronaut cowboy fumbled with his free hand to wipe his visor clean.  “I'll get it, honey!” Woeber said, grabbing a napkin from the nearby side table and purposefully wiping astro-guac residue onto the astronaut's visor.  This caused him to drop his drink and reach with both hands to rub at his visor.  The astro-guac smeared more and more, and in a moment the astronaut cowboy's futile efforts caused his outer reflective visor to open partially.  Inside the helmet was an unmistakably mechanical face.

   “Sorry, sweetie!” Woeber said, stumbling away towards the couch.  Her spot next to Breaux was now taken by a curvy looking woman, also wearing a reflective visor.  He seemed very engaged in chatting her up.  She could see no sign of Dudjak now.  “Hey Breaux!” she called in her friendliest manner.  “Can you hook a sister up?”  She mimed drinking with her empty hand, jerking her neck towards a monolithic objet d'art at the edge of the lounge.  Breaux seemed torn between joining her and staying with his new friend, but in the end curiosity got the better of him and he left the couch.

   “Hey, let's make this quick, Woeb,” he said.  “That space bunny ain't gonna wait around for me all night.”

   “She's a freakin' robot, Breaux,” Woeber told him, leading him towards the monolith.  “They all are.  And they've all got this symbol on their space suits,” she said, discreetly showing him the couch tag.  “What's Interstellar Protein Corp's main business, anyway?”

   It was Breaux's turn to roll his eyes.  “Jeez, Woeber.  You think they built this whole place just to juice stupid humans and sell the protein to the....” he trailed off, suddenly pensive.

   They ducked behind the monolith, which was decorated with some kind of alien hieroglyphs.  Woeber's eye instantly seized on the contorted pretzel logo in the middle of it, and she pointed it out to her friend.  “Sell it to who, Breaux?”

   Breaux licked his lips, looking around.  They were cornered back behind the monolith, but mostly out of sight.  Ducking her head out, Woeber could see the robot woman in the space suit still sitting on the couch, staring impassively.  Woeber smiled and waved, and then quickly ducked her head back behind the monolith.  “Who?”

   “It's stupid,” Breaux said, trying to brush it all off.  “How do you know they're all robots?”

   “Who?” Woeber repeated, grabbing him by the collar.

   “Well... er....” he stammered, trying unsuccessfully to back away.  “This is just going to stoke the paranoia further, but zorkrons are notorious for their protein heavy diet.  And the price of protein is astronomical these days, due to swine-flu ravaging the zorkron's ziglet herds.  There, I said it.”  Breaux pulled himself away, shaking his head.  “How do you fucking know they're robots?”

   “I peaked under that one's visor,” she told him, peering out again from behind the monolith.  The robot woman was now helping the astronaut cowboy clean his visor with a clean napkin.  Woeber turned to ask Breaux about Dudjak's location but was horrified to see that he was gone.  Turning back, to the lounge, she swallowed hard as Breaux stepped between the robot woman and the astronaut cowboy.

   “What the hell are you doing?!?” Woeber hissed at Breaux, but there was no way he could hear her over the music.  Besides, his body language clearly told the story of cocksure jealousy.  First he gently took the napkin from the robot woman, mouthing words that Woeber could only infer.  I'm so freaking stupid, didn't you know.  How'd you like to mince my insides to make zorkron protein shakes?  He was silent now, ear bent attentively towards the robot woman who must be speaking now.  Oh that's ok, sweet thing.  It happens all the time!”  Now Breaux absently handed the napkin to the astronaut cowboy and took the robot woman by the hand, leading her -unbelievably- towards the stairs back to the dance floor.  Woeber couldn't believe her eyes.

   Cautiously she followed.  The astronaut cowboy was still distracted with his greasy visor, but Woeber was all too aware that she was turning heads as she walked alone through the lounge.  Oh how she had once wished to be the type of girl to turn heads.  But with each degree of synchronous rotation all she wanted was to be invisible again.  Invisible, and far from Chez Europa.  There was a flicker of larger motion in her peripheral vision and she couldn't help but chance a glance behind her.  All the clientele of the lounge froze in unison, but in the most awkward half-standing pose.

   Woeber turned back to the stairs and quickened her pace.  Her stomach sank as she looked out over the dance floor to see that Palarie and Kinsey had disappeared into the throng.  She turned back to catch the lounge crowd resuming casual positions as if they had not just been lurching towards her in unison.  One of the creepy robot stalkers even faked a stretch as if yawning.

