Contest 2010!

Announcing: my fourth annual contest. The winner will have a character named after him or her in my next novel.

For the chance to be immortalized — or perhaps mortalized — in The Nightmare Thief:

In 200 words or less, explain what’s going on in the photos above.

Deadline: 11:59 p.m. GMT, Monday September 27th.

Brevity gets bonus points. Making me laugh gets bonus points. Referencing blog topics and my fiction gets bonus points. You may enter as often as you wish. Previous winners may enter, on the understanding that if they win (no guarantee, because I want to encourage new entries), they will nominate a friend or relative to become a character in the new novel.

My decision will be megalomaniacal, capricious, and final. Two runners-up will each get a signed copy of one of my novels, or (if you’re willing to wait until next year) the new book.

Good luck.

110 responses to “Contest 2010!

  1. If I were good at English, I would have definitely given it a try. 😦 I’m still learning and striving to improve my skill. Good luck with you. 🙂

  2. Diamond, the hyper-thyroid chihuahua, received the message from The One, satisfied that her new PiR2 received more bandwidth than those ridiculous cones from the vet, as well as blocking that irritating hotspot on her left shoulder. She fixed her pop-eyed intensity on the Enemy and growled the order to destroy the Ferret of Invisibility and the horse he rode in on.

  3. Yoouuu aaarre nooottt aaaa hhhhhorse. Yooooouuu aaaarrreee aaaa chiiiiihuuuaaahhhhuuaaaahuuuaaahuuuuaaaahuuuaaa aaannnd yyooouu wiiiilll liiiikkke iiiiiiit.

  4. Pepe, the Taco Bell spokes model and winner of Best In Show at the 2005 Burrito Cavalcade to the Stars, could not believe he had received a pink slip from corporate headquarters.

    “We need a new image.” the head honcho wrote. “Something more dynamic with a younger demographic attached to it. And frankly, Pepe, your Marty Feldman eyeballs have become a distraction. At this point in your career, you are a liability. Graves’ disease is the number one cause for enchilada sales plummeting.” Pepe blinked, eye boogers oozing down his face. The final blow came when he read, “Meet Gabe Quintana, the stud who will take Taco Bell into the future! Please join us in welcoming him to the team.”

    Pepe’s lip curled with seething rage. Moving to the phone, he called Tate’s Rental Shop. Thirty minutes later, driven by his best friend, Mr. Peepers, the Skull Crush-o-Matic had Gabe’s horsey head in its grip.

    With white flea powder on his upper lip and a maniacal gleam in his eyes, Pepe howled for the benefit of the Channel 2 news cameras out of Miami, “Say hello to my little friend!” And the crushing began.

  5. And so the dogs created a weapon to combat the evil metal dog destroyer. Their champion was made in the form of a vicious chihuahua (with big fangs!), and magic bolts were placed in his neck so that he might draw power from his enemy. He was given a little hat to protect him from the metal dog destroyer’s brain wave disabling gaze. It would be a battle between canine flesh and relentless metal. Between the diminutive and the colossal. The battle would decide the future of the canine race. If the chihuahuan savior won, his victory would be sung about – in howls – throughout the ages. There could only be one.

  6. Mars Incident Debriefing–0700–NAWS Headquarters, China Lake

    Science Officer Jo Beckett–Facilitator
    Subject: Corporal Tinkerbell–sole survivor — Mars Outpost

    S.O. Beckett: What did you see with your big poppin’ peepers?
    CT: Everything happened so fast.
    S.O.B.: Think dammit! We need answers. What happened to Mr. Ed?
    CT: Well, we were talking about his divorce. His wife found out about the Martian chick he was hookin’ up with. Who could blame him? She was constantly riding him, neighhh-ging him. “Trim your hooves.” “Put that away, nobody wants to see that.”
    S.O.B.: Space can get lonely. Go on.
    CT: Out from behind that rocky face formation, this Martian rolled right up to Mr. Ed and whapped him upside the head and said, “My name is Ray Bradbury, you’ve been using my Sears Female Docking Unit.” And then he poked him in the eyes with that Three Stooges eye-jabbing move.
    S.O.B.: How did you survive?
    CT: I reenacted a scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High for him.
    S.O.B.: Which scene? This could be a critical piece of information.
    CT: I blew his fuse with the Phoebe Cates swimming pool part.
    S.O.B.: You mean…
    CT: Yes, Ray Bradbury loves the boobies.

