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The Killing Machine · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 19
· · >>Scramblers and Shadows >>Bachiavellian >>Fahrenheit >>Bad Horse
Welcome to this new WriteOff round!

We first would like to remind you that this round is dubbed short story, original fiction. The former means that your story has to be no less than two thousand words, but no more than eight thousand or you will be chastised; the latter, that any world building is accepted, although it is highly recommended you avoid pony stories: while not forbidden per se, their submission can cause at best some reviewers to give them the cold shoulder, at worse a fit of grumpiness. If you intend to write a pony fiction, your best bet is to wait for the next round in three weeks.

We kindly remind you that the prompt “Ot” is not trendy any more: please do not reuse. Also do not enter well-known pseudonyms like “Cassius, Genesis of Rust” that could cause some unrest among the community, for obvious reasons.

Failing to capitalise your prompt will result in some sticklers frowning or browbeating you.

No crud spot on your text will be tolerated. Please wash your hands carefully using soap before setting about writing.

We also remind you that it is strictly forbidden to copy/paste or plagiarise any formerly published short shory/novel, on pain of being immediately spotted by Baal Bunny. No name will be cited, but Dubs you’ve been warned.

As per last round, decking up your fellow writer with a “you’re not a native speaker” is highly discouraged, should your assumption turn out to be false. The WriteOff organisers cannot be liable of any mishap happening to you should you disregard this rule.

Submissions are due Monday, 27th June, 12:05 GMT sharp. Missing that deadline means that you forfeit any right to claim your piece of cake*, and it will be stale when the next round begins.

Finally, don’t forget the usual motto: “Please refrain from saying anything that might compromise your anonymity. Doing so is grounds for disqualification. It's recommended you do dummy reviews of your own stories should it otherwise be easy to deduce which you wrote.

So now, good luck to all!

*Individual arrangements are possible. Please PM RogerDoger and have some cash at hand.
#2 ·
I'm glad that a WriteOff round finally landed on a weekend where I'm not prepping for anything important. Just me and this computer for a long time coming.

Can't wait to get back in the saddle.
#3 ·
Well I'm probably out this round, got another story deadline that I need to finish up before the end of the month. Might get something done if I can get ahead of myself but otherwise good luck everyone!
#4 · 6
To be honest, I've been getting tired of vague, abstract prompts. I'd like to see more concrete prompts get voted in for a change.
#5 · 1
'Bout time I tried to get back into the writing game. Been too long. Hell, glad there's an original fic story as well. Haven't been able to do much 'pone' stuff for a while. Magic's all gone, it seems.
#6 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
Hello, you lot.

That is a fantastic intro post.
#7 ·
Well guys, I am ready to compete with you once mo-

Notice writing times.

Um... Yeah. Sweet sixteen is when it starts for me, followed by a giant pathfinder session. Guess I'm not competing this time, unless I manage to sneak in some free time between family and friends. D:
#8 ·
>>Scramblers and Shadows
Thanks! 😚
#9 · 2
Hoping to hop in:

Again this time around. I mean, heck, I made $17 with the thing I wrote during the previous orginal short story session! :O

#10 · 4
We kindly remind you that the prompt “Ot” is not trendy any more

Looks like my 15 minutes of limelight are over.
#11 · 2
You know, I signed up a while ago, but I think I'm actually going to try and enter this one. I don't know if I could manage 2000 words in a weekend because I tend to agonise over every sentence, but hey, practice makes perfect.

I'll probably just end up playing ED, but that's besides the point.
#12 · 1
I have a few ideas floating around in my head that I would like to try to do something with, but chances are I won't be participating in this round. I'll probably be busy unpacking and doing other fun moving-related stuff during the writing period, and my phone will probably be my only internet connection. And since I start a new job on Monday, I won't have as much time for reading and reviewing either.
But who knows? I've submitted stories when I didn't plan to before.
#13 · 1
· · >>Not_A_Hat >>Fahrenheit
I haven't gotten in on the Original rounds since the hard pony-ban went into effect, but I might (theoretically, maybe) have time to participate this time around.

