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)
submitted by to the top, and beyond!
(January 7, 2021 - 6:30 pm)
submitted by tOp
(January 9, 2021 - 4:07 pm)
submitted by tippity top
(January 9, 2021 - 9:45 pm)
submitted by TOPsy Turvy
(January 11, 2021 - 2:38 pm)
submitted by top
(January 11, 2021 - 7:35 pm)

Day Three — Morning

“Death! Death! The tragic death of a young man, the happiest years of his life stolen from beneath his feet. DEATH!” Liberté screeched, gesticulating wildly. She was lazily on the couch in the center of our private lounge. The couch is neon orange and looks like something that came from the ‘70s and would make everyone happier if it had never left. After a moment of contemplation, Basil decided not to inform her about how badly her dress clashed with the thing. It would make everyone happier.

“You know, Liberté, it was only a day or so ago that you were extremely excited about a funeral and had no care in the world if a little girl was struck down dead in the middle of your summer camp,” commented Basil, but his companion ignored him, pulling a blanket over her and kicking her legs onto the arm of the couch.

“Yes,” she mused, “I suppose so. But Masquerade was handsomer. Death! Tragic death!”


Outside of the locked door to the lounge, Samantha Everlast curled her fingers into a tight fist, the fingernails of her right hand pressing uncomfortably into the soft skin. She hardly noticed the pain. “How dare they! How dare they talk about him in that way! I wish I could just...” She raised her left foot and raised it to kick the hard wooden door, but her companion raised their hand and let it fall comfortingly onto Sammy’s shoulder.

“I know, Samantha. It’s infuriating. Their cold, uninterested voices as they discuss the tragic fate of your friend cut just as sharply into my heart as yours. But there’s nothing we can do that wouldn’t draw attention to our presence. And although there is no rule against our standing outside of their private room, I’m certain that the charming Miss Liberté would not take kindly to our eavesdropping.”

Sammy dropped her foot to the ground, and the rest of her body followed it with a dull thud. A moment later, her back was shaking with poorly suppressed sobs. “I… I don’t know what to do. Masquerade could be a pest sometimes… but he was my AE. My Alter Ego! And I loved him. He wasn’t always like that. He could be so wonderful sometimes.”

“I know, Samantha,” said her companion. The killer. “But you must also remember that somewhere in this camp, there is a person who murdered your AE. And, Samantha?”


“I think you can find the killer. Now, listen carefully. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty smart. I think you are too. And I think that, together, we might be able to track down the murderer.”

“And avenge Masquerade?”

“And avenge Masquerade.”


It was risky, true. The killer knew that. But, perhaps, with Sammy on their side, they would find a way to destroy all the pesky evidence against them, and maybe, on top of that, find a way to incriminate Samantha Everlast. She deserved it, after all. She had said that she would kill her Alter Ego. And only one person was allowed to do killing. Only one. Otherwise, it would be quite unfair.


Ten minutes later, the campers were gathered in the courtyard of the main lodge, shivering in the cold morning air. “Remind we why we decided that eating breakfast outside was a good idea?” Snow whispered to Basil as they processed into the dining pavilion, carrying platters of pancakes, syrup, berries, and, for some reason, a large amount of ketchup and mustard.

“Liberté wanted to. She said it was traditional and built character.”

“I think she’s been reading too much Calvin and Hobbes,” Snow responded. As she spoke, a puff of steam flew out of her mouth, and she examined it closely. “I’m a fire breathing dragon!” She laughed, plonked her tray onto a table, and ran around, laughing and pretending to be various mythical creatures at once.

Summer, who had been sitting alone at the table, gazed curiously at Snow, her head tilted to one side. “She’s only seven, you know,” Basil said quietly. “Despite her utter scariness and maturity, she’s just a little kid. I’m glad to see her acting like one.”

“Yes,” Summer replied, her voice oddly shaky. “Have you ever read Crooked House?”

Before Basil could respond, Sammy rushed over, her pastel hair floating oddly around her head, dragging Kitty, Sterling, Luna and Icarus behind her, and plopped down beside Summer. All three of the campers automatically shifted as far away from her as they could, but were somehow unable to escape.

“So,” said Sammy.

Basil quickly walked away.

“I’m not the killer. But I am going to kill the murderer because they killed my AE and you are going to help me. Each of you are somehow connected with the deaths. Kitty Cat and Sterling, you two were friends with Hot Coco. The girl who died. Summer and Luna were with her when she died. And Icarus started the fire that brought everyone away from the archery range where Masquerade died. I’m never going to forgive you for that, by the way, but for now, I’m going to try to suck all the information I can out of you.”

Reluctantly, Summer spoke. “I don’t think I saw anything important. I didn’t get over to Coco until she was already dying. I was just listening in on other people’s conversations.”

Sammy perked up her ears. “That’s actually kind of good. So, you were listening to people. Which means that you were paying attention to who didn’t do the murder. Process of elimination! What did you hear.”

