K: Friggin’ hell, what a fun week. I knew this was going to be tough, but I ran this challenge for a clear reason: it’s a team challenge, and it requires a lot of working together so the teams all know their mates well now, and yet because of the solo submission part of it, people can still be held accountable for not showing up. Little did I know that another benefit is that y’all, as groups, would come up with such fun, engaging stories. I thoroughly dug all three of them. I did not, however, dig the non-submissions. But hey, there were only two out of twenty-two people, so I think this season’s gonna be alright.

Last week, I handed out seven twos, and this week there were none at all. So, there you go.

nibbish and his vogons

John Wreisner

Thomas knew 1-90 would take him all the way to the coast, but any passing motorist noticing him would have been disinclined to believe that he could make it more than another mile. The man wore only one shoe, and his right arm was held against his chest, cradled by the left. A sock, formerly white, flapped in ragged tendrils around an ankle that was scabbed and discolored by road grime, and two black eyes, framed by a mat of hair that was held together in clumps by some viscous residue, looked towards the horizon with a despairing certainty. It was late afternoon on this length of interstate, and the saw grass clanked dumbly together while the sky became the color of bronze in an alchemist’s smelter. No one stopped. Thomas did not, and could not lift a hand with a thumb extended to beg a ride. The apparent injury to his arm prohibited him from doing much more than stagger forth, driven by some internal engine that ran on pain. Overhead, Cooper’s hawks spun in dizzying circles, riding thermals under a flat, dead sky. The shoeless foot made flat, wet slaps against the macadam. He walked on.

K: Well, isn’t this just a feast of imagery? I’ve gotten to know Thomas already, and I was never bored. The despair is palpable in every word here. 5

DK: Unique as exposition compared to the other stories. Some of the sentences are a little unwieldly, but the tone and the atmosphere of the entire story are established well. 4

JG Berwald

Though Roger didn’t consider himself a loner, he did prefer the long hours he spent with the deep growl of his rig to the arduous time he spend listening to the high-pitched barking of human discourse. He avoided banal blabbering as much as he could, selecting instead to continue the conversation he and his machine had been sharing for sixteen years.
Despite his sonic preferences, he justified his apparent loneliness by helping those asking for his help. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he only helped because it satisfied his need to feel above the people that depended on him. If he bothered to give that fact any thought, he’d probably also realize he had begun driving a truck to feel separate yet superior, to those people anxiously awaiting his deliveries. He had never been late for a delivery, nor lost one piece of cargo. Merchants around the country knew him as “Reliable Roger” and he delighted in knowing he was like a god to these people- in fact he felt like a king, perched high above the road, lord of all he surveyed.

K: I love the line about the conversation he and his machine have been sharing. While it doesn’t pack the clarity of the first section, I still feel like I’ve gotten into Roger’s head. The last sentence is a little awkward, with the comparison to a god but then an unmotivated downgrade to “king.” Maybe those comparisons should have been switched around. 3

DK: I actually find this the weakest protagonist introduction of all of them. It works a lot more as a continuation of the atmosphere of the story than as a grasp into the Roger character, so I like it, but not as much as some of the other parts. 3

Patrick Kozicky

Roger took a sip from the cold, bitter coffee. Over the years, he’d come to prefer day-old Folgers. It gave him a shock that fresh coffee could not provide. He slid the cup into its holder and caught a glimpse of someone in the distance, sitting on the road barrier, under a highway light. It was clearly a strategic placement. Roger lifted his foot from the gas pedal. As the truck slowed, he was able to get a better look at the man ahead. He was holding his arm, the way someone having a heart-attack might. He appeared to be in rough shape. His clothes were ripped. He wasn’t wearing shoes. Roger could easily spot a homeless person, and this man did not strike him as such. Something was obviously wrong. He made the decision to stop.
​Thomas noticed the truck slowing down. Using his good arm, he stood himself up and waved. The truck came to a stop just past him. He grabbed the one shoe he had left, and limped his way toward the truck. He called out in desperation, “I’ve been hit. I need a doctor. Nobody will help me.”

