This is the second summer that award-winning author Natalia Sylvester has taught for us. Her class is always a favorite. You only have to read the work below to know that Natalia inspires the imagination in unique and magical ways.
“Ugh” I groaned as I slipped off the small emerald green couch I sleep on in my grandparents RV. I squint my eyes as I try to remember that strange dream that horrified me so much but it slips away much too fast. Just like all the dreams I have ever had. How could I not remember a dream that frightens me, horrifies me, terrifies me.
I’m about to go back asleep but I hear extremely quiet whispers from the front. I strain my ears as I try to understand what they’re saying. I decide I will have to go closer to hear. Normally I wouldn’t dare do this but lately grandma and grandpa have been getting jumpy and strange and they whisper almost all the time and they think I don’t notice. But before I didn’t care to eavesdrop like the characters in my books. I wish they would just tell me what’s going on. Instead of just cutting me out. So I tiptoe across the RV and squat behind the wall separating the rest of the RV from the driver seat, “the control room” my grandfather calls it. I listen intently as grandma whispers to grandpa “Are you sure they didn’t leave any kind of map or note?”
“Yes, I am sure. You asked me this 1000 times a day," Grandpa replies, sounding exhausted. “Wait,” he says as he cocks his head to one side. “Potentia is awake,” he starts quietly.
I am shocked. I didn’t even move. But then I remember my grandpa‘s amazing hearing even though he insists he is half deaf.
“Good morning” I say quite loudly so that they think I just woke up, not sneaking around. Then I realize that I’m still squatting. I quickly stand up and as I’m about to turn around and start half running half walking back to the couch grandma stretches her arm out to stop me.
“How long have you been eavesdropping?“ she thunders.
I gasp. I have never seen grandma so angry. I am actually scared. There’s something in her eyes, that are usually like looking into a kaleidoscope, that seems different. But before I could catch just what made it different she blinked.
Aria looked down into the fire. Its warmth was negligible in a camp with so many glowing locks. Xe reached up and tucked a strand of cackling hair behind Xir shoulder. Then got annoyed and wrestled with it until it lay flat behind the little slits Xe had as ears.
“Need a hair clip, princess?" a soft voice asked, reaching carefully over the fire with a glass of water.
“Not that kind of hair clip,“ Xe sniffed, “And I’m not a princess."
“Sorry, is my liege better?"
Aria blanked as Xe processed the words.
“Yes, yes it is. My name is Aria. “
“You need only to know me as your humble servant, my liege, but others call me Olive." They laughed together.
"Well, Olive, come over where I can see you better. “
“But I can't, my liege.”
“Why not? “
“The Dragon which has cursed me to be hideously ugly. I am not worthy of your gaze, my liege.“
“I doubt a voice so lovely could belong to a wretch. “
“But it does. “
“Give me time, and I will prove you wrong."
Aria cut down a dummy and whirled to stop an incoming blow from an opposing team's player. Xe grabbed the flag and sprinted for Xir side of the field, triumphantly depositing the flag. Xir team whooped in victory. They high-fived each other, and Aria glanced at the sun. It was almost down. Xe ran for the forest, coaxing xir hair into a much fainter glow.
“My liege! The princess has been captured!" Olive yelled, and a stick was pressed into Aria's hand.
“Where? Who has captured her?"
“The dragon witch! She’s in her lair!“
“Take me there. We must save her!"
They ran, laughing through the forest. They tackled rotten stumps, dangling vines, and random stones until they defeated the dragon witch (a fallen log) and saved the princess (a pebble).
They lay in the grass talking and holding hands. Olive's hands were honey dripping down the back of Aria's. Oliver told a joke, and Aria laughed so hard xir hair erupted. They stared at each other in the light, pale blue eyes to warm brown ones, smooth brown skin to black scaled skin, heartshaped face to square face, straight black hair to flowing orange hair, servants dress to trainees armor.
“Yes?" That tiny smooth voice was even softer than before.
“I think the curse broke with the Dragon Witch's death, little tree.“
Aria watched as Olive's face showed confusion and then understanding.
"I don’t feel any different."
