Volume 09 Issue 1

Page 1

in this issue - Gentry Massey-Williams, Table Manners

Volume IX | Issue 1

The Echo

My mother always told me to speak softly and politely But you walk over and your voice is a bow on strings The air itself starts to spin when it hears your song I never knew the wind could learn how to dance

The Echo

The sun oozed into the edge of the earth, and the sky erupted into fabulous splotches of scarlet and amber as he sat on the edge of the soccer field. When the stars began to wink at him, he laid back and closed his eyes. - Jessi Velte, Jack the Treestalk

- Alexa King, Chimera Dreams

Volume ix

I wish to see your real eyes, Not in a dream, False reality, Nor a feeble figment of imagination. But right in front of me.

the echo

letter from the editors It takes a village. Which, admittedly, is a pretty cliché saying. But every cliché has a bit of truth to it, and this one in particular is pretty accurate. This little book you’re holding is not just the culmination of the writers’ or the designers’ work. It is the artists, and the copyeditors. The writers and the photographers. The designers and the advisor, Eric Vona. It is the co-editors, Cassidy Hale and me. It is all of us working together to put together this 8.5 by 5.5-inch book. I’ve spent over a semester now as the co-editor-in-chief of this magazine. I always imagined the job would be me, basically telling people what to do, when, and how. But this isn’t the case. My co-editor Cassidy explained this to me the other day, and it couldn’t be truer: so much of the job is listening to what the Echo staff needs from us. When do they need us to be drill sergeants? When do they need us to be friends, confidants, or worker bees? It isn’t what I expected, but it is a gear shift that I’m happy to make for the betterment of this team. This book is not mine. It’s isn’t even really the Echo’s. More than anything, this magazine should be yours (and not just cause you paid for it). Whether your art or writing is in this edition or not, you chose to open it, you chose to embrace what’s inside of it. Take it all in. Make this volume yours. Mark up the pages, dog-ear the corners, and give that spine a satisfying crack. Shape it. And in doing so, allow it to shape you. You are a part of it now. I hope you enjoy.


Co-Editor-in-Chief Jordyn Dees

Co-Editor-in-Chief Cassidy Hale

Staff Page co-editors-in-chief

fiction editor

Jordyn Dees Cassidy Hale

Andrea Burgess

script editor submissions manager

Julianna Mauro

Molly Pefley

graphics layout team Grace Beilman Sanika Kende Ally O’Connor

poetry editor Renee Fleet

non-fiction editor Madeleine James

Elke Stelter Justin White

website team Sam Berger Marlee Wittner

ads team Matthew Lao Amelia Miller Samantha Sanchez

art editor Anna Corral Gavilan

advisor John Eric Vona


table of contents Untitled



Dear Mom


Jack the Treestalk


Sunset on the Bay


Our Private World


On Edge


Incident at the Bank


Modern Medusa


Little Boy Big World


Table Manners


Capri Skies




Joseph Pereira | Art by: Sarah Boyd Jessi Velte

Andrew Diecidue Alissa Vani

Ally O’Connor Nathan Pray Jack Leist

Cassidy Hale

Gentry Massey-Williams Ally O’Connor

Evangeline Vo


A Lesson on Wheels


Stress Relief


Dwellers: Chapter 1


The Tale of Vona’s Firing (Almost)


The Pool at Night






City at Night


Chimera Dreams


Warm Feelings & Purple Flowers


Puddles & Morning Lizard






(In)Human Nature: Episode 1


Aaron Rivera

Molly Pefley | Art by Alice Wright Anastasia Gerges The Echo Staff

Gentry Massey-Williams Abigail Weiss Brianna Sandner Angel Rolle Alexa King

Cat Johnson | Art by: Zoe Hunter

Aleksa de Arse | Art by: Zoe Hunter Drishti More | Art by: Connor Meredith Sanika Kende

The Echo Staff


Dear mom Joseph Pereira | Memoir | 12

Dear Mom, I miss you. It’s been almost two years since you left but there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you. I miss your smile, your warm hugs, and your laugh, but more than anything, I miss the little things. I miss the weird little snort you’d make after hearing the punchlines from Michael’s dry jokes, interrupting the pity laughter that came from the rest of us. I’ll never be sure if it was genuine because you found his jokes funny, or if you did it out of love to help him become more confident in himself. I miss your drive and dedication to everything you did, Sarah Boyd | Digital | 11

but especially to living a healthy life. I miss hearing it when you would exercise while cleaning the house, the sound of your heels smacking against the tile floor as you lunged across the kitchen. I miss seeing it after waking up and walking into the living room before sunrise, only to see you in front of the TV stretching on top