Still primarily digging my cartoon horses, though.
#14 ·
Never mind. Just my browser being dumb.
#15 · 4
· · >>Fahrenheit >>Baal Bunny
>>CoffeeMinion It's actually still a soft pony-ban. You can write them; the change in the definition was to let people know that the audience generally penalizes pony stories to some extent.

If you're willing to write in 'hard mode', give it a go.
#16 ·
Given my current life situation, I will not be able to participate. But I'll still be practicing, and wishing you guys the best of luck.
#17 · 2
· · >>Baal Bunny >>CoffeeMinion
Monokeras for best Writeoff announcer.

>>CoffeeMinion >>Not_A_Hat
It's worth noting that there may eventually be Writeoff participants who come from outside the MLP community. Two of my best friends from high school have expressed interest in participating in the original fiction rounds, and only one of them has any familiarity with the show. Writing pony for this round would definitely be hard mode, as Not_A_Hat said.
#18 · 2
· · >>billymorph >>CoffeeMinion >>Spectral >>The_Letter_J

If you:

Let the pointer of your browser touch the word "Original" in the phrase "Original Short Story" up at the top of this page, a little box pops up that says, "Fiction not dependent on work under U.S. copyright". So while the rules don't mention anything about this, the whole idea that "the original round isn't for fanfic" does float mysteriously about the website like some sort of phantom specter. Or perhaps a spectral phantom. Either way.

#19 · 3
· · >>Baal Bunny >>KwirkyJ
>>Baal Bunny Technically under the definition you can do fanfiction based on works in the public domain. So my Pride and Predjudice - War of the Worlds slash fic is completely above board :D
#20 ·

Because my brain:

Is largely made of cheese, I can't recall the name of the story, but somebody somewhere not too long ago wrote a story about Victor Frankenstein interacting with the characters from Pride and Prejudice. Since those books came out within two years of each other and all....

Mike Again
#21 · 1
· · >>billymorph
And now your anonymity has been compromised! Travesty!
#22 · 1
· · >>The_Letter_J >>Orbiting_kettle
As >>Baal Bunny notes, the ban seems to be hard in the current rules, albeit neither limited nor specific just to Pony. In that sense, I should have clarified my original statement, and I apologize for any unnecessary sensationalism.

I might have to see how the prompt goes this time. Like I said, I probably do have a better than average chance of being able to write something... but the call of the horse is still strong for me.

As >>Fahrenheit notes, though, this may make the tent bigger, and that's probably not a bad thing.
#23 ·
>>KwirkyJ Dang! Ah well, onto the next brilliant idea.
#24 · 1
>>Baal Bunny
Or perhaps a spectral phantom

Before I knew spectral could also mean ghost-like, I used the alias Spectral Shade - "colourful shadow" (edgy, right?). Of course, it could also mean "Ghostly Ghost".
#25 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
Oh no. This prompt is almost perfect for one of the ideas I've been kicking around in my head. The only thing that might still save me from this writeoff is the fact that I still haven't been able to get that idea very far past the premise yet.

>>Baal Bunny
While the site does make it look like a hard ban, Roger has said several times that it isn't. Unless something has changed in the past week or two while I haven't been paying attention, Mono's initial post is entirely correct on this matter.
#26 ·


Less a hard ban than an ethereal one, not a carved in stone "thou shalt not" but rather a subtle miasma of disapproval, more a--

Hmmm. Better save all this for my story, I s'ppose... :)

#27 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Nice prompt, I have a good feeling this round.

At least one of my friends from elsewhere will partecipate this time and I'm molesting two more to bring them in.
#28 ·
Well this is a dreary prompt, though a remarkably good fit for a War of the Worlds fanfic. Get to it peeps!
#29 ·
Well, I'd say whether or not I'm going to enter this round, but I'm bad at predicting whether or not I'll actually finish an entry.