  7. Fausto has just discovered that his partner, Senor Wiggles, is actually an equine brain eating cyborg. He frantically tries to explain this to his handler, Trixie. His eyes bulge in surprise as she yells, “Chihuahua Braaaaaiiiiiinnsssss!” and tears off her face to reveal the exoskeleton beneath.

  8. Not to be outdone by Wheely Willy’s mahvooolus headpiece made by Philip Treacy, Lady Mutata had the boys from American Chopper design an out-of-this-world head topper (or popper as the case may be.)

  9. Photo #1–Pancho gazes despairingly at the high border fence, knowing that his chances of crossing into the US are slim to none. (Note: Hope this isn’t too non-PC)

    Photo #2–News headline: Robot Used to Help Palomino Pony Finish First in Stuffed Horse Derby

  10. Paco Hernandaz waited on the pier while the Bomb Squad robot, One-Armed Bandito, removed the explosive device from his beloved pony, Pokey. When they were reunited, they went to Tijuana for a quickie wedding. The marriage lasted until Paco discovered Pokey was a stuffed shirt in bed.

  11. Step away from the pony or I’ll keel you with death rays from my GIANT EYES!!

  12. Senor Peebles (cousin of the legendary Mr Peebles) looked up at the satellite feed and saw to his wall-eyed dismay that his other cousin, Mademoiselle Peebles, stood frozen before the creeping approach of the terrible MR ROBOTO. His little mind whirled frantically beneath his debonair sombrero. How had it come to this? What could he do to warn her? The screen flickered and shredded with static. Senor Peebles, helpless (but stoic), stared hoplessly at the deteriorating image. And, then—thank God!—there came the sound of the can opener.

  13. Son of a *)*&)&%)&Q@@)(&%! The Skull crush-o-matic was driven by Mr. Peebles, not Mr. Peepers. That dog’s buggy damn eyes messed me up!

    Be ready Meg. I’m going to be directing Stephen King-a-lings to your contest.

  14. I’m just to anal to let it alone.

    Pepe, the Taco Bell spokes model and winner of Best In Show at the 2005 Burrito Cavalcade to the Stars, could not believe he had received a pink slip from corporate headquarters.

    “We need a new image.” the head honcho wrote. “Something more dynamic with a younger demographic attached to it. And frankly, Pepe, your Marty Feldman eyeballs have become a distraction. At this point in your career, you are a liability. Graves’ disease is the number one cause for enchilada sales plummeting.” Pepe blinked, eye boogers oozing down his face. The final blow came when he read, “Meet Gabe Quintana, the stud who will take Taco Bell into the future! Please join us in welcoming him to the team.”

    Pepe’s lip curled with seething rage. Moving to the phone, he called Tate’s Rental Shop. Thirty minutes later, driven by his best friend, Mr. Peebles, the Skull Crush-o-Matic had Gabe’s horsey head in its grip.

    With white flea powder on his upper lip and a maniacal gleam in his eyes, Pepe howled for the benefit of the Channel 2 news cameras out of Miami, “Say hello to my little friend!” And the crushing began.

  15. Even the little pupperoni, stylishly sporting a mustard slathered toasted bagel for reasons that just moments before were perfectly clear, soon came to realize that was not cilantro in the guacamole.

  16. A cunningly disguised Mr. Peebles, eyes and SPF 200 sun hat bursting with monkey rage, cheers Ahnuld Mahk Zwei to victory over the Equine Menace.

  17. Knowing that this would be her only shot, Penelope Pony kicks up her heels and makes a run for it. ‘Whisper Glen Court’ has become somewhat of a prison for her ever since the arrival of Brutus-the Ba$tard. For the past ten months he has made her life a living hell – even to the point where she couldn’t stamp her hoof prettily without drawing his unwanted attention.

    Thinking now of his goofy-ar$ed stare, she hopes that this will be motivation enough to break free of the cul-de-sac she had once loved and called home.

    Unbeknownst to Penelope, Brutus has been reading her diary for the past six weeks! Knowing that she plans to escape, he has called in reinforcements.