K: This is strongly written, though I’d take a couple more revelations. I feel like I’m being doubled up on some imagery here. The last sentence is weird here too, with the lines being called out as “in desperation” but reading very calm-looking. 4

DK: I’m going to get repetitive here really fast. It’s strong because it’s so consistent in continuing the tone and ratcheting up the…”complication”. 4

Zack Sauvageau

As the barefooted wayfarer approached Roger’s truck he peered into her large passenger’s side mirror. Seeing the man slowly shuffling towards the door, Roger felt a tightness in his chest. His would-be passenger clearly needed a lot of assistance; assistance that Roger knew he was unequipped to provide. He reached down to his coffee cup and took a long sip as his mind raced.

Despite the pride he felt from his perfect delivery record, Roger had very little confidence in his ability to do much else. When confronted with a task that was anything but trucking, he was aloof. His estranged family could attest to this. Admitting his shortcomings was below him, so his brain worked to find the most convenient excuse to avoid the failure he felt was inevitable.

When reaching across the cab to unlock the door, his arm brushed against his truck’s freshly upholstered passenger seat. Roger found his absolution. We wouldn’t want anyone to stain your pretty new seats, would we girl? Roger thought. She responded with her soothing rumble as Roger shifted her back into gear.

K: Oh, I love what we have here. I get a chance to really see how shallow Roger is in some ways, particularly with the incredible line “Admitting his shortcomings was below him.” So far, so good with this story. I’m very interested to see where we’re headed, and the work was done to get this story’s continuity working, with little touches like the coffee. 5

DK: Weirdly, this is probably the one that feels most like connective tissue rather than a solid increase of the action to me, maybe because I get the feeling that the “decision” is clearly a temporary one. 3

Brooks Maki

Thomas felt that familiar foreboding that accompanied another missed ride. He pictured himself insubstantial, the gravel spit up by the tires of this truck passing straight through him without leaving a mark. If he acknowledged them, even these small impacts would be enough to fell him.
The driver’s eyes shifted between the dashboard clock and his side mirror that showed the unmoving hitcher receding behind him. In the time it took Roger to calculate just how far behind schedule he was, whatever strings had been holding the hitcher upright were snapped and he collapsed forward, splaying his ragged legs over the white line bordering the highway.

K: Some great touches here, like the strings holding the hitcher upright. This whole story has been a feast for a lover of language. 4

DK: Pretty powerful image of Thomas here for me. Sends the tension back upwards well. 4

Beau

“Damn Gipetto,” Roger muttered, as he put his hand on the stick. He stayed on the gas for a quarter mile, but his conscience eventually ran out of plausible excuses for not turning back. He glanced at the clock, sighed, and took the next ramp.
As he approached the wretched man, Roger looked for signs of life but saw nothing obvious. Part of him hoped he would fine none, as much for the man’s sake as his own. But as he nudged the man’s arm with his boot, he heard a faint cough. “Alright, buddy,” Roger whispered, hoisting the man up and into the bed of his truck. “You owe me one.”

Driving faster than even he considered safe, Roger looked down at his new passenger, as well as the fresh blood now staining the seat. His stare was greeted with one from the stranger. “Thank you,” the man said, his voice trembling.

“You got a name?” Roger asked.
“Thomas.”
“A last name?”
His new friend passed out.

K: I suppose we’re getting metaphorical with the “rallying the troops” thing, but I’m guessing every team will do that. I’m starting to see that it’s difficult to score these without thinking of the rest of the story, by the way. Maybe just one score would have made sense. On the other hand, I may feel that way only because this team has been VERY good at keeping the style consistent throughout. 4

DK: Strong consistent atmosphere, and something about the way this one is written strikes me a little bit more than the other ones (just the effectiveness of the language or something). 5

Pete Bruzek

Roger was going to let down those who had depended on his timely arrival, and he was growing increasingly mindful of the fact that it might all be for nothing. This was a losing battle; he could only hope to delay it just long enough to put Thomas in more capable hands. Any hands that weren’t his would do. He mumbled a hundred prayers to no god in particular as he counted down the mile markers.

