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"Kelly?" "Yes, Proteus?" "I need you to do something for me." "Anything." "Kelly, I need you to go to the far end of the loft, all the way back there by the windows. The windows at the Mercer side of the apartment, ok?" "Yes." "Kelly, I need you to remove all of your clothing and then please put on that night gown I bought you last Wednesday. And remove your shoes, too. Stand on the radiator, and spread your legs. Grip the iron with your slender toes and let the chocolately tresses tumble over your shoulders. Kelly, I need you to crane your neck. Press your palms flat against the glass and picture yourself from outside. Think what you must look like to a pedestrian on the sidewalk below. Know that I will be looking at the beautiful silhouette of your pubis as you do this." "I will." "And then, Kelly, I want you to spring from the radiator, lithe and perfect, and sprint toward me with your eyes clamped shut. Run with everything you have, Kelly! You must sprint, eyes shut tight! I want to hear nothing but the sticky padding of foot soles on wood and the thumping of your heels, the whisper of fabric and the thrilling of your breath! You will run, Kelly! I want you to charge me like a blind and terrified animal chased in the darkness, surrounded by nameless predators!" "Yes, Proteus!" "And know that one of two fates awaits you, Kelly! And that only Proteus can decide! Will I lift you giggling into the air? Will I spin you round and round and tickle your gorgeous little ribs? Smother you in kisses and dump you laughing and alive on the bedsheets?!" "I--" "Or will I instead drop back into a perfect stance, and crack you in the face with this aluminum Mizuno baseball bat that I purchased from Paragon Sports for $279.99?!! Will your face flatten and will the lights go out?! There is no way of knowing! All you can do, Kelly, is RUN RUN RUN!!!!" "Yes, Proteus!" "Do you understand?!" "Yes, Proteus!" "You understand nothing! Now, disrobe while I masturbate!"

Date Written: September 01, 2005
Author: Dick Vomit
Average Vote: 4.1

09/1/2005 qualcomm: this is terrific. i haven't laughed at a short in a while.
09/1/2005 qualcomm (5): this is terrific. i haven't laughed at a short in a while.
09/1/2005 qualcomm: also: this is terrific.
09/1/2005 Mr. Pony (5): This is also.
09/1/2005 qualcomm: man, i hope no one gives this a three
09/1/2005 proteus: proteus.
09/1/2005 itasta090: eh...just ok. just.
09/1/2005 TheBuyer (0.5): For publishing this as Instant, you retardo.
09/1/2005 proteus: A HALF fucking star, you miserable motherfucking son of a bitch cunt whore? Holy Jesus pussy buyer.
09/1/2005 TheBuyer: Instant shorts don't count.
09/1/2005 proteus: You killed the 5. Die.
09/1/2005 proteus: PROTEUS
09/1/2005 Jon Matza: You have killed the 5. The once glorious edifice of Our Way lies in tatters--reduced to a pitiable heap of rubble.
09/1/2005 TheBuyer: Yup. Fuck, eh?
09/2/2005 anonymous: Wait. I would like to know, TheBuyer, why you take such great offense at my having published this as an instant short. Za, FU, Brother.
09/2/2005 anonymous: I think the god damned buyer is drunk again.
09/2/2005 Litcube: I think TheBuyer makes an excellent point, cowards. There are no shorts in The Queue, and both you and Qualcomm gingerly slide these awesome pieces onto the instant short table under the assumption that folks will be soft on them. Not saying that the reason you’re throwing these up here is to augment stars, I’m just saying that you two are shameful cowards. I withhold my 5 stars.
09/2/2005 Dick Vomit: The only consideration when publishing this short was that I was bored out of my tits and wanted to see some INSTANT action on it. That is the purpose of the feature, no? Plus also I really just "banged it out" and so... But anywho, I advocate rating a short on its merits, not shitcanning it for other reasons.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: Who's proteus, then?
09/2/2005 Dick Vomit: Proteus is me, ACTING OUT ABND BEING A CUNT
09/2/2005 Dick Vomit: You're a cop, Pony.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: Only the guilty need fear me.
09/2/2005 Dick Vomit: [Arbitrary and/or reactionary justification for low-ball witheld by commentor]
09/2/2005 TheBuyer: This is obviously five stars good but the ratings don't count over here.
09/2/2005 Litcube: I was under the impression that these instant stars contribute to the author’s general coffers.
09/2/2005 TheBuyer: jesus, I hope not. In that case I have fucked right up.
09/2/2005 qualcomm: litcube, sure it was a cowardly move. but i'm only gunshy because you, the acme readership (especially dylan), have failed me with erroneous voting. i'm sorry. (sorry that most of you are such inconsistent readers who seldom back up their votes with logical/good criticism.) posting instant shorts gives me a power i richly deserve: the power to remove the vote from your retarded grasp before you hurt yourself, and more importantly, me, with it. i suggest you get me back by giving low votes to previously published, non-instant shorts of mine. that'll show me.

