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Comeback is a collection of stories with the sole purpose of helping anyone lost to find a path. Comeback believes that no one is in the same place as another. Comeback reaches through the vast resources available to today’s generation and takes back the purest, realist advice to provide a beginning for self-discovery, motivation, and curiosity. A comeback is not just a return to former glory; it’s going beyond what was thought possible.Â

November // December 2015

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info EDITOR: Iris Zhou CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Nikki Vargas and Talha A. Khawaja CONTACT: email: comebackmag@gmail.com address: P.O. Box 27451 Seattle, Wa 98165

All rights reserved. Š 2015 Comeback Magazine

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the Hello! Before we get to the advice and insight that is at the core of this magazine, I wanted to share with you a bit about how Comeback Magazine came to be. As the story goes... The season of summer is unlike any other. It’s the time when the sunshine is bright enough to get through the windows and light up the room too early in the morning. It’s the time that somehow feels more free and more relaxed, even with though nothing has really changed. Summer is full of potential. And this year, when summer casually made it’s way to the present, it seemed like everyone’s biggest challenges were happening at the same time. Seniors were leaving for college and finishing college. Freshmen would walk into the long, grey hallways for the very first time (and probably get lost). For me, the start of the hardest years of high school were ahead. When the hot sun rose one July morning, it seemed as though every being in town had paused. No matter where they were in life, the people around me had stopped. I remember them sitting around a dining table that evening, talking. They were reflecting on their lives, where they were going, and what they’ve done so far. If someone wasn’t worried for their future, their mother was. I could see in their eyes that they were scared. Recent graduates were scrambling for jobs and soon-to-be grads were stressing over tests. Most of them had never thought deeply about their future until it was forced upon them. As much as I wanted to help them, each of their lives were different and the advice out there didn’t fit. Taking a step back, I realized that everyone’s problems boiled down to the fact 4 @Comeback_Mag


Story that they didn’t have a next step. No one knew what they wanted to be when they grew up, and if they did, they didn’t know how to get there. That’s the basis on which Comeback Magazine is built on. In our first issue, we wanted to focus on something that’s more important that the next step itself: the willingness to take risks. The mindset in which you do something can determine the outcome of any decision you make.  In today’s world, careers no longer start by picking a job from what’s available. People, young and old, are creating jobs to fit their life, not the other way around. The Internet has played a huge role in this shift. While there are now endless careers to follow, there are also endless choices. It’s so much harder to define a goal when there could always be something better out there. That’s why Career Day was created: to give you insight into different jobs, careers, and everything that goes between through interviews with real people in the industry. 

“Evolve and refine your view on life”

Hope you learn as much as I did in the making of the first issue of Comeback, Iris Zhou, editor in chief klklklklkkl

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TABLE of CONTENTS

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Recommended Reading Career Day Featuring Interviews with: -Sophia Davis -Renegade Craft Fair -Emily E.

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From Dreams to Destiny Step 1

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Issue No. 1

the Next Adventure

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A Trip to Morocco

Storytime: Disease

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RECOMMENDED READING

The Big

Leap BY GAY HENDRICKS

“Our species in general have grown accustomed to pain...I realized that we were only recently evolving the ability to let ourselves feel good and have things go well for any significant period of time.” -Gay Hendricks

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THE BIGGEST RISK YOU CAN TAKE IS NOT TAKING ONE. #RiskAComeback @Comeback_Mag 11


{ Career Day } Every single person has been asked at some point in their lives “what do you want to be when you grow up?” For most, that answer has never been crystal clear. And with industries constantly growing, appearing then disappearing, the choice of occupation has never been more diverse. That’s why every issue, we’ll share interviews with people from all different professions. Welcome, to Career Day. WRITTEN BY IRIS ZHOU

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PHOTO: MAYA KONINGS @ BROADCAST COFFEE

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOPHIE DAVIS

INTERVIEW

SOPHIE DAVIES

Birmingham, England

Jewelry Maker | Blogger | Small Business Owner Oh My Clumsy Heart | The Private Life of a Girl

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Could you talk a bit about your blog and what your business is? My name is Sophie Davies, I run Oh My Clumsy Heart - an online minimal handmade jewellery shop - and I write a creative lifestyle blog The Private Life of a Girl. The shop has just turned three years old and I have been writing the blog for just over two years now. What was one of the biggest risks you’ve taken in your career/life? Quitting my day job in social media marketing to move to Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and work full time on my business.  It was a risk because I wasn’t entirely certain the business could support me in self-employment.  I think you have to take these risks to push yourself and to really know what is possible. Do you think that having a blog and a business has changed the way you see the world?  Absolutely, especially my business.  It’s made me realise that life doesn’t have to be about the stereotypical 9-to-5 jobs, we don’t have to get stuck into these repetitive patterns; it’s possible to carve out a life we love by really investing our time and energy into something we are passionate about.  Running a business is tough, it’s a lot of hard work, but it pays off.  Writing a blog helps me explore my creativity and serves as a reminder for the things I have done but also the things I want to do in the future.  Blogging is something I would recommend to a lot of people, even just as a creative side project. What lessons or ideas have you learned that have stuck with you?  Everything counts.  All the things we do as creatives count, all the times we sat listening to music, visiting museums, looking at art, drawing, painting, creating - it all matters, it all counts; it’s what makes us who we are and ultimately influences the things we do and what we create.

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Interviews @ Renegade In August, the renowned Renegade Craft Fair stopped by Seattle for a two day craft fair in an old airplane hanger. Living only a few blocks away, I had no reason to not go and talk to the people whose jobs are to be creative everyday. Craft businesses have never been an easy industry to succeed in. However, the reward of creating for your own business is one that can’t be found anywhere else.  I talked to three creative business owners about their journeys and the risks they took to get where they are today. 

