Ceramic Dm (final judgement posted, New Champion announced!) - Page 21
  1. #201
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Congratulations Orchid Blossom!

    Heh - I was thinking I should post my comments, but she already posted my comments with her reply. Thanks!

    It's been an interesting round so far. We still have stories, and judgements coming too. I've got to say, I love Ceramic DM.

  2. #202
    Congratulations Orchid Blossom!

    From the other thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by orchid blossom
    In the end, I really just wanted the story to end with a feeling of healing, and I think I got that.
    hat's what I felt, too. There was no twist, no espionage, no explosions - it was "just" a good story. Well-written, touching, with a nice ending. I thought the "FlashAhhh"-pic was a little thrown away, and I would have preferred to see the boat ending up on the rocks, not already being there, but that wasn't really a weak use to me. And the other two pics were used expertly, to me.

  3. #203
    A revised and updated version will be posted at a later date.
    Last edited by RPGgirl; Thursday, 29th July, 2004 at 05:59 PM.

  4. #204
    Round 1

    Taladas vs. Greywolf-ELM

    The sun is shining and the birds are singing and here I am in a dreary dank trailer reading the police report on Jared Mills. Shot six times with a shotgun. Medical Examiner’s cause of death: Suicide.

    I guess he really wanted to die.

    Perhaps it was the deaths of his three friends. They died in an accident involving diving equipment. The report doesn’t explain very well what happened just that the three were in a shack by the lake that they frequently dived in. One of the air tanks was dropped and ruptured and causes several other tanks to rupture. The chain reaction of exploding air tanks causes the shack and its occupants to be torn apart and thrown about the immediate landscape. Funnily enough their deaths were barely an hour before his.

    It’s not even a very good cover-up. But this is not why I am in this dank little records trailer examining moldy old reports. No, I’m here for her, Becky Mellor. I’m here to find out what happened to her.

    Her brother recently came in to some money and wanted to find out what really happened to his sister. He said that the authorities stonewalled any investigation and told his family to “drop it”. And now years later after he won the lotto he came to me.

    “I just have to know, Mr. Bader, all these years.” He looked right at me. “Please, just find out.”

    What I knew wasn’t much. She disappeared in the summer of ’66. The same day that Mills and his friends died. Jared was a family friend, who took Becky out to swim and dive at the lake. I decided to check out the records of the time. I found out from the county clerk that most of the older records were stored in “temporary” buildings. The county was having hard times and was taking all sorts of cost cutting measures, including emptying storehouses of all “unnecessary” items. Fortunately the records were still considered necessary.

    Normally now would be the time I would be getting nervous. Cover-ups and murders are never good things for private eyes to stumble in on. However, everyone that worked on this case is long retired, dead or in prison. The mayor had a big embezzlement scandal that involved hookers and drugs. The sheriff was cleared of charged but voted out in the following election. I didn’t have anything to worry about. Besides I wasn’t getting any bad vibes, except a general dread about Becky Mellor. I expected that she died that same day in the summer of ’66. Her ghost probably floating around or something.

    Most people would have little hope of finding a woman who disappeared 38 years ago but I have a little edge. You see I’m psychic. Yeah, I know Derrick Bader, the Psychic Detective. Totally cornball but also totally true. My particular specialty is psychometry. Reading the psychic residue left on objects by people and events. And sometimes that residue can leave a trail for me to follow. It’s very useful in the missing person’s biz but all to often all I find is a dead body and a jangle of images that make it almost impossible to identify who did it. But sometimes I find the person and/or catch the kidnapper. And those times it makes it worthwhile.

    Anyway I’m in this trailer looking through these records hoping to find something with a psychic charge. And finding really bizarre stuff like this. (hatsoff picture) Apparently Jered Mills collected hats, a lot of hats, over 200 according to the report. Freaky, like he was the Imelda Marcos of Hats.

