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  • Carolyn Cohagan

Girls With Pens at the Writing Barn, Summer 2017


We got to write for an entire week at the gorgeous Writing Barn! This 7-acre retreat offers peace, tranquility and even baby deer to inspire the imagination. Among other things, the campers wrote about characters stuck inside a video game, fashion in 200 years, and guides to their own brains. I had a blast working with them!

Beware of darkness ahead: these girls are not afraid to create monsters and villains that will keep you up at night. Enjoy!

***

Maple Street

By Sarah A.

It’s fair to say that Maple Street is not what you expected. You’ve barely just entered, and a chill travels up your spine. The houses around you have shuttered windows and turned-off lights.

“Am I the only one here?” you think, trying to ignore the cold sweat on your palms.

A cool breeze winds its way toward you, and maybe it’s just your imagination, but it seems to whisper “turn back, turn back.”

The breeze has passed but the trees still shiver. You’re suddenly aware of how cold it is, but that can’t be right—it’s summer.

The canopy of trees grows thicker as you continue forward, and the street gets darker and darker. You hear a pounding sound and tense before you realize it’s your own heartbeat.

It’s completely silent expect for the blood rushing in your ears. No birds call, no car engines purr, no people come out to talk.

Suddenly, you hear a “snap!” and before you can even process it, you’re running like your life depends on it—and maybe it does.

You think you hear footsteps of someone—or rather, something—gaining on you. Your heart is pounding, your chest is heaving, your vision is speckled with black spots, and just as you think you can’t run anymore—you emerge on the other side and collapse by a stop sign, pulling yourself up onto the sidewalk to catch your breath.

You look behind you, but nothing’s there.

You form an uneasy smile and think, “I must’ve been imagining it.”

But as you pick yourself up and continue on your way, you still can’t shake that uneasy feeling from Maple Street.

***

A Sim in a World

By Molly Benton-Jonshult

I tended to my garden waiting for Him to come back. A cold chill came. He must have downloaded another expansion that made it cold. I suddenly felt like going and cooking scrambled eggs. He was back. It wasn’t that he was cruel. It’s just that I wish I had free will. That and I was very mad at him for locking my mom and dad in a room with only what they needed, you know? You know, kind of taking them away from me? Who am I kidding? I thought He was cruel.

I cooked the meal and ate a serving of it. I then put it away but I was still on the stool. He had put it in the fridge and cleaned the dish. At least he was good at cleaning stuff. I left to go to school as the clock turned to 8am. To everyone in this world I was 13 but my true age? 2473 and today was my birthday, so actually 2474.

Todd was the only other person in this world who knew we were in a video game, but I didn’t see him much. I was graduating from middle school, he, from high school. I went through the motions at school and returned, speeding through the textbooks. I had to read for homework. Only Mrs. Thomas would assign homework the second to last day of school. It was definitely colder outside as I stepped out to care for my garden and I shivered in my tank and shorts. Of course, He didn’t care. He didn’t care that He didn’t let me bake a cake and blow out candles for my birthday, and now I was sad but that was nothing new. The only new things were my wardrobe, my room, and the cold.

As I stepped outside again, I noticed water did not flow from the hose to fill my watering can. No matter. I ran to the pond to fill it, breaking through a tough crust of ice. Ice. It had never been in our world before. He must have done it.

That’s it. I’m stopping this. I’m a master programmer here. I must be able to stop Him. I opened the tree portal and stepped inside, quickly navigating to the code place. Here, instead of turning back, I moved the floating code until it let me inside. This time I was stopping Him.

I drifted through the blue world, green numbers blinking by. Thankfully, I knew binary and could decode the data strands. Finally, I found myself on the desktop. I worked quickly and found he had a 3D printer hooked to his computer. His background was plain blue and I saw the Sims file as I told the printer to print me after coding it to make my joints movable. I was in the world.

I stood, looking at the rough, green wall, feeling the soft roughness of the carpet, seeing a bed, a computer, a printer and a 3D printer. A gate barred the open doorway but I stepped over it. I went out the door, feeling the dry grass, smelling the brisk air.

