Archive for the ‘UR2Ax3SPFW’ Category

Fiction Week Is Over

22 Aug

Wellp, thanks once again for furnishing the six-foot flaming hoops for me to jump through. Hell-god typist’s cramp aside, I’d say it went pretty well, especially considering my unrecorded post-must-be-complete-before-midnight rule and menagerie of oddball terms. I got a little lucky on those–there was some wacked-out stuff on my registries that could have really sunk me if I’d rolled them. I’d say the closest I got was when I got “sentient mullet”, but I managed to give that one the slip.

Now, it just so happens that Vatsy and Bruno: A Tale in Three Acts is mere days away from its complete, unedited release. If you enjoyed the off-the-cuff improv fiction I assembled this week, you may enjoy the final cut of Vatsy and Bruno, a work I spent about a year and a half creating and the past three months editing. It’s a grimly comedic tale of dystopia, bad food, crime, cliche, mutants, friendship, mad science, bounty hunters, and–above all–journalism. I’ll be rolling out a modest read-this-goddammit campaign once the draft is 100% complete.

Since we’ve got that out of the way: some bullet-pointy thoughts on Fiction Week below. Minor spoilers, so I’ll throw in a fold just in case you haven’t read it yet. Which, if so, feel free to do that now–it’s pretty short.

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Apocalypse Gothic: Alternate Ending

21 Aug

For my extra image, I have chosen to create an alternate, illustrated ending–one that will challenge your conceptions of the work, the boundaries of visual expression, and the storytelling mores of the 20th and 21st centuries. Enjoy.

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Apocalypse Gothic, The End

21 Aug

Seymour curled up in the darkness. He felt his breath begin to slow down, his muscles relax, his tense spirit calm. It was quiet here, and peaceful—he couldn’t explain it, but he felt like he belonged here. If it weren’t for all the things he had to do—all the things Mr. Stibbs asked of him—he thought he might like to stay here a while.

Even so, every time he came here, the urge to remain grew a little stronger. And every time, just as he felt himself drift off in contemplation, Mr. Stibbs would say:

“That’s enough rest for today, Seymour.”

Seymour blinked. Then he was outside the house, and the cold night air rushed around to greet him.

“Steady, Seymour. I think they’re all going to come for you soon.”

These words sent a thrill through Seymour, but a delayed one—the terror of knowing that he should be terrified. The fact that he was not weighed strange on his gut, and he asked—as much to himself as anyone else– “…won’t I get hurt?”

“You know you won’t.”

“What do I do?”

“What comes naturally, Seymour. What comes naturally.”

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Uncle Rutsy’s Important Message

20 Aug

I just realized that I had one less day of URASDJKZDF#@$ than I thought I did. My thinking was all wrong–technically, this is Saturday’s post, it’s just going up very late Friday night. This wouldn’t be a problem–it’d be a relief, actually–except that I’m not close enough to finishing the story yet. I’ve probably got at least six pages left.

And so, I’m warping my self-imposed schedule a bit to make sure I do a decent job of it. Here’s the skinnish: tomorrow, sometime in the afternoon, you’re going to get the final post of Fiction Week. It will be double length, it will conclude the tale entirely, and it will–in deference to my misplanning–contain two days worth of terms, words, and random encounters.

I’d give a short report on how fiction week’s been going over in Skarnia, but I’ve decided to put my time to better use by bludgeoning myself with a potted hyacinth until the thought of ever, ever doing this sort of thing again is blasted out of my brain permanently.

So I’ll just give you a short summary: pretty well.


Apocalypse Gothic, Part 5

19 Aug

(What was tonight’s challenge? It’s a little complicated. In addition to writing the usual for you lot, I also wrote a 100-word short story for a local newspaper contest that was brought to my attention this afternoon. You’ll see the results once the contest has been judged, probably a little over a week from now.)

Forrester’s motorcycle roared towards the bonfires on Crossroads Plaza as fast as he could drive it. His headlights fell on the milling bikers, lighting them up like struck flares as they saw him and stumbled out of his path. Forrester didn’t let up on the accelerator until there was at least ten men between him and the farmhouse.

Then he banked hard and drifted to a stop. As soon as the bike’s speed approached zero, he threw himself off and started towards the nearest bonfire with a vengeance.

“Where’s Axle?” he yelled. “Get me Axle now!”

A bald man in a leather vest turned from the fire and hurried to Forrester’s side.

“Problem, Forrest?”

