2015 "It's All Write!" Short Story Contest Finalists

Around 571 writers sent their stories to the 2015 "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest! Below is a list of the 2015 winners and finalists.

6th-8th Grade Winners:

1st Madilynn O’Hara "Why Walter Adams Cheated at Bingo"
2nd Laura Edwards "Sea Smiles"
3rd Anonymous "Living Among the Dead"

9th-10th Grade Winners:

1st Felicia Danu "Tethered"
2nd Ella Staats "Jessie"
3rd Michelle Glans "Alive (على قيد الحياة)"

11th-12th Grade Winners:

1st Tiffany Wang "A Girl, in Seven Parts"
2nd Devin Quinn "Night-Birds"
3rd Hannah McSorley "Amongst the Stars"

2015 Finalists in three grade categories:

Finalist 6-8 Grade:

A'ishah Cerrato "The Changes" Tao Cai "The Master of Fire"
Jake Lieberman "The Trenches" Sydney Haulenbeek "The Girl Forgotten by Everyone"
Jessica Xu "Embracing Darkness" Emilia Minetola "My Own Little World"
Bridget Roberts "Grayson" Ethan Wright "A Leaf in the Wind"
Sunday Quillen "2050" Maya Vijan "Shards of Memories"
Noelle Sabatino "A Holocaust Experience" Leah Mandel "Doing It All Over"
Kendra Hesselink "Monroe Street" Ellie Makar-Limanov "Heartbeat"
Sungyu Kwon "The Voices" Avi Lessure "CyberNet"

Finalist 9-10 Grade:

Jean-Marc van't Verlaat "Arthur’s Favorite Day" Zoë Stephan "Columbus Day Kleptomaina"
Anna Dang "Lemons" Sophia Nam "The Happiest Man"
Sarah Siske "The Great War" Katia Kukucka "Variation Under Nature"
Aidan Wolter "Ivan the Brave" Stephanie Okun "The Ultimate Takeaway"
Megan Jenkins "The Tire Swing" Helena Zindel "Bookends "
Sofia Kwok "The Storyteller" Abigail Dahl "The Ridiculous Miracle of Philberry Silvester"
Julia Bohm "(Parenthetical)" Cynthia Jia "Arthur"

Finalist 11-12 Grade:

Maggie Williams "Lifetimes" Carl Tighe "The Birth of Pumpkin Man"
Lucille Hu "The Reunion that Never Was" Sierra Cornell "Flowered Fingertips"
Tara van Nieuwstadt "P.S. I Miss You" Elise Blaauw "Beneath the Traffic Light"
Rohma Hassan "The Painter" Kieran O'Donnell "Gaze"
Neha Onteeru "Misfire" Lydia Evans "Erebia Pluto"
Kathryn Humnick "The Second Chance Dress"  

2015 "It's All Write!" Short Story Contest

Around 571 writers sent their stories to the 2015 "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest! Below is a list of the 2015 winners.

6th-8th Grade Winners:

1st Madilynn O’Hara "Why Walter Adams Cheated at Bingo"
2nd Laura Edwards "Sea Smiles"
3rd Anonymous "Living Among the Dead"

9th-10th Grade Winners:

1st Felicia Danu "Tethered"
2nd Ella Staats "Jessie"
3rd Michelle Glans "Alive (على قيد الحياة)"

11th-12th Grade Winners:

1st Tiffany Wang "A Girl, in Seven Parts"
2nd Devin Quinn "Night-Birds"
3rd Hannah McSorley "Amongst the Stars"

View 2015 Finalist Stories

View All 2015 Submissions

Black Feathers Blue Feathers

Grade: 
6

Black FeathersBlue Feathers

 

       As I fly back to the earth, I take a look at Raven and one thought crosses my mind: Do it for Sammy.

*****

       The winter woods have become my home over the last year. At least ever since my best friend Sammy died of tuberculosis. After this happened, my grades and my life started slipping. I didn't care about anything. Until I met Raven.

       When I first saw her, I thought she was more of a shadow than anything. She was dressed in a black hoodie with black jeans. She heard me creeping along and had whipped her head around to face me. Her cold, hard eyes bored through me. She stalked towards me, her words disappearing like the fog from her mouth.

       “Come with me. Your world will freeze over if you don’t.” She held out her hand and I hesitantly took it. As soon as we made contact she whisked me away with inhuman speed. When she realized I was slipping, she gracefully pulled me onto her back. I felt her starting to slow down, panting a little. I see us approaching a small cave with a small campfire lit. When we reach the cave, she puts me down near the fire. Her long black hair falls over her face as she adds fuel to the fire.

“Wh-who are you?” I whisper, afraid of the answer.

“Raven,” she says not bothering to look up at me.

“Well, Raven, what are we doing here? I never asked for this,” I say.

“When you took my hand you sort of did. And to your first question, I don’t know. I go by guts,” she says finally looking up at me. I can see in the dimly lit cave that one of her eyes were blue, and the other one was black.

“Get some sleep,” she says. “If you need to use the bathroom, make a hole in the snow-”

“And look at the shade of yellow, make sure you’re not dehydrated, yata, yata, yata,” I finish for her. Her poker face shows a slight look of shock.

“What, a city girl can’t be smart anymore?” I say indignantly.

“In the morning we’re leaving early,” she says, the poker face returning. I get as comfortable as possible, and close my eyes.

*****

I wake up from Raven shaking me roughly. She has changed from her all black suit to a gray coat and blue sweatpants. She hands me her old hoodie and sweatpants.

“Put this on. You’ll be a lot warmer in these,” she says. I take them and stare at her. She gets the hint and goes behind the slab of cave separating the cave in half. i quickly dress, pulling my boots over the pants. Raven walks out.

“Let’s go. We’ll go faster today than yesterday because I have a sled.”

We leave and Raven was right. The bitter wind threatens to bite my ears off. I shiver in front of Raven.

“There are some blankets under there,” she says pointing. I grab them and pull them tight around me.

Suddenly, the temperature drops. The cold seeps like a demon under the covers. The little light left goes dark. I hear Raven whisper, “They’re here. Hide under the blankets.” I crawl underneath and all I can see is the silhouettes of figures that look like werewolves. I see Raven’s legs kicking and then the sled is being lifted. They shake the sled and I fall off. They see me and start grunting a storm. They put me in a cage with Raven where she was slumped against the corner.

*****

After what feels like eternity, they put us down in something that looked like a jail cell. Raven does not move from her position. I go over to her and touch her arm. It was boiling hot.

“Raven, are you okay?” I ask worried. She does not move for a second. Then I see her eyes burst open.

“No, I’m not okay. We need to get out of here. Now,” she says.

“But...how?” I ask.

“Watch and learn,” she says with a small grin. She starts to rattle on the cell doors. She makes so much noise I nearly plug my ears. The werewolves come over and start grunting. Suddenly, I look over at Raven and she appears to be meditating. She starts glowing dark purple and black. She opens her eyes and they are glowing white. When she opens her eyes, her voice is normal, but the guards become enchanted. She speaks some foreign words and the guards open the door. They then lock themselves inside. I look at Raven.

“I don’t think I can learn that.”

“If you think you can’t do it, you can’t,” is all she replies with a smile.

We start running through a maze, with Raven navigating it deftly. We see a door and just before we reach it, a wall of black feathers with tips like knives block our path. In front of the barrier is a tall woman covered in an all black dress with frosty white hair. Her face was paler than a ghosts. She was wearing a black pendant.

“Isla!” Raven says narrowing her eyes.

“Not so fast. This is where your journey ends,” she says coldly. Something spirals from the staff she is carrying and then everything goes black.

*****

When I wake up, I look around and see that we have been moved to a new cell. I go over to the window and see we are in a tower about one hundred feet up.

“I never should have done this,” Raven says. I turn around.

“Done what?”

“Brought you here. This was a mistake,” she says.

“No, it wasn't. Sure, we got caught and we’re trapped in a Rapunzel style tower, but so what? We’ll find a way out,” I say cheerfully.

`“No, I’ll find a way out. You’re going home, back where you belong,” she says rising from her place on the floor. I look away slowly.

“What? No! Raven, don’t do this,” I say pleading with her.

“Good bye.” Her eyes glow white and her hand points at me. Suddenly I’m floating. When I open my eyes, I’m lying on my bed with a wall of blue feathers falling around me. I look around my room. Everything seems to be in the same place. I walk over to the picture of Sammy and me over the summer at a water park. We both look so happy. I turn the picture over. It reads:

 

Sammy and Kay. The inseparables.

“That’s it. raven, watch out. I’m not going anywhere.” I leave a note for my parents saying I’ll be out for a bit. i grab one of Raven’s feathers and take off.

*****

Back in 5th grade, I was the star of the track team. So even though I couldn't run as fast as Raven, i still got to the cave fairly quickly. The campfire was still partially lit. I once read in a book that if you held the feather over a fire, you would become it and would be able to become linked to it. I put raven’s feather over the fire and waited. My heart fell after a minute. Nothing had happened. Then, the feather starts sparkling and turns into the shape of a raven. I smile. Suddenly I start growing wings and I start flapping.

 

“Summon me to Raven!” I shout. I feel myself almost “time warping.” I look around and see I’m trapped in a room that feels like fire and frost at the same time.

“Raven, where are you?” I whisper searching around.

“Hurry! Get over here before they see you!” Raven whisper-shouts. I rush over to Raven and I’m about to ask her what we’re hiding from when I see them. They were massive, with teeth that went at least one inch past their bottom lip with ends like razors. They had black feathers all around them. They had the body of a human with wolf ears and claws. About six of them were patrolling the area with swords and other weapons while two are guarding a fortress entrance.

“We are trying to get in there,” Raven whispers pointing.

“What’s the point of this anyway? Why are you on a such a big quest for...nothing?” She shoots me a sharp look.

“This is not for nothing. I told you; your world will freeze over if we don’t take Isla's ice crystal and stop her,” Raven says. I look at her.

“Ice crystal?”