"But you look like a thousand embers."
A soft smile grew on Olive's face. "I like that phrase, my liege.
“It fits, thousand embers," Aria whispered and dim xir hair until it was only warm to the touch before wrapping xir arms around Olive.
by Mo Cox
He's sick of his boss always calling his performances, “Mediocre." He always does well. Sure, he’s messed up a few times, but he is only human. Not a heartless monster, like his boss. All he ever wanted was to become a world known scientist. Now that dream won’t come true and he knows it. He’s too afraid to tell his boss. Afraid he might get killed. He finishes up his mission, stealing an incredibly rare ruby, and returning to the boss. He walks into the main office, and presents the ruby.
“Sir, I got what you asked," the young man says.
The boss plucks it from his fingers. “You’re dismissed." The large man turns back in his chair.
The boy had enough. “Really? Not even a thank you!? I went through everything to get you that! I nearly lost my life and you –"
The bosses expression caused him to jump. "You don’t speak to me like that?" The boss growls this time, the fright of seeing the bosses angry face, didn’t get through.
“I DO! I worked too hard for it to go to waste! I wanted to be a scientist until you kidnapped me to be your slave! But no more! I want to follow my dreams! I hate the constant stress I’m in because of you!!"
The boss was surprised. But his brows quickly furrow and suddenly he holds the boy by the neck. "HOW DARE YOU!" The boss is seething with rage.
The boy grins. “Not this time, Jefecito. I’m not afraid… I’ve visited the church." The boy pulls a small bottle with a cork out of his lab coat.
His boss looks at it and quickly drops him. "How could you even think about that!" he yells again though he sounded more afraid than angry.
“I—I’m sick of you, Jefecito."
The boss growls. Not risking death, he sets the boy free. He happily takes his leave, and becomes the scientist he’s always wanted to be. And that day, he realized he was fierce and strong and full of fire, and that not even he could hold himself back, for his passion burned brighter than his fears.
by Ashira Fronk
I walk into the wide room and rest my hand on a nearby rock. I look around in awe at the beautiful formations that fill the cave. Orangey-pink smears cover the walls. The ceiling stretches tall above my head along with the tiny noisy waterfall which trickles down toward the glistening rock at my feet. I sway my flashlight side to side as it reveals more beautiful aspects of the room. A large stalagmite stands tall, almost to the top of the cave. I smile.
Taking a place on the cold, rough floor, I set my flashlight down and reach for my pack. I take it off my back and flip open the golden latch at the front. I reach inside and pull out my rolled-up map. Carefully unrolling it, I run my fingers across it. The rough grains of the paper scrape against my skin. The title displayed at the top of the map reads “Map of Somdamia.” A few hours ago, I cracked the code; rearrange the letters, and it says “Map of Diamonds”. Now I just have to find the treasure.
I think for a moment, then look around. They must be buried in the walls somewhere. I got up. Or maybe, I thought as I glanced toward a strange switch on the wall, there’s some sort of mechanism which brings them forward! I dashed toward the switch and slapped at it, pushing the wall next to it back.
“Oh, hello there.” A voice rang out from somewhere uncomfortably close inside the cave. My happiness was snatched away. Sweat climbed down my neck. Something sharp stabbed into my back. Excruciating pain filled my body. I fell to the floor, and the world went black.
by Lallitha Grace
All of the young slaves sit in the dining hall for a reason we just don’t know.
We all live in a castle in England where we can never leave, or into the beheading room you go. I know from experience. I am Olivia a 17-year-old slave whose father was beheaded and brother got married to the queen. I know you may think that because my brother is now king me and my mother would get better treatment, NO! We get it worse because we are known we are known for talking to the king without permission or being disrespectful by calling him little bro or son.
“Shut up you—uhh slaves,” My brother yells as he walks in the door, and slamming it. My brother, David, walks around the room staring at every slave to make sure every single one is clean, and there are no wrinkles in our uniforms. David doesn’t stop until he gets to my best friend Kai. Kai is the barn boy sometimes or he’s a cook like me.
“What is on your face young boy,” David yells in Kia’s face.