So, uh, I promise that I will either enter something this round, or I will not. :P

Reviews may or may not happen if I do, partly because I'll have less time this upcoming week, and partly because I'm not sure if people actually find my reviews helpful.
#30 · 1
So it's original fic this time. Pros: Encourages me to practice writing outside my comfort zone of pony fiction. Cons: I have to write outside my comfort zone.

I sort of have an idea that's kind of half-formed, but idk. Too early to say, I think.
#31 ·
Well, I'll be trying this one. But I'm not sure I'll be able to come up with anything worth writing about.

Still, it makes for a reasonable excuse to get out of lunch plans I didn't feel like doing!
#32 ·
Oh, I love this prompt. I might even have an idea for it, and everything.

>>Orbiting_kettle Your poor friends! :trollestia:
#33 ·
nothing I can do with this one. I'd imagine there will be a lot of sad or gory stories for this. Hm...I'm sitting this one out too.
#34 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
#35 · 3
· · >>Orbiting_kettle >>Trick_Question
In between the prompt and the #brexit chaos, I am really sorely tempted to vent my political spleen into fiction this round. I'm posting this to force myself to come up with a better idea by preemptively announcing my bad one.

In the meantime, if there's anyone who is hiding in the back of their cave and hasn't kept up on current events, I recommend Scottish SF author Charlie Stross' take, which starts out with the words "Okay, so the idiots did it; they broke the UK," and given the news of the last 24 hours I'm not sure there's much more to say. 😞
#36 ·
I admit I had an idea long those lines too. And I suspect we are not the only ones.
#37 · 1
Yay for British racism barely pushing the vote over the top.

Now the Scots will secede for real.

EDIT: the yay was sarcastic
#38 ·
I'll see >>Trick_Question and raise you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzxr09tIExs
#39 · 4
· · >>Trick_Question
what if there was a machine..... that ground up little adorable creatures..... to turn them into rainbows?
I think I've got an idea here!
#40 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>Baal Bunny
Welp, I cooked a pretty awesome portobello parmesan today, got some financial stuff sorted out with my ex-wife, posted this week's RCL interview, did some shopping, and fixed some off-hours problems at work.

What I didn't do was finish assembling a story outline. D: I've got a few great paragraphs of writing, just don't know where I'm trying to take it yet. Time to sleep on it ...
#41 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
I've got a loose outline, a more detailed outline, a list of characters...

Now I just need more butt-in-chair time than I've been able to secure thus far. D:
#42 ·
· · >>Trick_Question >>Monokeras >>Cassius
>>Monokeras “Cassius, Genesis of Rust”?
#43 ·
#44 ·
>>Bad Horse
You should pop in the chat sometime.
#45 · 1

I'm about:

Halfway done, but my characters and outline have changed three or four times since I started typing...

#46 ·
Argh, I might be out for this round after all. I've got the ideas but the writing time just isn't happening.

Good luck to those who persevere. :heart:
#47 ·
Got my story written. Will wait til Sunday evening to actually submit, give it time to stew and edit and all that nonsense.
#48 ·
· · >>Orbiting_kettle
My story may be too difficult to make digestible. I'm leaning toward skipping this round.
#49 · 1
· · >>horizon
I've finished my entry, will have to edit it for a while, but I'm in.

I kinda understand. I had to discard a couple of ideas and a good beginning for this reason. Nonetheless, I would like to read it even if you absolutely feel you have to skip this round.
#50 ·
Blarg. Does winning a gold medal last round give me just cause to skip this round? Cause my idea is just not coming out right...

I hate skipping rounds, but at current rate I don't think I'm going to manage to complete anything this time... :/
#51 ·
It's starting to feel like we're gonna have a prelim gallery totalling three stories.