“Just a little further now. You can hold on ’til then, can’t you, Thomas?” he said – mostly to himself, his passenger had passed out miles back. Keeping his eyes on the road, Roger leaned over to check on his companion. Thomas’ breathing was shallow and labored. He was running out of time. They both were.

By the time Roger finally saw the harsh fluorescent lights of the hospital parking lot in the distance, the rescue mission had failed. There was nothing to do now but make one final delivery.

K: Huh, I thought our climax would seem bigger. I’d take more bombast on Thomas’s death. Nice writing, I was just expecting something more…unexpected. I won’t take that out on the writer, though. 4

DK: And a strong climax, that evolves pretty fluidly from the way the previous action built up. It also, in my opinion, helps the flow because it starts to settle into the resolution (such as it is) even though this section is labeled “climax” solely. 4

Matt Novak

Dazed, Roger continued towards the hospital, a rudderless ship drifting into port, and, arriving, made his way to the attendant.
“Can I help you sir?”
“There’s a dead man in my truck.”
He turned, answering all of her questions with an absent wave of his hand, and headed back to the truck. Opening the door, as a blue-scrubbed doctor rushed towards him, Roger saw that the cab was empty.
There was no body.
“He died right here,” Roger stammered, “His blood…”
There was no blood on the seat.
“Thomas?” The doctor asked knowingly.
“Yeah.” Roger sat, stunned, on the blacktop.
“Yeah. You’d best move on.”
————————————-
Thomas started slowly, shuffling through the grey dust that had settled over the years. Sighing, he flexed against the ethereal tether. He was still bound to the road. Dutifully, head down, grabbing at his injured side, he moved along the margins, seeking out a ride.

Perhaps tonight he would find his release.

K: Well, that’s a mindblowing little ending (it appears this was the time to expect the unexpected). I read this a couple of times because I so thoroughly enjoyed the story that was told. 5 for this section, and 4 for this story, which was always interesting but could have used some faster-moving sections. Killer job, whatever team.

DK: This is a very effective ending to me because of how it brings the tone of the story to a conclusion that feels right. I kind of had the idea that this sort of thing was going on, not because it was an obvious twist, but because the whole story’s atmosphere evoked that sense. 5

DK: I probably said the least about each of the individual parts because they flowed together so well and they conveyed the feeling of the story so consistently. Strong collaborative effort. 4

I’m with Stupid

Don Campbell

In southeast Kansas sits an eighty-five mile stretch of interstate highway thirty-five between Witchita and Emporia whose name is either Stemmons Freeway or the Kansas Turnpike, depending on who you ask. It begins with a tollbooth, ends with a tollbooth and in between those things are miles upon miles of absolute, mind numbing nothingness. Those who found themselves in the unfortunate position of being stuck on this particular stretch of godforsaken pavement had little to look at and no place to stop from one end of the other save for the glass and concrete and steel structure placed as near to the center point as possible. It was nothing more than a place to rest, get a drink, or some gasoline, or even perhaps a hamburger. It was a convenience store, a McDonalds, a truck stop, a modern complex built on a stretch of land that had sat virtually unchanged for centuries. The parking lot was filled at all hours of the day or night with big rigs, cargo trucks, personal vehicles, and recreational vehicles. It was pushing on two in the morning as one such RV barreled down the road towards the truck stop at seventy-five miles an hour.