    As I put down that creepy picture, I found one of Becky Mellor, Jared Mills, and two of the three of Jared’s deceased friends. The third was probably taking the picture. (dunked picture) And when I pull the picture up for a closer look my world fell apart. Everything was black or white, not black and white like an Andy Griffith Show rerun but black or white. Then the fear hits and to my surprise defiance. She resisted her attacker and fought back. Woah, color is back and I see a shack blowing up. Then Jared Mills dying as shotgun blast after blast hits him. A quick look at the lake and then running.
    I start to relax. I can follow the trail now. She traveled very far. She traveled across the ocean to a foreign land, someplace with a crush of people, someplace with a name. A place with a name that is a mouthful of syllables, she’s in India.

    She’s alive and me I go outside to throw-up. I get the shakes and dry heave for awhile but she’s alive. Still that black or white thing was just creepy.

    Three days later I’m in India. I am walking around the streets, alternately enjoying the sights and smells and not enjoying the sights and smells. The crowd is working to give me a monster headache. The hustle and bustle of a busy city and crowded street are not conducive to the comfort of a psychic sensitive. But I still am able to follow her trail. And under a little tent, I find her. I think. (Hairextra Picture) She was green, skin and hair. But it was she, I could tell. She looks up at me and smiles. The teeth have seen better days.

    “Come sit down Mr. Bader. May I call you Derrick?”

    “Please do Ms. Mellor. May I call you Becky?” I didn’t bother to ask her how she knew my name. I‘ve been in this business long enough to know they never give you a useful answer.

    “Yes, you can call me Becky. Are you centered and ready to face the darkness and the light?”

    “Uh, maybe in a minute. Becky, your brother sent me to find you. And to find out what happened to you since you disappeared. Could you tell me? Or perhaps you would rather talk to your brother directly?”

    “I can show you but you must be centered and ready to face the darkness and the light.”


    “Well I guess I am ready as I can be.”

    She stares at me with piercing eyes.

    “You must be sure.”

    “Yeah, Yeah I’m sure. Let’s do this.”

    She grabs the cup from the ground and hands it to me.

    “Drink this. It will help protect you.”

    It looks like a spit cup for dip. I force myself to drink it. I almost don’t make it, nearly vomiting right there. I don’t even know what this is supposed to protect me from. I put the cup down.

    “Remember that you must be centered and strong. The potion will help some but you must be ready. I ask again are you ready?”

    “Yes, I am ready.”

    She then tosses a handful of powder into my face. It goes into my mouth and nose starting a dry retching cough. I struggle to get up, about ready to strangle Becky when I am hit with euphoria. I feel like I am floating. I see Becky and she is smiling. She looks so serene but I see a faint trace of fear in her eyes.

    Then boom a splash of cold water and we’re in the lake, at least I believe it’s the lake. Becky points down and ahead and we go forward. Not really swimming but just forward motion. We go deeper and deeper and the light from the surface gets dimmer and dimmer. After several more minutes it becomes completely dark.

    Fear and panic began to ebb up from the back of my mind. I want to surface really badly, in fact it seems insane not to. I start to turn around and I see Becky. It’s pitch black and I see Becky. She motions me to go back, to keep going. I really want to tell her to do something rude but resist. First because of my Grandmother, who always taught me to be polite in even extreme situations and secondly I knew there was something down here and she wasn’t going to let me go until I saw it.

    I breathed deeply (even though I was under a lake and over 10,000 miles away from here) and relaxed. I gathered my courage (It didn’t take long, there wasn’t that much to begin with) and went deeper.

    And there it was, nice to look at but totally wrong. (abirdinthehand picture) She (more probably it) was draped against a much larger detached hand.

    “We can only see her in symbols.” Becky speaks in to my head. “Its true form is incomprehensible to people. Our minds create the images from what our true sense detects.”

    I was drawn to the figure in front of me. She/it was moving in a strange alluring way. It was moving in a fascinating dance. She/it almost moved like a puppet on strings, then I saw the strings. The detached hand had little nigh-invisible strings that moved the figure. It was moving the figure, controlling the figure.

    Snap. Suddenly I am in the little tent in India. And I am very glad I am 10,000 miles from that thing. Then Becky starts talking.

    “It wants to control us, to control everyone. But it is limited, it can only control what it has a connection to. Derrick, you must stop it.”

    “Stop it, She, It, whatever it is is at the bottom of the lake. It’s not going anywhere.”

    “Derrick the signs do not lie, it will rise soon if you do not stop it. The seeds that were sown long ago are about to sprout.”

