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Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread Possibly not as rogue-heavy as some of the other entries, but here's mine. "Night Hide My Face" at 968 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Mina was a vision in gold and lace, in satin and pearls. Her body seemed to glow in the candlelight, and as she turned before her silver mirror, she thought that almost anyone would fall in love simply by looking at her. She had achieved what every girl would dream of, and that was why she had to leave.
She had meant to leave months ago, to slip out the window and vanish into the night when no one would notice. She would disguise herself as a man and become some renowned hero, or perhaps a thief known for slinking through the shadows. The only reason she had allowed herself to linger in her father’s palace as time went on was Prince Tristan.
Prince Tristan of some northern kingdom so small her father would never have allowed him to woo her if he hadn’t been desperate. Prince Tristan of the crooked smile and the red hair and the freckled nose that burned too easily in their hot sun. Prince Tristan who was so small and slight the ladies at court all assumed he had been sickly as a child, or that he was half-shadow and didn’t belong in their mortal world. Mina hadn’t thought he was anything special, but something about him had tempted her to stay, first another few days, then another few weeks, and then before she knew it the wedding had been planned and there was no chance for her to escape, not without practice slipping through shadows.
She had already sent her maids away, so there was no one to see her sink onto her bed and bury her face in her hands. She couldn’t marry Tristan. He was gentle, and sweet, and the sort of good that made her almost wish the stolen kisses she’d had with other men could make her feel anything. He didn’t deserve to be trapped in a marriage with her, and she certainly didn’t deserve to be trapped in a marriage with anyone she didn’t love.
The door to her room opened, and she sprang to her feet, ready to berate whoever was interrupting her, but it was only Tristan, slipping in with that nervous, crooked smile on his face.
“You shouldn’t be up here,” she said, looking away. “It’s bad luck to see me before the wedding.”
“There’s something I have to tell you,” he said, and his voice was so serious that Mina couldn’t help turning to look into his eyes. “I hope you won’t think too differently of me – but I’d understand if you did – and I want you to know that I love you, truly, but I can’t marry you.”
He spoke so quickly and anxiously, so unlike his normal unflappable calm, that Mina didn’t have a chance to open her mouth and reply.
“When I came here, I planned on marrying you, but only for your money. After all, who hasn’t heard of Princess Mina and her vast store of wealth? I wanted to inherit all of it and live a life of luxury while you ruled. You’re clever enough to, and I would just have to look official. I thought it would be fair for both of us. I didn’t realize I would fall in love with you, and now I can’t lie to you any longer.
“Because I have lied to you. I’m from the north, but I’m no prince. I’m a thief. A rather renowned thief, actually, and this would have been the perfect crime. I never would have had to steal again, except for the fun of it.”
Mina felt her cheeks growing hot with anger, and when Tristan paused for breath, she decided she couldn’t stay silent any longer. “How dare you?” she whispered, and Tristan flinched as though she had struck him. “Did you really think you would be able to get away with this? Don’t bother answering; you obviously did. Why shouldn’t I have you thrown in prison right now?”
Tristan swallowed nervously and undid the first button on his shirt. “Because there’s one other lie I told you.”
He unbuttoned his shirt, and as Mina’s eyes followed his fingers, her cheeks grew warmer, but for a very different reason. When the shirt was completely undone and Tristan’s chest was bared, Mina returned her gaze to the thief’s eyes.
“I understand if you think of me differently,” Tristan said, the crooked smile returning to her face, “but I hope you know that my love for you was as pure and true as any man’s could have been.”
Still blushing, Mina asked, “What will you do now?”
“I suppose I’ll leave,” Tristan said, buttoning her shirt again. “I know the guards’ rotations, so I can slip out to the docks, and there’s a barge carrying spices that’s due to leave. I can smuggle myself in and be safely away by dawn.” She sighed and looked over Mina slowly, as though trying to hold on to every detail. “I hope you have better luck than I have.”
Just as Tristan was starting to leave, Mina ran to her side, grabbed her hand, and kissed her. “Take me with you,” she said as Tristan stared in wonder. “Disguise me as a boy and let me travel with you.”
“It will be dangerous,” Tristan said. “The life of a rogue isn’t always easy.”

“I don’t care,” Mina insisted. “As long as I’m with you, I’ll face whatever dangers I must.” She was exaggerating, but at that moment, she truly meant it, with the sort of heartfelt passion she had always dreamed of knowing.

