First disclaimer: Sama’s Story is most definitely NSFW, so be careful with that one. In fact, I’m not entirely sure your email filters will even allow this post to come in, but I guess we’ll see. If sex confuses and terrifies you, you might want to skip hers. Otherwise, it’s pretty amusing, and you should read it.

We found spaghetti in some weird places this week, and it would have been a great week with some more showing and less telling. You know how people say “I guess you had to be there”? That’s how I felt about some of them here, and remember, when you write, you always have the option of allowing us to be there, rather than ask us to be dudes you’re telling after the fact. All this said, your ideas were, as usual, excellent ones and I did enjoy myself.

Melissa Diamond

In the North Pole, one is named for one’s abilities.
Dummy felt sorely misnamed.
He blamed the elves in High Tech. Sure, he couldn’t use a computer, but when they rolled their eyes and declared him “Dummy”, they’d taken it too far.
He moved to the Stuffed Animal Division, where he discovered his true talent.
His first creation was a Bunny.
The other elves did not appreciate it.
“You sewed on the wrong tail!”
“The eyes are crooked!”
“The stitches are huge!”
He took his “Zombie Bunny”, as they’d called him, and he left. Not just Santa’s Workshop but the North Pole itself. He went in search of a better home.
He settled in Minnesota, beneath the most beautiful shrubbery.
He and Zombie Bunny snuggled, bathed in the warm glow of the shrubbery’s Christmas lights. Dummy watched people pass singing Christmas carols, laughing, complaining. Zombie Bunny did nothing. He was a stuffed Bunny. He was, however, the perfect pillow.
Which meant Dummy’s head hurt the morning he awoke and found Bunny had disappeared.
Horrified, he searched the other bushes, trashcans, screaming children’s backpacks.
He eventually found him.
In the street.
A car zooming straight towards him.
Dummy raced into the street and yanked Bunny away just as the car whooshed by. Cold mush and salt splattered them, but Bunny was safe.
“Thank you, Dummy.”
Dummy gasped.
Bunny was also alive!.
“You are no Dummy,” Bunny said. “You are a friend. You are Bestie
For the first time, Bestie and Bunny moved together, “Let’s not go to the shrub but inside the house,” Bunny said, “where there are no cars.”
They crawled in through a window and found a warm closet just as a beep, beep, beep and a click sounded from within the home. Footsteps thumped into the room and a man appeared at the closet, balancing a plate of spaghetti. in hand He stared at them.
They stared back.
The man took a bite of spaghetti and closed the closet door.

K: I can’t decide if this is attempting to lampoon the childrens’ story genre or be a part of it, or both. Are we laughing? Or is it a feel-good tale? Either direction is a viable one, but I’m not sure there was enough of a choice made here.

CP: This one connects to the prompt in the smallest of ways, but it’s so weird I’ll forgive that. Did I mention it’s weird? It’s also meandering. Dummy finds his true talent–making zombie stuffed animals apparently–only to leave the North Pole and never use this talent again. I enjoyed the strange trip, but I’m not sure it added up to very much. BRONZE

Zack Sauvageau

The thick, slurping sound of Spagetti-Os emptying into my microwaveable bowl is soothing for me. It reminds me of my mother making them for me when I was just a kid, whenever my dad had hurt me.

Two minutes and thirty seconds on high. When the microwave dings I can replace my sad feelings with small meatballs and overly sweet tomato sauce.

When I hit start, I take the can to the overflowing garbage bin. Empty cans were scattered around the bin, but I carefully balanced this one on top. I had tried to keep count but I lost count somewhere in the twenties.

I shuffled back to my microwave and impatiently waited for my feast. I can’t remember when the last time I left the house was. I was pretty sure that my job was gone. But this was all I could muster to do after…

I wiped the tear from my eye and took my meal to the couch.

K: It’s hard to know what to feel in this one as well. Child abuse is dropped on us clumsily like it’s nothing, and we’re still digesting this when we get hit with the recluse bit. This story rushed to its point and took no time in getting us to feel for the character; I come away feeling like I read the first two items on a stranger’s bio rather than met him in person.

CP: This certainly gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Uh Oh SpaghettiOs!” (Note that’s actually the correct spelling–I looked it up.) I’m afraid, though, that it’s way too much telling and not enough showing. The narrator has obviously experienced a lot of pain, but he doesn’t feel fully realized to me.

Annette Barron

Goddammit, I think I’m knocked up. Not in the good way. Jesus, everything is relative, huh?

I knew the bar on Othello 9 was a dive when I ordered spaghetti and the bar bot threw a pod in the microwave. Yuck. I hate pod food. Anyway, I had already drank half a Venus Venom and was on my way to a pretty good blotto, so that’s my defense.