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Agnieszka Zoltowski of ORU If you’ve ever been to a craft fair, you know that jewelry is a popular market. As I looked around for a jewelry booth that stood out from the crowd, I immediately spotted Oru. Surrounded by a group of interested attendees, this booth was hidden all except for its logo. When I finally got the opportunity to see for myself what Oru was selling, I was surprised. Colorful beads were sewn together into blocks of color contrasting with their golden frames. To learn more, I talked with owner Agnieszka Zoltowsk. “I’ve been making jewelry since I was really little and I guess it’s been a little bit of a process,” she started saying. I continued on to ask about the beads. “The beads are actually made in Japan. There is a company that developed that shape in the 80’s and nobody else has developed that same concept. So these beads, that very simpetrical, matte, glass is produced only in Japan. I take those beads and weave them into a fabric. That technique is an old Native American technique called the Peyote stitch. It’s what they used to put beads around a drum handle or on their peace pipe as decoration with patterns and symbols. And in this case we’re just using that technique to create that texture,” she explained. With such a unique skill, I wondered how she came to learn about it. “I’ve been playing with beads since I was eight and I took a class when

I was about twelve learning a particular version of Peyote stitch. I just practiced, and covered things in beads all the time. And it’s something that I’ve always done just for fun and relaxation. It’s like knitting for me,” said Zoltowsk. Of course, I has to ask about the name. “The word is a Japanese word that means to weave. It’s honoring where the beads are coming from and process as well.” 

“It was kind of the universe saying well ‘sink or swim’. And I started swimming.” It was a great business idea, but a risky one too. While starting a business may seem like the riskiest part of the process, the transition into being a business owner may be even riskier. “I think it was when I decided that it was going to be my full time job. When I didn’t look for other works and just decided I was going to do this full time. That’s probably the biggest risk you can take in this kind of craft business,” said Zoltowsk. But, how do you know if you’re ready to take that leap? At what point does the benefits outweigh the risk? I asked Agnieszka this question. She answered, “I didn’t know. I was just put in a situation where I was laid off. And it was either I can pursue this or I can not. It was perfect timing, I had just gotten a studio a couple months ago and was picking up accounts and had some space and availability to actually pursue it. It wasn’t my decision. It was kind of the universe saying well “sink or swim”. And I started swimming.”

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Eling from Migration Goods The sight of something cute creates a feeling nothing else can. It’s a warmth, near your heart, that prompts an instinctive “awww” to spill out of your mouth. While wandering through the Renegade Craft Fair last summer, I met someone who had turned this unique emotion into a thriving business. Her name was Eling Chang and she was the brains behind Migration Goods. As soon as there was a clearing between the crowds around her booth, I walked up to the lady behind it all and we started talking. “It’s been a really long time now. I’ve been doing this full time for eight or nine years. It started a little bit different, I was making more jewelry and more fiber things, wool-based things, and it has just evolved over the years on what I’m excited about making and what people like” said Eling. Hearing that, I was getting a little jealous. It sounded like she was doing her dream job. “It’s just more fun now, I feel like a lot of the things make are labor intensive. I do everything by hand, i don’t have anyone helping me. I cut and sew everything by hand. I feel really lucky that I can do this full time.”  Then, I moved on to my topic of the day: risks. She responded with, “small businesses are inherently risks. (laughs) I’m married

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to someone who is a teacher so we have a regular pay check and good health insurance which is a good safety net. I do travel a lot for shows. Shows where I’m traveling across the country are generally bigger risks anyway. But I think the way things go, it’s all risky. The more expensive shows and the more expensive traveling is a bit riskier but it’s kinda just putting your stuff out there and hoping that people still like it and what to spend money on it.” I totally got it. Traveling across the country and putting your products out for the world to see is scary. These products are an extension of yourself and you’re letting complete strangers decide whether or not your business is “good enough” to be a success. At craft fairs, Eling can see and meet each of her customers. She can get feedback directly, whether good or bad. Every time she sits down at her booth, she is risking her business. But success and risk go hand in hand. The more you put yourself out there, the more chances you get of meeting someone who will love your business. You never know who is out there listening. So keep sharing. 


Felipe from Mistura Watches

“If you want to stay number one, you need to always be creative and thinking of new opportunities and new creations. The biggest risk is falling into the comfort-zone.”

All logos credited to their respective businesses.

Wooden watches. Pressed flowers in the watch face. Leather wristbands in bold colors and golden clock hands. I’ve never seen something quite like it. The moment I started staring at these timepieces, a cheerful man walked up and asked if I would try one. Before I could say anything, there was a stunning wide, wooden watch with a purple band on the wrist of my friend. I asked how long each watch took to make. The man gave me an estimate around eighty-five hours. That’s over three and a half days if you didn’t stop working. For such an interesting product, there had to be an equalling interesting backstory behind it. “Everything started in Columbia with a group of friends trying to create something new and different with original material. One of our friends had a sustainable farm with a sustainable forest. We used them to create the watches, ten years ago. That’s how everything started. Then we became some of the first wooden timepiece makers in the world,” said Felipe, the kind, cheerful man that had offered us a watch to try earlier. He was talking about his business, Mistura. Today, they are based in Dallas, Texas and other locations across the country. Mistura was a growing brand, one that was already outshining other watches. How did they do it? “I would say, innovation. To innovate, to not stay common, to be unique. That’s always a risk you take when you create a product or start a business. You don’t want to fall into the comfort of having a beautiful product that people like. You need to keep imporving, improving, improving. If you want to stay number one, you need to always be creative and thinking of new opportunities and new creations. The biggest risk is falling into the comfort-zone,” said Felipe. 

