Monday, December 8, 2014


We're back! Thanks for joining us again! Life is hectic this time of year, so I won't keep you. Go check out the prompt and write us a story! :)

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Tamara Shoemaker. Read her winning tale from last week here!  Tamara Shoemaker was penning harrowing suspense tales from little on up, and the older she grew, the more harrowing they became. While this genre still holds her interest, her most recent love is young adult fantasy. Three of her suspense books are for sale on Amazon. Her newest suspense, Soul Survivor, will be available in January 2015. The first book of her latest young adult fantasy trilogy, Mark of Four, will hit the market in February. Bonus points if you follow her on Twitter (@TamaraShoemaker) and/or go like her Facebook page (

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-23 is:

Three strangers appeared on my [doorstep], and in their [hands] they brought death.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least THREE of the following literary characters: Edward Rochester, Jo March, Harry Potter, Anne Shirley, Sherlock Holmes, Katniss Everdeen, Dracula, Miss Havisham, Rhett Butler, Lucy Pevensie, Gandalf the Grey.



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  2. The Harvest
    by Mark Driskill
    wc 500 words without title
    Challenge accepted
    Three strangers appear on your doorstep, and in their hands they bring death. You spend the early years trying not to worry. Chances are the council doesn't even notice you. At least that's what you tell yourself to keep from going insane waiting for the next harvest.
    You have until age thirty to start worrying. They hardly ever take any younger. Sometimes the Helpers, as they like to be called, choose a youngling at random, just keep us all on edge. Don't expect Katniss Everdeen to volunteer to take your place. Those selfless types don't exist around here. You're more likely to get a Rhett Butler reaction, because frankly nobody really cares about anything or anyone. It's all about avoiding the annual harvest. They say it's for our own good. If we go along quietly we are promised immortality. They say we need them. Right, like Lucy Pevensie needs Dracula! Who do they think they're fooling? So you just keep your head down, stay below the radar and hope your code number doesn't come up.
    The longer you live the more you appreciate things. The feel of swirling red sand slipping through your fingers or the flashes of fire streaking across the lavender skyscape announcing the onset of second summer. When you're one of the few who've managed, by some mocking providence, to make it beyond 33 harvests, you learn to live a little more intentionally. You take your time with the water rations, drinking deeply, with a kind of sacred reverence. You used to run across the dunes, but now you stroll hand in hand with the world around you, like two young lovers dreading the goodbye.
    Even the head splitting screams of their war cruisers ripping deep gashes in the atmosphere, sounds strangely soothing. You get a kind of nauseating security from their presence. They protect us from the Legion, and the Kyrian collective, and such. We seem to be in high demand among all the empires. Nice to be wanted I guess.
    I shouldn't complain. The Harvest is probably better than life on a Kyrian mining rig. I've heard stories of escapees boarding one of those things. They say one week on a mining rig will make you beg to get back here. I've thought about trying to get off this rock just to see if I'm in the frying pan or the fire. But I figure it's one type of hell or another. I may as well keep pushing my luck with the Helpers. Twenty years ago one of us made it to thirty nine years.
    But whenever they come for you, there's nothing you can do but hold your breath and try not to let the fumes incinerate your eyes. I've never actually seen anyone harvested. Some of the children have seen their parents taken. They say the choking isn't as bad as the holocaust happening in the eyes. So when your turn comes, keep your eyes shut and try not to wake the neighbors.

  3. Fifty Shades of (Gandalf the) Grey (500 Words, Special Challenge accepted)
    By Dr. Mike Reddy @DoctorMikeReddy

    Three strangers appeared on my doorstep, and in their hands they brought death. This particular death, as any fan boy/girl will tell you, was the worst of all.

    “Miss Antrim? Miss Sally Antrim?” the first suit asked. I nodded, then mumbled “Ms…”

    “Mzzz Antrim, we represent the various publishers, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, BBC Books and Harper Collins. I have here a cease and desist letter from our clients.”

    Normally, “C+Ds” were clean strikes like an Internet transmitted smart bombs. I clumsily received the document and opened the envelope. It must have only recently been sealed; I made a mental note to put it in the reusable pile.

