Chatterbox: Pudding's Place

A Ski Lodge

You flop down onto your bed, exhausted from another long day of school. Is it really necessary for your teacher to assign you to write three essays this week? You have other stuff going on. Life. And you can’t afford to fail this class. Your academic success is hanging on a precipice, and one nudge will send it falling into an abyss so deep that it will never be found if it is lost.

The computer is open in front of you, the white, electronic pages of your word processor beckoning to you. You sit down at your desk.

And then you stand up again and go to the kitchen for a glass of water. You can’t work with a dry mouth. Then, once the water is drained, you grab an apple. It’s slightly withered, but you slice it and slowly eat. You glance over toward the counter where a digital clock squats, its red numbers blinking threateningly. 9:48. If your parents knew you were up this late on a school night, eating old apples, with three essays to write, they would go completely out of their minds.

But your parents aren’t here to boss you around at the moment, so who cares what they’d say? It’s not as if the essays were due tomorrow. At least, not all of them are. Just one.

The apple is gone, and you can no longer think of any stalling techniques. You are fighting a losing battle against yourself. It’s past ten at night, you have school tomorrow, and your teacher is expecting a nice, long essay from everyone’s favorite student.

You walk slowly back to your room and sit down at your desk. You type a few words, yawn, type a few more, open up a web browser, surf Wikipedia for a couple of minutes, yawn again. So far you have only twelve words.

You open up the CB. It’s late, you know, and no one will have posted a thing since you checked last, but maybe you can read an old ski lodge or two.

You click on Pudding’s Place, intending to look for Lake Lelilo or something, when a new thread catches your eye. A Ski Lodge, it says, in those red letters you know so well. You click on the link, and start to read.

“You flop down onto your bed, exhausted from another long day of school. Is it really necessary for your teacher to assign you to write three essays this week?”


You keep reading, watching your own movements of that night laid before you in second person, right up to this very moment.


I’ve got your attention now.

My dear CBer,

You are having trouble at school. You have unwritten essays, and you don’t know what to write.

That’s okay.

We are offering you the chance of a lifetime, the chance to fix everything. Come to Camp Juniper, where you have the chance to be freed from the bonds of school. You will no longer have to study late into the night in order to pass a test. You will no longer have to struggle for hours on end in order to write a good essay. In short, we are giving you a Get Out of Jail Free card. And, if you choose not to accept this card, you will be given a free college scholarship.

There will be competitions throughout the days of camp. Each camper will have the chance to earn juniper branches. Anyone who is able to weave their branches into a wreath by the end of the camp session will earn this freedom.

Sounds nice?

We thought so.

All you have to do is fill out this form. And be prepared to die.


CBer, AE, CAPTCHA, or CAPTCHAE? (Note: CAPTCHAs, and CAPTCHAEs are not allowed):



Companion(s) (up to 2 companions per person) (please fill out a sheet for them as well) (AEs only):


Personality in five words. (Any more or less and you will no longer have the privilege to eat popcorn):



Brains or Brawn?:

Envy or Empathy?: 

Reverie or Realism?:

Luggage, in order from most to least important:

Choose a number:

Choose a color:


We are excited to see you. And yes, we WILL see you.

Your obedient servants,

L. Reine & B. Ambrose

P.S. The popcorn is free, as well.

P.P.S. Please be prepared to participate fully, whatever this may mean.

P.P.P.S. Obviously, this is a ski lodge.

You read over the letter again. Is it worth it? You could die. . . but people always come back to life after a ski lodge. You could be a murderer. . . but who cares about that? It’s just a story. And how hard could it be to weave a few branches into a wreath?

Yes, you decide.

It’s definitely worth it.

And so, you fill out the form.

And then, you press submit.

submitted by Liberté and Basil, Camp Juniper
(October 31, 2020 - 8:09 pm)

Nice! I'll say 9.

submitted by Summer, age tau, Nowhere at all
(December 30, 2020 - 1:06 pm)

ummm 12?

submitted by Kitty Cat, age 11almost12, Gotham City
(December 30, 2020 - 3:38 pm)
submitted by New Part—Day Two
(December 29, 2020 - 10:03 pm)

Even if you were short staffed for this part, it still came out amazingly!