    “What seeds? You just said it needed a connection. What is it going to conquer the world with a crop of rutabagas?”

    “It only needs simple talisman, Derrick. Really anything will do.”

    “And what does it have access to down at the bottom of a lake, catfish? I mean … the hats. (hatsoff picture) All those hats that Mills had those are the talismans. I bet the county is going release them from storage, probably even sell them.”

    “Soon.” Something in Becky’s voice tells me that I don’t have time for a fast plane.

    Twenty minutes later I find a working phone. I will never say anything bad about telecommunication companies ever again.

    “Yes, I said that I will buy those hats for $10,000. But my conditions are that they are to be left in storage until I get there and they are under no circumstances to be touched. I don’t care if it’s fire or flood you are not to disturb those hats. Are we clear?”

    She verifies my credit card account number and the world is saved.

    Man, I really hope Becky’s brother covers my expense bill. No, I really hope nobody takes a hat.

  5. #205
    Round 1, Match 7, Yangnome vs. RPGgirl

    Mother Knows Best

    I suppose I’d normally start this sort of thing off by telling you who I am. To be honest with you though, I’m still trying to figure all that out. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this now. I guess you’ll have to bear with me for a couple minutes.

    I woke up this morning. It was dark, as if it were the middle of the night; only it felt like I had slept for ages. To be completely honest with you, I couldn’t remember when I went to bed, or even where I was. I lay in bed for a few moments, searching my thoughts, unable to move. I couldn’t remember much of anything. There was a nagging feeling that I should be able to, but nothing came to mind. My mind felt as paralyzed as my body.

    I lay there for an eternity, trying to grab hold of some memory; something that would remind me that I was alive…Am I alive? Perhaps that was it; I had died and was now in heaven, hell, purgatory, or maybe I was awaiting reincarnation. Maybe that was why I didn’t remember anything…my mind and my past life had been wiped completely bank.

    That thought comforted me a bit. I lay there content with the thought that I was awaiting reincarnation…it had to be. If it were heaven or hell, I’d at least have some memory. That doesn’t really explain the numb pain in my chest though. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that. Yeah, I awoke with a numb pain in my chest; it was nothing major, in fact, I didn’t really realize it until after I had figured out where I was; just a dull pain in my chest, in my whole body actually.

    I began to wonder how long I’d have to wait until I received my new body. Would it be long? Would I be cognizant the entire time? Strangely enough, I wasn’t sad about it all. Perhaps if I had some memory about my past life, a family left behind or something like that I might have feelings…but it was just me for all I could remember. Nothing to be sad about really, I was right here.

    I lay there content for a bit. Everything felt right. Then my thoughts started bugging me. If I were here waiting reincarnation, why is it I have no memory? You’d think they’d leave me unconscious until I am granted my new life. Will I be able to remember this once I do get to wherever it is I’m going? It would seem strange if I did. If I am to sit here and ponder things for a while before reaching my new life, why not leave me with memories and thoughts to ponder. I guess I could ponder my existence, but isn’t enough life already wasted on that? No sense in wasting the afterlife on it.

    Tired from the confusion over my present circumstances, I close my eyes once again and drifted back off to sleep. I awoke again later, who knows how long it had been. I still couldn’t recall my past…well, most of my past. I could recall my most of my thoughts from the last time I awoke. I slowly opened my eyes. The room was a bit brighter this time. Light poured into the room to my right, from somewhere in the direction of my feet. The light was almost painful to my eyes. I tried once again to move my body, but with little success. I still felt the numb pain in my chest and abdomen. I couldn’t figure that out.

    I lay there again, searching my mind for answers. Nothing came to me. My joints ached and a cold crept through my bones from the bed under me. Maybe I was in hell…but all accounts of I’ve heard of that place was that it is hot.

    I stared up at the holes in the ceiling. You know the kind of ceiling I’m talking about…the tiled ceiling with all of the holes in them. The kind they have in schools when you were a kid. I used to throw pencils up into the ceiling, and they’d just stick there. Wait! That was a memory…something from my life. OK, maybe it was just something I had to work for. Had I been in an accident?