   “This is the best party ever!!!” she could hear Dudjak shouting.  She turned back to see him crowd-surfing over the dancers.  Breaux had made it to the dance floor, his arm now around the robot woman's waist as she moved sensuously to the music.  And there at last she spotted Palarie and Kinsey, dancing with a pair of massive masked robot-hunks.  Seriously, who built robots shaped like that?!?  She looked around again to freeze her pursuers but her attention was caught by another, higher observation lounge that she had missed earlier.  It was filled with zorkrons, dressed as if to party, but standing grimly still, arms folded, ocular tentacles staring fixedly back at her. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, she thought.

   She wove her way down the stairs, past robot dancers illogically parked on the steps, but was stopped by a metallic hand before she could make the dance floor.  She looked up to see the robot bouncer (or a similar model), the calming blue lights that served as eyes now turned a sinister red.     “Excuse me,” she said, trying to push past, but the bouncer bot held firm.  It repeated to her in the same robotic monotone used at the front gate: “at Chez Europa half-priced moon-mojitos are optional, BUT GOOD TIMES ARE MANDATORY!”

   Woeber looked around frantically, noticing that the stairs behind her were entirely packed with her admirers from the lounge.  Bizarrely, her gaze came to rest on Breaux and his mechanical dancing partner.  In one fluid motion he dipped, shook his hips, and then yanked the female robot's arm right off.  Huh, he seemed to think to himself, catching her gaze, I guess Woeber was right all along.  She just shook rolled her eyes at him, then pretended to faint.

   Several robots lurched to catch her, but Woeber was already on the hypnotically flashing floor, crawling between the dancer's feet.  Over the pounding of music and feet she could hear the bouncer bot's creedo slowly being taken up by the mechanical army that made up the staff of Chez Europa: “GOOD TIMES ARE MANDATORY!  GOOD TIMES ARE MANDATORY!  GOOD TIMES ARE MANDATORY!”
   
   
   


Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
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I'm a bit late, sorry guys. Blame it on the weather, heat always messes me up.

Anyways, we have two entries:

The Artist by Mandle for the topic Beautiful Brevity, originally set by Baron
Lunar Shadow by Baron for the topic Spooky Party, originally set by Sinitrena

Voting is done in the following categories:

Best Character: The most interesting, faszinating, unnerving, unusual person, persons or personalities.
Best Plot: The order of things and what is happening.
Best Atmosphere: The feelings a story evokes.
Best Writing Style: The technical aspect of writing - interesting turns of phrases, good descriptions, ect.
Best Use of the Original Topic: Most faithful or creative, it doesn't matter. Who did best with the topic they chose.

Please try to compare these stories to each other but also look at them in the context of the original topic (which doesn't mean you have to read all stories in the old threads, just that you remember that the stories are based on different premisses).

Now's the time to read. Voting ends next Sunday, 23. August.

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
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I read Baron's story through and had a few great laughs, the best being:

Quote
"“Is that another plasma shooter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” Palarie flirted.

   “It could be both things!” Breaux winked, producing a pink plasma shooter for his captain."

I was drawn in at the beginning by the "road trip" feeling of the birthday outing, but I felt a bit bogged down during the actual nightclub scene trying to figure out what was going on and who all the characters were and where they were and what was happening.

Spoiler: ShowHide
I kinda figured out what was going on by the end, maybe. Soylent Green is made from people!!!


I really want to read a story from Baron that doesn't include wacky comedic characters and events.

The first part of the story was so good, but then the
Spoiler: ShowHide
Blowjob robot scene happened and I laughed, I'll admit, but the joke threw off the tone for me and I just thought "Okay, here we go into Baron being clever with jokes." and the story lost its grip on me.


Baron, you are a seriously good writer, but not every story has to be a zany outing.

I really, really want to read a good serious story by you.

Baron

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    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
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Hey, I just gotta be me!  ;-D 

In all honesty, my goal was to slowly turn a light and humorous outing into a horror experience of indeterminate nature.  I will admit to being frustrated in my goal (I think in retrospect, in terms of execution, that there were too many moving pieces for it to work), but I don't think it was the goal's fault, as such.  If the story started out all spooky, the rational reader would simply refuse to believe the idiocy of the characters putting themselves into harm's way ("What?!?  You're going INTO the mansion where those 16 other people were murdered?!  YOU MORON!!!!!).  I was therefore trying to craft a silly Baron story, which everyone knows is perfectly harmless, but then subtly change it into something more sinister.  Now, I know there's a school of thought that you have to consistently build an atmosphere of dread in order to get buy-in from your typical horror-genre reader, but the corollary of that is that all the foreshadowing and grim menace and melodramatic brooding feels cliche.  So in summary my experiment didn't work, but the concept was built on rational underpinnings.