Tristan laughed aloud then and kissed the corner of her mouth. “It seems I’m a more successful thief than I thought,” she said. “I came for the princess’s wealth, but I was able to steal her heart.”

March 20, 2015, 01:25:21 AM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread Here we are then. First time I've done something like this. I found it kinda hard to stay in the limit (but it came out at 1483 words)

Going Down

Spoiler for Hiden:
His knees were killing him. Not that he had asked for much more than a spirited hobble from them, but it seemed any request was a demand too far for his failing joints. He wheezed away, looking around the concourse for a hiding place. There were plenty of people about, but the way they parted around him left little chance of using them as cover. To his left was a glass fronted shop, the latest styles flickering across mannequins that posed in aspirational scenes. One moment they laughed heartily, back slapping paragons of sporting bonhomme. The next they sat swaddled in chunky exploring gear, eyes narrowed in an attempt to convey the brooding depths of their non-existent souls. Arty slipped past the shifting diorama and looked for where the forest of clothes racks was thickest.
A young man, almost a mannequin made flesh, was turning about in a suit as his equally attractive girlfriend pronounced judgement on it. The pair noticed Arty at the same time and their smiles fell. He was used to the reaction now; sometimes it even gave him a perverse pleasure. Today though he felt like hissing at them, but there was no need to scare them off. The couple feigned interest in another area of the shop and wandered away, suit tags dangling from the boy.
His heart, already pounding in his sparrow chest, jolted when someone behind spoke to him. He jerked round, but it was just a shop assistant, her arms folded defensively in front of her.
"Can I help you with something, sir?" The way she pronounced the sir made it clear that she meant anything but respect.
She was a beautiful girl, Arty decided. Not the indetikit beauty so sickeningly common up in the spires, but a carefully crafted one. Her features had been laid out by someone with excellent taste. Her mouth was a little too wide, her cheekbones higher than was fashionable. Whoever her parents were they had known their stuff. He flashed his smile at her on reflex.
"Oh, you could help me with so many things."
Her long nose wrinkled in distaste. He caught a glimpse of his weathered face in the mirror behind her, saw that his once roguish grin was now just thin lips stretched back across yellow teeth. It made him wrinkle his nose as well then frown. He held up his liver spotted hands.
"No. Nothing. I'm fine, thank you."
The assistant looked doubtful but beyond her Arty saw something else in the mirror. Two cops jogged past the front of store, one hand on their sticks to steady them. They had not even glanced into the shop. His eye flicked back to the girl.
"In fact. I was just leaving."
She nodded, but did not move. Probably thinks I'm going to steal some of this multimart rubbish, Arty thought, she hasn't even noticed I'm wearing thousand dollar shoes, the pretty little philistine.
He turned away, his heart still trying to find its resting rate, and shuffled back out of the shop. He went the direction the two cops had come from, turning the corner he had fled around when they had spotted him. The nearest D-train terminal was only a few hundred yards up the next concourse, which is why he had been coming this way in the first place. It seemed to take an age for him to reach the doors. When he did so without shouts of accusation from behind, he felt a surge of familiar excitement. He might actually get away with this.
He reached out with a shaking hand to hit the down button, the same shaking hand that had failed him not an hour ago. The same shaking hand that had set off an alarm which would never have been a danger before. A precision tool which had become a feeble, loose cudgel. He cursed its quivers and his frustration turned to delight when the capsule appeared almost at once. At last, he thought, some good fortune.
He stepped inside, the only occupant of the diamond fronted elevator. There had been others waiting, but this was the express unit to the base. The locals liked to call it "The Drain". Until recently Arty had too. Now he found himself waiting for the doors to close, keen to find his way back to ground level. He turned his back on the view and looked down the concourse, willing the doors to shut.
"C'mon. C'mon.” He muttered. The gleaming metal was not to be rushed however, waiting in case some other rubbish needed flushing from the affluent shopping arcade. Ahead, rising on their toes to survey the crowd, Arty saw the two cops come back onto his thoroughfare.
"Close, you bastards. Close." He swore at the doors. As if they had heard him they began to hiss together. At the last second Arty thought one of the men might have looked his way, but his eyes, like everything else, were not what they were and he could not be certain.
The elevator began to drop smoothly away and he turned to gaze out of the window. The underside of the bottom tier, all pipes and blocks, shaded the D-train from the weak sunlight. In the distance the spindly mushrooms of the other three towers rose out of the ramshackle sprawl. Appropriate shapes really, Arty considered, mushrooms do well growing out of shit too.

