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It Could Be Worse · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 3
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Going to try getting back in the groove of this group and submit a story.
#2 · 2
Welcome back. I will try to be in the art phase, at least.
#3 · 3
I’m going to write something too, provided I get some inspiration
#4 · 2
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Didn't we do this prompt already...? : )

#5 · 3
No, it's a natural progression. A few years from now, the winning prompt will be "It Got Worse".
#6 ·
It's worse now because Griseus has wrote and finished a tale.
#7 · 1
Ok, I’m in.
Nice to be able to compare what will be written with what was written at the time and assess how much awesome we've become! :p
#8 · 2
Alright, got my story in. It feels great to finally get a story done after so long.
Post by Monokeras , deleted
#10 · 2
In at the last minute!
#11 · 2
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Duh. I wonder if anyone will draw a picture inspired by my story…
#12 · 1
· · >>Monokeras

I will try to get some art in, I'll see how it goes.
#13 · 1
;) Good luck GGA. Take care.
#14 · 2
· on Polemics · >>libertydude
So what the heck is going on here?

1. Taking the narration at face value seems to be impossible. Of course we'd have to imagine a seriously alternate universe, but even so, the numbers simply won't work out for enough kids to be left alive to still form a group by the time this becomes a slice-of-life event. The lack of emotional investment from the mother would also be a very tough nut to swallow.

2. It might be Alex simply embellishing his humdrum walk from school in his head, like Calvin would. Perhaps Susie Irene is also in on the game, but what's up with the teacher and mother playing along too? We could chalk that up to the unreliable narrator embellishing their lines too. But if so, the story seems to be missing some kind of punchline or denouement.

3. There's a few points -- "pedagogue", "agora", "doric columns", "for Zeus's sake" -- where it sounds like this is a straight "what if" premise: ancient Greece customs with modern weaponry. But offhand I don't think even the Spartans had their youth routinely indulge in outright fights to the death; that would have been too wasteful of manpower.

4. It's all completely symbolic and intended to illustrate a polemic point. This has the advantage of allowing the prompt to participate in the interpretation -- not "this is a situation that could be worse" but "this is how it could be worse". However, then what is the actual point being made? The opening lines naturally lead towards thinking about school shootings and disputes about how society should or shouldn't react to them. On the other hand, the whole allegory could also be about plain old-fashioned bullying. Or it could just be a generalized accusation of the education system for amounting to psychological abuse of children.

5. Oh! I've got it! Combining options 2 and 4: Alex and Irene are harassed by bullies on their way home from school. The narration of the attack itself is Calvin-style embellishment. The uncaring attitude of the adults is real, with just minor adjustments of word choices to match his interpretation. Alex decides to get back on them all and (after the story) becomes an actual school shooter.

Hmm, that's a whole lot more chilling than I thought this review would be when I started writing ...
#15 · 2
· on Lemonade Run · >>libertydude
Hmm, so he spiked his own stock with booze and some kind of herbal poison, and spiked that of his rival with laxative, and then for good measure also sabotaged the water supply? Why? It sounds like he's just Chaotic Evil.

Lemonade stands are a bit of Americana that I know of only from media in-references, so it's quite possible that I'm missing some crucial cultural background to understand this story. Are they generally supposed to be as serious business as portrayed here? Permits from the housing association? Paying someone money for the stand itself? Worrying about whether your shopkeeper roleplay breaks even?

I struggle to imagine how that laxative must taste if the immediate reaction it elicits from everybody is consistently the particular word "meh" ...
#16 · 2
· on You Can Pay in Gold or Lead · >>Monokeras
A wild-west gunfight, for no particular reason that the story deigns to tell us about. One of the guys ends up dead, the other (who is the narrator and didn't shoot first, so he's the one we root for) lives. The End.

The writing is competent and clear, and there's some promise of character in the narrative voice -- though at this length it doesn't really get a fair chance to distance itself from regular cowboy noir.

I'm not really sure where the prompt connects to this.

All in all, my reaction is as to spiked lemonade: Meh.
#17 · 3
· on The Library With No Shelves · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Not really a story, just a vignette -- but in itself that's fair game in the minific category.