I was amazed for a while, then remembered my purpose. To stop Him. I hid in the corner of the room with the computer until I saw Him. He talked to no one for a while then put leashes on some dogs. Dogs, cats. Also new.

I left the house after him. I followed him, gathering the anger I felt towards Him. “Why?” I asked.

He spun around.

“Why do you do this?” I asked again.

“Who are you?” he asked, his voice accusing.

“Maya Landgrab. You know, the Sim you took their parents away from? And what’s with the weather now?” I replied.

“You’re joking,” he said.

“No. Programming as a Sim is similar to programming your stuff. I didn’t change anything but it was handy you have a 3D printer,” I replied.

His green eyes were like little bits of fire, and His brown hair tossed by the wind. The small dog He was walking sniffed at a patch of grass.

“Sims aren’t real and FYI, my name is Stone,” he said.

Stone. He was Stone. “Stone, unlock my parents and make the weather warmer, or perhaps I could just uninstall it,” I told him with a flip of my tangled black hair. “That or never see us,” I told him over my shoulder.

I entered the door, programmed myself back into the computer and waited behind the recycle bin. He did release my parents and turn it into summer. I programmed myself back into the game and lived my life as a Sim with a not so cruel player.

***

Untitled

by Atha Anne Boyer

Jessie walked though the camp, turning to get food and talking to others.

Catalina woke from her strange dream about her. Recently, her friend was always on her mind. Jess would do something so mundane, boring and normal, but Catalina always obsessed over her.

Catalina’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud yell. “Yo, Caty!” Jess spoke, loud and excited like always.

“Hey, Jess.” Catalina smiled at her friend.

Jess rambled about random things that were happening around camp. “Oh! I came to ask if you were coming to the dance at camp . . . I know you wouldn’t have a date like me, but you fell asleep and well––”

Catalina cut her off. “It’s starting now, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I know you’re not ready and everything, but I wanted to know if you wanted to come?”

Just then Catalina saw someone in the distance, running towards them. “Jessie!” she paused. “You comin’?” It was Diane, another person at camp.

“Yeah,” Jess responded.

Jess waved at Catalina, walking away.

“Will was waiting for you.”

Catalina was disgusted. Will, Jess’s “boyfriend” always seemed rude and mean to her. He was one of two boys at the whole camp. The other was Gabe, who was always reading. Will tormented Gabe, constantly broke the rules, and Jess seemed oblivious to his behavior.

Once again, a loud scream interrupted her thoughts. But this time, nobody was in front of her. She walked closer to the dance, cautiously. She saw people in fear and pain, disappearing. She looked into the sky, which was pitch black with two words on it: Reset and Continue. There was a star over Reset.

It looked like life was being reset like a game. Catalina ran. But then she heard another scream. She kept running, tears welling in her eyes. She now knew Jesse was gone, and she did nothing. But she kept running, her breath quickening. The reset screen was always closer.

Then she felt it: a wave of immense pain.

And then it was over. Her face was dry and she was dropped off at camp. Wait, this was just like a week ago. She saw a start up screen this time, though. When it was over, she was at camp and Will made an entrance. Catalina grew more suspicious of Will. Were they in a game? Was Will . . . playing it?

Catalina then thought of Jess. Did she see this too? She ran up to her friend, who was drawing in a sketchpad.

“Hey, Caty!” Her friend spoke happily, dropping her sketchbook and hugging Catalina.

Catalina smiled. But then she remembered her dreams. The Reset. “Hey, Jess . . .” she stuttered. Jess look concerned. “Caty? Is something wrong?”

Catalina had her answer. Jess didn’t remember a thing.

Chapter 2

“Caty? Hello?”

“Oh! Hey, Jess.” Catalina spoke, but she didn’t look at Jess. She looked at a tiny heart placed on her body. It disappeared as Will walked up to her. “Hey gorgeous. I see you’ve got a pretty face. Got a name to go with it?”

Catalina’s confusion and disgust toward him grew. Was he flirting? “What are you doing?” He started playing with some of her hair. His cold blue eyes wandered up to hers, both people filled with confusion.

