Earlier this week, I was approached by a Facebook friend about helping out her team for this year’s GISHWHES event. For those not dialed in to these sorts of things, “GISHWHES” stands for “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.” Held each year, it was created and is overseen each year by actor Misha Collins, who I remember as Victor Drazen’s son, Alexis, from several episodes of 24‘s first season, but who currently has a recurring role on the series Supernatural.
Anyway, Mr. Collins has channeled his celebrity toward the doing of good things, and it’s in this spirit that many of the tasks on the scavenger hunt list entail doing nice things for strangers. Examples:
Item #79 – Visit an orphanage, a children’s hospital or a juvenile detention center dressed as Cookie Monster and distribute cookies to the children living there, and capture that visit on video.
Item #84 – Send a military care package. This requires two photos submitted as proof: One image is the box with all the items in it; the other image is you deliver it to the post office.
Item #85 – Ask a senior citizen for their “bucket list.” Help them achieve one of the items on their bucket list. Capture the event on video.
So, how was I pulled into this slice of epic craziness? Simple – one of the tasks, Item #78, reads as follows: Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus.
What’s an elopus? Well, I’m glad you asked:
Basically, if Dumbo and the Kraken had a one-night stand, you might get something like this. I’m thinking the lines to ride it at Disney World would be insane.
With the request made to me by the aforementioned Facebook friend (who, incidentally, also was the one responsible for gracing me with this little bit of awesome), I set to work attempting to concoct a story. Things were a bit hectic at the time, as I was with Kevin and we were in the midst of returning from the Shore Leave convention. I’d seen some jokes about the story from various people on Twitter, and noted a recurring theme…one I’d pondered myself. Realizing I couldn’t just go with the basic premise that this setup seemed to scream, I sat in my too-narrow airplane seat and pondered, and realized in a moment of clarity that I’d been going about it All. Wrong.
I started tapping keys, and this popped out:
DAYTON WARD WROTE THIS
Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and me, standing in line to get into a bar.
We should’ve walked in there by now, but you dragged your ass and now the place is too damned crowded. Did you think you were blazing a trail with this lame idea? You figured you’d find some new, clever take on such an obvious setup, and then slip in a twist ending playing off the fact that I’m an elopus. Wow. That’s original.
Hey. Quit staring at my trunk. My eyes are up here.
Not really working out, huh? Tough shit. Also? I’m tired of being the punchline for these things. I’ve been standing here all day, watching you fumble about for an idea, and what’ve I got to show for it? Eight blisters.
Wait. I see what you did there.
Once I Tweeted (or Facebook’d…I don’t recall which), another friend (yes, I have more than one), contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to write another story for her team. By this time I was home and back to work, so my head wasn’t in that game. Still, I managed to accommodate her request with this bit of scribbling, apparently while maintaining my heretofore unacknowledged fantasy of being reincarnated as an elopus:
DAYTON WARD WROTE THIS, TOO
Misha Collins? Yeah, I’ve got a bone to pick with you.
What’s this bullshit about sticking me in a story with you and the Queen of England? You understand I’ve got important elopus stuff to be doing, right?
Plus, everybody’s going with the “walk into a bar” bit for this scavenger hunt things of yours. Yawn. Sure, it’s a thrill and honor to share a few pints with you guys, though I was a little bothered when the Queen insisted on us going to that male strip joint.
But, after the zillionth time we went through it thanks to some other writer, and after all the drinking and chatting and occasional awkward glances at the strippers, I couldn’t help but notice how neither one of you pulled any muscles reaching for the check.
What the hell is up with that?
And there you go. I had a bit of fun with the stories, made some people smile along the way, and (hopefully) contributed just a little bit toward a good cause. If I’d had more time, I might well have agreed to write a few more stories, as I ended up getting about a dozen such requests, all told. It’s worth noting that every request I received–every single one–was polite and thoughtful, and even when I had to decline someone they remained gracious and good-spirited, in keeping with the tenets of “the hunt.” For me? I was flattered to be asked for help in the first place.
You can read more about writers far and wide who also assisted various GISHWHES teams (including my pals Kevin Dilmore and David Mack) with this great little roundup post by Twitter user “@GreenSamaa“:
To everyone participating in this year’s GISHWHES, I hope you had fun, made some friends, and did something nice for fellow humans and not-humans. Good luck to everyone participating and competing for the grand prize. Maybe I’ll see some of you again next year.