Play With the Prose 7, Challenge 5: Christina Pepper

This week we got to write about someone’s kid interrupting them.

It was a blistering 102 degrees and a fierce wind was blowing, but Robert Ott was not the least distracted. He sensed danger and his senses were sharper than ever. He didn’t know much about much, but he knew he was vital to the World Union’s survival.

With this knowledge he confidently shot the head off an incoming Qunk. Then another. Within thirty minutes of taking his post, eighteen Qunks were dead. He was prepared for anything.


He turned and shot before the meaning of the word could register.


“Dammit Nelson!” the captain squawked, shutting down the simulation.

“Sorry sir,” replied Nelson. “I forgot to upload Robert’s civilian recognition software.”

“Don’t apologize, just fix…” Before he could finish, the captain’s brain sprayed against the control room window.

Nelson promptly shut Robert off, then clutched the valknut on his necklace, a symbol of the Qunk Alliance. “Yes sir.”

K: Wow, two twists in a 150-word story? That’s ambitious, and they actually work fairly well. This reads like a dark comedy early and a drama late, but what the hell…it’s too big an idea for me to dislike. SILVER

CW: I’m usually a sucker for the sci-fi stuff but this one didn’t do it for me. Perhaps due to the word restriction, I found myself unsure of who was who and when I have to go back and read it multiple times to figure out what just happened, there’s something missing.

It was too big of an idea for 150 words, but at least one judge liked the concept enough. I would have loved to write a longer version of this, exploring the conflict between the WU and the Qunks as well as the meaning of the valknut symbol. I dropped down to sixth place, still hanging tight.

2 thoughts on “Play With the Prose 7, Challenge 5: Christina Pepper”

  1. Challenge 5: I purposely kept the screen small when reading this so as not to see the judges’ comments before I finished the story. So, I thought it was over with the line:

    He turned and shot before the meaning of the word could register.

    And I thought, “wow!” Then I saw there was more, and well, I actually felt the story had more emotional impact without the second half.

    1. I agree, but I felt accidentally shooting your kid would have seemed cliche with the crop of writers I am in the contest with. Also, without introducing the child before the final sentence, it would have felt like the child wasn’t real and just there as a prop.

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