of your hot pink yoga mat. I miss smelling and tasting it when you’d force us to eat the healthy foods you cooked, like your cauliflower chili and lentil soup. Granted, they were all flavorless, but why on Earth would we complain? You loved us enough to take time out of your day and cook to make sure we came home to hot, nutritious meals. I miss how much you cared. You never went a day without making sure you said how much you loved us, but I always knew. I could feel it when you’d rub your warm hands on my shoulder after I got a shot, or when you’d playfully run your fingers through my hair while watching soap operas on weekday afternoons. I could feel it when you’d kiss my cheek 20 times every night in kindergarten before tucking me in – no more and no less – and through the tight embraces that always welcomed me and John home from school. I know, now that you’re gone, that all these special moments will exist only as memories. Memories I will remember you by. Memories I’d be grateful to experience one more time. Dear Mom, I wish you were still here. I wish you didn’t have to leave us so soon, but I am still thankful. Thankful that you believed in us when we didn’t believe in ourselves. Thankful for the healthy home-cooked meals after marching band rehearsals. Thankful for the countless hugs and kisses on the cheek. Thankful for the time we did have, and thankful for the memories.


Jack the treestalk Jessi Velte | Fiction |12

Jack was a tree. He wasn’t a literal tree, but he resembled a lanky sapling more than he looked like a boy. He was nearly six-and -a-half feet tall by the time he reached the age of fifteen, had long, branching limbs, and had floppy brown hair that could’ve passed as a clump of dried leaves. Yet, his uncanny resemblance to a piece of shrubbery didn’t come close to preparing Jack for the day he found a leaf growing out of his left shoulder. Jack practically lived outdoors. When he wasn’t asleep or at school, he was on the soccer field with his teammates or lounging on the screened-in porch deck his father had built when he was younger. Sometimes, his mother couldn’t drag him back inside until the sun had already gone down and the moon shone bright and full. He’d sit in his classes staring at the world beyond, wishing he was wading through the heavily wooded hills beyond his classroom. A few times his dad had even found him sneaking outside at night just to be closer to nature. Halfway through his sophomore year of high school, he tried pulling off his sweat-soaked jersey as he came off the field of a high school soccer practice. Yet, instead of coming off, the shirt tugged and tugged on Jack’s shoulder. He grabbed at his back, feeling a twig stuck to where his sleeve would’ve slid off. Perturbed, he went home with a frown of worry etched onto his face. When he looked into the messy bathroom mirror, he stared in horror at the image before him. There was a twig sprouting out of his left shoulder, growing right out of him. Jack wasn’t sure what to do, trying desperately to snap it off which resulted only in a sharp pain. He let out a yell. This couldn’t be happening to him. It just wasn’t probable. He had to have been losing his mind, dehydrated from a long practice full of running. He went to bed with a shake of his head. Now, he really seemed


like a tree. The next morning, Jack woke up groggily. He’d pushed the scare from the previous night out of his mind, but as he swung his legs out of his plaid patterned bed covers, he nearly fell to the floor. His legs felt tight, and when he looked closer, they were riddled with a tough, barklike texture. Under ordinary circumstances he would have brushed off the problem and carried on with his day, but clearly this situation was something out of a movie. He anxiously googled any possible symptoms that could make someone turn into a tree, but the only explanation that he could find was that he was crazy. He tried texting a few of his friends to see if any of them have had recent unnatural happenings. Yet, after hours of research, he found nothing that hinted to why he was turning into a tree. By the time that he’d realized that there was no explanation for his magical misadventure, the sun was already sparkling high in the sky, and it was time for him to go back to school. Throughout the day, he felt stiff and uncomfortable. He wore sweatpants and a thick hoodie to hide the fact that his skin was riddled with bark and springy twigs. He managed to finish his day at school and pushed through soccer practice before he realized that he needed to clear his mind. Being outside was the only place that he felt truly calm and at peace. He sat on the soft grass next to the field after his teammates and coaches had cleared away. It wasn’t unusual for Jack to stay late to practice his shots or even just to breathe in the fresh air of their forested town. That day felt different for Jack. He wondered what it would be like to just live there, forever watching the coming and going of adrenaline-ridden soccer teams and lacrosse games, the downpours of rain and the glare of afternoon sunlight on the white painted goal lines. He even almost wished that he would never have to move from that spot again. He could barely stand up, feeling weighed down by his body that had been changing throughout the day. Jack had neglected to pay attention to how his limbs had been slowly solidifying into thick branches or to the twigs continuously sprouting on his back. He realized that he wouldn’t get to play his next soccer game, for he was truly turning