Come on, guys.
#52 ·
I'm out this time, guys. Sorry. :raritydespair:

Good luck to all who enter!
#53 ·
This prompt seems to be a real killing machine. Many cries of defeat.

Yeah, I'm not writing anything either.
#54 ·
I've got like.. A thousand words. And an hour left to write. This prompt should be great for me.. But for some reason I'm having total writer's block.
#55 · 5
You know what the real killing machine is here? This weekend. I'm now staring at the corpse of three different stories, wondering if I'm going to be able to resuscitate one of them before the deadline.

D: D: D:

Edit: Posted before reading the above comments, feeling slightly better that at least I'm not the only one.
#56 · 3
[Can't make it; adds to chorus of distressed writer noises]

Good luck to everyone else!
#57 · 4
I finally limp across the finish line. I accredit all my words to the joy of Odell's Myrcenary Double IPA.

All my thoughts of good wording are now redirected at my fellow competitors. Gan ba te~!
#58 · 2
Wanted to share this, extracted from the deadest story's corpse, as I limp forward on another one:

It was high summer, and taxingly hot. The sort of weather where fifty percent of each movement was set aside for the bottomless coffers of the sun. Where ice cubes shattered out of their trays like a brilliant shower of diamonds into your palm, and then a moment later your wealth was dripping from your knuckles. Where immigrant dogs, tongue-lolling and ear-drooping, idled in the porch-shade of resentful men with four wheels on the tarmac and their air conditioners bleeding pence from the condenser.

Goddammit I loved that paragraph (DID YOU CATCH THAT SIDEWAYS #BREXIT JAB HA HA I AM SO CLEVER), but it's not happening.

Good luck to everyone still thrashing forward! 7.5 hours left, most of which most of us will spend sleeping.
#59 · 3
Halfway in... given my writing speed, I project two or three more hours for finishing.

Good God I should be in bed. >.< I really ought to have done this yesterday. Stupid procrastinating.
#60 · 4
· · >>Icenrose
I cannot believe I am saying this, but I FINISHED A STORY AFTER ALL!!!

(Possibly related/relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KlSuGNt8e4 )

Coming soon to the bottom of voting slates everywhere! :-P
#61 · 5
· · >>CoffeeMinion
I left a trail of corpses, but I did manage to keep one alive long enough to submit. Seriously, this one was tough to write.
#62 · 3
Truly sir, you are... The Killing Machine. :trollestia:
#63 · 1
I wrote 5.6 kilowords for one story and 1.2 kilowords for the other, and I am now officially giving up on both. I honestly have no idea where I was going with either, and I kind of hate them right now.

I guess that's another Writeoff I'm going to be sitting out of. God, I really need to stop skipping out like this. :S
#64 · 4
Words are in. Not my best words, I think, but they exist.
#65 · 2
#66 · 6
· · >>CoffeeMinion
It's... a story, I guess? :/

Words happened. That's all I really know.

I'm in, somehow.

EDIT: Editing is not happening here.
#67 · 3
Done. Last pass of editing before committing, but it's done.
#68 · 2
>>Not_A_Hat Irony:
EDIT: Editing is not happening here.

#69 · 2
A depressing as it is, I'm out as well. Between procrastination and writers block, I'm a few hundred words (and one good idea) short. It's probably just as well... Most of my ideas would have worked as minifics, but can't seem to manage even 2000 words without massive padding. :/

Good luck to those of you who didn't wait until the last minute to start chipping away at your writers block!
#70 · 3
Heyla, everyone.

I have submitted a work for your consideration. I like this one a bit more than the last one I did. It is not great, perhaps, but I do legitimately believe it to be better. The prompt also yielded a second story idea that, while I have not done any work upon it yet, I wish to pursue at some point in the near future.

