We offered this class for the first time this year. Over the years, I had too many students telling me that they had already written multiple novels! I decided it was time to offer a class on how to write longer work. Some campers arrived with projects underway and some created brand new stories. Please enjoy these pieces, each of which could be the beginning of a very juicy novel.
The Fate of the Cursed
By Alaira Banks
How does the world change so fast? One day you're sitting in your room, listening to your favorite band reading a book. And the next, the world is in flames, you're running, trying to survive when everything wants to kill you. This was life on earth in the 23rd century.
Every few months a fellow country would drop bombs on another, bombs that would infect anyone who was unfortunate to be in its blast radius. This infection wouldn't kill, at least not immediately; it would make you go insane, a disease not unlike Rabies, but there one a difference, not only was it incurable (even though almost every country knew how to create it), but it would change you, not only mentally but physically as well. Your face would lengthen, turning almost snoutlike and your skin would grow fur or some other type of animal hide. They called them the Were, based after the Werebeasts of the stories.
Tefi Wrate was a Were, she had been for six years. But for her it was different, sure she looked part Cougar, and acted like it most of the time, but she never completely lost her humanity. There were some days when she lost herself and killed people, but usually she could control the disease. But she was a murderer and everyone knew it. She was chased out from every town she found, usually with guns blazing. She was forced to live in the wilderness outside of the town walls. For how can you keep your humanity if your own mind cannot comprehend it?
Tefi was going to starve for the night again. This was common, she could rarely hunt without losing herself to the Were inside her, hungry for control. Usually she could control it, but when she hunted or did anything animal-like she started to lose herself to the disease.
A small crunch noise came from a bush like someone had shifted their weight. Any lesser animal wouldn't have been able to hear it but Tefi was no lesser creature. Her large feline ears could hear a leaf fall from a tree and she had spent the last six years of her life staying alive in the Wilderness. Tefi took a sniff of the air, and smelled the familiar sharp scent of a Werehunter.
Werehunters are specially trained individuals hired to kill Were's. Usually hired by rich landowners that live near the Wilderness, outfitted in powerful armor designed to find Weres, hunters were dangerous adversaries. But this one, this one was injured. Tefi's feline face twisted into a sick smile. Maybe she would have dinner after all.
The bush was too small and tangled for Tefi's elongated frame to fit in to attack the hunter where he was hiding, but she was patient. She walked to the other side of the clearing in which the bush grew and curled up in a pile of fallen leaves. Tefi couldn't attack the hunter in his hiding place, but she could still draw him out.
Tefi lay curled up for thirty minutes before she heard the hunter climb out of the bush. Something was wrong. The hunter’s footsteps were too loud, usually their steps were quiet, almost indistinguishable from the sounds of the forest. But Tefi could always hear them, and she always killed them.
The hunter stepped closer, now he was only five feet away. Calm yourself Tefi, she thought, he must just be an apprentice, he’s just new, that's all. The hunter was four feet away, then three, two, one. He was right behind her. Tefi jumped up, spinning to face her opponent, but what she saw froze her with fear.
Instead of a human body like she was expecting, Tefi saw a robot like form standing in front of her. Power armor, the hunter was in real power armor. But she could see the blood seeping out of a large wound in his gut, the metal around it was pealed back so she saw the large bite wound. There was only two puncture wounds, like a snake bit him. It was too large to be a normal snake. It must be a Were, she didn't know that Weres could look like snakes, but whatever it was, she hoped it wasn't poisonous; it would spoil the meat.
The hunter startled, he hadn't realized she was awake. His power armor covered body only reached up to her ribcage, even though it was well over seven feet. But he wasn't as surprised as Tefi thought, because when she leapt to attack him, he swatted her out of the way and pulled out a large gun.
Tefi leapt onto him, clawing at his helmet, struggling to tear it off his head. The Werehunter reached up and wrapped his hand around her thin arms, throwing her off him. But Tefi had already ripped off part of his helmet, and through the hole she could see a green eye, dark skin, and a tendril of light brown hair. The hunter roared in outrage, and shot Tefi.
Tefi was confused. How was she not dead? The hunter had shot her in the head, her body should be lifeless now, her brains scattered across the forest floor. But Tefi wasn't dead. Her body still held life, and her head hurt awfully. Through her haze of pain she heard the hunter start cursing at his gun, apparently he had set it to stun instead of kill. But something wasn't quite right. The hunter’s voice was too high-pitched to be male. Then the hunter took off what was left of his helmet, and Tefi saw a smooth dark skinned face with rounded features, green eyes, and short brown hair. The hunter wasn't male, she was female.
This surprised Tefi. Usually the Werehunter business was very discriminating towards anyone who wasn't male. As the hunter’s back was turned, Tefi took off into the forest, choosing to run rather then fight, whatever that gun was, she was sure she couldn't survive another hit from it, even if it was set on stun.