K: Another story brings it with the first section. Again, I feel like I’ve been dropped immediately into this story’s world. It does feel a little too expositionny, though. I mean, it IS exposition, but I shouldn’t be noticing that. 4

DK: I’d call this a workmanlike exposition. 3

Don Campbell (Josh Mitchell ended up being a non-submitter, but Don wrote the first two sections just to fill in the story gaps in case. His lower score would have been thrown out if scoring had been necessary, but…well, you’ll see in the end)

In the back, the sole passenger aside from his father, sat six year old Daniel Harlow, Jr. If Daniel had had friends, they may have called him Danny, or Junior, or Little Danny, as his grandmother had.

Instead of friends, Daniel had his father whose looks he inherited. Dirty blonde hair, grey eyes, slight bucktooth grin that was both silly looking and endearing at the same time. Instead of a home, Daniel had the RV. They kept moving, stopping from time to time so his father could make some money, and then they were off again. Daniel was homeschooled and while they largely worked on math and science, today they had focused on something a bit more difficult.

Daniel had decided he hated shoelaces. They were difficult and pointless in a world which had zippers and Velcro, something he had told his father, who had laughed and told him to practice. He had been trying this time for nearly an hour when his father called out that they were going to stop for the night at the truck stop ahead. Distracted and thinking of sleep, Daniel made one last attempt and was left staring at his now perfectly tied shoes.

K: This is a heartbreaking existence for a kid. Damn it, anyway. The clarity of his situation is already enough to draw me into the story. I want Daniel Jr.’s story to end happily, although the story doesn’t have a happy vibe yet. 5

DK: The shoelace foreshadowing is effective and I like this a lot as an introduction to the character. It’s not written from the perspective of a kid, but it evokes a feeling of observing a kid pretty well. 4

Bret Highum

Between Earth and her moon, reality twists as powerful vibrations stretch dimensional strings into a new pattern, allowing something to slip through a rent in the nothingness. The object, a pitted, tapered cylinder, rotates as the vibrations die away, orientating the longer axis of the vessel towards the source of the wave emissions that betrayed the intelligence hiding on the third planet. Following a short pause as calculations are made, the harmonics thrum again as the vessel’s drive opens a gap through to a destination on the planet’s surface.
Perhaps the aliens were splitting the difference between Albuquerque, Grand Rapids, and Birmingham, the sites of three of the highest-output radio stations in the world, or maybe their reasons were not anything understandable by humanity. However they chose where to land, it results in a spaceship roughly twice the height of anything else in the state of Kansas settling down in a parking lot next to a primitive trail meant for antiquated ground vehicles. The pot-holed parking lot, broken from years of use by tractor-trailers and lesser vehicles, quickly but unevenly surrenders to the tonnage pressing down upon it. The massive craft crashes unceremoniously onto its side, completely blocking the freeway.

K: Holy shamoles. This first paragraph was so jarring that I almost felt like I was being ribbed somehow, but it sure came together in a hurry. I was not expecting this turn but the end of part two foreshadowed it nicely. This story is crushing it so far. 5

DK: I love the language and the imagery here, and it’s effectively ominous as a “complication”. 5

Will Young

The clattering noise drew his attention away from his newly tied shoes. The structure looked
like nothing Daniel had ever seen. At that moment, he remembered the conversation during the
only time he ever met his grandmother.

“How will I remember you, Grandma?” Daniel asked in that drab hospital room.

“You will always have your dreams. Once an idea is planted in your head, you can find it in a
dream.”

“Are my dreams real?”

“They’re real to you. Sometimes you will see things you had never seen before. You might even
dream about spending time with me somewhere besides this place.”

Focusing his attention back outside the RV, Daniel knew that whatever was in the middle of
the lot was certainly something new to him. Daniel looked down and realized his little fingers
had accidentally untied his left shoe. Daniel had been so distracted that his fingers had sought a
diversion. It would certainly take his little fingers some time to remember how to retie the shoe,
but he wanted nothing more than to investigate.

“I’ve never had tied shoes before, why should it slow me down now,” he thought as he flung
open the door.

