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the trailer 7 anthology Murphy Belknap Raphael Coleman Chloe Constant Azure DasGupta Arden Gini Jennifer Goodman Olivia Guerra Sairah Hyman Luis Lazcano Torres Elizabeth Maulding Gavin McKinley Saba Merchant Robert Peterson Hannah Ray Clark Rice Cinha Sy Khirin Washington Aaron Watkins Emma Zamoscinski


Table of Contents 3

2 6 10 15 19 25 30

37 43 50 56 70 72 81

85 91 102 112 116 121 125 126

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PREFACE C. H. Adams

bibliomancy

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DEATH, BLOOD, AND ATONEMENT by Aaron Watkins The sky had a depiction of death on the horizon, the roads stained with the bloodshed of thousands of warriors who died believing in the bringing of the Meiji era, and countless more men arduously inflicting their lives to protect their way of living. Among the deceased and the halted turmoil there was one among the waves of the now colorless bodies of the misfortuned. Showered in blood barely alive, distraught by the Imperial’s way of shedding blood for the purpose of achieving an era of peace. The horrid image of what he had done, what he had

become had finally manifested in his damaged perception of the world around him. He was just another one of the governments dog’s, merely a pawn for the purpose of sacrifice. “No longer, Never again”, he told himself. He vowed to never shed a single drop of blood for anyone or anything for as long as time would transpire. He had received a serious underlying wound on his right cheek, this would be a reminder for what he had once stood for and what he had become, and a reason to never go back to the monstrous ways he had once been consumed in. Amid the piling bodies of soulless men who once roamed these fateful lands, walked a passionless survivor of the atrocities committed by those who he once regarded as “brother”, and those who he once called “rebel”. He had the presence of a fallen warrior yet he was very much alive. Everything he had once believed in, everything he had once held dear to him was seized from his existence. The man with the scar had recognized him. Both men met gazes and for that moment realized that they held no disdain in their hearts for one another. The unknown survivor began to utter the painful words that he had realized accompanied the memory of the man that stood in front of him. “You crippled my reality, took 6


everything I held dear from me, all these years I’ve longed for this seemingly forever awaited moment and I wonder why of all times that I can’t find it in myself to just end your life as you stand right here in front of me”. The vowed man’s eyes hooked the tainted grounds in shame of what he had regrettably came to recollect. The vowed man began to look at the man he had so deeply wounded. The words he tried to utter out of his mouth wouldn’t come, he didn’t

know what to say. An unbridled silence took the once lively battlefield. The only conflict here was now the resentment between a personal grudge the unknown man had seemed to be longing to resolve.

“I’ll uphold everything, I’ll take every responsibility, I’ll harbor every amount of hatred you hold for me. If you wish to cut me down where I stand so be it, I will not deny you your vengeance. Exact what you have so avidly needed for all these years!”. As the sun went down the battlefield was cloaked in darkness this void became the means for an inevitable retribution. The unknown man’s resolve began to waver, his eyes became abhorrent. It’s as though his eyes became red enthralled in the bloodlust of the opportunity he had been granted. His hand gravitated towards the hilt of his Kodachi. The man held his scabbard and unsheathed the metal instrument of death he had once regretted to wield. He manifested his hatred in his sword and pointed it straight towards the vowed man. The unknown man started to get into a stance the vowed man formally recognized as the Gatotsu only used by the Shinsengumi in battle. The unknown man whispered to himself “Aku Soku Zan”. The vowed man realized what this was and prepared himself for his impending demise. It only took a split seconds, the thrust from his Kodachi began to pierce the air around them, slightly making a shriek as though it was from a bird. Both men let out simultaneous screams of devout resolve. The sound of flesh being cut had taken the battleground one last time. The

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two man looked at each other in solidarity. The Kodachi had pierced the vowed man’s cheek, the same cheek where the scar was left for his reminder of his flawed perception. Now making a cross-shaped scar, the unknown man had wavered in his resolve to kill the man that stood in front of him. “I couldn’t bring myself to give my selfish desires its own unjust satisfaction. I can see the repentance in your eyes Kaede. You are no longer the Hitokiri Battousai that once

roamed these lands in search of blood, you aren’t the manslayer that once had the sole intent of killing for unachievable peace. This doesn’t accuse the fact that I can never forgive you for killing the men I called my kin, the Shinsengumi. I found myself among the sheep in this world and had a place to truly reside. But your imperialist government saw us a threat towards their claim of a new era”. Kaede looked down in despair and told the man “I have stuck my fangs in every corner of Japan’s lands, there is no way to atone for all that I have done for the past 10 years, I thought killing was a means to forge a better world, I thought the blood spilled was a way to bring about peace. In the end I was as wrong as the government I associated with for all these dreadful years. I vow from this day forward I will only lend my sword to the citizens of this country that are unfortunate enough to come in the path of the evil that I once was. I put my life on this, these two scars will be a remembrance of you and everybody that has been killed and demeaned on account of all these horrendous years. Fujita if only this could mean anything remotely to forgiveness for you, but all I can say is I’m sorry”. “I can’t accept your forgiveness, especially on behalf of all my comrades you have slain”. Fujita

reaches behind his back and pulls out a sword from his belt. “You can forgive me by wielding this sword for the rest of your days, it’s a Sakabatō, the blade is reversed so that it can never pierce another human being. Uphold your promise with this means of protection for the unfortunate at your side”. Kaede took the reverse blade sword that was bestowed upon him by the

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same man that resented his presence most in the world. The two men exchanged one last glance at each other, and didn’t know if they would ever meet again. The moonlight’s glare started to arise high in the sky and focus down the path that Kaede would soon be taking to redemption. The two men walked seperate ways to one another's avail. Only shells of which they once were, but indefinitely set on their paths. Years passed and the Bakumatsu was nearing its final days. Paving way for a new era of pronounced peace. The Meiji Era, a proclaimed peaceful period of Japan, ironically carved by the bloodshed of thousands of fallen Tokugawa Shogunate’s gripping their way of life by any who opposed their truth and the Imperialist Government whom wanted nothing more than the advancement of their idealistic Meiji Government. Kyoto once a proving ground for the determined conflicts of men with ideals greater than them, painted with the blood of warriors and innocents alike had become a city of peace and beauty. Cherry Blossoms swift and gentle piercing the breeze as was the many wakizashi that were wielded by the misfortuned men of the Edo Period.

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A WINTER WAR by Arden Gini The silhouettes of spirits shone red as the flames stretched over the tree line. Though I was now a mile from the blaze I still feared its heat and the ghosts that came with it. Fortunately the ethereal glow illuminated the fro-

zen lake on which I stood, making the forest across the ice visible much like a faint beacon in an ocean. I continued towards the unscorched trees until there was nothing but darkness and the howls of my pursuers could be heard no more. It had been three days since my desertion yet I felt nothing had changed. I was still just as guilty and still walked unpunished. I was still filled with regret and still numb from the cold Finnish winds. Survival was still my motivation and I was still being followed by those who sought vengeance. The only thing 10


that had changed was that I was no longer a member of the Finnish seventh infantry. After only two months of conflict nearly 50 thousand layed dead among both sides. I am of course referring to the fight between Finland and Russia which had begun two months prior in November of 1939. Though the term invasion was used to imply there was a victim and an aggressor, neither side was more ruthless than the other. Each day was defense in depth (or the act of delaying rather than preventing an invasion) in an effort to push back long enough for a treaty to be formed. It was common for men to flee these tribulations though they often found themselves facing further hardships of which it can be argued were far worse. I am of course referring to the weather which was unmerciful and unlike men, never ceased its attack. They didn't call it the Winter War for nothing. Due to the severity of the cold, it was considered a great accomplishment to kill a man as you had thus beat nature in a foot race. These conditions were not my reason for my disbandment however, as I soon became fond of the time I spent thawing my fingers by the fire as it meant someone else had to collect those who lay frozen on the field. No, I chose to escape my horrors and leave that world behind for the simple fact that it wanted me gone. After battle the fields would return to visual tranquility within minutes, however the snow only served to blind us of our deeds, as the voices of men shouting persisted far longer. Every night I would hear these calls and I knew it was only a matter of time before the voices grew even louder. This is what drove me away that night, as while our camp was suddenly overrun and burned at the hands of Russian troops, the voices became too numerous and the flames too intense. Turning my head I felt the heat melt the snow through my hair as I ran for the lake,

leaving the screaming men behind me. Able to evade the flames that night, I then found myself alone for the first time in months. As the sun rose the next day it revealed gray clouds of smoke billowing from our camp almost as if

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a factory had sprung up overnight, though its color being gray meant that the burning had ceased. Though dangerous and intense, this not to suggest that this is a dramatic or unusual occurrence as we had just set up that camp a week prior and would most likely be gone within a few days either in an attempt to advance or avoid enemy attack. What was odd however was that as the day progressed, several distant smoke billows would begin to rise. While these were clearly coordinated attacks, I am not convinced that the organizers were Russian. I believe this was more likely the doing of some omniscient figure who set to deal with us in one grand swoop. This trial of sorts clearly worked as intended, as if what we went through was anything to go by, the number of deaths that night may have been incalculable. The only question I had now was not why this happened by rather why I was chosen to slip away from fate. Perhaps I have not wronged as I believed I did? Lost in thought I soon realized my right foot was baby blue as I failed to take a pair of socks amidst the confusion. Now nearly a day away from camp I would continue my arduous trek through the woods, stopping only once to eat from my bag and relieve myself. I knew not where I was going, but what I was coming from. Just before dusk I found myself down a route which lead directly into a Russian camp. I may have missed it entirely if there hadn't been a single tent which remained unburied amidst the several feet of snow covering the camp. This must have been here for several weeks, as the frosted faces of the men were nearly indistinguishable from the snow that covered them. As I began to dig up the remains and collected supplies, I felt the temperature begin to rise and a realization set in. These bodies were burned, though not as one does by torch. Rather the entire area had been scorched in an wave of heat that left these men burned then frozen

much like a meat locker. Grabbing the last supplies I could, I once again found myself running from camp as the heat grew and melted the snow in my hair. Through the water that ran down my face I saw the lives we took had returned to take mine. The camp erupted in flame which flew towards me. Clutching a pair of socks, I escaped with my life.

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*I paused momentarily to slide my feet into the wool socks which was very energizing. The experience at that camp would leave me with more than warm feet however, as I now knew better than to go sight seeing through graveyards. More importantly, I knew my fate had yet to be decided as I had not been chosen to be spared, but rather my evasion was my own doing. This terrified me as it seemed the spirits were destined to haunt me either until I gave in or my luck ran out. The only choice I had left was to stray from society completely, choosing not to play their game. Now a few miles from the Russian camp, I looked back to gauge my distance, though no smoke was visible. With nightfall fast approaching, I began keeping an eye out for where I could stop and call it a day. As if by coincidence, my pursuit led me face to face with a small, thousandsquare-foot cabin. At last, luck was on my side. The entire cabin appeared dark as there wasn’t a single flake of snow on the wooden structure. Climbing the steps I approached the door which smelled of fresh pine. With my efforts to knock unanswered and the sun now set, I let myself in to find a warm, rather inviting area complete with many furnishings such a bed, pantry, rocker, cupboard, and even a collection of books ready to pass the time away. Untying my shoes and setting my belongings (most of which were Russian) on the floor, I went to straight to bed. Many thoughts entered my mind as I layed there staring at the ceiling, but one would recur more than the others: I had evaded my past and found salvation in this new home. I felt so foolish for wanting retribution, as all I had to do

was leave my deeds behind me and face the future. With so many others dying because they couldn’t see this fact was I honestly expected to lay down with them? It all seemed so comical to me now, and for the first time in a long time I went to bed with content.

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I slept great that night as unlike the thickets of trees which housed me prior, the lack of windows in the cabin prevented me from waking at the crack of dawn. Rising from bed I stood up to further inspect my new dwelling. To the left side of the door stood a small writer's desk, though there was no seat. Perhaps the intention was to use the large rocker which rested near the center of the room beside the pantry and cupboard arrangement. The only form of decoration came in the inclusion of a small lantern which sat fittingly on the bedside table which, along with the bed, was found to the right of the door. Finally, directly across from the door stood a massive book shelf which engulfed the entirety of the back wall, completely capturing your gaze as you entered the room. Moving around the space, under a second inspection I now noticed that though the books were of various shapes and sizes, the hundreds of spines only consisted of the color white, and not a single one had anything written along them. While in many shades and hues, there was not a single inconsistency to this drab pallet. Obviously this made choosing a book to read quite the simple affair as I reached for what was closest and brought it, along with the lanturn, over to the rocker. Setting the light aside I took a seat and began flipping through the book. There were nothing but hundreds of names on every page, for hundreds of pages, in hundreds of books, with each name belonging to a different dead man. The pages held not only Russians who died at Finnish hands but also Finnish who stood against the aggressors as I ran from duty. “Punishment,� I said as I set the book back on the shelf, ceasing their screams for a moment as I reached for another. I would sit rocking for hours, reading each name aloud, only looking up once when I heard the sound of the door latch shut. There was no escape, so I kept flipping

pages and the lanturn continued to burn.

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MISGUIDED BY DARKNESS Azure DasGupta Sweat emerged from the peaks of my skin like a cup overflowing with water. As I gracefully drift into unconsciousness, I began to hear a loud, aggressive yet soothing sound. Boom. Boom. Boom. One. two. One. two. It repeated. That sound mysteriously breathed life into my body. The powerful drums surged through my being and I instantaneously felt every piece, part, and particle inside of me dance.

Then suddenly, a peaceful hypnosis awakened me. While my eyes stared wide open, I was still mysteriously blind. The things that I imagined were much more complex than the simple images and objects my mind had recorded. So what was I seeing? In the midst of the mysterious black vacuum of fluid particles, I began to notice a small speckle of light as small as chia seed. As I squinted my blind eyes closer, the speck grew bigger and bigger. The light sucked in the darkness like a whirlpool in the middle of the ocean. The more the light grew, the more my body felt empty. It was as if I was apart of the darkness being stolen by the light. Before I could deduce a logical explanation of the anomalies, the light fully submerged the deep space. Where was I now? I could only see the impressions of odd shapes. No shadows existed, only light. As I floated in the bleak flood of intense light, I noticed a noise. It wasn't the calming drum cadence from earlier. This new sound was familiar as if I've heard it in my memories. Loud, crashing noises. What was it? Then, a loud swoosh flooded my ears. I opened my eyes. I witnessed the unimaginable. I saw myself lying lifeless on the side of the road. I appeared to be smiling enjoying the view until the noises began. Boom. Boom. The bomb exploded in the

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near distance and I heard the shroud whaling and screams pierce my ears. I watched myself scream in anguish as the flames hit my skin. I jumped in the water to soothe the flames and that's when I lost sight of myself. I was gone. My hallucination experience suddenly began to fade to darkness again. I laid unconsciousness

with emptiness for which felt like years. I was nowhere. I felt nothing. I was lost in an infinite cloud of nonexistence. Forever as I floated in space, the realization came to me of what truly happened. Life no longer existed in me. I saw my end and now I was stuck in the forever state of emptiness. As I fell off the earth, nothing was left but my everlasting soul. The black smoke flooded the skies at the break of dawn. No light existed in the air, only a thick smog of darkness. The dancing leaves on the grim trees barely moved as if the sullen spirits made everything perish. There was no sign of life, only the empty remains of once lively flesh. The shroud cries became phantom screams that haunted the small town. A place ever so filled with cheerful spirits was now a grim reminder of a terrible reality. Then a distant voice chopped the air with the emergence of an alarm. “HELP!” The voice continued to yell, “Help,” as if there was anyone or anything that could hear the cries. Under a cabin near a distant road, the voice layed crushed beneath a small apple tree. A girl appeared, dangling onto a few breaths of life. Her crimson body contrasted with the black residue that covered every inch of the ground. Her eyes slowly opened exposing the innocent memory of the petrifying moments before. Shifting frantically side to side, the girl desperately looked for a sign of life. All she could see was spots of red interrupted by leaks of darkness. The girl attempted to move her body but a thick shrub of branches lodged between her legs enfeebling the lasting strength she had left. She limply flexed her taffy arms which mirrored the

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appearance of dying roses. Ignited by the fire, yet weak from the flames. With a big groan, the girl gripped the spiky shrub and strenuously nudged the mass until the bark crumbled into pieces. Charred wood, burnt grass, and the flamed fruit veiled the skin functioning as a barrier from the black pool of destruction. The girl slowly rose to a daunting stance casting a cascade of fallen remnants from the former salubrious tree. The darkness seemed to intensify as the somber

haze swallowed the remaining fraile figure. The girl’s fragile movement synonymously represented the first steps taken by a newborn baby. Although the girl had been abandoned for days without food, water, or medical attention, she still had a strong heart and will to keep moving. She held onto an apple that she strangely found sitting near the tree. The perfectly, unblemished apple shined in the dark smog and became the only sign of prosperity in the face of turmoil. She wondered for days on the dark road sleeplessly looking for others. Is there anybody else, she thought to herself. The girl continuously shuddered “What happened?” into the lonely air. She couldn’t remember anything before waking up underneath the fallen apple tree. In a mysterious atmosphere seemingly alone, the girl noticed a slight movement in the distance ahead. “Hello,” the girl fearfully bellowed. The foreign entity stiffened and appeared to grow larger. It was coming towards her. What was it? The eerie being came closer and closer. The girl’s desperation to locate another living spirit blighted her lurid feelings of the arrival. Before she could make sense of the moment, the figure tremulously appeared inches away. The

black smog that sheathed the unfamiliar being mystically diffused away into space. The girl nervously stood in disbelief at the sight of her eyes. “I’ve found you,” the being whispered in a placid tone.

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The unmasked figure drew closer in an attempt to caress the girl. A focused trail of blazing heat crept across her shoulders all the way down to her hands. The girl unknowingly began to move her arms following the motions of the entity. With the ruby red apple in her palms-the closest companion she had that peculiarly expressed life, she drug her limp arms up to her lips. She jaw -droppingly gazed at the figure in a trance. The blazing heat now hovered over the girl’s face in an intense manner. The girl timidly unlocked her mouth and took a menacingly sweet bite of the crimson apple. Tears began to aggressively descend down the girl’s sullen face as she continued to chew every piece of the apple against her mind’s own inclination to stop. On the last bite, the entity spoke once more for the last time. “I’ve got you now.” The girl immediately awoke to a dark room brimming with the luscious red apples reminiscent of her former breadth of life. The crimson smoke and ardent heat gave the apples a delectable presentation. “Mhm!” the girl murmured. A grin of happiness masked her face while the heat made sweat surge from her skin and tears fall from her eyes. The girl made the wrong turn and in the end became ignited by the fire, and weak from the flames.

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NAMELESS Chloe Constant At the end of her days work, sparse as it was, rosalice made her long walk home, smiling and waving as she passed the familiar faces of street vendors. She met with her twin Rapha at a halfway point by the pier. He did random construction jobs throughout the day to make his money, his skin was cracked and tired but he always met his sister with a sunny disposition. They were truly the best of friends and always walked hand in hand.

That night, the family gathered to compile their earnings for the day and eat. Rosalice had made less than usual, and her parents began to bicker to deaf ears. She stepped out of the one room shack and looked out over the sprawling favela with a sigh. Money was of no importance to her. The whole neighborhood was constantly abuzz with the urgency of starvation, debt and poverty, but rosalice was bored of it. Poor yesterday, today and tomorrow, she felt alone in her longing for the things not monetary. The next morning was a sunday, Rosalice’s favorite. Waking up early with the sun to go to church, she’d put on her finest white linens, which were her finest because they were the only ones she owned, and her one pair of good dress shoes. Slicking her hair back, Rosalice checked her muddy reflection one last time, then went on her way. That morning’s service was particularly stirring. Padre Nando spoke of good and bad omens, loyalty to family and wariness of strangers. The sermon in itself seemed like a bad omen to Rosalice in fact, but she had heard of no strangers. There was no danger to be wary of. Routinely after the mass, the women of the church would gather in the courtyard to nibble on their fruits and mull over gossip overheard in the market.

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“A European man is visiting from denmark,” one remarked “Mida me, i know for certain that man is a german, he’s so blonde!” another chirped. All the women began to snap back and forth as Rosalice listened from a corner.

“I say swiss!” “If anything he’s French!” “None of you know anything about anything!” One woman laughed, the gossip hushed, “the man is in fact Swiss, but what is most interesting is his skin. Marked! From head to toe, that man is decorated with black ink. I know none of you have seen him or you would’ve mentioned his hideous tattoos!” There was an uproar of laughter and disgusted surprise. A European man tattooed from head to toe? Rosalice had never heard of or seen someone so alien. The sun was cocooned in a nest of clouds by sunset. Completely distracted from her work, Rosalice watched the beautiful sky the rest of the day whilst wandering the market streets. Wondering over the strange man she’d learned about earlier, she thought to herself where a foreign man might be staying in a village like this. The neighborhood was all shacks and no hotels, and the church would never accept an ink blotted freak into their quarters. There was, however, one long strip of pearly white villas where the rich stayed. It wrapped around the village like a fence so that the wealthy may overlook the filthy view of merchants.