“It’s what gives her her powers,” she responds. Suddenly, I notice a beautiful sky blue pendant hanging from her neck. She notices me looking at it.

“I’m not like her,” she says quickly. “She has a black pendant. Like those feathers, they are black because of her pendant. There are two categories: black feathers and blue feathers. Black is bad, blue is good. Long story short, she chose the dark side,” she says. We carefully inch our way closer near the door when Raven scoots to her left. I follow and see she has found a massive doggy door.

We slip through with ease. I gasp as I look at our surroundings. It was beautiful in a malicious sort of way. The ceiling was at least one hundred feet high, with a black crystal chandelier dangling from it. Raven stands  up and pulls me up with her. We appear to be in what looks to be a kids bedroom.

“I found that there as a young child. This room brings back so many memories,” Raven says wistfully, touching a window. Suddenly it all clicks.

“You’re her daughter, aren't you.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re trying to...destroy her?”

“No. I ‘m trying to destroy what she’s doing.” Raven walks over to a very nice dresser embroidered with different stones like Apatite, Aquamarine, and Topaz. She opens a drawer decorated in opal and takes out a perfume bottle.

“Close your eyes,” Raven says. I feel the spritzer’s light spray sprinkle onto me.

“Hides your  human scent,” says she. She walks over to the closet and pulls out two identical uniforms that match what the guards were wearing.

*****

After we put them on we try to wall casually, to make it seem as if we belong here. Raven makes many turns with confidence.

“This is too easy. How can the crystal be here?” I ask flustered.

“It’s not. The map to the ice crystal is somewhere in Isla’s room. Also, since we lost the sled, she probably has some transportation device we can ‘borrow.’” After a few more turns we slip into a larger room than Raven’s which I presume to be Isla’s. Raven walks over to the towering bookshelf and starts scanning the spines of the books. She pulls one out that has something sticking out of it. She smiles and she tugs the paper out. I walk closer to get a better look and indeed I see a wrinkled, yellowing piece of paper, but a map none the less. Raven pointed to a place near the end of the map.

"That's where it is. It's in a cave somewhere in there." She heads over to a very large wooden chest . She opens it up and inside is various transportation devices. I see Harley's, bikes, and snowmobiles. Raven chooses a blue snowmobile with two seats.

"How are we going to get out of here lugging that thing?" I ask. Raven just points to a door behind us.

"Get on," she says. "You might want to zip up. It's going to be chilly." I do what she says and confidently climb onto the mobile. As a young child, I would play with Sammy on her dad's snowmobile. Raven gets on in front of me and gives the map to me.

"Don't lose it. Hold on to it tight," Raven says dead serious.

"I will," I respond. Raven starts the engine and we zoom off into the white abyss.

         *****

Seconds pass by almost as fast as we are going. Seconds turn to minutes, and minutes to hours. When it gets too dark to see, Raven puts the bright headlights on. I take out the map and see we've passed two of the land forms.

Raven slows down as we pull up to a small shelter, just big enough for us. I lie down, but Raven just stays outside, watching guard.

"Raven?"

"What's up?"

"Wake me up when you feel tired, " I say, smiling. She hesitates, then nods her head.

         *****

I feel Raven shaking me so I get up without complaint. She doesn't go lie down though. She just raises my chin and I see the whole night sky lit with the aurora borealis. Colors vary from red to green and spark across the sky like a flame. I grab a blanket and sit down. I feel something nudging my thigh and my hand goes to my pocket. I pull it out. It is a small notepad. Me and Sammy's. I open it up and go to the first blank page which is at the end. I start to write my first entry in nearly seven years. This keeps me busy enough until sunrise.

As soon as the sun comes out from under the clouds, I go inside to wake Raven up. I hold back a hearty laugh because she looks like a creepy clown with her mouth open, drool coming out, and her hair all messed up.

"It's time to wake up, Drool Face," I say teasing her. She throws a punch but I dodge just in time. After we wash up as best as we can, we jump on the snowmobile.

         *****

Traveling through the snow is like traveling through a white, cold forever. I look at the map and see we are a little past halfway there. I look around and a big sea, maybe three miles across appeared on the map. I look up and see we are approaching a big blue sea, dark a dark as wine.

"Are we crossing that?" I say, shocked.

"Yup. The big blue sea, here we come.” She pulls out a large yellow raft from out of the compartment of the snowmobile. Inside of the raft there are two oars. Raven grabs one and tosses me one as well. She gets in first and stabilizes the raft and then I climb in after her. I look at Raven from behind and see she has more muscle than me.

“Shouldn't we switch places?” I ask.

“I think you can handle it,” she responds. I push off as hard as I can and surprisingly we get a good distance. Raven steers it and we are on our way to conquering the big blue blanket that is the sea.

*****

We paddle for hours, so much so that my ars start to turn into wet soggy noodles. Just as I am about to complain to Raven, I see sight of shore.

“Land ho!” I shout. I push a little harder and we get there within a few minutes. In front of us looms a frozen volcano with an icy cap at the top.

“The crystal is in there,” Raven says.

“But the map doesn't tell us how to get to the cave though, right?”

“Right, but I've been here before.” We enter the cave entrance and it instantly becomes pitch black. Raven pulls out a flashlight and the cave becomes clearer. Raven strides deftly to a cave on the right, then to the left. We walk forward and soon we reach the middle of a very large cave. In the very middle is a formation of dirt and rocks. At the very top of it is a small crystal, no larger than a pebble. In the corner is a mirror like the one in Snow White. It is showing different cities in the USA. I touch it and it brings me to a lock screen. I enter a couple different passwords, and none of them work. I get a message saying I have one more try before it locks down. I try to think of other passwords. Finally my sub-conscience whispers:

Raven. I enter that and it opens. I type Razorville City, Ohio into the mirror and it gives me a picture of it. I see people all around. They all seem to be freezing on the inside out. Everything is frost and snow.

“Raven, you need to see this.” She walks over and she gasps when she sees it. I type in different cities and pretty much get the same result each time.

“That’s it,” Raven mutters. She goes over to the crystal. Just before she reaches it, she is whisked off of her feet by a layer of black feathers. I slowly turn around.

“Isla,” I say, my heart racing.

“Thought you could just take my crystal? Take my power? Stop my plans? Well, you thought wrong, missy,” she says, her voice colder than ice. Raven gets up again and lunges for the crystal, but not before Isla sees her. Somehow, out of the blue, my 6-year old gymnastic self springs out and I lunge to block the feathers from Raven. I do a back walkover in mid-air and hit them back at Isla. She catches them and while she is distracted bouncing them back I grab the ice crystal and slam it on the ground.

“NO!” she shouts.

“Run!” Raven yells. We run back the way we came dodging feathers like missiles.

“Get on the cloud!” Raven yells. I fling myself onto it, Raven flying in after me. She pushes a lever and a red button and we zoom off faster than what feels like the speed of sound.

“So we defeated her plan?” I ask happy.

“Yes and no. If she wants to-which she probably will-decide to put the crystal back together. This means we have to find the Earth crystal, fire crystal, and water crystal. Only all of the other crystals can stop each other. This is just temporary,” she says. I grin.

“So...time for another adventure?” I say.

“You got that right.” I look off to the distance.

“Thank you, Sammy.”

*****

Sullen Moonlight

Grade: 
11

A slice of moonlight slid through the trees and rested on the walk like still-frozen butter. The man paused there. His cap seemed to draw some of the silvery butter into it, making it glow like stars. His face was downcast and shadowy, his nose silhouetted like the gnarled knot of a tree in a decaying forest.

 

That’s not to say he was unpleasant to look at.  He was splendidly ordinary, in fact. His suit was well pressed, his briefcase as purely black as his cap, and his face could only be described as that of a man

named Tom, Bob, Bill, Joe, or Tim. His hair gave his forehead the look of a spider, as stuck-together jet-black strands arced from his hairline with only the ends touching his eyebrows.

 

The man gave off an air of polite contentedness to all who would believe it, but an unmistakable unease lingered beneath.

 

The blanket of warm summer night buffeted him in the face. It was stifling to him. It seemed to crease his pristine suit jacket, and retain all of the sparkles and smiles and laughter and kisses that had occurred that night in the world. He disliked it.

 

He paced deliberately onward in his own gloom. To any who passed, it would seem as though a section of the path was under the influence of some invisible freezer. His despair affected the air around him, cooling it noticeably.

 

As he dragged himself along through the circlets of street lamps and was swallowed again by shadow, he pondered the progress (rather dramatically) as a metaphor for normal life, fraught with both happiness and sadness. His was one of only shadow! He was unable to continue through the golden circlets, he thought. He was resigned to melodramatic self-pity, and he knew it, but there was nothing for it.

 

He clicked and unclicked the polished steel lock on his briefcase, as was his habit. The “thwack” rang through the street, slithering under light-spilling doorways, and into the puppet shows of happy silhouettes framed in windows. He turned, and found he’d suddenly arrived at his address, to a party his friend had invited him to, absent-mindedly.

 

“Nice of you to come!” said a voice, intertwining with the last notes of the doorbell. The man appeared to be staring past the voice. Slowly the voice became corporeal and the man reached to shake hands with his friend. The friend smiled at him, but the smile only whispered through his friend’s eyes, where the man saw more sadness than he would like. This evening was one of many attempts made by his friend to cheer him out of his state of despair, but the friend seemed to have given up on his usual displays of joy towards the man, and was resigned to inviting him in the hope that the man would find some joy on his own.

 

The bathroom was white and tiled. The toilet seat cover felt cold, even through his slacks. The shelf above the sink held variously colored toothbrushes, which he had washed thoroughly, straightened, and arranged in a color-coded order acceptable to him. He was now staring at the wall, brow beading with sweat, and spider-leg hair quivering in a most disconcerting fashion. He muttered “Curious” under his breath.  It was a habit of his to use this word for most any occasion when he was occupied by something other than his singular depression.

 

The man had been at the party for only two minutes and thirty –four seconds by his count, before slinking away to the social respite of the bathroom. He had experienced several things, most of which he disliked, and one which made him extremely nervous. 