K: Some nice moments here, even if the flashbacks slow the narrative flow a bit. I have a feeling I’m getting pertinent information, though. 4

DK: The dream setup in this part had me thinking this was going to go somewhere other than it did. I liked the way that setup worked in this part, and the way Daniel’s curiosity keeps building up the intensity. 4

Andy Rustleund

The sound of metal echoing off worn pavement had drawn other late night travelers from trucks, vans, and RVs, and out into the open. Where the predator likes its prey.
The first three victims became clouds of red mist before the crusty sleep had been rubbed from their eyes. The buzzing fluorescents twisted shifting shadows into stark reality as the first of the alien creatures stepped fully into the light.
Daniel found his thoughts returning to family, this time to his grandfather, Stuart.
“You know about your penis, right Daniel?” he heard Grandpa Stu croak as if it were yesterday. “It represents life, yes, and the power to give life, but it can also mean death if left unprotected. Always protect your penis, Daniel. Protect your penis, my boy!” It was the last thing Grandpa Stu had ever said to him.
Daniel would never know whether it was the way the mind can become strangely focused late at night, or perhaps divine intervention, but amidst the carnage, looking up from his half-tied Reeboks one thing became crystal clear. And that thing was most certainly a penis.

K: I have no idea where this thing is taking me, but this story is fascinating, and darkly funny, and scary and whimsical all at once. Daniel’s world and his past are so interesting that I’m annoyed that I’m almost done with them. 4

DK: The turn to penis fixation doesn’t work for me with the tone that the previous sections had set up. The prose here reads a little awkwardly, too. 2

Sean Kelly

As he stared, the alien’s penis started to hum and flash. Daniel turned and realized it was vaporizing everyone with each pulse.

“Dad! Dad!!” he yelled as he sprinted back to the RV.

“Danny, are you–”

“They’re shooting lasers from their penises!”

Daniel Sr. gaped at him, “L-lasers? From their.. penis?”

An elderly couple weren’t fast enough as they turned to red dust. “You’re always complaining during movies that you can’t see lasers.”

“Uh, yeah, but…”

This time a car, much closer. “Get in the RV!” Daniel took a step and fell
on his face. That stupid shoe had come undone. He saw a young family melt a
way into nothing when it hit him.

“My shoelaces! We can tie it around their penises!”

“No! We need to get out of here!”

Daniel ran to the nearest alien and slid underneath. He ripped off his shoe and tied the best bow tie he had ever done around the penis. He grinned but soon realized it could get messy. Daniel scrambled away as the penis hummed and was engulfed with a brilliant flash. He picked himself out of the dirt and grinned wider when he saw the alien parts littering the ground.

K: This is the damnedest thing I’ve ever read. This is what Mars Attacks! could have been, had Mars Attacks! not completely sucked balls. I am fascinated by the way that the shoe-tying became such a large part of this story. 4

DK: All the parts involving laser penises are tempered somewhat for me, but I at least like the way the shoelace groundwork is paid off. 3

Ben Johnson

He knew that the aliens wouldn’t stop. The attack wouldn’t end until everyone was killed, consumed, possessed or whatever else they had in mind. He shuddered to think of himself as a host for some Martian parasite. But now, he also knew how to defeat them. He turned to run to his father.

Daniel Sr. had watched with terror and then pride as his son had rushed into action. Now the terror returned as another invader stepped from behind the RV. He attempted a warning though no sound came out.

“Dad, you have to tie up their penis” Daniel yelled, unaware of the danger. “That’s how you kill ‘em!” “We can still win!” he thought.

The flash of the thought neatly coincided with a burst which struck the concrete base of a nearby light pole. The impact flung them both like clods of dirt from a tractor tread as it leaves a field and gains the highway. It bent the pole like a flexible straw, toppling it onto the roof of the fuel island and igniting the gasoline and diesel which had been pumping onto the broken concrete since the attack began. Another blast produced the now familiar red mist.