    “We, the above… remove references pertaining to… Hogwarts, Panem, Moria… Sherlock Holmes…” I looked up, confused. “Isn’t Conan Doyle’s…”

    “Not the Cumberbatch version, dear. Only the early stuff is public domain.” the second suit interrupted. The third shrugged. “Can you sign here.” he pointed to an iPad, and pushed it forward. I squiggled my autograph, long practiced in anticipation of book launches, public appearances and lecture tours.

    “Thank you, Mzzz Antrim,” the first man said, “Have a good day.” The three men turned about, insisting that each other go first, then swiftly walked down the garden path, stepping gingerly over the weed strewn cobbles.

    They had been gone a few minutes before I realised I was still standing in the open front doorway, in a half soaked bathrobe. A shudder broke the spell, and I hurried inside. Steam coming from the downstairs bathroom recalled my hurry to answer the door, thinking the intrusion another Amazon delivery. Numbly, I cut off the water, and stumbled into the kitchen to make some herbal tea.

    “Who was that?” Harry asked, sipping coffee. Black. A little honey to sweeten the bitterness. He could sense my despair. I held out the letter, which floated towards him, bouncing along in time to his flicking wand. Gandalf sighed at the ostentatiousness and snatched it from the air.

    “Ho hum… this appears to…” the Wizard began.

    “It is obviously a legal document. Judging by the envelope – manila, self-sealing but with no lasting damage to the glue line – so, recently closed… Some disagreement? Negotiation as to how to proceed…? I take it that this is instructions to stop your…” The tall, curly haired man gestured to the other occupants of the kitchen table. “… ‘inspired’ story telling.”

    Gandalf coughed his disapproval. “It is as Mr Holmes ‘guessed’”. The taller man snorted, then set about buttering his toast, taking rather more pleasure in scraping his knife than necessary. The Wizard shuddered. He knew the Detective knew he hated that sound.

    “I say we go after them, and skin them” Sally heard behind her. An arrow swiftly plucked the letter from the Wizard’s startled fingers and pinned it to the wall. Katniss gripped my shoulders. “You can’t stop writing now. How else will we find out if Sherlock truly loves me?”

    1. Small typo in paragraph four: bombs should be "bomb" in the first sentence.

  4. Life after Death
    By Anna Elizabeth
    wc - 360
    Special Challenge Accepted - Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Katniss Everdeen

    Three strangers appeared on my doorstep, and in their hands they brought death. Three figures in black cloaks – it was all very Harry Potter to be honest, I thought they’d be darker. That they’d make me feel scared, nervous, but there was nothing. No feeling there at all. Just a dull, numbing sensation which was hard to shake off…but maybe it was best not to do so. I knew why they were there, I had little time left, I’d known for a while.

    It’s hard not to notice the cold rushes. Not to notice the intermittent blackouts where I couldn’t remember what I had done for the previous few hours. Time and time again I had ignored them. So now, now it’s too late. Too late to say goodbye. Too late to tell them I love them.

    I don’t know why I’m so calm. Maybe because I know it shouldn’t hurt. They take one person each year to satisfy the hunger of the One. Without fail, like clockwork, one person just disappears. We don’t know who it is ’til they’re gone. Only the chosen knows, and by the time they work it out it’s too late.

    The first takes your soul. The second takes your mind. The third, it takes what’s left. Your body. Your broken, empty shell.

    There’s no possible second chance like Sherlock Holmes knew he had. Though that sort of opportunity would be good, I’m sure I won’t be coming back. No miracles this time.

    My death won’t stop the sacrifices, I wish it could, but it won’t. So just one last thing. There is a small amount of hope. One thing my subconscious must have fed my mind while my clock kept ticking down until d-day. Katniss Everdeen. In 74 years of tradition, she was the only one to have said no. So if that worked in Panem, then why can’t it work in my own world?

    I lifted my head, the head I had bowed to accept my fate, but not anymore. Staring them down, and hoping it would give me life after Death, I let that powerful, one syllable word leave my lips:


  5. Death: Hand Delivered
    A.J. Walker

    Three strangers appeared on my doorstep and in their pockets they bought death; and I welcomed them.

    “Here you go, mister.” said tall hoodie.

    One of the two mini hoodies handed me the packets.