Under their transparent domes he could make out tiered gardens like the ones rising above him. Their colours were diffused by distance and the thin atmosphere, but he knew there was every hue of bright flower amongst verdant greens. He could almost taste the clean, thick air of his old hunting grounds. He lifted his satchel free over his head, his shoulders complaining, and flipped it open. Inside was his ticket back. He lifted the cylinder of metal slats out and smiled at its ancient grooved surface. He would return to defraud, debauch and deflower the brainless rich again. He was certain of it. This was not the end for him. The elevator jerked to a halt. The doors began to open without warning. Shit, he thought, this is the end for me.
A female cop stood waiting in a residential corridor outside, one hand up at her ear.
"Yep, got him now, thanks. I'll check it out and get back to you."
She stepped in to the elevator, her eyes immediately on Arty's prize. She took the artefact without resistance and jabbed a probe id stick into his neck. He felt the tell-tale burn of his skin cells being scraped away and the machine bleeped. She looked at the display.
"Arthur Schivare." His name was a statement, not a question. She examined his other details. "26?" His age at least got a reaction from her. "Two counts theft, one count embezzlement. They stuck 15 years on your clock for each one."
She looked him up and down, shaking her head. Arty looked around her and thought about running. The thought was enough to make his knees hurt again.
"Why the hell would you keep at it?" She asked. He was surprised to look into her face and find her in earnest.
"You try looking like this. Nobody hires an ex-con. Even in the geri-clubs I have to sit down, the real old timers can tell from how I move otherwise and they steer clear too. That was my only way out." He pointed at what she held. "It's a wheel from the Sojourner rover."
"I know that." She hefted it in her hand. "The museum on the top deck is going ape shit."
He started to become acutely aware that she had not gone straight back to her com-link.
"I've got a bunch of neo-earth nutjobs lined up to pay me a small fortune. Enough to get me back to how I should be." He gestured with one crook knuckled finger at the id stick's screen.
The cop looked at his grinning, aquiline face on the screen then back to the decrepit one before her. She sucked in one cheek.
"How much is a small fortune then?"
The old squirming excitement began to twist Arty's mouth into a smile.
"More than I could spend on my own." He waggled his unruly eyebrows.
The cop stared at the wheel for another few seconds, biting her lip. Then she sighed and reached for her earpiece. Arty's mouth fell.
"Base. Two seventeen here. I checked your man in the drain. Nothing doing, just some geri from the ground on a sightseeing tour.... sure... will do. Good luck anyway."
Her hand dropped down and her smile mirrored Arty's as she hit the elevator button without looking.
"Going down?" She held the wheel back out to him.
"Not on these knees." Arty smirked and turned back to enjoy their descent, physical and moral.

March 20, 2015, 07:51:55 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread Finally got around to finishing this, just in time for the deadline. It's distinctly lacking in bicycles though.

Anyway, coming in at 1499 words, here's The 7 Tenets of Rogueishness.

Spoiler for Hiden:
“So what are the 7 Tenets, anyway?”

Darin lowered his spyglass and turned to his apprentice. “What?”

“The 7 Tenets.” Yura sat by the door, fiddling absentmindedly with a switchknife. “You keep mentioning them, but
I don’t think you’ve ever actually explained them to me.”

“Hmm. I guess not.” Darin raised his spyglass again and peered out the window.

Yura waited for his mentor to continue. He didn’t.

“So what are they?”

“They’re a bunch of tenets.” Darin said, helpfully. “And there are 7 of them.”

“I’d guessed that much.”

Darin sighed.

“If you really must know, they’re seven guidelines for rogues to follow” he explained. “They separate the lovable scoundrels from the common cutthroats. Originally they were called the 7 Tenets of Rogueishness but it got shortened because everyone kept mocking the word ‘rogueishness’.

“I was going to say,” Yura smirked slightly, “I’m pretty sure that’s not a real word. Also, since when have you been described as ‘lovable’?”

A low chuckle erupted from the older man’s lips. “Hey, I’m plenty lovable, kid. I’ve done things with women that would make a contortionist jealous.”

“Sure you have. Anyway, can you name me one of the Tenets?”

Darin blinked. “You’d rather talk about those stuffy rules than my sexual escapades?”

“Good Goddess, yes.” Yura shuddered. “I do not want the thought of you having sex swimming around in my head while we’re doing this.”

