Monday, June 17, 2024

“Punch Flavored Punch” • by Yelena Crane


The music, décor, and activities were biometrically enhanced to perfectly attune to individual taste. Alice made sure this would be the party to end all parties.

“Anyone want punch?” she asked.

A line had formed at the bar. She could not have lines at her party, unless her invited guests were into that.

“First rule of any party is never drink the punch!” the crowd said.

“Oh yea?” Maybe they couldn’t vouch for their punch bowls, but Alice hadn’t even used digital security. She’d watched over it personally.

Alice took a big swig and smiled before she blacked out.


Yelena Crane is a Ukrainian/Soviet born and USA based writer, incorporating influences from both into her work. With an advanced degree in the sciences, she has followed her passions from mad scientist to sci-fi writer. Her stories often explore the boundaries of technology, the complexities of human nature, and the consequences of our choices. She's published in Nature Futures, DSF, Dark Matter Ink, Flame Tree, and elsewhere. Follow her on twitter @Aelintari and

If you enjoyed this story, you might also want to read her most recent previous stories on our site, “Like Clockwork,”  and “Literally.”


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: punchline.

More stories to come every day this week!