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Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
The gates of the Thunderdome once again swing wide, it's time for the kind of match this noble institution was founded on: the tween girl hair pulling contest! Stargirl and the incoherently named Abgeofriends meet in the arena this week, and knowing each other in real life means the gloating stakes are REAL for the winner and the loser both. One story was turned in a full twenty four hours in advance, one rushed in with one minute to spare, but is there any difference in quality and are they at least better than what Peng and Fresh turned in a couple weeks ago? Only the voters can decide!

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Story A: The stairs seemed to last forever, a fact he was grateful for. The rough stone, weathered from years of walking, pressed through his thin shoes. The soles were almost worn out, and he already had a hole in the heel of the left one. He didn’t mind much though. It wasn’t as if he would be using them much longer. He glanced down at the ground below him and smiled at the grainy sand that stretched endlessly. It was a sea of gold, the waves frozen in sand dunes. The only movement was a few birds that were soon out of sight. The sun beamed down into his eyes, and he continued walking. The mouth of the cave, if you could call it that, loomed above him. Most days it seemed to be just a lifeless carving, but today it seemed alive. The golden eyes flashed in the sun and cast small circles of light onto the ground below. Its mouth stretched into a grin, laughing at him, as he struggled up what felt like the millionth step. Sweat trickled down his back and neck. His legs ached with every step and he vowed to start exercising more. Not that it mattered if their plan worked. Nothing here would matter anymore. The sun burning holes into his slouched back, the pricks of discomfort every time his heal ground into the shards of rock, the way his robe dragged on the ground behind him making a strange snake-like noise, it would all be inconsequential. The sculpture of the dragon seemed no closer than it had 10 minutes ago. The scales as big as him still seemed only medium sized. Teeth that guarded a fall from the mouth looked sharp, but not threatening yet. You couldn’t appreciate those massive spikes until you were standing next to them, their shadow giving you enough room to have a picnic with six other people. As he climbed he remembered his first time here, basking in the glory of the dragon. He had been much younger than he was now and much more spry. Bounding up the stairs as quick as he could, he had reached the cave without breaking a sweat. It was only when he looked out at the world below him that he had felt the adrenaline subside into an anxious pang. Emotions had swirled in his throat. All the words of his father were becoming real right in front of his eyes. He blinked out of the memory as he neared the top. The dragon was even more demanding than last time and certainly more alive. It gleamed in the light. It did more than gleam, it breathed. He almost expected it to close its mouth any second now and swallow him whole. The echoes of voices from tunnels in the cave lured him in. No matter how much he wanted to stall, the excitement of the moment gripped him like a whirlpool. He cast one last look at the world below him as he walked in. It could be the last time everything was the same. That is, if they succeeded. Dim torches didn't offer much light as he wound his way through the tunnels. He had memorized the path and could walk it in his sleep. Besides, it was the only one with a worn path of footsteps from generations of people. The point of the labyrinth was nonexistent. The only trouble a thief would encounter was the stairs up to the cave and the ominous way footfalls echoed and bounced. It sounded like people were walking just on the other side of the walls, above, and below you. It was an illusion of being totally alone yet surrounded. It never ceased to freak him out. The voices grew louder and more focused on one spot as he approached the room. Ducking into the cavern, he watched as everybody turned towards him. “You’re late,” Galadriel remarked dryly. “I’m sorry, but I’m ready to begin,” he bowed his head. Galadriel laughed. It was a dry sound, a mix between a dog’s bark and an old man’s rasp. Galadriel was the leader of the group if there ever was one. Nobody liked him, but everybody respected him. He was the one who planned all their meetings and made everything possible. Without him they wouldn’t be awakening the egg today. He quickly found his way over to the crowd to avoid attention and look for his friend, Remus. Remus promised him he would be there today even though he didn’t normally come. It wasn’t his fault. He had a wife and kids, although if he was being completely honest he was pretty sure the wife was cheating on him and the kids hated him, and Maria called all his outings and beliefs bullshit. Maria was one sour woman. She was attractive, he would give her that, but her temper was hotter than raging fires and she was never in a good mood. If Remus actually made it today he would be surprised. Getting here would involve