While I wish to say more, the sun is coming up over in my neck of the woods, and my brain is scrambled from pulling an all-nighter trying to get this thing done and looking good enough to present (it is, thankfully, my day off over here, so I can at least make up the sleep). So, to any of you lucky few still working to cross the finish line, I wish you the very best with every chamber of my heart, and to everyone else who has already submitted, I eagerly await the chance to taste the fruit of your labor.

Good night, and good luck.

P.S. Speaking of the last work that I did, I wish to take a moment to thank the users Ratlab, billymorph, Leo, Not_A_Hat, and The_Letter_J for both taking the time to read it, and taking the further time to comment upon it. It was an instructive experience, and I regret not having given thanks earlier. It is, perhaps, a little strange to say it here and now, but I would rather be odd at this present moment than continue to be rude for another moment longer.
#71 · 4
· · >>bloons3
Finally, finally got my piece in.

For everyone who's joining me, good luck!

For everyone who's not, tough break! I'm sure your story would've been cool, though.
#72 · 5
· · >>TitaniumDragon

edit: Thank goodness for that five-minute grace period D:

But I'm in! And totally unedited.
#73 · 4
I ended up not tossing my hat in the ring this time. I had a story written up but frankly, it is just garbage; the central idea is, I think, okay, but I'm just not happy with anything else about it, and I have to completely rewrite it to bring it up to any sort of standard I'd remotely want to show anyone else.

Ah, well. First round since I started that I ended up skipping. But I said after the last time that I threw in a crappy original fic that wasn't worth reading that I wouldn't do it again just for the sake of entering.

Good luck to everyone who actually got something done!
#74 · 5
· · >>CoffeeMinion
>>Scramblers and Shadows
Got my first write-off story in! Woot!
#75 ·
Congratulations, and welcome aboard!
#76 ·
Family emergency came up and I never had time to write. Guess I'll ponify it and try next round.
#77 ·
Had I known my evening plans yesterday would have been cancelled, I would have made a bigger attempt write something. Oh well.

Also, yeesh, 22 stories =( Well, uh, congrats to everyone for making finals (I can't imagine there'd be two rounds for so few stories)
#78 ·
>>Bad Horse
Hey Bad Horse, how are you? That’s nice to see you here.
is that an omen of your future return among us? That would be AWESOME!
#79 · 1
So guys I'm sorry, but I have 80 papers to grade before Friday and I can't do it on my job time because my plate is already full. I've got no choice but to bail out reviews and slate for this prelim' round. I apologise. See you on Saturday for my retrospective (already written) and don't hold me a grudge for abandoning you :(
#80 ·
>>Bad Horse

I imagine "well-known" is intended to be read with roughly fifty quotation marks around it.
#81 · 2
Georg’s first Round Micro Reviews for the new stories on my slate The Killing Machine: Scores are letter grades for Plot, Technical Work, and Characterization mushed together, with an E for stories I find particularly Enjoyable. Ranked by how I like them, not necessarily how perfect they are on the score. (and posted all at once, from top to bottom so they line up on the chat.) It’s the last minute (again), so I need to get reading. (Darned real world) I would like to say right now that every single one of the stories I’ve read this round has been better than what I submitted. I hate you all. (and love you at the same time, but I’m not loaning you money)
#82 · 5
· · >>Orbiting_kettle >>Hagdal Hohensalza
Anyway, now that I'm done reviewing, we've got a tradition of story mashups and/or story remixes to uphold around here! I didn't finish reading all of the stories before prelims ended, but better late than never, right?


The rules here are simple: Add, remove, or change a single letter in a Writeoff entry's title and humorously summarize the resulting story. (Punctuation and spacing can be changed at will.)

Ego Sum Deux - A translation error in a pusher's ledger accidentally leads to him doubling the dose of all his customers' hallucinogens. Transcendence ensues.

The Differencee Nine - When the world tries to rewrite history to collectively forget its massacre of Muslims, a group of kids in an improbably named town go rogue to spread the truth.

