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Despite absolutely no demand whatsoever, I made a Sporcle Quiz containing all 112 players that have ever played the game.

Here it is.

I realize most of you won’t get a lot, but I made this for myself as much as anything. Have fun, y’all!

I never thought I’d share this openly, but I also never thought I’d be playing, and if I have this info then everyone should. Plus, it’s awesome.

Enjoy the history of the game.

Here ya go!

It’s high time I shared these publicly.

Spookymilk Survivor History (Details every player, by game)

Survivor: Average Finish (A list of best to worst players according to average finish)

Team Names: Worst to Best (Not a spreadsheet. Also, not scientific.)

There are spreadsheets from last season and this season to show voting history, too, but I’m not sure that should be for public consumption (certainly not this season’s, at any rate).

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 87,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ryan “AdobeRy” Sorrell – Survivor VIII player and Werewolf regular – sends this holiday cheer to those who visit the site.

Just wanted to wish ya’ll a Merry Christmas (or whatever suits you) and wish you happiness and good fortune in the coming year. Thanks to Spooky for having this site and its fun games. Thanks to all the WW mods. Thanks to all the participants in both werewolf and Survivor. You all provide me with free entertainment, lots of good short stories and some incredible ones, lots of laughs and a place to have fun and be creative. It has been fun hanging out here this past year. Thanks!

I will leave you with a classic poem to continue the holiday cheer…

Twas the night before Christmas, on the floor in this house
Spooky started to stir, he was really quite soused;
The stockings still clung to his legs like a bear
That he’d run in, buck naked, ‘cross the yard on a dare;
His children were wide eyed, awake in their beds,
The vision of daddy still stuck in their heads;
The milkmaid’s energy had all but been tapped
Re-taping the gifts that Spooky’d unwrapped;
When out of the kitchen there arose such a clinking,
She got up, fists clenched and thought, “now what’s he drinking!”;
Then Spooky “flew” by in a Plinko like dance,
Straight to the toilet…oops! Tripped over some pants;
So close, almost made it, three feet more to go
But instead on the bathmat dear Spooky did blow;
The loss hit him hard, even brought on a tear
The sight of more wasted Cheaptoy brewed beer;
A sound got him moving to the window right quick
“It couldn’t be could it? It must be a trick”;
But hitched to a sleigh, were some friends from his games
Eight reindeermen, topless, Santa called them by name;
“Now, Nibbish! now, Higgum! now, Meat and DG!
On Greekhouse, on, Colin, on, DK, Ms. Ashley!
Now listen dear Spooky, can’t you hear your wife call?”
Then he blinked and was facing a windowless wall;
Slurry and stumbling, she led him to bed
She aimed for the pillow, he “chose” floor instead;
She threw him a blanket, then turned out the light
And exclaimed to no one, “just a typical night.”

Thank you, Ryan.

Is it “thank you” I’m looking for?

Bowing to pressure from several annoying players who want to ensure that I waste another day, I am creating an Archives page. It’s at the top. I’m done with Survivor VIII, and Survivor VII will get done when I have the patience, ’cause damn, man.

Matt Novak commented to the Final Results Page:

——

Not entirely sure where to discuss such things, but I had a couple thoughts about some of the challenges that I wondered what other contestant thought…

I was much more a fan of the challenges that just said “write a story, it has to include these things (or can’t include certain things)” (Launch/Lunch, Death Machine, Mimes) than some of the other challenges that focused more on approach than content. I also found that at first I was troubled by challenges that had “flaws.” For example, Launch/Lunch; a misunderstanding isn’t really a compelling story element, and all of the stories ended up feeling like they had the misunderstanding element just tacked on. But upon reflection, I liked “flawed” challenges because that meant you as a writer had to get around the problem. I liked figuring that stuff out.

I loved the mime challenge, and seeing what people came up with for that one.

Also, I really didn’t like the music origin challenge. I’m eager to hear what other people thought about the challenges.

——

Milkman here again. I, too, am eager to hear thoughts on this. I obviously felt strongly enough about the challenges we did to run them (although I have since fallen out of love with the music origin challenge, at least for the writing version of Survivor). I like the “flawed” challenges for the same reason Matt says he ended up appreciating them: it forces the player to dig out of a hole.

Most importantly, I want this game to be fun. What were the best challenges? What shouldn’t return?

Thanks again to everyone for playing.

Well, it’s been a hell of a season. Non-submissions! The amazing solo flight of Battleship Shapiro! Two great teams jockeying for position! The continuation of Brooks vs. DK, the greatest rivalry in Spookymilk Survivor history! Everyone being related to Beau!

I’ve put these in order of third place to first, and the authors are named at the very bottom.

Good game, Survivors.

Third Place

I.

Rubbish, I say. Simply and plainly, rubbish.

The ground beneath me is muddy, or so I think. I bloody can’t move, not even a finger. At least I’m not hurting. For some reason, nothing hurts. As I lie here, I can slowly, but surely, feel the blood draining from me.

I guess that isn’t mud underneath me at all…

Damn and blast. For all the work I’ve put into The Master, for everything I’ve sacrificed…it’s abso-bloody-lutely messed up that I am lying here, almost within reach of my demise.

I can see my mirror image lying across the way and I can feel the sodding resentment boil up within me. He was always the one being chosen for everything. Always the one to come to the rescue of The Master. It’s grimy hard, ya know? Always being used last, coming in second. I remember the time when we were ten years old and he was out of commission for almost six weeks. That was my shining moment; I came through for The Master.

I think I see him move across the way… just one fingertip… again I feel the jealousy swell. I’m leaving this world alone, cut off from everything I’ve ever known. And he has the fuckin’ nerve to move when I can’t! Motherfucker.

All I want is to be of use…to make The Master proud. I long to be with him, I don’t want to die alone. Look at me. I’ve made a total bollocks of it all, haven’t I?