convincing Maria to let him go and making it up to her when he got back if he wanted their marriage to last more than a month more. After thirty seconds of scanning the limited crowd, he was disappointed, but not surprised, that Remus was nowhere to be seen. Remus knew what that meant. He would no longer be able to come to meetings, if there were any more meetings after this. Nobody knew what it would mean when the dragon hatched. There was no chance it didn’t, not after all this preparation. Just then Remus burst through the entryway, his long hair dripping with sweat and his robes disheveled. Galadriel’s frown deepened. It took all Gabriel's willpower not to burst out laughing from relief. He released a breath he didn’t even know he was holding. Doing the ritual without Remus, that would've been a nightmare. “Everybody get in a circle,” Galadriel spat, glaring in Remus’s direction. “I’ll be right back with the egg.” Everybody quieted down and Gabriel felt a chill spread up his arms. He wouldn’t have been surprised if his arms had goosebumps. This was it. It was really happening. He managed to work himself to a part in the circle next to Remus. Turning to look at him, he recoiled in shock. Remus’s face was messed up. A black eye swelled his left side while a nasty cut and bruise on his lip swelled to match. There was a massive welt on his right jawline and he was grimacing as if standing was causing him pain. Gabriel had a sinking feeling it has something to do with a potential ex-wife. “What happened?” He whispered. Remus turned towards him and twisted his face into a wry smile. It looked painful in more ways than one. “You know what happened,” he wheezed. “But it doesn't matter now. It won’t matter once-” He was cut off by Galadriel slowly walking into the cavern. Everybody who could see him slowly quieted. He held the egg in his hands. Seeing the egg suddenly made it feel real. Without visual confirmation it was easy to be calm, to deny it. Now he couldn’t. It didn’t glow as much as it stole light. It seemed to make the whole room a little darker as the egg itself seemed almost luminous in comparison. It was a cloudy, bright white with a touch of something behind it, in it. Gabriel's heart fluttered and his knees wobbled. Did he really want to do this? He didn’t think he did. Then again, he couldn’t not. Remus had sacrificed everything for this. Most of the people in this room were sacrificing something no matter how small. Gabriel himself was doing this for his dad. He wouldn’t think of his dad though, not now. He had work to do. Galadriel slowly walked to the center of the slightly squashed circle and Gabriel found himself urging him on. Walk faster, come on! He found he’d involuntarily crept closer to Remus. Looking around, he realized everyone was just as fixated as him. They were scared too. No, they weren’t scared, they were terrified. He felt like whimpering. This was it. Who knew what would happen next? A knife was produced from somewhere. Nobody spoke, but everybody's thoughts were clear. Let’s just get this over with so we don’t have to stew in anticipation forever. Please. He worried somebody might break and ditch, and then he knew he would too. It wouldn’t be that hard. The knife came to him and he looked at it for what seemed like years. It was now or never. No turning back. He raised the knife to his palm and cut open his right hand, then his left. The sharp pain seemed worse than anything he’d felt before. He winced in pain and felt the blood pooling to the surface. He watched as a thin line in the palm slowly became red. What was a creek became a river, then a lake, and then a flood. It dripped down onto the stone. He was dimly aware that he might’ve cut too deep, but that didn’t matter now. None of it mattered now. He felt like he was a different person than himself, like he was in his body but he wasn’t in control. He watched his hands fit into the people’s next to him. He felt the pressure on his cuts and he felt himself wince, but it was in a detached way. He wasn’t really there, at least that was what it felt like. He was floating out into the stars like he’d always dreamed when he was a kid. He found he could think clearer in the moment, like he was a kid again. He was 16 and didn’t ache with every move. He felt great for the first time in a long time. Above all, his brain raced with endless ideas and thoughts, but nothing to help him in the moment. Memories flooded his brain, and he welcomed them. As the last person cut their palms he remembered sitting in his room drinking coffee. It was a beautiful morning, a beautiful day. Birds sang sweetly in the trees and for a moment he was swept away with a feeling bubbling up to his head like the sweet taste of drunkenness. Then he moved to a different memory, so sudden and swift that he felt dizzy for a moment. He could vaguely hear Galadriel chanting as he fell into a memory he hadn’t thought of in decades. He was just a little boy again, scared of the dark and what ly within. His closet was ajar and there was a shape in there. Something sinister, something bound to lung out at him if he just- With an abrupt snap of his head he was back in his body again. Some people looked as confused as he felt, but most people had a look of horror on their face. He glanced towards the center, hope catching in this throat. The egg was still there, but it no longer had its god-like essence that had captivated him. It was just a smooth stone, lackluster. A crashing weight pulled down on him. It wasn’t a dragon egg. They had sacrificed everything they had for nothing. It wasn’t real. None of this real. He felt a hopeless cry come from a place inside him he didn’t know existed. He was back in his body yes, back in the cavern he has so long called his home surrounded by people, but he had never felt so alone.