“Um...well I had no time to clean up this morning after grooming the horses. Sir,” Kai said in his defense.
“Well I guess. I should let you off the hook then if I am correct?” David says with a nasty grin growing on his face.
“Yes please, sir,” Kai says in a pleading way.
“HA! You think I’d be a fool NO! Off to the whipping room,” David says pointing to a door across the room.
“Wait,” I yell. “I’ll be punished instead of him.”
“And why would I do that?” David asks.
“Because—“ I stumble for a second, then I see the mush they call food in front of us. “Because of this,” I say as I grab a handful of the mush and throw it straight into David’s face, then I grab another and send it straight for the queen.
“My God!” David yells, “you both will be sent to the punishing room, together. You will torture each other no one else in the room,” David says sadly not knowing that he is my best friend so we won’t be tortured or killed unless we die of laughter.
“Go now!” David yells and guards grab our arms and shove us into the “punishing” room.
The walls in the room are soundproof so no one can hear me burst out into laughter when the door closes.
“What?” Kai asks.
“Ohh just what an idiot my brother is,” I say with a smirk.
“Yeah, but Olivia how old is your brother?” Kai asks.
“Well he’s 15 so is the queen,” I say still slightly laughing.
“Wait, you’re older than him?”
“Yeah, I was going to be queen and marry the prints but—“ I say but Kai cuts me off.
“Wait you ruler! How? Why? Awesome! Kai says.
“Yes, I know, but he went on a trip to America a day before the king died so when he gets back I will be queen!” I say excitedly.
“Cool!” Kai says pumping his fists.
“Yeah and I hear he’s coming back soon!” I say jumping up.
In my head I have a feeling that when he gets back something wrong will happen.
“Servants,” the head butler for the king says, “the true king will be coming home and the princess will be named.
Everyone erupts in cheers because they know one of them will be chosen for crowning.
But Olivia and Kia already know who it is.
The Evil Trumpet
by Elena Kramer
Garrison is a sweet boy and a very good trumpet player—wait! You need to hear how it began.
It all started when Garrison (Gary for short) walked into his room number 315. He was an eighth grader. Not the smartest eighth grader but he’s really good in history class. That’s his best and favorite class. Anyways, Gary sat down in his seat. The seat way in the back left corner. That was his favorite spot. He was very shy, but very kind.
“Gary! Wake up!" his teacher, Mr. Wong said.
"Oh! Sorry!" Gary said quietly. He was daydreaming about his crush, Josephine Cremera. She smiled at him nicely. Gary blushed. Josephine and Gary were just friends, nothing more. Or so she thought. He thought they were BFFs. Garrison was a good student and most teachers liked him. But he was very quiet and didn’t raise his hand at all. Even so, he got good grades because he paid attention a lot of the time.
"RIIIIIIIIIINNNNNGGGG!!!!" the bell rang.
"Oh! Our my time is over already! For homework read pages 350 to 360!" Mr. Wong said. Mr. Wong was nice. He didn’t give too much homework. Which is good considering that all of the other teachers made you read 300 pages or more in 1 night.
After school was over, Garrison quietly started walking home. Until…
“Gary! Wait up man!"
His best friend Graham yelled at him. "What do you want?" Gary asked because he is usually so quick to get home.
“Soo… First time getting in trouble from the teacher eh?" Graham asked.
“Yeah, I guess.“ Gary shrugged. Graham kept bugging Garrison after that “UGHHH just stop!!" Gary yelled.
Gary‘s trumpet flew out of his backpack from trumpet class and started screaming at Graham. After that, Graham became deaf and blind because it was so loud and he shut his eyes so hard. Graham managed to call 911 and Garrison got arrested after that. He lived a sad quiet life after that. Meanwhile, for his trumpet, it got put in the museum but it can still be used…
You Can't Get Away
by Josie Kramer
Blake can run. REALLY run. Superhumanesque. Here’s how it started:
Blake has his 2 best friends, Brad, and Justin, over for his birthday. He also had his girlfriend, E over. That group of four was very close. That night, they were outside on skateboards in their driveway, when they heard a gasp, and then they heard a shrill shriek. It originated from the hedge, in their neighbors yard. They ran over.
