Writing the Novel with Carolyn Cohagan 2022
Writing the Novel camp was full of talented, whip-smart girls this year. They were so dedicated to their writing that it made my heart sing. We had stories about stowaways, magic doors, young detectives, and a house that needs to be fed. Keep an eye on this group of flourishing writers. They’re going to go far. – Carolyn Cohagan
by Fiona Briggs
I found Cazzy when I was twelve. She was at the grocery store, sitting by a Redbox. I immediately fell in love. I left with Legally Blonde in one hand and a fluffy white kitten in the other. At first, dad was none too pleased with the idea of Cazzy staying with us, but after many hours of begging and forcing him to look into Cazzy’s tanzanite blue eyes, he finally said yes. And Cazzy was all mine
“Why is she so round? Peaches isn’t that round,” Leilani said, sipping her venti Starbucks chocolate cookie crumble crème Frappuccino with almond milk, five Frappuccino chips, three pumps of mocha sauce, mocha drizzle, whipped cream, and cookie crumble toppings.
“She’s not round, she’s just . . . sharing size,” Nessa explained.
She’s round,” Leilani said flatly after taking a sip of her drink. “What’s wrong with her eyes?”
“Nothing. What do you mean?” Nessa asked.
“Are you serious? Why are they so blue?” Leilani sipped her drink. “Is that normal?”
“She’s fine. Her eyes are just blue,” Nessa said.
“Okay. It’s just that the only other person I knew who had eyes like that was . . . ”
“I know.” Nessa cut her off. She didn’t want to be rude, but it was a touchy subject. Nessa wasn’t completely over it.
“Yeah. Sorry,” Leilani apologized. There was a long pause. “So, we just got a new kitten. We just got her this morning. Do you want to come over tomorrow and see her?” Leilani asked.
“Yeah, maybe. I’ll check with my dad,” Nessa said.
“Cool. I’m sure he’ll say yes. Anyway, I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Leilani stood up and left.
Nessa sat on the cold, bacteria laden bench and waited for her dad. Nessa put her head in her hands and massaged her scalp with her fingernails. She squeezed her eyes shut when she felt them get watery and thought about matters she thought were pressing. Like, how did Leilani drink so many Frappuccinos in one day? And why did Andrea’s name bring tears to her eyes? And why wasn’t dad here yet? Nessa looked up and wiped her eyes. She saw her dad’s silver SUV behind the automatic glass doors. Nessa stood up quickly and made a beeline for the exit.
“How was it? Did you buy anything?” Dad asked as Nessa slid into the car. Nessa rested her glabella on dad’s shoulder and started to cry. The hot, salty tears fell out of her eyes and were absorbed by dad’s shirt.
“Nessa, did something happen?” Dad asked. Nessa didn’t know how to answer without causing herself physical pain. So she just sat and cried until she had no tears left
“This is her. Her name is Bumblebee,” Leilani said, holding a small black kitten with huge hazel eyes.
“Bumblebee?” Nessa asked.
“Lucas wanted to name her Venom,” Leilani said, rolling her eyes slightly. Nessa laughed.
“Her full name is Her Majesty, Miss Bumble Venom,” Leilani said, bowing her head and lifting Her Majesty, Miss Bumblebee Venom into the air.
“Leilani, be careful. You nearly made her a pattée with the ceiling fan,” Nessa said.
“Ooh, you’re right,” Leilani said, pulling Bumblebee down from her imaginary throne. “I’m going to go get a snack. Do you want anything?”
“No, thanks,” Nessa said.
“Suit yourself,” Leilani shrugged, walking down the stairs with Bumblebee tucked under her arm. Nessa sat on Leilani’s bed until she heard a muffled mewing from right outside.
“Cazzy?” Nessa said in shock. Nessa went to open the window and Cazzy jumped inside. Cazzy pattered across the carpet and into the closet.
“Cazzy,” Nessa sighed, “how did you get here anyway.” Nessa went into the closet and clawed her way through the dense jungle that was Leilani’s shirts.
“Cazzy, come back.” Nessa walked her bare feet through Leilani’s closet until she came to the door. She had somehow walked in a circle around Leilani’s densely packed, yet massive closet. She came across a door that was barely cracked open. Nessa heard a voice she didn’t recognize on the other side. Nessa tried to look through the crack, but she couldn’t see much. She knew the voice wasn’t the voice of Leilani Taylor. Nessa sighed and pushed open the closet door.
“Hello, Mrs. Taylor. I don’t know how Cazzy got in, but . . . ” Nessa trailed off when she saw the woman’s surprised face and looked around the room. The woman wasn’t Mrs. Taylor. And Nessa wasn’t in Leilani’s room anymore.
by Avery Cook
I am Annabelle the ape. I am from somewhere in South America. I must escape, because terrible people are cutting down my trees. I am very lonely. My parents died when I was getting berries off the bush down below, my parents were high up in a tree. Suddenly a vehicle with a chopper came by, and cut the tree while they were still on it. The vehicle disappeared in the air. I found their bodies dead on the jungle ground. That happened when I was 3 weeks old.
Now 3 years old, and this ape has a plan to escape. There will be a boat today afternoon only 5 minutes from now. When it comes I will jump on secretly. I found clothes on the ground my size, and I will use it to blend in. I ran to the dock with my oversized t-shirt using it for a dress.