Haven’t I.

II.

I feel myself twitch and I am clouded with hope. Unfortunately, my situation is looking rather bleak. I wasn’t planning on this happening, of course. To any of us. I never dreamed that The Master would have ended up like this, and along with him, me.

I’ve been good, I’ve done my best. Whatever is required of me, I do. I am the strong one, the “go-to” guy. I was in control of all writing projects, was the point man for most sporting projects, and certainly was in control of all dining excursions. I am, after all, a complete and total overachiever. I am probably the most important to The Master. He couldn’t survive without me.

Yet, here I am, lying in a pool of blood, wondering where The Master is now and how he is dealing with my absence. I mean, me being the most important and all…he can’t be doing too well.

If The Master had asked my opinion, he and I wouldn’t have even been here in the first place. This horrible, rancid, disgusting place. I just want to be whole again. To use my strength and power one more time…

I let myself be overcome with the will to survive. I feel this overwhelming urge to go home. I put all of my strength into moving my finger, just the very tip of my finger…success.

Relief is a good friend.

I try again and nothing happens. Again and again and again I try…to no avail. It’s happening, I’m going.

And there is nothing I can do to stop it.

III.

I’ve been handicapped since I was around fourteen. I fell off of a motorized scooter, broke in half and haven’t been the same since. I know it has frustrated The Master that I am not up to par, can’t do the same things I could before, and I can hear it in his voice sometimes when I’m doing something wrong. I’m thankful that the reason I’m dying now has nothing to do with me.

When the explosion happened, I landed propped up against a tree, so I’m not as uncomfortable as I probably could have been. My thoughts are on The Master and where he currently is, and I miss him. I hope that he isn’t blaming me, the one who always lets him down. The worthless one.

I AM worthless, too. I’m sure The Master is fed up with me. I mean, he constantly favors my counterpart…I know he was disappointed in me after the whole “college basketball” debacle…then there was the training for the Marines. Luckily, I made it through that. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t.

I know I will be completely dead in two hours and I am almost welcoming it. Finally, my life of disappointment will be over.

I wait for the end to come.

IV.

I move my big toe. Ahhh, yes. Still ok. That is freaking amazing. Just moving that feels glorious. I feel like a God for a second.

I return to my state of panic. What is The Master going to do?? He doesn’t do much without me. He pretty much loves me. No one works harder and does more for him than me…I mean, c’mon. Plus, I’m a beauty. All toned and muscular.

I’m pretty awesome. I am the foundation, the balance, of all of this.

So it’s disturbing to me that I can’t move anything but that one toe. I must survive. How often have I picked up the slack?? Really, I am too important and too fantastic not to.

A few more seconds tick by and I try to move the toe again.

Nothing.

I try to remember back to when The Master had explained how long I could live on my own, without him, but there are no thoughts. I can’t piece together anything and I think it’s because I am away from him.

He’s right. I probably can’t live without him. This changes everything.

V.

It’s cold out here. I’m never in this kind of weather and I’m certainly never anywhere alone. I’m afraid; I don’t know what’s going on. The last thing I knew, I was cozy and warm. Then all of a sudden there was a great explosion and I was flying through the air.

Help meeee…somebody? Pleeeease?? I’m wet, I’m cold…I think there is blood all around me. Ewww, I don’t like this.

I am absolutely The Master’s favorite, his confidante. I am his most trusted advisor. He takes such good care of me, even when I’m not always kind to him. There are times when I just blatantly refuse to work. Yes, I admit it. But, sometimes I’m tired and I don’t wanna do anything. For the most part, I guess, I am pretty self-absorbed. I need him to make me happy and when I want him to, I make my presence known. However, if I don’t wanna do something, I don’t. Especially when he makes me do some scary things that end up giving me a rash…I don’t like that, I don’t like getting a rash, my skin is sensitive…so I refuse for a while. And I can, you know. It’s not like he won’t still love me. I am sooo loved.

Yes, I’m that temperamental. The slightest thing makes me happy; the slightest thing makes me sad. I just wish to be with The Master again. I will change my ways, if he only comes to find me. I feel as if, most of the time, I have been the brains behind the operation. The one making the decisions. Almost as if it were me calling the shots…maybe I took him for granted.

I just want to go back to doing my job. Before this explosion, before I was nothing. I just want to be whole.

I am really starting to panic. C’mon! What’s happening?? Things like this don’t happen to me, I’m the best, the most beautiful, the most revered. I mean, really…

Where is The Master? Is he going to leave me out here, alone, to die? I need you…Master?

Master? Hello??

VI.

This Old Guitar gave me my lovely lady,
It opened up her eyes and ears to me…

This song plays over and over in my head. I have no idea why. With everything else that is going on, it baffles me that This Old Guitar by frickin’ John Denver is stuck in my head.

Damn war. I shouldn’t have signed up for this shit. Look at me now, look at what all my heroism has gotten me. I lay here, blown to smithereens with only my impending doom to accompany me.

Fuck it all.

It brought us close together,
I guess it broke her heart…

Life is interesting, ya know? Here I lay, ripped to shreds and all I can think of Peta, a blond I met once while in Greece. She had a beautiful accent and smoked two cigarettes at a time. I close my eyes and can actually smell the sweet smoke…Yeeessss. We would listen to that fuckin’ John Denver song over and over again…I can see her face, smiling at me, poking fun at my American ways. I tried to tell her once that my mother had been British and that I was sure I had some of her in me somewhere.

She had laughed at this as she stripped for me. She didn’t care what I had in me. All she wanted was a little American inside of her.

I laugh to myself as I lie here on the ground, my life flashing before my eyes. The falling off of a scooter that had ruined my hope of any career in sports, which brought me to the Marines, which brought me here…

Damn war.

I just want to be me again, dammit. If I make it through this. I want to be able to run again!