    “Thanks.” I nodded.

    Their faces were covered in shadow, which was the point - the lack of eye contact was welcome.

    “Anything for us, mate?” asked the second mini hoodie.

    He looked nervous as he shuffled from side to side; unsure of his role.

    “It’s all been paid for.” I said to the taller boy.

    “Don’t mind him,” he said. “Thinks he’s delivering a chinese him.”

    The younger lad stepped back with a shrug.

    The taller said, “It’s why we have the on the job training. He’ll learn.”

    A rye smile passed my face as a gust of wind blew rain into the doorway as if a full bucket had been thrown over us.

    “You better get of and out of this.” I said. With that I closed the door on them and to the world.

    In the kitchen I finished making a tea I knew I wouldn’t drink; the wine bottle was calling. It was just plonk, but I always liked the brand and it would be a shame to waste.

    The packets were scrunched up by the glass to look something smaller - less important. I picked them up with the wine.

    The plonk went down easily as one by one the packets were left to drop on the floor empty. My head began to feel protected from the world; fuzzy. The TV was muted, but I could hear people talking in low voices.

    Blue lights from another disastrous day at Casualty flashed through the room turning it into a silent disco. Deep bass began throbbing through the walls in time with my heart.

    Harry Potter shouted something from behind the bookshelf and a blue white electric flash scalded my eyes as he fought against something behind me. I couldn’t turn to see, but nothing came for me - I knew Harry had won. He always did.

    I heard a crash, as someone broke in through the slide doors. They must have been waiting for me to be off my guard. I caught a glimpse of something behind the chair. I could make out the tip of a bow and knew instinctively it was Katniss. Was she was hunting me or whatever was behind me? Perhaps Harry hadn’t beaten the beast. I was confused, I couldn’t remember how Harry knew Katniss.

    Despite the noise I was drifting. I could see snow, it must have been coming in since Katniss broke the back door. So much snow and I could smell tobacco.

    My eyes closed then I heard a resonant voice from the kitchen.

    “Watson, I believe this untouched mug of tea is the key to the entire case.”

    I felt warm breath on my cheek. The last thing I heard was another voice.

    “By Jove! Holmes, there’s a lady collapsed in the lounge with barely a pulse.”

    (500 words)


    1. "...and I welcomed them." - great take on the prompt.

  6. Erin McCabe


    500 words

    Into the Nothing

    Three strangers appeared at my window, and in their mouths they brought death.

    Instantly they began scratching with broken and bloodied fingernails; clearly these ones had not yet discovered how to break glass. I watched with disgust as they moaned rancid ovals of decayed breath onto the panes. I had boarded up the windows some days previously, leaving only a few inconspicuous spy holes.

    The sight of it, rather than shocking, made me wonder again about the capabilities of their physical bodies; were they decomposing and would eventually fall into a heap of withered organs, or did they have formidable un-dead regeneration capabilities like Dracula? The fact that one of them was Dracula only served to confuse my deliberations.

    Suddenly Dracula turned away and raised his head to look up towards the sky, so many of them did this but I had no idea why. Witnessing this confused corpse stare purposefully yet blankly into oblivion, made me realise I had not yet discovered whether they retained some sort of scattered, fragmented consciousness or were merely controlled by ‘the virus’, like grotesque flesh marionettes. I took cold, unconfirmed comfort in the idea that it was indeed a virus at the core of this disaster, as the idea of religious intervention of some sort seemed within the realms of fantasy to me.

    The fact this had happened in my town, on Halloween, was, I had decided, a coincidence and I felt sure that the television would corroborate this by showing gaudy graphs and emboldened figures detailing the gradual spread of the epidemic, if I had not used it to crown Gandalf the Grey.

    Tiny sharp pieces of Gandalf's skull, embedded in the floorboards, continued to mark the location of his untimely inauguration. I wondered if Mrs Peterson knew her husband was dead.

    Choosing not to dwell, I picked up my axe and cautiously ventured towards the front door to investigate the lack of tapping, tapping which had been replaced by a haunting collective chorus of desperate moans.




