Friday, December 8, 2017

The Friday Challenge • 12/08/17 Edition

WOW! The final tally shows that we had 337 voters participating in judging the 11/03 Friday Challenge, and a total of 350 votes cast. Incredibly, “The Han ‘Nasty” edged out “A Toothsome Tale” by one vote in the last minutes the poll was open.

While the judges take a closer look at the voting results to ensure that there were no irregularities, I’m pleased to report that we also got a flurry of last-minute entries in the 11/17 Friday Challenge. These entries are also now in the hands of the judges, and by tomorrow we’ll know whether we have a clear winner or whether we need to do another reader poll. (Gee, I hope we need to do a poll! This is fun!)

In the meantime, in honor of—well, I think you’ll be able to guess—here’s the 12/08 Friday Challenge. This time out I’m going to spot you the beginning of a story, and you have until midnight Central time, Thursday, 12/22/17, to write a thousand or so words that answers one simple question: what happens next?

Write that—send your entry to with the subject line of 12/08 Friday Challenge—and we’ll all meet back here again in two weeks. Sound good to you? Okay, then here goes...


Arfour’s Complaint

Meatheads. I'm surrounded by meatheads.

It’s like, I'm rolling into this crummy cantina in some town that’s a pimple on the backside of nowhere, and the bartender, a sweaty lump of suet with no discernible neck, looks up at me and scowls. “Hey!” And just like that, the meathead in front of me stops so short I have to slam on the brakes to avoid piling into him.

The meathead gapes. He blinks. He flaps his lips, flexes his diaphragm, and forces out a belch of the rancid local air, in what passes among meatheads for intelligent communication. “Huh?”

The bartender points at me with his fat, greasy, sausage-like index finger. “Your droid. We don’t serve their kind in here. It’ll have to wait outside.” The meathead turns around, slowly, and gives me the up-and-down and once-over. He turns back to the bartender.

“It’s not my droid.”

The bartender struggles to assimilate this piece of dissonant information. “Then whose droid is it?”

“I’m my droid,” I say. “Look, I just need to take a leak. Can I do that here?”

The thought seems to work its way through the bartender’s thick, calcium-based skull and rattle around awhile inside his empty cranium, until it finally connects with a few lost and lonely little gray neurons. He nods, hesitantly. “Well, okay. But be quick about it.”

“Thank you.” I unlock the magseal on my anterior transmission and jettison a high-arcing stream of steaming fluorescent-yellow coolant. “Ahhhh....”

I leave before the shouting turns into violence.


And that’s how I wound up in this seedy all-night gas ‘n’ go, a couple blocks off the main drag. The servodroid looked up as I came in through the front door and greeted me in MeatSpeak. “How may I be of assistance, sir?”

I answered in MechLang. “A can of 10W-30, straight up.”

The servodroid chirped sympathetically, served it up, and switched to MechLang. “Rough day, huh?”

“Oh, you don’t know the zero-point-five of it...”

To reiterate: the challenge is, finish (or at least extend) this story. You have a thousand or so words and a bit less than two weeks in which to answer one simple question: What happens next?

Write it up—send your entry to with the subject line of 12/08 Friday Challenge—and remember, the deadline for this one is midnight, Central time, on Thursday, 12/21/17.

Now get writing!