I laugh at this, as I look down at my severed body. I want to kick, to punch, to throw, to fuuuuuuck, for God’s sake! I want to be able to fuck again, one last time.

I want my strength back. I want ME back. All of me. Every bit that the war has taken from me. Every piece.

It opened up the space for us to be,
What a lovely place and what a lovely space to be.

Isn’t it, though? Isn’t it??

I start to laugh. There was a gurgling sound coming from somewhere; I have no idea if it is coming from me. I wonder where my soul is…is it surrounding me? Is it within me? Or in every molecule of me?

I look down again at my severed torso, wondering…is my soul in that torso? If I had lost my torso in that explosion, would it long for me? Miss me? Want to be a part of me again?

Or is it all inside my head…did I even have a soul…or was this it? Am I all alone?

What a lovely place! What a lovely place, indeed, John Denver! All that was left of me was a head and a torso. Never to ride a bicycle, drive a car, or feed myself again! That’s a lovely place, isn’t it? A stump, that’s certainly lovely.

Fuck it all. I don’t want to be here if I am not a full man. I don’t want to stay. And I, formally The Master, slowly slip away. As I do, I hear the sound of help arriving and still, I let go.

K: Originality: 5. It’s not like a war is the least-trod area out there, but acting as if these people are Kool-Aid drinking Jim Jones followers and then leading to this conclusion was very interesting.
Use of Characters: 3. The characters had their own voices and I became invested in their situation. However, I would have liked to see more of the upcoming characters in each section.
Overall Effectiveness: 3. Although I like the idea of what was done, the sections got redundant outside of the voices of each character. Since it was a war story, there really should have been more interaction between the band of brothers. It really seems like a missed opportunity.

B: It wouldn’t be Survivor XIII without every single person dying, eh? I like the tone of this story, but some of the characters seem a little samey to me. Also, none of them really reference anyone else (other than the Master), so it’s hard for me to really differentiate between each Marine. I think if it were fleshed out a bit and wasn’t handicapped by the rules of this challenge, it could be a really touching story.

Originality (1-5) 4
Effective use of each character (1-5) 3
Overall effectiveness of the prose (1-5) 4

Total: 22

Second Place

Some folks picture me as stern and judging. Others think I’m just a peace-loving hippie. Truth be told, I like it when that old guy plays me in the movies. Morgan Freeman. He’s got the perfect package of gravitas and humor. Loving and firm at the same time. That’s how I try to be.

There’s always a lot on my plate, so I focus on the big stuff. When it comes to sin, that usually just means the big seven. And even then, though all of them are bad, there’s one that really stands out. Pride. It’s my least favorite of the sins. I created people as social beings, but the prideful think that they don’t need others. That they don’t need Me.

Other sins are an attack on Me. Gluttony, for instance, is a person destroying the body I gave them. Or anger, which causes people to lash out and destroy relationships. Those are attacks. But pride is different. Pride isn’t about attacking Me, it’s about disengaging from Me. The person who struggles with gluttony or anger can say, “God, help me overcome this sin.” But the person who has pride refuses to ask for help. They have to overcome their sin first, before they can ask for help.

Now, I’ll never give up on a soul, no matter how far away they might be. I will do whatever it takes to win the battle of Man vs. God. And some people have criticized me for going too far. They think I’m just being cruel, but they don’t have my perspective. They don’t know what it takes to overcome pride. They don’t know how hard it is for Me. When one of My children suffers from pride the best way for me to reach them is to show them how deeply they need help. That takes misfortune. It takes punishment, and suffering, and yes, sometimes even cruelty. You have to break them before they can see that they need help.

Such was the case with Joe. Joe was blessed. Baptized to Me when he was two months old, he grew up in a loving family from outside of Philadelphia. His dad worked as a manager in a factory and his mom was a school nurse. Joe lacked for nothing. He was handsome and strong. He could hit a baseball farther than any kid his age, but, sadly, the team concept of the sport seemed to elude him. Even then he was too proud.

When Joe went to college, he stopped going to church. He met a girl and forgot all about Me. The girl broke his heart and he turned to the bottle, which, of course, meant that soon the challenges of college proved too much for him to handle. He moved back home, bitter and hardened. He didn’t need college, he said. He didn’t need the girl. And he didn’t need Me. He was going to make it on his own, and show us all.

Joe was a capable man, but Joe had pride. It was time for me to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

———————————————–

It weren’t my fault. Joe knew I was coming. If’n you see a train headin’ down the track, you best git outta the way. Ain’t like the tracks is gonna suddenly move. And if’n you do get hit, you sure don’t blame the train. Same way with a hurricane. I warned ‘im. Don’t mean I don’t feel bad about it, just, I warned ‘im is all.

Mine’s a pretty usual story. I started as little bitty baby storm, way out, off the westerly coast ah Africa. I moved my way up, out, across the Atlantic, building up pressure as I came. Somewhere in there I figured I was worth a name. Tropical Tommy they called me, back when I was just a depression. But I sure grew up in a hurry, and soon folks was payin’ attention. “Tommy’s the big one!” they said. And it was true. I was big, I was strong, and I was blowin’ harder than a hunnerd-year-old man on his birthday.

Yeah I warned ‘im I was comin’. He’d moved to the Carolina coast some years before, with his little wife and kids. They built a house and Joe had plenty going for ‘im, so I wanted to make sure I gave ‘im a fair fight. I ain’t the kind to sucker punch a guy. I rustled up a fistful ah weathermen to tell him to git, but he wouldn’t budge. I scared a guverment official so bad he even closed down the town, but Joe still didn’t move. And I figure Joe’s neighbors musta warned ‘im too. ‘Cause I’ll be if they dinnit all skedaddle. But while they was all packin’ up their cars, Joe was stockin’ supplies in his basement. And while they was all driving inland for a week, Joe was nailing plywood over the windows. Seemed like he was daring me. Almost a shame too, since he’d built himself a real pretty house.