Darin gave an embarrassed cough. “Sure, whatever. Now, the first tenet is simple and important. Do not follow any tenet if doing so puts your life or prize at risk.”

“Makes sense.” Yura nodded. “Nobody would follow them otherwise. That’s a good first rule. What’s the second?”

“Always have a good line at the ready.”

 “…..Not quite as impressive.”

“It’s a matter of appearances.” Darin said. “If you break into a house, murder the guards and steal anything not nailed down, you get labelled as a brutal thug. But if you leave with a one-liner and a twinkling smile, suddenly you become a charming gentleman thief.”

“Even though I know donkeys more gentlemanly than you.”

“Exactly.” Darin nodded. “Now Tenet 3 is another obvious one. Always have a plan.” He suddenly spied something in his eyeglass. “Speaking of, I think it’s time to put ours into motion…”

Kere unbolted the backdoor and heaved the bucket of scraps behind her. She looked at the largely edible food and sighed. Duke Weston was wasteful enough on a normal day, but when he was throwing a party….. This bucket alone could probably feed a family for a week. And now it would feed the worms. Unless she did something about it.

Kere glanced from side to side. Then she rounded a corner to where a small crowd of beggars waited. Most were children whose eyes lit up at the sight of her. She smiled.

“Extra today.”

As the beggars greedily fell upon the scraps, Kere turned to leave. Her presence would soon be missed at the manor.

“Excuse me miss?” A reedy voice said behind her. “I want to give you my thanks.”

“It’s nothi-mmph!” Kere felt a hankerchief press firmly against her mouth. Hands grabbed her and an
overpowering sweet smell dulled her senses. She struggled for a few seconds before going limp in Darin’s arms as he dragged her body around the corner. The beggars didn’t notice what had occurred.

“This stuff is delicious.” Yura said, chewing on one of the leftovers. “How can people throw good food out?”

“It’s easy to waste when you have too much.” Darin said, stripping off his beggars robes to reveal the immaculate servant’s outfit beneath. “That’s why we’re here to alleviate that problem.”

“Whatever. Seriously, try these pastries.” Yura said, offering the bread to his mentor. “They’re fantastic.”

“You know I don’t eat on the job.” Darin sighed. Then he paused. “Put it in my bag. I’ll eat it once we’re done. Now help me hide this servant girl.”

“I don’t get why we just can’t slit her throat and be done with it.” Yura said. “That paralysing potion isn’t cheap.”

“Tenet 5, kid.” Darin shrugged. “Don’t unnecessarily harm women or children.”

“What happened to Tenet 4?”

“I’ll tell you it later. Now give me a hand.”

Yura sighed and helped dump Kere behind a bin. “5 is stupid. Women and children can be just as dangerous as men. Like Countess Jessica.”

Darin visibly flinched. “Please don’t use the J-word around me.”

Yura couldn’t hide his grin. “Sorry. Forgot you two had a history.”

Darin scowled. “Jessica’s not a woman anyway. She’s a demon in human skin.”

“Was that what you told her when you were dating?” Yura chuckled. “No wonder she tried to decapitate you.”

“Can we stop talking about that bitch now?” Darin neatened up his servants outfit. “I’d be perfectly happy never seeing her again.”

“I can’t believe Jessica was at the party!” Darin desperately slammed the door behind him and began making a makeshift barricade. The shout of guards could be heard getting closer. “Shouldn’t she be eating puppies somewhere?”

“What do we do??” Panic had set in on Yura’s face. “Every guard in the manor is going to be knocking on that door in a second! If you give back the Amber Ruby-”

“Our prize?” Darin smirked. He jogged to the other end of the room where a large portrait of Duke Weston hung. “You’re forgetting Tenet 4.”

“You never told me Tenet 4.”

“Remember Tenet 3?”

“Always have a plan.”

“Well, Tenet 4 is ‘Always be prepared for that plan to go to shit. There’s a reason we ran in here after Jessica spotted us.”

Ignoring the guards banging at the door, Darin tore down the picture frame. Behind it, at the very top of the wall, was a small window. Yura’s jaw dropped.

“I’ll never doubt you again.”

Darin grinned. “Liar. Now, give me a leg up.”

“Got it.” Yura nodded. He helped the older man up and through the narrow window. “Okay, now you pull me through.”

Darin looked at Yura. Then he looked to the door, where the guards had nearly broken the door down. There wasn’t time for both to escape.