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Against the better judgement of her brother, Rosalice went out in search of this strange man, expecting nothing to come of it. She wandered around for hours, avoiding the glaring eyes of the rich as she went on her way when finally she did find what she came all this way for. Pale skin marked with vivid ink, platinum hair and crystal blue eyes. Rosalice saw the man standing around the corner, reading, and frightened at the site of his unbecoming visage she gasped

and ran away. The strange man looked up from his prose at the sudden commotion, and watched as Rosalice ran away towards the poorer side of the village. His interest was peaked and he followed, unbeknownst to Rosalice. By the time she had shaken the crooked feeling the man gave her, the sky was black and glittered with stars. She should’ve been home by this time to eat dinner with her family and count out her wages, but she stood at the pier watching the still water. All was silent around her. The racing of her heart slowed to a mellow ticking, with a deep exhale Rosalice closed her eyes and listened to nothing. Her mind no longer foggy, her curiosity soured, she only breathed. The only sensation was starlight on her skin, and then there was none. A shadow had come over her, and she felt the absence of light. Something heavy and grey stood above her in predatory position waiting to pounce, so she closed her eyes with more ferocity. Rosalice heard the light inhale and exhale of a human body, just standing above her. With every breath the stranger took the more shallow hers became. Next came scent, a strong smell of pinewood and alcohol swirled into her nose with a swift movement. The figure had inched closer, much closer. Rosalice began to count down in her head, “ten seconds, and i’ll run,” she thought, but two ice cold hands gripped her throat before she’d even made it to 9. She opened her eyes horrified to find the marked man had followed her. He was grinning with her pulse in his hand, and began to drag her along the pier. She kicked and punched and scratched with all her en-

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ergy, but had no air to scream; soon her body tired and went limp. Her eyes ran with tears, and the man looked into them with resolute contentment. The dragging continued for what felt like hours. Then Rosalice was flopped into the passenger seat of a car. The stranger took his place in the driver’s seat without a word, then sped away

from the pier with a smile, and his cold hand in Rosalice’s. When Rosalice finally woke up, there was no light. There was no crack in the walls for sun to peel through, no window blind to slice the light. she sat alone in a room, enveloped in eternal night. At the furthest corner of the room there was a skinny door, seemingly unlocked. Rosalice stood, her body writhed with pain from the bruises on her back and neck, and stepped towards the door lightly tapping the knob. With a sudden wave of regret, she removed her hand, deciding she’d done enough damage exploring. But her captor danced through the door, and light came spilling out with him. Wearing the same grin he had the night before, he grabbed her hand and twirled her into the next room. It was as if she should’ve been enthralled to see him, he was imitating a lovers dance. Rosalice only stumbled over her newly bare feet as she followed his twisted tango, her blood stilled. They stepped into some sort of studio, quarters clearly designed for an artist. Canvases were strewn about haphazardly, the floor masked in clear tarps, and the walls were lined with picture frames. Each frame was of some strange mutilated body, covered horrendously in the same ink that wrapped the swiss man’s physique. Rosalice seemed to do a double take underneath her

own skin at the sight of those strange people, at the site of destruction. Was that her fate here in clutches of this stranger? She thought over the possibilities, “he’s brought me here to destroy my body, to make me like him, to blacken me,”.

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Tears fell from her tired face again as they had the entire night before. The man wrapped his arms around her half lovingly, half hatefully. Finally he spoke, his voice crept out with a tremor, “You’re perfect, exactly what I came here for,” Rosalice shook her head, still sobbing, “I

had no luck in the upper villas, I thought a girl like you may never appear but alas.” He stroked her face with one thin finger, then turned to the photos on the wall, “I intend to make you beautiful. Then I’ll take you back home with me-” “I’ll go nowhere with you!” Rosalice cried. The man was unshaken, unphased by her desperate remark. He walked over to a grand bureau, large and of rich material. Unlocking its golden clasps he revealed what appeared to be a malformed sort of handgun, tipped with dozens of shining needles. “I imagine your pain tolerance is low, but no screaming will be permitted,” he no longer grinned. “Where will you be taking me?! Where will we go, and...and….you will not mark me you can’ t!”

Rosalice began to shout through her tears, “My family must be looking for me and you’ll be found out!” There was a silence, the man stared back at the girl with a face of stone. It seemed he would

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stand still forever. Rosalice wiped her tears, finally taking a closer look at him. The man was tall, all his features slender, and his lips curled like the edge of fine cutlery. A peculiar face indeed. “What is your name, and where will you take me,” Rosalice whispered. “We are going to Switzerland, for my exhibition- that would be you of course,” he grabbed her face, “my art,”. In an instant, Rosalice missed the simplicity of the favela. The smallness, the routine, all of it, she could do with the haggling and the hunger, but this? To see the world, and Europe at that, but defaced, as property, like a zoo creature, was a nightmare. It soon became clear, however, the choice was not hers. She was strapped to a medical bed, and the man began his art.

“What is your name?” The man asked, his needles digging into Rosalice’s skin. “We are strangers,” she replied, “and I am your canvas I suppose. Consider me nameless,”.

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LIFE IN A WEEK by Cinha Sy The beaming sun poured over Australia every day so far this week. Me and my brother Walden still played outside, in the woods beyond our parents everlasting field. There’s no other houses in sight around us. I ran inside the house to my Mom’s office after it got dark, all you can hear is crickets when the sun goes down. It’s my favorite hangout spot, she has pictures from all around the world, different buildings and flowers plastered along the walls. There’s a huge map covering one wall, with pins showing where she’s been. There’s only one place I cannot touch, it’s her file

drawer, but that one’s locked. “Marissa, who’s this lady holding me?” Our nanny walked over to me and took the picture from my hand. I love looking at my Mom’s travel photos. This one caught my eye, labeled “Syria. 2006”. There was a lady holding me, a chubby 2 year old brown baby, with a warm smile. We had matching necklaces. “Oh, I think that’s your orphanage mom.” The lady looked like me, and my heart sank. My face got hot when I pressed the fact the lady looked like me. “Joram, honey, you know what happened to your mom when you were born.” I took back the picture. I feel unsettled, knowing my birth mom died at childbirth, but seeing her in this picture with me. A yell came from the kitchen, Dad telling everyone dinner was ready. I dropped the picture back into my mom’s files, trying to erase the thought of my birth mom being alive out of my mind. Dad works the graveyard shift at the hospital on weekends, but he’s here during the week, hanging out with me and my brother Walden. Our family is pretty diverse, I’m adopted from Syria, and my older brother Walden is adopted too, my mom calls us her “saved angels”. Walden’s from Britain but he sounds Australian just like everyone here. “You think mama is going to get girls this time?” Walden slurped his cereal. The table looked at Dad and he just raised his eye-

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brows with a smile, “You’re just gonna have to wait til she gets back. You know she likes surprises.” We waited patiently in the living room for our mom to come back from Libya. It felt like the longest trip she’s ever taken, even though it’s only been two weeks. Finally, we heard her car pull into the driveway. “I’ll go get her bags, Mr.Jones you should come help” Marissa sped to the car with a smile across her face. Her and mom are very close, she was there for

Mom when she found out she couldn’t have babies. I curiously peeked out the window, I saw my mom holding a little tiny baby. My excitement grew, I was tired of being the youngest child. Marissa opened the door and mom walked in with a baby wrapped in pink. Then, behind her trailed dad… holding another. Walden’s eyes grew, “Oh, there’s two.” Mom giggles, “Surprise! Welcome our new editions to the family honey, this is Mona.” Mom held out the baby girl towards me, she had a little birthmark on her cheek, kinda resembling the shape of a halo. Dad came up with the other, “This is her twin Marwa.” No birthmark. I wasn’t necessarily excited to see two infants, they’d have to be only a few months old. I felt a new responsibility

on my shoulders when I took turns holding them. For about two days I forgot about the picture of the mysterious woman, until Mom showed me a photo of her holding my new sisters labeled “Libya. 2017”. I went back into Mom’s office, and came out with the same photo tucked behind my back. It was around 9 PM, everyone was asleep except me and Mom. I sat next to her in the living room, thinking of ways this could possibly go. Maybe I shouldn’t question her, I know she’s sensitive but I can’t get the thought out of my head. Let’s just start slow, I asked if the twins had a mommy. Mom looked towards the TV, “ of course honey, everyone has a mom.” and continued to watch her show. I buried my eyebrows, trying to figure out how to get her to answer this properly. She’s always had a way to beat around the bush about things. With my eyes low, I brought the photo from behind my back, folded under my sweaty palm. “Is their mommy.. alive?”. The TV cut off, I rose my face to see my mom staring at me with a questionable face. “Alive, Joram? What’s making you ask

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these questions?” It was silent and I felt an uncomfortable tension as I shifted my hand open. I faced the photo towards her. “Give me that!” the photo was snatched from my hand. “Yes, their Mom is alive, but barely! She’s deathly sick! Looked like the rotting dingo your Dad found in the backyard!” Her anger seemed to keep building, my confidence growing into nonexistence. “Well.. what about my mom. Is my mom still alive? Me and that lady have on the same neck-

lace.” Her faced switched between shock, frustration, and then straight in a matter of 5 seconds, my stomach is queasy. “Your birth mom is dead Joram, I am your Mom, I have been your Mom, and you are making me upset.” I got off the coach and walked to my room with my head down. Feeling unaccomplished and empty. A few days have passed, and the house has been the most hectic I’ve ever seen it. The babies won’t stop crying, all I hear is Mom and Marissa arguing in the kitchen, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. I went downstairs into the kitchen because Marwa won’t stop wailing. “Let me hold her Mom.” I took my baby sister and she calmed down. My mom’s eyes had dark bags under them, she looked sick, and her hair was matted like a birds nest. I wonder what stress she’s been under in the past two days. It’s Friday, Dad’s been at work for about an hour, and he won’t come home until 5 AM. “I’m going to take the babies and Joram on a walk. Just relax Andria.” Marissa opened the front door, black swallowed the field in front of us, the street lights being the only path way. Something was wrong. Very wrong. The last time Marissa took me on a walk after dark was to tell me my Mom was infertile and that’s why we were adopted, but Mom doesn’t know I know. “So what’s been going on. Mom’s not talking to anyone, and when she does- she yells. She looks God awful, Marissa.” She looked at me in silence. Then she busted into silent, massive tears. She whispered like there was anyone around us, but the only thing we were surrounded by was darkness and cricket chirps. “Woah woah woah what’s wrong Marissa?” I rubbed her back. “Joram. Whatever happens from this point on, know that you and your brother are safe. Know that the twins will be safe. But mommy and daddy may not be so

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safe anymore.” My heart dropped into my stomach, a thousand questions surging through my head, all I could do was stutter the beginning of questions I could not finish. All that I could slip out was, “What?” Marissa grabbed my hand and put something in it. “Hide this, make sure Mom never sees you having this. I need you to look through her locked drawer tonight.” Instant worry came across my face, I shook my head no. Marissa insisted, yes, yes, yes. I looked

at the little rusted key in my hand. I’m so confused, but more scared than anything. We walked back home in silence, letting the crickets surround us. Lord knows why this is happening, I just wish I did too. Everyone’s asleep. I crept into Mom’s office, trying to find her drawer in the dark. I used my phone flashlight and shined it onto the keyhole. I put the key in, and my brain formed all these scenarios about what could be in her files, what was Marissa so scared about? I opened the drawer, revealing three files labeled; “Walden”, “Joram”, “M&M”. I looked in Walden’s first. There was a few pictures of him and Dad in Britain, and his birth certificate. But his name was not Walden on there, but Jackson. Who is Jackson? Curious about myself, I put it away and went into my file. My face twisted as I saw a picture of the same lady holding me, but this time she was holding me in the hospital, alive. A deep sadness sunk into my body as tears began the develop. How could this be? How could my mom lie to me? Where is my birth mom? Does she know where I am? I am so confused. I laid out me and the twins files on the floor, sorting out all these papers. Me and the twins don’t have our birth certificates here. All we have are pictures of our parents and us as babies. My flashlight fell upon a folded poster. I opened it carefully, making sure not to tear it, even though it looks very new. A little thud hit the ground and the room fell dark. I sat in silence thinking of the image I just saw on the poster. Two baby faces were surrounded by descriptions of their weight, looks, what they were last wearing, where they were last seen. One had a halo shaped birthmark on their cheek, the other did not, and above them was one statement in big bolded font - “MISSING”. Missing? Missing. My new

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sisters were.. missing? Am I missing? My thoughts were interrupted, replaced with panic when the lights flicked on. Standing in the doorway was Mom. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Mom furiously sped over to me and pushed me to the side, collecting all the papers and pictures into one big heap. I developed a quick, but built up anger, “You

took us! My mom’s alive and you lied! You took the babies!” I started to cry. Mom spat out in a panicked rush, “I saved you all! Walden lived in the slums! You were in danger of freaking

bombs! My baby girls are mine, I knew it when I first saw them!” I snatched the papers from her hand and started to cry of frustration. “Just because you can’t have kids does not mean you take them from their parents!” A hot hand slapped me across my face. “You’re crazy! You’ re a crazy woman!” My Mom got up about to hit me again, but the red and blue lights streaming into the house interrupted her. I ran to the window, not one, but five cop cars swarmed the house. Is this what Marissa was talking about? Did she know the whole time? I’m trying to focus on what’s happening but I’m honestly not sure myself. “Oh my God.” I could see my Mom trembling, I was too. Who am I? What’s going to happen? Everyone was up now, from the yelling. Walden rushed into the hallway, “What’s going on?” I ran into his arms. Mom ran to the twin’s room repeating “My babies!”, over and over again. I heard pounding on the door, getting harder and louder, until the police busted inside. My body felt noodle-like and sore from being yanked from my brother. Everything was happening so fast. Police swarmed the house, some into mom’s office with guns. “Where’s Mom? Where’s Mom?” Walden kept yelling. I tried to explain but he wouldn’t listen. We were taken outside, no cops were answering any questions we spat at them. Who knew tonight was the last night I was able to hold my Mom, before realizing that she’s not only our Mom, but our kidnapper.

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THE AGENCIES MOLE Clark Rice I walked into work that day like I always had had. The highly secure government facility that served as a training ground and mission briefing center for all the long hard years I had been working there. I heard my name called from a distance. “Hendrix” my overseer called from the other end of the hall.

“Commander Keys” I called back. “You know you don't have to call me that any more. You haven't need to call me that since our old days back in the service” “I know sir.” I responded, “Old habits die hard I guess. What can I do for you.” I said mostly looking for something to do. “Well now that you asked, command has come up with something very interesting that we both agree that you would be a great fit for. It's a new kind of mission assignment that would only be used in case of emergency.” “Intent everything we do here in response to an emergency.” I responded. “Yes, but there are some emergencies that dwarf anything we do here on a regular day here. These rare scenarios are why we are forming a team with the bet of the best in the agency.”

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“So how is this deployment different” I asked. “The missions will have teams of fore being deployed with only one overseer. This requires them to have much greater teamwork, and gives them much control over how they execute the

mission. This flexibility combined with the increased number of people on the mission could allow these teams to take out threats on a global scale and could one day even save the world.” Later that day I reported to the meating of the people that would soon compose the members of my team. I was happy to learn that the leader of the team would be the legendary agent One. He had been given this title because he was the first agent and helped found the whole organisation. He was older than any other agent, but had gamed years more experience then anyone else in the field. Next around the table was someone I didn't know much about, the card in front of his seat said Sudin. From what I had heard he was possibly the best agent in the organization. There were stories of him being sent in to whole compounds with no backup and walking out more minute later having completed whatever objective he was given. However, I had also heard that him and the agency had had many disagreements over the years and because of this before many of his missions he will turn off his communications and only turn them back on when the mission was done. The last to walk into the room was one of our most well known agents, Deven Arand. He was the solo playboy type. Me and him had clashed in the past over certain ideals, however we both respected each other for the work we had done for the agency. Once we had all taken our seats we all got silent for a second. Then a TV blinks on at the end of the rectangular room and we all saw familiar but rare face. “Director sir” we all said in unison as though we had been trained to do it since birth. We were all a bit shocked. Each of us had only seen the Director a handful of times and for him to appear for multiple people at once

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seemed to legitimise the whole affair. “You all have been selected because you are the best this organization has to offer. This project has not been and must not be revealed to anyone outside of this room. The reason for this is that I have reasonable intel that this organization not only has a mole in it but has had one for

quite a while. This information came to me from a deep undercover agent who has recently mysteriously disappeared most likely because he was in some way compromised when he gave us the information.” The room seemed to fall even more silent then it was before. Sudin uncharacteristically was the first to speak. “So what are we going to do about this” “That is what I am leaving up to you to decide, you will have access to whatever resources you need and minimal oversight.” With a click the screen went black and everyone in the room began to ponder there next move. This time it was Agent One who spoke up. “Well first we need to come up with a list, suspects, innocents, and in between.” “I agree” I started, “and we need to start with everyone in this room.” That statement seemed to put some tension into the room.

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“Why do we need to do that” Deven said. “If we were trusted enough to be a part of this conversation the director clearly believes it isn't any of us.” The arguing calmed but still subsisted.

“Ok we will start with people outside of this room, but at some point I still believe we need to check the people in this room.” Agent One said. “I still don't agree with checking the people in this room, however before before we discuss that matter we must decide how we will even determine who the mole is.” Replied Sudin. After a long discussion, primarily lead by agent One and Sudin, the group came came to the conclusion that by analyzing an individual’s past and considering there motives they would be able to find the mole. Agreeing on this was momentarily good for group morall, but soon the conversation turned back to the polarizing topic of whether the people in the room should be analysed for being the mole. Two opposing sides quickly revealed themselves, myself and agent One arguing for personal checks of people in the room against Deven and Sudin. The end of the argument only came when agent one asked why it was such a big deal in the first place. “If you are innocent then what reason would you have to prevent us from looking into your past?” Quickly and rather loudly Deven respond, “First of all none of you have the right to know” He was then interrupted by the calm collected voice of Sudin. “The reason I don't want us looking into the pasts of the people in this room is it would slow down the process of searching the

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people outside of this room who I believe to be far more likely to be the mole.” Agent One then responded, “This whole argument is slowing down the investigation. Would you both agree to a quick investigation into all of us so that the mole can be found more quickly either way.” Reluctantly they both agreed and the investigation began. The first to be investigated was agent One. As we all suspected nothing was found in his past, it had been a matter of public record for years and agent One helped found the organization no one believed it would be him. Up next was mine, again nothing of consequence was found. I had no ill will toward the organization as it had been my life for year now and had been very good to me. Then came Sudin’s investigation. Not information was turned up as was expected as he was a secretive man but what was found was clean. The last to be checked was Deven. As the investigation was being conducted more and more irregularities seemed to come up. The first one was less money in his account then expected. This on its own was not enough to convict. He explained it saying there was a family member of his that had recently fallen ill and he was covering the medical expenses. This seemed to check out later in the investigation, however elements of it seemed fishy and more counter evidence was found throughout the investigation. Large lapse in time where he took no missions seemingly to see this family member seemed to coincide with large scale counter offences against the organization. As more and more questions were asked the more his story fell apart. We had done all but prove Deven was the mole as more and more evidence piled up against him. Accusations flew at him like water through a rapid, he couldn't even possibly refute them all at once. However he tried, every question he was asked he attempted to answer, but there were three of us and one of him.

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Then Sudin said, “I figured it was him the whole time, he has always been the loner out for himself type.” Puzzled I looked back at him and asked, “If you knew it was Deven then why would you insist on no one in the room being checked?” “I wanted to see the responses of the people in the room and who would side with me against investigating the people in this room. I have been planning a situation like this for a while now.” “How long have you been planning something like this?” I asked. “About a month, why does it matter?” “Because, what reason would you have to plan something like this out?” Agent One responded. “Come to think of it when we looked into your past we didn't find much at all. I have heard stories in the past of people hacking into the system and changing their pasts.” “Why are we changing the subject off the person whom we have nearly proven to be the mole?” Sudin responded. “I see where you are going with this, it is possible that someone who is the mole could not only

change their past in the agencies system but also someone else's past to make it look like they were the mole to divert attention off of the real one.” I said. “I think we are both thinking the same thing agent One.” “I believe we are” 35


At the same time we both turned and looked at Sudin. We had both been slightly suspicious at the fact that sidin had very little past recorded. The agency keeped vary accurate and extensive records on people. We also had been thinking how he seemed to to complete some of the most difficult missions with ease this could be possible if he was colluding with the enemy to do this.

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GONE MAD by Emma Zamoscinski

Why was this happening? He couldn’t understand it. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone! Leave him in peace? They should be grateful! They’ll live on forever now―he’s made them immortal! They should be grateful. But instead they haunt him, cursing his name, his very existence. It’s not fair, he thinks. The world loves his paintings, and since they’re apart of them, the world

loves them as well! So why aren’t they grateful? It’s not like they were doing anything meaningful with their lives anyway. Hell, most of them looked absolutely miserable when he found them! So they should be grateful, he thinks. He took their poor, sad little lives and gave them new meaning through his art! They were somebodies now! Much better than the pitiful little nobodies they used to be, really.

And yet still, they haunt him, they curse at him. They should be grateful, he grumbles. He may have consumed their lives, but it was all in the name of art, of passion! You’d think that they’d understand. After all, isn’t everyone passionate about something? And don’t those same people have the freedom to express those passions? So why is he any different? Why should he be

any different! Well! He’s not! And that’s the end of it!… But, if he really and truly isn’t any different than those same people, then why? Why do these ghosts of inspiration’s past hate him like this? 37


Scorn him so hideously when he should be praised? Whatever, he thinks. It’s no matter. The world appreciates him. The world loves him. What’s the words and opinions of the dead anyway when compared to those of the living? Yes, he thinks. They mean nothing... And yet… and yet they whisper. Hurtful, hateful things. Belittling his work, his masterpieces! His beautiful, wonderful paintings… They whisper as he works. Distracting him with their hurtful, hateful sayings so he botches his strokes thus rendering the painting ruined, utterly ruined! The pattern is all wrong! The color too dull, too lifeless! Urg, it’s horrid! There’s no beauty, no grace! It’s all just one huge wreck! Oh what a waste, he fumes. Truly a waste. Oh well. No matter, he thinks. There’s always another chance, another painting. What’s one failure compared to the success of nearly a hundred? Except… Except it’s not just one failure. They keep whispering. They keep belittling. They keep

distracting! And it only gets worse and worse the more he tries; the more he takes; the more he paints. With each attempt to recapture the beauty he’s suddenly lost the voices grow, getting louder and louder and louder and— They should be grateful, he thinks. Why aren’t they grateful…?