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Apocalypse Gothic, Part 4

18 Aug

(This is an interesting one in that–while I used both the word and the term–you’ll have to take my word for it, at least for now.)

The box Forrester found was the size and shape of a jewelry box, but less adorned. It was made of old, worn pine, and looked as if it was assembled by an amateur. It was locked shut, but Forrester could force it open with a ballpoint pen if he cared to. Immediately, he was forced to decide whether to open it then and there or save it for once the place had been secured. On the one hand, do the job first was his watchword, one that had probably saved his life at least a couple of times. On the other hand, all they were up against was one farmboy, and Forrester’d dealt with his share of those before.

He shrugged, then drew his buck knife, planted the tip on the lock…

He barely heard the scream. It was all the way out in the barns, two walls and a dozen yards away, and it was muffled almost to inaudibility—but it was there, undeniably. Forrester crammed the box in his jacket, and was halfway down the staircase when he realized just how loud the scream would’ve  had to have been for him to have heard it at all.

Seymour backed away with his hands planted over his mouth so firmly it looked like he was afraid something would escape. His eyes were wide open and twitching.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” he whispered.

“Everything’s going to be alright,” Mr. Stibbs said. “You’ve still got the cows. Everything’s going to be alright.”

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Apocalypse Gothic, Part 3

17 Aug

It was nearing sunset. The wooded road was already dark as moonlit night, shrouded as it was by the overhanging canopy of brittle leaves. Even so, Forrester didn’t turn his lights on until he absolutely had to. There was nothing like tearing blind down a gravel road, flanked on either side by freakshows just as reckless as you were—following you so closely that if you turned left into a ravine, they’d all follow you like tin cans tied around the tail of a dog. Forrester’s boys were stupid, but that was a trait he tended to cultivate. He liked them too ignorant to be proper leaders and just smart enough to know it.

The men on his left and right, who called themselves Knuckle and Wolf, were not his best or most loyal. Those men he left with the bulk of the pack back in town, there to make sure the pack didn’t do anything stupid like waste gasoline or kill each other. Knuckles and Wolf were gifted at driving motorcycles and hurting other human beings, which was enough for the purposes of this mission.

And then there was Lock, the girl driving their fuel truck, who’d come along to tow the cows back. He liked Lock. She was an excellent balance between rock-solid stupidity and single-minded mechanical aptitude. For the most part, she was content to work and sleep in the truck 24 hours a day—the idea of taking the truck and leaving never seemed to occur to her, or maybe she’d just gotten used to having her meals and gasoline handed to her on a plate. Either way, he trusted her to get done what needed to be done and not shoot anybody who didn’t need shooting.

The background noise suddenly filtered in over the sound of crunching gravel—an owl was hooting in the woods. Hey, there were owls out here. That was the advantage of travel, he thought: you got to experience such a wide variety of flora and fauna.

“Boss, we gonna kill that farmboy?” shouted Knuckle over their engines. He’d pulled up a bit so they were within speaking range.


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Apocalypse Gothic, Part 2

16 Aug

(Thanks to the king-hell stomach ache that knocked me out of commission for a couple hours, I literally don’t have time to do the illustration before the internet shuts off. I’ll just throw it in on top of tomorrow’s Random Encounter.)

Seymour’s mouth dropped open.

“I couldn’t!”

“You can, Seymour. You know you can.”

“No—but—there’s so many of them! One of them has a gun, and…besides, you know I ain’t supposed to…”

“You shouldn’t lose the cows, should you?”

“No…I mean, I shouldn’t, but…”

“You know what you have to do, Seymour.”

The tears ran freely down Seymour’s face now. “Please…I ain’t supposed to…”

“You know what you have to do.”

As if moving through a bog, Seymour drifted to the window, eyes wet and unfocused. Then he forgot how to stand and collapsed against it—he caught the sill and hung there, looking out at the rolling fields beyond the fence of Odell Farm, reaching out towards cliffs that blocked the rest of the world from view.

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Apocalypse Gothic, Part 1 of 6

15 Aug

On clear fall afternoons, the only noise on Seymour’s farm was the gentle hum of the churning machines, the murmuring of the cows in the pasture, and the distant chirping of insects and birds. As the day wound down, Seymour used to turn his radio to that last remaining folk station and put it out on the balcony, letting the music echo out for who knows how far. He and Mr. Stibbs would sing along sometimes—Seymour knew most of the songs from his childhood, and Mr. Stibbs learned them from him. Then that station vanished with the others, and he and Mr. Stibbs had to sing without accompaniment. Even then, he left the radio on almost 24/7, half-hoping the music would return overnight.