The gun had done something to Tefi's brain. The world was spinning and she was pretty sure it didn't do that before. As she ran, she crashed into a clearing and fell to the floor. The last thing she saw was a pair of brown eyes staring into her own before she faded into unconsciousness.
Humanoid body with legs, ears, and tail of a grey wolf.
Heterochromia is an indicator of possible supernatural affinity.
I looked at my reflection in the mirror through the square outline of my glasses. I had contacts, but I had a rule of no touching eyeballs before kaffa. I pulled the half of my hair that reached greedy tendrils down my back away from the puffy stems on the other side. My hair was the only part I really liked about my appearance, thick and almost-pink. My uneven blue and red eyes, slightly twisted nose, and too straight teeth seemed to hate it. I tugged a sky-blue shirt over my torso and wiggled into off-white shorts. The shorts were apparently made of spider webs. I wasn’t quite sure I believed that but they were definitely my sturdiest pair.
I took the stairs two at a time, nearly slipping on the landing. I downed my cup of kaffa and devoured a plate of tardigrades while I waited for the stabilizing effect to kick in. Satisfied that my hands were steady again, I folded my glasses away and replaced them with my grey contacts. Mom came in with Maurue clinging to her tail. His gown was too short for him.
“You’re going to be late.”
“It rained last night. No one’s going outside for at least a day,” I pointed out. Right now a water droplet sat guard right outside our house. She pinched the bridge of her nose and picked up Maurue. I took him from her and she disappeared inside another room. I gave him his breakfast and sat down, listening to the creaks and groan of the ground.
A warm drink used to treat a variety of
neurological conditions and mental disorders,
along with general-use mood stabilizer.
It was a full week before it was safe to go outside again. I slung my bud full of trinkets over my back and raced along the vine leading to school. I had to hop along it to avoid having my feet swept out from underneath me due to a glider.
I finally sat down next to my friend, Skyler.
“I wish it rained again today,” he grumbled, flicking a stray dust mite away from him.
“If that happened, they would hold us on the weekend,” I pointed out. His ears flattened against his head and he grimaced.
“Still wish I wasn’t here. Want an aphid? I found another under my bed,” he said, producing the little bug. I turned it over and picked the sour meat out of the shell.
The day passed in quiet boredom. We were learning about microbes again. Bleh. Finally, they released us to go home. I rushed along the vine home when a raindrop fell to my left.
Fella, fella, fella, not now! I screamed in my head and ran faster, until my foot landed on the smooth top of a glider. I desperately floundered for a grip, but only managed to push myself and the glider off of the vine and into a puddle. I took a deep breath and winced when my body hit the surface before falling through.
I tried to push out, but one attempt was all that was needed to prove that futile. A tardigrade swam by my face. Another ‘pup was trying to use his glider to break the surface. I grabbed it to try and help, and then I was gasping for air.
A weak barrier formed through hydrogen bonding on the surface of water.
The air was gone, but something was filling my lungs. I opened my eyes and I was staring down at . . . a puddle? Something that looked vaguely dewpup-like, only without ears, a tail, and with weird eyes and legs was coughing next to me. The weird thing was, I was sure I had seen that face before.
“Skyler?” I whispered and his head whipped around to look at me.
“Zel?” he asked.
“What are you?”
“I’m a dewpup. What are you?”
“A dewpup. You don’t have a tail, or ears, and your arms and legs look funny.”
“That’s what you look like, only you don’t have on clothes.”
“Neither do you,” I replied, biting my lip as blushes dotted both of our faces.
“We have to get away from the water.” I broke the silence.
Skyler stuck his hand into the puddle and easily pulled it out. “I don’t think we’re dew-pups any more, Zel.”
by Liam Harris
Author’s Note: Table Wars is the story of office supplies that come to life to do battle and the very human qualities the pencils and markers have. I was inspired by a pencil box and a marker box on my writing table. I imagined these pencil and marker boxes were battleships and created characters from the contents inside.
“Commander!” shouted General Neonbrown, a bright brown marker. “The pencils are firing pens at us! We don’t stand a chance against them.” General Neonbloodred sat in the front seat, just hoping, waiting that death may not fall upon him.
“We need help!” shouted Neonbrown.
“Let death fall upon you, Brown,” Papermate said. “And, let your crew fall, too.”
A final tear dripped down Neonbrown’s face before his life splashed down to the bottom of the ground.
How did this happen? How did Neonbrown get here, staring at his possible demise?
Before Neonbrown boarded the military training battleship, all he could think about was not being able to see his mother again. At this point, Neonbrown was celebrating his 18th birthday. He was at his father’s house, finishing up his chocolate drizzled strawberry cake with whipped cream on top. He had decided he wanted to work as a military band player. Life wasn’t easy with his parents having been divorced when Neonbrown was two. All of the kids made fun of him for it. Even through those times, Neonbrown kept on going to follow his dream of being a military band player. He thought about his mom again. Neonbrown loved watching movies with his mom. It was their thing to do on Saturday nights.