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Story B: The night was calm, the only thing that caused a disturbance were the distant howls of wolves. As leaves crunched beneath your feet, you fantasized about how each leaf got there and how they had lived before you rudely stepped on them. The path was not well lit but you seemed to know your way, as if you had been there before. There it was, the thing you were looking for. Hung high in the sky and surrounded by flames, the aztec etched ancient building Dragons Forge, returned to beauty once again. You had only heard of tales about Dragons Forge, you had never seen it in person, though it was more impressive than people sought it out to be. The ground became doused in oranges and reds as you drew closer to the flames at the base of the building. Water brewed deep below Dragons Forge; a moat was dug to keep visitors out, but you knew you were welcome. A long slender bridge dropped at your feet, and a voice pleaded you to continue your way. “Come with me traveler, you're late for the Dragons arrival” He said in a relaxed manner, for you knew the tone was too soft for the reason you are here in the first place. You made your way off the bridge to a small door at the base of the dragon's tail. You looked up to see a different angle of the stone dragon, swirling around the building about two hundred feet high. The door swung open, almost hitting your trusty broadsword around your waist but missing it by a few inches. This was Dragons Forge at its true beauty. A trusty knight met you behind the small front door and beckoned you forward, up the tall windy stairs. You grasped the rail with your long bony fingers and started up the stone pattern-carved stairs. While placing one foot in front of the other carefully you made your way up hundreds of stairs and when you reached the top an old man approached you. “You're here for the challenge I presume” He said with a raspy voice. “Only a few travelers survive this grueling task, and those who do aren't the same when they leave” You winced and considered the decision for a moment before ultimately deciding that it was worth the risk. “Good” He said as he walked you to the balcony where the top of the stone dragon's head stood, Its mouth gaping wide open. You were surprised that fire wasn't spewing from its mouth as it was near the base of the dragon, where the gate had dropped. There was another set of stairs leading to the dragon's head. Exhausted, you climbed them until you met the dragon at the top. “What are you waiting for?” The man said. “Are you scared of death? Go inside the dragon's head.” The mouth of the dragon's head was just wide enough to fit your robed body though. Once you were inside the dragon's mouth, it closed behind you, concealing the light from penetrating through the thick stone walls. The air was thick, and with each breath you could feel your lungs struggle to take the next. Hoping to create a spark, you take out your broadsword and clash it along the dark stone walls. You could briefly see where you were going from flying sparks lighting the way. You followed those sparks through a newly discovered path reaching back through the dragon's mouth, until a set of stairs were presented that led down deeper into the dragon. “Argh, Not more stairs” You said to yourself as you started your way down more carved staircases. As you walked down the stairs your silence was broken by a loud screech that emanated from deeper within the dragon. Curious, you sprinted down the staircase dragging your sword along the wall to make sure you wouldn't run into anything. You saw a bright light as you twisted down the stairs further, and re-sheathed your broadsword. Wondering what could be down here, you proceed with precaution until you run into the old man. “What are you doing down here?” You said anxiously as he drew a sword from beneath his belt. “I'm here to kill you.” He said with a murderous voice, not the same one he greeted you with. He lunged forward with his sword, and unprepared you tried to dodge it. You took out your own sword to counter and you realized that it had become completely dull from scraping it along the wall. He took another swing, but this time it dug deep into your flesh. You tried to scream but you couldn't, your mouth pooled with blood and before you knew it you were dead. The last thing you heard was the soft crackle of the torch and the re-sheathing of the old man's sword.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Reply to this post to vote on your favorite, because if you tried to do it in person someone would call the police.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