“Stop that!” she yelled, unintentionally slapping him in the face.

Jess screamed, howling with laughter. “YOU GO!”

He punched her.

“Strange,” he muttered. “You’re all supposed to love me.”

She was piecing it together. Nobody else heard him say that. Or did they? She got a bad feeling about asking.

Jess ran up to her. “Dude! High-five!” And then they high-fived. Catalina was scared, though. Nobody else remembers the pain? The terrible, indescribable agony. The fear. Disappearing. The cold air around them. Everything standing still. The rusty color of the sky, the strong smell of rain.

The Reset. She remembered it vividly. But nobody remembered it at all.

“Caty?” Jess interrupted her thoughts.

“Is something wrong?”

“No nothing,” Catalina responded, suddenly feeling a lump in her throat.

“Ok . . . because you looked like you were going to cry.”

“No,” Catalina responded, holding back tears and plastering on a smile. “I’m fine, Jess, don’t concern yourself over me.”

Jess seemed more scared and confused, looking like she might cry herself. “You––” Jess sighed. She looked at a picture she had of the two of them. A single tear rolled down her cheek. “You never use big words like that! Just tell me what’s wrong, Caty!”

Catalina let herself cry. She had so much she wanted to tell Jess. She had so much pain she wanted to go away. But she had to protect Jess.

Jess looked at Caty again.

Catalina was so terrified for her. But she saw the Reset again. “Run, Jess!”

Jess was hesitant.

Catalina pulled her, running away from the Reset frantically. “This is what’s wrong!” The pain came. The screams. The sense of danger. Catalina got a strange urge. She jumped. She jumped onto the red X in the sky.

Jess and her were somewhere else. Somewhere real. And my, Will looked different in person. But he also had something dangerous in his hand.

To be continued . . .

***

Thanks, Melons

By Sarah Flores

I never wished for this to play out this way. I thought I did everything right. Why?! Why?!

Everyone has a monster that follows them around starting at birth. These monsters are quite hideous with their yellow rotten teeth, how their shoulders are bigger than their torsos or that they have the eyes of a cat, or that they even have crazy hair!! These creatures are called Monbeings (monster humanbeings) even though they are monsters they act like humans. The Monbeings are supposed to help you through life, that’s their purpose of live in here! Monbeings are also unkillable. The only reason they will die is when you die. They were all orignally for good, all used for good except for one.

I never found the real reason why I always liked death. Not the thought of dying, myself, but of other people dying. I’ve never told anyone about this except for Melons (my Monbeing).

“Parker,” Melon says.

“Yes,” I answer back..

“How about I just give you the power to kill?”

I was shocked, so shocked that I left my mouth wide open and Melons had to close it. Then I started thinking about it.

“What do you mean?”

“I can give you the power of one touch to kill.”

I looked at her very seriously. “Fine. I’ll try it out.”

I shouldn’t have trusted that smirk on Melon’s face then, but of course I didn’t think this through.

“So how does this work?” I ask.

“It’s simple. You touch the person you wanna kill. You can still touch people but to kill them just say my name twice and go ahead and KILL.”

I didn’t know when to kill or who! So I just decided to go buy some ramen and go back home and take a nap and think this through. Of course that didn’t happen! I was gonna decide which ramen to pick until . . .

“Melons, which ramen should I get? I regularly get this kind but I’m think–“ Then out of the corner of my eye I notice a woman getting her purse stolen, so I thought it was a good time to test out this power.

“Melons, melons.”

“This is going to be interesting,” she said.

I felt a tingle in my pointer finger and pass by that [man] and slide my finger on his side and barely a minute had passed and he passed out, dead.

“I guess we better go…”

“Yeah,” Melons agreed.

“So are you gonna kill bad guys or something?” Melon said.

“No . . . I want to kill good guys.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“There’s no point in trying to have a good world,” I say.

Day after day I would go see if people are doing good and kill them. It’s only been a few weeks but I feel like I killed thousands.

“Mahahaha. Beware children, adults, people because there is a killer on the loose!” I laugh while saying this like a maniac.