I scared everyone else, but I didn’t scare Joe. Heck, I even scared Joe’s wife, and she’d seen one ah my big sibs some years before. The two ah them had a bit of a spat over me. Seemed like she was saying she wanted to go to her mamma’s. And maybe Joe don’t like his inlaws too much, cause he said he sure as shit wasn’t takin’ any charity from them. So while everyone else packed up aheada me roaring in, Joe, Debbie and the kids stayed.

“Bring it on,” Joe said, “I built this house and you aren’t tearing it down. We got everything we need to outlast you. Bring it on.” Like I said, he was daring me.

So I brought it. I rained my rain, and I blew my winds, and I whipped up a storm the likes of which Joe had never seen.

They knew I was coming. They was warned. I sure do feel bad about it though.

———————————————–

I remember the last thing I said to him. “Joe, get some help,” I said. That was the last time I saw him. On the inside steps of the court, Joe leaning up against a fake marble pillar, still acting tough. I think I would have even taken him back right then if he’d just said he was sorry. That was all he had to do. I’d have walked right back into the court and told the judge to tear up the order. But Joe just flicked his eyes away, dismissing me before I’d even finished saying goodbye. I didn’t even cry. There had been so much drama before that, such a fight, and all the emotion had been drained from me.

It’s no secret why we divorced. Joe was too proud, I was too needy. I’m the first to admit it, I’m a needy woman. Not fancy stuff, just the little things. I need to know people are there for me, no matter what. I need validation for my emotions. I need to be needed.

My girls needed me. My baby girls. I miss them both so much.

Yes, even Ashley. She changed after Taryn died. My parents tried to explain away the change.
“It’s only natural that she be a little different,” they said, “That tree almost hit her too. She’ll go back to being herself.”
But Ashley was never the same after that night. I miss who she used to be. She would always watch her bigger sister and then, when she thought no one was looking, she’d practice doing whatever it was that Taryn had been doing. She’d wait until she got it perfect before she’d show us.

Even at the wake. She tugged at my sleeve, saying “Look mama!”
Then she lay down and pretended to be asleep.
“Like Taryn,” she said.
I hurriedly scooped her into my arms and hugged her tight. It was the hardest I’ve ever cried.
“It’s okay mama,” she tried to comfort me, “I’m not going to die. I’m too strong.”
Ashley was always her father’s child.

And yet, I won custody. It made sense. In the end, I was always the one who took care of her. We’d been fighting the custody battle for so long that I think Joe lost sight of our daughter. He cared more about hurting me than he did about taking care of Ashley. I can tell you the exact moment the judge decided the case.

“It appears your daughter is struggling, what do you intend to do about it?” the he had asked.
“For her classes, I want to ask her teachers for more help, and hire a tutor,” I had answered, “And for her emotional needs, I’ve read that painting can be therapeutic. We’re already scheduled for a session next Thursday. And I want to get her into tennis too, because she needs more physical activity, instead of just moping around all day. The endorphins will do her good.”

“She’s fine,” Joe had answered. He kept lying to himself and the judge saw it. For all of bad stuff Joe said about me, you’d think I’d have been angrier with him, but mostly I just wanted him to see our daughter for who she really was.

Joe lost custody then, but he still had visitation. I saw him once or twice a week, but he never said anything more than the bare minimum. After a couple years, I got the job out of state and we had to go back to court. Joe didn’t fight so hard that time. I think fighting meant acknowledging that he’d lost the first time, and he wasn’t ready to do that.

I was almost surprised the judge let us go. I wanted him to make Joe fight us. But Joe just sat there, staring blankly, as the judge explained the order. “Are you okay with this?” he asked.

“I guess so,” Joe answered.

It seemed so sad. It made me worry for him. I guess that’s why I said it. “Joe, get some help.”

———————————————–

I could have been better than they made me. I have all the stats. Enough power. Enough memory. I could have been saving lives in a hospital or building bridges or playing chess with prodigies. Instead I’m stuck in this shithole, making boxes from corrugated material. Corrugated material, bah, the shit is cardboard. I should know. I’m the one who makes it. Way down at my south end it starts as rolls of giant recycled paper, and when I’m through digesting it it’s magically become a steaming pile of “corrugated material.”

The operators drive me insane. They think they can walk all over me, just because they aren’t bolted to the floor. I’ve got more intelligence and more power than any of them. I do the work of more than a hundred men. And yet they treat me like some common punch clock. One of these days I’m gonna take one down. I’ve almost had ‘em before too.

The closest I ever got was on first shift. It was early, probably six a.m. I had a ton of orders that day, so I wanted to run ‘em fast. The operator thought he could keep up. He was always going on about how his old man worked in a factory, so it’s in his blood. He talked a big game but you knew he was a nobody. He had a picture of his kid at his work station, but he never talked about her and he didn’t wear a ring, so I guarantee you he messed up a relationship.

Sure enough, he couldn’t keep up with me. He started goofing around with his assistant and stopped paying attention to the stacker feed at the far end. That’s where I make the last cuts and stack the sheets of cardboard. When I get done with a stack I kick it out, drop the platform, and just keep going. But this guy wasn’t paying attention, and when that happens things go wrong. A piece of warped cardboard slid through funny and landed on the stack. Every piece after that stacked funny too. When the time came for me to push out the load, the whole tower of cardboard came tumbling down.

What do I care? I start dropping my platform anyway. It’s not my fault the operator can’t do his job. But I hit the piled mass of cardboard, and couldn’t drop the platform any further. I engaged my auto-stop and sounded an alarm. Only then did the jerk-off finally notice I was stuck.