into a tree. Jack was scared and confused. His friends hadn’t taken his questioning seriously and instead laughed over Jack’s surreal situation. They claimed that there was no way that a teenage boy could turn into a tree, and Jack was too embarrassed to show them his branchlike limbs. And still, in such a freak situation, he felt eerily compelled to see where his transition would take him. It was as if that strange act of magic was meant to be, and the nature-loving boy was meant to be one with the outdoors. It felt almost right. He wanted to be outside where the clouds floated in thick plumes over his head and where he’d never have to worry about another math test or stupid chore again. The more he imagined what his life would be like being a tree, the more he didn’t mind the idea. He never felt like himself when he was stuck indoors. The sun oozed into the edge of the earth, and the sky erupted into fabulous splotches of scarlet and amber as he sat on the edge of the soccer field. When the stars began to wink at him, he laid back and closed his eyes. His fright had eased into a cool understanding. The weight of his wooden limbs had subsided while his thoughts grew deeper. He hoped his parents wouldn’t miss him. He wished he could feel the rush of scoring one last goal, and he thought about his soccer team. He felt like he had let them down. He let down his friends who would never get to laugh with him again and he let down his family who would never watch him graduate. Jack raised his arms slowly, analyzing the solid wood cylinders that took their place. He closed his eyes and whispered a goodbye to his life as he knew it. Early the following morning, fifteen anxious boys piled onto the dew-ridden field. They’d looked high and low for Jack with no luck. They played hard, but Jack was a key part to their team. They were hot and beaten down, and found their only source of shade in the broad, leafy oak tree that sat at the edge of their playing field. One boy questioned if it had grown there overnight. It had, in fact, and as the team lounged under Jack’s thick branches, he watched with pride as they cheered for each other and eventually defeated the other soccer


team. He had no way of ever setting a foot on the soccer field again. For years to follow, he watched hundreds of boys and girls trot across the grassy field in front of him, and he provided a warm home for birds and bugs alike. On Sunday evenings, his parents would set up lawn chairs next to his trunk and watch the sunset. They’d talk about how they missed Jack and knew that if he could go anywhere in the world, he would sit right there on the edge of the soccer field and never leave if he could.

Sunset on the bay Andrew Diecidue | Photography | 12


Our private world Alissa Vani | Poetry | 11

A world, untouched by others but me. It is secluded and imaginary, Not for others to see. Its beauty is endless, The location’s unknown, It can only be reached if one is alone. Others can be there, But only through thought, Even the ones who moved on or forgot. They’ll listen to your stories, And tell you their own, With each, you’ll marvel at how much you’ve grown. Anything can happen, My dog can talk, And you travel places by flight, never walk. The sky can be purple, The trees can be red, You can even replace your house with gingerbread! When you talk to strangers, They’re all your friends, Love is limitless and fun never ends.


You visit this world a fair amount too, It’s different per visitor, Almost entirely new. Your world and mine are located next door, They aren’t the only ones, There are many, many more. A world, untouched by others but me. It is secluded and imaginary, Not for others to see. This wonderland, each night, enchants your sleep agleam, You should know what it is, For it is a dream.

On edge Ally O’Connor | Photography | 11


Incident at the bank Nathan Pray | Script | 11

Nathan is at the bank making his first ever transaction, but he has earbuds in while in line. Nathan (cheerfully, with the song “Blow” by Ke$ha playing in his ear buds) This place about to blow oh oh oh! The people inside the bank scream and crouch down fearing for their lives. Nathan mistakes this as them letting him go up to the front. Nathan (still cheerful but loud, the song continues in the background) Hello! I would like $100,000 please ma’am! Nathan goes to switch the song, it goes to “Bodies” by Drowning Pool”, he also pulls out bag that has a banana which makes a gun shape. Throughout this time screams and cries come from the people inside. Nathan (still cheerful but happy sings the new song lyrics) Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor! A woman starts crying, throws her purse and runs out of the door. Nathan (sounding sad) Wow she was rude huh? Why are you guys on the floor? Oh well guess I’ll take my money now. The man behind the counter trembles as Nathan approaches and


presses the silent alarm. Nathan’s song changes again to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.” Nathan proceeds to dance badly and kicks the glass between him and the man at the counter. His name is Tim. Tim (nervous and stuttering) Please sir stop kicking the glass here is your money. Tim walks around the counter to hand him the money and that’s when the cops burst inside. The cops raise their guns to Nathan and Tim. Nathans music still causes him to not hear what’s happening. There are 5 cops. The cops (screaming) Get on the ground or we will shoot Tim starts screaming incoherently, Nathan takes his ear buds out. Nathan (confused) What’s going on? Nathan turns around and screams, the cops all fire but miss Nathan and Tim, Tim is screaming. The cops (screaming) You’re both under arrest. The cops take them in a squad car and Nathan is able to start playing his songs again. The song “Murder on my mind” starts playing. Tim (sighing) Great here we go again. They ride towards the county jail to be imprisoned for 30 years.


