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Literature / Gold Tongues

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"These are wonderful times we live in!"
Stix, relishing in the irony of the situation.

Gold Tongues is a post-apocalyptic web novella written by Tyk 5919.

Several years after an unknown catastrophe wiped out most of the world, now overrun by mutants and giant bugs, three drifters- Buzz, Stix, and Petrol- traverse around the deserts of America as they try to survive their new world without losing their sanity during their journey.

Gold Tongues provides examples of:

  • After the End: The story takes place years after the apocalypse already happened. Humanity is on the verge of extinction, mutants and monstrous bug-like monsters populate the world, and most of the country is in ruins.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Exaggerated. Several elements of the story are intentionally left up to the readers' interpretations. What caused the apocalypse? Where did the man-eating humanoid bugs come from? Why are they there? How sentient are they? How was Petrol's face mutilated? What is this mysterious virus that turned people into mutants? How come some people are mutants, while others are simply dying? Is the whole world in ruins, or simply America? How long has it been since the apocalypse began? Why are Stix's ears so damn big and pointy? The questions are endless, and almost none are answered.
  • Anyone Can Die: A lot of the characters that the three drifters run into end up dead by the end of the story. Even Petrol and Stix are killed in the final chapter.
  • Big Bad: Petrol, one of the three drifters, is the villain of his section of the story, which focuses on him going around and victimizing people for his amusement. Buzz and Stix's sections, meanwhile, lack an overarching antagonist.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The bug monsters that inhabit the world are giant man-sized beasts that look like a praying mantis with razor-sharp claws and teeth.
  • Book Ends: All three of the drifters end up in the same position where they started.
    • Stix starts and ends the story breaking into someone's residence and trying to rob from them. However, unlike his debut, the person Stix tries to steal from kills him instead and disposes of his body.
    • Buzz starts and ends the story sunbathing. But unlike his debut, Buzz doesn't have his van, he's much more cynical, and his only companion is a seemingly sentient bug monster.
    • Petrol's scenes start and end with someone encountering a wounded victim, choking the victim to death, and then consuming their flesh. The big difference is that Petrol is on the receiving end here.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When Billy tries to suggest what Petrol used to be, he suggests he was a lifeguard, then a soccer coach, then a bus driver. And then he says a lifeguard who coached soccer while driving a bus.
  • Camping a Crapper: Defied. In chapter 2, Stix has to pee very badly, but can't because someone is trying to break into the house he's stowed away in and he doesn't want the intruder to kill him while he's preoccupied emptying his bladder. So he resorts to peeing his pants.
  • Central Theme: Apathy. Nobody in the story seems to care that the world is in ruins. There's no resistance, no team trying to kill all the Big Creepy-Crawlies, no law enforcement patrolling the streets, etc. Everyone is concerned about self-preservation, doing drugs, or waiting for an imminent death. Even Buzz, one of the nicer characters in the story, gradually stops caring about helping other people and eventually resorts to getting drunk and meandering his way around the country.
  • Death of a Child: Billy and Tessa, the sole adolescent characters, are both killed in chapter 4.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Stix's first scene shows him failing to steal from someone and talking his way out of getting killed, followed by him slyly subduing his opponent and killing him.
    • Buzz's first scene is him trying to sunbathe in the middle of a hostile environment, before he lackadaisically kills a monster and complains about having his serene moment ruined.
    • Petrol's first scene is him trying to steal from a wounded woman, nonchalantly murdering her when he realizes she has nothing useful, and then eating her flesh when he realizes he has no other food source nearby.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Stix is a pragmatic sociopath who isn't above killing innocent people, but even he is disturbed when he finds out that Petrol molested three girls in his lifetime, and Buzz nonsensically murdered a mutant.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Several characters' real names are never revealed. About two-thirds of the characters have a nickname assigned or given to them.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Giant mutated bugs, a mysterious virus, violent scavengers, mutants, bikers, and trigger-happy wanderers all populate the story's setting. This is all on top of taking place in a very dry, hot desert.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Stix takes on two shotgun-wielding bikers in chapter 4 while he's completely naked.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of a Cosy Catastrophe. Many of the characters in the story are desperately trying to enjoy themselves in spite of living in a Crapsack World. The problem is that everyone and everything is dangerous, several people are already dying or suffering from a terminal illness, and most of the characters are Apathetic Citizens. Nobody is actually having fun; nobody is cozy. The three main characters are all morally shady, not fun-loving good people—with one of them being a murderous, sadistic pedophile. Everytime the main characters run into other characters, chances are they end up dead, or their apathy rubs off on them. And by the end of the story, nobody gets a happy ending, and the only surviving main character is in a worse position than where he started.
  • Guys are Slobs: The male characters are notably filthier and more vulgar than the females. Petrol, Stix, and Five Strikes all haven't bathed in weeks, Petrol isn't above passing gas in public, Stix and Five Strikes both pee their pants intentionally, and Buzz and Petrol have no problem masturbating whenever aroused. Even the young boy Billy finds fart jokes funny, while his surrogate sister, Tessa, finds them disgusting.
  • Mercy Kill: Stix puts down Bear after the man was mortally shot in the back with a shotgun.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The bug monsters have loads of serrated teeth in their mouths that apparently "put a shark’s mouth to shame."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Subverted in chapter 5. Buzz murders a drug-addicted mutant and expects to have some kind of breakdown afterwards. He deals with it just fine, and copes by getting intoxicated.
  • No Antagonist: Due to the story being a Random Events Plot, Buzz and Stix's sections of the story are mainly about the two trying to survive in the post-apocalyptic world and examining their beliefs in the face of their experiences. Stix encounters momentary antagonists, but never a main threat, and Buzz rarely encounters any antagonists at all, his greatest enemy being his own growing cynicism. The bug monsters that are a threat to all humanity mainly play the role of Greater-Scope Villain, never quite coming into focus enough to be a consistent threat. Averted with Petrol's sections, where Petrol himself is the Big Bad.
  • No Ending: Nothing is resolved by the end. Petrol is killed by a mutant, Stix is killed trying to steal from a merchant, and Buzz ends up bonding with a sentient bug monster in a desperate attempt to find some form of happiness. On top of this, it's made clear that nobody in the story seems concerned about trying to fix the state that the world's in.
  • Oh, Crap!: Petrol starts panicking the second a demonic-looking mutant comes across his wounded body, knowing full well he's about to be killed by him.
  • Pet the Dog: In chapter 3, Stix manages to convince Kim to give up a bagel he was about to steal just by talking to her and sympathizing with her. Not only does he not steal anything else, but he leaves her alive, and lets her keep the shotgun he promised to trade her for said bagel.
  • Potty Failure:
  • Random Events Plot: Each chapter (with the exception of five) is about the three drifters coming across a seemingly random event or random encounter with a stranger, said event and/or stranger affecting them in a certain way, and then moving on. This formula repeats until the story ends.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Tessa is raped off-screen by Petrol in chapter 4.

