These are pretty fun, as a whole. I enjoyed the concepts and they all had a take on the prompt that was unique.

DUSTY RUTABAGA

Earth toned powder sticks to what could only be the last drop of saliva on my lips. I inhale and my sandpaper tongue fights back against the particle invasion. Prone on the ground it is easy to see how much has changed. Miniature fissures cover the ground in rapid succession reminding me of the armies of man which once covered these plains. Hope of our survival fleeted as soon as I reached the surface.
I knew the situation had not improved as soon as I felt the heavy lead hatch. Years had already passed but the heat still resonated against my palms as I grabbed the wheel that would unlock my chamber. Like a pharaoh emerging from his tomb only to find himself far into the sand dunes, I stepped onto what was left. It was as I feared. Nothing left. No people left. Just a person. No food. No water.
The crimson sun burns through my protection goggles; although they keep out the dust, my ducts are dry and I feel my eyes going sallow. I stretch my fingers toward the next crack in the earth. My best grip is barely enough to pull my body a couple of inches down the slope toward the lake. I cannot see any water, but perhaps if I dig. Kicking off the last shoe releases enough pressure for me to struggle a bit longer.
War continued to rage outside. The deafening blasts on the surface were dull pops at this depth; ever present but somehow detached from my consideration. The failure of my first objective weighs on me heavily, but I can still finish the mission. I check my computer readouts and the control HUD, but of course there hasn’t been any communication. I turn the key, and push the button. The countdown begins and in a few minutes calm will be restored. I always knew I’d be the fail-safe.
Six days. I cannot believe that I left the bunker only six days ago. Our calculations were off, or maybe I did not follow orders as planned. My rations lasted half of their intended duration. Forced out of my concrete and metal safety net, I have been cast into depths of inferno. I spent my last strength getting here to the lake. Like everything else, its gone.
Sprinting back to the tower I could hardly contain my pride. Finally, I would play my part and finish it. Two objectives and I’d be a hero. A shell flies past my left ear, but it missed. I must send the warning signal before I head to the bunker. I look up and see they’ve destroyed the radio tower. The shell hit its target. Both objectives cannot be successful. I dove through the open bunker hatch.
I roll over and take one last look at the radiant sky. My vision blurs the end of our specie’s final maelstrom. Peace is beautiful at last.

DK: Tense changes are one of the banes of my existence. This one changes from present to past back and forth a couple of times, which for me makes it difficult to orient myself as if I’m following along with the narrator as it unfolds or if we’re looking back at the events. That said, this is a strong concept and a solid job of fleshing out the world with details of environment and setting. The story and its forward progress are clear without being overly obvious which gives it a subtlety I appreciate. SILVER
CP: A story certainly doesn’t have to be told in chronological order, but this one jumps around to the extent that it’s difficult to follow. I also found it overly vague about what the narrator’s objectives were. Not that a story needs to spell everything out, but combined with the jumps in time, I just didn’t feel like I sufficiently grasped what’s going on. It also feels a bit overwritten; a slightly more pared down writing style might have been a better choice for this story. BRONZE

CHRISTY BUBBLEPUMPKIN

“Alright guys, dinner’s ready!” I shouted as I finished putting the carved turkey on the table.

“Ugh, this smells disgusting!” said James as he sat down at the table, ah James, you can always count on him to tear you apart for your hard work.

“Alright, everyone’s here. Andrew can you say a prayer for us before we eat?”

“Sure. God we come before you in prayer to thank you for this day of life, these good friends we have, and of course this wonderful food that you’ve provided for us. Amen.”

“Amen,” replied everyone.

“Don’t speak too soon about that wonderful food Andrew,” snapped James.

“Oh come on, Chris worked really hard on this Jim! Let’s all try to be civil to each other for once,” replied Amber, surprisingly coming to my defense.

“Alright everyone, don’t be shy! Dig in! There’s plenty for everyone,” I instructed.

“Uh Chris, there doesn’t seem to be too much here for us to share,” observed Andrew.

“Hey! Jesus fed thousands with seven fishes and two loaves just be thankful for what I made for you. I’ve been slaving in the kitchen all day!”

“Wow, I think this tastes worse than it smelled. I didn’t think it was possible but you pulled it off somehow. Nice job chef!” said the ever sarcastic James.

“Listen Jim, every time we get together I have to take a lot of crap from you! Can we at least have one day of peace?!”

“I don’t know Chris, he does have a point this is pretty gross. This doesn’t taste like any turkey I’ve ever had,” said Amber.

“Oh of course you couldn’t wait to get a shot in, I’m shocked it took you this long!” I snapped back starting to lose control.

“Yeah this is inedible garbage,” commented Andrew.

“Inedible, really?! Well one of you could try to help out around here for a change. Then maybe I’d listen to your whining. You people are ridiculous why do I even deal with you anymore!”

“Well honey,” my husband spoke up much to my relief, I knew he would have my back, “they do have a point, this food is disgusting.”

“You…you…” I couldn’t even respond my temper was flaring so much. “How could you?!”

In my rage I picked up my plate and threw it against the wall. That’s when I snapped back. I looked at the table in front of me and saw the few scraps of edible vegetation I managed to forage that would comprise my grand Thanksgiving dinner this year.

I tried to say my own prayer, but hesitated. “What is there to be thankful for? Fifteen years alone is a long time, with God knows how many more to go. Every day dinner seems to end worse and worse. Even my own mind is turning against me.”

I looked down at my plate again, sighed, resigned to my fate. I suppose I could always try to make some new friends.

DK: This is also a concept I like a lot. The issue I have with it is that casting the scene as a hallucination or memory or what have you makes it difficult to see a plot in the story itself. But, as an examination of a character in this situation, the Thanksgiving dinner setting allows for a nicely surprising multifaceted picture; there’s both comedy and poignancy in retrospect as the true nature is revealed. I think with a little more measured pace through some of the dialogue, and a little more subtext hidden near the end, this could be even stronger. And you showed up, which is more than half the battle, really. BRONZE
CP: Good ol’ hallucinations! They’re a nice way to keep things interesting in a story that has only one actual character. However, I think the content of the hallucination could have been stronger. It’s pretty mundane and it doesn’t shed any light on what led to our narrator being the last person on earth or otherwise make the narrator a person that readers can connect to or care about. The end has a bit more telling than I prefer, but the final sentence is a nice way to end. SILVER

POPPIN’ FRESH GILGAMESH

Upon waking in this cold, empty prison of a planet going on my thirtieth solitary year, I’m nude. I hop up, dance a jig and playfully slap my wiener from side to side in the mirror, flashing a winning smile. I often wonder if God is disappointed that the only man left on Earth is an idiot. Sometimes when I pray to Him and promise to stop masturbating, I remark upon the irony of the first and last men on Earth both being named “Adam.” Then He reminds me that Adam is my middle name and if I would stick to the important things during the prayer, it would be greatly appreciated.

After masturbating, I eat some homemade cereal and talk incessantly to my cat, who’s caught me touching myself as many times as God has, but is polite enough not to say anything.

After breakfast, I beg myself for a day off of work, but am denied. I head to the backyard.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Delicately, I turn the screws. There is no margin for error, and if my efforts come up short, I will die and my struggles will never be known. There is more welding to do; the prototype’s failed mission suggested that there were vulnerabilities in the structure. The nice thing about being the last man on Earth is that if you build something that explodes, you can ignore the fire it causes and not get in trouble. The less nice thing is that it can burn down the city and force you to relocate.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Back inside, my 2014 senior yearbook is turned to the page with my picture on it. My 2013 junior yearbook is open to Melanie Bright’s page. “Ohhh, Zander Adam, you’re so smart and interesting with your building of things and love for your cat,” the Melanie Yearbook says, aided by my flawless impression of her voice. “Melanie, I did it all in the hopes of seeing you and doing sex one day,” the Zander Yearbook says, in a voice suspiciously more manly than the one I use when I talk to my cat. The yearbooks get into some heavy petting. I’m still naked.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The next morning, after the usual routine, I head out to the spaceship. It’s done. I know there’s a good chance I screwed something up and I’ll die, but I don’t want to spend another twenty years alone just to go from good to great at ship-building.

I page through the 2014 yearbook. Most likely to succeed, it says under a picture of Melanie Bright and some lame smart dude. Then there’s a picture of me under which it says Most likely to accidentally get himself left behind during the Great Migration Away From Earth in 2015. Prescient assholes.

I strap the cat and myself into the craft, setting a course for humanity’s new home, a planet that didn’t even have a name back when I accidentally missed my flight.

God, I hope Melanie Bright’s still alive.

DK: Okay, that first line is about as face-slappingly expository as it gets in one line, but I forgive this for that since it gets that out of the way and pushes the rest of the way forward on both its plot and character. I liked all three concepts this time around, but this one is probably my favorite just for the initially unexpected nature of this protagonist and the amusing bits that result from his….qualities, and the execution of it is also definitely my favorite. It has a nice sense of inevitability (“of course a guy stuck alone for 30 years would turn out like this…or did he start like this?”) without beating you over the head with it. GOLD
CP: This is completely and totally ridiculous, and for that I adore it. Zander Adam is absurd, but he also feels like a fully formed character. The reason he’s been left behind is entirely in keeping with what we know about him, and the fact that he has not matured at all in the course of thirty years on his own works surprisingly well. The humor is spot-on from beginning to end. GOLD

——-

For the second time, Vance Fancy-Pance has nonsubbed. This is his second strike, so if he ultimately survives this elimination, he will be up for a penalty nomination next time around. Unless he nonsubs twice again before those nominations actually happen, of course.

You can see from the results that with Gilgamesh‘s double gold and Christy‘s solid showing as well, those two nominees win the BOB competition and secure their safety for this cycle (just in case you don’t remember, that means those two cannot be used as replacement nominees if the Veto is used this time). Mabel is also removed from HOH, leaving Prisca as our sole HOH and Dusty and Vance the remaining nominees.

I will make a new post with the Veto challenge and the players participating there, that will go up in a few minutes. Also, the Hide Yourself contest is over, and if anybody won it, that player will receive another email from me shortly.

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