I pick 15! 

submitted by Sammy Everlast
(December 30, 2020 - 7:10 am)

This is so good!  I'll go with... 10.

submitted by Sterling
(December 30, 2020 - 2:30 pm)

I say 2. Nice and small.

submitted by dreamiing, lost
(December 31, 2020 - 1:27 pm)
submitted by TOP
(January 3, 2021 - 1:02 pm)
submitted by to the top, and beyond!
(January 4, 2021 - 11:32 am)

Day Two—Evening

The sun has slowly begun to set, filling the sky with beautiful colors. There is a strange serenity to the camp. Juniper, lilac, and pine trees litter the area, bringing gorgeous color and warm smells. A slight breeze flutters by, a thing the campers cannot notice. But something is wrong, I can just feel it. Even Liberté is quiet. It’s awkward. Something I’ve never witnessed before. But then the calm and quiet breaks. Someone is fighting. I go to find out. 

“All I’m saying is try to be more sympathetic! Sure, you didn’t know the girl. Sure, you’re “hard as rock” or whatever. But when someone dies, you mourn them. It’s just common sense.” Sammy tells Masquerade rather angrily.

“I don’t know how to be sympathetic.” He replies bluntly.

“Yes, you do. It’s human nature. You just- never mind. You’re a lost cause. Argh, I could just kill you!”

A gasp runs through the camp and everyone stares at the two of them. It was obviously the wrong thing to say. People whisper. Others slowly edge away from Sammy. 

“I didn’t mean it… like that. Sorry everyone. Go back to… braiding flower crowns or whatever.”

The camp does not go back to doing what they were doing. There is now a tension that runs through it so thick that I could cut it with those gigantic scissors that people use at business openings. Liberté fidgets and Snow whispers something to her. Liberté turns to me.

“I’m going to change the subject. Announce the winner. Then, the campers will have a real reason to stare at someone.”

“Are you sure that’s the right—“

“Attention campers! The results are in, and we finally know who to award the juniper branch to! I am going to the cabin winners, and then the receiver of the branch. May the odds be ever in your favor.” Liberté announces.

For a brief second, my brain compares her to Effie Trinket, the lady from The Hunger Games who announces tributes. But the thought scares me, so I stop. 

“Can the cabins gather according to color? If I call your name, step in front of the group.” She pauses for the orders to be carried out. “Thank you. For Scarlet Cabin, we have our finalist… Sammy Everlast!”

Another gasp comes from each of the campers and Liberté glares at them all.

“Oh come on. He’s my AE for Pete’s sake! Let it go!”

“Okay, moving on… for Chartreuse cabin, we have AutumnArtist as the finalist!”

This time, the campers give her a round of applause, and it’s my turn to glare at them all. Liberté glances at her paper again, and I genuinely think that she forgot about Lilac cabin.

“Uh, do you know who won Lilac cabin?” Braoin asks meekly after a while.

“Oh! Yes. I didn’t forget about you guys. Totally. Uh, Snow?”

“Lilac cabin winner was dreamiing.” Snow replies flatly.

“And Lilac cabin’s finalist was dreamiing! Congratulations to you three. dreamii, your total was two bullseyes. Good job! AutumnArtist, your total was 14 bullseyes! Second place! Yay! And Sammy, your total was 15 bullseyes! Congratulations.”

Liberté randomly pulls a juniper branch out of thin air and hands it to Sammy. There is silence. No clapping. No congrats. Everyone is staring at her. She is the one who threatened to kill her AE. But she won something.

“Campers, be kind. Congratulate your fellow… person. Go on now.” I say. 

Pine begins to weakly clap, and everyone hesitantly joins in. Aspen pauses.

“I don’t want to be killed. She might kill me!”


I don’t know how to respond. Neither do my co-directors. We just stand there speechless and awkward. 

“Don’t come to a ski lodge if you aren’t prepared to die…” someone says.

I try to see who it was, but I can’t tell. There is more silence. A person with rather frizzy hair creeps over to Masquerade and hands him some sort of chain with a thick charm. The necklace faintly reminds me of Wendy’s from Peter Pan. The one that stopped the arrow from killing her. This confuses me even more.