The confessions of a compulsive bibliophile who has moved a lot and is apparently well into the autumn of life. It sounds like there are books they haven't even unpacked for fifty years! Or are they simply reusing the same boxes from move to move? But it sounds like they are actually keeping at least some of the books in boxes between moves.

The only hint of conflict is the narrator's intention to scan the books instead of holding on to them physically. That doesn't really ring true to me, though I'll willingly believe they're telling themself that. But realistically, if you bought a book decades ago and haven't ever gotten around to reading it, how can you tell yourself with a straight face you "care more about the text"?

Of course, that's the point here -- that the narrator isn't being rational. Very well, but then what? They come across as moderately eccentric but not dangerous or unhappy. I end up wondering why we're being told this.
#18 · 3
· on Polemics · >>Troposphere >>Monokeras
The idea of school as a preparatory for war is an interesting concept, and the fact that many of the settings come off as World War 1-era ideas (trenches, snipers etc.) raises a disturbing idea about how children were essentially prepared for slaughter by their own countries. This is just my interpretation, of course, and I have no clue if it was intentional on the author’s part, but it’s the one that I think works best and has the most satisfying subtext. Reading it literally, as >>Troposphere said, really raises too many questions about the logic of the world.

However, that’s the main issue with this piece for me: the reliance on interpretation. Both Troposphere and I were looking for deeper meaning because, as is, the story doesn’t seem to provide anything else to glean from it. The plot is simple enough, but the setting seems too obscured by the strange mish-mash of cultural elements (Spartan war-mindset, modern weapons, usage of the phrase pedagogue). Leaving things up for reader interpretation is fine, but when the totality of the story requires the reader to infer nearly everything about the world and situation, it comes off like a cop-out on the author’s part, where being vague about the situation and characters puts the brunt of the creative weight on the reader instead of the writer. A strong narrative where the writer’s goals are clearer is much more thought-provoking in my mind than simply handing the reader a skeleton and telling them to build the rest of the body. With the former, you can at least debate and argue about the author’s viewpoint and the world itself, whether you love or hate these elements. Here, I can’t really get mad or elated at the story because I know that everything is just coming from my own mind and perspective, not the author’s own intent. Nothing wrong with trying to get the reader thinking (I’m sure most of us here would applaud such an endeavor), but remember that readers will likely be more appreciative of a story that caused them to ponder about its contents rather than forced them to ponder them.

I fear I’m sounding overly negative, so I want to say that there is a good story in here, but that any future editing should focus on emphasizing what the author wants to actually say. If it’s an imaginative flight of fancy by a bullied child, show us. If it’s a bizarre conflagration of warrior cultures in an alternate universe, show us. If it’s a dystopian future where kids are prepared for school shootings by being shot at all the time, great, but show us. Once the author has a clear idea in their mind about what they want to do, I think putting down their ideas in text will be a lot easier and provide an intriguing tale in whatever genre/storyline they go with.
#19 · 2
· on Lemonade Run · >>Troposphere
Never trust a kid named Mikey. That’s just common sense.

On a serious note, one element I enjoyed about the story was the idea of a kid creating a business model that forces the customers into participating in another business. It creates an interesting commentary that you could draw parallels to bigger corporations like computer companies or television providers. There’s definitely something there to expand on in a future version of this story.

I think what bugged me the most about this story was the ages of the kids, which felt a little too ambiguous. In fact, I’m assuming their kids because that’s generally who runs lemonade stands, but for all I know, they may be young adults. The level to which Mikey goes to maintain their business also seems a bit too far for a story that’s relatively grounded. Had things been a little more bombastic from the get-go (like, say, if Mikey casually mentioned he’d obtained 300 gallons of tomato juice in one night), I would’ve accepted this as just a part of this kooky world. As is, it does feel like a little too over-the-top and way too mean-spirited to be funny (for reference: I live in a subtropical climate with harsh summers, and turning off an entire neighborhood’s water would be akin to ripping water away from people in the middle of the desert).