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INTERVIEW

F

or our first issue, we wanted to talk about risks with aritist and doodler, Emily E. We love the everyday moments puts into her art work that capture the perfectly imperfect parts of life. Let’s start off with talking about her blog, Jammy and Jelly.

EMILY E.

Isle of Wight, England Illustrator | Blogger | Small Business Owner | Jammy and Jelly

Emily: Jammy and Jelly is my little illustrated blog. When I started my blog, there were no illustrations - and I really didn’t know what I was blogging about… hence the unusual name! But once I started putting the sketches in, things just fell into place and now I simply doodle down any thoughts and embarrassing stories from my day to day life. I even launched (a very small) online shop last year - I have plans (and dreams!) to grow that in the future. You have a very unique art style. How did you discover your style? E: As far as my art style goes, I think it’s definitely developed (and hopefully improved) since I started! You can probably find some really early Jammy and Jelly sketches on my blog and they’re quite different to now! The water colours that I paint with today are the exact same ones I found sitting around the house when I first decided to illustrate my blog, but I’ve definitely learned lots along the way - getting a scanner a decent pens turned everything around :)

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IMAGE COURTESY OF JAMMY AND JELLY

What is Jammy and Jelly?


Why do you draw? E: Because it’s my favourite way to pass time. I love it! What was one of the biggest risks you’ve taken in your career/life and how did that pay off? E: Funnily enough, having Jammy and Jelly was a huge part of how I landed my current job (which I love) - it has, quite literally, shaped my career. It’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I only started it to stop me getting bored - after I came back home from college, I was stuck frying burgers and serving coffee to get by - it drove me crazy. I have so many things that I want to do with Jammy and Jelly in the future, and I love taking a moment to look back on how much it’s developed over time.

THINGS EMILY HAS LEARNED

NEVER FORCE YOURSELF TO BLOG sticking to schedules just doesn’t work for me, it takes out all of the fun.

DON’T BE EMBARRASSED BY YOUR BLOG I hid mine from friends for so long because I was scared of the judgement, and I think that is a common mistake with bloggers, you should always be proud of your work!

Do you think that having a diary/blog and being an artist has changed the way you see the STICK TO WHAT YOU’RE GOOD world? E: It helps me turn all of those awkward and embarrassing moments into something that will, hopefully, make my readers chuckle.

AT

In the past, I’ve tried writing long ‘wordy’ post’s but grammar and english are really not my strong points - people must have gotten sick of the typos and all of the tense swapping. I’m definitely better off just sticking to painting!

Learn more about Emily at jammyandjelly.com

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“A year from now you will wish you had started today.�

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from

DREAMS BY: TALHA A. KHAWAJA

to

DESTINY

Step 1: Realizing What Your Dreams Are Many a time, when asked about what one intends to do with his or her future, the most common reply I’ve heard is, ‘I want to have a “secure job” ’. This so called secure job is something through which you can have a financially stable life and is considered to be a prestigious profession by many. The most common jobs associated with that level of respect among the public are those of lawyers, judges, doctors, civil servants, engineers, etc. While these are great jobs in their own right, the notion of a secure career is a complete myth. There is no such thing as a job that grants you security from the hurdles of life and there never will be. The difference between people who are successful and those who aren’t depend on two factors; happiness and drive. If you feel like you’re missing even one of these things with your future plan, then at some point or another, you’ll start thinking somewhere along the lines of, ‘Is this what I want to do or is this what society demands me to be in this day and age?’ Questions such as whether society’s opinion of what you should be matter or whether you actually know what you want to be start to run through your head. At this point, I can tell you that we’ve all been there. This particular moment in life has happened to all of us. It’s not unnatural and is certainly worth more than just a thought. This is one of the greatest question we will ever have to answer. At this moment in time, we must decide on how to spend the next several decades of our lives. I’ve seen more than a few examples of people choosing a field which they were never interested in due to pressure. That is a huge decision to make and the way to deal with it is to first think about whether you are happy with what you have chosen for yourself. If you are not happy or if you don’t know what to do, don’t panic. This is a perfectly natural reaction.

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In a step by step guide on following your dreams. we’ll be sharing tips to find where you want to go, and how to use your skills to get there. Look for step 2 in the next issue.

What is required of you at this point is a few days or weeks of reflection. Study yourself. Find out as much about who you are as you can. Do this by asking yourself a few questions. What do I do well? What are my hobbies? Is there something in my life that I love doing but never considered it to be a viable option? The last thing that ultimately led me to decide what I wanted to do with my future was partly derived from a very popular question. Where do you see yourself in 50 years? I took that question and turned it on its head by applying it to the career I thought was secure against what I actually thought I wanted to do. I asked myself, can I do this for the next 50 years? To the first, the answer was no, I would’ve been miserable doing that job but to the second, I had a different answer. All of these little questions helped me in pursuing my dream. That’s why you should spend time answering them. All of it so that you can dig deep and find the real you, the one you feel proud of being and the one you want to show to the world. Involve someone who you can trust to help you out; preferably someone who doesn’t want to direct your attention towards “secure careers” because that never works out. Yes, you may `put effort in to it and make a career out of it anyway but always keep in mind that success comes from two things and effort is only one side of the coin. If you choose such a career where you’re financially stable but you are unhappy with your job, then that isn’t success. Success comes from doing what you love because what you love is your true life’s calling. How do I know this? It happened with me when I discovered how much I love to write or my father, when he realized that he did not want to be an engineer because that wasn’t his life’s calling. At the end of the day, we have to realize that we’ve all got our own strengths; things we love, and following those strengths leads us to success. You can both follow your dream and be financially stable across any career because those who love what they do always make it to the top.