    I lay there and tried to latch on to any other memory that existed inside my head. It’s strange that that would be the first recollection I’d have…assuming I would have others as well. You’d think a wife or child, or perhaps fond childhood memories would sit front in my mind. No, not me, I remember the pencils I threw in the ceiling in middle school.
    Had one of them fallen from the ceiling and poked me in the eye. Maybe that was why I was here. No, it seemed so long ago, even in my memory. I doubt that is it.

    I felt the need to recall something more important than that. After all, if I had memories to call on (and apparently I did), there had to be more than that. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to remember though. Should I remember my kids; my wife; my first lay, the cheerleader I banged at homecoming? None of those were actual memories, just things that you’d think would be important enough that I’d have some sort of recollection of them, or at least something similar.

    Nothing came though. Not a thought. Let me tell you, lying there not certain of what memories I should have in my head was frustrating. After all, not being able to remember something when you try is bad enough. Try not being able to remember anything and at the same time not being sure of what you are trying to remember…except for those damned pencils!

    I searched my mind for things that I should be able to remember, things that anyone in their right mind should be able to. Then it hit me; My Mother! I should be able to remember my mother! After all, everyone has one, right? This, this would be the first memory I would work towards; who was my mother and what can I remember about her. After all, if I couldn’t remember anything about her, what does that have to say for Hallmark’s marketing strategy?

    I lay there for a couple hours, but still to no avail. The memory of my mother, now apparently lost to me only intensified the dull pain in my chest. I must find this answer before anything else. There must be a clue somewhere as to who she is. I had to get up out of bed to look around for clues.

    I tried once again to move my feet, or even my toes. No luck. The same happened with my hands and fingers. My body felt paralyzed, like when you are in that state between sleeping and waking. I tried as hard as I could to move, but I just couldn’t do it. I then tried to move my head. With some thought and some effort, I was finally able to do that. On a table next to me stood a pile of books (1), something about an Electrical City, An Engineer is Human, The Social History of the Machine Gun, The Industrial Woman and a few others. From the looks of the titles, I guess I’m either an engineering student or a history student. Why else would someone have such a collection? I also determined that I’m not awaiting reincarnation. Why would books like these be sitting in a waiting room while my soul awaits transport into its next host? If that were the case, you’d think they’d at least lay out something relevant to the subject, like a Barron’s guide to wherever it is I’m gonna be born or a copy of a local newspaper.

    No, I was most definitely still alive. But I didn’t recognize where I was. You’d think in a situation like this that I might wake up in a hospital room with loved ones surrounding me. If that were the case, there’d be a good chance that I could figure out who my mother is. Unfortunately, I don’t appear to be in a hospital. No, they wouldn’t allow such reading material in a hospital; it’d just bore the patient to death. I don’t think I’m in my own room though. It’s funny; I can’t remember a damned thing about my life, aside form the pencils, but I’m certain I wouldn’t borrow these books from the library….that and the board on the back wall; not something I’d have in my house. No, it looks to me like it’s more of a classroom or an office, definitely not the décor that I’d have in my place.

    I laid there for what seemed an eternity, trying to get my arms and legs to work. As I focused on this, the dull pain in my body grew more intense. My lungs ached, and when I coughed it felt like the phlegm I hacked up was filled with sand. I focused first on my right arm. I tried just moving the fingers; they were bent so I tried to straighten them. As I tried to straighten my index finger, it only bent further, so I tried to bend it; it straightened. The joints in my finger screamed at me. Maybe I had arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. After moving the first fingers you’d think the others would come a bit quicker and easier. No, that wasn’t the case. I had to work just as hard on each one of them. Each one of them did the opposite of what I told it to do; each one ached just as bad as the first. Once I had my fingers and arms working, I focused on my toes. By now, the room was pitch-dark again.

    I continued to work on gaining control over my body and by the time I was able to control my legs, the light had entered the room again. I wanted to begin my search for answers, my search for my mother, but I was too exhausted. I worried that sleeping again would cause me to surrender the control I had manage to gain over my limbs. I laid there worrying about it and accidentally fell asleep. When I woke, the room was still bright, but the light was coming from above now instead of from the direction of my feet. Worried, I first tried to move my fingers; I still had control of them. I let out a sigh of relief; despite the pain moving them had caused me. I then took a look around the room. It was still empty. The pile of books on the table to my right was still there, though some of them were missing now. A book also lay open on top of the table. It then occurred to me that I hadn’t really looked at anything else in the room, just the books and the damned ceiling tiles.