“Sorry kid.” He shrugged. “No need for two to be caught when one will suffice. That’s Tenet 6.”

And with that, he took off running down the street, Yura’s screams ringing in his ears.

An hour later and Darin was back at one of his hideouts, the only one Yura didn’t know of. It was a shame about the kid. Darin had liked him. Maybe he’d go into town the next day and tip his hat at the head on display. He probably wouldn’t. Darin knew that for all the posturing about rogues being gentlemen, they were still as every bit as heartless as any other criminal.

But enough reminiscing. It was time to admire his prize.

Darin opened his pouch and fished out a huge, glimmering ruby. It was the prize of Duke Weston’s collection and worth a small castle to the right buyer. Darin stared at the ruby for a few minutes, enraptured by its beauty, before noticing something else in his pouch.

It was a small pastry.

“I suppose this will do as a makeshift toast.” Darin said, taking a bite of the surprisingly sweet bread. “To your memory, Yura.”

That was when Darin felt his arm stiffening up. Within seconds, his body had gone completely limp and it was all the rogue could do to stay sitting up.

“About time.” A voice said. “I thought you’d never eat that damn thing.”

Barely able to turn his head, Darin saw Yura walking towards him, a grin plastered across his face.

“Paralysing potion’s a bitch, isn’t it?” Yura said. “Good thing you don’t eat during a job. Speaking of, I’ll be taking that.”

He snatched the ruby from Darin’s palm, the older man helpless to stop him.

“I’ll admit, you impressed me with that window trick.” Yura said. “Jessica too. I was working with her all along, you know. The original plan was for her to catch us at the party. She’d curry favour with Weston and get to kill you, before vouching for me. Although that last bit happened anyway. The pastry was just my own little Tenet 4. But now, we’ll just get credit for retrieving Weston’s ruby instead.” He paused. “Or at least, we would if I hadn’t received a much better offer for the ruby from a Duke Alegard. Enough to buy my own castle. I don’t think Jessica will be too angry though. Before I left, I slipped her a note telling her about you and ‘the only hideout I don’t know about’. Her men should probably be here within the hour. I don’t envy your fate. You wouldn’t envy mine.”

Beneath his paralysed face, Darin shot Yura a hateful glare. The younger rogue smiled.

“Don’t get angry at me, Darin. You’re the one who forgot Tenet 7. Never trust anyone.”

March 29, 2015, 09:48:25 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Submission Thread I know it's late and don't expect it to count, but the title of this competition sparked some creativity in me. So here's my entry at 1085 words. It's a bit rushed, so not as crisp as I'd like, but hopefully it should be readable before people pass on to April's round. Enjoy!

The Payment

Spoiler for Hiden:
He checked his pocket watch. It was getting late. The sun was only half down, but the alley was already clothed in shadow. This was the place—he was sure of it... But nobody was here.
He sighed. He knew that asshole Hamad wasn't good for his word. An easy job... hah! Just go in, help the guy out, and get paid. “Who's the guy?” he'd asked. Oh, he doesn't go by names.
He sighed again. He was smarter than this; he should have heard the warning bells then and there.
Once more he checked the time. Tick-tock... Tick-tock... Tick—
“Where's Hamad?”
He jumped and turned to face the owner of the ancient voice. The silhouette of a man materialised from the darkness, his body coiled in a black garment, as though he wore the very shadows that had born him. The glint of a glass eye flashed beneath his cowl. “I asked you a question,” the contact said, his fingers stiff as though long past rigor-mortis.
“Hamad sent me to help you.”
“He did, did he...? So you've brought my payment?”
“Like hell I have. I'm here to help you get it. This is a job, right?”
“Job...? A job? I wanted him to pay me what I'm owed, not send me a wet behind the ears pup to potty train.”
“I'll have you know I'm a grade-A grifter.” He lifted the watch up by its chain and gave it a yank so that it swung like a pendulum. “And this sparkling beauty here was picked from the pocket of a preacher while his flock watched on.”
“Huh...? So you think you're the best?”
“I know I'm the best. And the best are busy men, so why don't you tell me how much Hamad owes you and just how we're gonna get it, eh?”
The contact floated up to him and nodded towards the other side of the street where a merchant was selling fruit at a makeshift stall. “You see that boy over yonder? He sells his families fruit until the wee hours of the morning. Likes to catch the drunken crowds leaving the bar up the road. Makes a tidy profit, I'd say. Keeps it in a pouch hidden under the hay of his cart back there. It should be enough to settle up.”
“So we're gonna steal it?”
“You are going to steal it. I'll be watching from here.”
He smirked. “And what's in this for me?”
“I'll take what I'm owed and you can have the rest.” The glass eye shone back at him. “I'll even throw in a lesson in the art of the backstab.”
“No offence, old man, but there ain't nothing you can teach me I don't already know.”
“We'll see. Now run along and get me my payment.”
“Watch and learn,” he said as he shuffled past him and out the alley.