    The Intersection to Freedom nears, but suddenly a strange mechanical device cuts off Penelope’s escape route. Tossing her flowing mane she tries desperately to duck n dive her way past. But the metal beast anticipates her movements and seizes her with its deadly prongs. Penelope screams in agony as her jellified brain flows down out of her ears and along her eye ridges. Her last thought as she slips away is ‘Oh screw it; this beats life with Brutus any-day!’

  18. “See, Jo?” Ferd’s enthusiasm, as usual, was nearly as excessive as Mr. Peebles’ tendency to make mischief. “These are classic rock bloopers. On top was what Carlos originally proposed as the cover for Santana’s 1970 album “Abraxas.” And below that is the cover of America’s 1972 debut album, “America,” which flopped until it was re-released in ’73 with new cover art and the addition of the song “A Horse With No Name.”

    Ferd took a moment to admire his new shrine. Sighing, he turned to Jo and said, “I call it my little ‘dog and pony show.’”

  19. Excellent start, guys. Keep ’em coming.

  20. “Can I have a pony, Mum? Can I? Can I, can I, can I? Pleeeeease Mum?”

  21. Cutting-edge technology was exhibited earlier this week as we saw Lasik eye surgery being carried out in the field.
    US army horse ‘Butterscotch Delaney’ ran into some trouble whilst on her third Tour of Duty in war torn Cul-De-Sac.

    We follow her story as she returns to the family farm for rest and recovery. As we near her property, Butterscotch mentions her best friend and long time lover – Popeye Blackburn.
    It was he that had first recommended the surgery after his own mishap during the Great Pancake Incident. Unfortunately he still suffers from PTS following this – though he did have only good things to say concerning the eye surgery itself. He mentions that he’d “…found the procedure to be a blinding success.”

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  23. Secretariat watches in horror as Super Saver is crowned after winning the Kentucky Derby! “Noooooooooo! It’s a chihuahua ray! Flee, save yourself, Super Saver!”

  24. The evil Mr. Peebles squeezed into the tight-fitting chihuahua costume, donned his favorite sombrero, and watched as his remote-controlled toy-swiper advanced upon the My Little Pony. Having had his way with every Beanie Baby in San Francisco, his tastes had changed. He wanted to go bigger. Soon, the pony would be his, his, all his! And the world would know true horror.

  25. The Remnant had been without a leader long enough. It was Mr. Peeble’s plan to fill the vacuum abhorred by Nature, but he needed a front man. He trusted Cisco the Chihuahua; it was something about the eyes that comforted him. (Mama?) And so the recruitment drive began, one creature at a time, bringing the new believers back to the Remnant and the Beloved Peebles. “Fear not, for you were made by monkey,” the robot intoned, caressing the temples of its next victim, “and to monkey you shall return.”

  26. Some great entries! (Hi Flake.)

  27. Groucho was mortified to discover that his snazzy sombrero was made out of reconstituted horse.

  28. (Regarding “Brevity gets bonus points,” these are the briefest 200 carefully-selected words this thriller of a tale required.)

    (Oh, crap! Do introductory words count?)

    This was a first for Jo Beckett. Her work as “deadshrinker” for the SFPD typically involved psychological autopsies of crime victims when investigators reached a dead end. But the victims were usually people, not toy horses. And this dead end happened to be a cul-du-sac.

    Orlando is known for theme parks, loud shirts on tourists, and louder signs hawking cheap souvenirs to visitors addled by cranial sunshine. Bizarre is par for the course. But when the Orange County P.D. invited Jo to conduct a post-liftoff look into the over-stuffed noggin of Butterscotch, even Jo’s jaded eyebrows headed north. Could this be FurReal?

    The facts of the pony’s peril were clear enough; Jo had read the details on “lying for a living,” the blog of a smart, beautiful writer Jo followed religiously. (Jo couldn’t get enough of Meg Gardiner’s Edgar-winning heroin Evan Delaney!) The OCPD themselves had “killed” the already-inanimate plush toy after an embarrassing incident on Whisper Glen Court caught on local TV news. Over-suspicious post-9/11 bomb-squad techno-geeks had sent the robo-pony to a pre-expiration pasture-ization.

    But when Jo was introduced to the OCPD’s lead investigator, Lt. Amy Ellwoods of the K-9 unit, and her partner Mr. Peepers, she balked…

    (Thanks, Dana Jean!)