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SAHARA DESERT, MOROCCO

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next the adventure STORY + PHOTOS BY NIKKI VARGAS

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am by myself outside the medina in Marrakech standing in the center of the Jemaa el Fna square. It is early and the throngs of tourists that usually stand gawking at snake charmers and monkey handlers are not yet awake, earning me bewildered looks from locals who--caught off guard--scramble to offer me henna, orange juice or pictures with snakes in hopes of snagging a few early morning Dirham. I am wearing long pants and a hand-woven red and gold scarf--bought in the High Atlas mountains--that is wrapped loosely around my brown hair and bare shoulders. By this point, I have garnered enough open mouth gawks from locals around the country to know the importance of covering myself up--especially when venturing out solo. It is the first time in ten days that I am completely alone--a mode of travel I am used to but feels oddly foreign to me right now. Ten days ago, in this exact square, I had just arrived in Marrakech and was fairly flippant in my approach to the culture and customs. Admittedly, I knew little to nothing about Islam, had limited knowledge about Morocco and was simply excited to wrap a scarf around my hair as it was reminiscent of Carrie from Homeland. Whereas I usually travel on my own terms (and therefore rely solely on my own preparations and knowledge leading up to a trip) this time I was traveling with a group of complete strangers as part of a Topdeck Travel tour and arrived in Morocco wide-eyed and naive. Having never traveled with strangers in the past, I presumed only three things to be true of these organized tours: 1) Every night would be a party; something I was not particularly keen on as I can hardly handle a hangover at home, let alone abroad. 2) Group dynamics would come into play as I’m sure ten days on a co-ed, twenty-something trip would lead to assorted shenanigans. 3) The freedom of exploring would be sacrificed on the altar of itineraries and schedules.

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Bath house in Marrakech.


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Camel trecking in the Sahara. @Comeback_Mag 31


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Hassan II mosque in Casablanca.


Taking a Risk & Boarding a Plane

Ever the solo traveler and one to preach the benefits of heading “offthe-beaten-path,” I accepted the risk of opting for group travel in exchange for having a professional take on the logistics of getting around Morocco. I thought back to my first time solo traveling--a year ago to this very day--when I was boarding a flight to Argentina sans friends or family. I was running away from my life, needing to step outside the rising waters of my complicated reality and find some much needed clarity. At the age of 26, I had found myself on the brink of getting married to a wonderful man who I was realizing (very late, I might add) that the two of us were simply too different to build a life together. Whereas I dreamt of traveling the world, pursuing my travel writing and steering clear of suburbia; he was already talking about kids and big backyards. Although we were each other’s best friends, it was clear that when it came to what we want out of life we simply did not align. Weeks before my wedding, I flew to Buenos Aires to ask myself the difficult questions I had been avoiding for months and sure enough--away from wedding plans, favors and chiffon--I got the answer I needed: I don’t want to get married. This realization hit me like the ice bucket challenge as I was hiking alone in Iguazu National Park by the border of Brazil. The many reasons I knew my fiance and I could not work are too personal to list here so let me just say that at this moment in time the only thing more impossible than staying with him was leaving and the only thing scarier than leaving was staying. Months later--with a cancelled wedding, the label of “runaway bride” and a new apartment--I knew I had made the right choice for both of us and had given us our best chance at finding happiness. I look back often on that trip to Argentina and wonder if my life would be as different had I not taken the risk of flying solo to South America. I’d like to think I would have still found my way out of the storm, would still be standing in Marrakech as a travel writer on assignment, but who can say. Solo traveling became a mecca of sorts for me, a way to shrug off the constraints of day-to-day life and reconnect with myself. Perspective and self-awareness became synonymous with travel as I could always count on finding myself along cobblestone streets of Paris, beaches in Colombia or villages in Panama. Now I was headed on a group trip and although I wasn’t running from my life like I had been a year ago, I wondered if I’d risk finding perspective by traveling with strangers.

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SAHARA DESERT, MOROCCO @Comeback_Mag 35


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A VISTA IN THE HIGH ALTAS MOUNTAINS

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Embracing Group Travel

My family in Morocco is a slapstick gang of Australians, a German couple and an Irish nurse who is my roommate. We are bound together by nothing more than timing and a desire to put ourselves in the way of something beautiful and foreign. Being 27 years old now, I had worried I would become the designated “trip mom” to a group of young twenty-somethings set on drinking over exploring. Instead, I was greeted by seasoned travelers who were eager to roam the medina, venture into the Sahara and learn about Muslim culture. First impressions quickly gave way to real exchanges as we all faced sickness together (I pause here to offer up a wish that you, dear reader, may never experience sickness in Africa), navigated local customs and learned about Islam and Muslim culture. All the presumed risks I had envisioned for group traveling dissipated quickly as my trip mates proved wonderful in every way. Together we ventured on camel back into the Sahara, navigated winding mountain roads in the High Atlas, learned the art of cooking tagines and experienced aspects of Moroccan culture we may have never seen otherwise. Ten days passed both quickly and slowly; offering that odd paradox common in travel of feeling like I had been in Morocco for both a month and just 5 minutes. I find myself back in Marrakech at the official end of our Topdeck Moroccan Explorer tour. My Moroccan “family” has scattered to the wind, having said our goodbyes the previous night, everyone is now en route to their next destination. Soon I will be on a flight headed back to New York City; I can already imagine myself at my local coffee shop writing about Morocco and feeling as though it was all a dream.