“Hey, pretty Human, wanna play a game of darts?” The only thing I can compare a Prubanians to would be a cricket, I guess, or maybe a katydid, but seven feet tall. They are notorious for cruising bars looking for potential hosts for their millions of offspring.

“Fuck off.” I snarled. This is my standard response to all and sundry. A human woman traveling alone needs to be super tough or super stinky. And stink is relative, too.

“I have candy,” he singsonged. Holy shit, I haven’t had any decent sugary crap in lightyears.

“No touching,” I bargained. We both knew that he was going to try and find a way to get his eggs inside me. I was just intoxicated enough to consider myself too smart. Since Prubanian offspring begin feeding on the host as soon as they hatch, it was a pretty big gamble.

I’m really good at darts. Even if his plan was to let me win, I was doing exceptionally well. I had two victories and was closing in on the third. I was also closing in on my third Venom and getting sloppy. Never turn your back on a Prubanian.

“Hey!” I yelled, as he came up behind me and reached for his darts. I felt his fetid breath in my hair. I threw an elbow and whipped around, pulling my gun from my belt. He backed away, arms in the air.

“Don’t shoot, I did nothing!”

I should have atomized him. Just got back from the bathroom and I’m pretty sure I saw a tiny antennae waving from my ear.

K: I like how a spaghetti prompt can take us to outer space. Does anyone else think the idea of a bar in the middle of space is freaking amazing? I’d go, but for the price of gas. Anyway, we spend too much time with the woman’s narration and not enough soaking in the atmosphere as the scene unfolds, but it’s an engaging scene nonetheless, and the not-so-subtle parallels to our world were deftly handled. SILVER

CP: You had me at, “They are notorious for cruising bars looking for potential hosts for their millions of offspring.” In theory, this story structure shouldn’t work because you gave away what happens in the first line. But how it actually happened was so surprising and so entertaining that it worked. GOLD

Matthew Gilman.

He reminded himself, as he pushed through a pile of limbs, that the wriggling he felt around his ankles was all reflex. Not something to be upset by; in fact, proof of his steady improvement. Muscle acting like muscle is supposed to act.

He set the heavy tub down on the thick wood. The smell down here was something he didn’t like to think about, but he preferred it to the ozone stench of the specially-adapted 3D printers and industrial meat grinders he’d jury-rigged two rooms away. He hadn’t thought about proper ventilation when he built it, just propriety.

The contents of the bin made awful gurgles and plosive vocals in an effort to, he supposed, protest. There was no way of knowing what was being comprehended by this one, if anything. Still under a day “old,” if he chose to see it that way. Which he shouldn’t, he reprimanded himself. The butcher’s knife hung from a hook above the table, right next to the single bare lightbulb.

The mass tumbled out onto the wooden surface, naked and disoriented. The muscle relaxants were doing some good at least, as she–IT–barely writhed its legs and arms. Again, he was happy it had landed face down. So he could avoid the eyes. So he wouldn’t see those parts he’d become so familiar with just hours before, as soon as he’d turned the printers off. His stomach flipped and nausea hit him, but so did a shameful, familiar want. It was, after all, his most successful attempt to date.

Soon, he peeled the butcher’s apron off his middle and swung a leg up over the wooden slab. There was no reason recycling couldn’t be postponed for another day.

K: There’s some pretty writing here so I’d love to like it more, but the action feels distant, like it’s something I saw on TV years ago that I’m trying to remember and not something I’m experiencing right now. There are also an absolute buttload of sentence fragments in this one, which can be powerful in moderation but grating in excessive numbers.

CP: So THAT’S what happens when you microwave spaghetti? Eeeew. This story goes for shock value and mostly succeeds. However, it takes a long time to get going; we’re mainly just getting oriented until we reach the fourth paragraph. You do a good job of letting the reader slowly figure out what’s happening, but I guess I would have liked at least a slight indication as to what has happened that caused this guy to take up this grotesque endeavor. BRONZE