Modern Medusa Jack Leist | Digital | 12


Little boy big world Cassidy Hale | Photography | 12


table manners Gentry Massey-Williams | Poetry | 12

My mother always told me to keep my eyes to myself “Staring will make the guests at the dinner table uncomfortable,” she murmured under her breath That evening I saw you for the first time Sitting in the chair across from mine Ice in the lemonade I think your gaze could melt it The books probably beg you to read their pages Heat was my weakness And you were a road paved with tar in the summertime My mother always told me to speak softly and politely But you walk over and your voice is a bow on strings The air itself starts to spin when it hears your song I never knew the wind could learn how to dance The tablecloth decorated with rings of water from our glasses I watch the light bounce off your lips Blinding me like the tips of the ocean waves Do you know you’re the sun’s cousin? My mother told me not to look at things like you for too long Or I’d be blinded forever But I stare anyway Too bad you didn’t catch me We lock eyes and the dinner table is a playground We’re too busy on the swing set


Seven feet above the small talk Our food has already gone cold But with this feeling, we may never eat again I don’t really know how to feel But I like the way you fold your napkin And the way you lean into the table so eagerly when you talk People say it’s rude to put your elbows on the table But it looks good on you Hedonists for the weekend We eat dessert first Even if it gives us both a stomachache The sugar will always be worth it My mother always said not to put too much butter on my bread Or eat my food too fast But now I’m starting to think That maybe she just never learned how to enjoy herself


Capri skies Ally O’Connor | Photography | 11



Untitled Evangeline Vo | Watercolor & Pen | 9


A lesson on wheels Aaron Rivera | Memoir | 10

I watched as the eleven candles blew out with a gentle puff, and my parents clapping and cheering as the final wick had nothing but smoke. Thereafter, a huge box, all covered with colorful wrapping was placed right before my very eyes. The joy within me started to rise as I was carefully tearing away every strip of paper I could find. Once the cardboard box was cut open, I quickly looked inside and found something very unexpected. The beauty of its gleaming silver was far beyond the dull packing peanuts. “A new bike!” I yelled with excitement. I pulled it out of the box then immediately dashed to the front door. “Forgetting something?”, my mother asked as I was turning the knob. Looking back, I saw my dad hold some sort of object in his hands. I slowly inched towards them with confusion then paused. “Think twice or pay the price, no matter the situation, you should always wear a helmet during preparation…”, my mother said solemnly as my father nods with agreement. Not really understanding of what that meant, I first rejected the “helmet” when he was handing it to me but soon after, I accepted it just to be nice then continued on with my previous action. Outside, I hopped onto my new bike and waved back at my parents as I was pedaling away with the breeze, while of course, wearing my helmet. I raced around the imaginary racetrack, feeling as if I was going a hundred miles an hour! It was absolutely the best bike I’ve ever had and it still is today! During my freshmen year, I rode my favorite bike to and from school every day, and I would often do it at lightning speeds. Also, limiting the embarrassment, I decided to no longer wear my bike helmet during the trip. Those days of me being able to do what I want was great while it lasted. When I took it too far one particular day however, near the end of the school year, it was a lesson that I will never forget, and it’s a lesson on wheels. It was a Thursday afternoon, after having a rough


day with my troubling exams, I was riding my bike home as usual, feeling somewhat unhappy. Pedaling fast on a bike just wasn’t the same anymore, it now just gets very old quickly, which makes my days far less surprising. As I was moving down the quiet, empty street with a frown, I started to think of those tv commercials with the cool bike pros that perform sick tricks like its nothing. One trick that really caught my attention was the wheelie where you would lift up the front wheel and just ride your bike on the back wheel. If I was able to perform that, I would be a superstar! Imagine me, doing that awesome wheelie in front of an entire crowd of people, and my friends being extremely jealous of my awesome moves! I would absolutely love it! Just then, a sudden idea hit me across the face, maybe I should try this out! Feeling already prepared as a master who never experienced a crash ever, I leaned back, putting all the weight on the rear end which is probably what you do first. Then, I began to anxiously lift the front tire to officially perform my dreams, but the bike was surprisingly way harder to lift than I thought. I took a short break, then tried again, this time with me continuously tugging the front end of the bike. I must have looked silly as I was constantly failing from only lifting the tire an inch from the ground every time. I soon had enough of this nonsense and started to angrily lift the front tire with tons of force. The tire was soon starting to raise higher and higher, which caused my smile to get brighter and brighter as I was being catapulted to my dreams in an instant. I can feel the warmness of it getting closer and closer to me until suddenly, it stopped with me only touching the clouds of heaven. I started to fall back down immediately as I was losing control of my bike. It was extremely hard to keep balance because my bike was moving all over the place, which caused me to sweat with fear. I felt a sudden thump as the rear tire struck a pile of nearby branches. My bike turned forward as a wild bull, flinging me off its back with ease. Without a single blink, I struck face first on the hard, rocky road beneath me. I felt