 

One: A very large overbearing man holding a drink was speaking loudly at a man and a woman, specifically, speaking at them and not with them. That was an important distinction, he thought.

 

Two: A squat, corpulent, toad-like fellow who, after turning away from his conversation, had looked at the man in an extremely bellicose manner. 

 

Three: A man had his head in a woman’s lap. She was looking down at him and stroking the hair just above his ear. 

 

Four: A group of red-looking women was taking shots. They all had ruddy cheeks, and scarlet high heels, defying their short statures. 

 

Five: He saw her.

 

For a moment he was in his home, glancing at the chipped paint on the door from where another man had slammed it, stepping over broken glass as he bade her “Wait. Please don’t go.”  He felt a silver tear slide down his cheek and onto his lip.  “Can we talk about this? Can we talk? Please!”  His mouth was dry and salty. “I love you.”

Her wispy blonde hair almost caught in the door as she closed it.

 

And suddenly he was at the party again. The past slipped away and the man was assaulted by the happy light and cacophonous music around him.

 

She was sitting across from a lean man who was laughing at her, no, with her. He briefly stared at her slender fingers resting on the table and had immediately taken refuge in the bathroom, where he began sweating, and indulging the strange fidgety habits he had developed since she left him. His heart seemed to be attacking itself at this moment, which seemed, well, curious.

 

He returned to the common room, determined to have some sort of communication with her and, curiously, found the room silent except for a soft lilting voice spilling out of every corner. He nearly shed a tear as he simultaneously recognized the voice and gazed upon its source. Her. She was sitting at the piano with her mouth slightly open, singing. At once he looked for the lean man, and found him in his original place across from her empty seat. He saw the lean man’s perfectly insidious expression as he gently placed a small white capsule in her neglected wine. The man looked down at his own body, which seemed a nebulous proposition as his mind dithered about.  He looked again in time to observe her waiting mouth, her moving hands and the touch of the ruby glass to her lips.

 

 

The man returned to the bathroom straightaway to ponder what he had seen. He had to tell her, he had to warn to her, he had to speak to her, to smell her, to hear her.

 

A cat, landing on the windowsill, startled him. His nose turned his head to look at it.  It was jet black with bright eyes, one yellow, one green. Curious. He scratched its neck and fiddled its ears.  Animals were the only enjoyment he ever got these days. He visited animal shelters and gave them attention, even smiled sometimes, but he was particularly fond of cats. He had one of his own that he loved dearly, despite being allergic. The man was beginning to really like this cat, maybe even call it a friend, when it bounded out of the window without turning its bright eyes away. He stuck his head out to divine the cat’s location, but it hadn’t gone far. It stared back at him from a circlet of light. He heard a heavenly voice, and his breath caught in his throat as he regarded her, hair streaming from the second story above him.

 

He quickly left the bathroom and made his way upstairs. The man began sweating instantly and, as he knocked on the door, he fixed his suit despite its immaculate condition. 

 

 “Come in,” rang a voice. He perspired more profusely as the door swung open and she turned to meet him.

 

“ My god it’s you! It’s been ages, how are you?” Her voice came from every corner of the room again.

 

She smiled and the beam of light directed at his face from her teeth dazzled him. She was scintillating to him. She spilled with soft exciting promises of momentous events and cool evening stars.

 

 “I hope you’re great, you deserve to be great, I hope you’re excellent,” she continued. “You look great!” This last part she said with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, but not enough came.

 

“Oh, thanks,” he said, flushing. “ You look, you look…” he coughed, “…good to see you too!  I heard you up here and I thought I might say hello.” 

 

He looked around wishing something curious would happen so he could comment on it, but nothing materialized.

 

“Well, I’m very glad you did,” she came closer. “It has been too long.”

She placed her slender hand on his shoulder, and he hoped there wouldn’t be a crease. She smiled and he twiddled his thumbs at disconcerting speed. “Well, I should be getting back down” she said and stared at him before moving from the room.

 

“Wait!” he said, his tongue remembered what his mouth had to say.

She turned back.

 

“Yes?” she said.

 

He was silent. His nose looked gnarled from the shadow he had stepped into. He was worried, worried she wouldn’t believe him, worried she would revile him and abhor him for suggesting such a thing. His brain and mouth fought, and made his throat hurt. He was a scrupulous man and knew he had to say something, but he didn’t know how, and his thumbs seemed to be preparing to spin off his hands of their own accord.

 

“I liked your song,” he said. She smiled.

 

The night from the open window oppressed him as he sat on the toilet seat cover in the bathroom. The laughs and smiles of the world in the night battered his face harder, as though he were standing in the bow of a very fast ship being assaulted by spray. He felt much worse than usual. He had to tell her about the man. Maybe she would hate him and he would hate himself more. Maybe she would say something curious. Or maybe she would love him for it, love him again. His heart fluttered for a moment again, but was halted by the fetter that kept it sufficiently low in his chest. 

 

Hope would not do, not at all.

 

Despite his efforts, as his head probed out of the bathroom window and the frozen butter of the moon made his hat glow, hope grew in his chest as he watched for her departure. Once or twice yellow-green eyes alit upon him from the shadows and he returned the curiosity.

 

Curious, he thought.

 

As he saw the woman leaving the apartment, he seemed to be already out the bathroom door. He had moved with a blur that would have to be called desperate. The bellicose toad glared at him as he hastily departed the party.

 

“Wait!” She turned at the bottom of the steps. The lean man was with her, holding her hand. “There is something I must tell you,” he said, his body shuddering. She looked concerned.

 

His mind shook as though under siege. He glanced nervously at the lean man, who was casting indignant looks his way, and lowered his voice. “He put something in your drink.” His voice trembled and seemed to sweat. “I saw him, while you were singing.” The woman considered him for several moments and his thumbs twiddled separately, if such a thing can be done.

 

“This,” she said, “is my boyfriend.” The fetter grew much, much tighter around his heart, and she angled her head so that her eyes seemed to have points, points directed at his head. “I can’t believe you. You are still such a child. What a pathetic attempt.”

 

“No, no, I didn’t mean-“

 

“Stop. Just stop,” she cut him off. “Please never speak to me again.”

 

The tears glowed just like his hat did, in the slices of light through the trees.  He had collapsed soon after the wisps of her hair had disappeared around a corner. The curb felt cold and so did his throat, in which the toad from the party seemed to have taken up residence.

 

He knew this was going to happen. He felt worse than he ever had. He had been lessened to something he didn’t know he could feel, and the warm summer night’s blanket crammed its way into his ears and pounded through his head.It was more than he had felt in a long while. How curious, he thought. He hoped there was no one nearby to see in his self-pity, but his only company was the piece of squashed gum beneath himand the black cat from the windowsill.

 

As it turned and its tail swished away, he arose to pursue it. At least he was interested in what the cat was doing. Maybe he would have a companion. After a block, it leapt up onto the first level of a fire escape and began climbing the remaining four levels to the roof. He smoothed his suit, and followed the yellow and green eyes.

 

The cat sat on the flat roof, so he did as well. They gazed at one another, and it seemed to the man that its eyes, as he stared into them, were a receptacle for his sadness. His sadness was endless, and this did little to diminish it, but was a small comfort. He felt he had found a spirit to share with him this terrible night. It could not penetrate the black coat of the cat. Nor the frozen air his mood created that swam around them. Curious, he thought.

 

 

The cat got up and turned, walking to the raised edge of the roof.  Searching beyond it for a moment it jumped from the roof. He stood and walked to a space just before the ledge, the night seemed cool now, not as oppressive to him.

 

The heel of his shoe made a scraping noise as he dropped from the edge.

 

END

 

 

Imaginary

Grade: 
9

I know there isn't going to be much time left. It is already starting. I had been expecting it for a while now. I can feel it now. I'm disappearing. It feels strange, yet familiar. After all, this has already happened to me so many times before. Even so, nothing prepares you for it and you never get used to it. I was beginning to hope it wouldn't happen, not this time.

I guess it began about three years ago, or mabye that's when I finally noticed. Even so it wasn't until last year that I began to accept it. She was growing up, and I was fading away. I always knew this was coming. So why am I so upset? No one keeps their imaginary friend forever. It's just how it is. Eventually they grow up and we fade away. If we're lucky we move on to a new kid, if not we disappear into thin air. The whole process is completely up to chance, we have no control over it. I have no say in what's going to happen to me. It's not fair, because I'm not even sure that I want to move on and just start over. How can I? How can I just move on and forget? How can pretend it never happened?

My kid's name is Ava. She is the tenth kid I've had, but I still care for her. I met her about seven years ago when she was just four years old. I, I don't really have an age. Like the others, I just seem to age with my kid. She called me Amy and told me that I was going to be her new friend. She looked so happy to see me. I could tell she was lonely. I'm not quite sure how I knew, but it always happens this way. I am somehow given all the information I need. It confused me at first but you earn to accept it. Afterall, there is no one you can ask. I don't always meet other imaginary friends, but even those I have met can't answer my questions. They were just as clueless as I am,

Ava and I used to have so much fun together. We would play with her stuffed animals and have teaparties every weekend. When she made friends we would play with them, or I wpuld play with their imaginary friends. That is, if they had any. As she got older I would talk to her and give her advice. I would comfort her when she was upset and be right there with her when succeeded. Sometimes I would even help her with her homework or help her study for a test. No matter what we were doing I always had so much fun.

But, as time went on she needed me less and less. She no longer came to me for help or to just hang out or talk. Sometimes I might even go weeks without her speaking to me. Sometimes wouldn't even see or hear me, even when I wasstanding right in front of her. It made me so sad beacause I was losing my only friend, and I knew what was coming.

I began to get so lonely waiting for her to remember me. I would get so upset sometimes. I would get angry and begin screaming and try to make her notice me. Other times I would get sad and just run away and cry. Despite everything though, I can't blame her. It isn't her fault that I'm not real or that no one else can see me. It wasn't really anyone's fault. This is just how things are. This is how they always are, though I'm not quite sure why. We imaginary friends have been around for so long but we're not sure where we came from or why we were created. But it doesn't change anything. It's the same every time.

