Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.


“Help!” Misha Collins cried. “She’s falling apart!”

The Time Continuum Machine rattled and roared. Struts began to buckle. Chains shuddered from their gears and flapped dangerously. The engine that kept all the cosmos running became a buzz-saw of terror.

The Queen of England leaned into her wrench, tightening bolts, but two came loose for every one she handled. “This is the end,” the Queen Mother said. Misha had never known the Queen to be dire. He believed it was the end as well.

“If I had nine arms, I could fix this,” Misha said. He stabilized the quantum flux dismorgaphier with one foot and kept the vacuous air filter in place with his shin. “What I couldn’t do with nine arms,” he muttered to himself.

“Hey,” the Elopus said. “Can I help?”



29 replies to “GISHWHES”

I know the cover is Molly Fyde! Who by the way I love!!! but not sure about the paragraph.
Maybe I need to re-read them!

It’s funny how good active writing will make a reader keep reading long enough to see where the interesting bit will lead. Of course, it’s you – so we give you the benefit of the doubt a tiny bit longer, too. Setting, characters, genre, action, suspense – check.

But the link led to a screenshot for me – of the post – not a picture.

Thank you so much for not only responding to my email but actually writing the piece!!!! Im sure very very few other sci fi authors would have done the same :)

For everyone confused, there is thing going on called Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES) and one of the things is an 140 word story involving Misha Collins, the Queen Mother, and an Elopus (elephant Octopus).

I’m not quite sure what a Misha Collins is, infidel that I am, but I couldn’t resist the implied writing prompt:

“It is the appointed hour,” said Misha Collins, tapping Elopus on the back and pointing outside the cafe.

“Unthinkable?” Elopus asked. He waggled his trunctacles in Misha’s direction, knocking a water-filled glass out of a stray ambassador’s hand. His eyes crimsoned as his foremost trunctacle, stretching for the falling glass, missed.

“Protocol Breach! Protocol breach!” sirens blared as the glass shattered against the floor, sending shards flying in the Eleven Approved Directions.

Misha, already shading his eyes with one hand and looking towards the giant telescreen on the far side of Koo Plaza, ignored the glass’s shatter and Elopus’s question.

“Let the queening commence!” the on-screen Master of Ceremonies, resplendent in red robes, announced. “Ten, Nine…”

Elopus fluttered his trunctacles, blowing pulsed blasts of fetid air through them, “She shall queen off a baby? An Elizabeth, or a Mary? An Anne?”

“Humans don’t work like that,” said Misha Collins, sweeping trunctacles out of his face. “It’s a surprise.”

“Unacceptable!” Elopus screamed, and blew at Misha again. This time the blasts swept Misha’s elaborate hair parting into a mohawk and left him bent over and pinching his nose.

“Protocol breach!” the cafe’s sirens blared.

A pair of policemen appeared next to Elopus, each grabbing an arm. “You’re coming with us,” they sang in unison. “Charge: rearranging ambassadorial hair during matters of state.”

Suddenly a loud “plop!” came over the speakers and all heads turned to the screen.
“It’s a boy!” the Master of Ceremony announced, dangling a baby human by its foot.

I hope posting this in your comments doesn’t constitute a breach of protocol. I’d hate to be marched away by the diplomatic police.

P.S. Trunctacle is previously unknown to the all-seeing eye of Google. Do I get a knighthood for discovering a new word?

As a huge fan of yourself and Misha Collins, I’m so THRILLED that you participated. So cool. Thank you for taking the time out to do this. This made my day!

Here’s another:

Misha: Cruise control set at Warp Factor 8.
Queen Mother: Hope we don’t hit any dark matter. This is my good china.
Misha: Where? I don’t see anything on the scanners!
Queen Mother: I think your pet meant for his tea.

Hugh Howey, you are so cool. Thank you for writing this and replying to gishers’ emails. This short story is suspenseful and funny and so so good!!!

You seem to be doing a lot of short fiction lately. I was wondering if there was a plan behind this strategy? Are you searching for a story that might take off like the original Wool did? Or is your writing short stories a complete flight of fancy?


These are great, but in the interest of protecting other Gishers’ teams’ points, do you know about the commandments? Specifically, #29:

“Content Sharing – You may not “share” your images or videos until after the Hunt, but you may not password-protect them either (we need to access them for judging). Violators will be attacked by Gishbot. YOU MAY (and we encourage you) share your images and videos 8 minutes and 34 seconds after the Hunt is finished (as indicated by the countdown clock).”

As I said, I like the stories, and I would hate to see the teams not get credit for them because they were shared too early!

Hi. I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’m not sure if I can take either of those stories for GISHWHES since other teams probably already submitted them and I’m not sure if they have to be different for each team or not. Is there anyway you could write one more? If not, thank you for writing the ones that you have already.

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