 

You followed those sparks through a newly discovered path reaching back through the dragon's mouth, until a set of stairs were presented that led down deeper into the dragon.

How many times does this guy have to walk the straight line up the dragons ass and then down the one mouth hole to figure it out?

A resounding vote for A though, even if they got Remus' charateristics wrong. 

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
No. Just, no. I refuse to vote for either one of those.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

I agree. Mine sucks because I did it as fast as possible with no plot in mind from the start, and I'm pretty sure Abge was rushing hers too because she had way too much homework and was sick. 

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Yeah, it really wasn't a good time. Why again did you sign us up for THIS WEEK Stargirl?

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/27/2023 2:13:53 PM
What’s that? You want more? Fine.

So, I start Story A: He is on the stairs. And there’s rough stone that’s weathered from years of walking. What kind of walking weathers stone to make it rough? That’s literally the opposite of what happens. When you weather stone, you flatten it out. It becomes smoother and even, without rough edges. After years, there’s no rough edges at all because that’s what “weathering” means. But wait, that smooth rough edge of stone is pressing through thin shoes. How? What is going on? The guy is walking, and the stones are pressing up against him? Does gravity work differently in this world? Oh, but it’s okay because he’s got a hole in one shoe. And the smooth/rough stone isn’t felt through the hole in the shoe? It’s the heel, how does he not feel that? But he didn’t mind because he wasn’t going to use them long. I think maybe that’s because he’s gotten ahold of some bad shrooms because exactly one second later he looks down and sees sand. He was just on the endless stairs and as soon as he looked at his feet he’s on the endless sand. Wait, no, they’re endless golden sand dunes. And still looking down, there’s some pretty cool birds flying out of sight. One can only assume they’re flying down into the golden sand, under the rough/smooth steps. Or hell, maybe they’re disappearing into the hole in his damn foot, only the psychedelic mushrooms know for sure. But at least the sun’s shining in his eyes… maybe from the asshole of one of those birds, I don’t know.

But enough of the hallucinations, let’s go on to Story B, shall we?

The howls of wolves make the night calm. No. No they do not. But while I’m distracted by the calm wolf howls, I’m suddenly fantasizing about leaves. That’s twice in two sentences, do you know what words mean? I am NOT fantasizing about leaves. If you want to have some sick fetishes, you just go right ahead. In fact, I’m not thinking about leaves at all. And I’m really not going to think about how leaves live their lives. They don’t live a life, they grow on a tree, die, and fall to the ground. That’s it. No amount of dreaming about them is going to change them. It’s not like these damn things have thoughts, dream, and desires, they’re damn LEAVES! But never mind the leaves, look up, there’s a building! Hanging from a magical hook in the sky, it looks like. I mean, sure, that’s perfectly normal. That’s where I usually see buildings, hanging from hooks in the sky. Should I wonder if the hook is hungry and pondering it’s life choices as well? I probably don’t have time to ponder that because at the bottom of the hanging building in the sky are flames that reach down to the ground that are not lighting all the magical thinking leaves on fire but are in a moat. Or something like that. So, there’s a moat. Under the floating, flaming building. But that’s okay, a bridge is there. Based on the location of the building, that sounds like it would need to a flame-resistant rope ladder, but what the actual hell is going on here?

Uh.

I mean…

Hey, great stories, both of you! I’m so glad you took the time to write these and share them with the site. Keep writing and sharing your stories!

I'll vote for Story A because I'm listening to Cream right now and thinking about mushrooms

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Ogre you got so wound up about LEAVES you never even noticed entering the dragon's butthole. Anyway, I'm gonna try and post comments on all the entries today, even if I can't vote since they're not anonymous for me.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
I am happy to know that I did indeed miss that part

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/27/2023 2:14:04 PM

I vote for story A. I will say that it used variations of the word "was" a LOT, which never bodes well. I would also like to second Ogre's comment about the transition from stone to sand being... not there.

Story B could use some punctuation around the quotes. "You need a fucking comma," said Fresh. And dialogue tags (like "said") don't need to be captalized after a quote.
Also, there are other dialogue tags available than "said". I'm not sure if you're aware of this.
I'm only not voting for this one because dialogue issues like that are my biggest pet peeve.

Personally, I think Peng and I both did better. Peng had similar issues to the start of story A  (a lack of coherency), and I may have lacked a setting, but the writing itself was still fine (in my oh-so-humble opinion).

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
I will have to come back to this after a strong drink.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Damn, pour me a glass too while you are at it.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Aren’t you like 12

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

old enough to get my driver's permit, that's gotta count for something

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

How.... do you have that video of me?  ARE YOU STALKING ME?