When the sharp burst of static sounded from the kitchen that day in October, his first thought was that the station had come back online. Then he realized, with no loss of surprise, that the static wasn’t coming from the radio at all—it was coming from the intercom over the sink.

When he arrived from the parlor, he found the half-dead intercom light blinking feebly up at him, the screen white, the speakers issuing a sharp hiss that had only the edges and contours of human speech. It was difficult to tell what the person on the other side was saying: as if realizing this, the person spoke again, much louder and more distinct:

“I said, is anybody there?”

Seymour reached the terminal, hurriedly adjusted a few knobs, and turned the video feed on. For the first time in years, a black-and-white image of a human face winked into view. It wasn’t easy to make out—it was hard even to tell how much of the face’s ugliness could be credited to distortion and how much of it could be credited to the poor man’s parents. As soon as the link stabilized, the face squinted visibly, leaning in closer.

“Hell, there you are.”

“Hi there, stranger!” said Seymour, picking up a fresh piece of rhubarb off the counter. “Name’s Seymour. Can I help you?”

There was a gravelly chuckle. “Could be, could be. Now, I might be reading this here directory wrong, but it seems to me that I’m talking to the dairy farm up north of the old courthouse. Is that right?”

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Welcome to Uncle Rutsy’s Second Annual All-American Squirrel Parade Fiction Week

14 Aug

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to this carnival of abuses, this parade of self-destruction, this exercise in storytelling that verges out so far into Experimental that it verges on merely Insane. Welcome, in nutshell, to UR2Ax3SPFW!

What is about to transpire is a long, controlled self-demolition, a parody of my tendency to take on too much damn work at once. With any luck, it’ll be fun for all involved; at the very least, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

How does UR2Ax3SPFW work, you might ask? That is an excellent question, to which there are two equally valid answers.

The first: it works because some being in this vast universe is conspiring with its every breath to destroy me utterly…and that being, apparently, is me.

More practically, UR2Ax3SPFW works like this.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve compiled from you three lists. The first, List A, is a list of random terms (communism, soap operas, etc). The second, List B, is a list of random words. The third, List C, is your selections from a list of the following elements: Challenge, Illustration, Article, and Poem.

Today is Day One. In a few hours I will randomly select three items from List A. From these three items, I will have to devise a setting and premise from which I must then launch a six-day eighteen-page storyline. I have not done any prep work for this, of course, and even as I type this I have literally no idea what kind of story I’m going to be writing this week.

Day One is also the day I begin actually writing the story. That day, and all following days, I must also select a random item from List B and List C. Whatever the result is for List B, I must use somehow use that word in that day’s update, no matter how unsuitable it may be. I must also incorporate whatever I roll from List C into that day’s update. For example, if I draw:

Illustration: I draw a picture to go with the update. This could be a storybook style “here’s what’s going on picture,” or it could be a diagram.

Poem: I write a poem to go with the update. Again, this could be part of the narrative, or it could not.

Article: Either an in-universe magazine or newspaper article that a character reads, or a Hitchhiker’s Guide style footnote.

Challenge!: This actually has nothing to do with adding content and everything to do with causing me pain. I have to undergo some sort of challenge before or during the writing of that day’s update. I won’t spoil what challenges I have in mind.

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that I have to also draw a brand-new term from List A every day and integrate that in as well? True story: last year, I was writing a story about tribal dinosaur-hunting peoples, and then I rolled the term cell phones. Took it in a totally new direction, but I think a fairly interesting one.

At the end of the week, the short story will be compiled, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, and the peasants will rejoice. Also, I’ll finally be releasing the full compiled and meticulously edited draft of Vatsy and Bruno either directly or soon after the week’s end–if you like the fiction to come, I strongly recommend checking it out.

Anyway, I’m going to go get my beauty sleep. I’ll probably do the term-drawing at around 10:00 PST…I’ll announce the first three terms here, but after that,  the day’s term drawings will just be announced via Twitter.

Writing hell begins…now.

(Last year’s fiction week can be found here)

And the Genesis Terms are:

115 out of 191: Motorcycle

132 out of 190: Parrot

113 out of 189: Dairy Farm

Huh. The sad part is, I see this, and immediately know what I must do.