    I then looked over to my left. On that side, there was some equipment, some of it looked like medical equipment, and some of it looked like tools you’d use on your car. Behind the tools stood a fish tank with a large fish inside the tank; it wasn’t an attractive fish, you know something tropical or colorful that people usually put on display. No, it was an ugly fish. Despite being ugly, the fish was the first sign of life I had seen in the room beside myself, so I figured I’d start looking there. I swung my legs off of the bed and tried to sit up. My efforts proved to be pretty clumsy and instead of getting up from the bed, I fell to the floor.

    I lay there in a heap for a moment, pain coursing through my joints and my chest. I didn’t want to quit now though, so I concentrated on getting up. My efforts seemed to be futile, so I tried to use my arms to drag myself over to the fish tank; eventually I reached it. I then used my arms to pull myself up so that I could look inside the tank. I managed to get my nose level with the base of the tank and peered inside at the fish sitting on the rocks. What an ugly fish, who’d want to keep something like that in their house…or their office, or wherever it is I am. Maybe the fish is awaiting reincarnation as well. No, I’ve already ruled that one out.

    I continued staring at the fish for a while, but then remembered that I had to find my answers. The fish after all, wasn’t going to be the one to provide them. It was as I was beginning to turn and move away from the tank that my eye caught something, the reflection.(2) My God, is that me? I couldn’t believe what I saw. My skin was desiccated and I had a large incision down my chest that had been sewn together, I look like something the cat had drug from the grave. I chuckled at that comment. I think my chuckle though was only to bury the horror that filled my thoughts. Certainly this can’t be what I’ve always looked like. I can’t remember much, but if that were what I’ve always been, it wouldn’t have taken me by such surprise to see myself.

    After getting over the initial horror of seeing myself, I decided I needed more than ever to search for the answers to my question. Who am I and who is my mother. Dealing with my looks would have to wait. After all, if I am supposed to look like this, it won’t matter. If not, it isn’t something that some plastic surgery can’t fix. Maybe I can get onto one of those reality shows where they can make me look like some star. Yet another strange memory to have pop into my head! I never even used to watch those shows; not that I can remember at least.

    I drug myself away from the fish tank and over to the other side of the bed. I had trouble navigating around some of the equipment; I even knocked over one tall thin machine. They should know better than to make that so top heavy. At least I didn’t break it. After getting untangled from the machine I had knocked over, I tried again to stand. This time I was more successful than the first. I managed to stand with the aid of the bed; it helped me keep my balance. At the foot of the bed, I noticed a small metal table. On top of the table were various knifes and clamps and such. Obviously, someone had used them to operate on me. what a strange location for surgery .

    I moved my way along the bed and over to the desk; one of the machines dragged along behind me. It wasn’t until the catheter pulled out of my hand that I realized I had been connected to it. Oh well. I grabbed a rag from the table and wrapped it around my hand to stop the bleeding.

    I then pushed myself over towards the desk. Lying on the desk, beside the piles of books was an open journal, a couple pictures in frames and a bright red container, one of those you use for storing dirty needles. Strange that they’d have something like that here in a place that isn’t a hospital.

    I pondered that thought for a few moments. There was something about the container that seemed familiar to me. Then, it sparked my memory. It wasn’t the container, but the color of it. It reminded me of something from my past; something a little more important to me than the pencils. I had joined an organization in college. It was kind of like a fraternity, a secret brotherhood. On the front, the organization claimed to support the furthering of African American ideals. It was more than a fraternity though, more than a group offering scholarships to kids. The group became a lifestyle, almost a religion. My mother had warned me against joining such a group. She said things weren’t always what they seemed. She had heard rumors from friends whose kids had joined, rumors of sick practices. I of course didn’t believe her, not until it was too late anyway.