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I stop to consider solo travel and group travel and the idea of taking risks. I had worried about the risks of traveling solo, had worried about the risks of traveling with a group but at the end of the day both experiences took me far from where I started and opened up my life to new experiences. When I was in Argentina I kept replaying a favorite


Spices on display in a Souk in Marrakech.

quote of mine by Emily Dickinson that had become a sort of mantra while solo traveling: “if your nerve deny you, rise above your nerve.” That quote came to mind now--miles from everything and everyone I know--as I stood alone in a city that seems the textbook definition of exotic. Having recently left a

cushy career in advertising to become a full time writer; I didn’t know what the next month--let alone next year--had in store for me. I had my fair share of risks tossed haphazardly in my way but it didn’t matter, I would always rise above my nerve and see what the next adventure had in store.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NIKKI @PINTHEMAPPROJECT

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WORDS FROM THE WISE

“The next step will come but to rush. Enjoy your life as it it will be.” - Gentlemen’s Wisdom

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you don’t need is. Not as what

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written by Talha A. Khawaja

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Chapter 1 “We need to scour for some supplies and make sure that there’s enough food here for all of us. Dany, how much we got left?” Shaun inquired. “Not enough to last us the month.” Dany replied. “And water?” “Same. We can’t survive on it much longer.” Shaun Mills put his dry, mud-covered hand on his jaw. He wasn’t much to look at from afar, a Canadian citizen who had happened to be in America during the incident. He was average height, just under 5’11” with a slim face, light brown eyes and a slightly crooked long nose. He had a rough outline of a beard and his hair was long and unkempt. From close up, though, he possessed the muscular posture of an athlete. He was well built and had a sense of purpose and determination about him. These were fitting qualities for a leader and they helped him make many important decisions. There were four people in front of Shaun. He knew them all by name. They were his responsibility now, his family. They had been so ever since the attack. There was Noah Wilson, Shaun’s stepson. Richard Carrion was one of his most trusted companions. So were Dany Williams and Tennyson Jade. These were the four closest to him. He knew the others as well, but not like he knew the four of them. They had been there since the attack. 16 Months Ago: Right before the Attack The roads were quiet. Nothing moved in the night. Not even the chirping of birds or the hooting of owls. The surrounding countryside was still. Suddenly, a massive explosion occurred to the north of the area. The fumes could be seen for many miles ahead. Noah Wilson got up from his bed in a panic, a little far off from the commotion. His breathing was deep and rapid. He saw the fumes in front of him and gasped with surprise. Then, he ran to his father’s room and pounded on the door. “Dad, it’s happening! Dad!” He screamed. Present “Shaun? What are you thinking?” Dany asked. She was a beautiful brunette of American descent. She had light, caramel eyes and a small nose. Her previously long hair had been cut short roughly. She was, by profession, a thief. After the attack her life depended on those skills in order to survive. “I say we go to the Willows and gather our supplies from there. I reckon there’d still be plenty of food left.” Tennyson Jade chipped in. He was from Congo, so he had that distinct African accent. He was a tall fellow whose height was well over six feet. He was built like an ox, courtesy of the military training his father had given him. He had dark brown hair in the traditional military crew cut style and light grey eyes. His face was menacing with scars on both cheeks. Tennyson also wore an army cap, one that Shaun had always suspected belonged to his father. “It’s too dangerous in the Willows. We already tried there, remember?” Richard Carrion

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was the third to speak out. He used to be a farmer in Britain before the attack but beyond that, his origins were unknown to the group. As a farmer, he was a very handy man to have concerning food. “Yes, I agree with Carrion. We can’t risk it.” Everyone turned to Noah Wilson, the stepson of Shaun. Noah didn’t talk often but when he did, people tended to listen. He was a wise young man and had a bright future as a leader. His hair was long like Shaun’s but unlike his father, it was jet black. He had blue eyes and his previously long nose had become crooked. It had been smashed in by someone in a previous offensive encounter. He was skinny and lacked the muscle that Tennyson and Shaun possessed. He did, although; possess the knowledge worthy of a mechanic so he worked with the group’s cars. “What do you suggest we do then?” Tennyson questioned. “We don’t need urgent supplies so we don’t have to risk the Willows. There’s a storage facility north of here. It ain’t that far off. We get there, load up and head back. I’m tired of heading out again and again. So, we’re gonna make one trip and come back.” Shaun’s answer was firm and final. The group knew he had made up his mind. Still, Dany could not let go without confirming his decision. “Are you sure about that? What I mean is, the supermarket is close by. And we already cleared it out.” Dany said. She knew the supermarket didn’t hold nearly enough supplies to facilitate their needs but going into unexplored territory could be dangerous. “I’m sure.” “Sounds good to me.” Tennyson picked up his axe and heaved it over his back. He walked off to tell the rest that they had come to a decision. After the four separated and went to the rest of the group, Shaun decided to stay back. Dany saw his hesitation to move and shot him an inquisitive look. He shook his head and said, “I’ll be right behind you.” Dany shrugged and moved off. When Shaun had made sure that everyone had left, he made his way in the opposite direction. There was an old birch tree slightly off from their camp. Shaun went there and did a quick inspection of the area, cautious of any unwanted company. Then he sat down. He was wearing a regular brown shirt and jeans. He had also picked up an old army jacket somewhere along his journey that he wore now. Shaun sighed. He reached in to the jacket pocket and took out a photo from it. He stared at it passionately. In the photo, there was a small, beautiful girl smiling while leaning on her pink tricycle. Her hair was golden brown and her eyes were a light brown shade, much like Shaun’s. She was standing in what appeared to be a backyard. There were small plants and clay statues in the background. Shaun started to cry. “I’m-sorry, darling. I’m-so-sorry.” He stammered. After a while, he gathered back his wits and stowed the photograph away in his pocket. Then he