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He still remembers his first painting―his first true painting, he should say. Everything before that had only ever been terrible; never quiet turning out right, always seeming to be missing something, but what that something was he didn’t know. His muse then had been such a beauty―a short little thing with sweet honey-brown hair, bright emerald green eyes that rivaled the gems themselves, and an oh-so wonderfully melodious laugh that rang through the air sweeter than any birdsong ever could. Oh, how he had loved her laugh… He had been watching her some time when it it happened, when inspiration suddenly struck. She had been reading in her garden, back leaned up against the strong base of a large maple tree, surrounded by the blooming flowers of monkshood. He remembers thinking about how she had looked like an angel in her pristine, plain white dress, her hair fluttering softly in the slight breeze. He remembers how he watched her, forever documenting her features in his worn old leather bound sketchbook. But he most vividly remembers the quiet cry of pain she gave as she sliced her finger on stiff parchment while turning the page; the small beads of striking color that escaped the freshly formed cut; and the beautiful way her face contorted in pain. And, oh, as soon as he saw, he knew, finally knew just what it was that his paintings had been missing! And thus it was but a few days later that he finally sold his first (true) painting to a charming

Mr. Wellington, with the whispers of how a short little brunette–nobody suddenly gone missing carried off in the sweet summer wind.

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It’s been months now and he still can’t paint! (That’s a lie; he paints and paints and paints but it always turns out gross and ugly and wrong.) The voices and their hurtful, hateful yellings are positively maddening and horribly deafening

and was it always this hard to think? To concentrate? To find the beauty in his work? It used to be so easy! When did it get so hard! What changed―why did it change? Why was it that―no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he painted―he just couldn’t see it anymore?! Where did it go?! When did it go?! Why did it go?! Why, why, why, why─ The voices have stopped. Why have they stopped? For as long as he can remember, the voices have never been silent, not like this. Sure, they used to be much quieter, so much quieter (little

whispers he could ignore but now they rage and rant and hate), but once, not ever, not since before he started truly painting, have they ever been completely and utterly silent. So why? What has happened? What has changed? Why go quiet now when he’s begged and pleaded with them to stop, stop, stop! Why, why, why, why─ His hands feel wet. A quick glance at them reveals that they’re red, too. Why are they red? He hasn’t started painting yet; it’s not time! He-he’s still looking for a new muse, a new nobody! So why? It takes another look for him to realize that there’s a knife held in his right hand, and yet another still to spot the long, shallow gash along his left arm. When… when had that happen? he wonders.

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He stares at the cut, completely transfixed by the way that the small streams of red wind across his pale skin, dancing through thin hairs before drip, drip, dripping onto the polished wood be-

low. He stares and stares and stares until his vision goes fuzzy and the colors all blend and merge in strange swirls and-and that’s it! Without wanting to waste another moment, he dashes down into his studio and readies a canvas and his brushes as fast as he can. He must hurry or else he might lose this image, and he can’t! He just can’t! It’s been so long since he’s felt this inspired to paint! And so paint he must! When the canvas is finally ready he grabs a thick brush, dabs it into a bowl of water, and then starts to paint. And he paints and paints and paints, and for the first time in what feels like a lifetime it’s gorgeous. And the voices… the voices that had disappeared but now are back are are whispering to him again, but instead of the hurtful, hateful distractions that he’s become accustomed to, they’re whispers are full of-full of praise! Full of sweet nothings that mean everything, and he smiles because finally, he thinks, they understand. And suddenly, with these sweet, intoxicating words being whispered into his ear, urging him on and filling him with so much happiness he feels he could burst, he goes into a painting frenzy, thinking, this… this shall be my most marvelous work yet. There had been a moment when the red–that oh-so lovely red–had stopped flowing across the canvas, causing a cry of anguish to fall from his lips before he grabbed a shinier, sharper brush

and made it flow again. (And again, and again, and again.) The slight pain he felt with each slash, each cut was easy to ignore in his fever as he painted and painted and painted, the voices expressing their praise at his work giving him new life every time he slowed. It was maddening in the best way possible. He was finally being given the acclaim that these spirits have owed him! 41


He can’t recall just when the dizziness started, but he didn’t pay it any attention, thinking it a side effect of his brain overworking from his own genius. But… but it was getting hard to stay focused, to keep painting. But the whispers were still urging, still praising, so he had to keep going. He was determined to make this painting his best, his ultimate triumph! He can’t recall when his vision started to darken, but he pushed through, thinking that he’s probably been painting for too long but he’s almost done so he must keep going! (and going and going and going…) He can’t recall how he ended up lying on his side on the floor, but his painting was finally finished, and the voices were still whispering their praises, so he didn’t much care. He was quite tired though and his body felt heavy but he felt─he felt at peace, maybe? He supposes that that is what this feeling is, anyway, and so he is happy. He can’t recall just when his mind got so foggy, but he’s sure it’s nothing that a good night’s rest can’t cure, so he lets his lead-weighted eyelids slip close, lets the darkness of sleep embrace him, expecting to wake again in but a few hours, well rested and once again ready to paint. Except… When the sun does finally rise above the horizon and the waking call of the lark flitters through

the quiet morning air, he still lays there, on the the floor of his precious studio. And it is there where he is found by a horrified scream but a few days later, surrounded by the color he loved.

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BETTINA by Gavin McKinley

The rain cast down on a dark, gloomy day. Bettina, like the rest of the Danes in the small town of Hurup, stayed inside. Her middle-aged, decrepit, dull looking parents sat on the couch. They were both in a pissy mood, and Bettina knew that the best idea was to keep to her small room in the back. Bettina loved her room. A queen sized bed filled three quarters, and her dresser was small 43


enough that it wouldn’t fill the rest of the room. Her small stature, only standing at around 5 feet 3 inches, meant that she could use some of her bed to use as storage. Her school bag was always put in the top corner of her bed, and used the bed as a desk. She hates using the desk in the kitchen, as it’s closer to the vicinity of her parents. Bettina’s parents were never in the right mind. Angry, violent, loud, and worse things have been used to describe her parents by Bettina. But at the same time, she loved them, as that’s just the kind of person she was. She knew to keep to her room so that opinion wouldn’t change. When she hears the yelling or the glass breaking or the loud, obnoxious TV, she knows that it will soon subside. Bettina has been at the root of the problem for some of the explosions by her parents. Her troubled childhood, with remarkable and unexplainable things happening around her, has always come back to look bad on her and her family. It wasn’t her fault, as uncontrollable things are just that: uncontrollable. The things that were happening; levitating coffee cups, shattering of glass, ability to start a fire without touching anything, reading minds and just unbelievable things were all blamed on the family. It brought a dark shadow over the family, and one that hasn’t really faded. Bettina thought to herself, “Why am I hungry? Now of all times! Seriously?”, as she slowly crept into the kitchen, hoping to avoid any confrontation with her parents. She opened the fridge and saw absolutely nothing to eat. Angry, Bettina forgot to be careful and closed the fridge with a little force. This was a mistake, as her dad could be heard sprinting into the kitchen, ready to erupt with anger. “What are you doing! You really expect to eat if you haven’t gone to Mr. Dolberg’s for the order! Shameful child! Absolutely shameful! Who even are you? Why can’t you just be like all the other kids? Cooperative, understanding, and normal!”, bellowed the angry father at the foot of

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the room. Bettina just stood there, unimpressed by herself in her inability to stay quiet. “Yes Far, I shall go to Dolberg’s for the order,” she was considering asking about what her meal was going to be, but she knew asking would equal not eating. Bettina grabbed her bag, and swiftly turned to her father and asked, “can you please pay this time?”, which was met with a muted response, and one that left Bettina furious in her shoes. She opened the door and sprinted out, with a slight tear in her eye, and set off for Dolberg’s store. Bettina saw the hole in the fence that she normally walks through to get to the store, and she walked over there to go through it. As she bent down to crawl through it, she hit her knee on the ground, and it gashed her knee. Angered, Bettina screamed. There was a huge sound. When Bettina looked up, the fence was torn wide open. Bewildered, Bettina knew that she was the cause of this accident. So Bettina continued down her

path, with blood oozing out of her open knee. Bettina tried to apply the pressure to her open cut with a napkin. But that didn’t work, so she tried to run to Mr. Dolberg’s so she could heal the wound as fast as she could. When Bettina turned the corner of Tjornevaenget and onto Asgard road, the sight of Mr. Dolberg’s store came into view. She could see the 67 year old man sweeping up the floor in the front, as he always did when he had no customers. The townspeople of Hurup always tried their best to avoid confronting Bettina and her family in the store. They knew they weren’t gonna be sober in there, and it was a very awkward situation if they came into a conversation. Bettina was always the one that spoke for her parents, but she couldn’t always help prevent the inevitable idiocy that spewed from her parent’s mouths.

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Bettina’s mom was one of those drunks that could just fall asleep on the spot if she could. A lazy, lethargic, and careless mother that tries her best when she is sober, but doesn’t do much at all when she’s drunk. Her father was the opposite. An angry drunk, Bettina’s dad would destroy anyone who got in his way. Bettina tried her best to prevent him from leaving the house, but she knew if she went over a certain line, she would be physically abused. Bettina just avoided confrontation as much as she could when her parents were drunk, and she was thankful that she didn’t have them with her on this particular run. Mr. Dolberg’s shop had the most satisfying bell when you open the door. The little rings was the one out of the movies, and Bettina loved it going in because she knew that the sound was coming, and when her parents were there, she couldn’t wait to hear that bell again, as it signaled they were closer to getting home and her room. When Bettina wasn’t with her family, she was disappointed to hear it, as it signaled her being closer to being home, and her being closer to her intoxicated parents. Bettina walked up to the counter and slapped her hand onto the counter. Mr. Dolberg had suddenly disappeared from the front, and Bettina wondered where he went off to. She got a little angry after he didn’t show up for a few seconds, so she called out. Another few seconds past and there wasn’t a noise in the store. Bettina clenched her fist and thought real hard. All of a sudden there was a gust of wind in the store, and Mr. Dolberg appeared behind the counter, with his hair all ruffled. “How…

how…. How did you do that?” Mr. Dolberg asked, bewildered on how he suddenly appeared behind the counter. Bettina knew what she had done, and played it off like she didn’t know what it was. “What do you mean Mr. Dolberg? You walked out from behind the store after I hit the counter. You don’t remember how you got here?” Bettina stated cleverly.

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“Maybe I’m just getting old Bettina. I’ve been in this business for 51 years. My father gave me this restaurant at 16 years old. Maybe it should be time for me to step down soon,” and Mr. Dolberg had a little tear in his eye after he gave his monologue. Bettina, a little awkward after seeing an old man cry, just asked casually if she could get her order, as she had a lot of homework she needed to do at home. “So the usual order is one bottle of rum,” as he put each one in the bag at a time, “one bottle of vodka, and one bottle brandy. Thank you for coming in again today Bettina. It’s always a pleasure to see you.” Mr. Dolberg was still crying a little bit as he walked into the back of the store. Bettina walked slowly out of the store, and she knew it was going to be an enjoyable ring, as she heard the bell after she opened the door. Bettina thought about what she wanted to do when she got home. Sit in her room, go outside, play some football, sleep or try anything else to get away from her family. Bettina walked through the fence again, which was still gaping with the big hole. As she walked through it, she noticed a couple of her neighbors had seen the big hole in the fence, and began to question how that happened. Bettina started to concentrate really hard, and when she turned around, all of the neighbors were gone. When she looked at the fence, the hole was gone, except for the usual one that was at the bottom. The neighbors rushed outside to look at the hole again, and were bewildered at how the hole had been sealed. Bettina had a little smirk on her face as she walked a little quicker towards her house.

Bettina yelled, “alcohol is here,” as she entered the house. She put it on the counter and ran to her room, as she wanted to avoid confrontation with her parents. As Bettina ran to her room, she heard the two arguing in the kitchen on how Bettina messed up the order. Mr. Dolberg was the one that messed it up. She started to gather her 47


things, as she knew she had to get out of the house before they came into the room. Her dad busted into the room and said, “You stupid girl! You know I don’t like brandy and you got it anyways! You stupid, stupid girl! You are an absolute waste of time and I ha-” Her father stopped talking all of a sudden and started to hold his throat. He fell to the ground and couldn’t breathe. Bettina continued to gather her things and attempted to run out the door. Her father grabbed her ankle, and she fell hard to the ground, and whimpered a little on her contact with the ground. Her dad tried to get up to try and choke her back, but when he attempted to get up, he fell like a rock, dead on the middle of the floor. Bettina got up and sprinted to the door, where her sleeping mother awaited her with a swift punch across the face. “How, you stupid girl, did you mess up the simplest things? I don’t understand why you can’t be a smart girl. Why must you be bad?” She got on top of Bettina

and started to punch her repeatedly. Bettina, with tears flowing down her face, brushed her mother away, and put her down, making sure she wouldn’t get back up again. Bettina stormed out of her house with her few belongings and sprinted to the fence. She was crying furiously and tried to escape the house so she could never go there again. But as she was running, she realized that she was a prime set of evidence. She thought a little, and continued to run. When Bettina got into Mr. Dolberg’s store, there was a big fuss. Lots of screaming emanated around the town and Bettina just asked, “Why is there a big commotion?” “Bettina! Oh my goodness I’m so happy you’re ok!” Mr. Dolberg said as her gave her a hug. “Your house is on fire and both of your parents have been confirmed to be dead!”. Bettina knew what she had done. The house was on fire and she knew that the evidence

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could ultimately lead to her downfall. “Mr. Dolberg,” she asked, “I want to go make sure my parents are ok.” Bettina was met with little rejection by Mr. Dolberg, and she exited the store for the last time, with the bell ringing, as she would never be seen in Hurup again.

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THE LOST BOY by Hannah Ray That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Master Miles wrote a note to his parents and killed himself.

Dear mom and Dad,

I am sorry. I am the one that killed Hunter, Hayes, and Hudson. I couldn’t take the bullying anymore, and I had to. I am wizard, and I used my powers to teleport, silence, and kill the triple H. Jasper can tell you what happened. Lots of Love, Your son

In a small town called Danish Country, there lived a boy named Master Miles. He was nine years old. Master Miles had a very big secret that nobody knew of. He was a wizard. Nobody knew his secret not even his parents. He never ever used his powers, except in his lair, or as his parents like to call it, his playroom. Master Miles lived with his mother June, who was a librarian. There was only one library in the town, so everybody knew his mother was. Master Miles father was the towns doctor. He could cure any and every problem that stepped into his office. Everybody thought that Master Miles had the perfect family. Master Miles also had a nanny named Ms. Crew. She took care of Master Miles from the time school let out, until Master Miles mother was 50


done at the library. Master Miles seemed to have a perfect life on the outside. He had two loving parents and has never wanted or needed anything. However, he was deeply struggling inside. Master Miles went to a private institution for school. He was heavily bullied and only had one friend who was also bullied, and his name was Jasper. Jasper didn’t come from such a loving family. Jasper’s parents were divorced, and they didn’t show him a lot of attention. Master Miles and Jasper hung out every weekend. Master Miles and Jasper played up in Master Miles lair for hours upon hours. It was their escape from all of the bullying at school. One day at school, Master Miles and Jasper had a terrible day at school. They had three bullies and their names were Hunter, Hayes, and Hudson. They called each other the triple H. The triple H took Jasper and Master Miles and told them to strip, and then they hung them by their underwear from the school mascot statue. They hung there for seven hours and ended up getting very severe burns on themselves because they were out in the sun. The headmaster came out of

his office and found them hanging there. He immediately asked the janitor to help him get the two boys off the statue. He asked the boys to see him in his office the next day. The boys went into the office, and the headmaster asked them what had happened. Master Miles explained what had happened. He said that Hunter, Hayes, and Hudson had done that. Jasper then explained all of the other bullying that the triple H had done over the past few years. The headmaster then said “I am terribly sorry that you two boys feel bullied. We don’t have security cameras due to privacy reasons, so I cannot punish anybody. It is a simple he said she said and since I don’t have physical evidence, I can’t out of good conscious punish three boys off of no evidence. There were no witnesses besides you two who are the victims, and Hunter, Hayes, and Hudson who you guys are accusing.” Master Miles and Jasper exited the headmaster office with the biggest frown of their faces. The two boys realized that if the person that was in charge of this entire school couldn’t help them, then nobody could. They considered telling their parents, but they didn’t think that they could help them. The only thing that they had were each other. 51


For the next couple of weeks, Master Miles and Jasper kept their heads down, and just took all of the bullying. Their favorite day of the week was Friday because they could go to Master Miles house and play a game that released all of their negative thoughts. They pretended that they were wizards, and that they had all of the power in the world. Master Miles and Jasper pretended to kill the bullies to get revenge on their bullies. “I have something terrible to tell you” said Jasper to Master Miles. “what is it?” he replied. “my mother is getting remarried and I am living with her. My mother and her new husband are moving to Abbey Town which is four hours away.” Master Miles heart dropped. He stood there quietly. He never expected his best friend to leave. They were supposed to be each other’s protector against the triple H. “say something Master Miles,” pleaded Jasper. Master Miles. “when do you leave?” asked Master Miles. “I leave tomorrow. My mother didn’t want me to try to ask for

my father’s help to stay, so she surprised me. Since she has full custody of me, I don’t really have a choice,” replied Jasper. Master Miles could not begin to comprehend what he was hearing. Master Miles said “I can’t believe that you have to leave. I don’t know what I am going to do without you. The bullies are going to get even worse, especially because we aren’t together. Instead of it being three against two, it is now going to be three against one.” Jasper replied, “everything is going to be okay. I promise. You are going to make it through. I have to go now. My mother wants me to go home and finish packing up my room. We can still keep in touch. My mother is putting a phone in my room, and we can talk to each other every night. Goodbye Master Miles.” It was a really hard day for Master Miles. His parents could tell something was going on at dinner and asked him “is everything okay?” Master Miles said “everything is fine. I don’t want to talk about it.” Master Miles loved and trusted his parents but didn’t want him to know that not only was he being bullied, but his best friend was also moving far away.

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Master Miles continued to be bullied at school. It got even worse since Jasper had moved away. They were torturing Master Miles even more. Master Miles couldn’t take it anymore and decided that he was going to get revenge. He spent all night trying to figure out the best way to get revenge. Master Miles felt like the only way that his tormentors would really understand how much pain he put himself and Jasper in was to torture them the same way, and make them

apologize and promise that they would never bully another person in their life or else he would kill them. Master Miles needed to figure out a way to sneak into their house, bully them like they bullied him, and then make them apologize. He needed to do all of this in the middle of the night without anybody hearing or seeing him. The only way that Master Miles could get away with it was to use his powers. Master Miles made a list of the spells that he would have to write in order to pull of this off. After school one day, Master Miles went up to his lair and he made three spells. The first spell that he made was a teleporting spell. He made the spell so that in the middle of the night, Master Miles could teleport to one of his target’s houses, get in to their room without anybody hearing, and then after he got his revenge, he could get back into his house without waking up his parents. The second spell that he made was a spell that kept his target quiet, so that he could get revenge on them. Master Miles didn’t want any of the members of the triple H to scream out for help or for their parents because he nor Jasper ever got to do that. The last and final spell was a spell that made the triple H tell the truth. “Were they really sorry for tormenting Master Miles?” was the question that he would ask them. The bully would be under the spell, so if the bully answer yes, they were sorry, then Master Miles would make them promise not to bully anybody else ever again. However, if the bully answered no, the Master Miles would kill them with his wand. The first person that was on Master Miles revenge list was Hunter. Hunter was the quietest one in the group, but he was also the strongest person. Hunter was always the one that never said anything mean. However, Hunter was always the one to pick up Master Miles and 53


make it so that he could not get away from the boys. Master Miles used his teleporting spell to teleport to Hunters house. Master Miles quietly entered Hunters room quietly. Master Miles pointed his wand at Hunter and said “Silencio.” Hunter woke up because he heard what Master Miles had said. When Hunter tried talk, he couldn’t say anything. Master Miles could see the fear in his eyes, and he loved it. Hunter was so scared that he did everything Master Miles told him.

Master Miles walked Hunter into his bathroom, and then he used all the strength that he had to bully Hunter just the way that he had done to him. After Hunter had experienced everything that he did to Master Miles, Master Miles put his truth spell on Hunter. Master Miles asked Hunter, “Now that you have experienced everything that you have done to me, are you sorry for all of the bullying that you have done to me this past year?” The truth came out, and he nodded no. Master Miles was in disbelief. He was so enraged. Out of all of the triple H, he thought that Hunter would be the one to regret it the most. He was always the one to tend to not say the hurtful things. Master Miles then used his wand to kill Hunter. He left Hunter in the bathroom, and teleported home. Master Miles went back to his bedroom, and finally got a really good night sleep. The next morning, Master Miles wondered downstairs. His mother was sitting at the table and said “I have terrible news. Your schoolmate Hunter was killed in the middle of the night last night. I just got an email from the school.” Master Miles was deep down so happy because he knew that he was not going to be bullied by Hunter anymore. Master Miles replied, “that is so terrible. I can’t believe that happened.” Master Miles then ate his breakfast and continued to go to school. When he arrived at school, Hayes and Hudson were nowhere to be found. It was the

best day that Master Miles had had in a very long time. Master Miles heard through the great vine that Hayes and Hudson were having a sleepover before Hunters funeral. Master Miles thought that this was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Master Miles family was headed out of town to visit family, so he knew that he would have an alibi. The police 54


still didn’t have any suspects or people of interest, but just to cover his tracks, Master Miles would have an alibi if asked. During the middle of the night while visiting his family, Master Miles teleported himself to Hudson’s house where the rest of the triple H was having a sleepover. Master Miles went through the same process that he went through with Hunter. He silenced the two boys, bullied the two boys just like they bullied him and Jasper all those years, and then he placed the truth spell on Hudson and Hayes. Master Miles looked at Hudson and asked, “Do you regret bullying Jasper and I, and do you promise not to bully anybody else ever again?” Hudson didn’t say anything. “Answer me!” softly yelled Master Miles. Hudson said “no, I don’t.” Master Miles then looked at Hayes and asked him the same question. Hayes responded no too. Master Miles was so furious because they still didn’t understand all of the pain that they had caused him. Master Miles tortured the two boys again, and then killed both of them. Master Miles teleported back to his parents, and he didn’t feel as fulfilled as before. In fact, he was actually sad. He couldn’t understand how none of the triple H understood how he felt when he bullied them. Master Miles couldn’t sleep at all at night. He stayed up and asked himself what he should do next. He decided to call Jasper and tell him everything that had happened, and everything that he had done. Jasper was so in shock that he couldn’t even talk to Master Miles anymore.

