"Sheet Safari" by Hailey Schatzmann

The crowd

Swarming birds

The referees

Alert zebras

The players and coaches

Two famished lion packs

                                    A cold front has swept over the sahara.

Roars erupt from the benches

Screeches ring out

All over the arena

Singing

Cooing

Squawking
                                    Then silence.

The tiny black

Slab of meat,

Dropped.

A free for all.

Attacked

By the ravenous lions.

                                      The blood spilt.

The thunderous

Bullhorn,

Heightening the aggression.

                                        Maulings left and right.

A slit throat.

A missing claw.

Covered in sweat.

Who will rule the kingdom of the veldt?

                                          An hour will tell.


"Red, Orange, Yellow, and Pink" by Kaelyn Stenger

“Red, Orange, Yellow, and Pink” is my description on the sunrise and how it affects me personally

Sunlight, sunrise, first beam of light,

Warmth of the vast color,

Look into the bright,

It is like a lover,

Perfect to open your eyes,

Not like any other,

The fine rise,

Brightest star,

Many people mesmerize,

Oh, must have a story,

I interrogatory,

 

Beams, beams, and beams,

Oh, break of day,

It's a dream,

The great gourmet,

Wee hours of good,

Perfect pathway,

Shining through the heartwood,

It gives gratify,

As soft as babyhood,

Rubs off flatter,

It has scatter,

 

Laying in bed,

From dawn-to-dark,

Like the smell of cornbread,

It is a monarch,

The morning flare,

Lets off a sudden spark,

It is light air,

Glittering, sparkle,

It must be a climb,

Wake up to that anytime


"I am Home" by Megan Smith

This piece describes a peaceful moment, that draws on the most basic sounds and senses of nature. It asks the reader to have a transcendentalist perspective of the world.

Nobody spends enough time in nature. Nature is medicine for the soul that never stops healing. Freedom floods the veins and calms the mind. I long for days spent in between pine trees, when the ground is cool and the air is sweet. In these moments I am completely alone, yet I’ve never felt less lonely. The perfume of the season surrounds me.  Giggling water tickles my ear as it passes through. I am not alone. Trees whisper in the distance welcoming me to the moment I am in. I am not alone. Soil beneath my feet carries me onto my next destiny. The breeze embraces me, accepting every part of my being. I am home. Every new trail I wander onto becomes my comfort, welcoming me even when I have nothing to offer. It feels good to have so many different places that are exactly where I belong. Even if for just a moment. Sometimes I am accompanied by a friend or family, but these times are few and far between. Usually I wander without the company of a human because I find more friendship from the swallowing trees than I do my own species. Nature is my one true friend, it is dependable but erratic, kind but truthful, and it is never failing. On days when clouds are overbearing, and the night proves to be darker than the day, I can still find my way back to the paths. On mornings when the sun is shining so overwhelmingly bright, branches reach down and shelter me from the constant rays. I find rest in my earthy home, a rest that is so serene that I often consider folding into the ground and staying there forever. Cold dirt on the back of my head tells me I could. Soft grass clings to me, begging me to stay. Just as I close my eyes and exhale into this forever, my soul feels drawn to its next home. Slowly, I say my goodbyes to the sweet air and the giggling water and I start back the path that I came. On my departure I feel saddened, but I know that there are an infinite amount of journeys I must take before I can finally become fully one with the earth. These paths I take guide my soul back to its most natural state. I am not alone. In nature, I am home.


"The Limb" by Jason Eversole

The cool river flows

Like a weak limb in the breeze.

The eye rolls in, Lightning strikes!

The limb snaps, taken from his family

Rushing waters steal the limb.

Memories flash and go just as the lightning.

Gone too young and almost forgotten.


"The Wave" by Emily Reedy

This free verse poem is about how people can see beauty if different things than others. As someone finds comfort in the ocean or “The wave”, it may be someone else’s worst fear.

It is frightening how

something so beautiful

can be someone else’s worst nightmare

beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

glide

or drown

it is all about perspective

The wave


"Ode to Blood" by Max Payne

“Ode to Blood” praises what most find creepy or uncomfortable: blood. I try to connect the idea of physical blood in the human body with the greater concept of the universe as a person, and us as the moving parts ensuring its continued existence.

Open yourself, and you will find what lies inside: 

The true beholders of subsistence: 

Deep rich streams of esprit, which generously provide. 

 

Their natural ebb and flow has no resistance, 

Connecting and creating our human desire, 

The source of our collective carnal consistence. 

 

It haunts men, for the apocryphal pious tell them they shall fall into fire 

If they dare to follow the instincts of the beast, 

While beneath the mask of porcelain flesh, hides the cruel pacifier. 

 

When Prometheus stood imprisoned on the brink of death unreleased, 

What was it that resumed his revival? 

The constant tearing of flesh by avian servants enjoying a feast, 

 

His only signals of life beyond screams of mercy for the ending of the cycle, 

Was the sight of the liquefied sanguine lace, 

Of which the ivory whore remains entwined with inside her scarlet idol. 

 

If the dead still roam free after their final hours of grace, 

Do their ghastly forms encase a beating heart, 

Still imbued with the will to chase? 

 

For what of the ethereal blood which connects the universe in part, 

The souls of far more than a mere ex-entity, 

The essences of all that once were vivacious paints in this temporary art. 

 

Humans despise bodily introspection, which is dealt with in brevity, 

Left to the few who may not flinch at the sight of a mindful body at rest, 

Whilst the rest all forge patterns of reflected interests: a non-identity. 

 

You shall forever remain lost if you cannot dance with the beat beneath your breast, 

Swing to the tunes of transcendence that comes in a calm crimson wave, 

And live among the cities of your figure that they infest. 

 

Know that even when you succumb to the grave, 

You’ll feel the rhythms of the claret spirit which revitalize your corpse, 

And you’ll ascend into the veins of universes infinite: as a melody upon a stave. 


"Citrullus Lanatus: A treasured treat" by Jadyn Butcher

From 5,000 years ago in Egypt to now, rich ripe watermelon has been loved worldwide. The juicy fruit has been devoured down in America for over a century. I love watermelon. As I slice into it with a sharp kitchen knife, juice goes everywhere. I cut the watermelon into perfect little cubes. I grab the salt shaker and dash a little on the surface of the watermelon. Then, I get a fork. It glides ever so softly into the watermelon. Making a juicy, cutting sound. I pick up the watermelon and put a cube in my mouth. The juice drips and runs down my chin. I slowly chew it, savoring every bite. The yumminess swishes around my mouth like a small hug for my teeth. My taste buds jump for joy as the fruit and the salt mixture sink into them. Every bite is scrumptious. As the yumminess, rubs against the roof of my mouth. I think man I was truly blessed to experience a taste like this. Watermelon will forever be the thing I love most. Every single bite is truly a blessing.


"Luna" by Sydney Kuritar

Don’t you love staying up late on summer nights with your friends? Then time flies and the fun is soon over. "Luna" portrays the passing of time and the memories that are made during those amazing moments in life.

Oh Luna! My sweet Luna! The fun has just begun.

Everyone is getting up, here comes the great big sun.

The crickets stop, the darkness fades, the birds begin to sing

All the clocks have come to a stop, can you hear them ring?


 

Oh Luna, come back! I don’t want you to die

As the light comes up I’m sitting down, here is where I lie

I begin to close my eyes

In the grass

Of old ghosts past

I wait for the sun to rise

 

I’m missing you

Oh you big blue moon

Luna,I hope to see you soon

Again I wait

For you to open your gate

I’m waiting for you Luna


"Wooden Knowledge" by Jennifer Sawicki

This poem represents the wondrous adventures of visiting the library and becoming in tune with your imagination.  

Stalking up to old wooden ways,

Coming down to old shaken days.

Time and time we come again,

To the sound of laughter and no strain.

 

Musty smells of delight and glee,

A vast plain of books at sea.

Thump thump the footsteps go,

Approaching at a shelf of unseen shows.

 

Searching for the tale in mind,

They sweep you up and keep you twined.

No escape for minds like you,

You have become part of the crew.

 

Time ticks by,

More and more books become shy.

People wander lost in thought,

Finding their one true sweet spot.

 

Counting words,

While flying with birds.

Exotic places to be missed,

Luscious warm with a kiss.

 

You step aside and set one down,

Treating them like polished crowns.

The ancient knowledge never ends,

You and it are considered friends.

 

Dark skies lit up by white,

Your friends are no longer bright.

The anticipation cascades so quick,

Paper snaps just like a stick.

