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Under New Management · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
The More Things Change
"And look!" Lucy turned the big plastic slab of a menu around. "You can get a tuna melt with Swiss cheese! Just the way you like it!"

Jim shrugged, took a sip of his bourbon, coughed—why the Hell had he ordered bourbon?—and set the glass down on the little napkin with the Dandelion Cafe's new name on it: Temperance Bar and Grill or something. He refused to give it more than a glance.

Lucy got that look on her face, the one that made Jim feel like he was wearing footie pajamas and shrieking about not wanting to brush his teeth. "I know," he said, refusing to notice Dandelion's redesigned interior, the ferns and wood paneling gone, the walls now bare concrete with the ducts all exposed overhead. "Change is the only constant, right?"

That got her smirking at least. "It's not a death sentence, Jim."

As tempted as he was to take another sip of bourbon, he reached for his water glass instead. "Tell that to Circuit City. Or Toys-R-Us. Or Sears."

Her eyes widened, and she reached across the table—some weird white linoleum instead of the wood-grain Formica it was supposed to be—to touch his hand. "This is about 'My Little Pony,' isn't it?"

His throat threatening to squeeze shut, Jim took a swig of water and forced it down. "Don't start, Lucy."

"Start?" She blinked and sat back. "Jim, I love that you found a fandom; you know that! I mean, growing up watching 'Sailor Moon' transform and fight for justice in the name of the moon literally changed my life! And when the series' original run ended, it was like—there wasn't—I almost—" She took a breath, blew it out, and took another one. "The point is: when it ended, I didn't let it end for me. I went looking for more, and I found it even though there was hardly any internet back then and I was, like, eight years old! I've still got friends I made because of that show, and the bronies you've met online will always be—"

"Will they?" As much as he didn't want to say them, the words came out, and he dropped his gaze to the tabletop. "The last Bronycon's come and gone, the last episode'll be airing before Halloween, and then..." His throat tried to do that squeezing shut thing again, but he slammed down another mouthful of water. He was a Senior Administrative Analyst, God damn it! Why did he keep choking up about a stupid cartoon?

"Yes, it'll be different." Lucy's voice flowed over him as sweet and cool as partially melted ice cream. "Yes, things'll change. But change isn't always bad, right?" Her hand touched his again. "Right?"

What she was saying finally clicked in his head, and Jim had to smile, had to turn his hand over to take hers. "Wuffums? Some changes are my favorite things in the whole wide world."

She smiled, and then the waiter was stepping up to the table.

"Tuna melt with Swiss," Jim said. He pushed the bourbon toward the waiter. "And maybe trade this for an iced tea?"

Lucy's smile got wider, and she tapped the menu. "I'll get the whole cow, uncooked, and could I get the blood and the head in a bucket on the side, please?"

The waiter wrote it down, but he was peering over his pad. "Sorry, ma'am," he said, "but, well, until we get to know the locals, I'm supposed to ask..."

The air crackled slightly around Lucy, but her smile didn't fade. In fact, it grew even toothier, curving around the snout that stretched from her face. Black fur bristled to cover her skin, her shoulders broadening, her torso lengthening and her whole body bulging to fill her Spandex blouse and skirt.

"Thank you." The waiter nodded. "Would you like a tankard of the first-spilled blood now?"

"Please," Lucy said, her voice still hers, Jim always thought, however raspy it became.

The waiter left, and Lucy's ears perked along the sides of her lupine head. "See? Dandelion's used to charge extra for that."

"Yeah." Grinning, Jim combed his fingers through the fur on the back of her paw. "I guess maybe I can live with a few little changes here and there every once in a while."
« Prev   10   Next »
#1 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
Rip Sears. 😔
#2 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
I don't...

I mean, I enjoyed the twist for what it was. But I don't understand what it means. There's a difference between a story that exists just to have the twist in it and a story that happens to have one.

A good twist is the kind where it changes the context of what you'd already read, but once you go back, you can see how it adds to or even changes the meaning of what you'd already been through. Here, it doesn't. So Lucy's some kind of werewolf (a rather large one, I guess, if she can eat an entire cow--wow, how much must that cost?), but that doesn't change my understanding of what happened before the reveal. It's just an "oh, okay" moment, not an "oh, now I get it" kind. I guess there might be a sort of "don't make assumptions" thing going on, but then every twist would do that, wouldn't it? Now I'm wondering what Jim is. A normal human? There's a lot of world-building implied here that's of a curious type. Like why you essentially need to show an ID to get that meal. Or why Lucy would prefer Jim doesn't drink.

Actually, I'll tackle those, because they're different. As to Jim's drinking, he says himself he doesn't like bourbon, though it's unclear whether Lucy wishes he wouldn't because she doesn't want him using it to medicate over Bronycon going away or whether he has a general drinking problem. That one might be worth clearing up.

But as to why Lucy needs to show ID? It wouldn't kill the story to explain it, but it has to be done carefully, and honestly, I don't think it needs to be explained. First, the narrator would have to have a motivation to explain it. But also, it's just normal to them. The fact that it passes by as such a mundane thing will itself tell you something about this world, and that's a cool effect.