  • Shout-Out:
    • The nickname "Stix" is likely based off the goblin character Styx from Of Orcs and Men and its two prequels. Both of them are morally shady, wise-cracking, pragmatic characters with a penchant for stealing, and Cham and Buzz both say Stix's big pointy ears make him look like a goblin.
    • Billy suggests three different jobs Petrol may have had in his past, before saying that he did all three of them at the same time while he had a moustache. This is a reference to the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Can You Spare a Dime?"
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Buzz willingly picks up a hitchhiker despite knowing she could be dangerous in chapter 2. She ends up stealing his van, subdues him, and leaves him on the side of the road to die.
    • Stix forms a brief relationship with Bear, despite making it clear that he's a sociopath who only had sex with him for his own selfish reasons. After Stix is forced to Mercy Kill Bear, he doesn't spend a single second mourning him.
    • In chapter 5, Buzz murders a mutant in cold blood and expects some kind of repercussion for doing so. However, since no one saw the murder, and because the police no longer exist, he gets away with it.
    • After finding out that Petrol is a pedophile who raped a young girl and discovering that Buzz murdered a mutant for no reason, Stix mortally wounds Petrol and abandons both of them, knowing that they're too unstable and will eventually get him killed.
    • In the final chapter, Stix decides to play a fair, deadly game with a merchant instead of trying to cheat. He doesn't anticipate that the merchant is a cheater as well, and said merchant manages to kill Stix with knives he had taped to his back underneath his shirt.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • In chapter 4, Petrol tries to cheer up a pouting Billy by making him pull his finger. After doing so, Petrol rips a huge fart right next to Tessa just to annoy her.
    • In chapter 5, Stix and Buzz run into Petrol and Stix asks the man if he's got any gas. Petrol responds by passing gas.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: It's rare for the main drifters to be seen actually arriving or driving to their destination. Several times, a new scene will begin, and they're already there despite being several miles away prior.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: It's never explained what caused the apocalypse, how far it spread, or why the world is suddenly filled with ravenous bug-like mutants. The only clues given are that some virus broke out and something toxic polluted the oceans and lakes.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never confirmed where in America the story takes place. Judging by the desert terrain and scorpions, the setting more than likely is somewhere around Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, or California.