The town bell tolled eight as he stepped onto the pebbled streets. He put on a drunken swagger as he cased the target. The cart was beside a small path between the buildings that was blocked off by a fence. The boy manning the stall noticed him. “Interest ya in a piece o' fruit, govenor?”
Dumb twat crept to mind. This was almost too easy.
“Fruit!?” he slurred in a hoarse voice. “Why... what a fan— What a fan— What a fantabulous idea. Hit me up!”
He wobbled over and pulled some coins from his pocket, making sure to spill a couple on the floor in good performance. The boy picked them up, slyly pocketing a shilling for his own as he did. Clever twat replaced the previous thought.
He chose an apple worth five shillings and paid for it with a gold guinea. The boy returned ten shillings change—five shillings short of what it should have been. Proper twat was now his new title.
He continued his unstable stroll down the street while keeping an eye on the cart to see exactly where the boy stashed his ill gotten gains—halfway down on the left hand side. So on he headed, round the corner, and another soon after to go back the other way, scanning the splits between the buildings until he saw the familiar fence. There he patiently he waited for the next exchange, all the while stretching his fingers on the wood like a cat clawing a couch.
“Interest ya in a piece o' fruit, madam?”
And just like a cat he was over the fence and touching silently down on the other side. He reached into the hay and immediately found the pouch, as though his hand and it were destined to be together. Oh my, was it heavy. He had half a mind to take it all and leave. Then again, some things were worth more than mere coin, such as the look on an old fool's grizzled face when he's been shown up by the new generation.
Returning to the alley, he entered it with a swank stride and tossed the pouch at his contact's feet. “Told you I was the best,” he had to quip.
The man sneered as he picked it up to count the contents. Piece... by piece... the coins disappeared into the shadowy folds of his garment.
“Do take your time, old man,” he said, removing the pocket watch with a sigh. “Some of us have many years still left on our lives... though I'd like to get home before daybreak if it's all the same to you.”
The counting stopped; the glass eye twinkled. “Hamad is on his way to collect you.”
Before he knew it the contact was stood in front of him. The half-empty pouch pressed into his chest along with a piece of paper folded into a small square. “What's this?” he asked.
“The lesson I promised you.”
Intrigued, he pocketed the watch and pouch and unfolded the paper to read the message aloud:
“The next time you fuck with me Hamad this will be you...
"What do you mean this will—”
His voice ceased to function as cold metal slid into his kidney. A chill rippled down his neck as the glint of glass crept up in the corner of his eye. The pouch and watch rose up before him, each caught between stiff fingers. “So you're the best, huh? Didn't anybody ever teach you... there's no honour among thieves.”

March 31, 2015, 05:04:54 PM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Werewolf, Vampire, Girl - Discussion Thread As for finishing a story on the fight home?
Totally happened.  ;D ;D ;D ;D

April 02, 2015, 01:29:55 PM
Re: [Mar 2015] - Rogues - Discussion Thread It's taken me a while to read all these Rogue entries and much longer to try and choose the final four votes. Thank you all for terrific entertainment, many rogues, different writing styles, a variety of settings -  I am completely in awe and can't imagine how some of you can knock off a story in a couple of days. My thanks to @ScarletBea for the comment about scoring, that was the only way I could narrow down gradually, and even then so many were still level. Anyway, voting done, congratulations and good luck to you all.

One request, if you decide to crowdfund any of those Dwarf card decks, @TravisGGAnderson, I'll support you gladly.  ;D

April 04, 2015, 09:05:25 AM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Plot Twist! Werewolf, Vampire, Goat - Discussion Thread
Just posted mine  :-[ don't think it's my best work, but then again it's quite hard to write a  convincing twist when we know there's one coming!
That may be so, but at least you included a
Spoiler for Hiden:

April 06, 2015, 02:54:06 PM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Plot Twist! Werewolf, Vampire, Goat - Submission Thread Hi, everyone, here's my story for April, and my 10th entry into the monthly writing contest. 