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Somebody get this man his keys!

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

A

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Both of these stories were painful to read (er...scan), so I don't think I can really give a vote to either one.

But if votes are necessary then I vote for Ogre's review.  It was both entertaining and funny.  And Darius' was a close second with the detail in which he examined the first story as well as the accurate summation of the second.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
A holds a small edge over B in my opinion.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
I'm surprised no one has asked this yet, but why is there a man named Galadriel in Story A?

Of all the names that could be picked, that's the most famous (female!) character in fantasy fiction, and it's not even something like Guinevere where you might not be too surprised run into it elsewhere. Even though it would still be pretty strange in this example.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
stargirl

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/29/2023 10:20:28 AM
Story A: If I were voting, it’d be for this one. There’s some questionable decisions and flaws, but at least an attempt WAS made at telling an involved story with characters and some kind of plot. Making it from the POV of cultists added a unique element too. …weathered from years of walking… >>> if you remove those five words from your second sentence you won’t have autists laser focusing in on something being incorrect, and the point you were getting across will remain. The two paragraphs describing the cave really feel like they should be switched around. In the first one it seems to be very near to him, and there’s some related metaphor with the “eyes” and “mouth” but nothing to actually indicate it was a dragon carving. The second paragraph gives those details while making it clearer that he’s approaching from a distance. their shadow giving you enough room to have a picnic with six other people. >>> just a minor thing, but there’s a lot of other things you can reference for scale that don’t bring in happy peaceful imagery like a picnic does, it sort of clashes with the tone the rest of the description up until now is leading up to. It never ceased to freak him out. >>> “freaking out” is such a modern term it feels out of place here, and might be a bit strong for a feeling of nervousness anyway. “make him nervous”, “fill him with anxiety”, or “disquiet him” are all good options, and I’m sure a thesaurus has a few more. …but yeah it is pretty distracting that we’re talking to a guy named Galadriel, lol. It was a dry sound, a mix between a dog’s bark and an old man’s rasp. >>> This is a good line. And I noticed immediately that you’ve got your dialogue punctuation down, Gower is doing good work out there. The description of the egg is really well done, you get the sense that it’s sort of beautiful and fascinating and fundamentally wrong, like all eldritch things should be. The whole aside about Maria and Remus is sort of tonally odd too. It’s not a bad thing to introduce new characters, but Remus himself doesn’t really contribute to events enough to justify so many words being used on him in a story with limited space. In fact that’s my major complaint. These cultists gather for this world changing ritual, and then it just….doesn’t work? But the failure isn’t because of anything any character does or doesn’t do, it just feels kind of random. They arrive and do the thing and it doesn’t work. I’ll point out too that a third of this story was spent just on Gabriel traveling. My overall advice would be to go through this, trim out anything unnecessary, and then use the word count you’ve saved to flesh out motivations and give characters more of a direct role in bringing about their own crushing disappointment. As far as technical issues, this was either proofread pretty well, or you got it right the first time, I only noticed two typos: “…the pricks of discomfort every time his heal ground into the shards of rock…” “He was just a little boy again, scared of the dark and what ly within.” Story B: Okay, let’s get this out of the way: a door “at the base of the dragon’s tail” is its BUTTHOLE. The character is walking into the dragon’s ANUS. And don’t try to blame this one on me, the prompt picture showed only its mouth. aztec etched ancient building >>> “Aztec” is a proper noun and refers to a real world culture, it does get your point across but it’s still sort of iffy bringing into a fantasy setting. And no offense, I get that both stories were not written under ideal circumstances for the authors, but this is an 800 word story that is lacking in plot and doesn’t seem to have had even eight seconds of proofreading. Whatever age the authors are, the punctuation is just painfully bad. I think I’m not going to go into huge amounts of detail on the story because of this. The more complex plot related stuff isn’t going to matter until we see proof that basic SPAG has been figured out. But with all the emphasis on the offhand detail of “weathered stones” from commentors on the other story, I’m surprised no one’s been jumping on the idea of wearing a sword's edge down to uselessness by lightly scraping it on some stone being a plot pivotal thing. For that matter, even if that were possible I’m pretty sure a person trained to swing a four foot slab of metal can still kill someone with it even without it being at its sharpest. Much like the sword though, the story itself is left kind of dull and lacking in a point. There’s a lot of aimlessly climbing stairs, even the character complains about it, and like the plot they ultimately don’t lead anywhere. Then the only other character shows up to kill you because that’s an easy way to end a story the author has lost interest in.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Wow you put more effort in the review then I did on my story.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
... That ain't something to brag about, even being in middle school

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/25/2023 8:38:26 AM

My internet connection is pretty bad for some reason, but I hope this will come through. The clear winner is Story A, well done Stargirl.