“This is not a ski lodge, nor is it somewhere where you have to fear death. No one else is going to die.” Snow snaps. 

“Sureeee.” Aspen replies.

“I officially end this gathering. Go back to doing whatever you were doing earlier or something.” Liberté says.

People listen. They don’t want to be sitting here anymore. No one wants to be near someone who could be a killer. The campers flood back to their groups completing random, useless tasks. Throwing perfectly good grass at each other, for example. Rachelle Ann Go sings the lyrics of First Burn in my head. It’s gotten quite annoying.

“I don’t understand how you won. You’re not good at anything.” Masquerade decides to say to Sammy, irritating her even more.

“Can you just stop? I was the one who decided to bring you here. Be grateful. Also, it just happens that I can shoot arrows right in the middle of a circle made of styrofoam. I won the challenge. Just because I told you to be more sympathetic doesn’t mean you have to get all mad at me. Go and pout somewhere else.”

Masquerade opens his mouth to reply, but he is interrupted by someone getting to the voice part first. 

“Fire! Fire! There’s a fire! Over there!” Icarus screams. 

I glance off into the distance and notice a rather large fire over by the archery equipment. 

“What the heck! Our perfectly good equipment is going to get ruined. Do you know how long it took to make all of it? And how much it cost?” Snow complains.

“Oh hush. Let’s try to put it out instead of complaining.” I reply.

And so we do.


A fire. What a perfect distraction for a murder. The murderer thinks to themselves. But they don’t know how to lure their victim to behind the fire. With a stroke of luck, Masquerade ends up strolling around the corner. He’s in perfect range. The murderer picks up a bow and arrow just as he notices them. 


“Me.” The person replies, venom dripping through their voice. “Have a nice death… not.”

The murderer smiles and retracts the arrow, aiming towards his heart. They notice the necklace. They realize they cannot succeed if they shoot him in the heart. Slowly, the murderer shifts the bow, just a few inches upward. 

“Please-” Masquerade begins, but it is too late.

The murderer has already released the arrow. It lands square in the AE’s head, plunging past the skull. He winces and collapses to the ground. Life begins to drain out of him one drop of blood at a time. 

“Ta-ta.” They say before dropping the bow and escaping, leaving Masquerade to die. 


Why did the fire start, why did the fire start? Icarus contemplates in his head. The lyrics of First Burn try to penetrate his mind, but he pushes them out. There is nothing here that could have started it. It has to be some sort of magic. He worries. Once again, the Hamilton song infiltrates his thoughts. This time, it is harder to get rid of it. I’m the one who started it. The song started it. Magic made it happen. I might have killed someone. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Icarus realizes.  The magic is strange here…


Liberté, Snow, and I manage to put the fire out. A few styrofoam targets have been ruined, but all of the other equipment seem to still be in good shape. Lucky for Snow. Strangely, a lone bow sits out of the storage containers. I look up and am greeted by the horrific sight of Masquerade with a bloody arrow sticking out of his forehead. The right side of his body is on fire. Flakes of ash flutter off the burnt pieces. I wince and look away. Apparently, Liberté sees him too and tries to herd the campers away from the sight. But people are nosy. They see through the commotion. Sammy breaks free first and joins him by the non-burned side.

“No! My poor AE! Who did this?” She says, turning to glare at everyone in the group. 

No one answers. 


Thoughts race through Sammy’s head. Memories of the last conversation she had with Masquerade. She knows she threatened to kill him. She knows how this looks to everyone. They think she did it. Sammy would never kill Masquerade. He was insufferable, of course… but that wasn’t all of him. He is- was so sweet at times, when he wanted to be. When he could be. He was a great alter ego. He felt like a brother. But for some reason, here, he was always Masquerade. He never was Ydris. He never showed the kind, caring side of him. She wondered why, but now that question would never be answered Sammy would never kill Ydris… or Masquerade. She has to convince them all that she didn’t. Sammy’s not a killer… right?


I notice the reactions from the other campers. They are not sympathetic, like they were for Hot Coco. They are of disgust. I can tell they all think Sammy is a killer. All are innocent before proven guilty, but no one really ever follows that standard. 