“Oh. Uh… Nightfall and Inari were talking about corn. They didn’t do it. I was listening to them ever since we arrived here. Ari and Braoin were talking about chocolate. But I wasn’t paying attention until later, either of them could have done it easily, I think.”

Icarus shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“I was with Coco when she died,” Luna said. “I had been… um… near her for a lot of the afternoon. Behind her in line and stuff. Completely accidental, of course, but I saw everything. Except when the poison got put in the ice cream.”

Kitty Cat stared at her. “Why do you think the poison was in the ice cream?”

Luna’s eyes shifted, and Sammy screamed. “You! You murdered Coco! You murdered my AE!

All around the little group, eyes narrowed and people gasped. Luna? Was Luna-Starr the murderer? Someone spoke up, “I know she likes writing murder mysteries. Maybe she decided that writing wasn’t enough.” Basil tried to calm the crowd, but Snow-the-dragon ran around maddening people and turning it into a mob.

Somehow, in the chaos, Icarus slipped away from the pavilion, his heart pounding madly. How did they know that he was the one who started the fire? What would they think if they found out why? Would they hate him? Would they think he was going crazy? Maybe he was. How does a single song about burning letters make you turn into an arsonist? It wasn’t right. He was probably going to get thrown out of camp. It wasn’t fair.

“I know,” someone whispered behind him. “I know what you did. I know why you did it.” He whirled around, but no one was there. Was he imagining things? Maybe he was traumatized, and it was messing with his brain. Or was there something going on at Camp Juniper? Something deeper and more evil than even a murderer.



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 Liberté, Camp Juniper
(January 12, 2021 - 3:19 pm)

If I'm actually the murderer because I was tired of writing about murder and just wanted to do it, then this will be my all-time favorite ski lodge ever. XD

But I am serious, this was lovely! When Sammy accused me I was trying so hard not to laugh out loud. I think we can remoe Icarus from the suspect list. 

submitted by Luna-Starr, age 27 eons, Existential Ponderment
(January 14, 2021 - 9:59 pm)
submitted by Day Three Part One
(January 12, 2021 - 3:21 pm)
submitted by top top top!
(January 14, 2021 - 10:52 am)
submitted by top
(January 14, 2021 - 2:02 pm)
submitted by top top top!
(January 20, 2021 - 11:24 am)
submitted by to the top, and beyond!
(January 21, 2021 - 11:00 am)
submitted by toptoptoptoptop
(January 25, 2021 - 10:49 am)
submitted by TOPhat
(January 26, 2021 - 10:46 am)

Day Two— Afternoon

The rest of the morning went by rather quickly for Luna. She had been hustled away by Basil, Liberté, and Snow, and, while it was rather an honor to have all three of the camp leaders fussing over her, the excitement was rather dampened by the fact that at least half of her camp-mates, many of whom she considered to be her friends, believed she was a cold-blooded murderer.


Or a hot-blooded murderer, maybe. She wasn’t quite sure.


There seemed to be only one way to be certain of her innocence. Proving someone else to be guilty. Shut up in a private room, safe from the blame of the other CBers, she began to work.


And also to eat brownies, because that is good for thinking and also she was hungry. There hadn’t been much chance to eat after everyone started accusing her of murder.



Zachary was stunned. He had never been particularly close to Masquerade, besides a certain wariness when he got into one of his “moods.” But still, they were both Sammy’s AEs, and that made a certain bond that most people never had. Not quite siblings, exactly, but something else, something other. And the death of his companion had shaken Zach a bit more than he cared to admit. Nothing was supposed to happen like this. This was a vacation, a carefree trip to a summer camp, a break from reality. And yet he needed a break at that moment. Badly. That was why, when his cabin leader ushered him into Masquerade’s funeral, he snuck away. 


“I have to use the bathroom,” he whispered to the person beside him, not noticing who it was.


Only two people saw him leave.


Both of them followed.



Icarus didn’t know what to do. It was because of him that the murderer had the opportunity to end Masquerade. It wasn’t right that he should be there, mourning the dead AE, instead of doing some sort of twisted penance. That was why, when he saw Zach get up to leave, he trailed behind him. Maybe he could comfort the bereaved or something. Anything to make his guilt lessen a bit.



Luna was ready. She had a notebook (already half filled with notes pondering over who to end next in her own ski lodge), a pen (stolen from the camp director’s private lounge, somehow she had forgotten to pack her own), candy (bribery is always useful, and if it wasn’t she could always eat it herself), a bag roughly sewn from two old t-shirts (for the kidnapping), and a stick (no explanation necessary). She would sneak into the funeral, bribe Icarus to follow her using the magical bargaining power of three-month-old Fun Size Twix bars, throw a bag over his head, and kidnap him into the woods, where she would interrogate him, discover what he knew about the murders, and discover the killer. Then, with a few people backing her up, she would confront the killer and save all the CBers, clearing her reputation. Then poke everyone with a stick. Because that’s what you do when an entire camp of people accuses you of murder.


