Wednesday, January 24, 2024

“The Triennial Igneous Tri-Partite Competition” • by Pauline Barmby

The most important rule of Xavia’s most prestigious race was: no drafting.

Aurielle finished the fire walk and lava swim with personal best times. Then her dragon’s uncontrollable desire to nose right up behind other competitors got them disqualified.

Watching the race from the ground, they both winced as an accidental belch burned off most of a yellow dragon’s tail. The dragon’s flight began to falter; Aurielle and Rokarth leapt into the sky.

Rokarth positioned herself in front of the yellow dragon. He relaxed into her slipstream and let her glide them to a safe landing.

Drafting has its place.

Pauline Barmby is an astrophysicist who reads, writes, runs, knits, and believes that you can’t have too many favorite galaxies. She lives in London, Canada and hopes to someday visit her namesake main belt asteroid, minor planet 281067. Find more of her words at

Pauline has become a regular contributor to Stupefying Stories. Her most recent appearance in our pages was “Trans-Earth Injection.”


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The Pete Wood Challenge is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece playing off key word: draft.

More stories to come!