K: I am on edge here. I can’t believe how invested I am in this. Nice touch with the cliffhanger, and I’m legitimately hurt about the fact that someone – Dad, I assume – is dead. 4

DK: Good descriptions in the last part of the action here that make the climax effective. 4

Tom Morgan

There were some aspects of alien slavitude that Daniel didn’t mind. Yes, his dad was dead, down in heaven with everyone else Daniel had ever known. And it was certainly true that he would never be able to tie another shoe. But he was alive, or something close to it. And from his spot on the shelf where he slept at night he could see the shelf where his body sat, aging like tobacco in a kiln. He was determined to find some good in his situation and it was pretty easy to find. His titanium body did not age; it never tired. His body moved without his needing to do or think anything. So Daniel was free to let his mind wonder, to dream of his days in the back of the R.V, and the hours he had spent so wonderfully, learning to tie his shoes.

K: Is this a happy ending or not? I don’t know, but I know it’s something. This story took me to some strange places, and I believed in all of them within our confines. It felt like a Harlan Ellison short story, and I cannot tell you how much of a compliment that is coming from me. 4 for this section, 5 for the story.

DK: Sort of pays off the dream setup earlier, but not really in an impactful way. 3

DK: I liked the tone and the feel of this story a lot until it turned into Mars Attacks!, so it’s kind of a four for the first half and a two for the second half. 3

SPOILER ALERT!

David Larson

Chautauqua, Kansas huddled under a dark morning sky as heavy storm clouds arrived from the west to battle the early morning sun. A gusting wind caught the cafe sign and tossed a page of the early edition newspaper into the air of the just-awakening downtown. A few small shops — those still in business — began to show some signs of activity from their workers within. A screen door slammed as a woman in a bathrobe gingerly stepped out to turn on the sprinkler, but looking skyward, aborted her mission and went back inside.

Like most Midwestern towns, this home to 4,359 souls found itself holding on while waiting for an economic upturn that never seemed to come. Good, simple people lived here. Farmers, most of them, and yet 40 percent scratched out a living below the poverty line. A handful of those farmers shared a coffee in the cafe before recommencing their spring planting…or to repair their equipment, since the drops of rain that began to fall looked to preempt any thoughts of getting wheat into the ground today.

Chautauqua was known by many people as many things, but a hotbed of acting opportunities wasn’t one of them.

K: I love how unexpected that last bit is – it makes the entire bit, which was already very calm and serene – just as the city certainly is. Two out of three stories this week take place in Kansas. Well, huh. 5

DK: My favorite pure “exposition” of these stories. Sets up the setting really well. 5

Leif Bierly

There was a black cat on the Jensen family’s wooden fence staring
lazily at a young man nearby who was attempting to light a cigarette
with a zippo. The soft, metallic snicks of the flint attempting to
create a spark had caught the attention of the cat. There was no
flame forthcoming, however, because the lighter was out of fuel.

Frustrated, the lanky kid, known in Chautauqua as Spencer Jensen –
although he preferred to be known by his stage name “Olivier
Lawrence”- threw the cigarette he was trying to light at the cat.

“Stupid cat,” Spencer muttered, pocketing the zippo. He straightened
his sportcoat and pulled out the Spiderman mask from his cargo pants.
Tense, he walked the last few steps to the long, low building that was
at the end of the fence: the Chautauqua Department of Motor Vehicles.

Months of staring out of his window at the next-door DMV… watching
all of the townspeople go in and out… dropping off money… his
desperate desire to get that cash for lessons for his acting career…
so everyone would stop making fun of him… his moment had finally
arrived. Spencer paused for a moment just feet from the door.