Onto Mandle's work:
Spoiler: ShowHide
  :shocked: :shocked: :shocked: :shocked:
Holy shock-value twist, Batman!  I must admire Mandle's audacity at smacking political correctness upside the head with a pickled trout, although I can't help but feel like he is dabbling with one too many taboos for good taste.  I get that the jewish person was murdered as a clue to the artist's identity, but without a message of broader importance it comes across as insensitive at best.  I think I would have seen the artwork in my mind's eye more clearly if the L's were drawn as the canvass was rotated: I had the hardest time picturing what "the next side" of the canvass meant (was he flipping it over??).  Outside of the moment of shock at what is happening and the fairly basic mystery of who this sadistic character is, there's really not much to the story.  I understand I'm asking a lot of 144 words, but I think some ruthless editing of unimportant details (the spiteful words to the victim are superfluous, for example) and the careful inclusion of more nuanced clues could craft the piece into a more clever riddle.


So, on to voting:

Best Character: I vote Mandle for you-know-who (wink, wink!).  In 144 words the over-the-top monster is revealed for what he truly is, whereas in reality it took the world over 56 years to truly understand his vileness.

Best Plot: Again I vote Mandle.  I definitely had the confusing sense that something was beginning, an OH-MY-GOD moment of realization in the middle, and something of a denouement in the end.

Best Atmosphere: Well there were definitely some strong feelings instilled by reading his piece, so I vote Mandle again.

Best Writing Style: I'll go with Mandle again, for a bit of clever wordplay ("long knife" comes to mind).

Best Use of the Original Topic: 144 words exactly - I vote Mandle

I just realized that Mandle usually doesn't vote so.... maybe we should just call the competition now and save me the public embarrassment of waiting around to be stood up?  :-\    On the plus side, he comes up with better topics than I do.  ;-D

Mandle

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Thanks for the comments, Baron.

I'm glad my story had the shock value for you that it was intended to have.

And, yeah, I'm not too keen on voting in a contest I'm an entrant in. It always just feels like spreading the votes around to be polite to everyone else, which is what most people do, and if the votes are honest then it just feels like snubbing another entrant.

As for my story:

Spoiler: ShowHide
You said the horrible racial slur from our main character was superfluous, but I kept it in for a few reasons:

(1) The reader has to know that the victim is Jewish.

(2) The reader has to really, really hate the main character.

(3) I made the victim female to try to pound home the "bullying" (there's no better word I can find right now, even though it feels too unimpactful) of the regime.

To do both in 144 words is hard, so I condensed both goals into one shocking line.

I was actually hesitant to post this story, but when I looked it over again and again I thought it was worth it on a few levels.

Like you said, it's firstly a riddle unfolding as to who the "Artist" is. I tested the story out on Stupot first actually to see if the "mustache" line was too much of a giveaway, but he said it didn't tip him off at first.

So it works on that level.

Then, I liked the story because it brought a real brutality to the "Artist" that he (as far as we know) avoided in reality. He was willing to sentence millions to death but he never wrote the order down or even ever visited one of the camps. It was forbidden to ever talk to him about the camps and the slaughter. He left all that up to people with the "stomach" for it and that is one of the most despicable things about the man in my opinion.

He ordered others (through inference, and not even direct language, it seems) to commit one of the most terrible crimes in the history of humanity, and never wanted to see the outcome.

That's why I "painted" him as a ruthless psychopath in the story.

And I think that also came across in the story as a metaphor for the monster's true responsibility that he avoided so much in reality.

My third point was that some of his hate towards the Jewish people came from his rejection as an artist/architect to an art college by Jewish professors, and that if he had been accepted then WW2 might not have happened, or would have happened very differently. I realize this is a weak point as well, as his scapegoating of the Jewish had many more political nuances than this one rejection. But it is still important I felt as it could have factored into his obsession with genocide.