You wake up in a new place with a new kid. You remember everything that's happened to you before. You know what you are and what that means. You also have new information; who your new kid is, what your new name is, and what you need to do for the kid. You know what they like to do and how to make them happy, But eventually it ends. They no longer need you. And when it happens, it breaks your heart.

This is what's happening now. Ava is almost eleven. I'm actually surprised that she kept me around for this long. Most kids forget at least by the time they turn seven. Then again, she was always shy. I think she kept me here for so long just so she would have someone to talk to. So she wouldn't be all alone. That way she didn't didn't need to feel sad or lonely. But she has a group of friends at her school now and she doesn't really need me anymore and I'm happy for her. I'm fading fast now. I beginning to feel tired. I'm also a little worried about what going to happen to both of us. But I know she'll be okay without me.

The kids never really notice when we are gone. We just quietly fade away into the background. They move on and forget us. Later on they may remember, but to them it was all fake. They convince themselves that we were never really there. We were just a figment of their imaginations. It hurts every time it happens. You know they're beginning to forget you, and it hurts. You don't want to be forotten, but there is nothing you can do about it.

That's why I;m not sure if I want to move on. I don't think I can spend so much time with someone else just to be forgotten in the end. I don't think I can keep doing this. I'm almost gone now. I'm going to miss Ava. But, she is a very good person and she will do just fine when I'm gone. I won't be holding her back any more. There's only one thing left for me to do now.

I find Ava doing her homework in her room. I walk up beside her with tears in my eyes. “Goodbye,” I whisper even though I know she can't hear me. Without that I close my eyes and then I'm gone.

I open my eyes. I guess I'm moving on again. I'll be forced to start over anew. I look around expecting to find a child there's no one around. “That's odd,” I think to myself. I check my memories. I find nothing. There's no new information, no new names, no new kid. What's going on. This isn't isn't supposed to happen. Why am I here, wherevere here is, if there is no new kid?

I hear footsteps behind me. I turn around and see another imaginary friend. She must have a kid around Ava's age since she appears to be around eleven. Afterall, we don't age normally. She seems to notice my confusion because she says, “You must be new here.” I nod my head in reply. “I'm Elizabeth,” she says. I assume that's what her kid named her.

"Where am I?” I ask, “What's going on?” She smiles and says, “We call this place the valley. Because we always show up here in the middle of a valley.” she says gesturing to the are around us. “This is where we come when retire.”

Retire?” I repeat confused, “We can't retire. Can we?”

Of course.” she says. “ But I know how you feel. I was confused when I first came here. Instead of disappearing when we are no longer needed and don't move on we come here. You'll be the same age you were when you disappeared and you'll have the same name. We live here like our kids do we even age normal. You'll be connected to and live as long as your last kid did. You'll become somewhat like her conscience and will be able to give her advice when she needs help.”

Wow,” I say still trying to take in all the new information. “I guess my name is amy then,” I say.

I know it's a little confusing at first, but you'll get used to it,” she says smiling. “Come on. I'll show you where our village is,” she says gesturing for me to follow her.

I smile and follow her. For once I feel like everything is going to be just fine.

 

The Empty Dinner Table

Grade: 
10

The dinner table was silent, filled with the absence of those who had already left. The large dining room felt empty after the large number of guests had dwindled down to a select four. Clara fidgeted uncomfortably in her chair, unsure where to look within the awkwardness of the silence. She could feel her brother fuming although he sat at the opposite end of the long, wooden table. Her mom was seated just few chairs away from him, and  filled with a silent rage that scared Clara. Clara’s best friend, the fourth and final member at the table, was a girl with a mane of wild red hair, an onslaught of freckles, and demonic eyes. She twisted her face into a smile over-flowing with cruel, despisable glee. Neither she nor Clara particularly liked each other very much. “Best Friend” was simply a formality.

The friend watched as dangerous discontentment wrapped itself around Clara’s heart, and overwhelming surges of anger took hold of both Clara’s mom and brother. She laughed inside with ecstasy. This was what she lived for.

Clara’s mom was furious, but cautious. Even at a moment of great emotional turmoil, she was only ever calculating.

Clara’s brother scowled. He was sick of the small problems which slowly manifested into large, vicious conflicts that consumed his life. He was tired of always being blamed for not being responsible, reliable, for not living up to the expectations placed on him by his family. His patience for them was burning down to the last straw. He was done with all of them.

The combination of this awkward quartet was strange, and the music they made more so. The dampness and dim lighting of the setting held no qualms in improving the mood. The sun had still been up as the unusual ensemble, in its full including up to forty-five people, had gathered for a dinner meal, and no one had been notably smart enough to realize that a setting sun was an invitation for later darkness. Mainly, none had been in a sound enough state of mind to care.

They had folded into the house with hushed voices and downcast eyes, as if they were unworthy to gaze upon the rich, exuberant finery which surrounded them. Dark shadows cut across their faces creating unnatural and harsh jagged lines.The occasional shrill laughter, unnatural in its volume, could be heard every now and then, attempting and not succeeding to ease the discomfort within the room. The guests had slowly migrated from the doorway to the living room, and eventually into the dining hall surrounded by crimson wall paper lined with gold.

Just as the harsh darkness began to infiltrate the room, the clear ringing of glass pulled a natural silence over the crowd.  Clara’s mother stood at the end of the long table that was situated in the center of the dining room. People moved with a thrilling confidence to take their seats, finally understanding what to do. Clara’s mother’s body was filled with regal poise, her head tilted at an elegant angle. Her short black curls framed her face, and the deep purple of her dress made her eyes shine brighter. She was neither a small nor large woman, but there was power within her stance.

“Welcome, friends, family members both new and old,” Clara’s mother’s voice swelled into the halls, and the guests leaned towards her as  though to absorb each vibration that left her throat. “We are thrilled that you were able to make it, to share the wealth and fortune bestowed upon our Claridge family. We are positively delightedly, because today, I can finally say with pride, that our eldest son has at last agreed to take over the family business. He will now, as of next year, be president of our extraordinary company”

The guests erupted with warm applause. After that announcement, a change seemed to overtake the mood of the house. The guests feasted and dined in finery. Laughter turned welcoming and light-hearted, and the previous atmosphere of somber anticipation had evaporated.  

Clara’s brother, on the other hand, seethed. He had handled his complete shock at the announcement with both self-composure and dignity. He had thanked his mother with what sounded to be genuine delight. He conversed with other guests  as though this was the happiest, most proud moment his life. He acted as though he had  known such a declaration was in the process of being made. He made it appear to the general public that he was extremely honored to be presented with such a wonderful opportunity.  

But Clara knew differently. Knew that when he smiled, his mouth was pulled tight in furious, violent anger. An anger which was capable of erupting at any moment, if it hadn’t been for the amazing amount of self-control her brother wielded. Clara knew that just the night before he and Clara’s mother had shouted at each other, raising their voices to unnatural volumes. Clara knew that her brother had specifically rejected their mother’s request offer of taking over the family business. Clara knew that they had yelled at each other for hours on end. Their mother increasingly insistent for him to accept  the position, and her brother increasingly stubborn for such an outcome to ever take place.  Clara knew of her brother’s desire to carve his own path, find his own calling, his own future. But Clara also knew of her mother’s desires. That she simply wanted her son’s future to be safe and secure. She didn’t want him to struggle with the problems poverty brought. These fears Clara’s mother had cultivated were a result of her own childhood experiences. Clara heard both sides of the story, she saw them both for what they were. Clara had listened from her room upstairs as her family had raged in the rooms below. Clara had listened and cried herself to sleep once more.

At last, the guests filed out, leaving that sad, pitiful quartet alone. Clara stayed because she knew of nowhere else to go. Clara’s best friend remained because she reveled in conflict and drama. Clara’s brother and mother remained because they were both equally determined to be right. And because despite their problems, it was both of their homes and they did love each other.

There are just things you don’t say, Clara thought and a pain echoed from deep within her heart. The basis of her being.She loved them all. Just because one person is wrong doesn’t make the other person right. They can both be right. One more so than the other, and that person still more wrong at the same time. Clara gathered her belongings and left, pushing out her seat at the dinner table as she got to her feet. She made eye contact with her “friend” as she rose, a person who would never really be her friend. The friend looked at her with knowing eyes, knowing that when Clara left she wouldn’t be coming back. A real friend would have told her not to go. But she didn’t say anything, and that was more kindness than Clara could have asked for. She was a silent shadow no one could missed. She let them talk, with raised voices and cruel words they spewed out which both of them didn’t mean. She left quietly among all their sound, which raged and crashed like the ocean. She loved them, with a desperate forlorn ache. But she left them, because they didn’t love her enough to try to change.

And Clara’s best friend found utmost delight in the pain deeply ingrained within all their hearts. She was the reason the seeds were planted after all. The seed of fear in the heart of the mother. The seed of the desire to be great in the heart of the brother. And lastly and most importantly the seed of discontent in the heart of young Clara. She laughed quietly to herself, for she knew things that they would not until it was too late. Soon, the rash brother and fearful mother would come to a bitter and reluctant conclusion on both sides, but a conclusion none the less. The brother would win, desires for greatness always did. Slowly they would turn to Clara, their own special light, and they would find to their surprise that her light was a shadow, and no matter how hard they looked they wouldn’t find her.

And they would only ever know regret, realizing that anything that had come before was meaningless. But you never knew what you lost until it is too late. The dinner table would forever remain empty.

The friend only laughed.

Mind Me

Grade: 
8

Mind Me

 

“Why do I have to be felt right now?  Can’t Kary or Serene be felt?  Although it is great to spread terror, I would rather put terror into you guys.  More fun to do that,” Evilla complained.  

“This is what’s best for Dominique at the moment, Evilla.  She needs to feel this way, so please do what you’re supposed to do.  That’s all I ask,” Angel tried to explain in a calm matter.