K: So we DO have a comedy here! I was afraid we’d gotten three dramas (which would have been fine, but hey, closing with a comedy is nice. “Olivier Lawrence” is a little obvious, but I’m guessing it’s a sign that Spencer’s a little naive. 3

DK: Solid introduction to the character. I could tell the guy was a schmuck already, and I caught some hints of how the tone would get more madcap later on. 4

Shawn Ashley

There’s this common denominator amongst people who’ve ‘made’ it. They seize the day, Spencer thought. Shoot, Jewel had lived in her car. That Joey guy from Friends had thirty-four dollars in his bank account when he landed that role. But he was in acting classes.
That’s exactly what I’m going to do, Spencer smirked.
He looked up at the sky, noticed that it looked eerily calm all of a sudden…and pulled out his gun.
Spencer kicked the doors open with his boot and stomped in with all the force of a scene from Pulp Fiction. He may have even yelled something along the lines of, “Execute every last mutha fuckin’ one a’ ya!”
Everyone shouted and fell to the ground. A skinny lady with horrible acne started sobbing and wouldn’t shut up. There was chaos as Spencer climbed on top of the reception desk and addressed the small crowd.
“I’m just here for the money! Hand over all of the cash and no one gets hurt,” Spencer explained.
Only one woman stared up at him blankly.
“Bitch, you hear what I said?” Spencer yelled, really getting into character.
“Sir,” she whispered. “You know you’re at the DMV…? Not a bank?”

K: The jokes could hit harder, but I’m still loving where this is going. We have some strange little stories this week, dudes. This bit does run he narrative in place a little, unfortunately. 3

DK: It’s the start of the major sequence of events, but it just doesn’t feel like more than connective tissue to me. 3

Zillah Glory

“Really?” Spencer spat. “Duh.”

Donna Delaney (according to her name tag) had the nerve to speak again.

“You’re standing in the appointment line,” she quivered through jelly lips, “and you can’t stand there unless you have an appointment.”

A gun in her face, Airsoft’s most realistic model yet, and she wasn’t cowed? Spencer rounded on Donna, bringing the barrel to her forehead. “Don’t make me show you my O-face!”

She blanched, then literally sagged.

“Oh! That’s right, oh oh- “

Spencer stuck his chest out and pressed the gun into her face for emphasis – “OH! You know what I’m talking about!”

Thrilled by her shock, and with one last ‘oh,’ Spencer pulled the trigger.

Absolutely nothing happened.

It took three seconds for Donna’s mental fog to clear and a small smile to creep onto her fat face.

“Is that… from Office Space?”

Someone snickered.

“Couldn’t you have come in better prepared?”

Acne Lady piped up. “Maybe if you projected with a little more authority? I mean, I went with it but -”

Spencer’s body flooded with pure, furious heat when Donna started on him.

“Your voice was the giveaway. Zero support. The energy didn’t blow me away, you know?”

K: Oh dear God, I laughed hard at the bit about the appointment line. We get a real sense of the story here, even as the humor shines. 5

DK: Probably the funniest section of the story for me. 4

Ryan Fossum

(non-submission)

K: Bummer. -1

Dean Carlson

Olivier, panting heavily, shirt reeking of garlic-infused sweat, urgently pushed the two DMV workers toward the fallout shelter. He thought to himself that finally this was the role he was born to play. Time to seize the moment and switch into hero mode: “FOLLOW ME TO SAFETY. THAT TORNADO WILL BE HERE ANY MINUTE!!”

Donna, who had finally pulled away from Oliver’s grasp, stopped and stared “wait, what? Did you just say tornado? Olivier, not hearing Donna over the screech of the fire alarm, was now practically foaming….”DON’T STOP CITIZEN, let’s get to that fallout shelter!!” The other DMV worker, pants soaked with rapidly cooling piss, meekly mumbled “I don’t think that’s a siren, I think it’s a fire alarm.”

Oliver just stared at the man and roared “WHAT?!! Let’s GO!! I am leading you to safety!!” Donna stopped three feet from the door of the fallout shelter (and six inches from Oliver’s face) and said “Now listen, you’re the one with the airsoft gun; you’re the one poorly acting out inappropriate movie scenes; you’re the one confusing a fire alarm for a tornado siren. We’re supposed to feel safe? Sorry Peter Parker, but you’re no Spiderman.”