    As if commanded, a wooden wand forced its way through the letter-tight box, scraping and tapping with renewed violence; thankfully he was still there. It brought me happiness to think of Harry Potter, out in the elements, protecting my front door and this was preferable to the infinite sadness it brought to know that I had not saved my little Brother in time.

    Time of course was up; Gandalf had seen to that. Again I relieved the sight of him ripping into my leg like a demented Orc, his beard dripping with my blood and previous gore. Feeling hot frustrated tears forming I forced them down; Katness Everdeen does not cry, she conquers.
    Picking up my axe I limped towards the door and with all my strength succeeded in prising off the protective wooden boards.
    It was time to join forces with Harry Potter and if that meant spending an eternity staring blankly into oblivion, at least it was an oblivion shared.

  7. Back to Life
    488 Words
    (special challenge not accepted this time)

    Three strangers appeared on my back, and in their claws they brought death.

    Yes, I’m talking about the kittens. I know that seemed like an overly dramatic beginning.

    Their claws were so sharp they drew blood. The little jerks wrecked my duvet. Pete was cooing over how cute they were but I started screaming. I threw the blanket off and the ginger one went flying. Pete said something, but I couldn’t hear him. I went to the backyard and buried my duvet. I cried for a long time.

    Pete came out and apologized, but by then I was pretty much a big wet noodle. He carried me back in, put me back in bed, and covered me with a blanket my grandmother knitted for me when I was a kid. That almost got me crying again, but Pete sat at the edge of the bed and put one big, warm hand on my shoulder.

    “I really thought they would help,” he said. “Steven...I love you.”

    I couldn’t respond. I didn’t have any more words. The voices weren’t as bad as they used to be, but I still couldn’t control my moods. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d been more miserable and pathetic. I was whimpering again, but Pete was so patient with me.

    It might have been hours later, or it might have been days, but Pete was gone and I could hear a kitten mewing at the door. I had to get up to go to the bathroom – a chore, but I was never so far gone I couldn’t do at least that much for myself. I stopped to look down at the creature, tiny and covered with ginger fuzz.

    It meowed again, and the squeaky sound was so ridiculous that I actually smiled. I scooped him up and tickled him under his chin.

    Pete stopped in the hallway. He almost dropped the bowl of soup he was carrying. He probably meant to spoon-feed it to me. I was suddenly embarrassed, and happy to feel that way. I tried to straighten the sweaty robe, but I didn’t want to let go of my new friend.

    “Where are the other two? Can I pick their names?” I asked. It was the most I’d said in the better part of three months.

    Pete set the bowl down carefully, then he threw his arms around me. I think he was crying.

    “Name them whatever you want,” he said.

    So you see, not only did these three little strangers bring death to my duvet, they also murdered my misery. The medication finally started working. I could leave the house again and I stopped crying all the time. I could be there for Pete when he needed me, instead of depending on him. I’m never going to be completely “normal,” but Hairy, Stinky, and Curly don’t care.

    Neither does Pete. If he loved me through that, he’ll love me through anything.

  8. Mercenaries and Dinghy Fever
    352 words including a special challenge

    Three strangers appeared on my bedside, and in their bags they brought death.

    The illness had set on so quickly that instead of traveling to the nearest city, I was brought here to a village clinic. A man who looked like an Asian version of Gandalf the Gray stood beside me. I couldn’t answer his string of questions because I didn’t understand a word he said.

    The next time I became conscious, Gandalf was there again asking his questions. This time he had a nurse with him. Her mannerisms reminded me of Anne Shirley. She faithfully translated his questions into French trying to give the old doctor his answers. At least I think it was French, or some other similar sounding language I didn’t know.

    It must have been sometimes before I came back to consciousness again. This time, I saw Sherlock Holmes standing over me. His proper English being foreign to my American ears, but nevertheless a welcome sound since it was comprehensible.

    Yes, I know I am in Thailand.
    Yes. I am allergic to penicillin.
    No. I don’t know what happens when I get it.
    No. I am not aware of any other allergies.

    The man communicated with the doctor, although from amount of repetition and their animated behavior I gather they were not totally conversant with each other.

    When I came around the next time the fever was gone, and so was the delusion that I was being cared for by literary characters. The man from the British consulate came back often to check on me. The last time he came he had a warrant for my arrest.