    To be quite honest with you, even once I learned the truth, it didn’t bother me much. Our leader was a very charismatic and persuasive man. He spoke from his heart and kept our needs as a community at the forefront of our practices. Initiates of course weren’t exposed to all the rituals right away of course. In fact, myself along with most members often never realized the practices existed until later, after graduation, after they had progressed through the ranks.

    The brotherhood became a focal point of our lives though. The brotherhood cared for us, watched out for us, and saw that our needs as human beings were met. We dressed in traditional robes, not the trappings that the white man had forced on our people. We associated with the brotherhood and only the brotherhood. The brotherhood was our life. Our goal as members was to help make the world a better place for our people.

    Membership in the brotherhood was much more than a fraternity. We did much more than just drink beer and party. In fact, thinking back, I don’t even think the school recognized the brotherhood. Membership in the brotherhood was a lifetime commitment. After college, I had continued to support the brotherhood. As time went by, I was slowly introduced to the rituals we used to further our causes. It began with candles and light spells; curses on those that oppressed us. At every step though, we were exposed to more, blood rituals, sacrifices and the like. None of it bothered me though; everything we did was for the betterment of our lives and those like us. To be quite honest with you, I was happy to be included in the rituals, to be allowed to help perform them.

    We had special gowns we used when conducting our sacrifices, bright red satin gowns, the same color of the sharps box, which covered our traditional attire. I remember the first time I was allowed to don the gown, I was so happy to be taking part in an event that would make such an impact on the world. My friends and I all coursed with excitement over the proceedings that were to take place that night; my grin stretched from ear to ear as my friend helped wrap my headdress.(3)

    This memory also seemed much more recent to me, more recent than the pencils at least. I began searching for other clues on the desk that might further help me discover what had happened to me, who I am.

    I glanced at the pictures on the desk. No, it’s not what you think. It was a picture of an Asian boy and his father. The boy must be about 16 in the picture. I did recognize them though. The man owned a local butcher shop and a Chinese restaurant, a Korean guy. This picture must be from years ago. His son is much older now, in college if I remember correctly. His son is only a couple years younger than I am.

    One of my brothers had worked for his father in the butcher shop while we were in school. It gave him a job and a place to get rid of components for our rituals. He said that the man worked hard for his family, saving every penny to put his son David through school. I remember that David used to argue with him. David had wanted to be an engineer, but his father insisted on medical school. “David “, he’d say, “people will always get sick and need doctor.”

    His son conceded to his demands, but always complained about it. That fat bastard was ungrateful. He even complained about helping his dad with the family businesses. His father needed someone to help deliver orders, carry take out on their delivery bike, a big pink pig attached to a motorcycle. It was hilarious watching him ride though town on that thing. “A pig on a hog”(4) we used to say.

    I glanced from the picture, down to the journal. Inside the pages, was the answer I was looking for, how I came to be here and what had happened to me. Inside the pages were the combined rantings of a mad man and precise descriptions of a medical practice infused with technological tinkering. It appears David was never settled with his father’s desires to attend medical school. No, he wanted to build robots or cyborgs, to help advance technology.

    Christ, what an arrogant bastard! my mind swam as the realization swept over me. Did he really think he could play with someone’s life like this? My life? That still doesn’t answer how I wound up here though. Why me?

    I flipped to the beginning of his journal. It was full of ramblings, ranting about his demanding father. I skimmed through the book until I came upon what it was I was looking for. He had found my body along with others in the butcher store Apparently, his father continued to help out the brotherhood after my friend left. If that is the case though, that means that they betrayed me! A cold chill swept through my body as the realization swept over me. That night, that was my last memory. They killed me; I was their sacrifice. And this fat arrogant bastard here took me to use me as a toy. In doing so, he has denied me my heaven, hell or reincarnation…whatever it is that awaits me. My mind swam as the realization came over me.

    I reached up and felt my face, the horrible visage I had witnesses earlier reflected in my mind. There is no way I could live me life like this. Not even my mother would accept me as her son now. She had warned me about my associations, but I’m sure that this even far surpassed her greatest fears. I looked down at the rough stitching in my chest, the string that held me together. Frantic, I began tearing at it, ripping it out of my body; ripping my chest open. My chest parted and parts fell to the table and floor in front of me. Organs and electronics, infused together fell out of my chest and I slumped over on the table.