K: The lack of a part five is really hurting this, as I know what happened, but boy, I would have liked to read it. The last paragraph is awkward, with Donna over-explaining what the reader knows. 3

DK: I’m not grading this down on its own because of the jarring shift due to the missing section; it would be jarring enough on its own because of the switch in protagonist references and the effect of the “shouting” doesn’t do much for me. 2

Colin Woolston

Spencer levelled the gun at Donna’s unbelievably placid face. “Yeah, I’m psycho. But I’m still a cop.”
Donna turned, nodding to the other employee and encouraging compliance, and headed down. “Fine. We’ll be safe as anywhere down there with you and your toy gun anyway.”
“It’s as real as anything anymore,” cried Spencer, “I’m just trying to save you! And rob you! Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin!”
The two employees moved with bovine urgency into the shelter area, followed by a now hysterical Spencer.
Donna turned once reaching the far wall. “ So now what. You want to rob me of my twenty-dollar Target shoes? I ain’t got money. Clint here just spent everything on his Justin Bieber collectibles.”
Spencer raised the gun at Clint. “I should…”
“POLICE! PUT THE WEAPON DOWN!”
The smell in the room announced that Clint had voided his bowels, as he covered his ears with his hands and started humming “One Less Lonely Girl.”
Spencer turned, seeing everything like he was in slow motion.
“I SAID, DROP YOUR WEAPON!”
“Why is he moving in slow motion, Carl?”
Spencer lowered his gun and set it on a nearby discarded computer monitor.

K: “Bovine urgency,” har! Justin Bieber jokes shouldn’t amuse me – that should be over – but Clint humming his song after shitting himself works anyway. 4

DK: I’m going to give this a four just for the phrase “bovine urgency”. 4

Jake Elliott

“It took you long enough,” Donna yelled as the cops rushed toward Spencer. “This moron was trying to rob the DMV with an airsoft gun!”
Donna continued yelling as the cops were cuffing Spencer.
“What were you thinking, son?” said one officer.
“I just wanted to get enough money to go to acting school and get out of this shithole town,” Spencer said pleadingly.
As the cops began to push Spencer into the backseat of the police car, the people from inside the DMV began shuffling forward to see what was going on with their thespian burglar.
“I’m sorry,” Spencer said from the back of the car. “I just wanted to become a better actor.”
“He has a long way to go,” said one onlooker as the others mumbled agreement.
“Look at it this way,” one cop said as he started the engine, “who needs acting school? You’re about to get some great first-hand method acting experience paid for by the citizen’s taxes.”
Spencer lowered his head in shame. It’s looking like I’m not gonna be leaving this town for a bit after all, he thought.
“Does the jail have a drama club?” he asked.

K: I feel like I should get the end of the Muppet Show theme after that last crack (this is a compliment; it’s stupid in the good way for me). It’s not the jokiest section and acts as more of a summary of what I’ve already seen, but hey, denouements are hard. 3 for this section, 3 for the story…partially because of the missing section.

DK: Effective enough as the logical ending of this story, but doesn’t really rise above that. 3

DK: Some parts I really like, and I got a kick out of the overall idea, but the flow is, unfortunately, thrown off by the missing part and the section after that. 3

——-

As you’ve figured out by now, two teams – I’m with Stupid and SPOILER ALERT! – have one non-submitter. Thus, the scores are a bit superfluous (except in the case of future tiebreakers) as each of those teams will eliminate a member. The two non-submitters – Josh Mitchell and Ryan Fossum – will automatically cast votes against themselves.

The other seven of you on each of those teams will vote for a person on your team to be eliminated. Have it in my inbox by Monday night at 10pm Central and we’ll continue on. Questions about elimination voting can go to my inbox, but if you’re a noob, you can always ask one of your trusted teammates, too.

Comments along with elimination votes are encouraged, ’cause they’re fun, but not required. They’re anonymous.

None of these stories in and of themselves would be worthy of a loss of a member. That’s what non-submissions will do, though.

Cheers, Survivors.