immediate throbbing, pain on my right cheek that felt so bad, it was tear dropping. In fact, that was possibly the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Glad to be conscious, I slowly lifted myself up and looked around. Seeing all the blood everywhere is just like being in the middle of a crime scene! Viewing my every direction, I quickly picked up my bike, and continued the way home as fast as possible, covering my face, just hoping that nobody witnessed the situation. After finally making it home and successfully making a trail of blood, I rushed inside. Happy to see that my parents weren’t home yet, I ran to the nearest mirror I could possibly find. “Oh my gosh!” I said loudly with shock. My entire lip was swollen, one of my teeth were bent, and a giant open cut was visible on my cheek. What have I become! It is as if I’m rather looking at a monster! I started to question myself about what others would think when they see me, especially my family and friends, I wouldn’t want to tell them the truth as it could potentially put lots of shame on me. I panicked for a while, then calmed down when I turned to my favorite bike, which was full of rust and blood and then the helmet that had collected dust on the shelf for months. All my views of the helmet have changed. Suddenly, I understand clearly what mom said on my 11th birthday: “Think twice or pay the price, no matter the situation, you should always wear a helmet during preparation…” means to either choose the good or face the consequences, and to never let opinion get in your way of wearing a helmet. No matter what anyone thinks, all that’s important is that I’ve learned a lesson. I rather smiled, realizing that it gave me a second chance, another chance to wear my helmet.


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Stress relief Molly Pefley | Fiction | 12

The sun scorched James’ skin as he sprinted from the school with the lamb’s head he stole from his science class. That day in class, the students all shied away with disturbed looks on their faces while making an incision into the lambs head.There was hardly any educational value from accidentally mutilating a specimen that was once living. However, this experience was extremely educational for James. He saw the way the lambs little hairs looked as though they were swimming in formaldehyde. His heart began to flutter as he saw his new friend with grey, cloudy, lifeless eyes. He ran all the way home and up the stairs, hearing his parents talking in the dining room. Sitting at his desk, he turned on the lamp, filling his dusty, dark room with a dim light. He opened a drawer in his desk, revealing leftover bones and dried up carcasses from experiments from his previous labs in science. He shuffles around and pulls out Alice Wright | Digital | 9 a box of white latex gloves. Putting them on, he reached into the jar and stroked the hairs that the lamb had left on its head. It was mesmerizing; the way that his hands felt when he glided them over the chemically dwindled hair on the lamb’s head. Oh, how good this would feel if it were human


James thought to himself. James furiously shook his head as he tried to shake these dark thoughts out of his head that would come and go so often. He knew what he was doing was nefarious, but it gave him a calm that nothing else would. With his new acquired friend, he felt accepted and safe. He looked in the slits that his window’s blinds created. The moon filled the night sky. The light that shone in James’ eyes was almost blinding, but he didn’t mind. He shifted his body in his chair. But as he shifted, his grip on the jar slipped. To James, it felt like slow motion as the jar dropped with a loud bang and shattered all over his floor. The lamb’s head rolled quickly but was stopped when it knocked the door across his room. “James, sweetie? Is that you up there?” his mother’s soft, weak voice spoke through his closed door. James silently cursed himself as he tried to pick up the shattered glass that once incased the lamb. He lifted his sheets and swept everything under his bed. Blood gushed from his hand as he cut it from a sharp piece from the jar. He clenched his fist and the blood became quick patterns of drops rather than a large stream, almost like a red river. James was still panicking to get the mess cleaned up, though he couldn’t seem to get the pungent stench of formaldehyde out of his carpet. “James, what’s that smell in there?” his father’s strong voice called out. The soft knocks on James’ turned into heavier pounds. James’ doorknob began to turn, and his door opened slowly, revealing James scrambling on his floor. As James looked up at his parents and pushed up his glasses, he began to curse himself for forgetting to lock his door. “What is going on here?” his father asked, clearly disgusted by what James was doing and the aroma his hobby created. James stayed silent without anything to say. His parents leaned closer, crouching down next to him. “Your mother and I are very concerned for you. We think that it is in your best interest that you go see a professional. I can’t keep turning a blind eye on your antics. We are worried you may hurt someone; we are afraid you


may hurt yourself.” James stared at his parents with betrayal. “My best interest? How do you know what’s i-in my best interest?” “Sweetie, pack your things. You’re being admitted into BroneSteir tonight. We’ve already made the call,” his mother said politely. His parents left his room and James began to pack. Only he wasn’t packing to go to some psych ward- he was leaving this place. James quickly grabbed his duffle bag and stuffed all his friends, including his new lamb into his bag and started walking, not knowing where he would head to next.