She slipped off her shoes, and exited the room, her fuzzy, blue socks making no noise on the stone floor.



They all collided at once. Luna, tiptoeing sneakily towards the multi-purpose room where the funeral was held, Zachary creeping away, and Icarus behind him. Only the frizzy-haired camper stayed at a safe distance, watching warily as the three campers stared at each other in confusion.


“What are you doing here?!” Luna demanded of Icarus. “I was supposed to be kidnapping you!”


“Why were you following me?” Zachary whispered fiercely to Icarus.


Icarus yelped. “Don’t end me!”


“I wasn’t going to end you. Just… bribe and kidnap you, then drag you into a probably dangerous forest.”


“So… you were going to end him slowly?”


“I always knew she was dangerous!”


“No, no.” Luna sighed. What had happened to the AEs of old? Why were these two being so… reasonable? Or at least non-insane? “I was going to kidnap you to find the murderer. And prove that it wasn’t me. Because I’m not a killer. And I thought you might know something. Because you lit the fire.”


“I was hypnotized! I’m not an accomplice. Blame Eliza Hamilton.”


“I am so confused,” Zachary complained, but everyone ignored him. He was only a bereaved Alter Ego, after all.


“Hypnotized?” Luna asked, her mind working furiously. Perhaps, if there was hypnosis happening… “What do you mean, hypnotized? Like, someone waving a golden pickle in your face, or real, actual hypnosis, or something else? This could be really important.”


Icarus was about to reply. Really, he was, no matter what his brain was saying about keeping guilt to himself whenever possible. After all, Luna could help But, before he could convince his brain that it would be a good idea to tellhis mouth to open, behind him, someone gasped. He whirled around, but saw only the door to the multi-purpose room slamming shut and the sound of someone shouting “No!” Then, chaos.



Inside the multi-purpose room, Basil Ambrose gazed in terror as a stone sailed through the air, smacking Felix in the back of his skull. He yelped, then choked, and fell, blood dripping onto the white carpet. Beside him, dreamii let out a small involuntary gasp and stumbled to her knees beside him.


“No,” she whispered. “Oh, Felix.” A single tear traced its way down her cheek and fell to the ground, mixing with the red stain slowly spreading beneath them. On the other side of the dead AW was Pine, the two boys’ hands still clasped together. Pine knelt slowly, unbelieving.


“Is this a dream?” he murmured. It was like every nightmare he had ever had. There was Felix, lying before him, his body so small, so fragile and easily broken. There was the blood, dripping, dripping. There was dreamii, her eyes wide and full of tears. There were the people surrounding them but never with them. And then there was nothing but Pine, and Felix and Death.


And this time, it was real. There was no waking up, no soft, comforting bed or warm blankets, no dreamii to press cookies on him and say everything was all right, no Starlight to gently fuss over him, and, above all, no Felix to hold him tightly and remind Pine that he was strong.


He tried to scream, but there was no sound, no air in his chest and no one to come and save him from this living nightmare.


And then...


“My carpet!” Snow screeched, and knelt down, caressing the soft, cheap fabric. She began yelling at dreamii, who was still bent over her AE and crying softly, but even Snow’s shrill shrieks were drowned out by the yell that followed.


“Ohmygoodness, DAVID AND GOLIATH!”


“There’s no David here.”


People started talking all at once. Something about Bibles and slingshots and giants; a small yelling match about the price of white carpet and whether or not blood could be washed out, and if it even mattered when FELIX WAS DEAD; something about being late for photography class; and the sound of someone hysterically yelling for their mother. None of it really mattered though, not to anyone, although Summer’s sharp ears picked out every word.


Basil looked up and across the room. There they were, the other one. The hair wasn’t fixed, it was still a frizzy mess. They hadn’t done anything, hadn’t followed their agreement. “You promised,” he mouthed. The other person mouthed something back, but he ignored it. Someone was dead, and nothing had happened to prevent it. Liberté and Snow were too air-headed to help, and the one person on his side hadn’t kept their end of the deal.


This wouldn’t be good.


“Well,” Liberté said. “I guess we have another funeral to plan.”


Dead: 2 (Hot Coco, Ydris "Masquerade" Dìomhaireachd, and Felix, 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 and dreamii.
Juniper Leader: Summer and Sammy (tied with one juniper branch each)  
This week, we at Camp Juniper are asking you to take a photograph. It’s that simple! We would prefer it if your photograph is somewhat nature-based, but it is your choice. I know that some people have more advanced photography equipment and skills, however, we still want all of you to do your best and participate.
Rules: Each CBer/AE may turn in one submission. We will not accept re-submissions. Please have your submission in by Friday, January 29, 2021.
submitted by Liberté, Camp Juniper
(January 26, 2021 - 5:12 pm)