Hail to the King, 1491 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
The convention of the Thames Valley Doomsday Preppers was in full swing when Russell got there. He and Amanda had gotten lost on the forest track to the campsite and arrived an hour late, to discover that nearly everyone else had driven there. The main group had made a campfire, while the rest hovered self-consciously about.

Talk had moved onto potential apocalypse scenarios and, inevitably, the conversation had jokingly turned to zombies.

“I’d probably base myself rurally, if it was Zee’s, you know?” said Tim. “There’s less people, and therefore less Zee’s.” The gang around the campfire nodded and murmured sagely.

It’s ‘Zeds’, you dickhead, thought Russell.

“Also,” continued Tim, “you gotta think in terms of potential danger from other survivors, you know? I mean, Zee’s are slow, right? But someone with a knife can kill you just as easily. You’ve gotta make yourself a hard target.” He indicated Russell’s bright red fleece jacket. “Stuff like that will just get you killed, mate. You need to go tactical.” He pointed at his own expensive camo-pattern paintballing jacket.

“Hang on, Tim,” Russell interjected. “What if it isn’t ‘Walking Dead’ zombies? What if it’s ‘28 Days Later’ zombies?”

“What difference does it make?”

“Well, they’re a lot faster, for one. There’s a lot of open space in the countryside for them to run after you.”

Tim nodded. “Granted, Russell. But that doesn’t automatically make living in the city preferable to the countryside.” A few sycophants around the fire made noises of agreement. “Where would you go?”

Russell’s mind raced as he tried to think of a suitable answer. “The sewers,” he finally managed.

The group exploded with laughter.

“The sewers?!” sneered Tim.

Russell felt his face grow hot. “Well, not the sewers, necessarily, but underground. A bunker, or a safe room or something.”

Tim laughed derisively. “Oh, yeah, you can’t move for bunkers round here! They’re like Starbucks!”

The group howled even louder.

“Oh, piss off, Tim,” muttered Russell, stomping away from the group and grabbing a cider from the bag. He noticed Alan staring at him, working up the courage to speak. Russell’s mood darkened. The outcasts had noticed his expulsion from the main group, it seemed, and were taking him for one of their own.

 A slap on the backside distracted him.

“Alright, ninja turtle?” asked Amanda. Russell let his expression reply for him. He cringed as Tim’s group whispered behind him.

“Are you okay?” asked Amanda. “We can go home, if you like. Oh no, wait, we walked here, didn’t we?”

Russell became aware of Alan creeping nervously closer in his peripheral vision, as though about to defuse a pipe-bomb. He swung around on him.

“Yes, Alan?” he snapped.

Alan flinched nervously. “I’ve got a safe room,” he stammered shyly. “I’ll show you if you want to see it.”

Another giggle from the campfire made up Russell’s mind for him.

“Let’s just go.”


Amanda hadn’t been drinking, so she drove Alan’s car while he rode shotgun. Russell sat cramped, barely containing his annoyance at Tim’s presence, who had been getting a cider from the bag when Alan made his revelation, and had insisted on coming.

They drove into the city, passing busy restaurants and pubs. There was more movement on the streets than usual, and an ugly charge to the air that made Russell glad he was in a car and not on foot. As they drove past a bar, they saw a man fighting two huge doormen, thrashing against them furiously. As they lifted him into the air, he twisted like a cat and sank his teeth into the cheek of one of them.

“Oh my God!” gasped Amanda. “Did you see that?”

“Just drive on,” said Tim. “The police will deal with it.” Russell had been amused to hear the nervousness in his voice.

Amanda drove them out the other side of the city and into the industrial district.


Alan told Amanda to park outside a building and they got out of the car.

“This is it?” asked Tim, underwhelmed. For once, Russell agreed. It was a self-storage unit.

Alan nodded. The squat, yellow, corrugated-metal building before them did not scream ‘safe house’.

“It’s a Lok-n-Store,” said Amanda.

Alan nodded again, as if that were, indeed, obvious.

“I think we were all expecting something a little more…” Tim tailed off. “Safe?”

“You can’t get much safer than that,” Alan said. “And I work here, so we’ll have no problem getting in here when there’s Zeds everywhere.”

“Zee's,” corrected Tim, although Alan had already endeared himself to Russell, who put an arm around him.