Dwellers: Chapter 0 Anastasia Gerges | Fiction | 11

Running was all Herschel knew. Ever since he was a young Dweller, he knew that everything in the forest was out to get him; creatures significantly larger than he was and much more terrifying. Herschel would’ve liked to believe he wasn’t as puny and helpless as he was, but what was the point? With a bushy long tail and pointy front teeth only good for chewing small acorns, what else could he ever hope to accomplish? He figured that was why he always ran from his problems, much like he was doing now. Herschel was running, and two Beasts were on his tail. Beasts, Herschel knew, were the most unfortunate creatures for a Dweller to encounter alone in the forest, especially to be chased by. Two of them at once had to be a death sentence. Herschel was terrified- what else could he do but run? Perhaps he had brought this upon himself. If he had taken better care of his brother maybe he wouldn’t be in pursuit of his life. Or perhaps it was his fate, that he lived only to be destroyed. What could they possibly want with me?! Herschel thought, exasperated and tired, feet aching as if they were about to fall off. He doubted a small animal like himself would even be a suitable meal for a predator as large as a Beast. As if by some cruel coincidence, the winter wind howled ominously, identically mimicking sounds of the monsters he was trying to escape. The two Beasts surveyed the area as snowflakes entangled their long, grey fur. Looking famished as they bared their teeth, they glared at the small red Dweller as if he were a fragile treasure just waiting to be broken. Frozen breath engulfed their nostrils like smoke in the frigid air. Fear turned into desperation. Panic fueled Herschel as he


frantically surveyed the freezing, barren wasteland he had found himself in. His glistening scarlet coat violently thrashed in the snowstorm like a strong autumn wind. He squinted his eyes, attempting to peek through the unforgiving snowfall that lay ahead of him. Unable to get a glimpse of anything that could serve as a sanctuary for a Dweller like himself, Herschel had no choice but to keep rushing forward, pleading for a merciful fate. The flurry of white continued to descend on the wilderness, and with no trees in sight, Herschel panicked. The snow was slowing him down significantly. Pain shrieked throughout his limbs like a flash of lightning. He knew he couldn’t stand to run much longer. Desperately, Herschel began to weigh his options. He could continue fleeing, but how long could he last in the freezing cold? He could barely see, let alone traverse in this weather. He could try to call another Dweller for help, but there were no trees, and no Dwellers to be found. The thought of this frightened Herschel, as he was not determined to let the Beasts catch up with him. Even though he was tired, he hoped he was fast enough to live another day. But what if I’m not fast enough to keep up? Herschel worried. What if I won’t make it alive? What if nobody realizes I’m gone?! What if this storm is so strong it’ll blow me away?! What ifHerschel took a deep breath. As doubts of survival swarmed his thoughts, Herschel tried to talk himself out of worrying. Besides, he thought, if running was all he was good at, he might as well try his best to keep trudging forward. As bleak as this situation was, now was not the time to give up. He still had a chance. The snow began to fall faster, surrounding the Dweller in the thick, wet storm. The angry wind shot through Herschel as the white snowfall further clouded his vision, its protests causing Herschel to come to a standstill. Herschel could barely tell where he was. His eyes stung and his ears rang as the sharp wind screamed through him. Herschel struggled as he tried to push himself through the


merciless storm, but as much as he tried to keep moving inches deep in snow, the blizzard would not relent. “No! I can’t s-s-stop now!” Herschel cried out, shivering as the cold wrapped around his miniature frame. Refusing to give up, Herschel pried his eyes open despite the cruel wind restricting his vision. The Dweller peered around, eyes rapidly blinking to shield the snow attempting to rush in. As Herschel hoped he hadn’t given the Beasts an opportunity to catch up to him, his heart sank, almost skipping a beat as he saw two faint outlines of the massive creatures slowly encroaching their way towards him. The blizzard didn’t seem to deter the insatiable killers that trudged toward the frightened Dweller. As they picked up speed, the two mongrels dove towards Herschel, kicking up mounds of snow in their wake. They reached a close distance and began to encircle their target, baring their teeth as they snarled. Herschel trembled as dread filled his mind. If the storm hadn’t already paralyzed him, his anxiety guaranteed he wouldn’t budge. His legs buckled as sheer horror made its home throughout his stiff body, tufted ears pinned backward as he stood on the snowfall, eyes unwaveringly focused on the hazy figures in front of him.

Read the rest of the story here!


The tale of vona’s firing

(almost) The Echo Staff | Web Comic

read more tales from the echo here!


The pool at night Gentry Massey-Williams | Poetry | 12

Here I am and the trees sound like a gentle rain in the wind. I’m sitting on the concrete edge with one leg under the other, and one of my feet is barely touching the surface of the water. The wind makes my shirt ripple, and I am absorbed. Now I know how the water feels. I begin to notice small circles on the other side of the pool. The rain comes down, and the small dots come closer to me. By the time I move, they scatter the entire surface of the water. The whole pool is spinning with Saturn’s rings. A fury of fireflies threatening to make dawn come early. I feel so present and so mystified.