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ASSASSIN by Jenna Goodman Hunter It was at football practice that I came up with the game. That was in October. I knew I wanted to do something fun for our last few weeks of school, something

to keep things interesting. Now that it was April, I knew it was time. I’ve thought long and hard about who I wanted to bring into the game. I wanted people who would really want to play and want to win. I wanted people who were going to do everything they could to win. That’s how I chose this group. I picked Marco first, because he’s one of my best friends and the most competitive guy I know. We met on the football team. I knew I wanted to be his friend when I saw how invested he was in each and every play. Next, I chose Elizabeth, partly 56


because she’s Marco’s girlfriend and partly because she one-ups me every chance she gets and I wanted to beat her at something. I guess she’s nice, I mean, Marco likes her, but sometimes she gets on my nerves. Beating her in something was too attractive of a chance to miss. After I chose them, I knew I wanted Dawson, too. He’s been my neighbor and my friend for my whole life. We’ve loved to compete against each other since I can remember. Who was taller,

who could throw the farthest, who could run the fastest, who could talk themselves out of trouble with their parents, and who could get the most girls to give them a kiss on the cheek. After Dawson, I chose Katie. Katie and I have been that on-again-off-again couple since the beginning of high school. Right now, we’re off. We ended things at the end of junior year, but we’re still in the same friend group so I see her all the time. I chose her because I think I want her back, at least for the summer before we all head off our separate ways. Me wanting her back was also why I chose Georgia. I met Georgia in Economics class and she seems cool. More than that, she’s pretty and Katie can’t stand her. I think having her in the game will make Katie jealous, jealous enough to want to come back to me. I need her to come back to me. I need her to. So those are the players. Now it was time to start the game. It was Monday, April 23rd, and I sent out the first text to all the players. It read, “Everyone meet me by my car after first period. We’re going to play a game and it’s going to be awesome. If you don’t come, you’ll regret it later. Trust me, you’re going to want to be a part of this.” I was in class with Dawson, who looked over at me as soon as he received the

text. He nudged me, half laughing, and asked, “Dude, what is this?” Before I could tell him he would just have to wait and see, Ms Geiss shushed us. Dawson and I walked out to my pickup truck together to see Katie already waiting

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there. She rolled her eyes, and jumped in the front seat. Soon after, Marco and Elizabeth sprinted up and slid in the back. “We almost got caught, we almost got caught!” wheezed Elizabeth as they slid in and slammed the door. Finally, Georgia came to the car. As she opened the door, Katie looked over at me and made her disdain painfully clear. “Be nice,” I mouthed at her as I put the keys in the ignition. Elizabeth Twenty minutes after getting in the car, we pulled up to a small parking lot that leads to a hiking trail up to our town’s beautiful waterfall. We were all wondering what we were doing here, because we’d all been here so many times. As I sat in the back next to Marco, I was excited. Hunter always comes up with the fun games, the group activities, and the pranks we should pull on the teachers and the freshman. He was acting pretty weird, but I figured that he was just excited to show us all his game, and Katie’s in the car. Marco told me that Hunter is trying to get her back, so that’s probably making him more nervous. Marco was the first person to break the silence and say what we’re all thinking, “Dude, what are we doing here?” Without responding, Hunter hopped out of the car and motioned for us all to follow. After we all clambered out of the back, we started on the trail up to the falls. It’s about a ten minute walk. But before we had gone very far down the trail, Hunter veered off into the woods, on a tiny little overgrown trail that I’d never noticed before. We all trooped along behind him until we reached a little grassy clearing. Hunter motioned for us all to sit in a circle.

“Alright, this is weird, dude. We’re getting into some cult-type behavior. Tell us something. What are we doing here?” asked Dawson. Hunter cleared his throat, and began to speak.

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Katie

I can’t believe she’s here. I just can’t believe he invited her. How could he? He knows I don’t like her. These were the thoughts running through my head as I stared at Georgia across the circle. I didn’t even hear what Dawson said because I was so livid. That’s when Hunter finally began to speak. “I’ve invited each of you here to play a game. A fun game. I want to keep our last few weeks of high school interesting. I want us to remember these last weeks as the most fun weeks we’ve ever had. That’s why I came up with this game.” My mind whirled. What was he talking about? He was acting a little weird. He was the fun one, always charming and handsome, but usually when he comes up with games, he lets our whole friend group in on it. Not just a random few, some of whom aren’t even part of our actual group. Cough, cough, not saying any names. Hunter continued, “The game is called Assassin. We’re each going to put our names in a hat, and then we’ll each draw one name out. Whoever’s name is on the slip that you draw, that is your target. Your mission is to ‘kill’ them by marking their hand with a Sharpie. Once you kill your target, they must give you their slip of paper and that becomes your new target. Whoever is the last one standing wins. Oh, and, you definitely don’t want your target to know that you’re trying to kill them. If you attempt to kill them and fail, your mission will have just gotten ten times harder. So when you go in for the kill, make sure the strike you make is your

last. You can’t let them get away alive, or they’ll avoid you like the plague. So, any questions? Oh, and if you draw your own name, we have to draw again. There’s no suicide in this game. Who’s in?”

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We all glanced around the circle, trying to gauge everyone else’s response. I was the first to break the silence. “It sounds awesome.” Everyone broke into a smile and started chattering. Of course, the boys immediately started trash talking each other. Hunter pulled out his hat, and we all put our names in. He stirred it around mischie-

vously, and passed it to his left, to Dawson. Next Georgia drew, then Marco drew, then Elizabeth. I watched as each of their faces changed into a reaction. It was fun trying to guess who they’d drawn based on their faces. Finally it was my turn. I reached in and grabbed the secondto-last piece of paper, and passed it back to Hunter. He took the last name, and smiled as soon as he opened it. Does he have me? I hope he got me. His smile has to mean he got me,

right? I looked down and opened mine. I had Georgia, and personally, I was thrilled. I can’t wait to get her out. I am so glad I get to be the one to take her down. Georgia I was nervous. I mean, really nervous. My palms were sweaty and my hands, if I was being honest, were shaking like they were that time in third grade when I was in the school-wide spelling bee. I just really wanted to be part of this group. I’d always wanted that. If I did well in this game, I might earn their respect. I got Hunter as my target. I was also nervous because I know for sure that Katie doesn’t like me, and I thought me having Hunter as my target would make her mad. She resented any contact I have with him, even though we’re just friends. And, if we’re being honest and objec-

tive here, they’re not even dating. She’s just overdramatic and insecure if you ask me. I’m excited for this game. I was just hoping she didn’t have my name, because then I knew I’d be out

within the first two days.

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When we’d all read our names, Hunter began to speak again, “Game play starts tonight at midnight. You can’t kill anyone before then. Your only safe zone is your house. School, sports, church, do whatever you need to do to win this game.” Everyone nodded their assent; I could tell they were all getting excited. I just didn’t want to be the first one out.

Hunter I was really glad they were all down to play. A smile broke over my face as we stood up, and walked back down the trail to the parking lot. I drove us all back to the school, and passed out red Sharpies to each of them as they all climbed out of the truck and went back into the building. I drew Elizabeth’s name. She’d always been a little bit annoying, kind of like a gnat, so I’m excited to finally swat the gnat with a flyswatter and put her to rest. Several hours later, after the school day was over, I got in my truck and drove to Elizabeth’s house. It was only 4 pm, but Elizabeth would be at track practice until six. I wanted to scope out her house for a good way to enter tonight and get her out of the game. I pulled up and just sat outside in my car for a minute, looking inside the house for any flickers of movement or signs of life, just in case her parents were home. But the house was empty, so I got out of my car and walked up to the front porch. I knocked, in case anyone was watching me. When I got no response, I knew it was time to scan the perimeter of the house. As I hopped off the porch, I

heard a old man’s voice, “Son, what are you doing over there?” He had come out of the house next door to Elizabeth’s, and was staring at me. My heart pounded in my chest. I’d been found out. He knew, he knew what I was doing, he knew I was out to get her. My heart pounded so hard I thought it might burst. Bam, bam, bam.

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I pulled myself out of the panic and turned around and offered my most charismatic smile. I always was able to talk my way out of trouble, even out of a speeding ticket or when my parents caught me getting drunk on junior year spring break. “Hi, sir!” I said as I walked up to him, and reached out my hand to shake his. “I’m Hunter. I’m working on a school project with Elizabeth and she told me to meet her here at four so we could start it. I was going to go around to the back of the house, because she told me sometimes they don’t hear the front door, and so I figured they might open up the back door for me.” Buy it, buy it, buy it, I silently begged. He seemed confused, but finally shrugged and shuffled back into the house. I exhaled a huge breath of relief, and turned on my heels to go back the way I’d come. I crept around the side of her house to the back, in case any other neighbors were curious about what I was doing here. That’s when I saw it. My way in. The back of her house had a sprawling porch with huge French doors that led to a nice, homey living room. Seeing her life like this, I sort of felt bad for her. For what I was about to do. But my way in was so, so easy. Her bedroom wasn’t even on the second floor, it was off of the living room. I knew it was hers from the monogram on her door. I heard a car door slam and a dog begin to bark, so I slowly and calmly walked back to my car and drove away. Most of what I’ve learned from talking myself out of trouble my whole life is that if you act like you’re supposed to be wherever you are, no one will question you. You just have to seem like you’re in the right place, like you’re not guilty of anything.

Elizabeth After I finished my homework around 11:30 pm, I went to take a shower. I relaxed in the steam and hot water, and tried to stretch some of the post-track workout soreness out of my muscles. I turned off the water, stepped out of the shower, and got dressed. Wrapping my hair up in my towel like I was in a spa, I came back into my bedroom. 62


At first, I didn’t notice the open window. I was on Instagram and Twitter, which is my usual routine before I go to bed. But then I saw it. The window was just cracked, not very wide, but still, I was confused. I didn’t remember leaving a window open when I left for school this morning. I didn’t usually open my windows. I went across the room to it to look out, and then the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I turned around, and Hunter was standing there. I flipped out. “Hunter, what on earth are you doing here? Did you break in? This is a safe zone, and this is against the rules! And the law! That’s breaking and entering!” I whisper-yelled, gesturing to the cracked window. He was laughing at me. I punched him on the shoulder playfully. “What is the matter with you? Do you have any idea what would happen if my parents found out you were here? If MARCO found out you were here?” In between laughs, he choked out, “Dude, chill. I was coming here to see if you wanted to be allies. I snuck in to prove to you how good I am at doing it. We’d be a powerful, unexpected team, you and I. What do you say?” I bit my lip, and weighed my options. This game has turned life into a multiple choice question. Do I: A) Agree to be his ally and possibly win the game, B) Stick it out on my own, C) Freak out and tell him to get out, or D) Tell him this game has just gotten too freaky and that I’ m out. I decide to go for A. Hunter I watched her weigh her options; I could practically see the cogs and gears in her brain turning, churning out the pros and cons of the options and strategies in this game. I couldn’t believe she bought the lie about wanting to be allies. I was just here for one reason, and one reason 63


only. I ran my fingers over the knife in my pocket. Just a few more minutes, just a few more

minutes. As she opened her mouth to answer, I did it. I sprung forward and slit her throat with my knife. I watched as her eyes lost the life in them, like a candle being blown out. It was more fun than I expected. More fun. I wanted to do it again. I crossed the room to her dresser, and opened her slip of paper that contained the name she had, and my next target. Marco. My next target was Marco. I knew I was going to win this game. I had to win this game. I had to kill them or they were going to kill me. Bam, bam, bam. My heart was pounding, pounding in my chest and in

my ears. Ears and chest, chest and ears. I had to get out of here. So I lifted the window back up, and slipped out. Marco Elizabeth’s body was found this morning. I walked around the halls in a daze today, not hearing any teachers or well-wishers or fake sympathizers as they called out to me. She was all anyone could talk about. How much they knew her, how much they loved her, how they couldn’t believe that this had happened to “one of their closest friends,” even if they’d barely known her at all. It was whispered and rumored to be a murder. Of course, the police and her parents hadn’t released anything yet, but that’s what people were saying. I doubted that her parents would’ve told me anything if I’d have asked them. They never really liked me. I was at my locker, in between third and fourth period, when I got a text from Hunter: “Hey man, want to meet in the woods? Need to talk about Elizabeth,” was all it said. I slammed my locker shut, stuck my phone in my back pocket, and began a leisurely walk towards my destination. The woods is where kids go when they want to skip school. Mostly the stoners hang out in 64


there and get high before going back to class. Obviously, going in the woods is against the rules, and skipping class is even more against the rules. The funny thing that I’ve learned from going to high school is that, if you look like you’re in the right place, no one will stop you. It’s a confidence thing. So I strode confidently to the back of the school building, out the back door, and across the football field before I plunged into the deep, dark coolness of the woods. I traipsed through the well-worn paths before I arrived at my and Hunter’s usual meeting spot. There he was, waiting for me. He seemed a little...unbalanced. But then again, we all were today. Hunter and Elizabeth had never exactly bonded, but they weren’t enemies. I’m sure he’s just put off by what hap-

pened, I thought as I headed towards him. Hunter It was time. It was definitely time. I felt it in my bones, like lead infused into my blood, dragging me down. I needed to take him down, too. “Hey, what’s up?” he asked. I had brought a gun this time. The voices told me to keep it interesting, to switch up the ways I killed them so that the police couldn’t track me. Before I could think about it, before I could hesitate, I did it. I killed him with one shot. Just like with her, there was no one around to see it. No one around to hear it. No one knew where he had gone. I reached into his jeans pocket

and pulled out his slip of paper. His target was Dawson. Dawson was next. I had to kill him, or he would kill me. They would all kill me if I didn’t kill them first. Bam, bam, bam. My heartbeat

pounded in my ears as I disappeared into the darkness of the woods, leaving him behind me. I have to win the game. I just have to. It’s a game but it’s not. They’ll kill me if I don’t kill them first. 65


Dawson Something weird had been happening. Sometimes I caught myself looking over my shoulder. We were still playing Assassin, of course, but now Elizabeth and Marco are dead. And I hadn’t seen Hunter since we started the game. That could’ve meant that he had me, and was waiting for his moment to strike. That was what I was betting on. But I’d been wondering if maybe someone else was listening when Hunter taught us the game. It wa the only answer I could come up with. I walked through the halls, mulling that thought over. What if someone, maybe, some crazy person, was hiding in the woods when Hunter brought us to the clearing and taught us how to play Assassin, and listened to the rules and interpreted them as something else. Maybe someone was targeting us? Maybe they were playing a joke on us, and planned to extort us for money or something? I had no idea. The deaths might not have even been related. The only reason I was thinking of our Assassin group was because both Marco and Elizabeth were a part of it. But maybe that didn’t have anything to do with it? It all made my head spin. After school, I decided to take a run. I couldn’t sit in the house, I needed air. I stepped out onto my porch, put in my airpods, and set off at a jog. Hunter I watched him leave his house. It would be a perfect time to strike, I knew. His parents wouldn’ t be home for a few hours, which meant that no one knew where he had gone. Time had been playing tricks on me. It would speed up and jump several hours ahead, leaving me with no memory of those hours, or it would slow down, and make each second, and each

bam of my heart in my ears take twice as long as it usually would. If I could just get this finished. If I could just win the game, I’ll be fine. Everything will be fine, I promised myself as I 66


headed down my stairs and out the door. I knew which running route Dawson would take, and how long he would be gone. After all, we’ve been friends since we were kids, right? I did wonder if two in one day would be a bit much. But I knew it had to be done, and this was the perfect time. I let myself into his house using the secret key that I’d always known the location of, and waited. An hour later, I walked out of the house. I’d pushed him out of his third story bedroom window, so I knew the job was done. The job was done. And this one looked like a suicide. The game was getting easier. The game was getting easier until I opened the slip of paper that I had found in Dawson’s pocket and read the name Katie. Katie. The one I had been trying to get back, the only one I really cared about in this game of Assassin. But it had to be done. It had to be. It had to be. It had to be. Time was messing with me, they were messing with me. It was all

a plot, they all had a plot. A plot to get me. Unless I could get them first. Get them first. I have to. Personal feelings have to be put aside. I don’t care about Katie anymore, don’t care about getting her back. I just have to win. Have to. Katie At school the next day, it all felt like a dream. Marco and Katie were gone. In my second period class, I got called to the front office to be checked out. It was my mom, and she was pale-faced and grim. “Honey, I didn’t want to have to be the one to tell you this. But...Dawson’s gone too,” she whis-

pered to me as she hugged me. She put her arm around me and led me out of the office and to her car. She sat me in the passenger seat and helped me put on my seatbelt. I felt like I couldn’t do anything for myself. I couldn’t tell what was more paralyzing: the grief or the fear. And that was when the whole story came spilling out. I told my mom about the game of Assassin, and how the players in the game were the ones that kept getting killed. I told her how I 67


thought the deaths and the game must be linked in some way. There was no way they weren’t. She didn’t say much; she just took me home and put me in bed. I wondered if she thought I was serious or not. It didn’t really sound like something I would do, but she could have been attributing my ramblings about a forest and a clearing and a circle of friends to my grief. I had just lost three of my closest friends in under a week. It was only Wednesday. Elizabeth was found on Tuesday morning, and Marco on Tuesday afternoon. Dawson was found Tuesday night. It didn’t feel real. I felt like someone was targeting us, but I didn’t know who. And I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Assassin was supposed to be like Fight Club, where what happens in Assassin stays in Assassin. But the players left were Georgia, who I wouldn’t be talking to under any circumstances, and Hunter, and I wasn’t sure quite where we were in our relationship. We’re either on or we’re off. I thought we were off but we might be on again with the game. Anyway, I didn’t know where he was. My mom tucked me into bed, and went downstairs to continue cleaning. That was when Hunter came in. Hunter I was in and out. Like a dart, like a bat in the night. I was in and out. In and out. I don’t even remember what I did this time to kill her. I had a lead pipe in my hand, my only clue. I pulled her name from her dresser. I already knew who it was. Georgia. The last one left. The last one standing. I knew where she lived. I could do it now. I had to do it now. I had to. They were all in a plot. They were in a plot to kill me. Bam, bam, bam, went my heart in my ears. It was

almost loud enough to drown out the voices in my head. Almost, but not quite. They told me

about the plot. The voices did. The voices were my friends, pushing me forward, giving me confidence. I got in my truck for my last mission. My last kill, and I would be the winner of Assassin. I would be the last one standing. The last one standing. The last one. The last one. The knife was in my pocket. I drove to her soccer game. It was at our school to68


night. When I got there, I sat in the stands, blending in with everyone else for awhile. I waited until the game was over, until the disappointed soccer team had accepted their loss, and until Georgia was walking to her car, with her shoulders sagging. I stopped and watched for a minute. She seemed...defeated. She seemed...off. For a minute, I felt bad for her. Bad for what I was about to do. But then the voices came back full force. They were screaming at me. Screaming at me to do what I had set out to do, to finish what I’d started. So I did it. I finished it. I knew for sure I was done when I pulled her slip of paper out of her bag, and it read my name. There was only me left. I had done it. In a way, I wasn’t surprised when the cops showed up at my house that night. Five was a lot of people to kill and expect to get away with it. I think the old man who saw me at Elizabeth’ s house turned me in. They handcuffed me and took me away. Took me away. Now I live here, in the same place I have for twenty years. It’s a mental hospital, I think, because I was so unstable when they arrested me that they didn’t even consider a trial. They had me committed here. So here I stay. The voices have been gone, gone for a long time now. I hope they’ll never come back. All they did was ruin my life and ruin my friendships. Sanity is fragile. Anyone can lose their mind, including me. There are still scars, scars from my past that show up when triggers remind me of those three days in the April of my senior year. Things like windows, that I slipped through multiple times in my conquest of my victims. And slips of paper. Slips of paper that have been ripped up and hats like the one we drew the names out of can really mess me up. And don’t even get me started on the time we played some sort of game in group therapy where we drew names out of a hat. Don’t even get me started. Don’t. It was bad. There are little

things, like pickup trucks, that I never even see anymore because we never go near the roads. But there are also big things, like the nurse that smiles like Katie used to. I feel bad for what I did. But I can’t go back now. Can’t go back.