    Now, I sit here waiting, pondering my future, wondering what lies before me: heaven, hell or reincarnation.

    The End; or Perhaps a New Beginning.

    Picture Order (In case links don’t work):
    (1) bookworm.jpg
    (2) uglyfish.jpg
    (3) commies.jpg
    (4) hogrider.jpg

  6. #206
    bump for judgement

  7. #207

    Noskov "The Penitent Man"

    Okay, a "bad guy gets his comeuppance" story. I'm a sucker for these and this one's not too bad at all. A couple of general comments first:

    These stories are short -- get to the point quickly. It takes too long to get to "he's a bad guy".
    The penitence doesn't feel bad enough to justify the story I just read. Sure, chipping stone balls is tedious, but as penance for a serial killer?

    Okay, now let's get our hands dirty.

    There's a lot of typos in this story. Please check your work before you submit it:
    "I swam out and caught a mammoth and rode it" -- he caught a mammoth? Wow, is this Surfin' Pellucidar?
    "I looked out to the see"
    "I should head in after then next wave"

    Those are all in one paragraph. You don't do yourself any favours with errors like these.

    Your style is simple, which is good, and reasonably terse, which is also good. Like many Ceramic entries, your beginning is flabby and your ending slightly underdone. It takes a long time to get to the revelation that our hero is a murderer, and then there's a long period of discussion on his childhood that finally leads into Lonnie's death.
    THAT scene is very well done, however, and that's where this story really takes off. We have some sympathy for the narrator and his situation, but of course his actions are horrible. You do need to watch out for cliched phrasing: "Like a mad bull," "like fire over a dry hayfield." Use metaphors sparingly and make each one count. Otherwise, just choose the correct word.
    I think you could have given us more on our narrator's reaction to the deaths of his brother and his father. A clear reaction here would provide us with insight into why he kept killing. Did he enjoy the experience? Why? What part of it did he enjoy?

    Plot issue: The storm seems very important in the early stages of the story, but it then just disappears. If it's important, it should be important. If it's not, why include it in the first place?

    "Around my wrists are shackles and I?m not sitting in the chair that Lonnie was in when I arrived." -- Why is this suddenly in present tense? And if he's not sitting in the chair, where is he? This is very confusing.
    "the piles of spheres he carved eating voraciously" -- He carved spheres that ate voraciously?

    In the end, this story satisfies. This is a strong Ceramic DM entry, for all its errors and typos. The pictures are used very well, without any throwaways, although getting from the first reference to the second is a bit of a slog. You need to get away from hackneyed phraseology, you need to be more rigorous in your usage and copyediting, and you need to be more ruthless in your cutting. Don't go easy on yourself. You've got a knack for storytelling. Develop it.

    Thanks for this story.

    Rodrigo Istalindir "Sacrifice"

    Whew. There's some real emotion going on in here. The story is simple, a slightly twisted family done wrong by xenophobic neighbors. It builds and resolves nicely, and there's not a lot of fat one these here bones.

    The opening paragraph needs a little work, though. This -- "Although he was by all appearances a young man" -- is intriguing, but this -- "draining what little strength he had left" -- begs to explain WHY he has little strength left. And this -- "Not that it wouldn't have been exhausting anyway" -- makes me wonder what "it" is, and finally, this -- "if the other parents in the tiny sea-side village were any indication" -- makes me confused as to what they might be indicating. I don't disagree with the closing assertion on children's energy levels, but I'm left wondering what that has to do with anything else.

    For an opening paragraph, you need to do better than this.

    After that, however, things settle down nicely. The beach is well-evoked and I am able to picture your scenes clearly. I like the specific use of "cantalo" rather than "fish" -- of course fishermen would never just talk about "fish".

    The scene in the village could use some enrichening. A little more detail here would be welcome. What does it look like? What does it smell like? More specific choices here would help set up the final moments better.

    The reunion of Simon and Calliya is touching, though the exposition on were-sharks is a little clumsy. I know she's a were-shark. I just saw her change form, so I figured that out. Your problem is to communicate A) that Simon is just like her, and B) that when Sarenne grows up, she'll be like them, too. It's a lot of information to communicate -- trying to do it all in one paragraph is maybe a little too ambitious.