  29. Until this very moment, Daisy never really understood the phrase: “you’re eyes are bigger than your stomach”.

  30. ICE cautiously approached the recently snared Trojan Pony thinking a dangerous supply of guns were inside. They were completely flummoxed to discover the dastardly Daisy (see above) had actually been smuggling more miniature dogs to the anxiously anticipating handbags of Paris Hilton fans.

  31. Oh joy, another chance to reap fame and glory for my nearest and dearest. But heck, I don’t sign in for a day, and look at that, dozens of clever entries already.

  32. Arlette looked up and up and up to face her prospective new owner, her little poodle heart beating frantically. Would he see through the disguise? He’d asked for a chihuahua, and she’d done her best, with the body shave and the Enlarging Contacts. Perhaps the hat was a trifle over the top?

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Pal Toby was facing the biggest challenge of his challenge-packed career: the demonised can-opener was on the loose again.

  33. Poppy’s satellite dish beamed out its urgent message:
    “Come quick, Butterscotch! Must-have-satellite-dish-(wheeze)-loosened!”

  34. Call her paranoid, but Miss Chiquita was positive, THIS time, that someone was orchestrating a conspiracy to round up famous animals of TV and movie fame and replace them with ringers.

    But who would believe her? They had laughed at her insistance that Lassie had been replaced decades ago with a not-very-convincing female impersonator named Ralph. Oh why would they never take her seriously? (Could it be her hat?)

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Automated Terrifyingly Awful Critter Kidnapper (ATACK) was at that very moment engaged in abducting Roy Rogers’s iconic horse Trigger, to be replaced with a stuffed look-alike. However, the conspirators’ information source was as reliable as their spelling, since Trigger, having died in 1965, was already stuffed.

  35. To: Meg Gardiner
    From: Cindy Fortunata, Art Dept
    re: Cover art for The Nightmare Thief

    As promised, Meg, here are the top two contenders for the jacket photo.

    You said Nightmare is the prize racehorse under observation by Jo’s chief competition, petshrink Viola d’Horsey, who disappears just before the Golden Gate Stakes (the horse, that is). And you described the plot to steal the mare as a well-oiled machine. So as you see, in Picture 2, we have the horse and the machine.

    I need not remind you that with the situtation in the publishing industry these days, we’ve had to make some serious cutbacks, but I don’t think any but the most nitpicky reader will notice it’s a miniature stuffed horse. (Do you?)

    The alternative is Picture 1, with a live animal, the same colouring and facial markings.

    Your choice, Meg.

  36. I think Susan is on to something. I think the phrase, “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” should be required in each of our entries!

  37. “You see I’ve been through the cul on a horse with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the cul you can remember your name
    ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no…. huh? Uh-oh.”

  38. “Don’t stereotype yourself” he said, “Broaden your range” he said, “These retro/new agey Japanese monster B-movie remakes are going to be huge!” he said.
    And I was a cultural icon..”Damn you Charles Barkley!”
    “Get my agent on the phone!…”Morty, you get me the next Gordita Supreme or Chalupa spot or DONG! you are so fired!”

  39. Andy’s newest pet, Mr. Yipper, begins to get riled as she looks up at the approaching threat from beyond the toy chest. Buzz lightyear’s indefatigable arch enemy. Zorg, has jailed Woody, clipped Buzz’s wings julienned Mr. Potato Head and now approaches Bullseye set on turning him into Alpo. Will Jesse save the day?

  40. (Darn, every year I think, just one, just ONE and then I’ll stop. Okay, this is the last one. Really.)

    “Ladies, does your dog look like me? Sadly, no. But he could, if he wore Old Spice Custom Millinery….”

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…. “I’m on a horse.”

  41. Oh you guys! you made me laugh. Great entries.

  42. “Does this sombrero make my eyes look fat?”

    Meanwhile back in the sac… (eh?)

    “Does this Orange County bomb-defusing robot make my future look bleak?”

  43. Crap. Really? Apparently I need more wine because I have zero on this and I know, I KNOW, there is something funny to say regarding those photos, but I got freaking zilch. Why? Because I’m geeky and really want a character in a book named after me. I’m like Andy Roddick. When it counts my game goes to sh*t.
    Is that a sombrero the little creature passing itself off as a dog is wearing?

  44. Alerted by security in the form of a small auxiliary back up dog at the Gardiner mansion, the Hi Tech threat containment device issues the command: “Dana Jean, come out of the pony. You can not sneak into yet another Jo Beckett thriller”.