Any future revisions the author makes should probably be spent on upping the comedic excesses of the piece to where we as readers would be on board, since we understand how outlandish and excessive the piece would be. Like >>Troposphere said, make Mikey full-on Chaotic Evil; maybe he’s a criminal mastermind trying to get a lean on the whole lemonade/tomato juice business. Anything that would make us “get” the piece’s humor a little more clearly.

(Also, just to answer >>Troposphere’s questions, lemonade stands are essentially considered summer dalliances for children or easy fundraisers here in America. There’s usually not a focus on the business side of things because lemonade is something you can easily make yourself and is available at stores, so folks only buy it to give the kids a little spending money over the summer or to help out with local advocacy groups. It’s rare that you have to get a permit since they’re basically businesses that pop up in neighborhoods for a few days than disappear. There are technically laws in most areas about setting them up, but only the most stringent of cities try to enforce them. Partly because they aren’t worth the effort, but partly because they are so deeply embedded in American psyches as “easy summer activities for kids” that sending the police to scold children for making lemonade makes you look like a huge jerk. In fact, I remember a time a few years ago where one city did just that, and they got major criticism across the country for doing so.)
#20 · 3
· on The Library With No Shelves · >>GroaningGreyAgony
A very fascinating read. Both my mother and I always collected books, even if it took a long time to read them and we had to pack them carefully in boxes, so this rang a lot truer to me than it may for some others. Focusing on the protagonist’s methods for packing boxes and how they make space for their books creates a very fascinating insight into their life. I also liked the idea that they keep creating new excuses for why they kept the books, then why they are destroying them. It shows a certain conflict of thought: If books are so important, why are you destroying them? I felt like the narrator had changed after a series of moves, where he suddenly realized he didn’t really care all that much about the books he saved (particularly the ones he didn’t read), so he’s trying to destroy them and save them at the same time. A sort of cognitive dissonance wrought by his changing perspective of life.

The primary issue I have with the piece is the sheer amount of description given to the packing of the boxes, but the relatively brief descriptions afterwards. I kind of wanted to see more of the narrator’s shift in thinking about their books, maybe through how they treated them (i.e. they would toss them on a bed later in life instead of carefully placing them in a bookshelf). The story still had around 300 more words it could use, so it felt like a waste when the narrator just gave terse two line statements about their books afterwards instead of any detailed description about how they grew more callous towards their books. If there’s any revision to this piece in the future, I would definitely expand upon that section.

Other than that, a pretty solid vignette about a change in perspective as one gets older.
#21 · 2
· on You Can Pay in Gold or Lead
Probably the most blunt story in this batch, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s sometimes nice to read something that just presents a situation and describes how the protagonist gets out of it. The action was understandable and didn’t lag too much. I also liked how the story reincorporated ideas, like the notches on Rex’s hat and the sheriff’s talk about how most people can’t shoot on their sides. These were repeated naturally throughout the story and did a decent set-up for when the sheriff finally turns the tables on Rex.

The problems mostly come from the fact that there’s so much focus on the plot that there’s not much focus on the characters themselves. Rex is just the black-hatted outlaw and the narrator is just the Wild West sheriff, and that’s all there is to them. I thought there was going to be an interesting switch toward the end, where maybe Rex was wrongfully imprisoned and the sheriff had actually been an abusive bastard and Rex was the actual hero; the fact the sheriff laughs when he realizes where he shot Rex seems like something a villain would do. But nope, Rex was just a bad dude and the sheriff’s laughing just because he has a weird sense of humor, I guess (to be fair, not an unusual trait to have in Arizona). There was also a relative lack of description regarding what Luanne’s Bar looked like, which didn’t envelop me in the Western aesthetic as much as it should have.

If there’s any revisions in the future, I think the author should probably flesh out these characters a bit more. You don’t have to do the “Rex was the true hero” idea I suggested, but there should at least be something more to these gunslingers than “we’re shooting at each other”. Show us just how noble the sheriff is or how vile Rex is and how they eventually have to face-off one way or the other. Also show a little more of Luanne’s bar and what this saloon in the middle of Arizona feels like. A little bit of characterization and setting description will go a long way to making this story fire on all cylinders.
#22 · 2
· on Lemonade Run
Thanks for the explanation, >>libertydude. That matches the working assumptions I've formed from from media references. I still wasn't sure if "little Freyja"s hard-nosed attitude towards the business was normal or an explicit point the story was trying to make. (Some of her grievances near the start of the story sounded so adult I could almost think I was reading Ender's Game).
#23 · 2
· on Polemics · >>Monokeras
For the record, I'll stand behind >>libertydude's critique here -- I'm not at all sure my eventual interpretation is in fact the story the author intended to tell. And so I'm torn between ranking the story high because it was the one that didn't make me go "meh", or ranking the story low for how opaque it is.

