NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Make Lifelong Memories at Camp Chimpoochee!

Make Lifelong Memories at Camp Chimpoochee!

January 2023 (Second Round)
Genre: Comedy
Word: Verge
Action: Shampooing Hair
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 250 words

As I stood in line with the other 300 summer residents of Camp Chimpoochee, the thought of the buxom Nurse Wilmington finding lice in my hair was too embarrassing to even consider. So to say I was severely unprepared when she blared my diagnosis to the world is a gross understatement.

Her biohazard-grade gloves barely touched my head before they jerked back. “My god! It’s a whole nit convention! Linda! I’ve got an infested head here!”

My campmates’ chatter died as all eyes turned to me, and since the earth did not swallow me whole at that moment, I can now say with some authority that prayer doesn’t work. In fact, so spiteful is the universe that I swear time slowed as the camp counselors all independently certified with various levels of enthralled disgust that my hair had indeed turned into a parasite bed and breakfast.

“Are you going to shave my head?” I squeaked, on the verge of tears that would’ve most certainly turned my mortification lethal.

“Oh no, Lice-Away will do the trick.” She raised a brow. “But first, we’ll need a list of your friends.”

I would love to report that I withstood interrogation. That I didn’t sell out my closest companions. But… it was a moment of weakness.

Nonetheless, as the four of us scrubbed our heads with the pungent lice shampoo under Nurse Wilmington’s watchful eye, I can say with utmost certainty that misery does, in fact, love company… just not of the louse variety.

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed 5th, just barely squeaking into the final round! But whew! Comedy may be the toughest genre I’ve had yet!


{2104}  Wow, what a funny story. Every line held a nugget of humour for the reader to mine. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your protagonist’s voice is clear and consistent, as well as realistic. I have met a few pre-teens that talk exactly this way. Your hook was great, as was your concluding line. Extremely well done!  

{1774}  This camper’s descriptions of the situation, the mortification and desire to remain steadfast in not identifying his lousey friends create truly amusing moments. There’s something so amusing about kids being embarrassed … and publicly.  

{2230}  A fun read! These are some creative takes on the prompts for this assignment, to be sure (and an all too relatable situation with those *very* public lice checks..!)  Great descriptiveness and attention to detail throughout; from the mention of the “biohazard-grade” gloves, to the varying degrees of disgust, to the very realization that prayer actually doesn’t work..! Excellent world-building here. Your story perfectly captures the mortification that a kid in that situation would feel, and you have strong comedic sensibilities. A nice button to end your story on, as well, with that line about the “louse variety”! Your story is written very well; kudos!   


{2104}  This is such a well-written story that there is not a lot to critique. I will make one comment, however. I would have liked to have seen some reaction from the friends. Even if they just glared at him through soap bubbles, it would make the final line even more powerful.

{1774}  Nurse Wilmington was described by the narrator as ‘buxom.’ Was the camper crushing on her? It might be amusing to revisit that particular attribute with the campers somehow. Did an ample bra size have any impact in the ‘moment of weakness” experienced by the narrator? 

{2230}  This is a relatively small suggestion… But is there any chance readers could catch a glimpse of this protagonist’s reaction to some of the other students getting lice checks? That intro makes for a nice hook! However, what if the campmate just ahead of them ended up having lice, causing them to pity the poor guy… That is, before they soon realize they have it, themselves (knocking them down a couple pegs..!) In terms of the comedy, this could make for nice status play as the protagonist goes from a high status player, to suddenly lower status. Some excellent humor could be mined from the juxtaposition of their initial pridefulness to their actual vulnerability. But regardless, very nice job crafting your comedic microfiction story; I quite enjoyed reading your work. Thank you for your submission!

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: Eve Resurrected

Eve Resurrected

November 2022 (First Round)
Genre: Science Fiction
Word: Pare
Action: Hair Falling Out
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 250 words

Sophie awoke to a blast of frigid air, pain, and blinding light. God, was she hungover? It must’ve been a rough night. Groaning, she squinted at the man in a surgical mask and cap leaning over her hospital cot. Oh. Make that very rough.

“What hospital is this?” she croaked, her fingers registering the tubes connecting her body to the room’s white walls. Her parents were probably freaking out. Where was her phone?

The man straightened stiffly. “That is difficult to answer, but I can reassure you that you are safe.” Although his tone was calming, the words came out stilted, like English wasn’t his native language. “May I ask what you remember?”

Sophie ran her fingers through her hair, only for a clump of her blond locks to separate from her scalp. Horror rose up her throat like bile, and she muffled a shriek. “What’s wrong with me?”

“Do not fear. Radiation was a necessary component of the revival process, but you are well now.”

“R-revival?” A deep wrongness niggled in Sophie’s gut. “Who are you? What happened to me?”

“My name is Tom. I am an android created to ease your transition.” Tom stared at her with pale, unblinking eyes. “You, Sophie Jones, are the first human to successfully recover from cryosleep.”

“Android?” This was a joke right? A nightmare? “But where are the people?”

Silence stretched between them. “Until now, humanity was extinct. You are the only one, Sophie.”

Her newly reborn wails echoed long and loud. 

JUDGe’s Feedback

This one placed 9th, just barely squeaking into the second round, but I’m not going to lie, I may have to write this full-length novel one day.


{2061}  I like the pace at which you allow Sophie to wake up. There’s not much of a panic in her thought process early on, and that really helps the build to the ending.

{2290}  This story has a nice contrast between the clinical and the mammalian. It’s comedic that the first thing Sophie imagines is a self-inflicted hangover. It’s a clever choice too to make the first human to be revived semi-dependent on parents. That helps with making her all the more lost when the truth is revealed.