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made his way towards the others. 16 Months Ago: One Hour after the Attack New York City There was chaos everywhere. Cars smashed into each other. Buildings were on fire. People screamed and ran in all directions, some chanting that it was the end of the world. Thieves looted stores with no one to stop them. In the midst of all this, Shaun Mills tried to lead his fifteen-year-old son to safety. He had equipped his licensed six-shooter and was wary of any danger. “Dad, where are we going?” Noah asked. Shaun seemed tense and afraid. “We’re going to your mother’s. It’s okay son, no one’s going to harm you.” Just as Shaun said those words, a frightened bunch of travelers bumped in to the two of them and they got separated. “Dad! Dad! I can’t see you.” Noah said in a panicky voice. “Noah! Where are you? Talk to me! Noah!” Present Noah sat quietly by himself, pondering over what he had just seen. His dad didn’t normally cry. He recalled once again what had happened. Dany, Tennyson and Richard moved off to join the rest of the group. Noah walked too but was cautious of where his father went. As soon as Shaun moved away, Noah followed suit. He pursued his father from a distance. He saw his father take out the photograph. What had it been of though? Noah thought. He could not see what his father was looking at but he recognized that it must have meant something to him. Noah had thought of getting in closer to his father but had discarded the thought immediately. He would have given his position away if he had. There was one thing that Noah did know of, though. This habit of going off and crying had become more and more frequent in the recent days. Perhaps Noah had not really thought about it much until now. He had missed it happening before. “Alright folks, let’s go!” Shaun called out. “In case you missed it, I’ll say it once more: Jackie, Tennyson and Noah are coming with me. The rest of you stay here. Dany and Carrion are in charge till we get back. Look out for each other and make sure to send patrols out regularly. You don’t want to get caught up with the riote-, with them.” Shaun had slipped up. He knew that word was not tolerated at camp. The twenty to thirty people here despised that word. Immediately, members of the group got up and moved off to join Shaun. Jackie Baker was the first to rise. She was of Chinese origin but her father had been American. She had travelled to here to earn a better living. She had her black hair tied in a small pony. Her nose was so small it was barely noticeable. Her eyes were a dark brown. Jackie had been trained in the use of swords so she was an ideal person to have around the group. She did, although,

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have a short temper but not so much that it was intolerable. She was followed by Tennyson. Shaun searched through the group for Noah. He saw him sitting a little far off from the others. Shaun frowned but signaled for Noah to join them. Reluctantly, Noah got up and headed towards them. Shaun thought of asking Noah what was wrong but he decided that he could do it later, somewhere more private. The four headed off towards the cars. While Noah did a quick check up on the cars to make sure which one was in best shape for travelling, the rest accounted for guns and ammunition. Jackie left her signature katana blade as its hilt needed repair work. Tennyson decided to bring his axe along. They were soon on their way. Noah had picked out a Chevrolet Silverado pickup and two large cargo trucks from the ten available cars. While Shaun and Noah led in the front, Tennyson and Jackie sat laden with guns in the cargo trucks. They would shoot on sight in case things went sideways. As Shaun drove, he thought of bringing the topic up. “Anything you want to tell me son?” “No. Why?” Noah replied. “Well, it’s just that you were sitting there alone. I was thinking that there must be something bothering you. Else, hell, why would you be there on your own?” “Oh, that.” Noah thought of asking his father what he had been staring at. Then he thought better of it. If his dad saw the picture in private without telling Noah, why would he tell him now? He could simply lie or make an excuse not to talk about it. “It was nothing Dad, just, I feel sorry for what happened yesterday.” He lied. “Yeah, I think we all did son. Mr. Sanders was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die like that.” Shaun thought it would be best to let Noah be. He did not want to make his son feel uncomfortable any further. After about thirty miles, Shaun stopped the pickup. “What’s the holdup?” Tennyson called from the back. “Road’s closed. It’s a traffic block. We’ll have to make a detour. Radio the group and tell them we may be late.” Shaun replied. “Are you sure we can’t make a path forward?” Jackie said loudly. “Negative. It’s too dangerous.” Jackie nodded and brought out an old bag. From it, she procured a map of the area. Meanwhile, Shaun and Noah got out of the truck. Shaun joined Jackie while Noah stayed next to the front door of the vehicle. He gripped his Beretta 92 semi-automatic pistol and took guard duty while the others made their plans. Jackie held out the map to Shaun. It read: State Of Kansas. “I think we’re here.” Shaun pointed to a spot on the map while Tennyson, having just contacted camp, moved off to secure the rear of the truck. “That’s about thirty miles from the camp at Wichita. Only fifteen miles left. Are you sure we can’t clear through here?” Jackie pleaded once more. “No, too risky.” Shaun said absentmindedly. “We can cut through here.” He again pointed out a