Occam's razor probably favors the hypothesis that the author was attempting satire but failed to carry it all the way through. The first half of satire is extrapolating a real-world trend unto the absurd. And the story certainly does that, inasmuch as it presents an absurd world that feels vaguely at the end of some sliding scale that starts at ours. But the second half of satire is when the story anticipates the reader's objection that it's absurd, and responds with as straight a face as possible: "No, dear reader, this world makes perfect sense, and here's how". It doesn't need to actually make sense, of course -- but the inhabitants of the story's universe must genuinely believe it does, and tell us (or each other, or an appropriate audience-surrogate character) why. It only really becomes satire when their rationalizations echo arguments we've heard in the real world, in support of less obviously absurd outcomes.
#24 · 2
· on Polemics
Well, I read this story, and I must say I totally disagree with what you both have said (both >>Troposphere and >>libertydude). This might boil down to idiosyncrasies, or the way we've been taught literature, but for me the best pieces are those open to interpretation, where the reader is not walked through the story by in-your-face details. Alright, I don’t speak about cases like Finnegan's wake where the reader is completely left at sea as to what the contents even are. But that’s not the case here: we have a structured story, easy to understand.

Now what? The Calvin & Hobbes hypothesis is cute, but the callous and/or flippant remarks of the mother suffice to dismiss it. It is obvious the situation is both normal for her and her son, and even Irene's death is perceived in a ‘serves her right’ way.

So we’re left with basically two possibilities: or this is a modernised version of a Sparta-like culture, or this is a thin veiled allusion to what an hyper-violent society could look like, for example the US or Russia if the present trend was pushed to its logical conclusion.

Now, I once again disagree with the reasoning that ‘it cannot be about eugenics because the numbers just don’t tally’. It is NOT the job of the author, especially in a fictional environment like this, to ensure 100% realism. First of all, because you don’t have sufficient background to judge: what if children are continuously bred, as in Huxley’s Brave New World and given to their family each time a former one is killed? Or maybe what is described here happens only once or twice a year, like a sort of festival, or the famous lottery in the itself notorious short story, in which case the casualties would be much more limited.

But most of all because the aim of the story is elsewhere. Let me illustrate again. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is widely held to be (one of) his best novel(s). If you haven't read it, it’s a road trip in a post-apocalyptic world, where all land life, animal or vegetal, has disappeared, but for a few wandering humans who – for those who have not erred on the side of cannibalism – subsist on tinned/dry goods. Now, no critic has even ever suggested that the book is worthless because in such a world, vitamin C would be impossible to find and all would die from scurvy in a couple of months at most (which is the cold truth, though). Why? Because the point of the story is not to describe how people would survive in such a fictional world in every detail. The story is all about the relationship between father and son, and the background is just a pretence to ‘screenplay’ that with a minimal degree of consistency.

Here, we are in the same scheme. The story is not about counting casualties and figuring out what the birth rate would have to be in order to sustain such a dystopia. The story here is about eugenics, violence, and how children raised in a violent society adapt so well that violence becomes completely natural to them. That violence could be the result of a deliberate policy, and we’re in the case of a neo-Spartan society where the weakest are doomed to die, and I remind you that Spartans used to throw ‘deformed’ newborns from a crag into the sea, a war-oriented society where war abilities are prised much more than anything else. Or we are in a society where gun liberty is pushed to the extreme, and that may not be far off in countries like the US or Russia. In the US, I remind you also that a few years ago, a 5-year old boy shot his 2-year sister with a child-sized rifle, if I remember correctly. The fact that, at the time at least, they were companies manufacturing and advertising for child-target firearms is itself proof this story is not that far-fetched at all.