“Tell you what, mate, why don’t you show us around? Are you coming?” he asked Amanda, pointedly ignoring Tim. She smiled and shook her head.

Looking faintly proud, Alan swiped his card in the door, and he and Russell entered the building.


They were in the basement.

“So, here, we’ll keep chainsaws and stuff,” Alan was saying, pointing to a locked storage closet. “And here I keep tinned food.” Alan was far less shy when he was discussing the zombie apocalypse.

Russell was starting to regret humouring him. “Look, mate, this place is great, in principle, and I’m really happy you’re enjoying prepping, but there’s a lot more to it than fantasist zombie crap.”

Alan looked at him in vague alarm. “Like what?”

“Well, what if the World Economy collapsed? What if an electromagnetic pulse event took out all the world’s power grids? What if fossil fuels run dry? These are the sort of things preppers should be planning for.” He sighed at Alan’s uncomprehending expression. “Look, I know you probably haven’t seen many preppers yet except for delusional wankers like Tim-” Alan giggled guiltily, “-but Doomsday Preparation is a mature responsibility to ourselves and our families.”

Alan smiled sadly. “I just wanted to be part of a group…”

Russell felt bad for the little man. “You’re part of the group, Alan, and you’re my friend. Now, why don’t we get outside before Tim converts your car into a Mad Max roadster?” They both laughed and headed for the stairs.


“So how did you get into prepping?” Tim asked Amanda.

She shrugged. “Russell likes it. It’s something we do together.”

 Tim nodded. “My girlfriend used to do it, too, but she reckoned I was too into it so we split up.” He looked around, scanning their surroundings.

“Wow, you’re really… keen,” frowned Amanda.

Tim caught her tone, and shrugged. “When I was in my first year at University, I got beaten up by some guys. One punched me to the floor and his buddies kicked me until my ribs broke and punctured a lung. I was in hospital for seven weeks and I had to retake my first year. I couldn’t leave the house, you see?”

Amanda didn’t know what to say.

“When you’ve seen what people are really like,” murmured Tim, “once you really know; you can’t do anything else with your life other than be ready for the next time.”

Amanda turned to face him. “Tim, I’m sorry…”

He wasn’t listening. A man was at the end of the road, lurching drunkenly under the sodium lights, too far away to make out individual details.

Suddenly, he spotted them, and began to run towards them in a frantic sprint.

“God,” said Amanda, “he’s running really fast.”

“Amanda,” said Tim in a flat, terrified voice. “Get inside.”


Russell had his hand on the door-handle when Amanda came crashing through in a state of blind panic. His first thought was that Tim had attacked her, but then Tim came through himself and slammed the door behind him.

“Lock the door!” Tim screamed, pressing his back against it. Russell just stood blankly. Amanda threw herself against it to lend her weight to his. A howling screech came from outside and the door shook under a tremendous impact, almost knocking Tim and Amanda back.

“Help us, you stupid bastard!” shouted Tim. Russell snapped from his daze and leaned his weight against the door.

“What the hell is going on?” he cried.

“He’s dead,” stammered Amanda. “I saw his insides hanging out.”


“She’s right,” said Tim. “No-one like that could be alive.”

The door shook again, jolting the three of them. Russell cursed. “Alan, help!”

Alan had disappeared.

The next impact cracked the wood, straight down its centre. The door folded like a curtain, and the zombie thrashed its way into the corridor in a frenzy, loops of intestine dangling from it’s yawning stomach cavity. It caught sight of Amanda and hissed, crouching ready to spring.

With a boom, it’s head exploded like a pumpkin, spattering brain matter and blood across the corridor. The three turned to see Alan behind them, holding a shotgun.

Screeching came from the street outside. Russell could hear distant sirens.

“Do you know, Alan, we may need your safe room after all,” he said.

April 22, 2015, 10:12:00 PM
Re: [Apr 2015] - Plot Twist! Werewolf, Vampire, Goat - Discussion Thread Yes, let's please keep the spoilers off this thread :(
This is mostly for 'discussion of the subject', not 'discussion of the stories' - that will come later on the Critique thread, once the month is finished/submissions closed.

April 23, 2015, 11:08:07 AM
[Apr 2015] - Plot Twist! Werewolf, Vampire, Goat - Discussion Thread One story per person (not per account) will be in the rules from now on.

I'll elaborate later why I too think that multiple entries are hurting everybody involved.

May 01, 2015, 07:17:00 AM