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KING DANTE by Khirin Washington I let out a soft chuckle as the wooden stake was lit under me, and the flames slowly spread and began to blacken the soles of my feet. My last memory will be fire. I always have the same dream. A fire that starts out as a warm hearth, then evolves into a blazing inferno. As I have many times, I woke up that morning drenched in sweat. As I sat up and wiped my face with my hands someone knocked on my door. “Dante”. I Identified the soft yet authoritative voice as my mothers. “Your coronation begins in an hour, please be ready in time”. I gave out a sigh that vaguely sounded like a “yes” and began to get dressed. As a member of the royal family, I was to wear red silk velvet, embroidered in gold and lined in black ermite. As i finished getting dressed I looked at myself in the mirror. I wouldn’t say I resembled my either of my parents. My hair was black and my skin had a consistent red tinge as if I was perpetually sitting in a temperate sauna. The rest of my family had consistent features: brown hair, pale skin, and lanky figures that resembled the angels that the town’s artists often drew. My family worshipped these angels, and in turn loathed their hellborn counterparts. I heard the gossip and whispers from the common people, but that’s all it was. Gossip. I knew that I shared the blood

of my family, and I knew that the throne was rightfully mine. Today I would look over all of my subjects as they all revel in the glory of their new king, no matter what senseless bickering they do amongst themselves. Silently scolding myself for wasting my thoughts on such trivial matters, I exited my room. My brother David was waiting for me at the doorway to the balcony where I would be coronated. I regretfully had never thought much David. He was rash and foolish, and would rather converse with his sword than his words. I extended my right arm to my brother, and we grasped each others forearms; a greeting universal to our family. “No one knows why father disappeared, but i’m sure he wouldn't want anyone else to take your place” 70


David spoke in a gruff voice as if his throat was always parched, but I could tell he meant what he said. As I walked through the doorway to the balcony, I raised the back of my hand over my face to shield myself from the morning sun, and was immediately rushed by the sound of whooping and cheering. I felt a huge wave of relief. It had finally happened. All my life I was harshly groomed to be the perfect successor to the throne, and I had sacrificed many relationships along the way. I never played sports with children my age. Mother believed I should stay inside and study the gospels. I never had a girlfriend. Mother believed a girl would cause me to lose focus. I hardly interacted with anyone but my family. The only times being when father allowed me to attend council meetings with him. None of that mattered now, for I am king. I sat on the throne pondering what my first orders should be. Putting aside all of the annoying complaints from the commoners, the next pressing matter was locating my father. My uncle Thomas had said that my father hadn’t been seen since he went mad and feld the castle. If my righteous father fled his kingship then he had a good reason, so getting to speak with him was

my priority. That night I decided to sneak out to the lake right outside of the castle. The way the moonlight peeked through the tree branches

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DEATH OF A BACHELOR by Libby Maulding

I’m so excited because today is the day I finally get to interview to be on the Bachelor! I walk into the room and all the producers are staring at me, they tell me to sit down and then start asking me all kinds of questions. “ So stacey what is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?” “Well I just love going out and having a good time but I also stay in and have chill nights at home.” “So do you like to have chill nights at home or go out?” “YES!” “Ok… that didn’t answer my question, but we will move on. So the new Bachelor is Brad, how do you feel about that?” “ Oh my gosh!!!! I LOVE BRAD!!!!! I watched last season and he was my favorite contestant, he

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is definitely husband material.” “ Ok cool we will call you in three weeks and let you know if you got on the show.” “Yay! I’ll see you guys in three weeks when I’m called back!” 3 weeks later I’m pacing back and forth my mind is spinning it’s exactly three weeks from when I interviewed and I’m so anxious to get the call. What if I don’t make it? What if I do make it? Am I ready to get married? The phone rings, I race over to the phone and almost fall flat on my face when doing so, “Hello?” “Hi is this Stacey?” “yes this is she.” “Well I am just calling to let you know that you are going to be on The Bachelor so you are going to need to have tons of different outfit choices for any different occasion and bring lots of dresses. We will email you all the details congrats!” The phone clicks off. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I’m going to be on the Bachelor. Over the next two weeks I frantically buy shorts, coats, swimsuits, dresses, and about every other article of clothing imaginable. I say goodbye to my family and fly to Los Angeles, when I finally get to my hotel room I collapse onto the bed, I can’t believe tomorrow is the big day, I finally get to meet my future husband. I wake up that morning and the day seems to drag on forever but then it’s finally time for me to start getting ready and I have to be in the lobby by 7. I make my way down to the lobby and there is another pack of girls there too, the contestants. I walk over to them and we start chatting about how excited we are and then the limousine pulls up and we all pile in. I am going to be the first girl to meet Brad tonight. The ride seems to take forever but then we finally turn onto the shiny cobblestone driveway and then up to the infamous Bachelor mansion, and there he is, my husband. “I’ve dreamed about

this moment for like, ever!” one girl shrieked. It is my time shine I think “Alright girls wish me luck!” I open the door and time stands still… we lock eyes and I could just tell he was in love with me already. I walk over “Hi I’m stacey nice to meet you.” “Hi I’m Brad.” “Wow” I say and then he laughs, he must think I the funniest girl ever. “Well… I’ll see you inside!” “Hehe yeah.” I’

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m the first girl in the mansion cause the other girls haven’t come out yet. Wow this place is huge! I walk over to the bar and get a martini, this is going to be a loooooooong night. Girls continue to trickle in and I make small talk with them and finally after three hours Brad walks in. “Hi ladies so glad you all could make it I have a feeling my wife is in this room tonight and that gets me so excited!” I push through the other girls as quickly as possible and grab Brad’s hand. “Can I steal you away first?” “Um Sure.” I am leading him away and can’t help but notice the dirty looks I was getting. Oh well they just hate me because they ain’t me. We sit down on the sofa and my palms are sweating and I shaking a little. “Hi again, so how is it going?” Wow he is so handsome, oh no he asked me a question oops I wasn’t listening. “Ummmm how are you feeling?” “Oh ok, well I’m feeling good, I think there is a lot of potential here.” “Yeah I’m so lucky to be here.” “I’m glad you’re here.” Then I hear click, clack, click, clack and another girl comes over, “can I steal him?” “Ummmmm sure” I say. Just like that she takes him and he’s gone. We had such a great conversation and we were really having hitting it off. I mean he said he was glad to have me and I bet he doesn’t say that to every girl. I really have to pee so I go back into the house to find a bathroom and I can’t find one but I finally see one at the end of a long dark hallway. I go in and lock the door then I start to hear someone talking, dang these must be thin walls. The talking starts to get louder “girlllll you’re going to need a miracle if you want to be engaged at the end of this.” “Who’s there??????” “Helloooooooo! It’s me!” I slowly turn around, “it can’t be’ there’s no way.” “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I fling the door open and sprint down the hallway almost peeing myself. I sit down on a back patio and

now I really have to pee. I had to be imagining that, I bet it was one of the girls messing with me. I can quickly run back and pee, I bet the girl who was messing with me has left by now. I speed walk back down the hall, close the down, pee and I don’t hear anything good. I am washing my hand finally starting to relax when I hear “rude.” “Some people these days I swear.” So for good measure I say “oooo I’m so scared of this ghost you got me really good guys but it 74


didn’t work I’m still in here. Also I don’t believe in ghosts.” I turn the water off and am drying my hands, “you don’t believe in ghosts but you just talked to one, so now what do you think?” “wow I’m so scared I need my mommy” I sarcastically retort. I’m leaving when it says “STOP! Please I’m just trying to help you, I was listening to your conversation with Brad and it was a disaster, you didn’t even talk about anything.” “Yes we did, we both said how happy we were to be here and he said he was glad I was here!” “Listen do you want to win, and get engaged?” “Yes!” “Then I can help you!” “What do you mean?” “I was a contestant once on this show, I was similar to you young, blonde, beautiful, and a bimbo.” “HEY!” “ Look the truth hurts, but I was perfect for Chad on my season but he didn’t want me because I “wasn’t mature,” what a lame excuse. Anyway I ended up dying a year later from a broken heart and I swore that I would come back and help someone who was just like me win.” I stood there dumbfounded, I’m talking to a ghost. Maybe she’s right maybe the only way I can win is if she helps me I mean maybe the conversation me and Brad had wasn’t that interesting. “ Fine if you think you can help me win than do it, but I could win on my own.” “Perfect!, just sit back and relax and watch the magic happen.” I leave the bathroom and can’t stop thinking about my ghost interaction, is she really going to sabotage everyone else? Am I really going to go all the way and win? The rest of the night is a blur because I may have drank one too many martinis but I got a rose and there are ten of us left. I wake and I keep thinking about this really strange dream about me and a ghost in the bathroom, but it felt so real. I walk downstairs and look to the left and I see someone in the bathroom vomiting. “Oh no! Are you ok?” She slowly lifts he head from the toilet and she looks awful and is covered in vomit “I’ve been better I think I got food poisoning from the food I ate last night. Later that day we find out that Sally decided to go home because she was feel-

ing so sick. I felt bad but then I was a little happy because that means less competition. Then Chris Harrison walks in (the host of the Bachelor) “Hey ladies we are all sad that Sally had to go home and we are looking into how she got so sick because all the food we had last night wasn’t out of date. Anyway today is the group date so go get changed into some active wear. We all get changed and take a limo to a big open field. In the field I see Brad looking as handsome as 75


ever. We all run over to him and hug him. He describes how we are going to be competing in an obstacle course challenge today. The obstacle course is crazy you have to crawl in mud, so gross, climb over a wall, bob for apples, keep an egg on a spoon, and then put on a wedding dress. “On your mark, get set, go!” I run as fast as I can and fling myself into the mud and start to barrel crawl. “Owwww it’s in my eyes how did that even happen!?!” I hear another girl yell. I made it out I’m in the top 5 then I start to scale this wall with a rope, it’s so hard I barely have the strength for this. “My rope is shaking I can’t get a grip on it ugh!” the girl next to me shouts and she is the most athletic, now I might have a chance. I eventually make it over with what seems to be a strange boost. I grab an egg, and spoon, and start to carry the egg on the spoon in my mouth. I am steadily walking and then I see the girl’s egg in front of me explode “owwwww!” “sorry you have to restart at the beginning” Brad yells over to her. She starts crying and runs off, “my eyes” she cries “they burnnnn!” I made it to the end and now it is time to put on the wedding dress and there is only one other girl who can still win but when she gets to where I am there isn’t a dress for her to put on. She scrambles and starts to look all over the place but it’s too late I won. I won and now I get to have Brad all to myself and all the other girls have to go home! We both go change into nice clothes and go on a nice dinner date. We talk about how happy I am to be here and how happy he is that I’m here it’s perfect! I get back to the house and the other girls tell me that two more girls have left. “Why?” Well Lauren got egg in her eyes and she was not having a good time so she went home, then Hannah A. said that she was being haunted. I don’t know but she said every time she went to the bathroom the toilet water would spray up at her and her clothes were always being moved and hidden.” “Oh” I say I can’t believe it three girls have already left because of something bad, I walk out of the

room and race down to the bathroom where I met my ghost friend, who I’m starting to believe is real and not just a dream. I walk in and close the door, “helloooo” “what’s shakin bacon?” “I thought I had dreamt that I met you but I didn’t and now I’m so going to win Brad’s heart especially after that nice date! All thanks to you!” “You’re welcome there is no one I would rather have win, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve just wait and see!” The next day I wake up and 76


there is a rose ceremony that evening and I’m excited to see even more girls go home! All seven of us get dressed and it time for me to get my rose. We are all standing there waiting when Brad comes in “Hey everybody I had a great day yesterday getting to know you and I hope that you can all stick around!” He starts to laugh nervously and I feel a brief moment of pity for him but then I remember that I am the perfect person to be his wife so the feeling quickly fades. He starts calling our names “Morgan” he says first then she thanks him and they hug blah blah who cares “Hannah W.” before me!?!?! Ok whatever it is fine I’ll be next “Hannah J.” ugh! “Hannah P.” Really Hannah J and P and W?????? “Addison.” Am I not getting a rose!?!? “ Kaitlyn.” Chris Harrison walks out “Ladies, Brad there are one... two… oh haha I miscounted there is only one rose left, choose carefully.” “Ok ummmm….. Sa Stacey” I strut over with a huge grin on my face “thanks!” I coo and strut back. Brad looks sick, Sandra walks over and hugs him goodbye, I hear him whisper “I’m sorry I wanted to say your name but…. It is like I couldn’t.” What!?!?! He wasn’t going to give me a rose. After the rose ceremony is over I storm over to the bathroom and lock the door. “You have got to be kidding me! I thought you said you were going to try and help me but did you SEE what just happened!” “Listen I’m trying you need to put in a little more effort here and stop talking about how much you love to be here! Don’t you know how to be more charming, don’t you have some brains in your head?” “I’m trying my best here and I am being charming and cute I don’t know what else to talk about shoes????? My horoscope, oooo I’ ve never mentioned to him that we have compatible signs!” “DON’T talk about your horoscope! Talk about your life struggles, even make up something you have struggled with that makes you stronger. Bachelors love that kind of crap.” I storm off, I can’t believe I was still picked last even after our amazing one on one. I wake up the next day and put yesterday behind me, the past is

the past and now it’s time to win over my husband. I come downstairs and Chris Harrison walks in and tells us that we are having a pool party today, perfect! I get into my cutest swimsuit and meet all the other girls down by the pool. It is a GORGEOUS day outside and the Brad walks in and he looks AMAZING. We all hang out by the pool all day and I get the chance to steal Brad away I am quickly pulling him behind me so he won’t get stolen away. It all goes black. I rub my 77


eyes as the fuzzy hospital room starts to come into focus. I can hear people talking about me when I realize that my mom is there “mom” I quietly mumble. Her heads whips around “Stacey! Thank God you’re ok I have been worried sick for weeks!” “weeks? I only just slipped and fell a few hours ago.” “Oh no Stacey.” “what?” She turn back around to the doctor and starts to talk bout me again I can’t quite make out what she's saying but she sounds worried. I look over at the bed beside me and it’s Brad! He was asleep too and I figured I shouldn’t wake him. What happened I only just slipped by the the pool with Brad and we must have both hit our heads. “Stacey!” I can tell it’s my sister’s voice calling me she is running to the side of my bed, “mom told me you were awake, how are you feelings?” “Good. Meghan?” “Yeah?” “What happened?” She sighed and glanced over making sure that mom and dad were busy talking to the doctor, why won’t anyone tell me what happened I deserve to know!” “Listen I’m not sure if this is good idea to tell you all of this and the doctor said he didn’t want to overwhelm you with information if you didn’t remember. S do you know who that guy is over there?” She is motion towards Brad, “of course I know who that is it’s Brad the Bachelor.” By the look on her face I could tell that wasn’t the right answer but even still she said “actually he is more than the Bachelor he is your fiance.” “So I won then and he proposed to me?” “You won what? Life?” “I won the Bachelor, it worked!” “Um no you have been together for four years and I’m pretty sure you have never gone onto the Bachelor.” “oh,” I don’t have anything more to say, we have been together for four years? Ok at least I know that his name is Brad she didn’t say that was wrong. Then she starts to speak interrupting my thought process, “ you were in a car accident S, it wasn’t your fault you were making a left turn and you had an arrow, when a car came out of nowhere and hit you and it totaled their car and yours. You’ve been in the hospital for weeks in a

coma and so has Brad.” I look over at him, he is still, but he’s breathing I guess he is still in a coma. My mind races and I don’t know how to process all of this, was everything about the Bachelor a dream or was it based on anything true? There was a ghost, why was there a ghost, am I being haunted in real life? I try and think back to my last memory college graduation, I had graduated a only a few weeks prior going onto the Bachelor. “Did I just graduate college then?” 78


She looks worried for an instant then decides to conceal whatever she is feeling. “Yeah a little bit ago you graduated.” “With a bachelors in education?” I offer and for a brief moment she looks relieved. “Yes!” The doctor calls my sister over and then I am alone with my thoughts and memories or at least what I have left. I am getting the feeling I did not just graduate college due to the brief moment of panic in my sister’s face and she never gave me a time period of how many months ago I graduated, just “a little bit ago.” My mind is racing but sleep overtakes me and I slowly nod back off. I am awoken by some doctor who voice does not sound very nice. “Stacey” “yes?” “Now that you have woken up I think I should tell you what happened.” Blah blah blah he tells me about the car crash and medical stuff I don’t understand. “So you have been in a coma for about 3 weeks now, but your sister mentioned something about you thinking that you had graduated from college recently.” “Yeah I think I graduated a few weeks ago, maybe a month or so?” “Well you graduated four years ago and we can’t seem to understand how much or little of the last four years you remember.” What!?!? I might not remember the last four years of my life, it’s like there is a missing chunk of a book but when you read it you don’t realize it’s missing but there is so much important information in those chapters. My life is the book and I can’t remember the last four years of my life, how am I going to fill in the blanks? I don’t even know where the blanks are. “Stacey!” “What?” “We are trying our best to figure this out for you but it’s going to take some time. You’re lucky you made it out alive and you didn’t get physically hurt that much. Brad on the other hand, we aren’t sure about him yet.” Then he walked away, I have so many thought I don’t even know what to think is Brad going to be ok?, I love Brad or I think I do. Do I even know him though besides the person he was is my dream. Does he remember me? I stay in the hospital a few more days and then I get discharged and

my parents drive me to my apartment which they inform me I was sharing with Brad. I walk in and I can immediately tell that this is my apartment, everything is decorated just like I would decorate it. I feel an instant sense of relief here which is something I haven’t felt in the last few days. I walk over to the room I assume me and Brad stayed in and it all feels so weird I feel like I’m learning about my own life from other people. I can’t help but wonder if I am the same per79


son I was before the accident. I go into my bathroom and can’t help but to expect to see a ghost, but it’s quiet thank goodness. I rifle through my own stuff and Brad’s when I glance at my nightstand and see a picture of Brad and me at the Grand Canyon. We look good together, we look exactly how I thought we would look in my dream/ coma thing. My parents decide to stay the night which I am more than relieved to hear, I could use some company right now. I wake up and smell bacon being cooked in my kitchen, it’s nice to have mom and dad home. I walk out my bedroom and head straight for the kitchen and treat myself to some crispy bacon, now that is something I’ll never forget. I crunching away on the bacon when a phone rings, well as it turns out when my phone rings. I walk into another room and answer the call. “Hello is this Stacey?” “This is she.” “This is Dr. Drake Ramoray and I am sorry to be calling you so early but I just thought I should inform you that Brad passed away last night. We did everything we could to try and save him, I’m sorry for your loss.” I hang up, I don’t want to hear him talk anymore. Brad died. I feel sad but only the type of sad you feel when a distant relative passes. He was my fiance and I don’t even know how I feel, I didn’t even know the guy. I trudge back into the kitchen, I lost my appetite. “What are you supposed to do when the fiance that you don’t remember dies?” My parents both gasp and turn to me. “Aw honey” my mom rushes over to console me. I sob and I feel like a faucet someone forgot to turn off I just cry and cry and cry. “It’s just that, that I don’t know what my own life is like and my fiance DIED and don’t even feel that sad cause I can’t remember him, I don’t even remember what his voice sounds like.” I can tell my mom doesn’t know what to say so she just hugs me. I stand there and sob and sob and sob into her shoulder until I feel like I have no tears left to cry. I trudge back to my room and lay down on my bed and I just stare at the ceiling and I eventually fall asleep, I hope this all was

just a really really bad dream.

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SHORT REPARATIONS By Luis Lazcano It was a cold, dark time. The crew had just returned from an unsuccessful mission, their first loss. With the crushed self-esteem like that of his crew, the Capitan set course for Crimson, to meet with the Chancellor. Once the coordinates were ready Rex initiated the jump sequence to Crimson. Once the ship jumped to lightspeed Rex headed back to the common area to talk to his crew but before he could do so the ship’s hyper-reactor failed putting The Enforcer into regular space. Rex, on instinct shot back to the dock to keep the ship from crashing into a ran-

dom star or planet. Once in the cabin Rex was distressed to find out that they have appeared in the middle of an asteroid field and evasive maneuvers were to be undertaken. Nearly avoiding death and the complete destruction of The Enforcer running back into the ship Rex told Jack to run checks on the hyper-reactor to try and figure out what went wrong. Jack running into the engine room, Lisa went up asking “What’s wrong, Rex? We just heard an explosion come from the engine room and the ship started doing quick maneuvers.” “the hyper-reactor seems to have failed and we appeared in the middle of an asteroid belt. I am going to need you to locate where we are relative to Crimson.” Responded Rex. “Meanwhile I will contact the chancellor to notify him of our events.” Rex stated as he headed back to his quarters. Then I one distressed cry the rest of the crew asked, “What are we to do?!” to which Rex simply said, “Stay put.” In his chambers Rex sat down to think and process the events, first Andromeda-7 and now this? Begrudgingly Rex reached for his panel to relay the events down to the chancellor. But his attempt was unsuccessful, the telecom’s antennas have been damaged and rendered useless without repairs. Heading back to the crew he went to talk to Jack to get an update on the engine situation. “The hyper-reactor was shot but luckily the main engine is still online and 81


we haven’t lost fuel” jack responded with a disillusioned yet relieved tone. “OK, that should be enough to get us to a nearby planet and get supplies” Rex responded heading soon over to Lisa to know their location. “We are currently about 10 parsecs from Crimson, but we are in a well inhabited solar system so finding supplies won’t be hard” upon hearing Rex set course for the nearby planet to gather supplies to fix the hyper-reactor. Arriving upon the desert planet of Saarland, Rex left out into the city with Jack to buy hyper-threads for the reactor and tools to fix the antenna. The planet looked bleak and desolate but the one sprawling city in the center of it all. Walking through the populated streets of the city Rex was able to find a general space cruiser supply depot. Jack leaving to get the hypertreads, Rex looked for the tools and wires he needed to repair the antenna. After handing over the sum of 50000 credits for the treads and tools they headed back to the Enforcer to make the necessary repairs. On arriving back to their ship Rex finds that Lisa has mapped out an efficient course to Crimson from their location. Gathering his other tools he had stored in the storage closet Rex headed to the top of the ship’s hull to make the needed repairs on the antenna while jack fixed the hyper-reactor. On the top of the ship the planet’s sun was beaming down on him with full force and the heat from the ship’s quadranium hull was hot enough to burn a saalac bar on contact. Fixing the antenna, hands scorched from the heat Rex returns to his chambers to test the connection and contact the chancellor about their situation. Rex dialed up the codes to contact the chancellor and… It worked the system was dialed and all there was, was to wait for a response. Every second that passed felt like an eternity to itself but after what seemed like ages the chancellor’s hologram appeared and Rex relayed all the events that he and his crew have

went through explaining to him their unforeseen misfortunes and their efforts to fix them. The chancellor then replied to Rex, to his surprise, in a rather understanding tone. Rex then goes on to che on Jack’s progress on the reactor which was almost complete, it was just in need of some soldering and system reboots and diagnostics. Knowing this Rex then headed over to Lisa’s map to input it into the the central navigator to initiate the jum as soon as they were ready. 82


After a last diagnostic jack gave the ok to make the jump to lightspeed, Rex launched the ship out of the planet an aligned for the jump. Getting all the controls ready navigation systems online Rex made the jump to hyperspace. Crimson being 10 parsecs away he headed to his chambers once again to rest for a while to recharge from everything. After his small nap he headed back to the cockpit to get ready to enter Crimson. Walking past the common are he noticed that both Jack and lisa weren’t there but he knew they were just in their own chambers resting from the events. Seated in the cockpit he readied the systems to prepare from hyperspace and land on Crimson. As soon as they come back from the jump Nova League have been poised and ready to attack Rex and his crew and lay fire upon them. Immediately rex puts the ship into emergency mode and sound the alarms for Lisa and Jack to man the lower and auxiliary turrets to suppress the Nova fighters. Through the flashing red and deafening alarm Jack and lisa each man their respective turrets to suppress the enemy. Taking down all the enemy ships the last remaining one gets a direct hit on the engine causing it to shut down but not before Lisa then shoots it down to prevent it from causing further damage. The ship crashing down, burning up in the planet's atmosphere Rex manages to find an empty airstrip to attempt to land. Lisa and Jack quickly strap up to brace for impact as parts of the ship com flying of one by one and piece by piece. At the final stretch of the landing the main hull starts to peel back and then gets ripped apart from the ship nearly sucking Lisa out until she gets something to grab on to. Deploying the landing gear Rex violently crashes onto the ground as he tries to land the ship making a vicious sheering and scraping sound as parts crack, tear and smash on their own weight. Until at

last the ship comes to a stop Rex releasing what's left of the emergency exit systems, ship on fire, they all escape from The enforcer before it collapses unto which on the landing strip the chancellor has been there waiting for them. Preparing for the worst Rex goes up to the chancellor but before he can speak he tell him and hit crew to not worry as they can get a new ship ready for them and while yet they may have lost at Andromeda-7 that doesn't mean they have 83


lost it completely and when the the crew readies themselves with training and they get their new ship the time will arise to which they will take back Andromeda-7 and they will rid the republic of the Nova and their leader and bring back order and simplicity back to the people.