And it may be well that the author lets the reader decide which one suits them the most, or even find new interpretations besides those that he had in mind. In both cases, the message is a strong one, and one that gives me pause, and ask: ‘Am I going to allow this to be even a remotely accurate description of our future world?’

Ok. I'd planned to write a comment for all stories tonight, and I've used up all my time for this one. Woebegone me! :p
#25 · 1
· on You Can Pay in Gold or Lead
It’s a fair description of a ‘having it out’, far west mode. You seem to have a propensity for fat people, somehow. It’s a bit caricatural, you know, saloon, holes in the hat, all that stuff. Not very original, neither the decor, nor the scenario.

Execution is fine. The problem is more in the aftertaste. That’s where I concur with >>Troposphere. Once you have finished it, you can’t help but feeling something round the line of ‘okay, fine, but what's the takeaway?’. That, plus the tenuous link to the prompt, makes it a good read, but as many slices of life, that’s all about it.

Also he rolled ten feet on the floor? That’s a hell of a roll :p
#26 · 1
· on Lemonade Run
Well… What can I say? This tastes completely contrived from the beginning till the end. Beginning by the first line, which is entirely wasted and irrelevant. I mean, I don’t really care about the story (this is a far-fetched plot), I don’t really care about the characters either.

The only thing amusing are the names. I suppose Mickey was chosen because of Mickey Finn. Freyja is probably a reference to the Norse goddess. Other than that, I’m siding with Troposphere here again.
#27 · 2
· on The Library With No Shelves · >>GroaningGreyAgony
…or your thumb drive could get erased or just broken.

The circumstances make the author of this plain. I don’t share that callousness. I wouldn't maim a book, EVER. Even if said book is destined to be jailed forever in a titanium trunk, whose key has been lost, itself thrown down a well.

Other than that, it’s a vignette, as someone said. It’s well written, though. EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE A SAVAGE, MISTER AUTHOR! :p
#28 · 3
· on You Can Pay in Gold or Lead
Pretty amusing scene, but I feel like it's lacking the back story to make me care that much about the characters. Rex has apparently been in this guy's jail before, but for what? Probably not the notches in his hat, or he wouldn't have gotten out of jail so soon. So were his other kills considered justified, or just nothing could be proven? I like the way you try to fill out the scene by mentioning what a couple of other characters in the bar are doing, but there's just not enough space to do that much with it. It's a good way to suggest he has a history with these other folks as well, but there isn't the word count to flesh any of them out. You end up having to mention a bunch of them collectively, which makes me wonder why the gambler is being singled out. He must have some significance to Our Hero, but we don't get why. It gets a bit repetitive that both he and Rex are described as fat, and the rest being vaguely grouped together doesn't give me a clear picture of how crowded this saloon is.

So: great as an in-the-moment scene, but lacking the context to make a story out of it.
#29 · 2
· on Lemonade Run
Kind of amusing, but I don't understand the motivations at all.

So, Mikey (well, you call him Mickey too) wants to cause trouble just because, I guess? He starts out as if it's a favor he's doing Freyja, but then that was just a prank as well, so why does Freyja even engage with him? For that matter, Mikey isn't advertising his drinks as alcoholic, or Freyja would have seen, so it must be by word of mouth, but then how did he initially get all of Freyja's potential customers? And then his explanation is that all his customers would eventually become hers, yet she says she had a lot fewer. I get that the water being off means people can't drink that instead, but none of them have anything else in their house? And why would achy guts make them seek out another drink anyway? At least Freyja being the only other option explains why they're not necessarily seeking out lemonade specifically. Shouldn't Mikey have a reputation now such that these people would know better? The age I would expect these kids to be, based on the kind of trouble Mikey gets into and just the general age that kids do lemonade stands, is at a disconnect with the kind of language Freyja uses when she talks.

It's not a story that hangs on logic that well, but then I doubt it's supposed to be. Cartoon logic is fine, but you might want to have a stronger thread to all of it.
#30 · 3
· on The Library With No Shelves · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Hm, a story about moving. I know who I'll be guessing as the author.