Afloat Abigail Weiss | Digital | 12


decrescendo Brianna Sandner | Poetry | 12

Tired voices fill the air leaving buildings, restaurants, taxi cabs, Glaring at the orange-yellow streaks as they collide above. Colors dancing, telling their own stories. Soft whispers heard by all who are willing to listen, reminding us of somewhere more peaceful. Silence creeps it’s way over spaces once filled with chaos, Skin softly kissed by what’s left of the sun, Bodies delicately wrapped in it’s promising warmth. Darker skies creep up, silence intruding every space, every street, every building once filled with too much noise. Only as the lights dim and curtains close am I reminded Tomorrow is not always a promise.


city at night Angel Rolle | Digital | 12


chimera dreams Alexa King | Poetry | 12

I’m beyond tired, But I can’t sleep. Because, I know I’ll dream of you, again. And when I wake up, You won’t be there anymore. I’m restless. My mind has created a false reality; Developed a different you. Someone familiar yet foreign; Someone I seem to be constantly chasing. A character that makes up the absence, Closes the separation, fulfills the missing pieces in my head. Until one dream I got to you In a room of warm rays of sunlight And soft blankets on a bed In a room of white. And all I knew was your kind smile, Your gentle presence. From this dream I began to wake, And was disappointed. Disappointed by the reality of life, Dissatisfied with my situation, Discomforted by false illusions.


I wish to see your real eyes, Not in a dream, False reality, Nor a feeble figment of imagination. But right in front of me. I want you to tell me everything is alright With the smallest gesture Even if both of our thoughts need unfolding Even if we only share a smile It’s all I need to know you’re okay. I very much miss you, The separation makes everything intensify The dreams are the fuel to this fire. My dreams, Where your peacefulness is contained within my chaos, it pulls me towards you, through all the disorder. I must realize dreams can reflect reality, And show the depths of our thoughts. Maybe my subconscious is right. Painting too extravagant of a picture, but displaying the possibilities. Maybe it somehow knows you better than I do, Or feels who you truly are, Understands your suffering. Even with a vast unknown, It is painting, with memories as a muse. Creating murals that are in fact you. Every detail outlined and perfected, Accentuating your bright colors and defining shadows. It is creating this dream with streams of hope, With the purpose of telling me to wake up.


warm feelings Cat Johnson | Haiku | 12

Scented peach blossoms Stretching up to the sunlight Bee buzzing above

Zoe Hunter | 12

Purple flowers Cat Johnson | Haiku | 12

Beneath the dead grass Flowered specks of purple lie Shielded from the sun


puddles Aleksa de Arse | Haiku | 12

A tiny puddle In the sand, drowns out an ant who Struggles for its life

Zoe Hunter | 12

morning lizard Aleksa de Arse | Haiku | 12

Sunlight hits upon A window where a lizard Drinks the morning dew


jaisalmer Drishti More | Poetry | 12

The golden fort towers above the city. It’s doors, thick and grand, are large enough for tanks and elephants to pass through. The cobblestone road is uneven, the road most-traveled by is clear. The music is enchanting. The sounds of the flute floats above my head, the tabla bounces near my feet, and the sitar sways among people’s hips. The stalls are bursting with vibrant colors. Silver and dusty gold bangles hang on rusty rods, accidentally blinding onlookers. Children sit and watch kathputli, whisper pleading to their parents to buy them a puppet. Quilts line the walls of the fort, entangling me in patterns and textures. I glance at a quilt, from afar it appears light blue. I walk closer, to my surprise it was barely teal. Patterns of flowers and vines, women dancing in sequined cholis, patches of what were once saris, were all carefully embroidered and patched together with turquoise thread.


Painted clay pots made a pyramid against the wall. Cracked white clay is hidden under red lines, green dots, and blue squiggles. I trudge deeper into the fortress. Conversations are interrupted by loud chewing, frying oil and small generators hum in the background. The air is an array of aromas. Sweet warm jalebis leave sweet syrup stuck to seniors skin. Men down burning masala chai in one shot, then swallow an antacid in the bathroom. More spices than there are colors in a sunset marinate in the air. Welcome to Jaisalmer.