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APALACHA by Murphy A. Belknap

Frigid. That’s the only word I can use to describe my barren environment. A backpack lay by my side as I gently rolled and forced myself to get up from the frostbitten ground. As my feet pressed against the Earth, what was on my feet? Uggs? Regardless of my footwear, crunches made themselves heard across the reflective mountainside on which I discovered myself. I’ve been stuck in this picturesque yet unknown world for only one day, but it has felt everlasting. Hopefully, there is someone out there that is aware of my absence; however, the feeling of loss

can be no greater than inside of my own soul. These words mark my only release from my harsh reality, even though it only serves as a slight reduction in severity to my new found existence. Unlike many, I can claim that I was born yesterday as my memory, like my happiness, evades me. I walked periodically throughout my day, in between wondering and questioning my life, struggling to remember what was only the vision of my eyes. I had deduced from my body that I was older than a kid and younger than an elder, but the rest remained unknown. That day had

been particularly taxing and so I chose to decorate my camp in a manner that pleased my eyes and the part of my soul that remained. I think I am the first to realize just what lonely is, but then again, there would be no way to know if there was another. As my fire began to dim, I gazed upon my decorations with worried content as my eyes succumbed. Wait. What was this, why was I standing up on a plane? Suddenly, I was running as fast as I could towards an open hatch, two backpacks in hand; one on my back and one clutched in my arms. When I reached the door, I jumped without hesitation out into the snowy cold, but 85


just as I did so, one of the men chasing me yelled, “Just do it for me!� I opened my parachute and plunged towards the ground far faster than I intended, unfortunately getting stuck at the top of a tree. The sharp limbs had punctured the fabric making it impossible to get it free and rendering me well and truly stuck. I was forced to unbuckle my myself, but I immediately regretted my decision as gravity pulled me towards a boulder and my mind went blank. My eyes shot open and I woke to find that my coat did little to shield me from the penetrating cold and fear that had surrounded me for all of two days, utterly dazed. I was in the middle of packing up my tent and decorations when I caught a human form out of the corner of my eye; a footprint. I couldn’t help but wonder why, of all places, a cold, snowy mountainside had become its resting place, but the implications left me pleased: possibly there was someone else. I quickly finished packing up and began my ascent up a nearby peak. As I climbed, my lungs became increasingly aware of the lack of oxygen in the air, but I tightened my glove straps, pulled my hair back, put on my hood, and continued trekking along the path of the stranger. What could he or she be like? Were they friendly? And I guess most importantly, did they know who I was? I had followed the footsteps for many miles before the cause of their forthcoming became apparent. As I neared the mountain top, more footprints made themselves visible to my curious eyes, but as my legs propelled my body over the snowy precipice, my curiosity slowly grew to fear. In the valley below lay 17 established structures and at least two people living in each one, so far as I could tell from my perch high above; however, I was truly faced with only one option. I could avoid the populous and attempt to live out my life in the desolate mountains, all while trying to find where I had come from, or I could just gather the courage to walk down to them with the hope that one would recognize me. The choice was clear, so I scrambled my exhausted body down the slope until I set one foot in the boundaries of the town, perhaps making the

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link to my new life. Several pairs of wandering eyes traced my tracks as I inched my way further into the territory of another. A young-looking guy abruptly peeked out of a building a few hundred feet away. He began approaching the center of the town, mirroring me, and he looked oddly about the age

that I imagined myself to be. We locked eyes as we ventured in each other’s direction, seemingly both as interested and confused as the other. But another feeling made itself known just as quickly as the others, but I couldn’t define it. My only observation was my sudden loss of balance and the heat I had accumulated leaving my body all at once, my last sight being his mysterious eyes. Once again, my synapses fired and then there I was, a young girl, about six if I had to propose a guess, walking down the hallway of a house that I could only assume to be mine. I continued towards my destination, a room at the end of the hallway, but I slowed myself nearing the entrance as I heard it; the yelling of disagreement. I continued my journey only to see two people arguing and yelling at each other. Inevitable as it was, all I had the ability to do was remain, and my eyes, see, my mind, remember. A bald man with glasses, Lee, the woman was saying, was the aggressor in this situation, but it seemed more like déjà vu than it should have been. Abruptly, my mind switched to a later date and I was laying in a bed. That’s all I doing, laying down, eyeing the ceiling, attempting to suppress my inner fear. The question, where was he? constantly cycling through my troubled mind, but my question was soon answered as footsteps approached the doorway. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best as Lee passed by my bedside, gave me a kiss on the forehead, and proceeded to lay in his bed at the opposite side of the room. Cold sweats coursed over my body, leaving my bed soaked, my body sleep deprived, and my mind in a never-ending downward spiral, and blackness discovered a home in my field

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of vision. As I opened my eyes, I saw the town I had found in the frigid mountains. I lay on a bed with more blankets than I had ever seen and was snuggling up with them just as the young-looking guy made himself known from a chair in the corner of the room. He stood up, walked over to my bedside, and sat on a nearby stool, meanwhile I sat up against the wall to my back and faced his penetrating eyes. His eyes showed me so much all at once, such as I had slept for two days. I paused to realize that my fourth day had been my most hopeful up to this point. Further investigation led me to see the source of his interest and he mine, unfortunately it wasn't what I had hoped. His name was James and his widening eyes showed me that he had never seen anyone traverse the mountains alone from a direction in which there was nothing, but they also revealed that he had never seen my face before, yet something felt odd. So much information had been conveyed, yet we had not spoken a single word, minds linked effortlessly with information and experience from our own respective minds. I had felt nothing like this before. We both seemed more at home that we ever had, despite the fact that it was much different for me. You see, I knew James, his most desired goals, what his past had been like, and what his overwhelmed mind was thinking as he struggled to understand our mental connection. I knew everything about him, yet he only knew about four days of my life, he didn’t even know my name. So we were both left clueless as to my existence prior to my snowy introduction, outside of the dreams that I only slightly understood. Approximately six minutes had passed, our minds having broken the barriers of mental capability and stability. Next thing I knew, he was holding my hand. I looked down and saw this interaction and he did as well, thus triggering him to pull his hand away, stand up, and walk out of the building while I remained under the blankets with my thoughts. I knew about everything that he 88


had experienced in life, but his reasoning was elusive to me. Why had he not tried to run away from here? Why did he not see if there was someone who felt just as lonely as him? I couldn’t answer those questions for sure, but I guess he was happy with his decision as he stepped into the open doorway once more with a look of absolute embarrassment. What I did next surprised both of us, I started smiling and then laughing at his efforts. No matter their seeming ineffectiveness, he and I were both smiling, despite the unfortunate situation I, and now he, were stuck in. Unanticipatedly, James turned and looked over his shoulder. I could see through his eyes three men trodding through the snow towards him, but one lit much more than just a lightbulb. As I focused on one of the wanderers it twinged a certain nerve from many years ago. James turned back and faced me and I could see the remembrance in his eyes. I was stunned. How could it be? James expression immediately changed from one of worry to one of hate as he turned to face the wanderers. He had walked about half the distance to meet them when he heard my voice in his head saying wait. James stopped dead in tracks as the bald man yelled, “Where is she?!” James said nothing, but he could see the anger quickly building up inside of the man from the plane. Just as he was about to yell again, I stepped out of the doorway into the sunny, deceptively cold environment to face him. My mind gave me all the strength I needed to move my frozen feet towards Lee and the two others and in front of James. Lee then chose to say, “I had one request and you disobeyed me. We were supposed to have fun, I just wanted to try some-

thing new,” in a somewhat pleading voice. When I squared up to the two muscle-bound men in front of my one familiarity, only I could hear James asking what I was going to do, and the thoughts he received left him in shock. He was frozen in place and didn’t know how to react to the information he had just received. 89


But after a few moments, I could feel his courage increasing to match mine as he came to my side; both of our inner fires had been ignited. Soon, multiple inhabitants of the village, or rather my village, ventured out of their dwellings to stand by my side and I looked around to see that everyone had come to help me. I had been left with nothing, no name and only a few terrifying memories, and these people were coming to help me. Now, it seemed that the fearful faces lay in front of me rather than in a mirror. I took one last look at James, and his eyes told me all I needed to know. I was now more complete than I have ever been. I hadn’t spoken since I woke up beneath that tree four days ago, but the first words to escape my lips could never have been more liberating or more truthful than in that very moment when I said, “I may know you, but I’m not obligated to go with you. You can’t control me!”

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THE END By Olivia Guerra

The first thing I remember is darkness. Darkness and pain. It was as if all the light in the world had been replaced by a fire in my lungs. I tried to find my bearings. There were rocks all around me. I couldn’t tell up from down. I wanted nothing more than to be free. I thought about the

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fresh air, the sunlight, the clouds, the birds, everything about the outside world. Suddenly sunlight burst through the cracks between the rocks. Someone must have helped me. My ears rang as I stood up. I looked around, expecting to find whoever lifted the rocks off of me, but there was no one. Foundations of buildings covered in shattered glass and broken pieces of walls and doors surrounded me. Smashed cars, downed trees, and street lights lined the roads. “What happened?” I wondered. And that’s when I saw it. The crater around me. It looked as if something had fallen from the sky and landed on me. I looked up at the sky. A giant meteor flew through the sky above me. Some of it must have fallen. How was I alive? How was I the only thing that had survived? My attention was pulled by a crunching, squealing sound coming from the rubble. I frantically searched for a weapon. I had no way of knowing if the sound I was hearing came from a friend or an enemy. I armed myself with a fallen street sign. I crept toward the sounds, ready to jump backward and run away if needed. I hid behind a rock for safety. I peered around the corner of the rock. The sound was coming from a golf cart of sorts. Its occupants seemed to have abandoned it much earlier. It was still running. If I could just flip it over, maybe I could find someone. Anyone. I gently pushed the top of the cart. The cart flew through the air and landed about 50 yards away from me. What I saw scared me. Was that real? How did I do that? But I didn’t have time to indulge in my curiosities. I needed to get out of there. I got in the cart and started driving along the narrow clear path in the road. After hours of driving, I finally arrived at the one building still intact. All the buildings around it

had been destroyed but this building seemed to be perfect. I walked through the doors. I was immediately shocked by what I found. It seemed to be a lair of sorts. Dozens of computer screens lined the walls. Most of them seemed to be monitoring the meteor. In the corner of the room, there were several computer screens dedicated to monitoring nearby security camera

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footage. Maybe I could find footage of what happened to me. Whatever event caused the crater. The cameras were labeled by street name. What was the name of the street? I pictured the street sign in my mind. I could see my surroundings: the flipped golf cart, the rubble, the crater. I could hear the rocks tumbling in the distance, feel the dust in my lungs. The sounds of rocks falling grew increasingly louder and more real. I opened my eyes to find myself back where I had started. Back in the crater, my hands wrapped around the street sign. Detire Street,

it read. “I must be dreaming or something,” I thought. I closed my eyes and pinched my arm, expecting to find myself passed out on the lair floor, but when I opened my eyes, I was still in the crater. I closed my eyes again and pinched harder. I was still in the crater. “What the hell is happening?” First the golf cart, now this. Who am I? What am I? What did I do? I began walking in the same direction as before, towards the building. After miles of walking under the beating sun, I felt like I might pass out. I needed food, water, shade, or I knew I wouldn’t make it. I knew if I had traveled from the building to the crater, I could travel from here to the building. I concentrated on the building, closed my eyes, and strained my muscles. When I opened my eyes I hadn’t moved. I tried again but still, nothing. I continued walking along the narrow path of clear ground. As I walked, I could feel my energy draining. My legs felt weak. My vision became blurry. I was so dizzy I didn’t even realize I had drifted from my path. I tripped and fell into a shattered window. The sharp glass made a deep gash in my thigh. My leg gushed blood. My only way of getting back to the building was by walking which just became much more difficult. It was impossible for me to make it back on foot before I bled out. I sat on the sidewalk, wallowing in

self-pity. After a few minutes of sitting in the sun, bleeding out, I lost consciousness. When I woke up I had no clue how long I had been unconscious. I looked at my leg, expecting to see the gash surrounded by a puddle of blood. But it was nowhere to be found. The puddle of blood had soaked into the sidewalk and the gash was gone. There was no scar, no scab, noth-

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ing. I was in awe. Tears welled in my eyes. I had no clue what was happening to me and I had no one to talk to and no way of figuring it out. I had to get off the street, I couldn’t stay here anymore. I desperately tried again to get back to the building. I pictured what I had seen in the lair. The computers, the breeze from the air conditioning blowing on my face, the sound of the computer fans running, the smell of stale air. Suddenly the sensations I imagined became so much more real. I opened my eyes and I was there in the lair. I stumbled back in fear. I didn’t have time to be scared, I needed to find out what happened to me. I went to the security cameras and searched for one near Detire Street. I found it and rewound the footage to earlier that day. Nothing, the same rubble, everything was already destroyed. I rewound again to the day before. Nothing. I rewound day by day for over 3 months worth of footage until I finally found it; the day it happened. I watched in horror as a projectile surrounded by light plummeted to the ground. The Earth around it crumbled into nothingness. But what was it? What fell from the sky and caused all this destruction. I rewound to just before the projectile hit the ground and paused it. It almost looked like it was human. It’s not possible. It can’t be. I zoomed in. It almost looked like… me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I may not have remembered my life before today but it wasn’t possible. There couldn’t have been a version of me that would do something like this. All this destruction, all this death, all this pain. It can’t be. It wasn’t. The walls around me started spinning. My eyes filled with tears. It felt as if all the oxygen had been taken from the air. I gasped for breath. I needed water. I found a bathroom and went to the sink. I splashed water over my face. As I looked in the mirror my face began to glow. My entire body began to glow. I radiated an orange light from my body. The

metal sink beneath my hands glowed red hot. It melted under me. I stumbled backward, horrified by what I saw. I tripped. I fell backward, bracing myself for the impact of hitting the floor. But it never came. I never hit the ground. I looked down around me. I was hovering, floating in the air. I leaned forward until my feet hit the floor. And then I knew the truth. It was true. I was

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the projectile that hit the Earth. But how did I survive? I woke up covered in rubble 3 months after crashing into the Earth and I survived. I went back to the computer room. I was determined to find signs of someone else, anyone else. I started searching through the security footage. I finally found it. Proof. There was footage of a car driving from about a week ago. I knew it was a long shot, but I needed to try. All around me the room started shaking. The walls began to crack. The building was coming down. The computer screens across the room started to turn to static. It was like a wave spreading to each of the screens. I knew it wouldn’t be long before all of the computers were dead. I needed to know what street the camera footage was from. Pieces of debris began to fall from the ceiling all around me. I got the location and ran out. Almost immediately after I passed through the doors at the front of the building, the building completely crumbled. Debris flew everywhere. A large window pane hurled toward me. I closed my eyes and put my

hands in front of my face as if it could do anything to protect me. I prepared myself for the impact. But it never came. I opened my eyes. The glass was frozen mid-air in front of me. I had frozen it. I could almost feel the glass in my hand as if my fingers were pressed against the cold, smooth surface. I waved my hand away from me and the window flew with my hand. “Great, another power,” I thought sarcastically. I had the golf cart and I knew where I was going; I just needed to figure out how to get there. I needed to find a map. I got in the golf cart and began driving. I searched every smashed car, every destroyed gas station, anywhere there might be a map. But I couldn’t find one. I didn’t even know if I was going in the right direction. I was about to give up all hope when I heard it; footsteps. It sounded like they were coming from every direction. The golf cart was surrounded by a cloud of fog. I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of me. I got out of the golf cart, ready to fight. I looked all around me but there was no one in sight. “Who’s there?” I

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called out. No response. “I don’t want any trouble. I just want to know what happened.” Suddenly the fog began to clear and I could see that I was surrounded by a group of people. The figures began to run toward me. I was ready to fight when they stopped. The figures began to shake. All but one of them seemed to crumble into dust. The wind began to pick up. It was almost as if the figure was sucking the air toward themselves. The wind picked up the dust. It floated through the air in streams toward the figure. The dust entered the figure and just like that it stopped. There was no fog or breeze. “You’re alive!” the figure called out. They walked over to me. It was a teenage girl. She had dark brown hair and pale skin. “I thought you were dead. I waited at the lair for weeks and you never showed up. I thought something must have gone wrong or something. What the hell happened to you?” She tried to hug me but I pulled away. “What? Who are you?” I asked. “Who am I? That’s not funny I was really worried about you.” She tried again to hug me but again I pulled away. “You really have no clue who I am, do you?” “No sorry.” “Oh my god. I’m your sister,” she explained, tears welling in her eyes. “What do you remember?”

“The first thing I remember is waking up under a pile of rocks this morning.” “Oh my god. Mel, you’ve been gone for 3 months.” “Is that my name? Who the hell am I, who the hell are you and what the hell happened?” 96


A tear rolled down her face. “Your name is Miela but everyone calls you Mel. I’m your sister. My name is Leah. And as for what happened… well, that’s a story for later. First, we need to get back to camp.” “Camp?” I asked. “Camp,” she responded. “You’ll see just come with me.” I was hesitant to trust her but I complied anyway. I couldn’t deny we did look like sisters. We had the same dark hair, same pale skin, same freckles, and the same eyes. She flew into the air. “Come on, follow me.” I hadn’t figured out how to control my powers yet, especially my flying. I had only ever done it once and it was an accident. I tried to fly, I jumped into the air and tried to focus on staying off the ground. I seemed to hover for a second before falling back to the ground. “What was that?” she laughed. “I haven’t figured it out yet.” “Well that’s obvious,” she scoffed. “It’s easy. All you have to do is think of floating. Imagine you’ re as light as a feather and just push off.” She made it sound so easy. I closed my eyes and thought “light” thoughts. I imagined myself as weightless as I feather and let my feet fall out from under me. I was doing it. I was flying.“So if you really don’t have any memories, you don’t remember how to use your powers? Or even what they are?” “No,” I explained, “I’ve figured out a few of them but I don’t even know how many I really have.” “Well there’s flying, obviously, there’s also healing, strength, and telekinesis.”

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“How did you do that thing earlier? With the fog and the wind and the doubles?” “Yeah, only I can do that one. Some of us have individual powers.” “Us? There are more of us? Where?” “Your individual power has always been your senses. They’re heightened. You’re more sensitive to your surroundings, you notice things before anyone else. It’s almost like you have foresight sometimes. Your senses also allow you to teleport. Since you see the world differently, you can remember all if the sensory experiences of being in a place and then you’re almost drawn to it.” She ignored my questions. “And what about the glowing one? What was that?” “The glowing one?” “Yeah I looked in the mirror and my whole face was glowing orange.” “I bet you’re wondering what really happened? How everything got destroyed?” She ignored my questions again. “Yeah, I mean I saw a video. I know it was me. But I don’t understand why. How could I do that?

