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The World Wants to Be Fooled · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 2
Can't wait to see the illustrations with this one!
#2 · 2
Cool, my prompt won. I will contribute what I can and I hope others will pitch in.
#3 · 2
I am in.
#4 ·
Went though three story ideas and 1500 words for them. I'm tapping out.
#5 · 1
I am in again!
#6 · 1
· on Stairs to No Place
Here go my reviews! At least one of them will be fake, can you spot which one(s)?

This is a haunting little forest scene, and I find that the low contrast on the grays makes it ambiguous whether that's a staircase or a small road. We have some overexposure in the trees at upper center, but perhaps a bright light in that area just adds another story hook. A decent mid to upper tier photo for a round like this.
#7 · 1
· on Hookbug
I wasn't quite sure what I was looking at with this one. Peering closer, I see a nail at the top, so this seems to be a picture hook with multiple shadows cast, which make it look a bit like a mayfly. I don't think it's a prize winner, but well done on spotting this one, photog.
#8 · 1
· on Flattened Scream · >>Griseus >>Comma Typer
This appears to be a blob of paint on asphalt. If I stand back and squint, I sort of see a face. Interesting find, photog!
#9 · 1
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed
This one's a collage. I can find the source for the quote but don't quite know what to make of it here. We have sheep and what appears to be a cell/radio tower, so I gather that the theme is of being led astray from the good and spiritual by the flood of earthly information, but that's just a guess. Points for the most abstruse work in this round, artist!
#10 · 1
· on Mundus Vult Decipi
Finally, someone drew something! The title and the alt text lead me to think that the artist is part of some secret cabal. Sly horse continues to be a tease. Just a sketch, but points for the effort and reference, artist!
#11 · 1
· on Sky Touch
The tree silhouette points like an arrow or road in perspective at the crescent moon. It's traditional to put a star at the top of such a tree, but a celestial body suffices, I suppose. A well composed shot, thanks for spotting it, Photog!
#12 · 1
· on Stairs to No Place
It's a staircase in a wooded area that is useful. Must mean there is a house of trail nearby. Not sure how this fits the prompt.
#13 · 1
· on Hookbug
This is a neat way to create an image. Take a hook and shine some lights at it. I like this.
#14 · 1
· on Flattened Scream · >>Comma Typer
I see the underside of a mushroom, an old fashion bomb or a badminton's shuttlecock.
#15 · 1
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed
This is esoteric in a good way. Yet this fits the prompts well with the sheep, the communication tower and the somewhat occult quote.

8:34 - Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin."

This is feeling I get from this pic.
#16 · 1
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed
Mousing over the pic with my cursor: "If you knew what was ahead of you, you'd be glad to be stepping over tonight."
After the contest I going to ask what this means.
#17 · 1
· on Mundus Vult Decipi
The Last Unicorn comes to mind. Nice.
#18 · 1
· on Sky Touch
Good pic, but not sure what this has to do with the prompt. Get vibs of Christmas and not of fools.
#19 · 2
· on Stairs to No Place
If I just focus on the staircase, I can trick myself into thinking that the staircase may also be going up. The background keeps me telling me otherwise, but I guess that's just me fooling myself.

Either way, this does pose some interesting questions about the location itself. Why are there stairs here in the middle of nowhere? Maybe there's some ruins nearby? Who knows? This may be an archaeological find (which would be quite a bonus if this is in the USA).

I'll have to agree with Griseus that I don't see how the prompt makes its way here, but I like the photo nonetheless.
#20 · 2
· on Hookbug
Well, this has the potential to be an SCP, for one.

That aside, I can see some ways into how the world can be fooled by hooks, of all things. Get construction companies to build these everywhere, and then suddenly, they start terrorizing a major city.
#21 · 2
· on Flattened Scream
>>GroaningGreyAgony >>Griseus
Let me add: some very bad egg(?), though that's a reach.

And I like how this is the opposite of looking at the sky and making shapes out of passing clouds. Instead, it's just something static, and yet we can "fool ourselves" into thinking it's something else.

Or maybe I'm just looking into a blob of paint way too much!
#22 · 2
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed · >>Griseus
Given Grey's source of the quote, I did some further digging and found out that this was written up by none other than Charles T. Russel himself, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This would only reinforce this pic's spin on "The World Wants to be Fooled" by way of religion and/or cults.

Also, maybe I'm being way too cheeky with OP for this, but I can't help but find the juxtaposition of sheep and cell towers a bit funny because it reminds me of the 5G tower craze a few years back. You can reasonably apply the prompt to either the conspiracy theorists themselves in the eyes of the world or the rest of the world in the eyes of the conspiracy theorists.

And no doubt, the idea of sheeple slots into the prompt perfectly.
#23 · 2
· on Mundus Vult Decipi
"I'm gonna steal me a silver stallion,
With not a mark upon his silky hide
Teach me he can trust me like a brother,
One day we'll saddle up and ride"

~ "Silver Stallion," The Highwaymen

I mean, I tried looking up what "Silver Stallion" would mean by the hover text, but what I got first was an old song from the 90s.