Sammy stands up, tears gleaming in her eyes. She faces the other campers. 

“I swear I didn’t kill him. I know what you all think… but I’m not a killer. He is- was my AE. He was like a brother. Why would I kill my own brother?”

Nightfall steps forward out of the group and glares at Sammy. 

“You were the one who said you could kill him. That’s pretty suspicious,” They say. “I’m glad I didn’t bring any AEs for you to murder…” 

Nightfall mumbles the last part, just quiet enough for Sammy not to hear. dreamiing steps forward next. 

“I don’t trust you, don’t come anywhere near Felix or Pine. I don’t need them dying on me.”

“Enough of this. Campers, go back to your cabins and wait for your counselor. We will be there shortly.” Liberté says sternly.

Hesitantly, the campers trudge back to their cabins, whispering to each other. Sammy comes up to the three of us. 

“I swear I didn’t kill him. You trust me, right?”

I just nod and put my arm around her shoulder. I don’t want to say anything. Counselors are supposed to be impartial. Anyways, I didn’t know where she was during the fire. She could have been anywhere.

Dead: 2 (Hot Coco and Ydris "Masquerade" Dìomhaireachd, may they rest in peace in the glory of Camp Juniper)
Alive: 19
Suspects: Felix, dreamii, Kitty Cat, Sterling, Icarus, and Luna-Starr
Enemies of Snow: Zachary 
Juniper Leader: Summer and Sammy (tied with one juniper branch each)  

submitted by Basil, Camp Juniper
(January 5, 2021 - 3:08 pm)

Oh wow, a fire! That's intense- actually, this whole part is intense! Poor Ydris... and Sammy, for that matter. This is great, you two, keep it up! :)

submitted by Luna-Starr, age 27 eons, Existential Ponderment
(January 5, 2021 - 9:33 pm)

Things are getting intense! Two deaths, but I don't think Sammy was the killer. Too obvious. As for the person with frizzy hair, I think they're a guardian angel of sorts who appears to people just before they die. So a bad omen... but it really seems like they're just trying to help. Hmm.

Can't wait to see what happens next! 

submitted by Summer, age tau, Nowhere at all
(January 12, 2021 - 12:27 pm)
submitted by New Part Out!
(January 5, 2021 - 3:12 pm)
submitted by New Part Out!
(January 5, 2021 - 3:14 pm)

...Well then. At least... Zach and Sammy are still in. We now also have an important clue! Jamboree- Yves- Mini Masquerade- Whatever you're going by right now, show the evidence!


Uh... Kid? The list of suspects, sometime today. 

{ ...I just watched- read- my brother's death- }

He's an AE, he regenerates.

{Oh, I'm not worried about that. I'm more worried about the fact that he's going to be angry at you and Ivan for placing bets on his death. }

You two did what?

*Looks at Sojo* 

*Looks at Ivan* Oh no-

{ *POOF* }

Uh... Hi Masquerade! How's my favorite kind, forgiving, angelic fellow AE?

{ It's Ydris right now. }


{ No. } 


*After the destruction of Sojokeeynis and Ivan the Russian Emu*

{ Anyway, Yves! Bring out whatever evidence. As usual in Ski Lodges, I have totally and utterly forgotten who killed me like the brutal monster they are, and everything leading up to it. } 

{ Got it, Ydris! So, the only notes he took... "Frizzy hair knows what's up and Sam's probably cleared." }

{ ...He was going to accuse someone for murder with that? }

{ Apparently. } 

{ This is exactly why I say you and I are above the other AE's. }


:( Hello! Caleb Morse here! Since Sammy's lost an AE, she's no longer allowed to enter the Reply posts for this, as she's no longer a simple bystander. But I'm sure she'd want to say how amazing the writing was, how she's crazily determined to avenge Ydris with a few choice words, the way you guys perfectly captured her personality, and how she hoped for the best with Zach. Also, it's an amazing twist to take away our only clue that could possibly lead to the murderer! Thanks for this part! ):

submitted by Sammy Everlast, age Immortal, The Everlasting Mansion
(January 6, 2021 - 8:58 am)
submitted by TOP!
(January 7, 2021 - 1:40 pm)