Some very good stuff in this round!
Edguy - nice use of multimedia. If it was an original piece it might have won this round!
Hexnut - loved this one, especially since I practice qigong on occasion. Great sense of humor, nicely handled twist, the narrative works great as a mini-story. The characters really come across even in a few short lines.
Chaosman - really liked the concept, the punchline, and the way it responded to the prompt, but found it a little light on narrative.
Drache - funny that your bookerdash entry was so apt --maybe I was subconsciously influenced in my prompt!
I thought your entry was strong and well written. I also liked your outside-the-box take on the prompt. It's true, however, that the format is so often tied to a surprise ending that not having one felt like a bit of an anticlimax --I kept feeling I must have missed something.
insp - It's no secret I'm a sucker for your writing. In fact, I tried hard not to be impressed by this one, but I failed. Everything was sharply delineated, and I was blind-sided by the twist in a way that made me re-evaluate my own gender assumptions.
OKAY, insp, I really didn't want to declare you the winner, but I have to. You should submit this one somewhere.
Hexnut, you were a very strong contender. In the end, I picked insp over yours mainly because I thought her entry was more convention-defying than yours. But I'd love to read something longer about your characters. They reminded me a bit of the "Myth Adventures" series of books that I loved in my youth.