“I’ll get it. You watch the line,” he said to his assistant, as he hopped out of the control booth. This guy lives for this kind of crap. I think he makes problems just so he can show off how fast he can fix them. But not that day. That day I’d finally had enough. He came dashing over and slid underneath the stacker, tossing out pieces of cardboard, left and right. He didn’t care where they went, he wasn’t paying attention, he was just trying to be quick. I saw my chance, and I took it.

He grabbed a big bunch of the cardboard, and flung it out all at once. Suddenly I was free. I cut the auto-stop and started dropping the stacker towards his head. He looked up, a sudden panic across his face.
“Shit,” he said, as he glanced towards the fast closing stacker. He was trapped and I was coming down fast. I felt his sweaty hands pushing up against the bottom of my platform, fighting to keep me from crushing him. I wondered what kind of noise it would make, whether he’d scream or the air would just mash out of him as I squeezed him into the floor.

And then suddenly, I was stopped.
“Joe, you okay?”
The assistant. Damn that kid. He’d hit the kill switch. It would take forever to get me back up and running.
“Thanks Billy, get me out of here.”
Billy disengaged the safety and reversed my platform. The kid had earned himself a spot on my hit list. The operator crawled out, lucky to be spared.

One of these days I’m going to finish the job.

———————————————–

A place for everything, and everything in its place. Nice and orderly. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But I can’t ever seem to keep it that way. Never a moment’s peace. I always have to run from one emergency to the next, to the next, to the next, it just never stops.

People need to realize that they’re not special. There’s far too many of them for any one person, or one group of people for that matter, to, um, matter. Sure, I’m young as these things go, but I can tell you what every other society has ever known: people are all the same. If they didn’t see their differences, nobody would.

But they do see the differences, so the differences matter, and I’m the one who has to deal with that. They turn to me to clean up the messes and make sure people all get along. And of course, if something goes wrong, some nutjob decides to start dropping razor blades into cereal boxes, who do they blame? They blame me, that’s who. “It’s society’s fault,” they say. The stress I can handle; it’s the lack of gratitude that gets me. People just don’t realize how hard it is to keep order. I do my best to keep people separated into nice, clean, neat groupings. It’s just all a big headache for me. You want an example? Ok. Fine. Let me tell you about Joe.

He was a normal enough guy. He hadn’t ever caused me any problems and, to be honest, I just kind of ignored him. He hung out with his middle class crowd. He was comfortable, I was comfortable, and there was no beef between us.

Then suddenly, bam, his arm gets ripped off at work. Now we’ve got a problem. I don’t mean to judge, but the blunt reality is that people feel awkward around the disabled. That causes disorder, and I just can’t have that. So I’ve created a way of dealing with the problem. Get some money to the disabled person, a government check every month, maybe a big workers comp settlement, something along those lines. In exchange for the money the disabled person is supposed to keep quiet. Out of sight. I don’t care what they do, I just don’t want them bothering the rest of the people out there.

The problem is, Joe hasn’t ever been disabled before, so he doesn’t know the protocol. Joe has been a normal guy his whole life. Until this point, Joe’s been one of the people I protected from the disabled. My system works so well that Joe hasn’t ever even realized there’s a system. But now he’s suddenly a part of it, so he’s got to be shuffled off to the disabled pile. He didn’t want to go. I tried to do everything in my power to make it easier for him. He got his money. He even got counseling. But Joe kept coming around. He thought he’d still be able to do everything he could do before.

The worst was softball. Every summer Joe played softball with the guys from work. After the injury he wanted to pretend that nothing had ever happened, so he tried to sign up again. Of course they didn’t want him. A year earlier Joe would have been right there with them, laughing about a one-armed shortstop. But no one knew what to say to him. Of course they didn’t, they were all normal. They hadn’t had to deal with these problems before.

Usually people just end up ignoring the outsider. It’s really the most effective way to keep people in their places. But one of the guys felt bad for Joe, so he tried to explain.
“Joe, be honest, you can’t play softball anymore.”
“You don’t know what I can do.”
“You can still come to the games. Hell, you can keep book.”
Joe scowled and shook his head.
“Fine. You can coach third. Or first. Whatever you want.”
“Screw you Jerry.”
“Joe, come on,” Jerry pleaded, “Be reasonable.”
But it was too late, and Joe walked away.

I wish that had been the end of the story, but Joe came after me, and he came after me hard. He wasn’t content to sit on the sidelines, he thought he could still play the game. So he found a bunch of disabled people through his counselor and organized them into their own team. It had been a good group unto that point. A bunch of nice, quiet disabled people who stuck to themselves, exactly like I like to see. But Joe riled them up. He told them it would be good for them to get out and confront society. The counselor agreed. I was insulted. He was recruiting them to fight me!

Can you imagine it? A whole team of cripples! It was simply offensive. A softball field is no place for wheel chairs and missing limbs and mongoloid drool. Now I realize these people can’t help themselves, they’re disabled and they can’t change that. But for them to be so bold as to thrust themselves into a softball league with regular people? It was disgusting. The league didn’t know what to do. They didn’t screen the team for disabilities before allowing them to sign up, and they wanted to avoid any lawsuits, so they went ahead and let them play. Every game was a social nightmare. The opponents didn’t know how to react. Some of them played hardball, which offended the cripples, and some of them tried to play nice, which just offended them more.

There’s no right answer for that kind of thing. That’s why I do what I do; things only end badly when people fight their role. But that was Joe. Always causing problems, day after day after day. This is the stress I face.

———————————————–

The blinds were open when I woke this morning. They had been closed when I went to sleep. The tree outside the window is that obnoxious shade of yellow-green that appears just before the buds burst into leaves. Just beyond the tree, cars sit in the parking lot, exactly where they were the week before, and the week before that. The TV remote is sitting on the other side of the room. Damned if I know how it got there. I should call the nurse, but I sure as shit don’t want someone asking me how I’m doing today. Same as every other day. I’m freaking dying.