As the boat was unlocking from the harbor, he gave one final wave to his mother before a voice rudely interrupted Neonbrown’s farewell.
“Hey, what’s your name, Fat Face?” asked an eraser.
“It’s Neonbrown,” the marker said. “But you can just call me Brown.”
“Stop bragging and get in your lines, fools,” said the highlighter. “Or, you’ll be dead meat in front of Commander Neonbloodred’s feet. Get into your lines. Band members on the far left, pilots next, then sailors and finally soldiers.”
Neonbrown rushed toward his line of band members when the eraser, that same one, pushed forward to headlock him. Neonbrown squirmed, but none of the officials noticed. The eraser brought him over to the soldier line. Neonbrown tried to run, but the eraser kept grabbing him.
When Neonbrown finally came to realize that he could never escape the eraser, he marched forward, along with the line of soldiers.
The officials examined Neonbrown as he trained for different possible attacks. He worked his hardest and was one of the strongest out of his team, but he still could never fit in with anybody. His training continued. Neonbrown looked around again and again for the eraser, the one that put him in this class of military, but he was never seen again.
“Haven’t you heard?” yelled Neonyellow, Neonbrown’s roommate.
Neonbrown replied, “Heard what?”
“It’s all over the news! Papermate declared war on us!” shouted Neonyellow.
All Neonbrown could do was wonder; so, he asked any way, “Who is Papermate?”
“Who is Papermate?” Neonyellow said sarcastically. “Papermate is the highest official of all pencils.”
Neonbrown was shocked about what he heard. He had only recently become a general, so he would have to fight in this war. He would work with the other markers, General Green, Officer Grey and Commander Neonbloodred.
When boarding the battleship, this time for war, Neonbrown felt like he was leaving home a second time, leaving all his friends, all of his neighbors and his parents for unknown worlds. He didn’t even get to say goodbye. “Goodbye,” he murmured, as his dreams sank to the bottom of the ground.
Neonbrown had an idea. “No, he thought, “more like a fantasy.” He knew that every battleship had a hatch to open it. He could either open it from the bottom and close it to sneak attack them, or again, go under, and leave it open for a while to sink them. This was, of course, if he lost the battle.
The ship undocked. The battle has begun. He can’t turn back now. He could already see enemy ships in the distance. The fire was burning. Now was the time.
* * * *
He sank. Neonbrown sank to the bottom of the ground, the hard, black ground. It seemed like forever. Death had fallen upon him. Death is unforgiving. But death is NOT strong enough to hold Neonbrown down. It never will be!
He swam and swam and swam. He swam until swimming didn’t matter. He opened the hatch of the enemy boat, closed it and hid. Neonbrown found the storage of pens in the room next to him. He knocked the racks of them over.
He ran. He ran fast. This caused attention. He desperately tried to open the hatch, but it wouldn’t budge. The pencil guards took their staplers out and started shooting. They missed. They tried to pull off his camp until they realized the pens had gone off. One of them shouted, “Run!” and they immediately ran off without him. He took a crowbar and easily pried the hatch open and closed it again, taking the crowbar with him. He saw pencils trying to open it and failing. Just then, he heard the loudest noise he had ever heard. The enemy ship exploded.
Wood, metal, lead and eraser bits flew everywhere. Neonbrown decided that it was safer under the table. He then recognized Papermate’s eraser. The eraser on board the training ship must have jumped off after forcing Neonbrown into the soldier line. Not too far from the dock, the eraser swam to it. The eraser must have already worked with Papermate. Neonbrown remembered an eraser bullied him as a child, too. He wondered if they were the same. He swam back to shore as a war hero.
The news reporters were all over him with cameras and microphones. He made the headline for the newspapers as the only surviving solider in the battle. Some blame him for the crew’s death, but he still enjoys like with his family and friends.
The End (for now)
by Treana Greene Vickery
My name is Michelle. I live in New York City with my younger brother, Mom, and Dad. We live in a ginormous apartment on 37th street; it has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, three TV’s, and an extremely large living room. Personally I love New York but some people don’t, there are advantages and disadvantages. It has really cool places like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Museums, and best of all Time Square. But since there are so many things to do, everybody wants to go there, which means loud noises like cars honking all the time and ambulance sirens. But the thing that bothers me the most is that lots of people smoke so you almost always smell smoke in the air. But anyway let’s get onto my story.
So I was born in a hospital called The Mount Sinai Hospital in room 236 at 6:00am on the dot. The doctors took one glance at me at me and they were so… shocked that more than half of them peed their pants. My story is that half of me is white and the other half is black.