"Ahh!' Blake yells, and then faints. E goes and does CPR. Brad goes over and screams.
"It’s a BODY! It’s gasping for air!" Justin gasps.
“She has been stabbed! OMG!" Says E, who took a break from CPR cuz Blake awoke with a start.
Justin looked at the woman, blood soaked shirt, with navy bellbottom jeans, and mouth spewing blood, and trickling from her nose, to the lush grass. E picks up her blue iPhone and dials 911. Blake tries to calm the woman but then the sight fades from her gray eyes.
"NO!" Blake yells. Blake yells “She’s dead!" Suddenly Blake gasps as Justin falls to the ground and metal catches the last rays of sunlight from something on his back.
“No!" E yells as blood stains the grass and moist ground. Brad jumps up and grabs the knife's handle, which is slippery from the red, glistening substance which now everyone is smeared with, and Brad yanks the knife out of Justin’s back and Justin gasps as a squelch emmitted, and Justin falls again. “I got it!" E says as she pulls off her own belt and substitutes it for a torneqet. Justin has blood dripping out of his mouth and over his pointy chin. The color fades from his eyes and tears moisten the already sopping ground. They sob. Justin gargles and reaches for Blake, then goes limp.
A sudden flash of light darts from the hedge and E screams. Blake instinctively jumps and a blade touches his back. E rushed over and her scream had made him jump ahead just enough, that he had been seriously injured.
"Get it out!" Blake yells to E.
“Just do it!!" he yells, tears accumulating in his eyes, and E obliges with hesitation as she grasps the bejeweled handle of the knife and gave it a tug and it came out.
“OWWWWWWWWWWWW! YOWW! cried Blake, as he pawed at his back, which was swelling rapidly. He took the belt off of there unseeing, unfeeling friend and clasped it around Blake’s middle. That helped to clot the blood that was on Blakes T-shirt.
Suddenly they heard a crash, then a cloaked figure darted out of the hedge and ran off.
Adrenaline rushed through Blake, Brad, and E's veins, and E gaged with a disgust because she knew, that must have been Justin and the poor, poor women’s killer. Without a second thought E raced into the night, Blake and bread followed, leaving the corpse in the grass behind the hedge.
The threesome heard sirens, and knew they would take care of the bodies because all they really craved was to catch that murderer, and make him pay. Tears streaked E's face, brown with dripping mascara, and dirt, her thin lips pale with fear. Then they heard a rattle of bushes. Brad collapsed, a knife in his back, that impaled so far, it was visible from both his stomach, and back, the color faded from his hollowing green eyes. E and Blake screamed and wept. E then had heart palpitations from so much grief and collapsed, and Blake screamed and listened for her heart but it was hollow. He'd lost E, too. Blake whirled around, looking at the blue/red police lights flashing in the distance.
“No, no this is wrong, all wrong!" He muttered, then he ran…
And ran, and ran. Away from his little fragmented town.
An excerpt from the book
Darkweb (Daughter of Venom); Earth's Righteous Protector
by Sloane Marie Reyes
Jennifer herself was scared. She didn’t want to find out what made that noise, but she had to.
“What kind of five-year-old walks in high heels?" Ellie asked venom with a bit of astonishment.
“Apparently this one who's trying her best to look like an 'adult',“ exclaimed Venom to Ellie.
Jennifer felt her self slowly turning herself into Darkweb. Her symbionic form.
A Strong Voice
by Ellie Wiseman
My voice is strong but still fragile in a way that no one understands.
I see people every day who take their voice for granted. I have always found that having a strong voice can be hard because you never know when to use it and went to keep it quiet. Quiet voices sting the most to me. They look at you in a way of regret, fear, and the worst of all, you never have someone who will have your back cause they think someone with a strong voice doesn’t need help. It’s true that strong voices can usually speak for themselves by themselves, but they still need someone to be by their side. If you meet someone with a strong voice instead of ignoring. Try to help it grow stronger, and help yours grow stronger.