  45. VH1’s Behind the Music – “The Husband”

    Originally Broadcast: September 27, 2020.

    …The Husband’s career as rock songwriter and producer took off following the success of the title song to The Liar’s Lullaby. Meanwhile, back at Chez Thriller, life with author-wife Meg Gardiner began to chafe.

    Meg locked herself in her study with an iPad and lots of Mint Jacklips (Jack Daniels over Junior Mints). She blogged alone in a minty sour mash fog until Steven King revealed that her biggest fans on the blog (including Dana Jean, Rich, Patti, djpatterson, and Susan) were online alter-egos of herself.

    Meg never wrote another novel. The Evan Delaney and Jo Beckett series culminated in The Nightmare Thief, the novel that brought the two heroines together, and the blockbuster big- and small-screen adaptations that followed.

    But the collaboration The Husband proposed saved the marriage. Realizing the true appeal of Meg’s books lay in the romantic interests of Evan and Jo, they reached new heights with a series of animated children’s computer games accompanied by The Husband on ukulele. They featured hot-as-a-jalapeño Gabe Quintana as a spunky, sombreroed Chihuahua, and buckin’ bronc’ Jesse Blackburn as a paraplegic pony assisted by a rockin’ and rollin’ robot…

  46. Sheeesh, whatever we’re paying those clowns down in R & D, evidently it’s too much!
    This time I told it I wanted a dog on a bun and to pick up a little horsey sauce on the side.

    Hey, it coulda been worse, remember when we tested home improvements near that international dwarf convention, and you told the first prototype of the Fetch Me My Stuff 2100 to hand you a hammer?
    But ohhh no, not you, you had to command “Grab me the little pecker” !
    Your lucky that little fella was in the middle of a transgendering program, or we’d still be in litigation.

  47. The hat and the robot
    went out to play,
    as best friends do
    on bright sunny days.

    Kitsap County is a tolerant town
    where hats and robots are free to get down.
    And because of this fact,
    a friendship was broken
    when Robot met Flicka,
    a whore from Hoboken.

    Hat was discarded,
    callously dropped
    and her brim drooped from sadness
    as robot rolled off.
    She weeped and she wailed and she stumbled the streets
    coming to land against two tiny feet.
    “I’ll be your friend,” the squeaky voice said.
    And hat was so happy
    she leapt on his head.

    Now they are married
    with caps on the way
    and Robot has herpes
    from his skanky ol’ bay.

  48. *SNORT*
    Oh my word Dana Jean, Walt Whitman would have wept…you know, if he wasn’t in a certain, uh hum, “condition”, that requires him to be swept.

  49. Word count of my two previous entries, combined? 400. So, following Meg’s “Mad Editing Week” lead (and shamelessly ripping off Grace’s idea):

    Puppy. Pony. Boom.

  50. I think Ron gets the “Brevity” award.

  51. Nice one, er, three, Ron. Technically, you could make it into one with some well-placed hyphens…

  52. I’m sitting on the dock of the bay,
    watching the Ponnnny ka-boom away — oooooo.

  53. Out of curiosity Meg, is this just some random dog picture or do you personally know this dog?

  54. “Really?” asked Nipper. “A sombrero for Halloween?. Don’t you think that’s a vulgar stereotype, Madam? And just what part of my hinting for the sexy Elmo suit did not register with you?”
    Meanwhile, Rachel Bloom begins to question whether Ray Bradbury IS the greatest science fiction writer of all time when she is left unmoved by his latest novel featuring a confrontation between My Little Pony and the Erector Set from Hell.

  55. That’s Stephen Hawking thrown from his horse and the thing that startled them both.

  56. Rage! Goddess sing the rage of the monkey race!*

    Placed in labs where they were forced to play with beanie babies sprayed with monkey sex hormones, the humiliated monkeys tore up their toys in the confused and angry afterglow of their encounters. When they learned (led by the particularly cunning and wrathful Mr. Peebles) that the humans were responsible for their shame, they vowed to destroy them, and gathered an army.

    Mr. Peebles taught them how to inject themselves with genius-creating hormones found in a top-secret facility in China Lake. Then they created machines fitted with devices which enabled them to implant mind-controlling bolts in the necks of other animals, tapping them all – chihuahuas, shetland ponies, possums – into the shared image of their shame and rage, the beanie baby. The monkeys perverted everything in their path.