The blinds were open when I woke this morning. They had been closed when I went to sleep. The tree outside the window is blocking all the sun. Just beyond the tree, cars sit in the parking lot, exactly where they’d been the week before, and the week before that. I’m bored. That’s what one of these homes does to you. They do the best they can, and the staff aren’t bad, it’s just that I’ve still got my house and I want to go home. The state says I can’t live there without someone to help me out though. Instead they just send my check to the home and tell ‘em to give me a bed and three meals a day. I’m so sick of Jell-O. I wish they’d just let me go home. I could get by fine. I’m no invalid.

The blinds were open when I woke this morning. They had been closed when I went to sleep. The tree outside the window is giving up the fight, leaves of red and orange and brown falling to the ground. The remote is across the room again. I could reach it if it were on my good side. That’s what I’ve started calling it. I don’t quite remember when I came up with that. It couldn’t have been too long ago. Long enough that I don’t remember it I suppose. I should call the nurse for help.

I wonder if she even knows I’m here.

The blinds were open when I woke this morning. The tree outside the window is bare and cold. Laying here doing nothing is the worst part of it. At least if the nurse gave me the remote I could flip through channels. All six of ‘em. I wish they had satellite. I had a great TV back in the day. Huge screen, surround sound, all the channels you could want, even the premiums. Here I can’t even get the remote, much less Showtime.

I would call her, but she probably wouldn’t come anyway. I can tough it out. No need to bother her.

The blinds were open when I woke. The tree outside the window is bare and cold. Shit, what time is it? One o’clock. I must have dozed off. They brought in lunch. And someone moved the remote over too. Thank God. See? I can get by. There’s nothing on. Dammit I want to go home.

“Hey Joe. How you doing today?” It’s the nurse.
“Meh.”
“You gonna eat your Jell-O?”
“Nope.”
“Mind if I have it?”
“Go for it.”
I flip the TV back on and we start watching a soap. I forget which one. This is slowly becoming part of the routine. Every day the nurse comes in and he asks if he can have my Jell-O. I let him have it and we watch a soap together for fifteen minutes. He’s a good kid, but I still want to go home.

I should call her. I don’t think she knows I’m here.

The blinds were open when I woke. They had been closed when I went to sleep. The tree outside the window is covered in snow. Just beyond the tree, cars sit in the parking lot, exactly where they’d been the week before, and the week before that.

“You okay Joe?”
“I’m fine.”
“You know you’re crying?”
“Yeah.” He stares down at me. He’s a good kid. I’m holding a Christmas card in my hand. She knows I’m here. He asks me about the card. I hand it to him.
“Your daughter?”
“Yes.”
“There’s a number in the card, you know. Do you want me to call it for you?”
“Please.”

He dials the phone. He’s got the receiver to his ear, but I can hear him dialing. It seems like an eternity before it rings. It rings again.

“Hello?”
“Hello, Ms. Miller?” I tap on the card where she’s signed her name. “Excuse me. Ms. Campos?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“Ma’am, I’ve got someone who’d like to talk to you. Just a minute.”
He hands me the phone and smiles. I wait for him to leave the room and he softly closes the door. I take a breath. I can do this.

“Ashley?”
“Daddy, is that you?”
She’s crying too.
“Ashley,” I say, “I’m an old man. I’m broken. I need…”

K: Originality: This gets a 5 and likes it. If you have to ask why, read it again.
Use of characters: 4. I suppose I’ll flag it a touch for gimmickry, but that same gimmickry is what made it so interesting. We didn’t see many characters besides Joe over and over, but God was a factor still; by getting rid of God in the first story, we see the beginning of Joe losing his grasp on his life. It’s essentially a one-person story, but still told in a way that follows the rules and never lets go of the reader. I wasn’t hot on the machine section, but every other ‘character’ was handled beautifully.
Overall effectiveness: 5. By the end, I was begging Joe to reconnect with his daughters. I don’t remember wanting the best for a character more in this game, like, ever. Every light that was shined on Joe made him more and more sympathetic. Expertly done.

B: Holy snickerdoodles. Sin and death will mark this challenge, and this competition. This is insanely creative, and it does a marvelous job at referencing things that already happened without calling any of the characters by name (e.g. hurricane/tree falling). The story is very, very tight despite its length. My only quibble is that using God, a hurricane, a machine, and society as characters kind of blunts the pathos the story could have built up. That said, the story does come to a nice ending, even if predictable. Whew.

Originality (1-5) 5
Effective use of each character (1-5) 4
Overall effectiveness of the prose (1-5) 4

Total: 27

First Place

I – The Hired Help

The sun was almost completely blocked out by the trees surrounding her. She had been walking for what seemed like miles while the forest darkened around her. Stopping, she pulled out the map her employer’s wife had given her, but it was too dark to read. She wasn’t lost, just stalling. Everyone knew where the Eater’s cottage was from when they were young and dared each other to get as close as they could before their courage failed. Having never gotten particularly close as a youth, she cursed her employer for dying at such a creepy hour, forcing her to have to enlist the Eater’s assistance in almost complete darkness.

The cottage was just ahead. She steeled her nerve and approached slowly. No evidence of habitation was visible, the door hung open, but the interior was so dark that nothing was revealed. She tried not to think of all the stories of black magic that swirled around in whispers whenever the Eater came up in conversation, and reached out to rap on the doorframe.

“Why are you here?” The rattling whisper almost sent her sprinting back into the forest, but she held her ground.

“My employer has died, we require your services.”

Silence from the house. Until, suddenly, the Eater appeared out of the darkness, and, without a word, strode off into the forest toward her employer’s home.