Anyway, for 144 words, I was pretty pleased with it, but, like I said, I hesitated to post it.
« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2020, 12:42 by Mandle »

Baron

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I feel like this is one of those middle-school dances where you aren't allowed to leave even though it's obvious no one wants to dance with you.  :-[  Save me, Sinitrena!  I'm having traumatic flashbacks!  :shocked:

To further analyse Mandle's 144 word story in quite a few more than 144 words:

Spoiler: ShowHide

I appreciate your rationale in including the racist, misogynist, and bullying dialogue, as it does indeed make one hate the character.  I would have gone another direction (as I would have hated the character without the dialogue), but we can disagree artistically and still be friends.  I could see more sensitive people being more sensitive about it, but I'll leave it at that.

I think the real tragedy is how the deeper message you communicated in hide tags was mostly missing from the 144 words story.  I think in terms of serving the higher purpose of revealing the cowardly hypocrisy of the historic character that the violence towards an ethnic woman could be justified (in a story setting, obviously).  But I don't get the sense from the story that you are critiquing the character for being personally squeamish of violence and dodging responsibility for the obvious outcome of his attitudes and policies.  With your clarification in mind I can see that you made the character the complete opposite as a sort of grotesque parody, but I think the story could have been so much more powerful if you had somehow made your true message more obvious to the casual reader.  (As I said before, my instinct would be to edit out anything that strayed from the main message to free up words to make that happen, but I concede that the challenge is daunting given the constraints in your format and the desired result may just be beyond the reach of a mere 144 words.  Then again, if I myself were a master of creating genius stories out of off-the-wall concepts then my submission for this contest would have been of better quality....  (roll) )

Mandle

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I feel like this is one of those middle-school dances where you aren't allowed to leave even though it's obvious no one wants to dance with you.  :-[  Save me, Sinitrena!  I'm having traumatic flashbacks!  :shocked:

ROFL!!! All my dances and votes go to Baron!

Sinitrena

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These are two very different stories and not just because they were written for two rather different topics.

Mandle, your ability to tell a complete story in so few words is admirable. There was one line that utterly confused me: "The artist gripped the brush firmly and drew the same shape in reverse across the first." - I thought that meant he drew on the exact same spot as before, making a thicker L, which is obviously not what you meant. It became clear a moment later once I figure out what symbol "the artist" was really drawing. I can't say I'm happy (for lack of a better word) with the subject matter you choose. It's problematic, to say the least. I'm more inclined to be fine with difficult subjects when they add something to the discussion, give an insight or make you think. You were going in this direction, at least that seems to be your intention, judging by your comments later. I'm not sure you brought this aspect across. And even if you did, for some topics I will always argue for historic accuracy, which is very much not part of your story.

Baron, this is such a typical story for you. It's a fun ride, as always, but I very much missed the spookiness the original topic asked for (and had as a voting category). I think the main reason for this is that I never got the feeling that they were in any danger. Yes, they were, but Woeber jumpes to conclusions in the beginning. Why should it be dangerous or freaky that there are robots entertaining them? That's just costomer service - night clubs have people around to animate their guests, dance for them, ect, why shouldn they be robots in a futuristic world? What does it matter who owns the club? That's pretty normal in a capitalistic society - you own what earns you money. Again, I realize that Woeber was right, but there was no reason given at the beginning why she should be right. Consequently, I never considered the robots threatening until they openly were and that was very far to the end.


Votes:

Best Character: Mandle wins here for his artist, especially for the ability to give so much chacterisation in so few words. Baron's characters all have clearly defined personalities, but they still all seem similiar.
Best Plot: Baron. There's obviously more plot due to the length of the story, but the main reason for me here is the lack of historical accuracy/sensibility in Mandle's story.
Best Atmosphere: Mandle clearly creates a very deep atmosphere in so few words, while Baron fails (at least for me) in the main atmospheric area that was asked for in the original topic.
Best Writing Style: Baron, who made me laugh.
Best Use of the Original Topic: Mandle. Again, Baron fails for me in the very main aspect of his original topic while Mandle manages to work very well in his.

I consider this
ROFL!!! All my dances and votes go to Baron!
as Mandle's official votes (otherwise I would rant now about the mathematical aspect of voting and fairness and I did this once already), so we are left with the following results:

Baron receives 7 points and our second place.
Mandle wins with 8 points.


Congratulations to both of you. Mandle, your turn.

Baron

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Congratulations Mandle!  I look forward to seeing what you come up with for the next competition (as well as which moves you bust out on the dance floor  :cheesy: :wink: :kiss: :shocked: :cool:).

Mandle

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Cheers! I will sleep on the next theme and then pull it out all crinkled and sweaty from under me in the morning and post it up.

Baron

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This reminds me of Ponch's corduroy underwear idea....  :undecided: