These were fun. A lot of diverse ideas, and methods of pulling off those ideas.

LESTER SWEETUMS

On top of the corpse pile laid Lester.
He used to be our gracious King’s jester.
To the enemy he sold our strategies.
He is to blame for three thousand casualties.
So his headless carcass was left to fester.

DK: I’m not even sure this fits standard limerick form – the 3rd and 4th lines seem too long, and also the rhyme in those is a bit of a stretch – but whatever, this gives me a clear idea of the conflict that occurred here and what the result was, in a nice, concise manner, and using the form this way was entertaining. BRONZE

CP: Wait–another limerick this season? This is Novak’s fault, right? As a limerick, the meter leaves something to be desired, and I’d recommend a syllable structure more like 9-9-5-5-9. As a meta piece, it seems more focused on scapegoating than cleverness.

CHRISTY BUBBLEPUMPKIN

As I walked into the bar, I did a quick perusal of tonight’s scenery, and today’s lucky lady caught

my eye instantly. She was sitting at the bar with an empty seat right beside her. Too easy! She had

gorgeous long blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes and from what I could tell legs that went for miles.

“Hey how’s it going?” I said trying to break the ice.

“Don’t even waste your time,” she flatly replied

“Whoa what’s with that reply?”

“Well where do I begin? You’re dressed super nice, the goddesses are telling me that you are something

like a big shot lawyer ,” after this statement she started to turn away again laughing to herself as if she

was so pleased with her accurate assessment. And while it was not one hundred percent accurate she

did hit a little too close for comfort, it was time to think on the fly.

“Oh, you have me all wrong! I just had a job interview and it was basically the world’s worst interview so

I came here to get a little drunk and forget it ever happened! So now that you totally misjudged me I

think you owe me a reply.”

“Oh man, I’m so sorry! Me and my friends all bussed our way here to protest the big oil pipeline plan

that is getting voted on tomorrow. It’s going to destroy the environment and I’ve heard the man who

runs the company, Craig Thomas, is a big tool bag. We’ve been planning this for months, we’re so

excited! We know we are going to make a difference!”

“Wow that sounds amazing!” was my outward reply, inwardly my stomach twisted into so many knots it

felt like it would never get untied; she was protesting my big presentation! But hey, she was hot and I

needed my stress relief.

“You should totally join us tomorrow!”

“Oh yeah, that seems like a good idea. What are you up to tonight?”

“Actually, I was just about to get going to rest up for the big day.”

“Oh ok, can I at least get your number?”

“I’ll tell you what, after you join us tomorrow, I’ll give you my number.”

“Sounds good! I’m Cra..Chris by the way.” Ugh, this went horribly wrong, but I was in too deep now.

What’s the big deal, I show up tomorrow hold up a big sign, get her number and then walk in to the

presentation and crush her soul.

“Hi Cra…Chris, I’m Sarah. See you then!”

After she left, I finished my drink (plus a few more) and headed to a local hotel for the night.

As I showed up for the big protest, I made sure to keep my freshly pressed suit under a big hoody, which

conveniently could hide my face. Then I would get her number and slip in the door. I was able to spot

her right away, I mean who couldn’t she was so hot it was unbearable. This plan had to work.

“Hey Sarah!” I yelled.

“Chris! I’m so happy you made it!” she ran over and gave me a big hug.

“Wow, Sarah you smell,” I was going to say beautiful but it was a BO mixed with pot pungent concoction

that even I couldn’t even lie about. I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed it last night.

“Oh sorry! I don’t really shower too often, can’t waste the water!” Ugh, this girl is the worst I thought to

myself.

“Chris, I want you to meet someone, this is my partner, Frank.”

“Partner? Like a boyfriend?” so I came out here for nothing?

“Well we prefer not to use labels like that.”

“You know what, I can’t do this anymore.”

“What’s the matter Chris?”

“It’s Craig, Craig Thomas. I think you’ve heard of me and just getting a glimpse into your pathetic world

here is making me so excited to go inside there and get this pipeline built. Thanks for confirming every

choice I’ve made in life. Peace out partners!”

“Peace bro,” Frank chimed in, clearly high as a kite.

I just shook my head in disgust, went inside and gave the best damn presentation of my life.

DK: I give you props for getting into the head of a protagonist I’m likely to doubly hate for both his pickup attitude and his pipeline lobbying, and the idea is funny, if the execution is a little cheeseball. I found most of the dialogue exchanges either too corny or too inert, and so it took a little long to get where it was going for me, although I did laugh at Sarah being either so literal or so stoned that she repeated the name stammer (and at Craig apparently not noticing at that point).

CP: I think this is supposed to be caracticure, but assuming that’s the case, it didn’t go quite far enough in that territory to succeed. The description of Sarah early on is nothing but clichés and I guess I don’t really believe that a guy like Craig wouldn’t just move onto someone else at the bar when it became clear she wouldn’t be an easy lay. The last little bit about how bad she smelled amused me, though.

THE SACRED PILLOW

“What kind of family doesn’t respect what you want, huh?”

Rita stared him down. In the back room, the baby stirred. Tony could hear him cough and grumble. The kid was on his way to waking up. Tony didn’t want him to wake up yet.

“Tony, are you listening to me?”

“Yes. Just don’t wake up the baby, okay?”

“Since when do you care about Marcus?”

He glared at her. She shoved him on the right shoulder. He didn’t budge. She wasn’t big enough to move him. She acted big, though. “If you cared about him,” she said, “all this bullshit wouldn’t be going down with your family. You’d be fighting for our kid and for me. But this badass ‘gangstah thing’ you got going on means more to you than anything else.”

He wasn’t typically good at calm, and she was looking for a fight. He wanted to give it to her. She’d scream at him about never being around, and he’d think about screaming at her about the money he has to make to care for his kid and the people he had to deal with to make that money, but he wouldn’t say those words. She’d scream at him about how he brought rival gang members to her house when he knew her family would kill them on sight if they found out, and he’d point out that those ‘rival gang members’ were his brothers, and they had a right to see their little nephew. They’d both be screaming at that point. She’d somehow get more beautiful in that anger, and then —

She slapped him. “Snap out of it, asshole.”

He shook off the building rage. “I gotta go, okay.”

“Tell me you care about your son!”

“You know I do.” He stepped past her. She tried to pull him back, but once again, his sheer size compared to her kept her from succeeding.

He walked past the couches where homeless friend stayed. Homeless gangbangers with nowhere to go are always the worst gangbangers. Good thing they were asleep today. He walked past the rooms where Rita’s cousins smoked pot. He could hear them chattering, smell the drugs even though they’d done their best to tuck towels and socks and underwear in the cracks. She let this all go on around her kid, and she was the one saying he didn’t care about Marcus?

Marcus was awake, brown eyes alighting with pleasure when Tony reached into the crib. “Love you, baby boy,” he whispered.

“Where are you taking him?” Rita asked, a bit of worry coloring her anger.

“To the park to see my dad, okay?”

“Today?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Really?” He turned to face her full on. “You bitch at me the moment I walk through the door, telling me I don’t love you, and I don’t love our son, and now I want to take him to the goddamned park, and you’re giving me the third degree?”

“Who you dealing to at the park?”

“At 6pm, in broad daylight? Fuck you.”

She followed him to the front door, too perturbed to argue. Just as he was about to leave, he hugged her, and he hugged her tight. “We loved each other once,” he said.

She frowned, and for a moment, she was young and pretty. Like he used to see her. “I still love you,” she said. “We just can’t be together, you know. Our families. They’re fucked up. It was wrong for us to hook up at all, we–”

“I’ve heard it all. I know.”

“I want what’s best for our son.”

He swallowed back the edge of guilt. “So do I.”

He could feel her eyes on his back as he left. Marcus coo’d up at him, giggling as they reached the sidewalk, traveling farther from the house. When he got to the corner of the block, he grabbed his cell phone and dialed Kaco. “The kid and I are going to the park,” he said.

His friend hung up without a word.

Tony turned the corner, and as they reached the park, wheels screeched in the distance and the bullets raged.

DK: This is pretty melodramatic, and I’m not blown away by the star-crossed gang lovers concept, but the execution in characterization is pretty solid, especially for Tony (I kind of wish there was a little more room or time for Rita’s depth, but there’s probably not in this space), and it kept me interested and in suspense for the choice he ultimately was going to make by the end. SILVER

CP: The bullets raged? Is that a thing bullets do? That quibble aside, I like the concept here. The story itself has a lot of backstory and not a ton of present-day action and while I thought the way the story unfolded was a bit awkward, I still found myself rooting for these characters. And this time around, that’s enough for a SILVER.

FAT MABEL

Alison looked to her left. The goblins closed off her exit, their bright orange eyes sparking with bloodlust.

“You have betrayed us and we will have our vengeance.”

Alison looked to her right. The elves drew their bows.

“Your goblin brothers will give you a more gentle death.”

Alison closed her eyes, drawing a deep breath and trying to feed all of this situation into the flame that she visualized.

When all of it had gone, she was left alone with Insera, her own personal deity.

Insera stared coldly at her, “you abandoned me as well. Make your choice.”

Alison opened her eyes again, then began to dig.

The goblins and elves tore each other apart trying to get to her, but she kept digging until all was silent above.

Insera invaded her mind. “You think you are clever, but just because you have no enemies left doesn’t mean I will take you.”

Alison smiled to herself. Her digging finally broke through the roof of a massive underground cavern.

Aresni stood in the cavern, claws curled around his scepter. “My faithful servant, it is so good of you to come.”

DK: This feels like a interesting shell of an idea without a lot of meat on its bones. I like the setting, I like the basic concept, and I like the suggestions of duality in the names and the goblin/elf dichotomy, but man, there’s not a lot else to grab onto in terms of background or in Alison’s character.

CP: Huh. I like the dramatic way the story opened, but what follows feels underdeveloped. I don’t know enough about the characters to understand what’s actually at stake, and as a result, the ending doesn’t feel particularly meaningful. Based on concept alone, I’ll give it a BRONZE.

MAY DANDERFLUFF

April 7th, 2016
The Argolians had made initial contact with humanity five days earlier – maybe. It was hard to tell with them. They had made seemingly contradictory claims and were evasive regarding simple answers. Malachi’s team had been charged with finding out more.
Then they saw the ship.
At first sight, it was a stereotypical spaceship -l ike something from an old sci-fi movie. Upon closer examination, it was revealed that the core of the ship functioned as a portal generator. Using it, the ship could jump through space or time. When Malachi had asked for a demonstration, the Argolians became evasive. Goals shifted, a fact-finding mission became one of espionage.
That evening, Malachi brought a weapon to the meeting with the Argolians. They were unprepared for aggression and vulnerable. A few shots later, Malachi had his prize.

April 3rd, 2016
Malachi’s body felt like it was on fire. He checked the chronometer – four days. He had to endure four days of this. He still remembered the code to the locker at the compound. Gathering what he needed, he made his way to that old warehouse.
He could feel his skin boiling and twisting, but the Conduit had given him enough time to undo what he had set into motion.

May 24th, 2023
Malachi bolted upright in bed, drenched in sweat for the third time that week.
Fire. Death.
Restlessly, he descended into the sub-basement and into the lab. Attached to an array of wires lay the Argolians’ ship. Tests had proven catastrophic to organics. The Argolians’ physiology was just too different from that of humans. Every test subject died horribly a week or so after testing.
Malachi eyed the timer. Near as anyone could tell, the core’s default jump was in the range of 3000 days, give or take 15 or so. Judging by how quickly the effects of the Jump took their toll, “give or take” wasn’t going to cut it. Malachi propped a tablet on his lap and began working.

April 15th, 2016
Technicians studying their new toy noticed two lights on the control panel flashing. After a day or so, they ceased. The change was logged, and forgotten.

June 12th, 2024
Fire rained from the skies. Buildings were immolated in seconds; cities rent in minutes. Every horror that Malachi had seen behind closed eyes for nine years was all around them. There was no time. He climbed into the machine and set the autodrive. A chirp and a wisp of smoke later, and he was gone.

April 7th, 2016
He perched in the rafters of the warehouse. The burning had become practically unbearable and his features had twisted and malformed so much that he couldn’t recognize his reflection. He could make this right, but he needed to hold on.
The meeting began. The Argolians brought a token of good faith, a box that turned out to be something like a microwave. The people below, in turn, handed the visitors a box of various keepsakes and local cuisine, as they had requested. His target had not shown himself.
He could feel his fingers numbing.
Then, Malachi appeared, fake smile and hands outstretched. The older man steadied himself, aimed his rifle, and shot – missing his target by at least three feet.
A cry of alarm went up below. The Argolians stood in their tracks for a moment. Malachi’s team drew their weapons and fired into the rafters. Malachi took a second to compose himself, then saw the Argolians each activating a device on their wrists. He drew his weapon, firing just as the aliens disappeared into a wisp of smoke. Seconds later, their ship disappeared, as well.
Cursing, Malachi fired upon his assailant. One of his shots found its target, and the man tipped forward from his perch and fell to the floor.
His prize vanished, his would-be assassin unknown and deformed to the point that recognition was impossible, Malachi ordered his men to initiate cleanup. He scowled as the cleaners shoved the man into a body bag and loaded him into the van. With one last look at the scene of his ruined objective, he got into his car and drove away.
What a disaster.

DK: Time travel was not something I thought of when I originally put up this prompt, but with this execution it makes perfect sense. And yeah, I’m probably more of a sucker for this high-concept stuff than some people, but this has the twists and turns to keep me engaged and interested in how Malachi’s going to resolve his situation. So on both idea and followthrough this one is a winner. GOLD

CP: I do so love an ambitious story. It took me a little while to get my head around what was happening here, but once I did, I was hooked. I really like that nothing is overexplained. This story isn’t perfect–some of the phrasing is awkward and a few of the sentences are fragments–but it’s my favorite of the bunch. GOLD

—–

Here’s your gatherer. WOOOOOO could it be? HAHA OMG LOL

Let’s not drag this out. The new Head of Household, one May Danderfluff, will have till Wednesday at 8 PM Central to send me two Houseguests to nominate for eviction. After that we’ll get to the next Power of Veto.

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