Also, Sailor Moon is a guilty pleasure, but season 5 never aired here. :( I need to see if I can find somewhere to watch a subbed version.
#3 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
Alternate Title: All Bronies Are Furries Under a Different Name

Something I liked:

The first half of this entry, topical as it is (Christ, we are mostly horse-fuckers, aren't we?), is pretty endearing, almost in spite of the fact that I would normally loathe blatantly meta stuff like this. It works, mainly because I buy into the relationship between Jim and Lucy; I feel like they could be my friends. There's something emotionally true in what they're saying, about things coming to an end, the recollection of something that used to be but only currently exists in one's own subjective reality. And some other bullshit, but that doesn't matter, and here's why...

Something I didn't like:

This entry is split into two distinct halves, and unfortunately they don't mesh that well. Let's think about this for a second: Where the fuck did Lucy being a furry werewolf come from? There is a bit of foreshadowing leading up to this reveal, but the real question is: Why? What does this twist have to do with the first half of the story? What does it signify? I doubt it means nothing; I tend to assume writers add plot details like this on purpose. Now, author, it'll be your job to put that good faith to the test. I genuinely want to know what you mean by this twist.

Verdict: I still like this entry a fair bit, but it did get worse on a second reading, sadly.
#4 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
The werewolf transformation came out of nowhere, and at first, perhaps it would've been a good twist. But then, the twist doesn't seem have to a strong connection to the rest of the story. Judging from most of the story to this point, the theme would be around the struggle of accepting change, what with mentions of closed-up shops and fandoms whose shows are either done or about to be done. Maybe you mean that, since Jim loves a werewolf who (I think) changes often (not to mention this probably being why he says, "Wuffums? Some changes are my favorite things in the whole wide world."), then his struggling to accept the changing restaurant and My Little Pony ending wouldn't seem to mesh well with his acceptance of a woman who changes a lot day and night.

However, that meaning didn't come out to me in the first reading, and that's going to be problematic if the theme/message you want to convey throughout the whole story (and not just one part of it) doesn't strike out to the reader. At this point, it would've been better if it ended right after the Wuffums line because at least the story would be thematically consistent.

For what it's worth, your technical writing and your prose are on excellent display here. I got to imagine it quite clearly in my head. Characterization is great, at least if we're going from Jim's standpoint: he's quite fleshed out and Lucy, well, not that much but I guess we're going with limited third-person from Jim's vantage point.

Overall, technical excellence is going to shoot this up to the middle of the pack, but it's sadly not going to break the top slate. Still, this is a good story with a timely message!
#5 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
I thought this piece was super charming, and both of its leads came across as endearing and personable. The message was a good one, and despite how I usually dislike meta elements in pretty much anything I read, I'll have to admit that it was effective at making me frame myself in Jim's shoes, even if it did take me out of the story a bit.

Now, I will have to agree with some of our other readers that Lucy's transformation feels kind of out of the blue. I get what you're saying about how change is good (in the most literal sense possible), and it does sprinkle a little excitement into what would otherwise be a pretty mundane plot. But as it is, it kind of comes across as more of a joke or a pun than a genuine bookend to the story's theme.

I think your options here would be to either foreshadow the twist a little more, or (to reiterate what I said in a review to another entry) throw the twist away altogether. IMHO, it's damaging to the story that the ending feels so blind-siding, so I would strongly suggest finding a way to mitigate this.

But really, I think this is still a solid piece as a whole, so take my thoughts as suggestions for improvement, rather than things that "should" be fixed.
#6 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
The Lucy werewolf reveal at the end... I don't know how to feel about that. Looking back, the Sailor Moon comment makes sense, but it would've helped if you at least dropped another hint. That and integrate it easier, that reveal was rough. I liked the story's plot, but the reveal is giving me mixed feelings.

I look forward to seeing what you will write next.
#7 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian
>>Anon Y Mous
>>Comma Typer

Thanks, folks:

And congrats to our medalists!

As with most of my Writeoff entries, this is a first draft, and in this case that means it's the beginning and the ending with most of the middle left out. The idea is that Lucy was a troubled little werewolf kid till she saw Sailor Moon, decided to turn her life around, and has since become a responsible werewolf adult. Jim is a regular human guy with regular human guy problems who's afraid he'll fall back into bad habits once the Pony Show ends. Lucy convinces him that this won't happen unless he lets it happen.

For the next draft, I just need to actually put that stuff in. :) Heck, maybe it's even got enough of a Pony connection so I can post it to FimFiction when I get it done. Only time will tell!

#8 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
Hey, just an FYI, I know you're not plugged into the Discord Chat, but we've having a Poll right now over the following proposals:

- more events, from every 3 weeks, to every 2 weeks
- more writing time for short story events, from 3 days to 5 days
- more writing time for minific events, from 1 day to 2 days

If you still don't want to join the chat, but you wanna vote, let me know which of these you wanna vote for, and I'll make an alt account to vote for you. The current voting options now are below (you get to choose whichever ones apply to you).

- I think the current schedule is fine
- I mostly want to enter horse and 6 weeks is too long
- I mostly want to enter original and 6 weeks is too long
- I want to enter everything and 3 weeks is too long
- I want to enter more but don't have enough time, and this will help
- 1 day is not enough time to write a proper minific
- 3 days is not enough time to write a proper short story
#9 ·
Thanks, >>Bachiavellian!

I'll dust off my super-secret-hardly-ever-used Discord account and put in a vote for "the current schedule is fine." Now I just hafta try to remember my Discord password...

#10 ·
In case folks are interested:

The rewrite of this was up on FimFiction for about 16 hours before one moderator overruled another. So I've turned it into a blog post since it's kinda time-sensitive and all... :)