I destroyed everything.” “Well, it all started when we were young. Mom was killed when you were 6. I was 5. After that, dad was all we had. Everyone believed mom had been killed by an earthquake. Everyone but us and dad. He was so sure that that couldn’t have been what happened. She has been murdered. 98


But the police wouldn’t believe him. They wrote him off as crazy. He was killed about a year later. After his murder, the police finally found evidence that linked one man to both their murders. Dad was right. After that, we only had each other. No one ever helped us, showed us any kindness, any charity, nothing. We lived together on the street, surviving off of whatever food we could find.” Tears welled in my eyes. “Our parents never explained to us what would happen when we were older. Getting our powers, I mean. We were both so mad at the world. No one ever believed us. It was their fault dad was dead. If they would’ve just believed him, they could have caught the man before he killed dad. After we got our powers, we made a plan. A plan to punish them. It was their fault. We decided to make it look like a natural disaster. We used our powers to create a meteor out of rocks and launched it just outside of our atmosphere. God, it took you weeks to get all the calculations done but you finally figured out the right trajectory to have it land back down in just the right spot. It would land right on top of the police precinct. But something went wrong. You fell.” “Wait. Are you telling me this was all on purpose?” “Not exactly. If things had gone according to plan the damage would’ve stayed within the boundaries of the city. But when you fell something happened. I didn’t understand how one person falling could’ve done so much damage until a minute ago. The “glowing power” you talked about, that one’s new. I think you might have gone nuclear.” “Nuclear?” I asked. My voice shook as I talked. I couldn’t believe it. Not only did I plan to de-

stroy the city, but I could also no longer deny that I had caused this. At least before I could’ve written it off as a complete accident. But it wasn’t. We had planned this. All this destruction. All this death. It was all my fault. I couldn’t breathe. As I gasped for breath I could feel myself start to heat up. I looked at my arms and legs. They glowed orange like they had in the bathroom.

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“Yeah, it was awesome. Before we only had the power to make a tiny meteor. But then you exceeded our expectations completely. You destroyed everything. Isn’t it great?” She seemed so proud of me. I couldn’t believe this. My sister was evil. I was evil. I could feel myself growing hotter. My legs became weak. I fell back onto a rock. She looked at the rock behind me and seemed to be happily shocked. She smiled at me and laughed. “What?” “Look at the rock.” I turned around and to my horror, I saw the rock glowing with the same orange energy as me. “You don’t just go nuclear, anything you touch turns nuclear too. This is great! Now you can turn the meteor nuclear too! Oh my gosh, that would do so much damage. Can you imagine? We could destroy the whole planet!” “What?” My stomach tied itself into knots. I couldn’t do this. “No. We can’t.” “What do you mean ‘we can’t’? We totally can. It’ll be so easy now! This is amazing!” “No, I mean I won’t. I can’t destroy the whole planet. I won’t.” “Yes. Yes, you will.” Her eyes darkened. The wind around us picked up. I was scared. I knew if I refused she would hurt me or kill others to make me help her.

“Let’s just wait until we get to camp, okay? Then we can talk about it with whoever else is there and we can decide what to do from there.” I knew it was useless to argue with her. We started walking toward camp. I could sense the tension between us. My only hope was that whoever was at this camp could convince her to stop. We arrived at a clearing in the rubble. There was a circle of tents around a campfire. “Where is everyone?” I asked. 100


“Dead.” I turned around in horror. There were at least 10 tents at the camp. How could everyone be dead? It was obvious they had been set up after the destruction. “We killed them. They tried to stop us from doing what we knew needed to be done.” “What? How could we have killed all these people? I don’t understand.” “Ugh,” she rolled her eyes. “You sound just like you did before I threw you off that damn meteor.” “What? You threw me?” I could feel my face starting to heat up, the arms began to glow. “Of course I did, you couldn’t stomach all the death. You were gonna stop me so… I tried to kill you. But you’re so stubborn you just refused to die.” I had to get out of there. I pushed off the ground and started to fly away. The wind blew me back down toward her. She began to duplicate, the fog rolled in, I could feel the heat from my face spread across my whole body. I woke up. The area around me had been destroyed. My sister laid dying 20 feet away from me. It was an accident. I wanted to reason with her, not kill her. I lost control of my powers. I had let off a bomb-like burst of nuclear energy. Her voice strained as she laughed. “Now you have to deal with the guilt of knowing you destroyed most of the planet and the guilt of knowing you killed your own sister. All the survivors left will be killed by the meteor. Congratulations!” Her

eyes closed and her breathing stopped. I cried. The one person I had found, my sister, was dead and it was all my fault. I knew I couldn’t do anything to change that but I could protect the people left on Earth. I flew toward the meteor like a bullet. I could feel my body heat up and glow as I thought of what could happen to the planet if I failed. I approached the meteor and, as I hit it, it was over. 101


TOMORROW by Raphael Coleman “016... 016… 016, are you here?” The head mistress called for the young boy, but he was far, far away by then. “This is the place over here,” 016 says as he points to an opening of the dome which has black welding marks and metal plates covering it, signifying the area has been opened previously. “ Wait! What if the premonitions are true? Where will we go?” 002 asks in a terrified voice. In this world called Helheim, there lies this city-society named Lucifina. In the rural area of Lucifina, the grass is green, the pastures are filled with livestock, the buildings appear medieval in style, the city is just a beacon of hope on a desolate planet. Lucifina is covered by a sky scraping dome, which perfectly reflects the outside world. Or so they say it does. The dome is so naturally camouflaged around the city, one might even forget it’s presence. The city of Lucifina looks very modernized, with long, magnetic tracks for jet black bullet trains, buildings that could touch the heavens, with multiple points and pinnacles, each reaching higher than the next. But one tower had a pinnacle which reached above the dome. It was the tower for the graduation ceremonies. The school system of Lucifina is old fashioned, with little to no tolerance for disobedience or insubordination. There are three school levels: elementary, middle, and high school. The highest grade level a student can reach is 12th grade, so everyone in this grade is 18 years old or younger. The primary goal for seniors is to graduate. They are bound to the confines of the school and to the rural areas of Lucifina. There are several classrooms within the school, each having their own class of kids and head mistress. The children in each classroom have no connection to those in other classes, making them only aware of their presence but not enough to 102


feel connected to them in any way. Each classroom of kids was born together from their designated parents, (people who were assigned to mate together by the higher ranking councilmen). Every one of these kids that was born in this time belong to the same classroom, which not only brings the children closer, but makes them almost like siblings. Except they weren’t. “016.” The head mistress called for this young man without lifting her nose from the novel she was reading. 016 stood up and addressed the head mistress, “Yes ma’am?” 016 quickly replied, seemingly leaping from his seat. “Can you come to the board please?” 016 quickly paced towards the old green chalkboard, and with every step he took, one could hear his preppy dress shoes click and clack against the hard concrete floors. His slender body reached for the crusty piece of chalk on the foot of the board. “Solve the quadratic equa-,” before she could finish her sentence, 016 began his journey back to his seat. “Excuse me! You’re not finished.” The entire class had grins on their faces and their gazes focusing on their laps so they could refrain from laughing. The head mistress looked up at the board, and saw the entire board covered completely with the answer to the math problem. 016 was one of the smartest students in the whole city of Lucifina. He was a prodigy of piano, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. His brain was immaculate. And his visage was beautiful, his eyes were as blue as the morning sky. His hair was brown, like dark chocolate. 016, also with a smirk on his face, began to apologize, “I’m sorry Mrs. Perse. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.” With a rosy blush of embarrassment coming to Mrs. Perse’s face, she added, “Oh it’s okay baby,” *smart-ass* she murmurs under her breath. *RIIINNGGGGGG* the bell signals that it is time for the class to go back to their rooms.

The students stay at the school, just like boarding school. The key difference is the exposure they have had with each other. Since they were born, they have been with Mrs. Perse inside the school. She was like their mother. “Hey 016, Mrs. Perse said we could go outside,” this statement coming from 016’s classmate, 017. She was his best friend ever since they were in kinder-

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garten. Her hair was shoulder length, and her bangs were being held up on the side by a silver hair clip. The hair clip let off a glint of sunlight into 016’s eye. “Ahh, the light ahhhhh…. hehe” he opened his eyes to see 017, wearing a lapis blue swimsuit, which perfectly complimented her slim, sun-kissed figure. “We are going out to the lake, so get your swimwear. And hurry up!” 017 walked out of the young man’s room. 016 quickly got dressed to swim, grabbing his black

and green banded swim shorts. He ran outside barefooted and let his toes spread and grip the fresh summer grass, and he went on his way to the lake. “Jeez, what took you so long, did you fall in?!?” 017 sarcastically asked 016. “Ahahahahahaha, wow you’re so funny!” He went from a fake smile to the straightest, most unamused face one could possibly display. “UGHHHHH, I left my towel in my room! And right when I was getting into the water!” 016 left to go back to his room, ruby faced. “I wonder why she wanted me to

hurry, it was only her the-” 016’s train of thought was thrown off track when he the domes projection panels flickered, and the entire dome began to shake, vibrating the ground beneath his feet. His eyes darted back and forth because from outside the dome, he heard a creaking noise come from the dome, almost like it was being crushed by something. About three seconds after the noise, and the lights came back on. 016’s being was rattled, almost like he felt a lifethreatening force, but he started his walk back to his room again with an increased urgency. He entered the school facility, heading towards his room at the eastern wing of the building. After reaching the top of the steps, he saw a girl with long pink hair being escorted by guards from the councilman’s department. The girl and 016 exchanged glances, but their connection

was broken as she turned the corner, heading towards the west wing. “Who was that? and what

was she doing here?” 016 had a plethora of questions, his mind was fixated on her, and all the while he is still walking. “She was so pretty, is she in our grade?!? Wait, will I even be able to see her again?” His pubescent mind was running wild with questions. He got to his room and

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grabbed the towels, then sprinted back to the lake because he totally forgot about 017. “Are you okay” he asked when he got back, panting like a dog. “Yeah why?” “Did she not hear the noise or see the lights flicker?!?” He was shook, “did you not see the domes lights flicker off?” “No. Did you?” “Whaaaaaaat? Pffft no!” His thoughts were in a scattered mess. “Am I seeing things, or is she just playing?” They leave and go back to the school, wrapped in towels, even though 016 never got into the water. “Wait, why were you the only one at the lake? Did you need to tell me something or..?” “Oh yeah, the grand council met with me yesterday and said that I’ll be graduating ahead of schedule. Isn’t that great!” She ecstatically asked. “That’s amazing! I’m so happy for you.” “Yeah. They are scheduling for the end of the week.” They continue walking to the building in the dark of the night, with only the stars and the moonlight to guide them home. They walk into the all white building that is their school, coming up the stairs to the intersection

which signals their departure. “I’m very excited to finally be leaving, but I don’t want to leave you.” “It’s ok, you are destined to do bigger things I guess. You better not forget about me when you leave us!”“Hahaha, how could I forget you and your walking stick like body! “That’s how you feel…..?” “Awww I’m sorry 016 hahahaha! It was a joke.” “I know, goodnight little lady.” “Goodnight 016.”

You can’t save her. She’s gone. You’re too late. You failed her. Wake up boy. WAKE UP BOY! “NOOO!” 016 shoots up out of his sleep, drenched in sweat, gasping for air. “Who was that in

my dream? It felt like someone else was present within my dreams, almost whispering in my ear.” 016 sat up in his bed, catching his breath. He pulled out his clothes and got into the shower. The steam and the hot water relaxed his thoughts for a bit. He gets out and puts his clothes on, then makes his way down to his class. 016 greeted the class,“Hello fellow class-

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mates,” “wait what?! She is here!?!” The girl with the pink hair was sitting in the front of the classroom. “016, allow me to introduce you to your new classmate, 002. “She is gorgeous. Her hair is like a river of pink silk, and her eyes are light blue like mine. Plus she smells nice XD.” “H -hi, I’m 016, pleased to make your acquaintance .” “Pleased to make your acquaintance?! Who says that anymore? Stupid stupid stupid!” “Likewise,” 002 replied with a soft and warm voice,

but her tone did not match her facial expression. *RIINNNGGG* the bells signals that the day for the students are free to leave class. 016 follows 002 to her room, trying to remain undetected. Every corner she would turn, he would be one corner away, watching, like an owl. She arrived at her room, and she took her room key from her left pocket, and before she put it in the door, she said aloud, “I know you’re there 016!” He clung to the wall, trying to conceal the fact he was following her. “How did she know I was

here?!” He peeked around the corner, but she was within elbow distance of him, “I SEE YOU! Why are you following me?” He replied, fretting, “I swear it was nothing weird or anything, I just wanted to talk to you!” “*sigh* fine what did you want to talk about?” “I wanted to know why you were with the officers whenever I saw you in the hall that one day?” “Bye” “n-n-n-no wait please. You don’t have to talk about that if you don’t want to. We can talk about something else.” 002 stormed away, with a clinical look on her face. “Damn it! Why am I so bad at this?” He left for his room, defeated but not for long. “Where am I? Hello… is anyone here?” The sky was crimson red, with gusts of wind, sweeping away blood stained sand. The air reeked of rot and ravaged remains. He looked around, but

there were no plants, there were just vague shapes of land masses which caught the little bit of light that seeped through the pitch black soot clouds. He his feet, unprotected from the elements, were making little crunches and snaps with every step he took, while he tried to go see what the shapes were. He stepped closer and closer, “what are th-EESE OH MY GOD!?!” He was

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standing in front of a pile of corpses, picked clean of every fiber and follicle of skin and muscle tissue. He could tell they were the bones of children and young adults based on the size of the skeletons. “Wh-wh-wh,” before he could finish catching his breath, he looked up and there was the culprit, an massive dæmon, with teeth like long, sharp sickles. It had three large round eyes, each like a black hole, swallowing those who dare to look cross glances at it. The dæmon

opened up its wine red lips, and said

“YOU CANNOT SAVE THEM...YOU ARE ALREADY DEAD AS

WELL….” Its hellish grin was horrifying, and its voice had immense bass, shaking the very ground around it, leaving him rendered debilitated. He started crying, wishing “this can’t be real… PLEASE WAKE UP!!!” 016 jolted out of his sleep, in another sweat drenched fret. All of the students are in class, everyone, except 016. He walked into class 10 minutes late, And without looking at anyone he walked over to his seat. His hair was a frizzy mess, and his clothes were halfway thrown onto his body, like he was trying to make a fashion statement or some-

thing. He had a confused conscience. Honestly, he was just a mess. He walked over to his desk, which he was surprised to see that 002 still sat next to him after their encounter the night before. 016 sat down, trying not to make a disturbance. He kept his face looking in the direction of the teacher, while leaning to the left slightly, and he whispered out of the side of his mouth to 002, “have you seen it?” “shhhh! You’re gonna get us both in trouble.” “Have you?” “Have I seen what?” “Have you seen the outside? Like outside of the dome?” “No. And I don’t think we should talk right now.” “Then when should we talk.” An loud shout came from the front of the classroom, “EXCUSE ME 016. Tardy, and you are talking during class? Well how does staying after class for detention sound?” “ I guess it is ok mrs. Perse.” The time for 016’s detention was afoot, and he was instructed “stay in your seat and don’t speak for 1 hour.” He began to think about his dream, how he was completely powerless in the presence of the dæmon. He was petrified in place, and even thinking about it made him swear

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bullets. “I need to tell someone, I can’t keep this to myself. Then again, who would believe me. Wait, I HAVE TO WARN 017!” The graduation was scheduled for after school today, around half an hour after school was released, but 016 was stuck in detention. He restlessly waited on the teacher to dismiss him. He was so dying from the anticipation, “you can leave now. Did you learn anyth-” he was out of the room faster than if there was a fire. He sprinted down the the hall, racing and bumping into everything. He turned the corner, and rammed through the front entrance of the school. His primary goal was to make it downtown fast enough to tell 017 about his dream. Time was against him, he saw a train in the distance coming towards the direction he needed to go. So he sprinted, as fast as he humanly could, alongside the train track. The train was about to be next to him he began to reach out for the approaching train, and he grasped the handle on one of the cargo carts of the train. 016 pulled himself up and slid his way into the cargo cart. Inside the cart, there were 3 rows of cradles, each with a newborn baby in it. “Why is there a

train of the infants? And why is it headed towards the graduation building? This doesn’t make sense.” The train was approaching the graduation building, which was a massive tower, the tallest building in the entirety of Lucifina. The pinnacle of the behemoth had a pole that could touch the top of the dome, which was higher than the eye could see almost. 016 had to make it to the very top of the building, but he was in a rush. The graduation ceremonies are held at the top of the building. The only way to get there fast enough was the elevator, so 016 mashed the button, repeatedly pressing the button which takes him to the top floor. “I have to hurry, I have to hurry.” The elevator doors opened, and 016 collapsed, he was too late. The

graduation ceremony was already cleaned up, and a mixture of emotions overcame him. He was furious that he was talking to 002 instead of 017, he was distraught that he never got to say goodbye, but above all feelings, he was terrified, because he felt like his dream was more of a premonition.

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Scarred, and completely torn, 016 returned to the school from the saddest journey he had ever experienced. He went to 002’s room, with eyes full of tears and teeth clenched. His eyebrows cocked back, because he was furious. He banged on the door, and when she opened, he rushed into her room and closed the door. “016, what are you doing!” “WHY WERE YOU WALKING WITH THOSE GUARDS?” “That’s none of your busine-” “please……. just answer the question.” 016 broke down again, bawling and weeping, as helpless as a baby, “Can you please just tell me why you were walking with the guards?” “*sigh* I’ve been raised within the councils private sanction for every year of my life, but I wanted to come to a real school, and see real people. Within the council, it is just me and the doctors. They would run tests on me, making sure I’m “pure”. They found that my blood is extremely rare, so they wanted to test it. They would strap me down to a table, a little girl, and drain me of all of my blood, she leaving me deprived nutritionally, but deprived of life. I never had friends, I’ve never had anyone, and you are the first person to talk to me that wasn’t from

the council. I’m sorry if I didn’t get you the answer you were looking for, but I really appreciate your company.” 016 quickly and firmly grasped 002 in his warm embrace, she was shocked but she nestled her face in his chest. She smelled sweet, but not like fruits, it was like blossoming honeysuckle. He wiped away her Tears with his thumb, while holding her soft cheek in his palm. He held her even closer, and they both began crying, but with the new love kindled from pain, they couldn’t help but…..smile. Spring is almost at its end, signaling graduation is coming into bitter fruition. “Ok class, as you know, graduation is approaching. You all must be prepared for life and hopefully you leave feeling I supplied you with those skills,” Mrs.perse addressed the class, and a tear beaded up in her eye, but it didn’t fall down her face. She gave a clinical smile, as if she were trying to conceal sadness. “002, can you come to my room after class?” “Yeah sure.” *RIIIINGGG* 016 and 002 leave class together and return to 016’s room. “So what did you want to talk about?” “In 109


class, when Mrs.Perse told us about graduation, she had this look on her face, I couldn’t describe it.” “I didn’t see anything…” “I don’t know. It just reminded me of this dream that I had. It was like I was walking around in hell, and there was this Giant Beast that could eat humans whole, and the ground was covered in bones and body parts. It just felt so real.” “It sounds like you just had a nightmare love.” “It just felt so real. It’s crazy because before before 017 even graduated, I had a dream and I heard this voice say, “you can’t save her, you’re too late,” and the voice sounded like the monsters from my other dream. And the day of 017’s graduation, there was a train unloading infants to the graduation building. It just seemed more like an omen than it felt like a dream.” “So what are you suggesting?” “Run away with me. I feel like graduation is just a feeding ceremony for that beast and there is no way we can escape it, even if we wanted to. But if we stay, we WILL be forced to face the demon without any chance of survival, but if we run away, we are on our own time. We can see what the world outside is really like together. Will you come with me?” He reached out to grab her hand, looking intimately into her eyes, holding it onto his warm chest. In this moment 002 realized that she didn’t want to be anywhere that he wasn’t. “Yes. I’ll go with you.” Operation Dropout was a go. The two decided that during the graduation, the council and their class will be focused on the ceremony, so they’ll skip class and head towards the edge of the dome on foot. They gathered essentials: a couple of bottled waters, a few granola bars, some jerky, flashlights, matches, bandaids…. they had it all down packed. The graduation is scheduled to begin in approximately 7 minutes. The teachers begin to call roll, because there are all classes of kids who are graduating at the ceremony. And this brings us back to the beginning of our tale-“016... 016… 016, are

you here?” The head mistress called for the young boy, but he was far, far away by then. “This is the place over here,” 016 says as he points to an opening of the dome which has black welding marks and metal plates covering it, signifying the area has been opened previously. He breaks off a branch from a nearby tree, and uses it to pry off one of the plates. The

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opening is big enough to fit them both in. They climb into the little hole which leads to the inside of the domes walls. the darkness is so intense, one can’t see their hands in front of them. 016 feels around on his backpack for the flashlight, *click*. He turns on the flash light, holding it in one hand, and holding 002’s hand in the other. They see something that seems like a door. “ Wait! What if the premonitions are true? Where will we go?” 002 asks in a terrified voice. 016,

with a vision for a new life in mind, says… “Tomorrow.” He twists the rusty valve, breaking this ancient seal, and he slowly pushes the door open. The lights creeps through the seams and crevices of the door. He pushes it open more, until the door is all the way opened. The sunlight is blinding.

