I wrote the opening to “Congratulations On A Lifetime Of Wonderful Stabbing” from scratch a few different times until I got it right. These 3 openers are the ones that didn’t make it!
Attempt 1: Gerald’s POV
Five minutes. That’s all the time he had before the mob outside smashed through his final defenses and swarmed the suite with a ferocity nothing in the galaxy could repel. Three hundred seconds and they’d be tripping over themselves, scrambling to have his boss within target range. The ornately-patterned blast doors were constructed from pure adamantium—one needn’t sacrifice aesthetic for security, the hotel’s sales rep had insisted—but proved completely useless when it came to blotting out the rising din just a few feet away. He could hear the murmurs, the laughter, a few exasperated sighs. An officer with multiple commendations for bravery, Gerald Nolana prided himself in remaining calm and focused no matter what dangers lay ahead. But not even leading humanity’s forces to victory against the Raonerth Empire compared to the stress of this moment.
The numbers crawled, hungrily lapping up the tension in the room. Nolana’s soldiers, who somehow managed to look striking and out of place in their dress whites simultaneously, held their positions and waited.
“Engage,” Nolana whispered gravely. Two privates nodded and marched up to the blast doors, aligning themselves on opposite sides. They grasped the handles, silently counted to three, and welcomed their fate.
A smattering of polite applause rounded the corner. “I think we’re moving!”, Gerald heard someone with a reptilian accent hiss. A diplomat, obviously. From the back of the line, a discount noisemaker hooted the sole note it was capable of producing, excitement and joy baked into the sound. “I’ve waited my entire career for this moment,” gasped an elderly woman in an extremely loud plaid scarf. “What do you reckon he’s WEARING?”
Attempt 2: Zzyzwyck’s POV
She’d witnessed energy this beautifully chaotic only once before, on one of her first installations aboard a planetary research vessel. The ship had been soaring through deep space for days when the stars slowly collided. She remembered the torrents of brilliant, vivid light dancing out of the destruction, its splendor too grand to be contained within the small space the universe allotted. Scanning the Sol Marriott’s Grand Ballroom now, she sensed that same excited, anticipatory rush in everyone’s heartbeat—well, from the guests who had hearts, of course.
Celestial collisions were rare…but Admiral Stabby—skilled politician, legendary warrior, and the universally-beloved champion of the human race—could only retire once. After the riots erupted, a few of the Admiral’s lackeys originally proposed throwing multiple galas in order to pacify Earth; Marriott’s sales team insisted that the ballroom’s capacity of 500 bodies was not flexible. The Council on Fighting For Your Right To Party scrapped the idea after Ziltoid pointed out that guests invited to the first retirement ball might not consider “their” ball to be authentic, knowing that subsequent retirement parties were to follow.
Zzyzwyck had smoothed the matter by volunteering to livestream the event across the galaxy. She could sense tomorrow’s migraine already beginning to form…but if that was the price for peace on Earth, it seemed like a reasonable risk.
Attempt 3: Space Lady Whistledown’s POV
You will understand, dearest Gentle Reader, that the delay in publishing these papers was inevitable. As most of you discovered on Saturday afternoon, Intergalactic Marriott #857 (New Genesis system ) proved unable to livestream the galaxy’s most anticipated soirée in the past century; its network crashed while struggling to accommodate trillions of users like yourselves.
But fear not, because Yours Truly was fortunate enough to obtain an invitation! It is a most arduous task, ensuring that the record printed here truly captures the splendor and the energy—while this author is Known to you for their integrity and their sparkling dry wit in equal measure, I am only human, with a mere five senses on which to rely. Were Admiral Stabby’s beautifully chaotic retirement party a dish, it would require an additional five senses to fully digest every delectable detail. Yet for you, faithful Stabbyites, I persevered—let us make our debut at the feast together, for all shall now be revealed!