“You sound crazy,” said Melons.

I thought I was doing everything correctly until “Open up. This is the police!”

“Dang it,” I say to myself.

I hurry upstairs to my room until I hear the door break. Before I know it they knock down my door and say, Hands up!”

I refused and they pointed a gun at me. I scootched back until I saw the man shoot at me and as I thought I was gonna die, Melons jumped in front of me and got shot. It was all in slo-mo. I could see her oozing blood onto the carpet.

“Melons!” I yelled. “I’m sorry, Melons . . .”

It was a fun ride, Parker . . . you’re the craziest woman I ever met.”

I slouched down and cried onto her chest. “Thanks, Melons.”

***

The Kill

by Ashira Fronk

I called to my servants, “Bring me a chocolate covered cinnamon roll with whipped cream!” After breakfast, I heard someone entering my realm from the echoing caves near my throne room. This castle was MINE and no one ever entered without suffering death first!

I turned invisible and made my voice echo through the cave. “WHO DARES TRESPASS HERE?” I bellowed. I heard young gasps coming from the cave. “BEWARE, CHILDREN!” I shouted into the cave.

I still heard footsteps getting louder and louder.

“Well, they asked for it,” I muttered to myself. I turned visible and transformed into a monster, still beautiful and everything, of course. I had agile black spider legs and lovely purple wings. I had gleaming sharp teeth, and I could breathe fire. Was this not the awesomest monster ever? I got ready.

The children ran into the room.

“Ah . . . children. This should be easy.” I said to scare them. I grabbed them with my elegant pink nails, lifted them up to my face and swallowed them whole. “Still working on that bacon?” I called to the servants.

* * * * *

I yawned. I heard more footsteps coming from the cave. I walked over. It seemed like a hero was coming to destroy me. I surrounded myself in flames and smiled at the stupid faces the “hero” was making. “WHY HAVE YOU COME HERE?” I yelled, once again echoing through the cave.

“Stop,” he said. “I mean you no harm.”

I laughed. “That doesn’t mean you’re not delicious,” I said as I grew wings. I turned into the monster that I was before, spider legs and all. “And now I will be finding out.” I breathed fire all around him.

“Honest, I don’t want to fight,” he said desperately.

“Bye-bye,” I said and ate him.

***

My Name

By Avery McMahon

My name is Avery.

My name smells like fresh berries in the spring.

My name tastes like chocolate icing that melts in your mouth.

My name sounds like a very sunny day.

My name feels like your mother giving you a hug after you cry your heart out.

My name looks like a ray of sunshine waking you up after a good night’s sleep.

I am like my parents. My mom looks like me and my dad and I are slow as molassis.

When I cry, it’s like the moon has hid the sun from us, my name has gone and nothing is nice. When I laugh hard I go silent and make others enjoy the gist of laughter. We laugh and enjoy the gift of friendship. My name is Avery and I’m proud of that. I love my name, life, family, friends, and pet.

My name is Avery.

My name means wise, smart and wisdom. I have all of these things. It also means leader of the Elfs. So my future is going to be Santa Claus.

My name is Avery McMahon.

***

The Glitter Demons

By Mirari Porras

I loved this. The rush of excitement as I ran away from the ringing lights of blue and red. I quickly turned the corner into an alleyway. I hid behind a dumpster and put my bag of money down. I slumped against the wall to catch my breath. I waited. They should be here any minute. I waited more. They’re not here yet. Why aren’t they here? How long does it take to get here? Finally, I heard people running. They turned the corner.

“Finally!” I said when they came. “It’s about time.”

“I’m sorry,” Matt said sarcastically. “But you took the short way.”

I turn to Melanie. “What’s your excuse?”

“You’re new,” she snapped. “You got the easiest route.”

“Both our ways were pretty easy,” I protest.

“Miri, the police were guarding that corner across the street. We had to sneak around. And you really should whisper. They might hear us,” Matt didn’t get to finish his thought because someone ran up and yelled, “There they are!”

It was Genevieve. She brought the police with her. Melanie looks at me with disbelief. I told her my plan. She didn’t think that I’d follow through with it. Matt saw us exchange glances. He looks at me. “What did you do?” he asks.