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spot on the map. “It’ll be about ten miles extra to cover but it can be done.” “Well, I suppose you’re right.” Jackie agreed, defeated. Shaun rolled up the map, stowed it back in the bag and they were again on their way. The next stop they took was when they reached the storage facility. It was a warehouse. Shaun, Tennyson, Jackie and Noah quietly strolled in. Jackie and Noah took out their flashlights but Shaun signaled them to put the flashlights away. “We can’t take the risk of exposing our positions without knowing how many of them are in here. The light could attract them in dozens.” Shaun whispered. “Then what are we supposed to do?” Noah asked. Shaun seemed be thinking over it. Tennyson, though, already had the answer. “I have got a lighter. It’s just bright enough to find what we need and get out without being noticed. It’ll take a while, maybe the whole day, but it’s capable of getting the job done.” Tennyson said. “Brilliant.” Noah replied. They flicked on the lighter and started to gather the supplies. Soon, they realized that, for an entire season’s supplies, using just a lighter would require the legwork of at least their entire camp. Shaun took the risk of using flashlights. Things progressed a lot quicker. Then came the final set of supplies, which were medicines. The four of them separated to find the medication. Jackie went down an aisle. Tennyson went down another and Shaun and Noah took separate ones as well. Jackie used her flashlight to read the labels on separate boxes. Suddenly, she heard movement behind her. She looked around but saw nothing. “Hello? Is somebody there?” Jackie called out. There was no reply. “Tennyson, Shaun, guys you there?” Again there was no reply. Just as Jackie was about to turn around she heard a loud grunt from behind her. It was closer to a growl. She started to run ahead without warning. As she ran she heard the sound getting louder and clearer. Then there were two grunts followed by three and then more. She didn’t dare look. “Quick, Jackie, in here,” Tennyson yelled. Jackie ran towards him and found herself in a small room. Tennyson quickly bolted the door behind her and used his axe to barricade it for good measure. They both breathed heavily. Next to them, Shaun and Noah were also present. Behind the door there were sounds of pounding. They were trying to break down the door. “There must have been at least ten of them. I didn’t see them but I sensed them. Cannibals!” Jackie exclaimed wearily. 16 Months Ago: One Hour after the Attack “Dad! Dad! Where are you?” Noah cried. He was afraid, afraid of what had happened and scared of what he saw. He could not find his father. He was alone, in the middle of strangers, unaware how to find his father. He heard glass breaking from behind him. Quickly he moved away from his position. There was a small side street up ahead. Noah thought of using it to his advantage. He tried breaking free from the crowd and eventually found himself in the side street.

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From there he scanned the crowd thoroughly, searching for any sign of Shaun, any at all. After a minute or so, he heard a loud noise from behind him. It sounded like screaming. “No, please, let me go! Help! Save me! Help me! Aaaah!” The voice seemed to say. Then it stopped completely. Noah wondered what on earth that was. Then he took a deep breath and started to slowly advance towards the strange screaming noises. There was fog everywhere. It was very difficult to see where everything was. As Noah progressed onwards, he felt something was off. Actually, he smelled it. It smelled like something rotting. He neared the scene and saw what had made the noise, rather who had made the noise. Noah was shell-shocked. He saw a mutilated body in front of him. The face had been half chewed off and the body was no better. Noah felt like puking and he quickly covered his mouth. He almost did puke but only then did he note something else there. Another man shrouded by the fog, stood to one side. “Hello?” Noah said, his voice quavering. He heard a grumbling noise that much resembled the growl a dog would make before it struck an enemy. “Who are you?” Noah questioned in a frightened voice. The anonymous person revealed himself from the fog, looking sideways at Noah. Except it wasn’t a person. The thing looked like a human being from far away. However, more closely observed, it was a gruesome specimen. Its body was chewed off in different areas with one arm half torn off. Its face had dry blood on it while the eyes were strange. There was no clear color in them. They were not brown, grey, green or any other shade. They were pure milky white. “St-stay back! Stay back!” Noah whimpered. He had completely lost his nerve. In front of him stood something he had never seen before. Noah slowly backed up and the strange beast followed. Each time Noah took a step backwards the beast quickened its pace to catch up to him. He did not have the courage to stop the beast. His fear took control and he felt he couldn’t run anywhere either. He was stuck and the beast was gaining on him. Present The noise of thumping got louder from behind the door. It seemed the strange creatures were finally having some success in knocking it down. Jackie gave Shaun a worrisome look. “We don’t have much time before they knock that door down. What should we do?” She asked. “Fight to our deaths?” Tennyson suggested. “Just like in ‘I Am Legend’. Pity we don’t have that grenade though.” “Grenade?” Noah questioned. “Yeah, from the movie.” Tennyson said, rolling his eyes. “This is no time for jokes, Tennyson. “ Jackie replied. “We have to find some way of getting back to those trucks. The problem is, Noah and I threw our automatics down when we ran. It was too much load for us to handle. We can’t kill ‘em all. We’re badly outnumbered too. It’s my fault. The flashlights were a bad idea.” Shaun stated miserably.

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Noah was worried. He had fought with the cannibals on multiple occasions but the odds had always been with the group whenever he did. Noah did not normally go out to find food and water because he needed to work with the cars. This was a rare exception and Noah did not even know why his father had asked him to come along. He never questioned Shaun’s decisions or his authority but that did not mean that he agreed with all his choices. Noah had always fought alongside the entire group so he had never been afraid. Now, however, was a different matter. He was afraid because this time around, the others were dependent on his contribution. Of course, he never let his fear show. “Okay, guys listen up; I know what we have to do.” Noah said in an upbeat voice. Everyone looked at Noah with interest. They were hoping for some way out of their situation. “Look, there’s no easy way to say this. We have to blast our way through.” “No, no. We’re outnumbered. We don’t have the kind of heavy weaponry to take them out.” Shaun said. “No, we certainly don’t. But we do have Tennyson’s shotgun. And we have your revolver, Dad. Jackie and I both have Berettas. We don’t have to clear ‘em all out but just create a wide enough space to make a run for it. We can get to the cars and go.” Noah said. They all nodded but Tennyson posed a question. “What about the medical supplies?” He asked. Noah was quiet. The truth was he was thinking of a solution to that as well but there wasn’t one. “We’ll have to leave them behind. We can survive on the supermarket and come back for them another time when we have to.” Shaun said. They all nodded again. Then the sound of a crack was heard. The cannibals had finally found a weak spot in the door and put pressure on it till it ripped apart. The small group quickly checked its weapons and the ammunition for each. Then Tennyson took the lead. Jackie and Shaun took the sides in diamond formation. Noah brought up the rear. They all took deep breaths and then opened the door. One Hour after the Attack Noah quickly backed up. He saw no way out of his predicament. In the moment of sheer terror, his body had betrayed him. Now he stood glued to his spot like prey waiting for its predator to catch up; knowing that it would never be able to outrun the other. The creature slowly advanced but then suddenly increased its pace. Perhaps it had just recognized fresh blood. It tackled Noah quickly and tried to bite him, hunting for any piece of meat that was available. On top of this, it kicked and scratched at Noah’s body. Only then did Noah try to hold off the creature. He tried to hold it off with his hands, using them to keep the creature at bay. It was a futile attempt. It was only a matter of time before the creature would devour him, he knew, but he desperately tried to cling on to his life. He shoved and kicked at the cannibal. He tried to push it away so that he could run. The wild entanglement continued for what seemed like minutes. Noah’s arms were giving up on him. The force being exerted from the heavy creature was too much for Noah’s scrawny arms. He then tried to scream. “Help me! Anyone! Help! Please!” He knew he was too late and closed his eyes.

