You Are a Burned-Out Kid Detective
The Grisly Ghosts of Gruesome Time - Chapter 13
⚠️ Whoa, today’s quest is different! It’s the final chapter of The Great Substack Challenge, a collaboration between 13 fiction newsletter writers. Here’s my entry, gumshoes…
You’re a 10 year-old kid detective and already you're too old for this shit. After putting a nickel into the swear jar on your desk, you massage your temples. You've got a massive headache. All these cases searching for lost bubble gum cards and unmasking phony phantoms at abandoned amusement parks really wears a kid down.
That's when she walked in the door of your detective office, or what your parents insist on calling the "pool shed." After pushing a few pool noodles aside, a dame strides into the room. Pigtails. Two of 'em. Peace sign rub-on arm tattoo. Oversized "Dog Camp" t-shirt. She's the coolest girl you've ever seen. You flip an old POG slammer in your hand like a coin to make yourself feel cooler and less inadequate.
"Joey? Joey Hardcasewitz? Kid detective?" asks the mystery blonde in velcro. "I need you to find my boyfriend. He's missing. Well, you see, he's from the future. And he's technically my boy friend, not my 'boyfriend'..."
As the tomato – the girl kind, not the salad kind – tells her tragic tale, something about this case feels different. It's not like all the others with a cute, cookie cutter solution based on a logic puzzle or an animal fact. This case feels different.
Click the links above to investigate the room and the girl's story.
When you're ready to "solve" the case, click here.
Find out more about The Great Substack Story Challenge.
If you enjoyed this story, please feel free to forward it to your friends or share it on social media. And don’t forget to like by clicking the little heart below this post. Thank you! 😍
Text (c) 2022 by Geoffrey Golden
First header image by Erica Drayton
When your quest is complete, it’s time to debrief. Join your fellow adventurers at the virtual D&D table we call the comments section. My reaction to your comment will be determined by sixteen 20-sided die, plus charisma modifiers.
Discuss one (or all) of today’s topics in the comments:
📝 Did you follow The Great Substack Story Challenge? What did you think? Favorite part or chapter? When I first read Joey had a bomb in his brain, my mind exploded. 🤯
😫 Do you ever feel burnout? How do you help yourself when you do?
🕵 Is there a low-stakes mystery in your life you’d like solved? We have a leaky Ninja blender. Technically, we’re on our third Ninja blender. (These Ninjas are getting their butts kicked…) They work for several months, start leaking smoothie juice from the bottom, and then we would mail it back to the manufacturer for a replacement. Only now we’re out of warranty, so they won’t take the blender back. I have a potential fix, but it requires solving a mystery… (More in the comments.)
I had a blast ending The Great Substack Story Challenge. It was fun to hunt through all the previous stories and weave-in references to them throughout the game, to celebrate the other authors and reward folks who’ve been following the story from the beginning. (For more context on the challenge, here’s an interview I did with a few of the participating authors about the project.)
Substack has a thriving fiction community. It’s been exciting to participate in its growth as co-founder of Fictionistas, an organization to bring together newsletter fiction writers. If you’re interested in writing fiction on Substack, and participating in upcoming writing challenges like this one, subscribe to Fictionistas!
If you’re interested in writing interactive newsletter fiction specifically, I recently spoke about how to setup your own Adventure Snack type game at this year’s Narrascope, a conference celebrating the art and craft of narrative games. Here’s the full 30 minute lecture, which includes a behind the scenes look at my process and stats, as well as a live play through of Reconcile with Your Moleman Father:
Finally, I’d like to take a moment shout-out all the writers who contributed to The Great Substack Story Challenge: Arjun Agarwal, G. M. Baker, Anthony Lora, Mark Starlin, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Jackie Dana, Thomas Bubb, Nick Mazmanian, Adrian Conway, Winston Malone, Alex S. Garcia, Meagan Voulo, and Erica Drayton for the logo. They inspired today’s game, so if you enjoyed this one, be sure to give them all a read.
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Adventure Snack is a game series I email to subscribers. Play Adventure Snack for free and turn your inbox into an adventure!
I’m a narrative designer for video games. I’ve written for Capcom, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and indie studios around the world. Follow me @geoffreygolden on Twitter.