I think this one is likely to be hit or miss with readers. Someone who's done this kind of thing before and can relate to it would find it more engaging. I've definitely done the thing where you try to get the boxes perfectly full. I like the atmosphere about how this is an exercise in futility, as it's unlikely the speaker will ever read them all, but he goes through the motions anyway, because it's just what he's supposed to do. And then the waste of never getting to them being conflated with the waste of throwing them away (please at least recycle the paper!). Likewise, the story being so front-loaded with how the boxes themselves are packed, it does a good job of setting atmosphere and getting into where the speaker is focused, but I don't know how well it would engage a reader who has no connection to the subject matter.

The last line was very stark, though, and I could take it a couple of different ways. One, the usual "things could be worse" platitude to remind the speaker that he doesn't have it so bad. And two, that morbid fleeting wish that it might be easier to have it all come tumbling down and forced to reset, which I've entertained in the past when faced with mounting home repairs. As long as it's insured, of course...

For one, I do think this is more than a vignette, as there is a conflict presented and overcome, albeit one that's already been solved and occurred off-camera. We're just getting the denouement, after the speaker has already become weary of dealing with it.
#31 · 3
· on Polemics · >>Monokeras
I'm having trouble deciding what to make of this one.

It's definitely sardonic, and the initial juxtaposition of bulletproof vests and school had me in mind of a piece about school shootings. But there's an actual war, and the motivation for it is never given. It makes me think of the short film "Cannon Fodder" which was part of a longer anthology film called Memories.

Really, it spends the whole exercise just establishing that gunfire is such a ho-hum occurrence that children are allowed to brave it without a second thought. It never does any more than that. It never tries to say why this war is happening (or posit that the lack of an explanation is the point), why Irene values her life so little that something as manageable as asthma is worth dying to avoid, why just going through this locked gate into his home makes the main character safe. Are the house and grounds just considered off limits? Are all buildings? That the school also seemed safe inside lends credence to that, though the large weapons used don't seem to fit with the scheme.

I will say that it takes the entire story for the main character's attitude to be made completely clear, so it's not like it presents its theme up front then never does anything more with it. Though it doesn't do a lot more; how lackadaisical he acts upon leaving the school sets up the mood right away. It's just not until the end that we learn he doesn't just endure it but wants to participate, plus how casually his mother treats death.

Language-wise, it's a little like the lemonade story in that it feels like a limited narration that's a bit too advanced for the focus character, though I don't have a clear gauge of how old he is.
#32 · 1
· on The Library With No Shelves · >>GroaningGreyAgony
You would think today
You might as well sell them
You could even give them away

My shit poem aside, I've sold or given so many things away that I've invested in. Thrown out my share of things too. They're just things and in the end you can't take them with you. You know this of course.

It'll be okay.
#33 ·
· on You Can Pay in Gold or Lead
More daka to be sure
Poetry of grim bullets
Gold corrupts, lead is pure
#34 · 1
· on Lemonade Run
Little shit gets quite fleeced
Causes chaos around
Because he's the beast
#35 ·
· on Polemics
Daka daka, pew pew
Strongest of the fittest
Other than that, no clue
#36 · 1
· on Bang gnab · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This reminds me of kanji. Clear and crisp picture of a gun being fired. Not sure why all the white space at the bottom.
#37 · 1
· on The Fresh Squeeze · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Again, this reminds me of kanji but less crisp. More colorful and more dirty than the other one here. The bottom of the glass reminds me a a shit eating grin.
#38 · 2
· on The Fresh Squeeze · >>GroaningGreyAgony
The Riddler's Lemonade Stand was never quite as successful as Killer Croc's Mud Pie Business.
#39 · 2
· on Bang gnab · >>GroaningGreyAgony
The lead burns in cold hearts.
#40 ·
· on Polemics
I didn't even notice the voting period had ended yesterday! :p

I’m mainly going to answer to you, Pasco, since I did already answer to the two previous comment in my fake comment.

First off, thanks for commenting.

Thanks for ‘Cannon fodder’ → I just saw two excerpts of this on YouTube, and I’m flattered my story made you think about that. I had never seen this cartoon, and it’s great.