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A FIGHT TO SURVIVE by Robert Peterson It was the coast of North Carolina during 1942. My family had lived here for generations, fishing for a living and for survival. Now though, we faced the biggest challenge of our history. The German U-Boats. They hunted all the ships in the Atlantic, sinking as many as possible to try and disrupt the economy of the United States and cost her allies as many supplies as possible. Like many others before, and probably many more after, who had been persuaded by the propaganda, I had enlisted in the Armed Forces to try and defend our country. Unlike so many

others, however, I had joined the newly created Coast Guard, since I didn’t want to leave my family behind. Unfortunately, I hadn’t put too much thought into it, and didn’t realize until I got there that most of the Coast Guard was just a collection of retrofitted ships, built decades earlier, which were not much more than torpedo fodder. We had been assigned to a patrol in the infamous “Torpedo Alley,” where U-Boats hunted and sunk more ships than anywhere else. Every day they grew bolder, advancing closer to the shoreline than previously believed was possible. So there we were, in our decade old ship with weaponry even more outdated than that, some of which was as old as World War I. We had been assigned a relatively safe patrol, for it was in the middle of the day. Spirits were high, as we joked that we had defeated every submarine we had come across, which was zero. It was a bright, sunny day. The sea was calm, and there was a light breeze, making the temperature nearly perfect. The gently rocking of the boat and humming of the en112


gines calmed us down, and most of us had grown up on the small fishing boats that patrolled the coastlines, hunting fish. It wasn’t too far from that, really. The only difference was that what we were hunting could kill us easily. Today, I was charged with checking the depth charges, which were essentially explosives that

were dropped into the water to hit submarines. Our navigator reported possible propeller noises on his outdated equipment, but it was old enough that we often dismissed the reports, as many things it picked up could sound like propellers when you listened to it, and it had been malfunctioning yesterday anyway. The Coast Guard repairmen had reported it fixed, but we knew they had no way of testing it, so we doubted they had managed to fix everything wrong with it. Suddenly, someone on the opposite side of the ship shouted what we had all been preparing for, and dreading, since we were first assigned. It meant we would most likely be either dead or sinking within minutes. “Torpedo in the water!” Almost immediately, the ship’s engines roared to maximum power, and the rudder went full to port, all the way to the stop. We started listing to starboard, and the crew wasn’t helping much. All of us who weren’t assigned to a gun or depth charge deployment had raced to that side to try and see the approach of our imminent demise. I caught a glimpse of the wake it

left behind it, and could see it was heading towards us. I looked up towards the bridge, and saw the captain watching the wake as intently as the rest of us. He had made his move, now all he could do was watch and hope, like the rest of us. Be-

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hind him, the radio man was practically shouting into the radio, presumably trying the radio our position to base, asking for help. I turned my attention back to the torpedo, I saw the wake headed toward the back of the ship. I had no idea if it would hit or not, it was so close. It was only 20 feet away, then just

10. It was only once it was just 5 feet away that I realized it would miss. The captain seemed to know it to, because at that moment the swung the ship hard in the opposite direction. All the sudden, there was an explosion. Everyone panicked, until we discovered the torpedo that had missed us had detonated on a sandbar behind us. We were all terrified, and had no idea what was going on, but a look back to the bridge revealed the captain, with a determined look on his face. I knew then that he had a plan, and I could only wait to discover what it was. Shortly, I realized we were headed straight to where the torpedo had some from, which meant we were going to try and attack. Then, several people started pointing, nearly straight ahead. I looked hard, but I eventually managed to find it. They had spotted a periscope sticking out of the water. For several long seconds, we stared at it, and it stared back at us. Suddenly, it vanished beneath the waves. There was a period of silence, as we tried to comprehend what was happening, when we heard another shout, this time from the captain. “Deploy the Depth Charges!,� he yelled. Another short pause, then the clanking of metal on metal as the charges were loaded onto the racks, followed by splashes as they were deployed into the sea. The men on the deck guns were possibly even more tense than any of us. They knew that the submarines we fought were

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normally armed with at least one deck gun, and it was usually bigger than anything we had aboard. We couldn’t see anything for nearly a minute, and for the most part we were waiting for the sub to pop out of the sea and kill us all, when suddenly an explosion rocked the boat. We

panicked for a second, but soon figured out the explosion was once again behind us. It had been a depth charge, exploding after contact with something. Could we hope it was the enemy submarine? Several minutes passed, and we could do nothing but wait. It felt like the tension and stress of waiting would kill us before the submarine, but then a whoosh sound was heard. The submarine was surfacing. I could see that the depth charge that had exploded had absolutely hit them. The deck gun had nearly been blown off, and was only attached by the lock used to keep the barrel from rotating around while submerged. The conning tower also had been punctured in several places. Before too long, the crew began marching out onto the deck, and we pointed every gun we had at them. It soon became apparent they were surrendering. We began taking them aboard, at gunpoint, to await a US Navy vessel which would take them to shore and ultimately, the a POW camp. As we finished, the submarine sunk beneath the waves, and at that moment we finally realized that we, the crew of a small, outdated Coast Guard ship, had sunk just the second German submarine off the coast of the mainland United States in the entire war. We had accomplished something only one other ship, a destroyer

from the Navy, had done, and sunken a U-Boat. We knew that most of the population would never know of our accomplishment, or how badly we needed it, as a country, but we knew, going to bed that night, that we had done something important. We had saved the lives of whoever may have been sunk by that submarine had we not stopped it.

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FLASHES Saba Merchant AHH! I am surrounded by darkness. The wind was flying through my hair as I continued to fall. My heart was racing; I felt terrified, yet I could not seem to scream. I tried

to make a noise, but nothing came out. My vocal cords felt like they were straining, but no sound was made. I looked around to all the carnival lights and no one seemed to notice me falling. I would assumed to be falling fast, but it felt as if I were slowly going down; nothing around me was blurry, instead it was clear. Everyone was continuing to enjoy the arcade games, the lights in the park, and the roller-coaster rides. I was in awe that no one has 116


noticed, especially Ace. I fell off of the roller-coaster seat next to him and he didn’t bat an eye. Did he push me? Am I already dead? I don’t know what is happening to me, but I do not want to die young. I see myself getting close to the ground, and as I am about to crash into the floor, everything goes black. I was sitting next to Ace again. My breath quickened. I was confused. Ace gave me strange looks as we were getting off of the ride and said “wow you really are scared of roller coasters aren’t you?” I still felt nauseous from the fall, or my imagination, not sure which. I decided that I should probably take the rest of the night off. “I’m just exhausted. I should probably find Ava and go home.” Ace offered to help me look for her car in the parking lot because of the sketchy area, but when we got to the spot she parked in, her car was gone. She had abandoned me with Ace. I cannot believe her, especially since she knows how much I disliked Ace. Regardless, I had no

choice but to ask him for a ride home with his response being a smirk. As we were walking to his car, I became very aware that none of the lot lights were working. I felt a cool breeze send chills down my spine; I felt the goosebumps grow on my arms. The walk felt like years and I was able to reflect on the fact that I have known Ace for just one week. He was a new kid at our school who was assigned to be my lab partner. Our project was to present each other’s personalities to class, so we came for a “bonding” session. I brought Ava with me in case anything went wrong, but instead of helping, she left me with this creepy guy. Oof. I ran into something hard only to realize Ace had stopped walking and made me run into

him. He looked at me with his intense eyes, which made me feel as if he was hiding something, almost like he wanted to tell me something. He introduced me to Bullet, his bike. I had no idea that he drove a motorcycle and not a car. Could this guy get anymore sketchy? I didn’t have an option but to get on. Once was on the bike, I held onto Ace as tight as I could. I did not trust

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his company, especially not his driving skills with the motorcycle. I was still hungover from my so called near-death experience and did not need another reason to feel awful. Ace was the new kid at school. Our lab teacher decided to pair Ace and I together. My teacher thinks we both need to “socialize”’ more, and made it a project grade. Ace was always just in

the back corner alone. He seemed to disappear a lot yet be everywhere at the same time. Ava and every other girl in the school lusted after Ace because he was the hottest, yet most mysterious, guy at our school. I always avoided him because I felt like he was watching and following me. He seemed to always know what I am thinking, especially in class. I do not know much about him, but I do know strange things (like my hallucinations) happen around him. I could not believe I was sitting on the back of Ace’s motorcycle. I wanted to focus on heading home and not being here with him, so I thought about my anger towards Ava. She probably will justify herself with us spending time “together”; however, she knows very well how much I

do not like Ace. I have told her a numerous amount of times how he makes me uncomfortable. Regardless, I notice that Ace was driving very sporadically. He sped up and then immediately slowed down. I felt my hair whip back and forth hitting my face hard. It seemed as if he was having a difficult time driving. He seemed distracted, or paranoid, almost like he thought someone was watching him. His behavior altered to how I react around him. Ace did not seem like the stone hearted boy in class anymore, but a scared vulnerable teenager. It made me worry a little, but within a few minutes of that, we arrived at my house. I got off of the motorcycle to run to the bushes to release this nauseated feeling. After the motion sickness past, I realized that I was home. It was strange because I never told Ace where I lived or how to get here. I already got a strange feeling from him, but this is making me more queasy. I felt the need to get into the safety of my home quickly. I rush to my door and insert my key, but the stupid lock was jammed. It won’t turn, move, or come out. I was stuck outside 118


my house struggling with a creepy boy standing at the edge of my driveway. I felt as if I was trapped in a horror movie, especially since I have never had trouble with our door before so it is absolutely insane that it is happening right now. Ace sneaks up behind me and offers to help. I reluctantly allow him to try to open my door. He unlocks the door with ease and made it seems as if I wanted help, or was inviting him inside my home. Before I could thank him, he entered my home uninvited. He goes straight for the kitchen and makes himself at home. He grabs my bread, peanut butter, and jelly to make a sandwich. It took me a second to realize he took no time to find these items. He was navigating himself through my kitchen like he has been here before. The last item he reached for was a knife, and instead of getting a small butter knife, he got a large butcher knife. My heart beat sped up and felt my hands get clam-y. I felt the temperature decrease and sensed the same cool breeze I felt in the park. Ace looked at me with his dark brooding eyes as he inched towards me. I wanted to move, but my feet were glued to the floor. He finally reached

me with a smirk on his face and that is when I felt the cold blade run up my arm. It pierced me just a little and released a little stream of blood. I wanted to scream, but again I couldn’t. I looked straight into Ace’s eyes trying to see why he was doing this and I saw a glimpse of sympathy. He genuinely looked like he did not want to hurt me. I saw him withdraw the knife, but then everything went silent except for the pounding in my ears from my brain. I felt dizzy and blacked out. I was standing outside my house door with Ace helping me with my keys. When the door

opened, I quickly wiggled inside, said goodnight, and shut the door. I stood against my door and attempted to calm my breathing. “In Two Three. Out Two Three.” My breathe was winded, similar to after a race, my heart still pounding, and my face felt as if it were on fire. I learned a few things that night: my “dreams” were not fake; I was not crazy; and Ace is the key to answer 119


why.

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PARTIALLY PARALYZED Sairah Hyman

Under my blankets, I lay hardly awake when I realize my body is rigidly locked into place. My body is frozen, but my mind is racing. I can’t scream for help. Better yet, I have absolutely no way to defend myself. My anxiety intensifies as I come to recognize the rapid, irregular heart-

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beats in my chest. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. My chest tightens and shivers travel down my spine. Pure terror circulates throughout my body. I struggle to open my eyes. I am terrified of facing whoever-- or should I say whatever-- might be standing at the foot of my

bed, huddled in the corner of my room, or staring at me from the inside of my closet. My bedroom would be pitch black if it weren’t for the few rays of light creeping in from a nearby street lamp. As my heart violently pounds, I attempt to make sense of this situation. Squinting, I hesitatingly scan the vicinity of my room. Only able to perceive complete blackness, my eyes struggle to understand what might be in my room. I manage to widen my eyes, and the dilation of my pupils aid my efforts to see. My eyes gradually adjust to this discomforting darkness. I look around my room, with sheer terror. I feel the strain in my eyes as I look around with intense caution, expecting to see something disturbing. Just the day before, I first heard about this phenomenon. I overheard a few of my peers describing stories they’ve heard about this traumatizing period of sleep where you aren’t fully asleep nor fully awake. I was skeptical yet truly curious to discover more about this seemingly supernatural and mysterious state of sleep. It goes by the name of “sleep paralysis.” I consider myself to skeptical of many things in life. My family and close friends would agree that it is pretty difficult to convince me of something particular when I have my own doubts or reservations. If concrete evidence or proof aren’t present, you should expect me to have my suspicions. As you probably already guessed, I’m not very religious… at all. Nor do I

believe in anything relating to spirits, ghosts, demons, or anything of that sort. I like to say that I base most of my beliefs in science. Generally speaking, I have a true appreciation for concrete facts and evidence.

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When I got home, I was immediately eager to investigate more about what my peers were discussing earlier in class. After a few Google searches and deep diving into an array of articles and first hand accounts, I was left thoroughly disturbed yet fascinated. The stories that I read all seemed to have something alarming in common: the narrator claimed to have experienced this phenomenon while being accompanied by a demonic presence. This is what I found

the most discomforting from my research. Anyway, I went about my evening, engaging in the regular activities of my routine. I ended up getting into bed relatively later than usual. I climbed under my covers and reached over to turn off my lamp. After lying in bed for a few moments, I couldn’t help but wonder about this mysterious phenomenon. I recalled having read earlier that an apparent cause of this unusual state of sleep is sleeping on your back. Unfortunately, my curiosity got the best of me. Something in my mind convinced to give it a try. I rolled over from my side onto my back. Eventually, I fell asleep. Now, here I am lying motionless in my bed, terrified. Suddenly, I hear the shattering of a window from downstairs. In my mind I’m thinking that “Now is the part I was dreading most.” Although I claim I don’t believe in demons or anything of that sort, I will admit that I do have a slight bit of uncertainty. I thought that disbelieving would simply cure me of my fears, yet here I am about to uncover the face of reality. My heart pounds faster and faster as I try to rationalize what could’ve possibly shattered the glass. I soon hear faint footsteps slowly make their way up the stairs. The footsteps grow

louder and louder until they halt at the outside of my room. My door slowly creaked open. I am unable to turn my head to look so I remain in a paralyzed, hopeless state in bed. I could hear nothing but the loud breathing and low groans of this creature. I could see the dark fig-

123


ure slowly approach my bed from the corner of my eye. The creature’s hands suddenly latch onto my neck and tighten by the second. It’s stares into my soul with it’s glowing eyes and menacing grin as it chokes me. I remain defenseless, immobile, hopeless and defeated as I struggle to breathe. I’m dying. It’s over. A car drives by and the light from its headlight travels across my room. The light reaches the creature, revealing that it’s a human being. I gasp for my last breaths staring into the eyes of my own kind. My body is weakening by the second. After a few moments, my lungs seem to give out. I’m overly exhausted. My eyes slowly open and close and then I--

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


AUTHORS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Aaron Watkins Aaron Watkins is a senior that attends Lakeside High School, and an upcoming freshman attending Georgia State University in the fall. He intends to major in International Relations while he attends to learn more about the world and its connections with each other as a whole. Aaron's story of Death, Blood, and Atonement is heavily based upon his love and unquestionable interest in anime. Ever since childhood Aaron has always found anime and their stories very meaningful and thought provoking regarding life and society as a whole. His story is a culmination of the anime he's seen through the years and loved in his wake.

Arden Gini Arden is a graduating senior who plans to pursue a career in business. His work centers around the idea that you cannot escape your past, and even though he and his character are leaving a major chapter in their lives behind, their experiences will always remain with them. He has a passion for music and guitar as well as a successful online resale business. Please enjoy “A Winter War”.

Azure DasGupta Azure DasGupta is a graduate from Lakeside High School who will be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2019 to major in Civil Engineering. The tale explores a boy's psychological downturn as he becomes violently controlled by the commands and actions of a popular video game. Azure has participated in many extracurricular activities in her high school career including captain of the dance team, cheerleader on the Varsity football squad, member of National Honor Society, and photographer for a family-owned business. She is also heavily involved in numerous clubs at her school. Azure plans to travel to Cuba in the summer as well as spend time with friends and family before she begins her new journey in college.


Chloe Constant Chloe Constant is a senior at Lakeside High School who has always had a deep appreciation for the literary arts. She honed in her love for Brazilian culture, tattoos and tales of poverty and strife to craft a story where the hardships of reality meet the fantastical and dark mysterious sides of artistic expression. In addition to her writing, Chloe has starred in several plays and musicals and she has directed one musical as well. She is also a trained classical guitarist who enjoys songwriting, and often spends her time experimenting with music. After writing her first short story, Chloe plans to travel to Haiti over the summer to visit family before she heads off to college in the fall. She will be attending SCAD.

Cinha Sy Cinha Sy is an upcoming freshman attending Georgia State in the fall and the author of the newly published “Life In A Week”. Publishing her first short story within two weeks, with over 18 years of crime-movie watching experience, she put all her knowledge into this piece of work. Cinha has worked at Chipotle for 1 ½ years and is starting her first office job in the medical field in June 2019. She’s maintained a balanced social and work life. One of Cinha’s favorite things to do is go out and party, and also hang out with her loved ones creating memorable experiences.

Clark Rice Clark Rice is a 17 year old high school student attending Lakeside high school who will be attending Auburn University this fall. The work is a short story about the day in the life of Hendrix, a secret agent when he and a small team are tasked with finding a mole in the organization. Clark is an Eagle Scout of Boy Scout Troop 77, co captain of the Lakeside high school Ultimate Frisbee team, and Captain of one of Lakeside’s VEX Robotics teams for two years in a row. Clark enjoys camping hiking and other outdoor activities as well as PC building and gaming."

Emma Zamoscinski Emma Zamoscinski is a senior at Lakeside High School in the graduating class of 2019. She is the author of the short story Gone Mad, a tale about a struggling artist and his pending psychotic breakdown. She is a standard A-B student, and hard worker. At home she looks after her adorable pet cat, Daisy.

Gavin McKinley Gavin McKinley, at the time of this writing, is a senior in high school, but who knows what he’ll be doing after this. Gavin stated, “The lesson I wanted to establish with this story is that your background doesn’t need to define who you are, and you can overcome adversity to pursue your dreams, but only if you put in the work. The story should bring you a sense of hope to what you want to achieve in your life.” At Lakeside High School he played baseball and did a “variety of minuscule clubs”. After completing the school year of 2019-20, he will take a gap year in Aarhus, Denmark.


Hannah Ray Hannah Ray will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall of 2019. She will major in nursing, and her dream is to become a labor and delivery nurse. During her senior year in high school, Hannah Ray wrote a story about a bullied boy who has magical powers. The boy named Master Miles got revenge on all of his bullies, and had a jaw dropping ending. The story she wrote called "The Lost Boy" has revenge, family, and good vs. evil. This summer, Hannah will be vacationing in New York City, Hawaii, and Florida. She is excited to see what the future holds.

Jenna Goodman Jenna Goodman is a senior in high school and the author of the short story Assassin. The story demonstrates that all sanity is fragile, and that mental illness does not discriminate; anyone can become unstable at any time. She is the recipient of the Auburn University’s Presidential Scholarship, and will attend the Auburn University Honors College in the fall to major in Human Development and Family Studies. This summer, she plans to travel both domestically and internationally to spend time with her family and friends."

Khirin Washington Khirin Washington is a Lakeside senior graduating in 2019. Khirin plans to attend Kennesaw State University this fall to study English. As a longtime fan of the hit TV series Game of Thrones, Khirin's work was inspired by the last season of the show. The deterioration of one's psyche when discovering that their entire life was a lie, was the main inspiration of King Dante. Khirin enjoys reading gothic literature and enjoys many different genres of movies, shows, and videogames in his free time.

Libby Maulding Libby Maulding is a senior at Lakeside high school and the author of the story Death of a Bachelor. The story is a fun twist on one of Libby's favorite TV shows the Bachelor, the short story demonstrates an interesting love story between Stacey and Brad. Libby has been involved in many clubs during her high school carrier such as Beta club and national honors society and she has also played the viola for 7 years. Libby plans to attend Georgia College and State University in the fall and major in Graphic Design.

Luis Lazcano Luis is a graduating senior planning on majoring in computer science. His work is a sci-fi adventure surrounding a space crew after their first failure following tragic unforeseen events. Luis has spent most of his years at Lakeside in multiple music groups and has founded two clubs at Lakeside: he has also received full tuition at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Luis is also planning to visit Germany and see some of his old exchange student friends.


Murphy A. Belknap Murphy Belknap is a senior at Lakeside High School and has the intention of studying Animal Health at the University of Georgia in order to become a veterinarian. "Apalacha" explores the theme of perseverance and self-determination, as well as exploring how troubled times serve as isolationary forces for those affected, and the realization that isolation is only an illusion. Murphy Belknap has received the Zell Miller Scholarship that he plans to put towards his studies at UGA. He also received a certificate of academic achievement from the Congress of Future Scientists and Technologists based in Lowell, Massachusetts. In his free time, Murphy enjoys gardening and working on his cars.

Olivia Guerra Olivia Guerra is a graduate from Lakeside High School. After years of obsessively watching and reading fantasy and sci-fi, Olivia has combined her love for sci-fi super powers and a tragic backstory in her writing. Olivia has spent the past four years volunteering around her community and participating on the swim team and the gymnastics team. She plans to attend Auburn University and major in mechanical engineering.

Raphael Coleman Raphael Coleman is a Lakeside senior with simple plans for his future. His story “Tomorrow” is “basically a play on what the real world is after high school, and trying to find your way into the real world.” Multifaceted, Raphael qualified for the state level tournament in wrestling during his first year of playing the sport. However, after high school, he plans to find his place as a middle class citizen and ultimately just…...blend in.

Robert Peterson Robert Peterson is a high school senior at Lakeside High School, planning to study aviation at Auburn University in fall 2019. "A Fight to Survive" is based on a true story of a battle between a USCG cutter, "Icarus," and the German U-Boat, U-352. Robert plans to spend his summer being as far away from this school as possible, trying to forget everything he doesn't like about high school.

Saba Merchant Saba Merchant is a graduate from Lakeside High School and is preparing herself for the next four years at the University of Georgia to major in Computer Science. With her love for romance and science fiction novels, she has created a short story that displays the eeriest of sci-fi. She combined her love for Twilight with her favorite book Hush. Hush is an inspiration for her story to display the importance of trusting your instinct. Saba has held many positions in the last few years such as Band President, Interact Treasurer, and Manager/Teacher for an Early Childhood Development Center. While excelling in her extracurriculars, Saba absolutely adores laughing to corny “dad” jokes: what is pink and fluffy? Pink fluff."


Sairah Hyman As a graduating Lakeside High School senior, Sairah Hyman plans to Stanford University in the fall of 2019. This piece of writing is based around the idea of sleep paralysis. She finds this concept fascinating and manages to relate the story to our perceptions of fear and the unknown. Sairah won the 2018 Lakeside Viking Award and “Best All Around” award for the varsity volleyball team she’s played for since freshman year, and she won the Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass Award of Excellence. She is also the president of the Beta Club at her school, and she participates in plenty of other extracurriculars with leadership positions. As an undecided major, Sairah hopes to spend the next chapter of her life exploring her curiosity and delving into new experiences.

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