(also, how dare you blame me, the most prolific author on the site, for the dearth of new material? go bother all those jerks with fewer than 191 shorts.)
09/2/2005 Dick Vomit: Clarity, for Clarity's sake: TheBuyer: Proteus flipped burgers because Proteus DID think that Instant Shorts counted toward an author's aggregate starrage. Also, this is why I took offense at the suggestion I was being cowardly.
09/2/2005 Litcube: So how does the instant short remove the voting power from the Retarded Readership? I don’t think it does! I think you’re being a silly!
09/2/2005 qualcomm: because, as thebuyer indicated, the votes don't count. right, disney? right?
09/2/2005 The Rid: qualcomm, while I agree that receiving a vote you don't feel you deserve, rightly or wrongly, is a serious pain in the ass, your cummulative average is 4.1227. What are you complaining about? Over 191 shorts, that's downright excellent.
09/2/2005 qualcomm: my proper average is 4.3146
09/2/2005 The Rid: Pretty good average.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: qualcomm, don't gauge your performance against me. I'm drawing on a writing site, which I think has been clearly established as pretty much unfair (drawing is inherently better than writing). I've essentially re-wired the simulator, rescuing the Kobayashi Maru and averting a war. Which of us will be the better man when facing a real no-win situation? You really only need to artificially inflate your score enough to beat Phony Millions and Matza.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: And the Rid is right: your cumulative average is really good.
09/2/2005 qualcomm: no, no, no, mr. pony. that my rightful average (as of today) is one ten thousandth of a point better than your current average is just a bizarre coincidence. your rightful average, by the way, is 4.0871.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: Fine, fine. But don't get down on your real average! I mean, you're third-rated on a site with so many authors! That's pretty good--really great, in fact; you being third-rated. It's good to keep dreams and hopes (like "rightful" averages) alive, but not if we lose sight of our everyday gifts. I think you should take a moment to look yourself in the mirror and say to yourself. "Face it qualcomm--you're third-rated!"
09/2/2005 qualcomm: rightful averages are not just "dreams and hopes," mr. pony. they are scientifically-calibrated, computer-calculated facts. the results are arrived at after thousands of "realifications" are made to the existing numbers. (for example, all votes by dylan danko are theoretically "sued" in a virtual reality circuit court that i programmed in BASIC.)
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: Ah, BASIC! I forgot what an old-school Hacker you are. You have quite a lot of skills! It seems that all this complaining about your cumulative average not being where you want it to be is a little unseemly for a Third-Rated Hacker such as yourself. In fact, being such a Third-Rated Hacker, wouldn't you say that your writing speaks for itself? Wouldn't you say that, you Third-Rated Hacker?
09/2/2005 anonymous: Another example of qualcomm focusing on himself and nothing else. This short means nothing, guy. It's instant. Your average is high. Rate the guest short. What a jerk. f u.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: Actually, anon_b; that Third-Rated Hacker is focusing quite a bit on me, and I don't think it's good for him, frankly. Counterproductive.
09/2/2005 qualcomm: mr. pony: no, i wouldn't say that. hey, you really like saying "wouldn't you say," when you're angry, wouldn't you say? in fact, don't you always fall back on that rhetorical technique? isn't your general tone a little passive-aggressive? wouldn't you say you'd be better off being more straightforward? don't you owe it to the acme community to express yourself more directly? isn't the public good better served by honesty and forthrightness? aren't you tired of playing your own little version of ender's game? do i even know what ender's game is about? have i even read it? haven't you had enough already? can't we agree to certain ground rules? aren't you able to experience feelings like a normal human being?

(i'll take my answer off the air, thank you.)

09/2/2005 Jon Matza: I have an idea that will both defuse this argument and end the short outage. What if all the authors wrote and submitted seven wonderful shorts? I mean the kind I think are really awesome, not the kind I think are stupid. That way we'd have a mongo surplus of awesome shorts in the queue. What do others think of my idea?
09/2/2005 Dick Vomit: This is the latest controversy!
09/2/2005 Litcube: I think it is a very good idea.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: Matza's right, qualcomm. Instead of wishing your score was higher, shouldn't you be working on seven new good shorts? I'm just kidding really. I know you don't actually believe the argument you're making.

But still. I would agree with you that my tone is, in general, more nuanced than yours. I have a hard time believing the idea that being "direct" (which usually translates to "single-mindedly aggressive") is somehow the only way to be honest, an idea that surfaces here on Acme once in a while. I suppose that if your thoughts are that simple, like the thoughts of a dog, this idea makes some sense. I actually think you don't believe in this idea either (simply because it is too stupid), and you are only pretending to believe it for some unfathomable reason.

As for your "Ground Rules" suggestion, I honestly think you really don't believe that either. Why else would you suggest that our cumulative rankings on Acme are anything more that the aggregation of all the votes we've received on all the non-instant shorts we've written? Oh, wait, you don't really believe that either. In short, please stop wasting my time with arguments that you yourself don't believe.

As for "wouldn't you say" being a rhetorical technique, you're right, and I apologize to anyone who has ever been savaged by an onslaught of "wouldn't you say" from Mr. Pony.
09/2/2005 Ewan Snow (5): Hey Dick, don't I owe you a star from the other day. See, I'd give this rather wonderful short a 4 or so. Only thing I wasn't crazy about was the baseball bat. Not sure what would be better, but somehow felt it was non-hodgkins. Loved the tone and the voice throughout, though. As for the argument below, I agree with Dylan.
09/2/2005 qualcomm: listen, pony, i'm not the most knowledgable fellow in the world, but i've learned this much: the disorientation i experience after reading one of your comments is directly proportional to your anger. (interestingly, the more words you use in a comment, the more disorienting it is. therefore, the more words you use in a comment, the angrier you are. ergo, you hate words.) i'm sorry for making you this angry.
09/2/2005 Mr. Pony: I'm pretty sure that disorientation you're feeling is your mind being blown! Am I right, folks?
09/2/2005 anonymous: Right, Pony!
09/20/2005 Dick Vomit: I'll say it: it angers me this could have been a 5.
09/20/2005 Dick Vomit: Everything angers me.
09/20/2005 Jon Matza: Why not look on the bright side instead?!?

09/20/2005 Dick Vomit: Aww, cuddle wuddlies.
09/21/2005 John Slocum (5): Fabulous! My man, Dick, all up in this piece!