Brian David

Marguerite Gulch reached into the refrigerator and grabbed a piece of tupperware. She placed it into the microwave and set it to cook for ten minutes.
“What’cha doing, Mags?” said Madeleine Gulch as she rolled dough on the formica countertop.
“Oh. . . heating up a snack. Got a little rumbling in my tummy.”
Madeleine nodded her head absentmindedly and went back to her work, humming softly to herself. Marguerite went to the stove and stirred a pot of simmering pasta sauce. She sighed and rubbed her eyes.
“How is this batch?” Madeleine called out to Marla Gulch, an elderly woman who sat in the living room curled up on a futon. Marla had just stuffed a forkful of spaghetti into her mouth, and was slowly chewing, one long eyebrow raised. Snuggled next to Marla’s legs was a black, shorthaired puppy. It had three heads.
“Foo pify!”
Madeleine huffed. “We barely put in any cayenne this time!”
Crackling sounds came from the microwave, slow at first and then in a quick staccato rhythm. Marguerite jumped.
“Oh. . .oh, no! ”
She rushed over, but was too late. The lights inside the microwave fluttered, and there was a loud popping sound followed by a wet thump. Red sauce and ground beef covered the inside of the glass door, sliding down. Marla cackled loudly from the living room, pointing at the TV screen.
“Look! Look what you did, Mags!”
Sirens flashed across the TV. A news anchor breathlessly reported on a major accident involving a rolled over semi-truck.
Madeleine threw her hands in the air. “What the hell, Mags?! You’ve got to take the lid off!”
Marguerite pointed her finger at Madeleine.
“Don’t you give me that tone of voice, young lady! You know how I feel about this homemade spaghetti experiment. We’ve humored you long enough. Tomorrow you are getting out your darning needles and yarn, and we are doing this the proper way!”
Madeleine slumped her shoulders and sighed. In the living room, the three-headed puppy yawned.

K: It took me a second read to put together how these witches were affecting world events (my daughters were distracting me at the time) but even before that, I was amused by the characters. Once the world became clear in my head, I really liked what we’ve got with this one. I’m pretty sure it’s a new idea on the site, and it’s executed with verve. GOLD

CP: I like the absurdity of this story, though it didn’t charm me quite as much as story 3, I think because the details aren’t incorporated quite as cleverly. (For instance, there might have been a way to work in the fact that the dog has three heads without just coming out and saying it.) The idea that the actions of these women are affecting world events is fun, and I enjoyed the world this story created. SILVER

Sarah Wreisner

I thought someone had broken in, or that one of the cats was trapped in a cupboard with the pots and pans. At the very least, I figured an airplane had lost a wing over my house during the night. I expected to find a scene from Lost in my kitchen: a hot Iraqi guy in a tank top, muscular and bad-tempered, clanging around in my popcorn bowls. It was 4 am.

I got up, heart racing for all sorts of reasons, but Sayid was not in my kitchen. Instead, a ponytailed guy who resembled a squishy, balding version of Glenn Danzig stood in front of my refrigerator. The oven door was open. So were his pants.

Danzig wasn’t an intruder – hell, it wasn’t even Glenn Danzig. I’ve never been a fan, but at least I could’ve had him sign a box of pasta in Sharpie or something. Nope: it was my boyfriend, Eddie, standing with his limp dick out. Again.

The night before, we had celebrated New Year’s Eve at a local punk bar. One of his friends had asked me why I was dating Eddie. Not, “How long have you been dating Eddie?” but, rather, “Why are you dating Eddie?”

I got a bit tipsy, but no one ever got as drunk as Eddie. He’d slammed drink after douchey drink, arrogantly whipping his receding, frizzy ponytail about: kamikazes, indie ciders, Appletinis and crème liqueurs. I saw him grab the ass of a girl who looked like Thom Yorke as we walked out.

He stayed up later than I did, possibly texting pictures of his genitalia to haggard waitresses. I didn’t care what he was doing on his mom’s Blackberry – not until I found him in the kitchen with his dick out.

I ended things the next morning. It took 3 cans of Easy-Off to get the smell of scorched piss out of my oven. The last I heard, he’s living in his mom’s basement, working third shift as a fish processor.

K: I’ve heard most of this story before, but it still does amuse me. Still, it’s frustrating that it’s yet another all tell and no show story, as the narrator is giving us the rundown rather than dropping us in the action. Pepper and I lamented this as we read these this week, because there were some really good ideas that could have popped bigger if they’d been written as if in the present. All the same, a funny anecdote is better than a tedious anecdote, and this was pretty funny. BRONZE

CP: This story starts with a lot of possibilities–possibly too many. Unfortunately, the reality of the story doesn’t quite live up to the drama suggested by the first paragraph. It’s pathetic and funny, but Eddie is so thoroughly unappealing that I can’t fathom why the narrator ever saw anything appealing about him in the first place. There’s also a continuity error: he’s described as standing in front of the fridge, but in the final paragraph the narrator talks about getting the smell of scorched piss out of the oven. Despite its faults, it is a story where something happens, and the funny details help make it memorable. SILVER

Sama Smith

“What is that?” Madeline asked. She pointed to the back wall. “It looks like, well, um, like…cum.”

Its film went from the Ficus to the wall. Bex didn’t want to admit she’d smelled it earlier when no one was looking. It was definitely cum.