    Only Evan Delaney and Dr. Jo Beckett, who through their shared knack for stumbling into strange situations had simultaneously discovered the monkey project, could help. However, the monkey arsenal was tremendous. They had found ways to warp time and space. To infiltrate our thoughts and dreams. Even to conflate fictions. There was only one way to defeat them.

    Evan and Jo got on their knees and begged their creator: “Meg, forget the word count. Just give him the prize, Meg. It’s the only way to restore balance.” The monkeys battered against the door.

    Meg deliberated silently.

    *My apologies to Homer and Robert Fagles

  57. ♫♪ A Song* ♪♫

    Whadda ya do when you’re a pony
    And nobody’s waiting for a ride?
    You’ve been wired and ticking much too long.
    You know it’s just your foolish pride.

    Horsey, you’ve got me on my knees.
    Pony, I’m begging, darling please.
    Layla, darling won’t you blow my worried mind.

    I tried to give you insemination
    When your old stallion let you down.
    Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
    Turned my sombrero upside down.

    Horsey, you’ve got me on my knees.
    Pony, I’m begging, dump George please.
    Layla, darling won’t you blow ol’ Slowpaw’s mind.

    Let’s make the best of the situation
    Before I finally go insane.
    Please don’t say, “Cross species, hell, no way!”
    And tell me all my love’s in vain.

    Horsey, may I please now be frank?
    Pony, I may just walk the plank.
    Layla, darling won’t you ease my canine mind.

    Horsey, I’m leaving Taco Bell.
    Pony, don’t get all blown to hell.
    Layla, darling won’t you ease my furry mind.

    * Inspired by Meg and The Husband’s son Mark, and his encyclopaedia knowledge of rock and roll.

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  59. “Hullooo… Avon calling! Hello, hello – it’s me, Peg Boggseye; your local Avon Representative… oh my, what happened to you?”

    “I’m not finished.”

    “Do you live down there all by yourself? What happened to your parents? Your mother, your father?”

    “He didn’t wake up.”

    “Oh dear me, what’s your name?”

    “Edward. Edward Robotcheeks.”

  60. “I know you might not think so,” said Candide, the Chihuahua, “but this new shrinking machine is a boon to the world. Soon all objects will be no larger than I am, including this Clydesdale now undergoing ‘shrinkage.’ You, Senor Peebles, will be a giant among all things, born and created, including the no-longer-gargantuan Ferd and the ever-so-fetching Dr. Jo. It is, indeed, the best of all possible worlds.”





    Meanwhile, back on Whisper Glen Court, Orlando, Florida, USA…

    Imagineers at Disney are sad to report that, in a tragic accident in the Toy Story attraction, Bullseye blew up, causing Andy to lose his Woody.

    Film at 11.

  62. Hey, Queeks Draw, I theen you mucho taller than I remembers.

    Now hoooooold on thar, Baba Looey! I’ll do the “thinnin'” around here, and doooon’t you forget e-it! And I’m a “thinnin’” that thisa-here mee-chanical thingamabobber is… (boom).

  63. Fellini panned the camera out, taking in the wide panoramic view of our sombreroed hero against the pale gold backdrop of desert. Into his bullhorn, Fellini screams, “Accion!”

    Fly eyes scanning the landscape, Montoyo Castro-Castro’s gaze slowly sweeps over pale scorpions, dusty lizards and the tombstones in crop-circle formation coming to rest on Stephano Kingo, Clackers for your Car salesman. Barely visible under his poncho, Senor Kingo is holding a book that Montoyo knows well, The Liar’s Lullaby.

    “Senor Kingo, buried in one of these graves is a book that is gold.” Throwing his sombrero back for dramatic effect he whistles for his horse. Stephano Kingo’s mechanical mount, Tommyknocker Nell, blocks the palomino’s way, and graciously backs up. Beep, beep, beep.

    ”I leave you a shovel and this map. Give me the book in your possession as trade.” Stephano tosses the book to Montoyo and he in turn throws down the Denny’s placemat. “Find your treasure.” Montoyo chuckles and rides.

    Stephano digs, the sun burning his flesh, the vultures patient. Striking the wooden coffin that holds THE BOOK, he smiles.

    Wiping off the dust, he has been cheated! It is, The Grapes of Wrath.