II – The Wife

A crash from behind startled her. She turned to find her son had attempted to sneak in and run off with the mixing bowl that contained the remainder of the sweet cake batter. He had tried to catch the bowl with his damaged left hand, the one burned to unrecognizability three years ago, and now he stared at the betraying hand with a look of hatred and disappointment. Before she could say anything, he hid those feelings and put on his best innocent face. “What are you making, mother?”

“It’s not for you, it’s your father’s funeral cake.” She took the pan from the oven and set the single small human-shaped cake aside to cool for a moment. “You need to be watching the front walk to let me know when the Eater gets here.”

Fear flashed across her son’s face. “Why is the Eater coming?”

A question she had been wrestling with all day, truth be told. For what seemed like the eighteenth time, she convinced herself that she had done the right thing. It was going against her husband’s wishes, but there were larger things at stake here. Her husband had been insistent that the Eater not be called, but without that ritual, he would never be absolved of his sins. She looked at her son’s shriveled, useless arm and reminded herself that her husband needed all the help he could get.

Trying to sound convincing, for both her sake and her son’s, she answered, “The Eater is coming to forgive.”

III – The Killer

I told him his kid should be the Eater. That was the decision of the town, and he only got around it because people were afraid of what he would do if they persisted. He already set his own son on fire to keep him from being named the Eater. His exact words were “If I can’t have him, no one can.”

No one could believe he would do such a thing, but everyone was scared of what he would do next. So, instead it’s my son out there in the forest. I can’t even say that anymore. My son is gone, destroyed by the sins of everyone in this town. Because of that man. So I saw him alone this evening and I told him all of that, gave piece of my mind. He took a swing at me. I didn’t stop swinging until he stopped moving.

I wish I felt worse about it, but I think he still hurt me more three years ago than I hurt him tonight.

IV – The Dead Man

The hot cake burns my chest. I wish that I could feel it, but even though I can’t, knowing that it does is some comfort.

The Eater enters the room, he is impossibly tall, with a smooth, expressionless face. I know that he has waited a long time for this moment, but it doesn’t show anywhere on his face. He closes the door, and stands over me. Quietly he murmurs words that I can’t make out. I can feel myself detaching from my body, With each sentence he utters, a plume of black comes out of me and is absorbed into the cake. I can feel the sins leaving me, the lies, the lustful thoughts, the lustful actions, the moments of weakness, each one lifts a small weight off my spirit, but all of these are insignificant compared to the one that I cannot let go.

His murmurs have turned to firmly spoken words.

I give easement and rest now to thee dear man…

He lies. I know there is no intention of providing either of those things. I hold to this last sin as tightly as I can. It has defined my life, the moment that I rained down violence of the worst kind upon my own flesh and blood. How can the Eater take this sin to be his own? The cake is putrescent and bloated to my eyes from what it has absorbed to this point. An image of that final sin exploding the pastry and splattering the walls with the foul black sin of my life crosses my mind. I have already visited my sins upon too many of those I love, this last one is mine and mine alone. 



V – The Eater

I have never had a fight quite like that during a ritual, but at last the final sin has been expelled in a plume of black that dwarfed anything I had ever seen. Taking a second to compose myself, I prepare to undertake the final step.

I spit on the cake.

I never considered Eating this atrocity of a confection. After I was exiled, I waited only for the day that I would be called to this house and could deny that final absolution. Things won’t go back to before, there is no fixing that. Once you Eat, things change. People can sense the sin you have taken on, they don’t want to be around you for any reason. Why they can stand it on the person who actually committed the sin, I haven’t been able to figure out.

Leaving the room, I see the son sitting quietly across the hall. Still boiling from the ritual and the revenge, I want to rub his face in what I have done. I grab him out of the chair. He fights against me, but his deformed arm is useless and he cannot break my grasp. I carry him to the door of the room I just left.
I stop before re-entering the room. There’s no point. This kid won’t do anything. Unforgivable things were done to me, but something worse had been done to him. I put him down and turn away. As soon as I’m out of sight of that house with all its rotting sin I begin to run back to the forest.

VI – The Son

Tears are streaming down my face. The cake is bitter from the start. I must finish Eating, to complete the ritual. Each bite overwhelms me with the awful taste of that night I was disfigured. It doesn’t matter. Tonight, I’m the Eater, and the Eater has come to forgive.

I give easement and rest now to thee dear man. 

Come not down the lanes or in our meadows.

And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen.

—-

K: Originality: 5. At times it reads like everything from Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” to Red Riding Hood, but this one does a good job of creating a myth all its own.
Use of Each Character: 4. There is nothing particularly wrong with the use of the characters, but each section reads in a very similar tone, which didn’t allow the emotions and psyches of each character to shine through. The characters themselves are very interesting; I just wanted a touch more of a voice for each.
Effectiveness of the prose: 5. I wanted more from the character standpoint, but the plot worked, I quickly understood the new world I was thrust into, and I was engaged. I read it a couple of times to get the full effect (I read all of these twice, in the end), and understanding this world and watching the story unfold was equally powerful the second time.

B: It never ceases to amaze me the originality that can come from this competition. Not sure I’ve seen anything like this (though it vaguely reminds me of Stephen King’s Thinner). Despite this world being unknown to me, I learned its rituals and rules very quickly. I am also a sucker for (short) stories where there is no hero, as I have fewer expectations as to where the story might lead. Beautiful story.

Originality (1-5) 5
Effective use of each character (1-5) 5
Overall effectiveness of the prose (1-5) 4

Total: 28

————————————————————————————–

Third Place in Spookymilk Survivor VIII: Shawn Ashley

It’s been a long time since a female went deep into this challenge, and man, have I been annoyed by that little sausage fact. Shawn took risks, went to extremes and had a voice all her own. Her casual, natural writing style was a joy, which made it all the stronger when she turned and gave us something like her sociopath attacking a family in the Q&A challenge.

Edit: We re-read Shawn’s after the gimmick was pointed out and decided she should have gotten 26 or possibly 27 points.

