Turbo Survivor II, Challenge 14: Small-Town Diner

The story takes place in a diner in a very small town.  Though nothing ever happens there, this story contains what will be the biggest, most life-altering moment in all of the lives of everyone present, from the staff to the customers.
TIME LIMIT: 40 Minutes

Joey’s Place was a very small diner. But it was a nice diner. It had a long countertop, and booths, and lots of chairs. There was a payphone in the corner that nobody used, but it looked good there on the wall. Best of all, almost everything was bright red and yellow.

Sal cooked breakfast for everyone eating. Lucy was the waitress. Everyone liked Lucy.

“Sal, table one wants a stack of hobo wallets!” she would say. Sal cooked up five pancakes. They were delicious! Sal was Joey’s nephew by the way. Nobody ever saw Joey. Some say that Joey never existed. They say “Sal’s Place” just wouldn’t have sounded as good.

Ted and Ned came to the small diner every day. Mostly they played checkers. They drank coffee too. The coffee wasn’t very good but Ted and Ned didn’t care. They just liked hangin’ around. And Sal and Lucy liked that they hung around.

The other regular customer was Jake. He always ordered three eggs sunny-side up, a chocolate muffin, and a side of ketchup. Jake was kind of strange, but he kept quiet and paid his bill.

One day Sal was cooking pancakes and eggs and grits and Ted was beating Ned in checkers (though Ned usually won) and Jake was dipping his chocolate muffin in ketchup. Everyone was happy. Then out of the sky came a big red fireball!

“Oh no! A meteor!” Lucy screamed. And Sal said, “Okay, one bacon stuffed donut coming up!” But Sal didn’t realize it was a real meteor Lucy saw. And then the meteor hit the diner. Kaboom!

“Joey, time for bed!”

“Okay, Mom, just a couple minutes!” he yelled back, cleaning up his Legos. “I just gotta find Lucy!”

K: We’ve seen this story play out quite a few times at CdL, but I think this one did a particularly good job of capturing the sense of childlike wonder that attempts before have usually failed to do (a neat trick, since this is Turbo and you didn’t get to work for very long on it). The color scheme and pay phone bits all make perfect sense in retrospect, and the ridiculous foods come across as the ideas of a little kid. I like this more the more I think about it. BRONZE

MN – What a fantastic children’s story. Except for the fireball. Also, two in a row with death from above (and the one before that with Death from beyond? Weird.)? The language was perfect for a children’s book, so bravo there. I wish the whole story had been self-contained, because stepping outside certainly put a nice bow on things, but it broke what had been the strength of the story, which was the buy-in you created for this narrator telling a story to kids. SILVER

So one judge knew what I was going for, which was an internal monologue of a child. The other judge thought I was just writing a children’s story, which if it were true, his criticism would be spot on. That said, he was the one who gave me the higher medal. Fun!

What isn’t fun is that I didn’t get immunity. Erik (who has been the best writer so far this season) and I each got five votes. There will be a write-off to determine who advances. I don’t have any tiebreaker here, so I have to get gold medals from both judges. Wish me luck!

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