    “Aye Carumba!!!!”

    Annnnd scene.

  64. Bought to you buy…

    Big Bodacious Claude’s & ‘Lil Bitty Clyde’s Scratch & Dent Robotics Bin and Not So Very Toxic Tiny Pinata Emporium.
    Follow the arrows or follow the fumes, y’all just a can’t miss us!
    We’re just across the road from Smokey Dokey’s Finer Used Hubcaps & Monster Truck Wash, right next to Belma Lou’s Litter Recycling Plant #2!
    Save Cash With Claude & Clyde with this weeks special:
    Free Tetanus Shots with any purchase!
    (ANY purchase is recommended, especially if you’ve not had a recent booster, but certainly not required)

  65. “Drop the chalupa—gently, at my feet—or the pony gets it!”

  66. Rosita looked to the heavens, seeking inspiration or even divine intervention, hoping that Uberdog would quickly send her a sign of encouragement. Either response to her supplication would lead to the salvation of her beloved Butterscotch, the golden Shetland, who was, at that very moment, under siege by a runaway Moon Rover.

    With only seconds to spare, a bolt from the blue—literally!—struck the menacing machine just as it reached toward Butterscotch with a mind-altering probe. Butterscotch, released from the mesmerizing effects of the machine’s resonant hum, bolted away from its grasp and galloped to safety—Cafe‘ Rosita. The two soul-mates recounted their incredulous adventures while sharing a chalupa that had manifested itself moments after their reunion…

  67. The Nightmare Thief: Epilogue

    Once the case was solved, everyone slept the sinless sleep of Kiwi possums in flight. The intellectual property rights to their nightmares had been preserved by Evan and Jo, leading to citations by the AMA, ABA, and Abbey Road Preservation Society.

    In an unprecedented move, a film company bought the rights to the story, retroactively claiming that a confusing film, previously released, had been based on this adventure from its inception. Commemorative Jo and Evan tops were marketed. They sold like a dream; an anonymous collector from London bought them all.

    Meanwhile, back at El Rancho Santa Barbara, Jo and Gabe joined Evan and Jesse for a getaway during the “Old Spanish Days” Fiesta. It was a chance to relax and renew romance. That is, it would have been if Gabe hadn’t insisted on bringing that bratty daughter of his.

    But, under an acrylic blue sky, Sophie enjoyed the adorable Precision Chihuahua Drill Team and Cross-Dressing Colloquium on Stern’s Wharf. And she enjoyed helping Jesse work with the Equine Spinal Injury Association.

    But Sophie was embarrassed to ride in Jesse’s pickup adorned with dangling skeletons, teabags, and some other stuff she was too young to recognize.

  68. Susanne Svoger Have

    Now that I have my new 27″ iMac I am able to contribute to this delightful contest.

    Evan Delaney and Jo Beckett are having lunch together because Evan is having a hard time sleeping because she is having some very bad nightmares.
    Evan is trying to explain to Jo what the nightmares are about.
    The first one keeps coming to her just as she is sleeping and the dog keeps singing this crazy Chinese hat song.
    The second nightmare is always just before she wakes up and it is something about a robot and a pony having a duet singing ”Pony song” by Edith Frost.
    Jo is trying to explain to Evan that she might have stolen the dreams subconsciously from other people because she is a highly sensitive person (HSP) and that her mind works a little different than others. The only way to get rid of the nightmares is to visualize them in photos and make them into something positive.
    Evan tries that and the result is what you see in the photos.

  69. Coyote’s vengeful clone was now disguised as a chihuahua – the collar was her idea – and she was pursuing Evan, who had made the mistake of wearing a pony costume to an amok robot convention in the desert.

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  71. If Speedy’s quick no one will see him steal the toy pony from the back of the local Toys R Us. He will have to be as speedy as his daddy, Speedy Sr, taught him to be.

    (Yes, he knows that being the son of a mouse is an impossibility, but a little chihuahua needs a father figure and Speedy has a lot going for him. Look, he even gave him this hat! Did your father ever give you a little hat? Exactly.)

    Anyway, Speedy will place the pony outside of the hotel where the Beckett/Delaney conference is taking place. It will only be a matter of time before someone calls in a bomb threat. Abandoned cars and suitcases are so passe – abandoned ponies is where it’s at, baby!