Fiddlers Tree - Old King Cole's assassination squad has just killed a little boy who lives in a house by a juniper tree. Now it's time for a phoenix to take revenge.

Moolock - A society of subterranean cows develops sentience and struggles to maintain their farm after the Butchers Above mysteriously vanish.

Where Nothing Cans Go Wrong... go wrong... - "Charles," Tracy says, "the only problem with our Vacuum-In-A-Tin marketing campaign is that we don't have our possibly-homicidal robots selling them."

Tequila Sunrisk - Jane's pony neighbor Agave wants to help her escape her prison, but Jane's really not sure about his plan to go outside their bottle-cells and use his alcohol as sunscreen.

Snub Urbanism - A group of primitives living outside a silent city launches occasional raids on the drones and supply bots that trundle back and forth between houses. The city dwellers sigh, shake their heads, and write snarky editorials about the "primitive movement" and their Luddite ways.

Operation: La Luna: Humanity decides to assassinate Moon Horse.

Even Cascade - In a cautionary tale about bad maths, a succession of rounding errors causes a plane crash.

Snip - A group of humans live in a postapocalyptic society on an old crashed starcraft, and when each of the males comes of age, they venture inside for guns to trade to the local war band. Then the war band cuts off their ... ahem. Let's just say that the humans die off in a generation.

Company Ions - After Friendly AIs invent jaunting technology and start colonizing the galaxy, an Unfriendly shorts the market on their jump drive manufacturer, bankrupts them, and buys them out. Thrill to economic warfare as the Friendlies struggle to free the market from their monopoly!

The Machine Of Litoral Death, Possibly, Maybe - Tyrone gets a prediction slip saying he will die from "TIED". Turns out the machine's just a shitty speller, and he drowns in the ocean when an unusually high wave pulls him in.

Audio - In exchange for his next 1200 moons of immortality, Papak invents Nickelback.

Impending Dorm - When Kate grows up and moves out to college, her parents insist on sending with her that creepy cabinet that survived her aunt's house fire.

Brats - A vigilante named Nate kills his latest target - a college-age girl named Kate, whose slip just says "Refused to play in her room by herself, and also survived being stuffed in a cabinet and set on fire. Really, she's starting to annoy me."

Bastly - A German freighter trying to sneak through a storm is, for no discernible reason, sunk by the ancient Egyptian goddess of cats.

Aerial - After losing years of memories while resurrecting after a skydiving accident, the narrator convinces two friends to join him in repeatedly jumping out of airplanes without parachutes, to give death a big middle finger.

Blue Binds - Doli picks a lesbian hitchhiker named Brittany up and takes her home, where they discover a mutual kink involving colored-fur handcuffs.

The View Through the Widow - When Tom tries to commit suicide by throwing himself from the second story of his home, the Ghost of Car Accidents Future walks him through a bizarre dream showing him how his wife's life would fall apart without him.

His Topical Retrospective - John Connor sends a T-9000 back to the day of Skynet's rise to sentience, with a plan to give a university lecture on the dangers of AI. It is, predictably, interrupted by killer robot drones from the future.

The Unsung Ballad of Rodger Wilco - Somewhere, deep in the Australian Outback, Roger's eye twitches.

My Friend, Amy Obsession - Child MMA stars have the weirdest names.
#83 · 1
Moolock - A society of subterranean cows develops sentience and struggles to maintain their farm after the Butchers Above mysteriously vanish.

That would actually have been an awesome story. I think I'll have to try to do the mashup before my next submission.
#84 · 4
· · >>Hagdal Hohensalza
The Unsung Bollard of Roger Wilco - The hero of the Space Quest games gets a bollard named in his honour. No one seems to notice nor care, despite his best efforts.

Cerial - The dyslexic suicide society gets off to a bad start when someone brings in a bowl of cornflakes.

Bats - Fluttershy unveils her newest way of draining blood from innocent ponies, by asking nicely.

Wait, original fiction round? Dang, okay...