    The final scenes play out in a properly fevered rush -- Sarenne's kidnapping, the race to save her, the stranding in the pit and then, at the end, the understanding of impending vengeance. I do feel that you needed a bit of a break after their escape -- let them grieve and feel the death of their daughter -- it will give greater weight to their decision to wreak vengeance on their enemies.

    This is a very strong story, Rodrigo. It needs more specific details like the "cantalo" to really elevate it to something special, but a very good Ceramic DM entry indeed.

    Very good picture use. The turtle eggs were a creative choice for that picture.

    I enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

    Decision: Rodrigo Istalindir



    A good story thread, a good beginning, a great ending, and a somewhat
    muddled middle.

    I loved the abrupt transition from a surfer story to something with
    higher stakes (though I wondered, if the narrator drowned, why the whole
    dolphin/shark thing mattered). The problem was that it sort of lost its
    way trying to get to the end. The whole discussion with the old man was
    hand-waved--why is the guy asking him things he already knows about? Why
    isn't the narrator asking questions back, like "Who the hell are you and
    how do you know about those murders?"

    While we get that the narrator is more than a few pixels short of a
    screenshot, after the seminal killings of his brother and father, we
    have no idea about the other eleven. People who looked like his dad?
    People who got him mad? He follows a stranger down into a cave because
    letting him drop to his death is "not my style," but we have no idea
    what the narrator's style is. (It's also a little implausible that he'd
    never have been so much as questioned in the deaths of his father and
    brother, unless he's been a fugitive, but the story implies he's just
    never been caught rather than actively evading a manhunt.)

    The word "penance" could be used less at the end--the repetition takes
    out some of the punch.

    Excellent use of the rock picture. I was disappointed by the shark; it
    seemed important but then we find out the narrator drowned; his death
    had nothing to do with the shark at all.

    SACRIFICE (Rodrigo Istalindir)

    A very powerful story, an interesting ending without being a standard
    "happy ending." Very good tie-in of all four pictures to the narrative;
    I particularly liked the use of the face picture to emphasize Simon's
    non-human aspect, and bringing the sea turtles back in again; nice
    contrast between Simon's care of the eggs as a human and his casual
    destruction as a shark.

    I was a bit put off by the "blow to the back of the head and our hero
    wakes up alone" sequence--surely if the elders were smart enough to kill
    Sarenne and trap her parents in the pit, they'd have made darn sure
    Simon was dead before leaving him alone on the beach.

    Judgment this round for RODRIGO


    Rodrigo- Wow.

    Good pic use, straight down the line. The story really maintained my interest without feeling it was overstretched to fit the visuals. There are a couple of misspellings and a few clumsy phrases that I am sure will melt away when you polish this for us post-contest.

    I like how we get a strong sense of the powers without a need to over-explain them, one of the luxuries of picking your audience. J An environmentalist monster- we need to see this stuff more often.

    Noskov- Wow.

    The pic use on the round stones is some of the best pic use I have seen. There are several jarring moments in this story “Now he had my attention.” Is the first and I wondered if the wait was worth it. Then everything got darker.

    I like the darker. There are a few clumsy moments- you have made a great show of getting me to sympathize with the killer except his motivation to keep following into the woods and down the hole. Something needs to add to his reasoning for me to not be distracted there.

    The Lonnie pic was really good, the shark pic was alright and the pit pic was the weakest.

    But wow did that rock pic work well.

    Judgement- This one is a very tough call for me.. Really strong round- I usually have my decisions ready when I receive the other judges emails, but this one took me a long while. I think Noskovs highs are higher, but I have to side with the consistently good writing of Rodrigo

    Decision- 3-0 for Rodrigo, thanks to you both

  8. #208
    Congrats, Rodrigo!

    How many more judgements/matches left before the final round?

  9. #209
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Three more judgements for this round (Sending an updated link menu to alsih2o in a short bit.).

    Round two has 4 pairings - 8 competitors.
    Round three will have 2 pairings - 4 competitors
    Round four is the big showdown.

    So, 14 stories left to read. Once we have judgements, we will know who is competing in the second round.

  10. #210
    Ooops, I ment to say "next round," I know the finals are a long way off.

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