If you look at me the color goes from the lightest skin to the darkest skin possible. Literally, if you compared my right pinky to my left pinky you could think it’s a whole different person. The left side of my body is the lightest skin you could imagine and the exact opposite for my right side; if you look at my stomach the colors just fade into each other. Even my eyelashes––my left one’s white and my right one’s brown. The only thing on my body that is not half and half is my hair. My hair is straight black hair except for one strike. The strike is about as much hair as occupies your finger and it’s all white. That’s what I look like.
Even though I look different, I still like normal things. It’s not like I’m an alien from outer space. My favorite thing in the world is basketball. My room is filled with pictures, medals, and posters of basketball. My dream is to go to the National State Championship. Of course I share this passion with my best friend in the whole wide world, Jessica. We’ve been together ever since we were 5; she stole my basketball book that I was reading and we instantly became best friends. I feel like with her, even though she loves my skin tone, that she doesn't talk about it much because she knows that’s not my favorite topic. Instead she looks at the inside of me and I feel that I can express the way I want in front of her.
But anyway we were talking about the transition from middle school to high school. I told her that I was very scared for the transition because I had only been in a class of 10-15 people max and I had been there ever since I started walking. On the other hand, Jessica was super duper excited because she wouldn't have so many eyes watching her so she could have more freedom and be “evil” as she put it.
The next day I woke up bright and early at 6:00am even though school didn't start till 8:00am; but that’s how I always did it. I rolled out of bed making myself breakfast, eggs, and spinach using my Grandma’s special recipe. After I packed my school bag with all my essentials, I looked at the clock and it was only 7:00am. I can now hear my brother waking up and begging my mom if he could be on screens, but he knew as well as I did that we weren't allowed to be on electronics on school days unless it was “educational.”
I plopped myself on the couch in the living room and start reading my book “The Outsider” by Stephen King. After five minutes I flip the page to 163 and get scared so I stop reading. I get up from the couch and decide to call Jessica.
I start to say “Hey Jess, how are you?” and she answers saying “Aren't you so excited for your first day of high school?”,
“Yeah I guess, my mom’s about to take me to school in her––”
Jess interrupted me. “Wait, your mom’s going to take you in her car?!”
“What's the matter with that?” I answer in a defending voice.
“Well, usually what happens is that you'll get humiliated on your first day of high school, and trust me you don't want that!”,
“Ok then, how am I going to get to school?” I asked confused.
“Just take the subway.”
“Well, ok then, see ya sucker.”
When my mom came downstairs, I told her that I wanted to take the subway. She did the whole “Aww sweetie your growing up” thing and gave me a kiss.
I told her “love you mom,” then walked out the door.
I made a left and then a right and ran down the subway stairs at 34th street. I already had a subway card with about five dollars that would last me through the day. I went to swipe my card but instead of letting me go through it said “Please Swipe Again.” I swiped the card again and I got through this time.
I had not noticed what time the train was leaving so right as I walked up it had just arrived. I got onto one of the subway cars and sat down. It was going to be a long ride and a two minute walk to school. I knew this because I had visited the school before. My mind trailed off to what was going to happen at school today. When I came back to the real world, I noticed that a few people in the subway were staring at me. I didn't really care so I ignored them. I thought this is how I should handle things at school but the difference is that I was going to see the people at school everyday and the people in the subway were people that I wouldn’t see everyday.
When I arrived at school Jessica was waiting for me in a secret place we both knew. It was very close to the school and there were no people staring at me.
Jessica said “Are you ready?” and I answered, “No, but if we don't go we'll be late”.
We walked around the corner and their was a ginormous billboard saying “Welcome to Regis High School” and there was a roadrunner next to it. I looked around and saw that some people were throwing me some quick glances but they immediately looked away when they noticed I glanced at them.
Jess noticed that people were staring at me and then whispered in my ear “Ignore them!” so I did.
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be until me and Jess noticed that we had different schedules. Her class was at the east side of school in room 258 and mine was at the west side of school room 861. I didn't want her to leave me but I didn't want to act like a baby so I didn't make a big deal about it. I started walking past people trying to get to my class because I was going to be late!!!.
Right before I was going to turn into my class there was a pretty wide hallway with sets of lockers against the walls. Lots of the “cool kids” that were ditching class were there. One guy who looked really popular started to move a table to the center of the hallway. Everybody was backing up and watching.
He stood up on the table and said, “Hey, hey, you over there.” I noticed immediately that he was talking to me.
I said “Me?” pointing to myself so he would know I heard him.
“Yeah you. Did your parents like try to roast half of you or something?!” Everybody laughed.
“No, I was born this way!” I said with very low self-confidence.
“Come here, don't be afraid” but I said “No!”, but some girl that was on his side shoved me up to him.
He grabbed me around my waist and whispered “Relax, I’m not going to hurt you…to