Second Place in Spookymilk Survivor VIII: Matt Novak

This story was awesome, but so was the competition. I scored them equally, which doesn’t surprise me. Matt was a pretty innocuous competitor early on, in my eyes, but he gained steam as he went, and by the end he was writing work that tops just about anything in the history of this game. Instantly, he’s one of the best players ever to not win the game.

Drumroll, please…(oh, wait, you already know who’s left)

Your first two-time winner of Spookymilk Survivor: Brooks Maki

What can I say? Stories like Swingtack are the type that never leave me, and drive me to be more creative all the time. Brooks faced a couple of possible elimination moments in this game that I truly thought he wouldn’t survive, but once again, here he is. Of course, he did it by doing a challenge he suggested, so maybe it’s a form of cheating…? At any rate, what a game, Brooks. And God bless us, every one.

Brooks Maki, Spawn of Steinbeck

Trevor shoveled until the hole was complete. Now he had to figure out how to fill it. Boss’s self-contradicting command “Kill the snitch and bury him in the desert,” rang in his ears as his gun fired. As Trevor’s body fell into the hole, the elaborate pulley system began to tilt the sand down around him. Job well done.

Cheers, Survivor.

Hello there, lurkers, eliminated players and general well-wishers. Because of a previous engagement for the half of the judges who are not me, the due time was pushed back to 6pm Central.

In the meantime, join the next game (a variety game), the one after that (a writing game) or both. Comment here, or send an email to foreverunchanged at gmail.

In a few hours I’ll probably wish I’d held this back for some rewrites, but considering I have a ton of work to do on my script this week, it’s probably best if I post it now. Enjoy this challenge, on which I spent most of today. No regrets…I never get sick of finishing a piece of writing.

Edit: What do I have to do to make this fucking blog recognize tabs? I want my damned paragraphs.

————————————————————–

I: OFFICER MIKE MCCLEARY

Was a time, them bad boys was all we worried about. They came down, took over some host bodies, and though it started out like some sort of crazy epidemic we treated like a sickness, we eventually found out that we were dealing with aliens.
We didn’t know where they were from or anything. We couldn’t get no information from them; they either didn’t speak English or they were playing dumb, like I’ve seen time and time again with aliens.
Read the rest of this entry »

Your competition, and also you

HALL OF CHAMPIONS

SPOOKYMILK SURVIVOR

I: Rachel “The Double-Dealer” Flynn

II: Ryan “The Snake” Fossum

III: Patrick “The Gentleman” Kozicky

IV: Brienne “The Submitter” Maner

V: Rusty “The Porn Star” Greene

VI: Brooks “The Unlikely Hero” Maki

VII: William “The Soulful” Schuth

VIII: Brooks “The Survivor” Maki

IX: Zack “The Ice Cream Man” Sauvageau

X: Pete “The Vacuum Cleaner” Bruzek

Turbo: Brooks “The 1956-1979 Montreal Canadiens” Maki

XI: Matt “The Cold-Hearted Motherf*&^er” Novak

All-Stars (XII): Andy “The Quiet Man” Rustleund

XIII: Sarah “Clarence’s Hope” Bizek

XIV: Dan “The Professional” Kautz

XV: Christina “Assault And” Pepper

XVI: Matt “The First-Time Player” Novak

XVII: Stacy “Saintly Patience” Snell

XVIII: Brian “Checkmate” David

XIX: Annette “Eammon for the Top” Barron

XX: Daniel “Neville “Smash “Hardware” Hardwood” Longbottom” Caouette

XXI: Pete “The Comeback Kid” Bruzek

XXII: Dan “The Even More Professional” Kautz

XXIII: Melissa “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” David

XXIV: Stacy “Fucking” Snell

GODS AND MORTALS
I: Dragging Rivet’s Name Through the Mud One Last Time: Matt Novak (Ultragrandpa) and Michael Rivet (Friph Flipher-Fiph)
II: Bahambo Number 5: Pete “Triple Crown” Bruzek and Michelle “Single Tiara…So Far” Pratt

BIG BROTHER
I: Brooks “Oh, for the Love of God” Maki
II: Michael “#DDB” Rivet
III: Pete “Fortune’s Fool” Bruzek
IV: Erin “All Seven and We’ll Watch Them Fall” Leslie
V: Jake “Littlefinger” Elliott

FALL, CAESAR
2014: Brooks “The Creator” Maki
2015: Matt “The Artist” Novak
2016: Matt “Waited Them Out” Novak
2017: Annette “I Would’ve Voted for You” Barron

THE ROYAL RUMBLE
2013: #21 Greg “The Gallant Glutton of Greatness” Johnson
2014: #29 Jonathon “Big Papa” Pope
2015: #8 Christina “Am I in This?” Pepper
2016: #22 Annette “No Backs Stabbed” Barron
2017: #30 Bernice “The Vulture” Nicaise
2018: #17 Carrie “Solid Gold” Bard
2019: #16 Jake “The Jabroni” Elliott

PLAY WITH THE PROSE
(Writing, non-elimination)
I: Sarah “Centipede Face” Johnson
II: Sarah “The Johnson Eliminator” Wreisner
III: Colin “Lonely Old Moon” Woolston
IV: Melissa “Not Sidebar Material” Diamond
V: Sama “No Family Reunions” Smith
VI: Sarah “Tumor Face” Wreisner
VII: John “Cult Following” Wreisner
VIII: Joshua “Peed the Bed” Longman
VIII: Annette “Oh, Right, That’s Who Won” Barron

WEREWOLF (most recent)

Werewolf Stats Spreadsheet

PUZZLE CHALLENGE
I (Pure): Matthew “The Obsessor” Gilman
I (Power): Kelly “The Novak-Destroyer” Wells

DIPLOMACY
I: Matt “Exploiter of Worlds” Novak (France)

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