“Why?” Madeline grabbed a wad of paper towels, marched back up to the stained wall and started to scrub.

Bex, noticing the wall not being cleaned well, intercepted and took over. After all, it was her job.

The next morning the substance resurfaced on a couch cushion, this time paired with Cheeto fingerprints.

“Dammit, Riley,” Madeline said after Bex had shown her. “He will need to find another way to funnel those…sinful urges.”

Bex frowned at hearing this. The poor boy was just doing something natural. But she bobbed her head and grabbed the cushion for cleaning.

Later she heard Riley sobbing. His mom had just huffed away from his room. Bex peeked in, simply wanting to get laundry, but saw his red-rimmed, blue eyes look up at her.

“Oh, sweet boy, what is the matter?” Bex said, sitting down next to him. “Let me help?”

“Mom says I’m bad for what I’ve been doing,” Riley said. “If I do it anymore I’ll be punished.”

Bex frowned. She cooked, cleaned and did many things for this household, always keeping her hands busy. She looked down at her fingers; an idea came to her.

“I help,” she said. “Whenever you feel like this, I make it go away.”

The boy straightened up and looked curious.

Deftly, Bex reached over and unzipped the boy’s pants, positioning her hands. He jumped, but didn’t resist. She proceeded to bring him to full climax and with a swipe of her cloth, wiped him clean after.

She patted Riley on the shoulder, got up and picked up her basket.

“I do laundry now,” Bex said. “You do homework.”

She winked at him and he smiled back. Bex liked to keep a house clean.

K: The word is “come,” not “cum.” It’s an actual word, not slang. That porn spelling absolutely grates on me, because there’s no reason for the change. Anyway, is it bad if I recognize the porn stars? Tell me, writer of this one: are Bex and Riley really there, or are they figments of the boy’s imagination? As for the story itself, I think it reaches for a shock that it doesn’t quite grasp, although it sure as hell sets itself apart, and manages to show more than tell, which is the order of the week. SILVER

CP: Oh man, that’s a dirty kind of clean. Also, where’s the spaghetti? Once the story’s relationships were established, I felt like the story went exactly where I thought it would. This isn’t badly done, but I feel like the characters could perhaps have had more depth and complexity.

Matt Novak

Lloyd slumped onto the threadbare couch, knowing full well he’d not be moving again tonight. The bedbugs has spread to his mattress anyway, so the couch was just as good. In the morning he’d rise, probably too late, small welts across his skin, and head down to the Y for a shower, before lunch at the Salvation Army. It had been months since he’d lost his job, the unemployment checks somehow still coming, he didn’t know how much longer. Before that there had been Amy. Amy and their daughter.

A plate of microwaved hotdogs now balanced precariously on Lloyd’s knee, as he aimed the stream of ketchup at the plate. As he turned to set the bottle down, the plate tipped over, much as it had the night before. And the night before that. An oft repeated mistake.

It was worth scrubbing the carpet, but he set a napkin down over the red splatter. Picking threads out of his meal, he wondered if maybe he’d never learn. Like it had the previous night, and every night for some time, the depth of his regrets began to swallow him. Regret that he’d not prepared his food on the counter. Regret that he’d picked this couch up off the street. Regret that he’d skipped work all those times. Regret that he’d driven Amy away. Regret that his daughter had died. Regret that she’d ever been conceived.

The pain overwhelmed him. Too much to bear, he turned again to the drug that had been his only true companion this past year. It would erase the regret. For the night, he could relax. His mistakes would fade away, the painful lessons of reality conveniently shelved once again.

Lloyd compressed the switch, and warming light rushed over him.

“…after this break Joan will tell you all about the forecast for the weekend. Looks like lots of sun! And after that, a preview of tonight’s game. Stay tuned!”

K: Man, there are some run-on sentences early on in this one, eh? A comma in between thoughts doesn’t make a sentence on its own, and a couple of those need fixing. The story itself works better than most of the lonely single-character narratives, as I think the action gets across pretty well how hopeless this single man really is. I’d just about always prefer a little interaction, but I do feel for the guy, and that ain’t bad. BRONZE

CP: Microwaved hot dogs are the worst! This story reminds me a lot of story 2: it’s a depressed guy being depressed. This sort of shows us a scene playing out, but it still has too much telling.

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Dean nonsubbed, bringing us one step closer to a season where everyone does it at least once.

Congratulations to Annette and Brian, the two eight-pointers. Smaller congratulations to the lot of you who scored 0-4 points. We like you too! The next challenge is already up, and you have a full week to do it, though “full” is a misnomer as I suspect some of you will be celebrating this thing or that. Thanks as always for sharing your creativity, and remember to show rather than tell. Have a gleeful holiday, Prosers.

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