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An Unfortunate Event · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Punctuated Equilibrium
"I don't see why you're so upset!" Chalkos, the Ant God of Order, waved his two front legs, a touch of pride stroking over him at the way his shiny black carapace flashed with rainbows here at the center of the new and expanding universe. "I was just tidying up!"

The hum from the wings of Desper, the Hornet Goddess of Chaos, seemed to shift tempo and frequency to become a deeper, more ominous buzzing sound. "And what have I told you about tidying up?"

"Hello? God of Order here!" Digging into his abdomen pouch, Chalkos held up a chunky mass of carbon-based goo. "And this star stuff is just getting scattered willy-nilly from one end of creation to the other!"

Desper gave a slow blink with all her compound eyes. "'Willy-nilly'?"

"It's an expression!" Chalkos folded his upper and middle legs. "If you'd pay attention to this whole language thing I've invented, you'd know that!"

That at least got a chuckle out of her. "I pay attention to all your inventions, Chalky. I couldn't subvert them otherwise."

Chalkos tried to keep his antennae from drooping, but as was usual when dealing with Desper, he couldn't manage it. "You have no consideration, Peri: that's your problem."

"My problem?" All the growling came back into her tone. "My problem is that you deviated from The Plan!"

An odd mix of pride and confusion surged through him at the way she managed to say The Plan so that he could hear the capital letters. It meant that she respected The Plan, yes, and that was good, but, well, he'd intended capital letters to be a feature of language when it was written, not spoken....

With a shake of his head, he let anger push his other emotions aside. "How dare you?" He swooped through the vacuum of space to poke her furry, black-and-yellow-striped thorax. "I'm Order! by definition, I don't deviate!"

"Ha!" She smacked his foreleg aside. "You've already admitted it!" The lack of air, Chalkos couldn't help but notice, didn't stop her from making 'air quotes' with her own forelegs. "'Tidying up,' you said!" She smacked the blob of star stuff from his grip. "You've been moving that filthy goo around in ways The Plan doesn't talk about at all!"

Fighting down the urge to leap after the slimeball before it could get away and dirty up his nice, clean cosmos, Chalkos instead curled his mandibles into what he thought of as his most winning smile. "I just pile the stuff on one little planet, Peri. How could that hurt?"

"How?" Her antennae, wings, and legs spread in all directions, waves of radiation flooding from her. "Evolution could happen! Something big and nasty and bipedal could develop, lording itself over our beloved insects and tipping the entire history of the universe ass over teakettle!"

Chalkos blinked at her. "'Ass over teakettle'?"

"I'm subverting language, all right?" Despar's emanations became more neutron-heavy—definitely a bad sign. "But you're subverting The Plan and...and everything! I mean, can you imagine a world where insects were consigned to second-class status?" She shivered. "It makes me want to start stinging and stinging and stinging and—"

"Peri, Peri, Peri!" Chalkos slipped closer and wrapped all his limbs around her. "There's no way anything like that could really happen! And if it did, well, we'd find a way to overwhelm these creatures, whatever they might be." He stroked the back of her head. "Insects will always be the true rulers of creation, and nothing evolution could come up with is going to change that." Summoning his most soothing vibrations, he let them caress her. "Now, do you want to tear my head off and cram eggs down into my thorax? Will that make you feel better?"

She sniffled. "Yes..."

"Okay, then." He pulled away and managed to aim another smile at her before her mandibles severed his neck.

His head drifting off into the darkness, he had to laugh as she set to work on his body. She always got so worried about such inconsequential things.
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#1 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Baal Bunny
Well, well. I'd say it’s a bit hard to get into that one. The prose is a bit clunky at times, but that’s not really the reason why. It might be because the story in a way assumes too much. Insects, the way wasps lay eggs into their preys, air, etc. It’s supposed to be a discussion between to deities at the creation (or just before the creation) of the universe, but they already talk of the final product. I can’t be more precise, or word it better than saying that these two sound too earthy to be gods.

It lacks a bit a substance too. Especially why or how what they discuss didn't come to pass (the insects being the "dominant" life form on Earth). And we don’t really know why this creation takes place? What's the point? How important it is to them. The dialogue is a bit too superficial to my liking.

But otherwise having gods look like insects is not a bad idea. You could’ve gone further and imagine a dialogue between a Neo-egyptian pantheon… Maybe next time?
#2 ·
Pretty silly:

Fortunately, I enjoy silly. Still, I'll echo >>Monokeras and ask for more details. Are there other gods as well as these two? Is The Plan to have insects be the dominant life-form in the universe, and what Chalkos has done is change things so Earth gets taken over by humans? Just clear things up a bit.

#3 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
A few things in the early going could be smoother. They're subtle issues, but fairly important ones.

First, the narrative voice is a bit muddled. In the second paragraph, we're told that something "seemed," which is not something an omniscient narrator would express, except in the case an omniscient narrator has been given a personality. You haven't had the space to establish one yet, though, so I'm left to conclude that one of the characters holds the POV. But then why would such a character have the need to explain who these characters are? I understand why you felt it necessary for the reader to know that information, but you probably ought to find a way where it makes sense for the narrator to do so, either by making it omniscient or giving the POV character a reason to be thinking that. As I get further in, it becomes more apparent you do mean Chalkos to be the POV character, and while it's possible to "zoom in" at the beginning by starting out omniscient and transition over, it's hard to do that effectively in a story this short.

Second, -ing phrases strictly mean that they make actions simultaneous, but Chalkos couldn't hold up whatever he'd found until after he'd dug through the pouch.

And third, it struck me as odd that you specifically mention compound eyes blinking. That certainly happens often enough in cartoons, but I don't know how cartoony you're trying to get here, and I don't know of any real animals that have eyelids over compound eyes.

I'm not sure if there's anything to read into the choice of names. Chalkos is Greek for copper, and Desper is similar to despair, I guess?

There was kind of a nice silly vibe going, and then the rapid tonal shift for a brick joke at the end... those are hard to pull off. I've done them myself, and they get very mixed reactions. I think it helps if it feels like the story has a sense of completeness before the joke gets sprung, but here, they don't come to any accord. He's just trying to placate her. I'm assuming that as a god, he'll live through this...
#4 ·

Thanks for the comments, folks:

And congrats to our medalists! I was aiming for very silly and cartoony with this one, but I guess there wasn't enough of that. Keeping more strictly to Chalkos's POV would've helped, I think now, giving the reader the chance to discover what sort of creatures the characters are as the story goes along. I also agree that having them reach agreement--dump all this "star stuff" on the developing Earth so they won't have to worry about evolution undoing their plans for insectoid domination of the rest of the universe--would work better before the beheading and egg-laying thing.

So revisions ahoy it is for me!