    And then Speedy will strike! Using his tiny hat – thanks, Speedy Sr – Speedy will smuggle the real bomb into the very heart of the hotel. His vengeance will be swift and mighty. He will strike fear into the heart of every human, despite his tiny chihuahua size. He will teach them to NEVER take a little dog for granted ever aga– Oh, look, a cat.

  72. (Okay, I’ve only recently met Ferd the nerd and now Mr. Peebles… so I can finally understand everybody’s submissions! They’re even funnier than I thought!)

    On meeting Mr. Peebles for the first time, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett was astonished by his raw animal magnetism. The way he wore his hat casually slung back over a well defined and powerful shoulder; his eyes, how they were like limpid pools that set her soul afire… and the way they seemed to beseech her at every glance. Jo just knew that they were saying, “Girl, you my b1tch.”

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Jo’s former potential (haven’t finished the book yet!!) lover, Gabe Quintana prepares to commit Death by Robot. After seeing the look in Mr. Peebles eye, he understands that his chance at love with Jo is irrevocably gone.

  73. Someone was coming. Jasper and Penny had meticulously bugged their property with sensors that would alert them to any intruders. They were working for the CIA on a secret formula for animal treats that would make their species stronger and faster, technology that many countries wanted to get their hands on. Penny, the chihuahua, quickly put on her satellite sombrero and jumped the the lift that she and Jasper (the pony) had created. The metal lift would quickly transport her up to the roof where they could get a signal from the surveillance cameras in the far corners of their secret hide a way and allow them to send the alert call to their backup team. Penny and Jasper had practiced this drill many times and their training was paying off……….

  74. Forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett has been called in to give her expert opinion on a recent case. She is pictured here [bottom, right] with the SFPD Robotics specialist ‘Arky’.
    Arky, is used to measure the distance and arc of projectile weapons used in the fight against terror here in the United States.

    Earlier this week, there was a need for the team to be dispatched overseas to New Zealand. (A small South Pacific country that may, or may not be attached to Australia)
    There have been reports that the natives (The ‘Kiwi’ – not necessarily a fruit) have been concealing WOMD.

    The arsenal uncovered this week had investigators scratching their heads. In rural schools all over the country, what appeared to at first be a harmless Possum Chucking competition – has in fact turned out to be a covert operation involving nuclear weaponry.
    The Possum carcasses [an example top left] were used to conceal little itty-bitty warheads which were then hidden amongst masses of non-nuclearical critters on school premises throughout New Zealand.

    Authorities say that upon hearing about the risks to their children, parents around the country were “…not overly concerned, as we make ‘em damn tough down here!”

  75. Oh no, it says: “Your comment is awaiting moderation”… did I write something I shouldn’t? (If so… I’m so sorry, Meg!!!!)

    • The software automatically kicked your comment into the moderation queue. It’s because you mentioned New Zealand.

      No, not really. I have no idea why your comment got held up. In any case, I’ve liberated it.

      • Hahahaha! Well I’m not surprised, we are kind of a scary bunch down here.
        Thanks for letting me know, Meg. I felt horrible when that appeared… thought I’d really messed up! [embarrassed emoticon here]

  76. Missed Connections:
    You were the charming chihuahua in the fetching hat, standing on the sundeck at the 2010 Santa Barbara Star Trek Convention, looking up at me with the beautiful brown eyes.

    I was the shy little pony, working up the courage to say hello. But I got distracted by the Toxic Transformer, and when I broke free, you were gone.

    If you remember me, would you meet me at the China Lake Taco Bell tomorrow at noon?

  77. Claws firmly embedded into the ceiling of the barn, Dipsy Dawg glares downward as the Wee Pony high fives The Little Robot Who Could. Surely, the back yard circus was on its way to fame and fortune with their first gymnastic success. Well, success so long as as she kept her grip. No one had thought out the stunt to the extent that perhaps a trampoline under the poor Olga imitator might have been a wise move.

  78. “Don’t move,” Jo said.
    Evan froze. “What is it?”
    “That chihuahua with the little hat. I recognize it. It’s the one that’s been following us ever since I found out that Stuxnet is what caused those rovers to decapitate all those ponies.”
    The chihuahua growled.
    Jo and Evan exchanged glances.
    “What now?” asked Evan…

  79. Thanks, everyone. Now the deliberations begin.

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