I smile. “Follow my lead,” I respond.

“Beware, children,” said one of the cops. “You shouldn’t be out this late at night.”

“Do you underestimate us? Melanie asks.

Then I reach into my jacket. Melanie pulls Matt back and also reaches into her jacket. I smile. Tonight I will become a murderer.

***

2216 Fashion Blog

by Helen Randle

It is finally 2216 and winter is coming. If you’re on Mars, you are going to want these new space blanket onesies to sleep in—a space blanket with a furry inside that will keep you warm on this cold planet. But down on Earth it is going to be warmer than ever so you will want tank tops and shorts. These new shorts and tanks are made from a new fabric that warms when it is cold and cools when it’s warm, but sadly this only works in Earth’s atmosphere. They also have a remote to change color so you can blend in or pop with just a push of a button. These outfits are custom fit, not disabling movement at all, but costing $50,000 each not everyone can have one.

It is estimated that we can only make around 10,000, so with 8.7 billion people it will be difficult to get your hands on one. Scientist Dr. Mallar, the inventor, is already a billionaire, so he is going to donate 40% of all profits to charities/organizations like WSPMM (World Space Program Mission Mars) so go buy the only outfit you will ever need.

***

Moon Fashion

By Sonia Randle

It’s the day where moon suits get stylish. Now we have glitter moon suits to animal moon suits. You will hear about 5 new stylish moon suits.

1. Glitter

Now Tayla Arnold has designed a glittery moon suit. You will sparkle in light but your sparkly suit will also look like moon dust.

2. Animal Print

Now if you want to be a moon zebra you can just try one of Catherine Longfellow’s new animal print moon suit. They aren’t real animal fur but they are still stylish.

3. Art

You want to look like the Mona Lisa. Sally River’s new art suits are for you. She has suits with the art from practically every artist. So now go be art.

4. Literature

You want to be a moon book story, book character, or anything else related to literature? Now with Nancy Drew’s suits you can. So let’s try the new literature suits.

5. Video Games

Want to go to the moon in Minecraft? Now you can. Try Harper Lopez’s suits giving the world a Minecraft look. What the suits look like is what you are, so if you get a sheep suit you will think you are a sheep in Minecraft.

So now get a new stylish moon suit.

***

The Beast

By Sabina Solari-Toness

The dark figure crept through the ancient stone walls, dragging a gloved hand across the rough ridges. It had been a while since he had last been here. Years. Now everything was a pile of rubble and it was his fault.

If he had been there with the others, they could’ve fought the monster off, they would’ve won. But he fled, like a coward.

The hooded man pushed open the rusted doors, his shadowed face flinching as the hinges squeaked and echoed down the halls. The silence was broken and The Beast had been awoken.

Horrors danced across the male’s face as he looked down, this is what he would soon look like. Half-eaten flesh with flies buzzing around him, for nine dead bodies lay before him. Nine dead friends. Nine stones that still glimmered like starlight.

The stones had been tokens of their friendship, how they would never leave each other. A gloved hand slowly dug into a pocket, taking his own stone. Nine would become ten.

The male turned to face the great shadow that towered above him half materialized. The Beast.

The monster stalked toward him, his shadow body twining in and out from behind pillars. “These were your comrades, were they not?” it asked silkily, though its eyes were hard.

“Friends. They were friends.” The man’s voice shook.

The Beast gave a toothy smile, his bloody sharp teeth glinting. “Friends? I don’t think so. You would’ve been here to die with them. Though I suppose you’re here now,” it mused, thinking about it.

The monster leapt up on the balcony and looked down on the hooded man. “How would you like to die?”

The dark figure gave a shaky smile. “I get a choice?” His voice was trembling, betraying his fear.

The Beast materialized into his real form, his terribly real form. Hooked claws slid out from his matted fur paws. Jagged, broken horns sprouted from his head, almost touching the ceiling of the room. Bright red designs were painted over scales and fur, standing out against the body.

“No.”

The Beast leapt, its hooked claws glinting.

***


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