    I knew they would figure it out sooner or later. I was just fortunate it was after I had regained some strength. I had slipped a hypo filled with thoracine from the cabinet under my pillow. The officer at the door faced outward, so he could watch the nurses. Good thinking, dude.

    But why can’t I reach him? Why can’t I breath? Looking up the last thing I see is the last bag they hung is labeled penicillin instead of tetracycline.

  9. Three Wise Men
    423 words
    challenge accepted

    Three strangers appeared on my doorstep and in their hands they bought death. I didn’t realise the gift they’d given me until later when the body count started to rise.
    It was a blustery night, rain coming down in proverbial cats and dogs and the wind rattling the loose pane of glass above the door like a ghost dragging chains. In the gloom of the porch, I recognised Rhett Butler. He was as handsome as ever, his broad shoulders hiding the two that stood behind him.

    I felt like a southern belle when he said “Pardon me Ma’am we’re seeking shelter”

    In the shadows stood Dracula and Sherlock Holmes, both looking intently into my eyes. I easily out stared them both and took delight when they looked away. If anyone was going to hypnotize me it was going to be Rhett. I was certainly no Scarlet O’Hara and this wasn’t Tara but I wasn’t going to miss out on this experience.

    We sat around my little table in the cramped kitchen drinking my last good bottle of red wine. Dracula savouring it like it was O rhesus positive, my blood group. Sherlock kept opening cupboards and looking at food labels. I wondered what he had deduced about my lifestyle. Lazy cook, slovenly housekeeper!

    Next morning I found myself slumped on the couch, my three visitors gone. I checked myself for puncture wounds or anything unusual. Apart from a throbbing alcohol headache my body seemed as it was the day before. I searched my home for traces of the three to no avail.

    I decided I must have dreamt the whole evening; the subconscious is an amazing thing. Even when the crops failed and my neighbours died in a house fire I didn’t link it to my hallucinations. I moved towns and bad luck seemed to follow. It wasn’t until I thought about events that I realised I had been given a gift I could put to use if I learnt to channel it.

    I homed my skill to the nth degree I can look at a photo and wish a person dead and it happens. I can look at a photo of a place and wish it pestilence, famine, earthquake and terror and it happens. I sell my talents to the highest bidder.

    On my CV I write I have the blood lust of Dracula, the shrewdness of Sherlock Holmes and the charisma of Rhett Butler, a devastating trio of qualities that have yet to reach their peak, coming to your neighbourhood shortly.

  10. Ask Jeeves

    Three strangers appeared on my balcony, and in their little blue box they brought death. Oh, not actual grim reaper Death, but a death to all of my delightful plans for that afternoon. I just folded my newspaper to set it aside when the most awful noise came from outside. Before I knew it, a police box materialized on the balcony of my apartment and out stepped a young woman, a ginger-haired man in tweeds, and what appeared to be a Charles Dickens look-alike. What a good prank this was turning out to be! Deciding to play along, I jumped to my feet in agitated excitement.

    “I say!” I cried out as I approached the French door, “who are you? And how did you get...? Where did you...? What...?”

    “Lucy Pevensie,” the young woman replied cheerily, stepping through the doorway and into my sitting room. She stuck out her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Wooster.” I shook it absently as her companions fell in behind her.

    “Look here, you can’t just barge into a fellow’s house-”

    “I am The Doctor,” interrupted the ginger-haired man with a wide, sly grin. He did not offer his hand but instead winked and tugged out the strangest little device I’d ever seen and pointed it about the room. I stared at him in bewilderment.

    “Doctor Who?”

    “No, no. Just The Doctor, mate.”

    “Good God, you’re Australian!” I exclaimed.

    “Haven’t I a right to be? It’s not like this is BBC.” The Doctor, whoever he was, then tucked his bizarre stick back inside his suit jacket and turned his gaze to me again. “We’re here to see Jeeves, is he around?”

    “What, do you know Jeeves? What the devil do you want him for?”

    “Oh, it’s the most horrid thing!” Lucy set down the photograph she’d been examining. “Pip has hired Sherlock Holmes to discover his benefactor!” My look of utter cluelessness must have been evident for she continued in equal passion, “There won’t be much left of the book if he finds out Miss Havisham isn’t his benefactor now and poor Mr. Dickens’ book will cease to exist! We desperately need Jeeves’ advice.”