It is fairly difficult to squeeze both a scene like this one and its explanation in 750 words. Somehow, one must accept that some details, or background elements, must be left out. Which, in my opinion, is not necessarily a bad thing since it ‘forces’ the reader to ask themselves what can possibly have led to the painted situation (that’s, by the way, typically what the comments in the YouTube pages suggest).

You know my fondness for flash fiction involving children behaving off-base, see, e.g. The Hangman.

I was discussing this story with Cassius as I was writing it, and he immediately thought about Sparta, so he told me to ‘greekify’ the story as much as I could. And yes, the idea was that only pupils in public spaces were considered fair game. Private estate would be considered off-limit. Even war has rules.

So we’re not here in a setup where there's war because war has been there for decades, and no one questions it anymore. That would be a nice background, though: ‘Alex was born with the war, raised with war and taught for the war.’ This premise underpins several stories, such as Dick’s The Penultimate Truth or a very interesting Star Trek TOS episode called A Taste of Armageddon, in which the state of war prevails because casualties and destruction are all virtual, except that people called killed in the interplanetary ‘wargame’ must perform real suicide. It is tackled somewhat differently in another episode called Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.

So here, my intent was to describe a form of eugenics practicing society, à la Gattaca, only pushed a bit further. Whereas in Gattace genetics serve as basis for societal discrimination, in this ‘Nea-Sparta’ city, ‘weak’ children are physically eliminated, as they were in ancient Sparta, with the difference that instead of being thrown into the sea from a cliff, they are killed by their peers in a ‘serious game’ that repeat often enough to skim out all who are deemed unworthy to live. Secondary benefit, all children get used to being shot at and shooting others, something especially valuable in a ‘real’, all-out war.

Irene’s (a name borrowed from ancient Greek [i]eirenê[/i,] ‘peace’) suicide was to suggest, besides the Easter egg of the name, how such a competitive background, and its associated brainwashing machinery, could lead every children burdened with but the slightest disease to feel useless, sidelined, rejected and therefore suicidal. Maybe Irene is in love with Alex? Alex suggests he feels something for her when he says: ‘We’ll do it together’, but then all Irene's hopes are shattered when he justifies her sticking through for nationalistic values only. Originally, there was a final ‘For me.’ in Alex's line, but I deleted it purposefully. Irene doesn’t want, or doesn’t feel up any more, to fight for the honour of a city, or a system, that treats her as a parasite.

And in a world like this, how could death be treated differently? This is not so surprising. Until the end of the WW2, parents were used to lose young children from disease or accident. I didn't say it was banal and everyone shrugged it off, but it was something every mother and father was prepared for, and I don’t even count neonatal nor maternal death. I think both world wars, and their fallout, have led our society to reject death under in every form, including the most normal one, i.e. ageing.

I think the text would've been more impactful, had I been able to reclaim a bit more space for it. As such, it is a bit cramped, and leaves too much to the reader’s imagination, maybe. In any case, thanks again for your always valuable input.
#41 · 1
· on The Library With No Shelves
>>Troposphere, >>libertydude, >>Monokeras, >>Pascoite, >>Griseus

The Library With No Shelves

Thanks for the gold. 'Grats to Liberty and Mono, condolence hug to Griz.

Thanks for the wonderful comments! I had very little time to contribute to this event, and had started something on the first day that I didn't entirely feel comfortable with completing. I decided to sleep on it and finish up in the morning.

I woke up with about 40 minutes left on the clock, tossed out what I'd written the previous day, and ran with my current source of inspiration, the horrors and joys of moving. I'm going to be rather predictable on this for another week or so; I will strive to be of broader interest afterward.

I'm going to wind up leaving a lot of stuff behind or throwing it in the trash. However it turns out, it probably beats a fire.

This is a 'foundational' copy-paper box of paperback books.
#42 · 1
· on Bang gnab
>>Griseus, >>libertydude


As with my other entry, this was literally phoned in under time constraints. The tool used was Autodesk Sketchbook, a free app that is available for Android, and I doodled it in a few minutes.
#43 · 1
· on The Fresh Squeeze
>>Griseus, >>libertydude

Squeezed Dry

I wanted the question mark to look a little more like diffuse blood, but couldn't master the effect in time.