You might be confused right now, so let me explain.  Those people?  They are little people in Dominique Fitzgerald’s head.  Those people along with many others are her feelings.  These little people all have different personalities and tell Dominique what to do, what to think, what to feel, when to feel, how to feel, and who to feel for.  Now get comfortable again, we are going back to Dominique's head.  

Evilla, the mean one, came back at Angel, the nice one, with a snarky remark, “Well who cares about you say!  Who died and made you the queen of England.  I’m pretty sure no one did you overbearing too nice for anybody snot hole!”  

“If putting me down makes you feel better go ahead.  Won’t hurt me any, so go ahead.  I’ll be fine,”  Angel said staying her usual self.  

“Evilla, couldn’t you be compassionate one day in your lifetime?  Would it really hurt you to feel sympathetic to others and all that?  Can’t you ever consider other people’s feelings?” Kary, the compassionate one, came up to the nasty-looking fight and questioned.  

“SHUT UP PEOPLE!!  Some of us are trying to sleep right now and you stupid people are ruining my beauty sleep with your pointless fight.  Evilla you’re my best friend, but shut up so I can get some sleep.  THAT’S ALL I WANT SO, SHUT ALL OF YOUR FAT MOUTHS!!” Demetentrie, the angry one, yelled who just woke up from all the fighting going on right outside of the place where sleep happens, the pons.  

“Yes we will.  Sorry Dementrie.  We didn’t mean to wake you up.  Evilla just did not want to control Dominique right now.  She just wants to do her own thing which is not what Dominique needs.  So if you would go up with her and convince her to do it or help her.  Please, anger and meanness usually go together, and if you are up there she might cooperate.  Please. Do this for me,”  Angel pleaded in a hopeful tone.  

Dementrie thought about that decision carefully.  Why should she help someone when she could sleep in this horrible menace of a thing?  That day, though, she felt a little bit nicer than usual to all of the people in the place that looked exactly like her.  With their dirty blond, straight as a board, thick hair going halfway down their back’s, boring brown eyes, palest color of skin, chunky, short, and with their freckles cascading all over the skin they looked exactly like Dominiquie.  

“I guess.  Not like I got anything better to do.  Although I would rather sleep, I’ll help you,”  Dementrie said in a tone that was layered with disgust.  

“Thank you very much Dementrie,”  Angel stated.  

“Thanks Dementrie!  I appreciate all you do, but especially this!”  Kary exclaimed in a happy tone.  Dementrie rolled her eyes at the compassionate person and made her way to Evilla.   She got there and after a hateful conversation, her and Evilla got to work.  

Meanwhile, Joy, the happy one, Melonkey, the sad one, and Arriantae, the sassy one, were at the place where what Dominique hears comes through, called the ear-radio.  They listen, one of them writes it down, one checks it, and the other messages it to Angel, Bright, or Serena (depends who is on duty) who then tells the one controlling her feelings.  

“I don’t want to write this down anymore.  Everything she hears is so so sad.  It make me want t-t-t-to cr-cry,” Melonkey sobbed out.  Usually Melonkey overexaggerated on things they hear, but that time she was being 100% on-point on the words coming out.  Dominique’s parents were screaming at each other.  They usually screamed about small things, but that time it was about their children.  Melonkey had the feeling that once Angel gets the messages she would be up onto The Platform of Feels.  She always hated when she had to go up there.  It made her so much sadder than she naturally was.  

“Hey, don’t be sad.  They’ve always fought, it’s just one little fight.  Come on Melonkey, cheer up a little bit.  It will be okay, I’m sure of it.  Please stop crying.  Stay happy, don’t give up,” Joy said, doing her best to reassure Melonkey.  

“Oh, of course you would say that, Little Miss ‘OPTIMISTIC.’  You can’t let anyone not be another emotion.  See the dark side of things.  It won’t hurt at all.  But no you can’t because there’s always a good side.  Just shut your ugly mouth,” Arriantae voice screeched with sass layered in her voice.  

“T-t-thanks f-for trying, but I-I-I feel like something b-b-bad is about to h-h-happen.  I-it’s a g-gut feeling, s-s-so d-don’t try, b-but thanks f-f-for trying,” Melonkey sobbed with tears running down her face.  

The fight between her parents kept going on while Joy tried to make Melonkey happier.  Then, all of a sudden one long speech came over the ear-radio that made them pay attention and almost made Joy cry.  “We should just get a divorce.  This isn’t working out.  We have tried for 20 years, and it just hasn’t worked.  I can’t live in the same house anymore with you.  All of the damage you have caused me, I can’t live with it anymore.  I'll take Dominique with me since I’m her mother, and you can keep the boys.  It will be better for them to have a father figure while Dominique has a mother figure.  I-I’m sorry.  It’s just...I can’t.  Not any longer.  We’ve tried so many times.  You’ve hurt me in ways unimaginable.  I will always be hurt now.  There not a single thing you can say to me to make me change my mind, so please just accept this.  I can’t do this with you any longer, Steve.  I’m sorry, but this is the best decision,”  Dominique’s mother, Hannah, cried out to her husband.  

“If this is what you really want, I’ll get the lawyer.  I guess you are right.  We have hurt each other in ways that can’t be fixed.  We are fragile glass spheres, and we both broke each other into shards of glass.  Glass isn’t fixable.  I’m so so sorry for all the pain I’ve caused you.  I know it doesn’t matter right now, but if you ever can find it in your heart to forgive me. I would appreciate more than you’ll ever know.  Sorry, just sorry,” Steve apologized over and over to his soon-to-be ex-wife.  

The three around the ear-radio had to process this information before they reacted to it.   Melonkey hysterically sobbed out in incoherent words,”H-h-how c-cou-u-uld this e-eve-er h-ha-happ-pe-pen.  N-n-nnoo.  I-i-it ca-can’t h-happ-pen.  It w-won’t.  T-t-the-e-ey a-ar-re re-reall-ly do-oin-ng it.  W-w-wh-y? N-n-nn-nn-oo-oo.  J-j-jo-jo-joy y-you s-s-sa-said i-it w-w-wa-as p-pe-pet-tt-ty.  I-it w-w-was-was-was-asn’t.”  

“Wow, just wow.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m...I don’t even know.   I’m too sad and mad to even come up with a good comeback to that.  I hate this!! It just...I can’t even,” Arriantae yelled at no one in particular.  

“I’m sorry Melonkey, I thought it was.  Maybe, they will still get together, but don’t get your hopes to high.  But still don’t give up hope now folks.  But this need to get to Angel or whoever is in charge so let’s start going over there,” Joy tried to reassure, but failed miserably choking on her words because of the tears that were threatening to spill.    

In the place where The Platform of Feels was, Serene, the calm one, Bright, the smart one, and Vaile, the prideful one, were awake, standing next to others.  They were all gaping at something that has never happened in the 15 years they’ve been there.  There was a new person that looked exactly like them.  

Bright stepped up first to question the girl who now stood in front of them.  “Who are you?  What are you?  Are you like the rest of us? How did you get here?  Why are you here?”

“I’m Misnery and I don’t know what I am.  I think I’m like you.  We look alike and all.  I just popped here.  Why does this matter? Not like there is anything to be here for.  Too many emotions,” Misnery said in a depressed voice.  

“Ohh, nice to meet you Misnery.  I welcome you to Dominique Fitzgerald’s mind.  All of us are emotions that Dominique feel.  We tell her what to do with her emotions, feelings, and thoughts,” Bright explained and then introduced all the people in there besides those three that were basically sprinting all the way over there.  

“Oh, so does that mean I’m an emotion too?”  Misnery replied to Bright.  

“Yeah, it does.  I bet you are…” Bright started to guess before she was interrupted.  

“Whoever is there,”  Joy screamed at the group of people as she was entered the room.   “D-dominiq-ue’s p-paren-parents are g-g-getting a d-d-div-vorce.  A-and the-ey a-ar-e separ-rati-ing the kids,”  Joy yelled out of breath from the sprinting she did.    

“Calm down.  I bet it isn’t as bad as you think.  Tell us what has been going on.  Just take a deep breathe and focus,”  Serena helped the confused girls in her usual calming tone.  

The three girls who had just came up in a sprint slowly explained the story they had just heard.  After the excruciating depressing story, there was a depressing mood surrounding everybody.  

“This is all my fault.  We should have done something to try and prevent this.  We should have spoken up, and now we are getting separated.  There’s nothing we can do.  It’s all our fault,” Misnery said.  

“Shouldn’t we be proud it’s our fault.  Now we will get all the attention.  This is a good thing.  It will all be about us at Mom’s.  No brothers or anything.  Celebrate, don’t mourn,”  Vaile announced to the others.  

“No.  Don’t be glad about this.  We our being separated from our brothers.  How is that good?  And yeah we will get all the attention from Mom, but what about Dad?  Don’t look at the bright side because there isn’t one at all.  So just be a realist and look at what is in front of you.  Not the good things because again there isn’t one.  Because this is all our fault’s.  No one else’s,” Misnery convinced Vaile.  

“You’re right.  There isn’t a good side to this.  It is my, no, our fault.  We did this.  We should have made Dominique do something to help her parents instead of just standing there,”  Vaile responded 100% convinced of the things Misnery preached about and snapped into a world of depression.  

After a while, everyone snapped into a world of depression (Melonkey being the easiest to convince) beside Joy that wouldn’t look at the bad side of anything no matter how much Misnery tried to convince.

“No, I won’t.  There has to be something good about this situation.  I don’t know yet, but there has to be something good,”

“We will never get another hug after the divorce from Dad. It won’t happen.  We will never get to play with Jacob and Sebastian ever again after the divorce.  Christmas, snow, vacations, birthdays will never be the same.  Just us and Mom.  No one else, not another single person.  Just us,”  Misnery, tried to explain to the happy person.  

“You’re right.  There really isn’t anything good left about this is there?  Just horrible things.   That’s all there is.  No more joy,” Joy finally let her optimism go.   

Once Joy let the depression enter her, everything went downhill.  No one wanted to do anything.  Why would they?  There wasn’t any point to.  There was nothing good left in life at all, in their point of view.  It was all horrible.  Dominiquie was getting separated from her siblings and her dad.  Dominique's friends didn’t care.  They only talked about themselves.  No one cared.  Not one person.  Not a single breathing creature.  

That caused the people in the head to not want to do anything.  No one told Dominique what to do about her feelings.  No one spoke for her, no one listened through the ear-radio.  If anyone slept in the pons, it was only for about two hours.  No one conversed with each other.  All they did was sit around and mourn their thoughts about the upcoming divorce.  The only time words were spoken is when someone was in their way, and they needed to get through.  

Thoughts of friends forgotten, brothers never to be seen, a parent lost forever, one gained for eternity, memories of everything that was, visions of everything to come went through everyone’s mind.  No happy or hopeful thoughts went through a single one of their minds.  

This went on in that depressing place of a head for who knows how long.  Forever it seemed.  

Even though they all thought all of their friends didn’t care, they could not be farther from the truth.  Dominique’s best friend, Kayleigh, was trying her hardest to make Dominique see she cared.  Doing things like texting her back immediately, giving all attention to her, trying to show her not to look on the bad things in life, and look at the small things in her life that are good.  In life there will always be bad things, but look at the small things no matter how small.  

What Kayleigh was saying was not sticking in those stubborn minds in Dominique’s head.  No one was listening to her words.  Somehow Kayleigh performed a miracle one day, and I will never know how, so neither will you.  

It was a normal day in the head, where everyone was just sitting in pure silence thinking when all of a sudden another person entered.  What made this weirder than Misnery’s entrance was that this person looked nothing like Dominique.  This girl was tanned with dark brown hair, bright blue eyes, skinny and tall.  The polar opposite of Dominique.  

“Okay, now listen up you pessimistic fools.  I’m Valoroie, a brave one, from Kayleigh’s brain.  I’m tired of my best friend being stuck in her own brain.  So if you answer my questions and listen to what I have to be say, I’ll be out of here as soon as possible.  So, who started all this mess?  Who put these thoughts in her brain?  Who is the depressing personality?  Come out now before I make you come out,” Valoroie questioned in a hateful tone.  Misnery walked out from where she was standing.  

“I may have started this, but I was telling the truth.  There is no hope left.  We are being separated from our siblings and dad.  There is nothing good left.  It’s all gone,”  Misnery explained herself.  

“There is always hope, and plenty of good things in life.  Value the time you have left instead of moping around here like this.  Spend the rest of the time with them.  When this becomes final, your siblings may get to come over to Mom’s and you over to Dad’s.  On Christmas you get to go to both houses, so that means double presents.  Your mom might spoil you more.  There are plenty of good things in your life.  You have a blanket, a bed, a pillow, a good house, name brand clothes, talents of drawing and music, friends who really do care although you may not see it, and a lot of other things that are great.  Don’t focus on the bad things in your life or the past, you can’t do that or you will be the way you are.  Focus on the good things and the future.  Please, Kayleigh hates seeing you this way.  You’re hurting yourself and people who love you.  See that, please,”  Valoroie taught.  

Joy, the least depressed, snapped out of her depression as soon as the speech was over.  Joy’s face finally broke out into a smile, and ran over to the side Valoroie was on.  

“Guys she’s right.  Don’t focus on the bad,” Joy continued in a speech that said basically the same as Valoroie’s.  After hers, Kary, Bright, Vaile, and Angel snapped out of their depression and went to the same side as Valoroie side.  

The ones that were free of the depression kept giving speeches until everyone minus Melonkey snapped out of their depression.  Melonkey would not snap out of it no matter how hard they tried.  Eventually Melonkey’s best friend, Joy, went over to her and whispered some word I will never know because they were so quiet, but whatever she said snapped Melonkey out of it immediately and Misnery left in a flash.  

“My work is done.  Make sure my best friend out in the real world in normal again.  Thanks girls.  Hopefully won’t see you again,”  Valoroie said as she popped out of there.   

“Okay, that was a strange...situation.  Glad to be back to normal.  Remember what they taught us.  Don’t let it slip your minds or Misnery will be back, and no one liked her, so yeah,”  Bright reminded to the others.  They all nodded their heads and headed to the pons to catch up on the much need z’s they had missed.  

"Hero"

Grade: 
9

It starts the same way anything else would, with a memory. Every memory is the greatest if it’s about my dad. He was my very own super hero. My dad would take me out and we would run around all day and he would never get tired. I could punch and kick him with my little hands and my little feet for as long as I wanted, and nothing! He was indestructible.

Every year there was one day where he would do something incredible, but it was only on a specific day. March 16, for some reason, was the day his super powers were the strongest. One year, I watched my dad fly down all the way from a helicopter. Now that I’m grown up my mother tells me he was just sky diving, but I know she’s lying. There is no doubt in my mind that my dad was a super hero.

            When he died, I knew that somewhere out there was a super villain, who had gone after my dad. My mother tries to convince me that he died of a heart attack, but I know that super heroes can’t die from natural causes. The super villain has brainwashed my mother and I just know it.

            It’s only me in this world. I’m the only one I can trust anymore. The day has finally come and I have this overwhelming feeling that I have finally inherited my dad’s powers. Today’s the day they should be the strongest, like my dad. March 16, on this day I will avenge him and hunt his killer. I will continue every year on this day for the rest of my life, if I have to. I, Richard Paine, will be known as Super Kill.

***

            The more I show up with blood on my hands, the more scared my mother gets. But it only makes sense to come home every few hours to wash off the mess. It’s not my fault this villain is a master of disguise. I just have to keep trying. I thought that when I found the one who killed my father, I’d know. But each person I look at seems as suspicious as the one I just buried.

            All I know is that I must be on the right track. Everywhere I go I see signs reading “Everything You Do Is Right Day”. This is my day, my day to do what’s right. My powers are allowing me to eliminate every target without a problem. Wherever this madman is, I’ll find him.

***

            This is my third year trying to avenge my dad and still, nothing. I’ve been left to turn to interrogation, but my mother won’t speak. I need to get the information she’s hiding, one way or another.

“Mother, this whole thing will end faster if you just tell me what you obviously know.”

“Richard, this is ludicrous! You need to take a step back and think about this. I’m your mom, I’ve cared for you through everything. You don’t have to do this, sweetie. I’m on your side.”

“That’s the wrong answer. And you were never on my side.”

She left me with no choice; I had to let the jumper cables do their part.

“Stop squirming! Don’t be annoying and you better not scream! Just tell me what I need to know so I can be done with you.”

She sobs out her reply, “I tell you the same thing every time you ask. Your father was a good man. He died five years ago, and we all miss him very much. I miss him very much.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere. We both know that you’re well aware of who killed him. So, I’ll ask once more. Who killed my father?”

“Richard, please, you don’t have to do this.”

“Answer the damn question!”

The tears race down her face and onto her lap. She’s pathetic. I’m trying to make out her mumbling, but the strain of thought is hurting too much. Slamming my fist into the wall, so she can quit her crying, snaps her right back. “Not a ‘who’, a ‘what’. He died of a heart attack.” she finally cracks out her torn truth. And it’s infuriating.

“That’s the wrong answer! You know that’s not the truth. You know someone out there killed him. Dad was a superhero and in a world of superheroes there are super villains, and that villain killed him. And he obviously brainwashed you!”

I reach over to the switch. She needs some sense shocked back into her.

She sits there, staring at me. I’ve never seen such disgust in her face, not even when I came home with the bodies. The disappointment was tangible. “Richard, I want you to know that I cannot help you the way you want me to. Your father wasn’t an actual superhero. There’s no such thing. You’re a 20-year-old-man who has gone crazy on this fixed up idea that started from a lie his daddy told him when he was scared one night. Richard, grow up.”

It probably would’ve been great to listen to everything else she had to say, but nothing beats the speed of light. The voltage travels too fast and well, I don’t understand half of the things she’s saying while she chokes on her own spit. I flipped the switch the moment she told me to ‘grow up’. How dare she have the audacity? Her defiance aggravates me and never lets me concentrate. There’s too much noise coming from outside, too many things going on. I can’t think straight. Too many voices. Voices? How are there people outside at this hour?

I’m being watched…it’s him.

I have to end this by any means necessary.

Getting to the kitchen of my own house is now a mission. At any second I can run into the madman that killed my dad, he can strike at any moment. I have to be ready for anything. But I also can’t wait here to be attacked. I must hunt him down.

Heading to the front door I hear laughter from across the street, a group of people. So much laughter, but why are they laughing at me? Why are they mocking me? There’s only one explanation. I am insulted at the fact that this fiendish villain would haunt me in my home, on my property. These disturbances, these voices, they must be his doing.

A group of petty beings linger, what are their intentions? Why do they watch me so? With intent…it must have been them. This whole time, how could I not have seen it? It wasn’t just one person; my dad was too great to have been defeated by just one person. It was a group of these monsters. I can’t let them go on.

Now’s my chance. The night is old and I can’t afford to wait another year for my powers to be at their full potential.

“Hey! Hey, I’m right here!” I yell out to them, but they just ignore me and keep walking. They just ignore me. They just keep walking. Well, that’s unacceptable.

            I catch up to them at the end of the street and come up from behind them.

“I was talking to you.” The way they all gasp back at the same time when they see my knife is great. It’s my favorite knife… it’s the really big one.

“Whoa, man, take it easy with that thing.” I assume that the first one who comes up is the leader. I will make an example out of him.

“Mike, isn’t that the guy all over the news? The guy no one can do anything about because he only does his stuff on Everything You Do Is Right Day?”

            They have the audacity to plot against me, right before my eyes. Their evil is unlike any other. I need to get rid of this Mike guy for them to respect me. It’s on.

            I slice through the air he’s breathing, my first swing. The group’s choral screams are the melody to my joy, until I realize that it means I missed. I laugh anyway, I can finally dispose of the monsters who killed my dad and they are putty in my hands. Next swing, I strike at his chest so, I can rip out what he tore from mine. Mike jumps back and he’s still unharmed. How is this even possible?! Mike puts his fists up. Is he actually planning on fighting back?

“Stop it! This is my night! My ni-.” There’s a dent on the side of my face that only Mike’s fist fits. The blood conjures up a salty taste in my mouth, and it’s disgusting. He interrupted me while I was speaking, unacceptable.

I stare at him blankly, lift up my knife by the blade and throw it right at him. One and a half turns.

The looks on the rest of their faces remind me of my mother’s. And I can’t stand my mother. I finish off the rest of them with my bare hands, it’s not hard. Most of them are in too much shock to move.

            I drag each of the lifeless sacks to my house and into the basement. The bodies are stacked up right behind my mother. She gives me the same look I am already tired of.

            “I can’t believe you. This time it was a group? Are you satisfied yet?”

            “Well, now that you ask, no. I’m not. I can’t help but shake the feeling this madman villain is still out there.”

            “All these years I’ve looked at you and tried to figure it out, but I never could. The doctors thought I was making it up and the police never believed me. I couldn’t show them proof, because who actually goes to work on Everything You Do Is Right Day. I started to believe that this was all somehow my fault. But I see it now; I see it the way you’d want me to. You’re not like him. When I see your face, the shape of your nose, and the way your chin curves the same way his did, I see him. But when I look in your eyes, I see the villain you’re talking about. You are this monster, this villain you keep talking about. It’s all you! You are nothing like him! You are a monster!-”

            Her nonsense would’ve been a great little story to listen to, it probably would’ve been awesome to hear everything else she had to say, but I snapped her neck right then and there. She was a nuisance that, nothing but, wasted my time. Good riddance. I couldn’t keep dealing with her lies. Good riddance. Dragging her body out of the way isn’t as easy as I thought; she must’ve put on some extra weight. Good riddance.

            She was a fool who couldn’t realize that those Everything You Do Is Right Day banners are for me. Everything I Do Is Right, always. I’m a hero.

 

            

That Mysterious Night

Grade: 
11

After getting home, Ann opened a box of macaroni and cheese and poured it into a bowl that was already in the stove. Exhausted from work, she went to her bedroom and changed to her pajamas, returned once again to the kitchen and stirred her dinner. She turned on the television and started to eat. She had a very hard life, starting with all the stress from school and her job. She had to study in the mornings and go to work in the evenings. When she returned late from her job, she had a little time to do her homework. After she finished dinner, she took her heavy books and started to do homework. Around eleven thirty she was falling asleep and she just closed her books, went to bed and when she was starting to sleep again, she heard that there was a lot of wind outside. Everything was quiet inside the house, when suddenly a wave of air opened the back door. Ahhhh! – Ann shouted.  She was so terrified, that she didn’t want to get out of bed and close it. There was too much wind and there was too much noise outside.  But with all her courage, she got out of bed and went to close the door. She locked the doorknob again and locked the locking bolt too. The night was turning cold, so she went back rapidly to her bed. The noise was still outside, she could hear some steps too close to her house and she could hear that people were talking. She was getting scared even more, when suddenly she saw the silhouette of two persons from her window. She was in shock. She didn’t do anything and didn’t want to make any noise. The shadows started to go away from her window and suddenly there was no noise. It was a very creepy night for Ann.

            The next morning she woke up late, it was her birthday. She took a shower, changed her clothes, and ate breakfast. It was a normal day for her, there was no difference at all, she just knew it was her birthday but nothing changed the day. Ann got to her class just in time and had no problem in missing something. Her homework was still not done, so she did it in class and gave it to the teacher. Her two best friends gave her a present and every one of her friends and her class told her “Happy Birthday”. When she got out of class, her cell phone rang and when she answered, she heard the voice of her parents that were calling her to congratulate her. Her parents didn’t live where she was studying so she couldn’t see them. Her day started to change and she started to feel way better about that. She was receiving congratulations from people she wouldn’t expect. After her phone call with her parents, she saw a man standing at the other side of the hall that was wearing black pants and a black shirt. He stared at her, which got Ann kind of disappointed. She opened her locker and when she turned back to see that guy, he was already left. Her friend Ashlyn went with her to talk. Hey Birthday girl! – she said. Hey – Ann answered. There was a creepy guy staring at me standing at the end of the hall. Who is he? – Ashlyn asked again. I don’t know Ashlyn – said Ann. But he had a mad look. You are just dreaming Ann – Ashlyn replied. That day, she was free from homework so she had more time to have lunch.

 

            Later that day, she got to her job like any other day and nothing else happened. At the middle of her turn, all her workmates and her boss gave her a hug and said happy birthday. Her boss told her she couldn’t miss work because that was the day they had more people coming into his building, but she was going to receive a good pay for that. When she was getting out of the boss’ office, she saw the same man from the morning. She was worried because she had seen him too many times. She just had her job done that night. She returned home, and it wasn’t by coincidence that she saw the same man with his black outfit. She tried to quickly open the door, which she did pretty fast. When she got in, she noticed something was wrong inside, something wasn’t like she left it in the morning. Ann was looking for anything that was out of place in the bedrooms or the living room. She found nothing. And she just didn’t wanted to make up things and make herself be afraid, so she just let it go. She went into the kitchen and turned on the light. “Surprise!” was heard in her home as she walked to her kitchen. Her parents had come to visit her along with her two young brothers. There were her two best friends too. They had dinner and ate cake, and then they had like a little party in her house which she enjoyed too much. Her best things in life were there so she had a great time. It was Friday night; she didn’t have to do homework so they stayed up late. When the party was over, Ann went outside to take the trash to the trash can. She saw the man again, but this time he was on his cell phone. Hi! – said the man. Hey – replied Ann. They talked for a while and she noticed he was his new neighbor; she wanted to know her more. She asked him why he was going wherever she went, so he replied that he wanted to know more about her, even though he didn’t know how to do it. All her fears disappeared and she made a great friend in her birthday. 

The Carcer

Grade: 
8

He had tried to warn her. But now it was too late. She didn’t know what it could do, what Mr. Linden would do. Julius couldn’t believe that Mr. Linden was checking the book out.  He watched helplessly as she settled into her bed sheets, preparing to start to read. But if she did that, the consequences would be disastrous. He had tried everything he could, every trick he had learned over the century, until there was only one thing left to do.

Meaghan, please! Don’t open that book!

Her head flew up, and her beautiful eyes searched the room.

“Ow!”She hissed. “Who are you? Where are you? How did you get in my head?”

He could feel her panic. Meaghan, my name is Julius. He said, lessening his voice. You’re not going crazy, but... I’m trapped in that book. Her eyes seemed to settle on the spot where he was standing next to her nightstand. How do you know where I am?  He asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Is that really where you are?”

Yes, Julius replied.

“How?”She asked. “How are you trapped in the book?”

I don’t know, he admitted. But it was Mr. Linden who trapped me, in the year 1814. He could see the doubt on her face. It’s true! He protested, though she still didn’t believe him. Why should she? He was just a voice in her head. He sighed. If I prove it to you will you believe me? 

Yes.”She said. 

Okay. How? 

She looked around. “Turn off that lamp. It’s not connected to the breaker, so it couldn’t be an electrical power surge.”

Okay. Julius didn't even have to concentrate. Searching for the energy that the lamp gave off, he quickly found it and sucked it in, like he was holding his breath. The light didn’t even waver before it flicked off. Meaghan’s eyes widened.

“Cool…” she whispered. 

Do you believe me now? 

I believe you. She said to him in her mind.So how do we get you out?

I don’t know, Julius said. 

You have been stranded in that book for a century, she said, And you still don't know how to get out? 

No. Julius said. How would I? I don’t have any physical means of doing it.

That’s true. Meaghan admitted. What happened to you?

Do you really want to know?

“Yes.”

In reply, he transmitted her a memory, his last of the world.

 

The cold. That is what I remember. Father had been drinking again, Mother being gone was the cause. She left us, and he blames me.

That entire day was crystal clear.

I went to meet Lydia at the market square. It was snowing, and I was only wearing my trousers and a jacket, Father using the rest of my things as fuel for the fire. My friends, which I thought I had so many of, had deserted me, not wanting to be associated with the town drunk. All of them left, all accept Lydia.

 

Meaghan stayed quiet, soaking it in, seeing what he went through. His boots crunching through the frozen mud, slim fingers intertwined through his. And she felt the pain of that day.

 

Lydia came with me, to the library. She knew everything about me. She had known my mother and my father, before Mother left. When I met her at our spot by the fountain in the market square, she took one look at my bruised covered face before taking my hand and leading me to our sanctuary of books, away from the averted gazes of the markets people. Little did they know that was the last time they would ever see her. 

The last time he would ever see her.

We went exploring, since there was no one else there. Mr. Linden didn’t care. Sometimes I thought he enjoyed our company. Lydia took me down the rows of books, playing, chasing. In the romance aisle, she kissed me for the first and last time. But we eventually got lost, wandering around the vast expanse of the library. It was larger than we had ever imagined, and it soon got dark. The candles began to go out, as if a wind deliberately extinguished them. Lost and afraid, we eventually stumbled upon what seemed to be Mr. Linden’s personal quarters. The dank room was filthy, grime and soot everywhere, the entire place smelling of rot and decay. But the number of relics that adorned the room stole our breath. A girl’s doll. A wedding ring. Ancient artifacts, gold and jewels, a cluster of antique instaments, a dusty baby grand crowning them all. Pictures and statues lined the top shelf that ran around the room. There were so many other things, and we each went to look a different way. 

Julius remembered her hand leaving his, and the sudden feeling of loss and grief that overwhelmed him.

The last sound I heard from her was a muffled cry. When I had turned around, Mr. Linden was there, his mouth to her neck. I stared in horror as she dropped to the floor, two teeth marks in her neck, a small streak of blood coming up across Mr. Linden’s cheek. That’s when I knew.

Mr. Linden was a vampire.

He was a vampire.

And he had just killed my last reason for existing.

Meaghan inhaled sharply, but he couldn’t stop now. He moved, and he was right next to her, her emotion making him slightly visible and solid. Gently, he brushed her arm, their connection growing stronger.

Mr. Linden stood there, breathing heavily, his eyes calm and dark on me. I saw her blood rejuvenating him, adding a color to his features. Then he turned away, facing the piano, and on it, a book. It was leather bound, with an intricate vine pattern spreading over the cover, drops of red laced between the leaves serving as a lock. When he ran his hand over it, the vines retracted, opening to the first page, where I could see names and dates, going back hundreds upon thousands of years, all inked in red. Mr. Linden picked up a quill next to the book, and bent his knees, dipping it in the liquid that slightly dribbled out from Lydia’s neck, writing her name into the book. I wanted to cry. I spun around and ran, unable to stand the sight, but I glanced back only once. That was a mistake.

Mr. Linden’s head snapped to me as I tore out of the room, and his eyes met mine before I sprinted away with all I had, but it was pointless. His laugh reverberated down the hall behind me, haunting my every step. The rational part of my brain knew that it was futile to try and run from this thing, that I should save my strength to try to fight him, but instinct was too strong.

Somehow, through the tears and terror, I found myself at the doors to the library, which I recognized now as a prison. My pace shuddered to a halt when I saw Mr. Linden standing between me and my exit. I tried to spin on my heels for the window, but my brain  had finally shut down in shock and defeat. I wasn’t going to get out of here. Even if I could, no one would beileve my story. I would be blamed for her death. I bowed my head, wanting to cry, wanting to beat something. I felt Mr. Linden’s stone grip, and when I looked up again, I was back in the room. I tried not to look at Lydia, or the world, or at Mr. Linden who gripped my hand, splaying out my fingers. After three sharp stings on the tips of my fingers, they were then pressed to the cover of the book, in the exact places of the red droplets in the vines. The vines turned red, and it felt like I was being ripped from my body. Or that my body was being ripped from the world. 

When the memory ended, it was in whitness and pain- physically and emotionally.

When Julius opened his eyes again into the here and now, he swore. Meaghan was curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth, her dark hair concealing her face. He had been wrong to share the fullness of that with her.

“See,” he said darkly. “You didn’t want to know.”

Meaghan’s head snapped up, and she stared at him in surprise.

“You just talked. I can see you!"

“I guess so.” He flexed his fingers, surprised at how strong the seemed. Meaghan had put her head back in her knees, and he could tell she was on the verge of tears.

“We have to stop him.”

Now it was his turn to stare at her, put she wasn’t done.

“He can’t get away with that… I- I had no idea that that was how he did it. All the pain involved in it, I can’t do this anymore, I won’t, I won’t do this for him.” She was rocking back and forth, repeating things over and over again. She suddenly looked up, her blue eyes full of tears. “Why are you still here?”

“You are obviously in the middle of some personal crisis. I’m not leaving.”

“You should. If you knew what he sent me here to do…even I want to kill me, now.”

“How about this,” He said. “Instead of you being so cryptic, you just tell me what is going on.”

She hesitated. “Mr. Linden... he sent me here to bring you back.”

Julius walked to the window and jumped.

 

***

His thoughts raced as he flew from house to house, bounding over roofs and riding the night wind. Even after so long of wanting to be able to do this in a body, he couldn’t enjoy it.

She had been sent to kill him.

Though he knew she wasn’t directly, she might as well have. And to think that he let her see that memory repulsed him. He should have sensed it. The evil feel in the air… he thought it had been coming from the book. He was so absorbed in the excitment of  no longer being alone that he didn’t feel it working into him, making him whole. He didn’t know why he thought her energy alone could bring him back. Hadn’t he tried that before tonight? The books telekenisis had failed time and time again. Why should it work now? He was a fool. A lonely, hurting fool. And he had paid for it. Revenge coursed through his veins, controlling his body, but possibilities spun in his head. Possibilities of a life, of being. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t hear her footsteps until she was almost upon him. He cursed when he heard her thoughts enter his head.

 

Julius, please…I'm not going to…let me help…I'll explain…

She was getting closer. He leapt to the top of an apartment complex, and turned around. She was about ten yards behind him and gaining. When she saw that he was watching her, she called out to him.

“Don't you see? Didn’t you feel how much I don’t want to take you to him? I want him gone, too!”

“Even if your intentions are clear, he might be able to control you.” His tone was ice hard, though he didn’t move as she covered the distance over the rooftops.

“He won’t be able to control me like he tried with you.”

Julius flinched. “How did you know?” In his first days after Lydia's death, Mr. Linden had tried to bring him back to the library. The control impulses were very faint, but they were there. 

“He told me everything he knew about you.”

“So you already had the memory.”

“Everything but that.”

“Why would you ever do his will?” Julius asked, still wary.

“I have no memory of anything before The Carcer. All I knew was the black abyss were I was trapped, the complete darkness. I was the first one he ever captured, though he told me ‘saved’. And that’s what I believed. Eventually swirls of white joined me the darkness, each a person’s soul and mind. Mr. Linden often brought me out, but never for longer than a day.” Meaghan paused, taking a shaky breath, fighting the tears that had cascaded down her face earlier. “Everything changed about sixty years ago. When you came, and then got away. Your droplet was bright red, and it only stayed for a few seconds before it began to fade. Mr. Linden didn’t bring me out for a long time after that. When he did, three years ago, he was spitting mad, but I could feel his nervousness and terror. Terror of you. He’s afraid of you, Julius, and the powerful connection you have to The Carcer. He knows that the mistake he made gave you The Carcers powers, which you inhanced with your energy, and he knows what you could do if you had a body. He could destroy you, the one person who ever threatened his exsitnece, or you could destroy him. That’s where I came in. I was to get you back in your body, and then unleash The Carcer’s weapons.”

"What does 'Carcer' even mean?"

She blinked. "You don't know?"

He shook his head.

She sighed. "In Latin, carcer means 'cage.'"

"Seems appropiate." He got back on topic. "The Carcer doesn't have weapons."

“Yes it does.” Meaghan said. “The vines on the cover. If opened correctly, they will destroy whomever they are set upon, killing them and reversing all of their evil works.”

Julius straightened, his eyes slightly glowing with anticipation. If it reversed everything… “That’s what we need.” He said. “You know how?”

“Yes.” She said. “But I can't do it. You have to remember what this person did, and I have no idea what damage Mr. Linden has caused. You do.”

Julius nodded. “I’ll do it.”

Meaghan smiled. “Then let’s get started.”

He stood. “No. We do it now.” He grabbed her hand, and they were back in the study of Mr. Linden.

 

***

“You fool!” Meaghan whispered. “We wern't ready!” She was panicking, and her loud rapid breathing irritated him.

“We're fine.”

“Obviously not, seeing as how you left The Carcer back in my room.” 

Julius pointed. “You didn’t have the real one.”

There, sitting on the piano, was The Carcer. Julius didn’t know how he had missed aura The Carcer carried with it. It felt like death and hopelessness. “Mr. Linden wouldn’t-“ He choked. There, lying on the floor as if she had only just fallen, was Lydia. Her perfect body was perfectly preserved, her hair still moist from her blood. Meaghan saw what he was staring at, and she inhaled sharply. Julius gulped, trying to find words, but instead his eyes filled with tears, and he felt his fists clench. 

“Let’s finish this,” he growled.

“I find that you are correct,” said a voice behind them. Meaghan’s breath caught in her throat. Julius twirled, and faced the man. The vampire. 

“Linden,” He said through gritted teeth. Mr. Linden smile, showing off his incisors.

“Julius. We meet again.” His voice was confident, but his eyes couldn't stay in one place, purposely not meeting Julius’s hard stone glare. Meaghan laid a hand on his arm. 

Don’t give him what he wants. Don’t attack him. 

He just threw her arm off and charged. Mr. Linden vanished a split second before Julius could reach him, reappearing over Lydia’s lifeless body. When he saw him there, his entire being filled with rage and sorrow, filing him up, and then spilling over. Afterward, Meghan would tell him that he was levitating in the air, shining a brilliant white, his rage fixed on Mr. Linden. But all he felt now was the rightness of what he was doing. He just had to think, and The Carcer was in his hands. With a sweep of his palm, he sent Mr. Linden into a corner, his prizes from his victims pinning him to the wall. Julius brought The Carcer up to his face, breathing deeply, inhaling all of the confined spirits’ pains and angers towards the thing that now coward in the corner, drawing strength and resolve from their being. Slowly, he ran a hand over the cover of Carcer, and unlocked the vines. They tumbled to the floor in a silent mound, creeping to Mr. Linden, coiling around him, suffocating him. Mr. Linden’s eyes had lost all of their weakness, replaced by a fiery rage, but this Julius didn’t see. He released all of the emotion from the spirits and himself, all of his grief, his sorrow, into the vines, chasing it into Mr. Linden. A piercing scream rent the air, though Julius didn’t know if it came from Mr. Linden or himself. He kept pushing and pushing, until there was nothing left of Mr. Linden, and nothing left of his pain. Meaghan touched his arm.

“We need to leave,” she said. “Quickly.” He nodded. The entire facility was coming down on them, burning away. The Carcer had lost its glow, and Julius thought he saw wisps of white flowing out of it into Lydia. He scampered over to her, cradling her body to his chest, smiling as it  steadily grew warmer. 

“Lydia?”  he breathed, barely daring to hope

She stirred, as if waking up from a dream. “Julius?” Lydia blinked her eyes at him, and he gasped. They were different, changing color, never the same. It was if each wisp had gone into her. “Oh my goodness, Julius!” she clung to his neck, her hands in his hair, sobbing with relief. “There are so many voices in my head. Who is in my head?”

“We’ll figure it out,” he looked up at Meaghan. “Together.”

 

He carried Lydia, her arms wrapped around him,  out of the burning library, braving the sky full of stars ahead.

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