{22}  The story is unique, and I especially appreciate that in this “hard” science-fiction plot the focus was on the feeling and reaction of Sophie rather than the mechanics of the world. The story attempted to keep the focus on what is interesting and compelling—the story—rather than the science-fiction universe surrounding it. By doing that, the science-fiction aspects feel more fully realized than if they were over-explained. That balance is well-maintained.  


{2061}  I wonder if an image or something could pass through Sophie’s mind as she’s trying to make sense of “revival.” Is there anything in her memory that might hint to what’s happened?

{2290}  I think Sophie’s reaction at the end is a bit preemptive. Sophie does not yet know if there are others undergoing the revival process, and indeed if her parents are safely in cryosleep. As reader, I pondered long about why Tom did not answer Sophie’s question about which hospital they were in.

{22}  The set-up is distinctive, which is great and not easy. The focus on Sophie feels like the right decision. However,  it is not clear to me how she is waking from cryosleep and her first reaction is that it was a “rough night.” That feels a little like a cliche when someone wakes and doesn’t know what’s going on. It distracts from what is working and it feels false when authors do that. It feels like a crutch. There has to be a more interesting way into that moment that doesn’t feel familiar and does something to reveal character and story. Why doesn’t she remember? What kind of things does she do in her life (beyond drinking)? Does she actually remember something hazily? There are a lot of things that could be done with that to match how distinctive the rest of the story is.

NYC Midnight Challenge Entry: A Moment of Joy

A MOment of Joy

August 2022 (Final Round)
Genre: Open (Drama)
Word: Lift
Action: Laughing
Time Constraint: 24 hours
Length: 100 words

CONTENT WARNING: Childhood illness, Cancer.

“Up, Mama, please.” Millie lifts her arms, her eyes huge and dark beneath hairless brows, a rainbow scarf swathing her smooth head.

And though grief and exhaustion weigh heavy on my limbs, this is an easy request to grant. Because today’s a good day—a day she’s strong enough to ask.

I swoop her up and throw her into the air amid a swell of sweet giggles. Though tears prick my eyes, I laugh along with her. Because there won’t be many good days left. So this moment, this joy, has to be enough.

I have to make it enough.

JUDGe’s Feedback

Unfortunately, this one didn’t place, but the feedback is below!


{1943}  ‘A Moment of Joy’ brought tears to my eyes. What a poignant, heartbreaking narrative. I loved the simplicity of the premise, with the child having the strength to ask to be picked up. The idea that she often wasn’t even strong enough to ask was heart wrenching. I liked the juxtaposition of the mother’s limbs being heavy with grief with the child flying in the air with a “swell of sweet giggles”. This was gorgeous writing. Well done.  

{1788}  The reader’s first view of Millie was truly wonderful, showing not only her vulnerability but her youth (i.e. the rainbow scarf). She was instantly lovable and her request was simple and poignant. The narrative voice had a terrific amount of sincerity. Since the author created such strong intimacy between the reader and the narrator, the reader was anxious to hear more about their final days together. 

{2035}  I thought that you captured Millie’s cluelessness about what was to come well. Her easy giggles and how she asked her mom to lift her up were both great details that showed us how the mother had to carry this burden by herself. 

{1963}  This well scoped piece makes good use of the prompt criteria to tell a focused and emotional story. The narrator can’t change what’s coming, but she has the power at least to choose how she faces it, and that keeps the reader invested. 

{1970}  I was taken by the emotion as I read “A Moment of Joy”. I really felt it when the mother sees the positive side, that today she’s strong enough to ask, in this tragic situation. This story pulls the heartstrings with just enough restraint when it comes to sweet sentiment. Thanks for the story. 


{1943}  I wondered if you actually needed to be so explicit with telling us that the child would die. I think this was already clear, so I would consider removing ” Because there won’t be many good days left.” I think the idea of this moment being enough might feel stronger if we weren’t just told that she was dying, eg: I laugh along with her. This moment, this joy, has to be enough….” I also wondered if we needed both details about the child having cancer. I would consider removing the detail of the brows, and instead, just showing us the smooth head and the scarf, which was a very vivid image.

{1788}  The last three lines pretty much tell the reader what they already know, and the author may want to think about focusing on imagery or small details that show her feelings instead. The reader can discern that there won’t be many days left and that she has to make this enough, but there are other things they’d like to know and don’t know. For instance, can Millie tell Mom’s crying? Does she comfort Mom? Does her giggle sound weak? What else will the author allow us to see that the reader can’t figure out themselves? Think about highlighting more gestures or observations that show her emotions. This will make the second half just as unique as the first half (the hairless brows, the rainbow scarf). “A Moment of Joy” makes a lovely impression on the reader. Once the author concentrates on the second half a little more, it will be a splendid microfiction narrative.

{2035}  To me, the latter half of the story felt a bit like the lines were only reinforcing one another rather than adding another layer to the piece. I think that condensing the final three sentences down to one could free up enough space to show readers the mother and daughter interacting more.

{1963}  You tell the story with an excess of clarity, which shows that you have a lot of leeway for shifting towards subtext. Perhaps better than being told directly of the narrator’s grief and exhaustion, we can be shown it through her words and deeds. If you let the reader participate in the comprehension of the story, any discoveries the reader makes belongs to them. When a reader feels personally invested in a story, that’s your opportunity to connect directly and fully. 

{1970}  There is only one thing that had me thinking it might need a tweak, but, I could be wrong. It’s the ‘…and throw her up into the air…’ part. Yikes. The image that came to mind. Perhaps I overdid it, but to envision a frail child with advanced cancer being thrown up in the air was a bit disturbing. What do you think? Thanks again for the tale.