 

With a dash out of the door,

You will be back for so much more.


"The Almighty Imagination" by Kayla Stallo

"The Almighty Imagination" in my opinion is my best piece of work because it allows whoever is reading it to know why we write and why we're doing it and I think that will make them appreciate the work we create a little more.

     The definition for writing is stated as the activity or skill of marking coherent words on paper and composing text. The definition of writing makes it sound like a chore but to me it is anything but a chore; to me writing is a godsend because it is a way for others and myself to let our creativity flow. Writing is not just taking pen to paper; writing can be powerful in a strenuous or stressful situation. I write to escape from reality even if it’s only for a little while. I submerge myself into this fictional reality full of endless possibilities and no one can tell me I'm ‘doing it wrong’ or that ‘the story shouldn’t end that way’ because when I write I make my own rules.

During my freshman year of high school I hit a rough patch in my life and I wrote everyday about my struggles and I would also write alternate realities to escape from my own. I would write about glorious adventures all over the world and a better place where I wouldn’t belittle myself. Then my sophomore year I hit the lowest of the low and the only thing that kept me going was my imagination and thinking of a better place and writing about it. To this day I still write when I’m feeling down and to this day I think it’s been the only thing that’s kept me going. When I write I like to think that I am changing someone's life, that out in the world somewhere someone is going through the same thing I’m going through and my words are helping them as much as its helping me because words hold so much more power than people think.


“Midnight Morose” by Nomie Khishigjargal

My free verse poem on the liveliness of apathy titled, I wrote this at 3 AM when I awoke in a cold sweat from a bad dream.

In times of blinded certainty,

Superiority and disappointment,

Find dissonance in dignity,

In the rambler’s hand.

Which side of this barbed wire fence do I live on?

Neither.

Cold and rusted borderline.

I don’t enjoy looking into the mirror, be it moral or physical.

I’d like to believe I did for a moment there.

It feels as if I am tired, much too tired.

Tired of nothing in particular,

And everything in unison.

I’ve spent the last odd years of

My time here struggling

To convince myself I’m human.


"Lost Childhood" by Faith Phillips

He won’t be able to play on the swing sets

With his brother and sister,

No first words or first steps,

 

Cradled into his mother’s chest

Is his small and fragile body,

His last breaths leaving his lungs,

 

His body is free from suffer,

His heart is full of love,

His mind is full of the short-lasting memories,

 

A mother weeps for her baby boy,

Heart heavy with stabbing sorrow,

Tears drowning her green orbs,

 

His body is lifeless and cold,

But his soul is free and warm,

He has moved to an everlasting paradise,


“I am From” by Bailey Steiger

 I am from antlers on the wall

The bible in your hand and

A wooden spoon across your bum

I am from the dirt beneath my nasty feet,

And a bed made neat

I am from tall and dark skin

Myla and Ben

I am from forgiveness, loving

And laughing

I am from kind and strong

And Jesus loves you

I am from Cherokee tribe

And deep in the woods

I am from Germany

North America

Morrow, Ohio

I am from mashed potatoes and crispy fried chicken

I am from killing your first deer

Overjoyed,

Happy,

Smiley

I am from together,

Breathing,

Spiritual

Mountains


from "Ace of Spades" by Caroline Perry

This is the introduction to Ace of Spades, my 2017 NaNoWriMo project. It told the story of two unlikely "heroes" who are forced to reclaim the crown that was stolen from the royal family. Together, they must overcome their stark differences and, at gunpoint, save the crumbling monarchy.

The end of all things, some called it. Others preferred judgement day or the rapture. I wasn't there to see it, but clearly it was none of those.

Earthquakes. That's why the world is the way it is now. It's like the planet just shifted and half the continents just sunk. The scientists had a better explanation than that, but those who were far smarter than I, well, they died a long time ago.

They say that we once had devices you could carry in your pocket that would allow you to make phone calls and send telegrams and calculate numbers instantly. Some even claim they found evidence of color television. But even if that were true, it's all lost now. It all sunk, and any of the great minds who could have reinvented it are gone.

What would I have called it? Well, perhaps a new start, or the solution to overpopulation. Whatever the case, the phrase "it's a small world" has a much heavier meaning now. At least to those which it matters. That was hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago now. All I wish is that the to-be-queen wasn't out for my skin. She always tries to send her goons to shoot down the gang and me, but clearly she doesn't know how we work. She doesn't understand how dangerous we are. She can’t grasp why one doesn't move to the city simply because they like it. Not many desire the city life. Unless you're me.


"Say Goodbye to God" by Mance Ranne

Finally, we can breathe,

Oxygen becomes so thin,

Yet still we sip from lithe,

It doesn't seem to be, even then it had been

 

Now there isn’t a God

Isn’t that good?

Ice still hasn't thawed,

Saplings still shiver, frozen cedar-wood.

 

Now he isn’t here.

Why don’t we feel better?

Is he the only one to make them disappear?

Can we only bargain, squirming like a bettor?  

 

Look now, we have grown,

Our hands are free to hold.

We no longer have to be shown,

But now our fingers are cold.              

 

So, why did he have to leave?


Why did he cause all our problems?

Look at her, look at us: why don’t we grieve?

Even after, we’re still trapped in autumn.


"Anxiety" by Lily Tepe

"Anxiety" is my take on how a certain mindset has had an influence in my life all throughout my years of being in school and out in public. 

Anxiety…

That’s the common enemy,

Or at least in my mind.

It consumes you,

Holds you hostage,

Breaks you down into your most vulnerable form.

 

It invades your mind and your thoughts.

It keeps you from taking chances,

It keeps you from taking risks,

It keeps you from meeting new people.

 

Anxiety…

That’s the common enemy.

Between one and one’s mind,

For there is no defeating it.

 

There will always be thoughts consuming you,

Whether you like it or not.


"The End of January" by Danette Windsor

To my Uncle Jesse who thought the world could live without him.

Happened at the end of January

I write this poem to show the grief I kept inside

Now today waiting til the end of January

He was my uncle and best friend

 

I guess he couldn’t deal with his problems in his life

Suicide is never easy to cope with.

If he would have stayed

If only he had stayed

 

He’s not gone and never was

He’s here with me always

But i know know that he has moved on

To a better life where he can finally deal with his problems

 

How can the world go on without the loudness of his truck

Driving down a dirt road or his breathtaking smile

The world is impacted too much by his end

He was the light of the moon

 

I know that he is in a better place

Where his problems are solved

And he can watch over our family

And protect us and see if we are all okay in life


"Untitled" by Kayla Burris

Like a bottomless pit

My need for more is never ending

 

Nothing seems to satisfy

The everlasting desire for enough

 

I want to live

And when I do

I want to die

 

I want

I need

I crave

Contentment

 

Are you searching for me?

I can be found stuck in the void

Each limb buried within the dark depths of wretchedness

 

Dejection

Rejection

And infection

 

It is in my veins

As if it were poison

And I

The bottle which holds it


"What I Saw" by Mimidoo Dyegh

I saw a mother

Who was always in tears

She used to think no one cares

So why bother

 

I saw a woman

Who was always in pain

They believed her insane

For she only carries what she can

 

I saw a teen

Who lost herself

She forgot her somewhere on some shelf

And forgot all that she’d seen

 

I saw a girl

Who had a beautiful smile

Though I haven't seen it in a while

But with it, she could save the world

 

I saw a child

Who lived in a blissful ignorance

Yet to build her brace

For a life, not so mild

 

Don't forget them

Don’t forget me

Because that mother is you

That woman is me

That teen is you

That girl is me

That child is us

Don’t forget who you are

Or end up where you were

So i'm here, look at me


"Friends Who Bring Happiness" by Olivia Neidich

Finding new friends to hangout with and talk to have brought me a lot of happiness recently. Having friends who truly care for you, and the feeling is mutual, is a great feeling. Friends are supposed to make you happy and you’re supposed to have fun with friends. I was going through a hard time in my life a couple months ago, I told my friend who I rarely talked to, but it turns out she was going through the same issue, only she had been going through it longer. My friend was so kind and invited me to hangout with all of her friends so I could start getting out of the house and feeling like myself again. The situation I was in made me really see how important a true friendship is. I could see that friends have a huge impact on yourself. The situation I was in made me feel helpless, alone, and not myself because I am very outgoing and generally very happy. I saw that there are true people in this crazy world we live in. People will go out of there way to make you happy again. After I realized the good in the world I saw that my problem was not as big as it was to me. I enjoy seeing people come together for a positive outcome. I try to put others before me as much as I can now because I saw how much it impacted me and made me feel happy. If I can make someone feel as happy and rejuvenated as I did then i am setting a good example for society and the world. We all go through hard times where we feel hopeless, but ultimately the goodness in people can turn that around, like it did for me. Seeing the good in people truly made me feel an overwhelming amount of joy that I won’t forget because it was a different feeling of joy. I felt love rather than infatuation.     


"Terra One" by Nicholas Langford

“As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.” - Noam Chomsky

A grey laid over the Earth like a shroud over a cold body. Concrete and metal, coast to coast, separated only by cloudy oceans of forgotten waste. The vast, rigid grey of industry had at last devoured and suffocated the organic green into submission; the monetary green had triumphed. There were people everywhere, and there were people all the time. But the more people there were, the less they saw of each other.

The PERSONA, a product of Psyc Inc., guided people through the decrepit streets and “unimaginative” tasks of daily life. This thin, translucent screen covered the entire face, and fitted via adjustable arms attached to the temples. Not only did the PERSONA display a profile picture in place of the user's face, but, most importantly, augmented their visual reality. Through the viewer, dirty streets were made clean and people followed lit paths around masked holes, homeless bodies, and masses of garbage. Everything was made a game, and like a game points were awarded by earning achievements. Cooking, folding laundry, sweeping the floor, and even bathing. Step by step, points were earned, and the PERSONA subsequently prompted varying levels of Dopamine to be released within the user, arousing mental and physical gratification. Bare walls were transformed into hypnotizing theaters of intense action, violence, and pornography. Users could look up to become entranced by a stimulating, visually captivating light show. Viewers could look down to view the latest trends on the lunar and martian colonies, and the business of its elite inhabitants. This marvel of technological achievement slowly infected humanity with an irresistible addiction: constant, pleasurable entertainment.  

As points accumulated, individual's “Persona Rank” increased. This could be done through the completion of aforementioned tasks, and bonus points would be awarded for the exploration of a previously unknown street, entering a new store, or other “outstanding” activity. But nothing earned points like ascension. Ascension by stairs, elevators, and air lifts, to the higher divisions of urban life. This ascension was a true mark of accomplishment. To elevate oneself closer to the technologically elite of the sky, join their societies, enter their homes, and attend their parties; was to elevate oneself closer to the neglectful gods of this new, archaic world, and away from the streets of peasantry.

 

An array of light beamed across the surface of a cloudy puddle. Rachel’s mind, disturbed by its strobing assault, began to ache. Standing under cover, she sheltered herself from the mild rain, the reminiscent tears of a derelict planet, that persisted from ever cloudy skies. It battered the streets continuously and, when not polluted by neon glow, was among the few things Rachel found comfort in. How unlike the rest of her world it was. Cool amongst congested heat; soft against the rigid city edges. It wasn't manufactured, and she didn't have to buy it. Unlike the droves of masked bypassers, the rain paid attention to Rachel. It brought a pensive calm to the mindless chaos of modern life, and was the only thing left of Earth Rachel knew.

 

“Hey,” a strained voice attempted to project itself. “Hey!” Rachel began to wake. “Hey,” the classroom administrator yelled impatiently, forcing her dazed head off her academic monitor. Rubbing the crust from her eyes, she glanced around the stark classroom, and was welcomed back to consciousness by 52 black, featureless, angular faces. “You have to be here and if you choose not to partake in PERSONA.ED, occupy yourself with something else!”

“Yes, Administrator,” she replied as coldly as her aluminium chair. She pulled a dry, leafed, rectangular prism from her pocket, and gazed upon its vast accumulation of ancient Bryopsida, Charophyceae, and Florideae.

 

In Rachel’s bedroom, the city lights fell into neat, parallel slits on the floor. Cross legged on her bed, the multi colored beams enveloped her imagination. Each shadowed line grew into living tree trun… ”Rachel, come down here,” her father's voice called from down the hall. His bellow quickly jerked her from what was going to be the best part of her day. She walked down stairs to a plate of hydrated, artificial chicken.

She rendered a neutral “hello” to her family.

“How was school today, Rachel?” asked her fattening father.

“Oh, just as engaging as ever,” she responded, the sarcasm flowing from her rounded lips. “The administrator just sits in the corner behind his Persona like all the other brainwashed children, desperately trying make math feel good.”

“This is bad?” mocked her little brother, as he simultaneously fired upon Gliesian attack ships and quivered slightly with every kill.

“Maybe you should try it again,” suggested her mother, who ran her aging fingers delicately over the surface of her PERSONA.

“They don’t even care what I do as long as everyone gets their fix,” Rachel spoke with subtle indignation. Her parents looked down at their food, fighting the urge to acknowledge their daughter. Nothing more was said, and as soon as Rachel was nourished, she left. Each time another family member left the table, their PERSONA was instinctively placed on their head, relieving themselves from the tense discussion, like a smoker taking a long drag from their cigarette.

Laying in her bed that night, Rachel thought to herself: Was it okay to be ignored? Do I scare them? What is wrong with my resistance?

Everyday was the same for her. Headaches from light, frowns from administrators, confused stares on the streets. Her inability to use the PERSONA, the way flashing lights and moving pictures overwhelmed her, ostracized her from society, ostracized her from family, ostracized her from an early age. Her medical limitations shaped her world; it shaped her perception of it; it shaped the way in which she interacted with it.

Her liberation came through the discovery of books. Unlike the tainted lense of entertainment that augmented the consumption of modern information; her books were objective. Dated 1979, 1995, 2042, these volumes of natural observation, centuries old, constructed an ancient clarity by emission of bias and reliance on fact. This unpopular literature, unearthed in the decaying antique shops below, negated those physical limitations. It elevated her far beyond the highest levels of city life. Far beyond the bankers, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. Far beyond the metallic gold mountain tops, built upon a foundation of exploitation and manipulation. Unlike so many others, her mind knew, in great detail, of the deserts, the forests, and the plains. She knew of the millions of innocent species that once co-inhabited the planet when it was rich with life, rather than profit. She knew the history of their eradication and who carried the responsibility. While this knowledge was the source of her joy, it was likewise the source of her despair.

That night, the despair inspired her. The inability to experience the contents of her books angered her more than anything. Greed, ruthless self preservation, excessive waste, and lack of equity stole the only world she desired, long before she was born. But laying in her bed, she observed an advertisement hovering down the street. Projected by its speakers, a seductive voice called, “Erect your fantasy life with PERSONA.VR, the all new, totally immersive, digital life experience. See anything, feel everything, and experience all you desire. Implant your neuro-communicators now to taste virtual reality pleasure.”

“Marvelous,” Rachel chuckled, “Another distraction.” She held back her tears and drifted off.

Skies of oceanic disposition. Vast prairies of green, poppy  speckled. Her heavenly transposition, to a teeming world of life, untraveled. Noble bird’s interposition, only by cloudy cirrus, paralleled. Canyon crevices created, by whirling wind and rolling river. Towering trunks topped with leaves, sprout from earth with enviable ease. Radiant rays light lonely paths, exposing forest’s subtle grandeur. Pointed peaks poke the sky, releasing rhythmic rain. Down it flows through rugged slope, down it flows to coalesce, down it flows to quench a thirst. Her eyes intrigued by majesty, by scandalous scavengers and misty trees, could not help but shed a tear. She awoke devastated and disconnected.  

Watching her father prepare breakfast, Rachel could hear his PERSONA chime when he cracked an egg, cut a tomato, and set the oven temperature. Her mother, who was squatting with a group of friends, stood alone in the corner. “You’ll all be happy to hear the decision I came to this morning,” Rachel asserted, her chin high. “I'm going to have a neuro-communicator implanted.”

“That's Good,” both of her parents mindlessly echoed.

“If I can create a VR world with subtle, natural elements and lighting, I don’t think I'll get overwhelmed,” Rachel said, mostly for reaffirmation. She learned not to expect thought out responses from anybody she spoke to, as long as they were on their Persona. She took the 500,000 drachmas needed for the implantation, and left without further consultation.

The streets were dark. The streets were hot. Flashing lights, roaring airlifts, carrying the wealthy above. Too many varieties of music, too many shuffling feet. Rachel just looked downward to avoid the misguided heaps. She tipped and twisted her way through the masked market patrons. Deep breaths to stay calm. Singular thoughts to stay clear. The air was body odor, waste, and fried food. It invaded the nose and occupied, lingered in the mouth. Some days Rachel wished she just covered it up with the rest of the world. The only interesting thing, was the chaotic assortment of apartments. Their disproportional sizes and variety of architecture. Modern below, in great density. Postmodern next, reasonably spaced and taken care of. Classical above all, with large pediments, ionic and corinthian pillars, and marble trimmed in gold. Each classical estate sat above an entire city block, providing room for recreation, gatherings, and gardens.

 

“Rachel, I have told you too many times to stay awake and do something!” the classroom administrator screamed. Rachel jolted to consciousness this time and, flinging drool over monitors, replied with a graceful, “HEH!” and subsequently, a look of embarrassment flooded her face. Recovering from the incident, like every day, she opened her book, read the pages she could recite from memory and, along with the administrator, drifted back to sleep.

 

The Psyc Inc. Installation Center was as bleak as it was modern. Outside, it was a dull grey and possessed windows only for offices. This monochromatic composition was hidden by an alluring holographic display. It read:

Psych Inc. As Real as it Gets.

Quickly, it’s strobing colors drove her inside. Crossing through the doors, she felt as though she was entering a club. Loud music shook the floor. Each wall faded every few seconds into a new color. More holograms filled the room. Miniature fighters flying around in battle, people in heavy gear firing at each other, and women dancing on poles in the corner. All were admired by very different customers, with very different cravings, and very similar problems. With squinted eyes and hands over her ears, Rachel approached the front desk. The clothes of the man behind it were lit by thousands of sparkling LED’s, as if the fabric was made of light itself. His PERSONA displayed the image of a man whose head was half shaved, dyed a neon blue. His eyes were orange like fire. Watching them made Rachel sweat. “Excuse me,” she said nervously, too quiet to be heard. “Excuse me!”

“Yes,” he answered.

“I’m here for an installation.”

“Was your communicator damaged,” he surveyed.

“No,” she said, “This is my first time.”

His PERSONA became translucent and for the for the first time he looked at her, revealing a face much older than his profile displayed. He studied her for a moment. “Age?” he asked out of curiosity, pretending he needed to record it.

“16,” she replied.

“Please take a seat,” he muttered in confusion.

She did.

 

The “operating room” was cold and dimly lit. Although she sat alone, it was the most at ease she had been in hours. Waiting for the installation technician, she flipped through a catalogue of virtual reality worlds. One program could be chosen and pre-downloaded free of charge. She read titles such as: City Flight, Martian Intimacy, Euphoric Star Show, and Street Rampage. Towards the end of the list, she found what she was looking for and selected it as her choice. A program called Terra One. Its description read:

Designed to replicate early earth, this untouched landscape is based off satellite images of the uncolonized planet, Kepler-452b.

It was by far the shortest of all descriptions, and with words like untouched and uncolonized, it repelled most. The technician entered. He introduced himself and ensured Rachel, “She wouldn't feel a thing,” and after he administered a quick shot, she drifted to sleep.

 

“Okay Rachel, you’re good to go,” the technician said, holding a mirror to Rachel’s face, revealing the PERSONA communicators on both temples.

“Is that all,” she asked?

“Yep, everything except this.” The technician, in a long white lab coat, handed Rachel the box that contained everything she hated about the world.

“Thank you,” Rachel said timidly. She could hardly look at it. She almost regretted what she had done, but took it anyway. She smiled, and as soon as she exited, ran home.

Entering the apartment, Rachel searched for her family. “Mom!” she called. “Dad!” she cried, perhaps seeking instruction or some solace. As usual there was no reply. She found them as she turned the corner into the living room. They were lying on the floor, PERSONAs on face like parasitic aliens. Their limbs were thrown out in chaotic dispersion, under the influence of their psychotic programs. Rhythmically they shook and made deep, inaudible noises. “Hey!” she yelled in fear, “Please!” but no response came. Horrified she ran to her room. Violently she opened her box. The city light fell into neat, parallel slits on the floor.  Her head began to ache, and for the first time put on her PERSONA. She selected program Terra One, and escaped.

The sweet scent of damp decomposition greeted her graciously. The air was mist, maple and marigold. The green of the grove soothed her tired eyes, and eased her aching mind. The grass played between her enlightened toes, and the breeze kissed her skin a million times over, the intimate touch of a loved one. Those radiant rays wrapped her warmly, protecting her vulnerability. She closed her eyes and felt the arms attached to her temples, and cut the connection.

“Warning! Without saving an exit point, conscious upload may be permanent’” the Persona said, “would you like to save one before you disconnect?” it asked.

Rachel took a deep breath of the clear air, sensing the coming of gentle shower. “No,” she replied.


"The Wife of Bath and her Fight for Equality" by Sarah Mills

In The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer the Wife of Bath is a feminist in a time of misogyny and sexism. The setting of Chaucer's tale is England during the Middle Ages in a Feudalist society where Kings ruled, the Church had no boundaries, and men held all the power. The Wife of Bath is one of the few people in this society that goes against the standards and challenges what a 14th century woman ‘should’ do. The Wife of Bath is a very strong, extravagant, and experienced woman for her time. Many women in this time period were controlled by men and society's idea of how they should behave. She refuses to abide by these standards, “Now by the lord who is called Saint James, you shall not be master of both my body and my goods,” (Chaucer 313). She is tired of the men in her life treating her as an object and being forced to do things with nothing in return. She is making a statement to all men that women are not objects and they have the right to decide what they do with themselves and their possessions. During this time period girls would be married off at a very young age, usually to much older men, and all of their possessions would then become their husbands. Women were not supposed to remarry after their husband had died but the Wife of Bath had married five times. Girls did not have any say in the things they did; everything was controlled by first their fathers and later their husbands. The Wife of Bath believed that in marriage everything is shared and both people in the relationship were to be equal. She goes against the norms of hierarchy marriages when she said, “But tell me this, why do you hide-sorrow to you!- the keys of your chest away from me? It is my property as well as yours,by heaven,” (308). She does not stand for the sexism and inequality of marriage as other girls and women had to do. She stands up for what she believes to be right with the belief that she is equal to any other man, including her husband. It could be argued that she is not a feminist but a gold digger only marrying for land and wealth. The Wife of Bath does express, “The first three men were good, and rich, and old… they had given me their land and treasure; I no longer needed to be diligent to win their love,” (197). She is simply stating the ways of the time period while addressing the problems of the society. Everyone knew the issues but she is one of the only few that acknowledges them. The Wife of Bath fights against misogyny while demanding to have equality; she challenges the views that women should not have sex and the idea that men hold all the power in a relationship. Society is so unbalanced that she is forced to use tactics such as constant nagging to wear down her husbands in order to gain some control; the skills and tactics used by the Wife of Bath were unseen in that time period but that was the only way she could gain any equality within her relationships. She also did not see anyone as better or lesser than another person, “I never had any discrimination in love, but always followed my appetite, be he short or tall, dark or fair; I didn’t care so long as he pleased me, how poor he was, nor of what rank,” (622). She did not care what they looked like or what social class they fell under but whether or not she would be happy with them. She demonstrates how society should be; without feudalism, no social classes, no sexism, no hierarchy but equality granted to each person, where no one is better than anyone else. The Wife of Bath is very clearly a feminist, by advocating and demanding women's equality to men and speaking out for what she believes. Her feminist beliefs show when speaking out about the hierarchy of marriage and negative connotations of women having personal freedoms. Even with the disadvantages of the time period and lack of fair government the Wife of Bath is still able to use her strength and fight for women's equality.


"I Miss You" by Chase Walker

When I see you smile

It takes me back

Tears still rain down like the Nile

I can still picture you in lilac

Even though it’s been awhile.

 

And I don’t need to know

Just where you have been

I wonder if  you still glow

No, you’re still the same person you were back then

When it’s cold my tears freeze like the snow.

Sometimes when I miss you

I still wonder where your are

I still think about where those eyes have taken you, so blue

That night still left a scar

You’re still an angel in my view.

 

I hope you’re safe

God knows the trouble you can cause

I still see your wraith

Wrapping my heart in gauzes

I don’t think I can deal with this raphe.

 

When you look

When you laugh

You left and stole my heart like a crook

It still seems that you’re my better half

Let me go, let me out of your grasp, unhook.

 

How can I make you return

Just know i’m trying my best

I’d rather burn

I should just let you rest

I guess I'll never learn.


"Life is a Beach" by Sam Buschur

In “Life is a Beach” I used mystery, cliffhangers and a surprisingly good ending to help write this short story.

As I was going through security check at the airport, a man kept looking at me in a strange way. He would look over and then look away. After I went through security he started to follow me, so I picked up my pace. Once I got to my gate I had lost him. I sat down and got out something to do while I was waiting for them to start boarding. When I looked up he was sitting two rows in front of me and was facing in my direction. Then I realized he was on the same flight as me so I stopped worrying about it. Finally a voice came on the intercom, “Flight 307 from Wichita to Miami is now boarding.”

I got a little excited so I jumped up and hurried to get in line. I noticed the man was behind me and was carrying a small package that was wrapped in paper. Once I got settled in my seat I noticed him scanning the seats and once he got to me his eyes locked on my face. I didn’t want to look up but I knew for sure that he was staring at me. I wanted to say something to him but his appearance scared me. He was big and tall but crouched down like he was trying to fit in. He was wearing a grey sweatshirt with ripped jeans, he was bald and tough looking but at the same time his face looked like his life was being drained from him, so I wasn’t going to do anything about it. I wanted to think about my trip that I was waiting forever for and how I was going to spend a week with my friends on the beach, but my mind kept wandering off. I couldn’t help but feel his eyes on the back of my head, so called a flight attendant over to see if I could move seats.

“Excuse me do you have any open seats further up?”

“The only seats we have open are in first class and you would have to pay the full price to upgrade your seat.”

“No that’s alright,” I said as I thought, I’m in college; I can barely afford the seat I’m sitting in now.

“Well we can see if anyone would like to switch you seats.”

“No I wouldn’t want to create a scene.” That could have hinted to the man that I was scared or bothered.

All I wanted to do was sleep so I closed my eyes and drifted off. It felt like I was asleep for only a minute because the next thing I knew the man next to me was tapping my shoulder. I looked out the window and saw us getting closer and closer to paradise. As we touched the ground all I could think about was my feet in the warm sand and getting away from all of the stress. All of those happy thoughts went away when I turned around and saw the man still staring. I hurried to get off the plane before he could catch up, but as I was entering the airport I felt a hand grab my shoulder. I turned around quickly to see who it was and it was the man! He was holding out the package he had earlier like he was trying to give it to me.

“Here take this,” he said.

“No why would I? I don’t know you and I don’t know what's in the bag, and is this why you were staring at me this whole time?”

“I can’t tell you. I just need you to take this, you can do whatever you want with it but just don’t open until you get home.

“How do I know you are not trying to plant drugs on me.”

“Well I got it past security didn’t I?”

“Can you please just take it? I don’t have a lot of time. I will even pay you, just please take it.”

“Fine give it here.” The only reason I agreed to take it was because he offered to pay me and I always need money.

As he handed me the package he looked at his watch and said, “Damn I’m gonna be late.” He took off, leaving me with the package and no money.

I just stood in the middle of airport trying to process what had just happened. After about a minute I realized people trying to maneuver around me so I shoved the package into my bag and started walking in the direction that the man went in, hoping I would be able to find him. I looked through every gate that was in the direction he went in. Then once I figured out he was gone I gave up and started walking to the baggage claim. As I was sitting in my Uber, I thought about getting it out and seeing what it was, but I decided that the less I knew about it the better. Even though I couldn’t help but to think of all of the possibilities of things that could have been in it.

“Here you go,” my driver said.

I was so worried about what was in the package that the ride only felt like five minutes.  When I got to my hotel room I threw everything down and hid the package at the bottom of my suitcase. Then I got on my bathing suit, grabbed a book and headed down to the beach. I wanted to clear my mind so I closed my eyes and let the bright sun rays hit me. After about ten minutes I heard a familiar voice yell, “Nadia!”

I turned around to see my best friend running towards me. “Amber hey! I thought you weren’t going to get here for another day,” I said.

“Ya well my professor got sick so I changed my plane ticket to come surprise you. I thought we could just chill before the partying started.”

“That sounds perfect.”

“Okay, let me go get my bathing suit on, be down in five!”

I sat back down and as I waited for her I thought about telling her about the package. Amber only has two reactions: she is either super calm and rational or flips out and goes all crazy. I felt like this would be something she would flip out about so I decided to keep it to myself.

As Amber laid down her towel she started asking me about my flight. “So how was your flight?”

“Good, how about yours?”

“It was good I guess, even though there were no cute boys. But I did see a lot of creepy old guys. Your flight probably had all of the cuties,” she said as we both laughed.

Little did she know that I had the creepiest guy on my flight. We talked for a little more then agreed to not talk anymore. Talking to Amber really helped take my mind off of everything. I had forgotten all about it until later that night when I was unpacking and I saw the brown paper poking through one of my shirts. I took it out and put it in one of the drawers so wouldn’t have to look at it anymore. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning in a good mood. That day was the day that the rest of my friends were coming. Amber and I started planning the day for all of us. We spent all morning on the beach and then went out for a late lunch. After lunch we walked the streets and went shopping. The whole day was perfect and got my mind off of everything. We had nothing planned for that night so we wandered down to the beach and one of the girls suggested we should start a campfire. I thought it was a good idea because for the first time that day I was thinking about the package and it was the perfect time to get rid of it. My only problem was getting it into the fire without anyone questioning me about it.

“That sounds like a great idea,” I said. “I can go to the store and get stuff for s’mores.”

“Good idea, I will come with you,” my friend Hayden said.

I really didn't want her to come with me, but I wasn't going to tell her. Now I had to find another reason to escape from everyone.

“Alright let's go H.”

The whole walk to the store she talked my ear off. She was telling me all about her boyfriend and their problems. I just tried my best to block her out but still respond to her once in awhile. Then on the way back it was my turn to talk. She started asking me about my personal life and how everything in “Nadia’s world” was going. I just gave her short answers and started walking faster. Once we got back to the hotel I told her I needed to use the restroom. So she went down to the beach and I went up to my room so  I could grab the package and think about how to get rid of it. Once I had an idea of what I was going to do I started to walk back down to the beach. I started to linger around the fire waiting for no one to be watching. Just as I thought I had an opportunity Amber asked in a voice only I could hear, “ uhhh Nadia what are you doing?”

“Oh umm it's something that I found in my suitcase and I didn't want anymore.”

“No it's not, you are trying to get rid of something that you don't want anyone to see. Come on, show me, what is it?”

“Ok but if I tell you, do you promise not to flip out?”

“I promise, I will keep my cool.”

I explained to her everything that had happened from when I first saw the man up until the point that she had stopped me, even the part where he ran off without paying me. She had many questions, which I didn't understand what she wasn't getting,but I answered all of her questions and then she asked me the biggest one.

“Well shouldn't you open the package and see what's in it before you completely destroy whatever it is?”

“Ya well that's the thing, I don't want to know what is in it, especially if it's something illegal.”

“Well he did get it past security so it can't be that bad.”

She did have a point but I still didn't want to know what was in it. The less I knew about it the better.

“Please please please if you're not going to open it then let me do it because I really want to see what this mystery man gave you,” whined Amber.

I handed the package to Amber for her to open and when she finished unwrapping it, she was left with a stack of money with a note sitting in her hands.

“I can't believe you almost just burned a stack of money! You owe me at least half because I stopped you from making a big mistake.”

“Ok ok, you can have half.”

I was a little confused about-- why this man was randomly handing out stacks of money until I read the note that was attached to it.   

The note said,

I’m slowly dying and I have no one to give my money to so I wanted to spend my final weeks doing what I love, which is traveling and helping others. Here is your payment that you have probably been worrying about and an award for keeping and opening this package. God bless you, Carl.

 

 


“Killing Me Softly” by Desiray Nichols

“Killing Me Softly” is a story I wrote about a girl who gets kidnapped by robbers in the middle of the night and how she fights back. I wrote this while listening to the artist Joji.

Staring up at the ceiling, I sighed and rolled over. Another sleepless night. Looking over at the clock it read 4 AM. Good thing it’s Saturday. I heard the sound of shuffling outside and got up from the warmth of the bed to glance out the window to see nothing. Staying at the window, I looked at the ground as it began to get covered in a thick white sheet of snow. The woods behind my house gave me an uneasy feeling as I stared into them, going into my own world. I suddenly jumped as I heard a loud bang downstairs.

“Are you kidding me?” I grumbled, annoyed with tonight’s outcome so far. I slowly walked over to my door, stopping just before I reached it.

“It looks like no one’s home,” a gruff voice mumbled.

My throat closed up in fear as I heard the the other person hum in agreement. I quickly made my way back to the door trying to be as quiet as possible. Once I reached the window, I tried pushing it open but failed since the cold weather froze it shut.

“Check that bedroom,” a voice commanded from the distance.

Acting quickly, I rushed to my closet, shutting it and hiding in a dark corner. I put my hand over my mouth to prevent any sounds from coming out. I heard the door slam against the wall with a large amount of force and jumped slightly from the loud noise. The sound of large heavy steps echoed throughout the room, every step seeming as if it was mocking me in a sickening way. The sounds of blankets and pillows being thrown  filled the room. I closed my eyes, wishing that my dad would randomly appear. The loud footsteps made their way to the closet door and I stiffened in fear. My anxiety was through the roof as the door knob quickly twisted the door open.

“Frank! I found something!” The loud voice echoed through the house as the man quickly retreated from my room.

As soon as the sound of footsteps faded down the hall, I bolted downstairs. I heard yelling behind me as I knew then and there that I had made a huge mistake. The yelling grew more frantic as I made my way to the door. Large arms wrapped around my waist as I screamed and kicked, flailing my body around in any way possible to get the tight grip to loosen. I heard cursing behind me as I threw my head back, hitting it against his. Once he dropped me I received a swift kick in the side, preventing me from getting up.

“Tie her up.”

“With what?”

“I don’t know just find something!” the voice snapped back and the other went off the find something to restrain me with.

I closed my eyes as I saw someone kneel in front of me. Hearing a deep chuckle, I flinched as he grabbed my hair, forcing me to look him in the eye. He wore a proud smirk and had a sadistic look on his face. His dark eyes looked deep into my pale blue ones as he studied me. Tilting his head to the side while keeping eye contact, his smirk fell.

“Don’t tell me you’re scared?” he asked, putting fake worry in his voice. His voice was low and scratchy, making him seem even more intimidating.

I looked away, avoiding eye contact and heard another deep chuckle emit from his throat. My eyes began to water from fear and the pain of him pulling my hair. The other male came in with duct tape and the male in front of me let go of my hair, nodding. The male forced my hands together behind my back and layered duct tape around my wrists. After he finished, he grabbed my foot. I frantically kicked my feet around, wincing from the pain in my stomach from being kicked earlier. I heard a loud yell as my foot made contact with his face. Once he let go of my foot, I attempted to scramble to my feet, only to be knocked down by a large arm.

“Get off me!” I screeched loudly, hoping my non-existent neighbors would hear and call the police.

They started to yell curse words at each other, one of them laying a harsh blow to my head, making the world go black.

 

Once I woke up, a sharp pain was making the back of my head throb as I tried to look around. My vision was blurry so I couldn’t make any great details about the room. It was lit by one light, and the room was empty except for a few boxes and metal tables. I tried moving my hands but stopped when I felt that they were bound to the chair. The sound of a door opening from behind me filled the room and I quickly pretended to be asleep again. The squeaking of shoes filled the room as if they were mocking me with their laughter. I flinched when they stopped in front of me, their breath hit my face as they panted slightly.

“I know you’re awake,” they whispered in a menacing tone, “open your eyes”.

I shut my eyes tighter, refusing to open them. He huffed in annoyance and walked away. They slowly walked to the other side of the room and the sound of metal on metal made my ears cringe. The sound of laughter could be heard as they saw me flinch, my throat began to close up as tears welled up in my eyes. My chin was suddenly yanked up, making my eyes shoot open to meet the same dark ones as before.

“When I speak,” he paused to forcefully tilt my head to the side bringing cold metal to the skin under my chin, “you listen and do as I say”.

My eyes widened as the metal pierced my skin. He dragged it upwards, making me yell in pain. He shoved his hand over my mouth as tears ran down my face. I screamed more, not caring that no one could hear me. I finally bit down forcefully on his hands drawing a little blood as he jerked away and hissed in pain. Anger covered his face as he stared at me intensely. I spit beside me, attempting to get the metallic taste of blood out of my mouth. As I lifted my head back up, he had moved closer to where our noses were almost touching. He then removed the restraints, making me freeze in shock.

“Stand up.” He ordered, backing away.

I frantically went to stand up, only to fall to the floor. Looking down at my legs, I saw my left leg was bent in an odd way. It was most likely broken. He moved over and swung his leg back to kick me. I rushed up, ignoring the pain in my leg. The door got closer as I limped as quickly as I could towards it. I could hear him chuckle behind me, walking slowly. Opening the door, I saw a dark, cold hallway. Quickly, I stepped out of the room and looked behind me to see that he wasn’t far behind. I grabbed my upper thigh, heaving my leg forward has the cold concrete made me flinch slightly as my bare feet hit it. Looking around there were many other rooms and a wall at the end of the hallway. Quickly opening the door to the first room, there was a bed with the blankets being disheveled. I turned to the door on the opposite side of the hall and saw the male a few strides away from me. Letting go of my leg, I hurried to the door. Once I got in, I looked around after closing the door behind me. On the other side of the room there was a door that lead to another hallway. I opened it and saw a large staircase. Limping, I made my way to the stairs, grabbing on the railing beside me and made my way up them. I stopped halfway to catch my breath and walked up the last few stairs. There was a large door that had a metal latch on it. Lifting the latch up and pushing the door open, I looked around to see an old T.V., a small bed, and a small table. The room smelled of alcohol and rotting food. Covering my nose and cringing at the horrible smell, I went to the table and searched the drawers for some type of weapon. Frantically jerking the drawers out of the table, I dumped their contents on the floor. As I jerked the last drawer out, the bottom of it fell off. Turning the box shaped wood over, I saw a gun and sighed in relief.

I suddenly froze as the sound of footsteps and muffled voices could be heard above me. Looking up at the ceiling I attempted to make out what they were saying.

“Jeff! I can’t believe this! Again?!” a voice exclaimed, it sounded as though it was a younger woman.

The same gruff voice from the man answered in a low tone so I couldn’t hear what he said. The voices then started to move around as the sounds of feet pounding against the floor above me was the only thing to be heard in the room as they grew silent. I looked back down at the gun to see if it was loaded.

1,2,3,4,5… only five?

I counted to myself and sighed, slightly annoyed. Loading the gun back up, the sounds of my heavy breathing and the creaking of the house were the only things to be heard. The thoughts of my family flooded my mind, making tears swell up in my eyes and blurring my vision. I quickly wiped at my eyes, not wanting to seem weak. The sound of a door being slammed echoed through the house. My grip on the gun was tight and firm as I made my way towards the door next to the T.V.. There was no knob so I slammed my shoulder against it in an attempt to get it open. I sighed as it didn’t budge and winced at the new pain in my shoulder. Moving back slightly, I kicked the door with a large amount of force and it opened, hitting the wall next to it. The sound of the door hitting the wall made me flinch, thinking that he may have heard it. I quickly limped my way down the hallway to another door. Once I made it to the door, I softly pushed it open.

The bitter taste of black coffee lingered through the air along with the strong smell of lavender. I looked around and saw two large couches, a large flat screen T.V., and toy legos scattering the floor. My breath hitched in my throat at the thought of this man having kids.

What if one of them walk in and see me? Then I’ll be the bad guy. They won’t know, nor believe, that their father did this to me. What if his wi-

“How did you get out?”  a deep gruff voice questioned behind me.

I didn’t want to turn around. My grip on the gun got even tighter. I felt his hand grip my shoulder tightly in an attempt to pull me back. I jerked away and held the gun up, aiming at his head. His face was different. He looked as if he was a normal father, not the man I saw earlier. The sound of footsteps rushing down the stairs echoed the room and we both looked over. I kept the gun raised as his daughter appeared from behind the wall.

“Daddy?” The little girl looked at me with wide eyes as I thought about the scene in front of her. A girl with dried blood on her neck and shirt, leg twisted in an odd direction, pointing a gun at her father.

He looked over at me as if asking to talk. I nodded and he turned his attention back to his daughter, “everything is okay, just go upstairs and hide in Mommy’s room, okay?” The little girl nodded and ran up the stairs.

I looked back at him and loosened the grip on the gun. We held eye contact as he moved closer. My grip tightened again and I aimed the gun at him more clearly and shook my head.

“Don’t move.” I whispered darkly, my posture straightening as I attempted to be intimidating at the moment given.

He nodded and stopped, his hands still raised. I heard commotion upstairs but kept my eyes on him. Heavy footsteps tumbled down the stairs and his wife rushed around the corner. Her breathing was heavy as she pulled out a handgun and aimed it at me. Fear consumed me as I panicked. Pointing the gun towards her, I pulled the trigger. Ringing echoed throughout the room and I watched as she fell down clutching her stomach.

“WHAT DID YOU DO?!” The male frantically ran toward his wife as blood pooled around her.

Backing away, I heard sirens off in the distance. I looked at the couple in front of me and then at the door on the other side of the room. I bolted towards the door and ran outside. Cold air hit my face as ran I down the street. The snow began to numb my feet as I ran faster, turning down an alleyway. The sound of sirens got closer as I sprinted as fast as I could. I came to a stop once I reached the end of the alleyway, collapsing on the ground and panted heavily. My eyes shut tight as I held back the tears threatening to spill.

I just killed a woman. N-no it wasn’t on purpose! She would’ve killed me. But I still took a life that was just as innocent as I was.

These thoughts raced through my head as I held my ears, attempting to block out any noise of the local city around me. My hands gripped tighter, pulling at my hair as I screamed loudly. The frustration that boiled up inside of me was let out. The fear, the pain, everything was let out in a loud scream. I knew someone had heard me because large and heavy footsteps raced towards me as I kept my head down.

“Hey- woah are you okay?” The voice was soft and calming. I looked up to see a boy about my age. He had messy brown hair that was almost at his shoulders. His brown eyes filled with concern as he knelt down in front of me.

Shaking my head, he sighed and put a hand on my shoulder. I flinched at his touch and he pulled away. I kept my eyes past him, scared that the police or that man would come running around the corner.

“Come on, let’s take you to the station.”

“Station?” My voice came out as a whisper as I was wondering which station was talking about.

“Yeah, the police station,” he stated this as if it was the most obvious thing ever.

I quickly moved away while shaking my head frantically. He tried to speak and move towards me again but I jerked away, causing him to flinch. He began speaking, but I didn’t hear what he said. Running past him, he began to shout behind me. I sprinted across the street and towards an empty building. I heard shouting from many people and turned around. As I turned, my body fell to the ground as a large man in a police uniform hovered over me.

“It’s her! She killed my wife!” those words ran through my head as cuffs were tightly placed on my wrists.

The larger male brought me to my feet and pushed me inside of a police car. My body went limp but my mind screamed. I was screaming at myself to run, let them know I’m the victim, but nothing happened. I felt numb. Maybe I did deserve this. My body refused to fight, my mind went blank as I was picked up and dragged towards the vehicle. Once I was shoved into the backseat of the car, I looked forward with an emotionless face. The bars that separated me and the two men in front of me seemed as if they were not even there. The ride was silent and uncomfortable. The sound of the radio stating there had been another bar fight sounded every now and then. I leaned my head against the glass of the window and looked at the sky.

What will my parents think?

That questioned circled through my head the whole ride. I wondered if they even knew their daughter was going to be labeled a murderer. The car jerked to a stop and the two men got out. One of them opened the door and pulled me out roughly by my arm. They directed me towards a large building and pulled me down a white hallway. I was put in a room filled with doctors in white coats and nurses in plain white scrubs with little name tags on the pockets. I looked down at my feet and heard whispering behind me. A soft touch directed me towards a table and turned me around. I looked up and saw a woman with blonde hair and green eyes giving me a pitiful look. The doctor behind her told her to clean me up and put me in confinement. She nodded and lead me to an empty room. She brought a wet washcloth and wiped my face. She cleaned my arms and legs, then stripped me out of my clothes. She put loose cotton pants carefully over my legs and a white shirt. She turned me around and strapped on a heavy straight jacket, restraining my movements. She mumbled a quiet sorry and left the room, shutting and locking it behind her.

I looked up at the blank walls around me and sighed, leaning my head back against the wall behind me. I began to hum softly and closed my eyes.

Strumming my pain with his fingers

Singing my life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words

Killing me softly with his song…

The soft tune rang throughout my head, repeating the same verse over and over again. My head began to sway with the slow tune and I closed my eyes enjoying the sudden comfort that washed over me. No worries about what my parents are doing, if the man’s family is okay, nothing. I smiled and laid back, falling into a dreamless sleep.


"Inspiration" by Felicity Walker

Felicity Walker's "Inspiration" acrostic was written in a creative writing class at the beginning of the year. It was about how you have to put yourself out there and believe you can accomplish anything as long as you believe in it.

Acrostic and description of writing

Following ones path they say,

Elderly are like role models, aren’t they?

Live how they did, or not at all.

Inner self confidence is key.

Coping with ones problems you’ll see.

Invincible is what you must be.

Time is the essence don't you see.

Young,

Wild,

And…

Live like the free.

Knotting your fears up in a bottle.

Evil things will come your way,

Run, for they will make you pay.

Inside and out,

No darling don’t you pout.

Spend your time getting out.

Piling up all your self doubt.

Inner belief is what it’s about,

Right or wrong,

All in or all out.

Time through, don’t you forget.

Imagine, believe, achieve.

On and on never stop,

Never ever until you drop.


"Fear is Weakness" by Ashley Looker

In this short story we follow the journey of Samantha Adams’ worst day in a while. Between a psychopathic, six foot intruder and a five foot, unathletic, creative thinker, who will win?

 

“Samantha Adams?” I get up and walk into the doorway of the doctors office. Today I am getting a checkup, just to make sure everything is still working fine.

            “Good morning Samantha. It’s nice to see you again.” Dr. Peerless has been my doctor since I was little, it’s easier to talk girl to girl sometimes.

            “It’s nice to see you, too, Dr. Peerless,” I reply with a smile.

            “Today is just going to be a normal checkup,” she says, “but you do need a flu shot if that’s okay with you.”

“Yeah, that’s fine.” I hate shots so much. I hate the thought of needles going into my skin and something entering my blood.

  “It’s going to be fine, it won't hurt a bit,” Dr. Peerless tries to comfort me.

“Okay, let’s get this over with.”

After my checkup, Dr. Peerless goes to get the stuff for the shot I need to get. When she walks back in I can see the huge needle she has that is going to be put into my arm.

She notices me getting a little squeamish and tries to reassure me again but it doesn't help so she just continues to prepare the shot.

“You’ll feel a little pinch here, but it shouldn't hurt too bad. Take a deep breath, Samantha.” I take my breath as she pushes the needle in. It pinches a bit, just like she said. As she finishes the injection, she pulls out the needle and I breathe out.

When she finishes the shot, I take that as my cue to breathe normally again. I get up to stretch right when I hear an alarm go off. Dr. Peerless looks confused until a voice talks through an intercom. “There is an intruder with a gun in the building, everybody needs to get to a safe room and lock the door. Don’t let anybody in. This is not a drill.”

As the intercom stops talking Dr. Peerless is already at the door locking it. “Help me barricade the door closed. Let’s move the chair in front of it.” I help her move the chair and any other big, movable object in front of the door.

Just as we finish moving the furniture, somebody knocks on the door. “Please let me in, everybody locked me out and I was in the bathroom.”

Dr. Peerless and I look at each other in doubt and just decide on sitting back. It’s not because we don’t want to help her, it’s because she could have the gun.

We hear her starting to walk away when she screams and a gunshot is heard. Her blood is splattered against the frosted glass window of the door. I gasp in shock of the events rolling out around me. The intruder comes up to the door and I can see his figure from his shadow on the window. The doorknob wiggles as if he is trying to open it. I shuffle away from the door in fear of what could possibly happen next.

After his attempt at opening the door fails, I see him scratch at his head and he starts to walk away. Then something falls in the room I am hiding in and he stops. The doctor chair that Dr. Peerless normally sits in fell off of our barricade. The loud noise echoed through the silent air that fills the room. I look over at Dr. Peerless. She looks as scared as I feel.

I see the intruder return to the door and try to open the door more furiously than last time. I see the needle that was used to give me my shot lying on the ground in front of me and immediately grab it. If the worst comes, I can at least go down fighting with this. I think to myself.

“I know you're in there!”

We sit here in complete silence. The only thing that can be heard is the intruder’s heavy breathing as he stands on the other side of the door.

“Come out, or I’ll come in!”

“Just stay quiet,” I whisper to Dr. Peerless.

“He’s going to kill us,” she whimpers quietly.

“We are going to be fine, just calm down.”

“Fine, I guess I’ll just have to come in then,” the intruder says, making Dr. Peerless cry in fear.

“Where is he going?” I ask as he walks away.

“I don't know but we shouldn’t wait to find out.”

“Help me take down the wall. I’ll look into the hallway and see if he's out there.”