    I looked at the silent, bearded fellow then in absolute bafflement. This was quickly getting out of hand for a joke and quite possibly a result from a trip to the club. Had I gone already? I must have. I needed Jeeves’ tonic. In a daze I wandered out of the room in search of my valet.


    A short time later all was explained, remedied, and I had my flat to myself again. Kicking my feet up, I exclaimed, “You are marvelous, Jeeves! How did you convince Holmes?”

    “Yes sir, thank you, sir. It was relatively simple, I merely told Mr. Holmes who the benefactor was.”

    “What, that’s all?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “He dropped the case?”

    “Completely, sir. It no longer intrigued him.”

    “Who is the actual benefactor, Jeeves?”

    “Well, sir, I suggest you read the book.”

    Word Count: 497
    Special Challenge included!

  11. Happy Solstice

    Three strangers appeared on my doorstep, and in their hands, they brought Death. She’d seem better days. Limp in their hands, Death hummed a slurry version of "Silent Night". I kept the chain on the door.

    The guy hefting her armpits wore a wizard’s hat that didn’t suit his rotund build one bit. The one fumbling to keep her rump from sagging on my doormat could’ve been Rhett Butler’s less charismatic cousin, and the one bobbling her feet had a vampire’s widow’s peak and a weak chin. Something vaguely familiar…

    Then the scent of frankincense and myrrh hit me like an acolyte’s cassock. Oh, yeah.

    "Don’t you guys have a nativity scene to haunt?" I asked. I so did not want to get involved. That whole business with Cain soured me for Abrahamic systems forever. Besides, I had a date with The Hound of the Baskervilles and Mr. Holmes was waiting.

    "She asked for you," comb-over Rhett said.

    "Troll the ancients, you’ll tie care all," Death sang and dissolved into sloppy laughter.

    "Why me?"

    "The wages of sin is death," dumpy Gandalf blurted. The other two nodded, as if that explained it. Wise men. Had I been the Matthew writer, I would’ve gone with "stooges". They settled her onto my doorstep.

    "No, wait, fellas," I protested. "I’ve been out of the sin biz for aeons."

    Backing away with the others, insecure Dracula mumbled, "You were there in the beginning."

    "Hey, Lil!" Death squealed up at me. "Happy Solstice, you old night hag!"

    This is what I get for having a profile up on Goodreads. I pulled Death inside and released her to my couch. I marveled at the manifestation she’d chosen for herself: kind of a reprobate Anne Shirley, one who would paint anarchy symbols on the green gables and fancy herself edgy.

    She hauled her head around to take in my domicile, the ranks of bookshelves. "What’s with all this?" She sniffed at my chamomile rooibos and scowled. “You’re a demon.”

    I felt a migraine coming on. "We can live however we choose." Gods, she was as childish as her incarnation, Lucy Pevensie’s naiveté with Edmund’s petulance.

    "Yeah, but wasn’t succubussing more fun?" She opened and closed the book cabinet housing my first editions. "What are you now, some kind of librarian?"

    At times like these, oh, don’t I wish.

    "This is how you spend the longest night of the year?" she whined.

    "Reading’s very entertaining," I said.

    "Oh, Baal’s balls, you can’t be serious." She glared challenges at me that I let drop to the rug. "Fine, then, I’m off to the Mithra bash alone. At least that guy knows how to rock a solstice."

    "To each her own."

    She couldn’t leave fast enough—for either of us.

    I snuggled into my armchair and admired my fortress of human imagination. Having visited every last place on earth, at least a dozen times, I’d grown out of my wanderlust. The worlds within the pages, though, continued to thrill me.

    500 words
    Challenge accepted

    1. I've been trying to get this to post for the last 17 minutes (yes, with only 3 minutes to spare). It kept sending me to Preview and wouldn't let me publish. Ah well, my bad for doing it at the last minute.

    2. We believe you! I'll talk to the judge and we'll count this. Thanks for joining us! :)

    3. Thank you, gracious hostess. Virtual chocolates are in order.