Connor Meredith | Digital | 11


nemophilist Sanika Kende | Oil Paint | 12


(in)human nature: Ep. 0 The Echo Staff

Narrator Throughout time, humanity has searched for a voice. We fought, we killed, we suffered. When humanity is pushed they often push back in ways worse than nature ever could. Disaster has a way of bringing out the worst in us. We become demented, horrible, lost in ourselves. Today, these decisions tell a story. Today, these decisions echo. (music comes to an end) (fast footsteps and faint noises of the sick can be heard, vomiting, coughing, etc, then a door slams) Leana (yelling) I need a doctor! Nurse Yeah so does everyone else. (sigh) Just find an open cot and wait with him. Leana Ok. (rustling noise and a spring squeak) Jeremy (weakly) Remember the last time we were here? (scratching noises)


Leana Yeah, you twisted your ankle playing Just Dance. Jeremy Yeah, I haven’t been able to listen to Rasputin the same way ever again. (Jeremy and Leana share a laugh, although Leana’s part is slightly forced) Jeremy I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s probably just the flu. Doctor (grim but sympathetic) Hi, how are you feeling? Jeremy Considering the fact that I’m here, not good. (scratching noises) Doctor Have you been itching for long? Jeremy No, what do you mean? Doctor (snap of gloves) Can I see your back? Jeremy (uneasy) Sure. (squeak of bed and paper gown rustling)


Leana (gasps, shocked) What is that? Jeremy (worried) What? Doctor (solemly) It’s as I thought. Have you been coughing up any blood? Jeremy (worried) Yeah, just a little. (scribbling noise) Leana (worried/panicked) What’s the matter? What’s wrong? Doctor If this is what I think it is, we’ll get him some water and make sure his temperature doesn’t exceed 105. Can I speak with you outside Ms… Leana Leana. Doctor Ms. Leana, if you please. Leana Oh, of course. I’ll be right back Jeremy. (the sound of a metal door opening and closing is heard alongside footsteps)


Doctor There really is no easy way to say this, but with the disease your brother has, there’s not much of a chance of him making it. The emergence of the rash only signals that he has a few hours at best. Leana (panicked) What do you mean? Aren’t you a doctor? You’re supposed to help people and cure them, not just say there is nothing we can do! Doctor (in a placating tone) There really isn’t much we can do. This is a disease unlike any I have ever seen. We already lost ten people to it in the last two days. We are doing everything we can, but unless they find the cure now, it would be too late. The best we can do now is make your brother comfortable by keeping his temperature down. It’ll make it more peaceful when the time comes for… you know… Leana (panicked and on the verge of crying) No! No, you can’t just say that! There has to be something, some kind of cure. Doctor The disease has killed everyone it has come into contact with so far. It’s fast and deadly. You can still remain with him for the time being but after it’s over, you’ll need to be kept for observation for the next 24 hours. Intercom Voice Requesting assistance in room 367. Those available please assist.


Doctor I have to go. Just... make sure he is comfortable and happy. (footsteps progressively getting farther away and then the opening and closing of a door. Coughing is heard and will be heard periodically throughout this conversation alongside scratching) Leana Hey. Jeremy (coughing) Hey, why the long face? Am I really that ugly? Leana (chuckles) No, it’s not that. (pause) The food here is just really bad. Jeremy (weakly) Ha, yeah? Leana Yeah... hey, why are you looking at me like that? Jeremy (solemn) I’m dying, aren’t I? Leana (responds quickly) What? No! Not for a very long time. Stop with this negative talk, you’re going to be just fine.


(there’s a silence when Jeremy doesn’t respond. Leana gasps when she hears Jeremy begin to hack and heave) Jeremy (whimpers) My insides! They’re burning. (pause) OH MY GOD! (Jeremy screams in agony. Leana begins to sob) Leana (shouting over Jeremy’s screaming) Somebody please help us! I need a doctor! (Jeremy’s heart monitor flatlines and Leana screams more) END OF ACT 1

Read the rest of the story here!


The echo literary magazine The Echo, Volume IX, is a production of The Echo staff at Steinbrenner High School. The writing and artwork featured in this issue were submitted by Steinbrenner students and were anonymously reviewed by The Echo staff members. The layout was designed in Adobe InDesign CS6 by The Echo layout team. The Echo is affiliated with the Florida Scholastic Press Association. This magazine was sold for $5.00. Additional funds to publish this magazine were raised through our poetry readings. Visit us online at steinbrennerecho.com to see more content written and created by members of the Echo and other Steinbrenner students, as well as our horror anthology podcast, (In)Human Nature and our webcomic, A Vontacular Adventure Steinbrenner High School 5575 W Lutz Lake Fern Rd, Lutz FL 33558




the echo

in this issue - Gentry Massey-Williams, Table Manners

Volume IX | Issue 1

The Echo

My mother always told me to speak softly and politely But you walk over and your voice is a bow on strings The air itself starts to spin when it hears your song I never knew the wind could learn how to dance

The Echo

The sun oozed into the edge of the earth, and the sky erupted into fabulous splotches of scarlet and amber as he sat on the edge of the soccer field. When the stars began to wink at him, he laid back and closed his eyes. - Jessi Velte, Jack the Treestalk

- Alexa King, Chimera Dreams

Volume ix

I wish to see your real eyes, Not in a dream, False reality, Nor a feeble figment of imagination. But right in front of me.