We start pulling down the furniture in front of the door and place it where it will be easy to put it back up. When we get everything out of the way Dr. Peerless stands at the door ready to open it for me.

As she unlocks and opens the door I peek my head out. I see nobody so I start to get farther out the door. When I'm sure nobody is there but me I turn to tell Dr. Peerless something.

“When I leave I want you to shut this door and don't open it for anybody but me. Got it?”

“Yeah, I got it. Just promise me you won’t do anything stupid.”

“Promise, now shut the door and barricade it. Be safe.” I wait until she shuts the door and locks it before I turn to continue down the hall. I look down and see the body of the woman that was shot and immediately recognize her as the lady from the front desk.

She didn't deserve this. That man must pay.

I continue down the hall and come to an intersecting hallway. I go down the hall to my right and immediately regret it as I hear boots pounding on the ground. I turn around and head back the way I came as quickly and quietly as I could. Right after I get around the corner I came from I hear the boots heading down the same hall I was just in.

I slowly begin to panic and I look down to see the needle still in my hand. I then remember what my mom told me once right before I got onto a roller coaster for the first time when I was ten years old.

 

Eleven Years Ago

“Mom, I don't want to anymore. I'm too scared,” I said crying for my mother to take me away from the roller coaster.

“You’ll be fine sweetie. Remember, fear is weakness…”

 

I grip the needle tight in my hand as I hear the footsteps get closer and closer. As they get right around the corner, they stop. I listen intently as they turn and head back the way they came, squeaking as if they are laughing at my panic.

When I can no longer hear the footsteps anymore, I turn back around the corner and make sure nobody is there. I don’t see anybody, and just to make sure I don't immediately run into them again I decide to head down the hall to my left this time.

I head down the white walled corridor. It’s completely silent except for the quiet tapping as my sneakers hit the ground with each of my careful steps. I can feel the sweat dripping down my face as I rush down the hall.

I turn down another hall and I can see the front desk from here. I walk a little faster, hoping I can get there before he comes back. As I approach my destination, I take a sigh of relief as I go to dial 911 on the phone. Just before I finish dialing I hear a gunshot and the phone gets hit by a bullet making me scream.

            I turn my head slightly, just enough to see him pointing his gun at me. One detail, other than the gun pointed at me,  makes my stomach flip a thousand times. He’s smiling.

            He has a scar from his right ear to the corner of his mouth which makes his smile look bigger, like the cheshire cat. His blazing blue eyes observe me as I stand there like a deer caught in headlights. His towering figure makes him more terrifying than he was when I just knew he had a gun.

            I snap back to reality and realize what's happening. There is a gun pointed at me, I could die.

            Fear is weakness.

            I run down the closest corridor to me. As I get to the end of the hall I hear him shoot his gun again and I see the bullet go through the wall right next to me. I turn around the corner and see Dr. Peerless’ room and knock on the door.

            “Hurry, open the door, he’s coming for me.”

            I hear the wall being torn down again and the door opens to reveal Dr. Peerless. I rush into the room and slam the door behind me. Locking it, I immediately start to build the barricade back up to where it was before I left.

When I finish, I turn around and see Dr. Peerless staring at me as if she was glad to see me alive. I go back to sit on the ground against the wall, exhausted from running and the adrenaline that had been pumping through me moments before.

“Are you okay? What happened out there, I heard gunshots,” Dr. Peerless rambles on. I put my hand up to signal for her to stop talking and she immediately quiets down.

“I got to the front desk, but then he showed up and tried to shoot me so I ran.” I look down and notice that my needle had disappeared.

We hear banging on the door and the man started yelling, “I’m going to get you, just wait and see.” He starts laughing and I shiver in fear.

Does he enjoy this that much?

“That sicko,” Dr. Peerless says in disgust. I can see her hatred for him on her face as she sits across the room from me.

I hear his laughter die down as he starts walking away. His footsteps stop as I yell to him, “why are you doing this?!”

His boots make a return as they get louder and stop in front of the door again. “Does there have to be a reason?” is all he says before he walks away.

“What is that supposed to mean?!” Dr. Peerless shouts in aggravation.

“I don't think it means anything good. Do you think the police know what's happening here yet?”

“I don't know, I haven't heard any sirens.”

I get up and look out the window on the opposite wall from the door. This does nothing because this part of the building points to the woods in the back.

            I hear the pounding of his boots again and immediately an idea pops into my head. “What if we break the window?”

            “Here I come,” the intruder says as I hear something hit the door.

            “Why didn’t I think of that before?” Dr. Peerless says talking to herself.

            “We have to hurry. Give me the chair.” She hands me the chair and I swing it at the window as hard as I can. I see a small crack starting to form at the spot I hit.

            “It’s working,” Dr. Peerless sighs in relief.

I get distracted by the constant banging on the door and turn around. I look just in time to see him break the door open with what looks like a hammer.

“Hurry, don't worry, we have time,” Dr.Peerless tries to assure me. I go back to hitting the window and the crack keeps getting bigger and bigger each time I hit it.

I hear a gunshot once again. The bullet flies by my head as I flinch from the noise. I look back after watching as the glass shattered in front of me. When I looked back I saw a glint of panic in the shooters eyes as I tell Dr. Peerless to go first as I throw the chair at him.

I turn back to the window as I hear Dr. Peerless shouting for me to get out of here. I start climbing out of the window but I feel something yank on my leg and I look back to see him pulling me back in. As he pulls again my hand slips and gets cut by some of the broken glass and my whole body goes tumbling down. I feel my head hit the floor and I black out.

 

One Hour Later

I wake up to a pounding head and bright lights. I blink furiously as I try to remember where I am. As the memories come flooding back I try to grab my pounding head, but I can't. My hands are tied behind my back to a chair that I am currently sitting in. As the blurriness in my eyes finally subside, I can see I am in a different room than where I remember being before.

It looks like the emergency room, judging from the surgery tools and patient chair that I'm sitting in. I look around for the intruder, expecting him to be standing around in here watching me.

I find nobody but myself in here. I am all alone in the silence with nothing but my heavy breathing and fearful thoughts to keep me company. I try to think of a way out when I see the small table of scalpels and surgery equipment sitting right next to me.

If only I could reach one of those knives, I could cut my restraints.

I turn the front of my body away from the table and try reaching for them with my hands that are tied behind my back. I can feel the cold metal against my fingertips as I touch one. I grab at it and to my surprise I actually get it on the first try. I start slicing at the cloth restraining me from using my hands. I can hear the boots once again as I cut faster.

I sit back how I woke up and pretend to still be knocked out when I hear the footsteps get to the door and I freeze when the door is pushed open.

“Hello, beautiful.” The footsteps get closer and I just lay here, worrying about what he could possibly do to me. He caresses my face with his cold hand and I try not to flinch or react in any way.

I continue to cut at the cloth behind my back where he can't see. I finally get the cloth cut all the way through as he starts to walk away. After he walked through the door again I take the breath that I had been holding in from the time he walked in. I get up and attempt to walk. I stumble a little as my brain pounds against my skull.

I hold the scalpel tightly in my hand for a defense weapon in case I run into him. I slowly made my way closer and closer to the door in anticipation of what could happen if I crossed through. I push open the door to reveal a vacant hallway. Nobody in sight.

I head down the hall, towards any way that could possibly lead to the front desk or the room I was in originally so that I could escape this nightmare.

I hear whistling coming from down the hall and hide in the closest room to me that isn't locked and shut the door quietly. I look around the room to see no windows and a hospital bed with an x-ray machine over it. I hear the whistling cross in front of the door, continuing down the hall as I slowly opened the door. Once I see that the hall is clear, I run down the corridor, not caring if anybody heard my feet hit the ground with so much force , pushing me forward so I can get to the closest exit as fast as possible.

Once again, I can see the front desk and I run faster than I have ever ran before. Racing toward the doors I can hear more gunshots being fired behind me. I was able to reach the front desk and I ducked behind it, trying to shield myself from the chaos. I look at the doors.

They aren't that far, you can make it, Sam. Remember, fear is weakness.

I bolt as fast as I can go toward the door and I don't turn around for anything. I can feel the bullets fly by my head as the shooter keeps missing me. Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain in my side. But I don't stop. I can't stop now. I'm too close. Regaining my composure I finally reach the door and shove through as I continue running as hard as I could go. The gun fire stopped as I got too far from the building to make out what he was yelling at me, but I don't care. I'm safe. I'm alive.

I'm Fearless.