That aside, it's a hilarious idea! Imagine that unicorns are real, but the horns are just something they tape on their heads, but it still works. Even if it's a sketch, it still gets points for being cheeky about unicorns.
#24 · 2
· on Sky Touch
I'll have to agree with Griseus here. I like the concept of the moon touching a tree (or the other way around), but you'd have to stretch a lot of noggins just to see how the world would be fooled by it, even if in abstract. Or perhaps perspective tricks in the vein of tourists pushing against the Leaning Tower of Pisa is just another method of mass hysteria.

This is a nice picture, though!
#25 ·
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed · >>Comma Typer
>>Comma Typer Contest over. What does this mean?
"If you knew what was ahead of you, you'd be glad to be stepping over tonight."
#26 · 1
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed
In keeping with the cultic spin on the prompt, the quote is from Jim Jones right before the Jonestown Massacre, specifically in the context of convincing his people why they should poison and kill themselves.
#27 ·
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed
Oh dear.
#28 · 1
· on Second Contact
A couple of thoughts right from the beginning. One, you start with what I've seen called a "weather report opening," They're so common as to be ubiquitous, and doing so isn't a good way to make your story stand out. It makes it seem like you couldn't think of anything more original to write, which sets a bad first impression. If the weather is that important to the plot, it can sometimes work, as long as you make that immediately clear.

Two, you mention they won't have the concept or even a word for constellations for thousands of years. Yet the story itself seems to contradict that. You're using a limited narrator (look at the way it trails off just in the third paragraph and seems to speak the ewe's thoughts for her), so it's a dichotomy that the ewe herself would know the word to say they don't have it. But why wouldn't they? She explicitly has the concept of giving her child a name, and it's a pretty minor leap from that to finding patterns in the stars. They both speak to very sentient creatures, and their dialogue uses rather advanced construction and vocabulary.

Grammatically, there are a fair number of comma splices.

This feels more like a fable than anything, which isn't a bad thing. It does have uneven pacing, though. It's obvious early on what the hell and demons they speak of are, and they just go through the usual arguments of what advantages it would give them, plus having it be based on a dream rather than direct observation (of how the humans would treat other animals, I guess, since the point is they've never tended sheep before) makes it seem less likely (and more plot-convenient) that everyone is so easy to convince. As short as the story is, you don't have the space for it, but there is still space in the word count limit to have less of a direct line drawn from problem to solution. It just makes for a better narrative arc when there are setbacks and false steps, but I'm guessing you were up against the time limit as well.
#29 · 2
· on Populus/Rubeus
A few minor grammatical things like tense shifts and number mismatches.

The world-building is strong with this one. I like the system for auguring the future, that each town has its own god and its own prophet, and the seers have almost a business meeting to discuss how to handle everything. Plus you made several of them interesting characters. Then you play Eomanti as almost a Cassandra character, every one of his predictions too good to be true.

The only thing I was confused about was the bad portent at the end. Had that been there all along and Eomanti had just been unable to see it? Or did it only switch to a bad omen right as things started to to go bad for Avasra?

I also get that he took everyone into this dream realm with him at the end to prove what he was saying, but that only some could survive the journey, plus a fire had started in the waking world and burned them while they couldn't do anything about it. And maybe that's part of the moral? That he left nobody on guard in the waking world who could have prevented that?

If I have one criticism, it's that the ending feels rather abrupt. Not that it doesn't make sense for it to be, relatively speaking, but it seems like it's so rushed as to skip even all of the internal turmoil that would be going on at the end. Fast pacing does make sense there, but fast pacing doesn't necessarily mean a small footprint on the page, as long as the words have enough energy to them.

Still, you kept me interested throughout, and I liked the characters, which is most of what a reader wants from a story.
#30 ·
· on Second Contact
I'm a big fan of shepherds and story how the first one got his flock interests me. Don't give shit about the grammar errors that much because they don't slap me in the face. Like the dialog and don't mind that I figured out who the demons were in three seconds. Story made sense enough with animals that could talk to each other.

Them just giving themselves up the demons for protection doesn't really fit in with the theme "The World Wants to Be Fooled." The shepherd did no work on getting these creatures. No coaxing, no promises of safety in exchange for services most foul or anything. The sheep had all the agency in this transaction. Funny thing to me is generation later is some men are going to domesticate some wolves, and turn them into dogs. The dogs that used to hunt the sheep will now help protect them.
#31 · 1
· on Populus/Rubeus
Neat world here and I like the exploration of the concept of what fate is.

These names are okay enough and conversations to me were easy to follow right up to a point. Eomanti then runs into this problem with the town not believing his message from the town god saying: "It's going to be good times! Don't worry." They get pissy, he tries to create problems to for tell them - gives them what they want, they find out he lied and did sabotage and it all goes to hell.


Neat story I would say, but not this time. It's more than competently written, but my main issue is how does this fit with "The World Wants to Be Fooled"? It tries to subvert that a bit, but it fails for me. From my experience people who are not super stressed out want to believe that everything will be fine. It'll be fine! Maybe since the townies had too many bad times and were not ready to take a win form all the hardships they prepared for? They were given good news and they couldn't accept it. Guess the new guy they didn't trust? Poor Eomanti.