Like the others have said, the stories are at least a lot more coherent compared to Peng and Fresh. I'd like to think it's because they got a visual cue instead of a regular prompt, but both did try to capture the environment at least though with a bit of clunkiness.

Story A

Description stuff

I'm Dutch, I make clunky phrased sentences all the time, take this advice with a grain of salt.

Weathered stone isn't really rough. It's SMOOTH. Rain and pebbles are like sandpaper. They make stone very smooth. I think the best examples are seen in caves where most of the ground below is very slippery. 

I do really like that you use a lot more evocative language in your descriptions to set an ominous tone. Perhaps it's due to the growing influence of YA novels, but new authors often are scared to put in some fancy poetic comparisons and such into their environments. 

 

The mouth of the cave, if you could call it that, loomed above him. Most days it seemed to be just a lifeless carving, but today it seemed alive. The golden eyes flashed in the sun and cast small circles of light onto the ground below. Its mouth stretched into a grin, laughing at him, as he struggled up what felt like the millionth step.

 

This passage for example, pretty great. It feels threatening, I felt as if the writer intended it to be so. Comparing the opening of a cave to am animal/living creature is also clever (though admittedly done plenty of times before, still great tho). However, as much as I want to compliment your prose, I do have to point out that you have to be clear to the readers which object you compare which object to. A story isn't a poem haha, poems are allowed to be vague as shit, with writing it's better to be a bit clearer (unless it's intended to be this way yadayda exceptions to the rule, Louis Couperus yadayada)

"The golden eyes" 

What do you mean by that? Is it the slight holes in the cave's ceiling? Is it a few rocks jutting out like some eyeball? Jewels embedded in it's outer wall? 

P.S. You can leave out "the" in that sentence. If you say it out loud you'll feel that leaving out the particle makes the sentence flow better. Plus it saves on word count. 

If we're speaking on saving word count, here we have another sentence that is honestly fine. I get what the author wants to tell me, but it can be written a lot more succinct and snappy.

 

the way his robe dragged on the ground behind him making a strange snake-like noise

 

The main question what you want to ask to yourself is: what do I want the reader to know? Snakes have lots of sounds. Do I want them to know that the sound is akin to how a snake moves through the ground? If so, then don't be afraid to just use the verbs that are associated with snakes with the robe. Slither, slide, glide, snake etc. OR do you want the readers to know that the dragging sound is akin to a snake's hiss? If so, just make the robe hiss or something.

It's kinda amusing that you did this so well in a later sentence:

It was a dry sound, a mix between a dog’s bark and an old man’s rasp.

wrong usage of words/very pedantic grammarly stuff/nitpick

He had a wife and kids, although if he was being completely honest he was pretty sure the wife was cheating on him and the kids hated him, and Maria called all his outings and beliefs bullshit.

Although is used in the beginning of a sentence. THOUGH is the word you want to use in the middle of a sentence.

The sculpture of the dragon seemed no closer than it had 10 minutes ago

Numbers from 1 to 20, write them with full letters. So fifteen instead of 15. Same with twenty, thirty, fifty, hundred. It's not necessarily wrong, but it looks better. Looks less cookbook-like. (Exception: writing dates. 1946 July 1st. Yeah, do use numbers.)

Galadriel and Gabriel, these names, they look a lot like each other. Please pick names that are different from each other or readers might confuse them with each other (unless this is also done deliberately for narrative purposes aka they siblings, part of their culture etc). 

Cut the fat, leave room for steaks/stakes

One problem I have with the story is that I have no feeling where the story is gonna go till little over the midway point. That is pretty darn late for a short story though the way you set the tone got me hooked long enough to not be too annoyed by it.

Onto the main problem: I have a feeling that the middle part of the story meanders a little in stuff we don't need to know or introduces characters that aren't important.