BRuts - Somedays you just find yourself murdering people because its a habit, you know?

Compianions - Yeah, I'm not sure why anyone thought making sadistic AIs was a good idea either. Fortunately we managed to flog them all to some Western themed park.

Egg Sum Deus? - The secret to immortality is found in a dim sum recipe. Who would have guessed?

Morluck - The luckiest bastard in Alpha Complex has the best day of his life, much to the misfortune of everyone around them. (I can't have been on the only one to pick up the Paranoia vibe from this one :P)

Imploding Doom - Tompson's cupboard mysteriously implodes one day. He learns a valuable lesson about never inheriting anything.

Breastly - ... I got nothing.

The View Though the Window - A man spends the story trying to see out a window. At the end his wife opens the curtains.

My Fiend, My Obsession - On reflection betting your soul on an underground street wrestling league match was a terrible idea.
#85 ·
Bastly - A German freighter trying to sneak through a storm is, for no discernible reason, sunk by the ancient Egyptian goddess of cats.

Well, a meeting between a feline deity and a vessel traveling upon a vast body of water is bound to end poorly.

Breastly - ... I got nothing.

This sounds like it would end a lot more happily for Paul and his crew. It reminds me of a line from The Hunt for Red October: "And when we are finished, the only sound they will hear is our laughter, whilst we sail to Havana, where the sun is warm, and so is the 'comradeship.'"
#86 ·
I will post my retrospective tomorrow.

In the meanwhile thanks to all the reviewers for their time and the effort they've put into the write-off. I admit this time of being guilty of having added very little to the discussion, but I will try to do better the next time.
#87 · 2
Very quick because Bronycon, but ... uh, wow. I really wasn't expecting a medal this time around. And I do feel a little guilty about it and the "not original fiction" thing. It's not fanfiction exactly, because the Machine of Death is an idea rather than a canon, but it is a borrowed idea (which I tried, including with the title, to at least not hide), and this isn't the first time I've blurred the lines.

As I commented earlier, I tried writing other (wholly original) things, but on Sunday I had to pick something up from the burning tire fire of three wrecked stories, and this was the one I could save in the time remaining.

The prompt perhaps made it inevitable that I'd think of "The Machine Of Death". I didn't want to write something playing straight the idea of a machine that kills people, but the other interpretations all seemed like uncomfortable stretches. My second-best idea was to try wrapping something around the old Woody Guthrie "This Machine Kills Fascists" guitar but it wouldn't gel.

I wrote the final scene in the last ten minutes (and two of the overtime minutes before submissions close), so yeah, could definitely have done better. It would have been a much better story with my later suggestion about the poison, too, but ... the reason I wrote it the way I did is that having him actually take fate into his own hands and fulfill the prophecy himself at least felt less like fanfiction. TMOD stories are traditionally very big on the idea of immutable fate and the struggle against it and it's super common to see some sort of "clever" "subversion" that makes it happen despite everything the character attempts, and if I was going to steal the core TMOD idea I didn't want to also steal its most common story structure.

The idea that Tyrone could have broken his fate (through mere inaction!), but took deliberate effort to make the machine not wrong, was intended as a reflection of his reaction to how the machine had shaped his life -- that he was saying that in the face of the possibility that everything he'd shaped his life around being based on a lie, that in the end what he wanted was meaning. Kind of. I'm not explaining it very well even now; I'm not sure I understand it fully enough even now to put it into words simply, and that's probably a large part of why it didn't come through even a little in the final scene.

idk, I'm glad people think it touched on issues big enough to float toward the top. Even setting completely aside the fanfic/legitimacy debate, I definitely think there were half a dozen stories objectively better than it this round, but I can acknowledge I'm probably underrating my own stuff again.

See some of you at the con! (I've already met at least Haze, !Hat, Axis and TD, and possibly others I'm forgetting.) And see the rest of you in a week for the FIM short story.