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Just then he felt his weight easing. His body relaxed and he no longer felt physically threatened. Someone had thrown the beast off of Noah. Noah looked up to see a big black man towering over him. He took aim at the creature and the sound of gunfire rung in the quiet street. The cannibal collapsed; shot in the head. The man then offered Noah his hand and lifted him up. “Thank you. Really, thank you. I’m Noah, Noah Wilson. You are?” Noah said, barely breathing. “Tennyson Jade.” Present The doors flew open, as if relieved that the cannibals were no longer concentrated on them. Tennyson opened fire with his Spas 12. Five of the beasts at the front staggered backwards and fell on their backs, startled by the force of the gun. This was the space the group was looking for. They rushed forward, careful not to break formation. Tennyson cleared the path for the group while the rest took aim as precision shooters. Shaun, Jackie and Noah shot the cannibals in the head. Surely, the gunfire would attract more of them so they had to move fast. One creature got the better of Jackie and scratched her on the arm but Noah immediately shot it down before it could do further damage. They were making good progress when Shaun noticed the automatics that he and Noah had left behind. His eyes gleamed with lust. He wanted to lunge for them but one shake of the head from Noah stopped him in his tracks. He realized that going for the machine guns was a suicidal move that would probably get them all killed. With great reluctance, he dismissed the prospect of fetching the guns. The formation was working greatly and more than half the creatures had been put down. Tennyson kicked open the warehouse door. From here they knew that in order to get to the trucks, they had to break formation. “Tennyson, hand me that shotgun! I’ll keep them at bay. Go start the cars guys!” Noah yelled. The others nodded. As experienced a mechanic as he may have been, he certainly did not know how to drive. Tennyson chucked the shotgun at Noah and the four split up. Noah put the shotgun down for the moment and used his Berretta to trim the number of the advancing party as much as he could. He would use the shotgun once they got closer. Meanwhile, Tennyson, Jackie, and Shaun sprinted to the trucks. Noah was tense. This was the crucial part of the plan. He had to fight the monsters off while his friends and his father started the cars. So they get the easy part? He thought with grim humor. He then breathed deeply and took aim. Shaun got to the pickup first and fumbled in his pocket for the keys. With shaking hands, he opened the door of the truck and started it quickly. Jackie was next and she was much faster with her duty. Sadly, what Tennyson had in brawn, he lacked in speed. He was the slowest of the bunch and it took him a while to get to his vehicle. He heard Noah reducing the cannibals. One shot, two, three and then the shots stopped. Tennyson feared for a second what he could not even imagine but then the firing started again; this time louder. Noah must have switched to the Spas now. Tennyson thought. He breathed a sigh of relief but also understood the danger of the situation. It meant that the cannibals were gaining on them. He quickly sat in his truck and turned on the ignition. Only after that did he notice something odd. There was movement on the right side. He turned 180 degrees slowly only to see at least eighty cannibals advancing from the main road. Noah fired off his last round. Both the shotgun and the Berretta were out and he hadn’t even

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made a dent in the opposing party. As he killed some of them, more appeared from behind and reinforced the ranks. Noah suddenly heard the sound of honking behind him. He turned around to see Shaun shouting at him to run. Noah picked up the empty guns, though he was not sure why, and ran to the pickup. Quickly getting in, Shaun gunned the accelerator and Tennyson and Jackie followed behind them. Tennyson turned on his radio. “That was close. How about next time we don’t do that?” Tennyson said breathlessly. “We still have a problem. We can’t use the main road now. We’ll be cornered by them.” Jackie said. “Look, let’s just get out of here for now. We’ll find an alternative route once we’re safer.” Shaun said firmly. The others all murmured their agreement, silently riding away. The warehouse was left in ruins. Now that the four of them had made so much noise, the entire place was flooded by the dead. Five hundred meters from the warehouse, there stood a military styled SUV. A man stood in front of it with binoculars in his hands. He had short red hair and menacing brown eyes. His nose was long and he had a white cloth wrapped around one of his ears. He wore standard military uniform and a soldier’s cap. “I just saw them. Swarmers attacked them at the warehouse. Don’t worry; I’ll keep an eye on them.” He said.

TO BE CONTINUED

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THANK YOU We just want to say thank you for the support weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve gotten for our first issue, and for the ones ahead. Comeback Mag <3

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Profile for Comeback Magazine

Comeback: the Risk Edition  

Advice on finding your dreams and interviews with those who have. Publisher: Iris Zhou Mail: PO Box 27451 Seattle, WA 98165 comebackmag.tum...

Comeback: the Risk Edition  

Advice on finding your dreams and interviews with those who have. Publisher: Iris Zhou Mail: PO Box 27451 Seattle, WA 98165 comebackmag.tum...

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