Maria was one sour woman. She was attractive, he would give her that, but her temper was hotter than raging fires and she was never in a good mood. If Remus actually made it today he would be surprised. Getting here would involve convincing Maria to let him go and making it up to her when he got back if he wanted their marriage to last more than a month more.

After this aside Maria isn't mentioned again. Hell, she isn't even present during the whole story. You could've used these precious words to make a paragraph on WHY THESE CHARACTERS WANT TO AWAKEN SOMETHING AS DESTRUCTIVE AS A DRAGON IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Gabriel, our main guy has sacrificed everything for this egg and ritual. What did he mean by everything? We don't know. Remus certainly still has a family and kids and Gabriel too, so that cannot be it. Is it their lives, money, time, all of the above?

Gabriel once mentioned that he did this for his dad. What would an action like participating in a ritual result in a better outcome for his dad. Is his dad sick and he needs a cure? Is the dad some kind of mad priest and Gabe did it for religious reasons, us the dragon a murderous weapon that will avenge his dad's death. We don't know. Therefore it's kind of a struggle for me to care whether or not the dragon awakening will succeed.

One other lost opportunity is to have Gabe's hallucinations/visions be about his childhood with his dad. Or perhaps show him a future that he really wants to have. 

In short: let us readers know what and why Gabe wants to do the stuff he does, what he thinks will happen if he succeed and what will happen if he doesn't or the worst thing comes to fruition.

For a story so short, I highly recommend to cut down the time focused on Remus and place the focus on Gabe's struggles OR just make Remus the main character/character of interest instead with Gabe as a narrator or left out entirely.

Tldr: cut fat, leave stakes.

the very confusing ending

bruh if you cut your wrist and bleed out so badly that you begin to hallucinate then how is Gabe still alive. He also an old man, so his survival is even more unlikely. Yeah, i know, killing off your main character is pretty overdone in short stories, but I'm legit confused what has happened.

With an abrupt snap of his head he was back in his body again. Some people looked as confused as he felt, but most people had a look of horror on their face. He glanced towards the center, hope catching in this throat. The egg was still there, but it no longer had its god-like essence that had captivated him. It was just a smooth stone, lackluster.

Apparently everyone is fine and alive? Okay it failed, but it doesn't seem like anyone is too badly hurt, no corpses and anything like that. Wouldn't a better emotion be like despair or disappointment?

Cutting your wrists and hitting an artery can fuck you up pretty bad, but oh well, now that the ritual is over, people can rush put to bandage up themselves and stop the bleeding.

conclusion

before I reach the 2000 word threshold and be as bad as Mystic, here is my final verdict. Story A is quite a good story for an author who just graduated out of middle school. The tone and mood is there and it is coherent enough that I got what's going on during my first read. Plus awakening a dragon egg through a ritual sounds like a neat story idea, smart of you to keep the scope small. I enjoyed the story! 

Story B

Please punctuate stuff properly.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Goddamn you put more effort into this than the past 6 writers (myself included) have put into Thunderdome entries

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Okay, obviously Story A won. Congrats to @stargirl. Considering you waited till the literal last minute to get yours in I'm impressed you still made full use of the wordcount and that it was so much more coherent than anything Ab, Peng, Freah, or Ace have been able to produce recently.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/26/2023 1:15:46 PM

I really didn't think mine would win when I submitted it. I started it an hour and a half before the deadline, wrote one sentence, and then ate lunch. I think I wrote the whole thing in 45 minutes with no plot in mind and didn't have time to proofread it. I apologize for everyone that was forced to read that abomination that I called a story.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Commended by mizal on 10/26/2023 1:15:54 PM

I had to do mine in 25 minutes while cooking ramen, I was distracted and couldn't do it later because I was going to target. I was surprized it ended up this good

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
I thought you were sick?

This kind of explanation really only works when you're not turning them in a full 24 hours early though. Worth mentioning that every other entry showed up in my inbox within the last hour, I think we can scientifically conclude that the difference shows.

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Well the only time I could do it was on Saturday for 25 minutes because I'm usually busy on the weekends doing tournaments and going to the store. Also I was sick

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago
Congrats @stargirl!

Thunderdome 9: stargirl vs Abgeofriends

5 months ago

Ah yes, Freah. Yeah, his entry was trash. Just what you'd expect from a 12-year-old.