Two teenagers who I know – one my godson, the other a girl in my girl scout troop – asked me to help them with the GISHWESH scavenger hunt this year. Specifically, they asked me to produce an original short story, 140 words or less, that includes Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and an Elopus. Because I know them, I was happy to do this favor for them.

Other, much more well known, authors have been inundated with these requests and have refused them. I understand their point of view – writing these stories did cost me several hours of writing time that I could have spent on another project. But it was an interesting challenge to get the three required items, all the names of the teens on each team, and a coherent story into 140 words. And I’m fond of these kids.

Below are the two stories I came up with. Which do you like better?


The Scavenger Hunt: A SF Story for GISHWHES 2014

By Antha Ann Adkins

Hordes of teenagers swarmed through the space station, lists in hand, looking for the items worth the most points. Sophie and Abigail led a group to Hab 12.

“What the heck is an Elopus?” Erica asked.

Linda looked surprised. “A cross between an elephant and a octopus. My Aunt Holly collects them.“

“Would she have a Misha Collins?” asked Greg, stopping. Meleena, Berber, Tiana, Sarah, Dyson, and Vianne almost ran into him.

“Or a Queen of England?” asked Isa.

Linda knocked on her aunt’s door.

An Astrid-class robot answered. “No, you can’t have an Elopus,” it recited.

“Aunt Holly,” Linda called. “Are you home?”

“Linda!” her aunt said. “So many strangers have asked to borrow my stuff today. But you’re my favorite niece. Come in, and let’s see what I’ve got. Just promise me you won’t bother the bridge crew.”


The Scavenger Hunt: Team 2: A SF Story for GISHWHES 2014

By Antha Ann Adkins

Michael and his friends commandeered a classroom to strategize their twenty-first century scavenger hunt entry.

Peter shook his head. “The only thing I recognize on this list is the Queen of England. But which queen? Elizabeth? Kassandra? Emily? Zelda? Jessica?”

“Twenty-first century? Must be Elizabeth,” said Rodrigo.

“How do we take our picture with a dead woman?” asked Adam.

“Cosplay!” said Guilia. “A dress, a handbag, a sash – no problem.”

John bounced with excitement. “Can I cosplay, too? I’ve got the Misha Collins stubble.”

“I could draw an elopus,” said Megan, opening her sketchpad.

“I want to cosplay Sherlock,” said Steven.

“I want to be Watson,” said Chris.

“We can make a TARDIS,” said Tom and Walter.

“I’ll get a wide angle lens,” said Michael. “So we can get all of twenty-first century pop culture in one shot.”