When the boat arrived I got on pretending to be human. I can’t believe they called a woman hairy and short, how rude, and dumb. The boat is heading towards Galveston, Tx. They had wonderful food. They had something called a cheeseburger. It was delicious!
After a day of waiting we arrived. The town was cold and oceany, and yes that is a word. I was at a station for boats. I asked many people for a home, thanks to 1 years of learning English. No one wanted a small hairy 3 year old human. So I took off my clothes, and said, “ free monkey!”People tried to grab me and scream.
Then there was a 10 year old girl named Mary who seemed nice so I ran into her arms. She smiled and hugged me, and took me to a pizza place. She takes great care of me. She reads to me, bathes me, feeds me, plays with me, and even lets me sleep with her. Tomorrow we will move to Austin, TX! I am so excited to go. I slept well that quiet night.
We are moving today! Mary, me, mom, and dad. I get to be a city monkey.I am so happy to have Mary. She says she has a surprise for me at the new house! I packed only a hat, because I don’t have clothes.
When everyone was packed we were on the way. For about 5 hours we ate at gas stations. We took many stops. I looked out the window, and there was a huge city. Everyone there was so cool.
We finally made it to the house. Mary took me to a room. The room was so cool! It was jungle themed. We had a jungle bunk bed, jungle walls, jungle fake vines for me to climb, and even a fake tree for me too climb, but best of all is the jungle gym! I got on top of the bunk bed! There was a box with a ribbon on it that said Annabelle, so I opened it and there was a monkey stuffed animal that was very soft and cute. Mary gave it to me. And I named it Maribel, my name and Mary’s name.
Since we are home Mary, mom, and dad will be looking around the city. We took a walk in the rich outlet mall. I saw beautiful art on the wall all over abandoned buildings. I asked Mary what it was. She said, “that is graffiti, and bad people did that and they can get arrested for it.” I stick my tongue out at the beautiful art. I thought to myself how can something beautiful can be so troublesome.
They took me into a clothes shop, and I found a beanie hat that is just my size. The hat is meant for babies. My new mom bought me the hat. I love it so much! I know I look cute. I will wear the hat everyday.
We are now back to our wonderful home. Me and Mary raced to the room,I won! I went to the jungle gym as fast as I could for no reason. We climbed the tunnels, and went down the slide until we were almost too tired to eat dinner. Mom screamed, “Dinner is ready!” We raced each other down the stairs, but she won by 20 seconds. We walked to the dinner table. Mary screamed, “Spaghetti & meatballs!” Clearly that is her favorite food. After that we went straight to bed.
THE NEXT DAY
I woke up and noticed I was in the jungle gym tube. Mary was asleep on the slide still. I jumped on her head and screamed, “Wake up, Mary!” She screamed in surprise. I laughed, but she was angry. We had a long awkward stare, and then both laughed.
Mary said, “I smell pancakes!” I asked, “What are pancakes?” She said, “You’ll see!” We went to the bathroom first, and got and showed me how to brush your teeth. She also got me a comb. I started combing my whole body. Mary said, “You look really nice.”
We went downstairs in our tired faces, and saw what she calls pancakes. She gave me one and put maple syrup and whipped cream on it. I took my fork, and took a piece off, and it was the best thing I ever tasted in my life! We ate the whole Pancake, and went from our tired faces to our stuffed faces.
We are going to a carnival! Mary says it is a place with rides, games, prizes, turkey legs, and cotton candy. We took a walk because it was only 5 minutes walk wise, and dad says we needed the exercise. When we got there she took me for a tea cup ride. We got the fastest one.
We were on it forever, so I barfed on the ride. A little got on Mary, but she didn’t care that much. She went to the bathroom and washed it off with water. She bought us cotton candy with her money that mom got us. Cotton candy is delicious.
A girl came up to Mary, and took her cotton candy, and the Smeared it all over her face. Mary started crying, and then I gave her my cotton candy. No one, not even me could be that mean to her. I jumped on her, knocking her down, and punched her in the face millions of times. A woman came by who seemed to be the mother of the bully. Then our parents came. The woman said, “It is I neighbor, and I am going to call animal control to take away your ugly ape!” Mrs. Lopez is our neighbor Karen.
When we got home, and opened the door, inside there was pet control, and this is why you lock your doors! They grabbed me, and Mary screamed and cried. She punched him in the stomach, and then he let go of me by accident. She picked me up, and ran back inside the house. She locked the door. She gave me to dad, and went back outside. I looked out the window, and saw her hurting the man till he left and never came back. He left really fast, and Mary said, “Who’s hungry?” I hugged her tight. We went back to the carnival and ate Turkey legs. We were safe from the pet control at last. We played, and took a nap before dinner. Dinner was leftover turkey wings with mashed potatoes. That night I slept with Meribel.
THE LAST DAY AND FOREVER
I woke up in a peaceful way. There were birds singing, parents cooking something, and then a loud bang. Mary wakes up,too. We run down to the kitchen without brushing our teeth, combing our hair, or even eat. We were just too worried to do anything, and when we got downstairs. There was a loud siren outside. When we got to the kitchen Mary started screaming and crying.
There we saw father on the ground fainted. Blood was everywhere, and were all very worried. Mom, Mary, and even me were crying our hearts out. Ambulance people picked him up, and then rushed him to the hospital. We went in the back of the ambulance with him. Mom was the most worried, because there is a chance he is not fainted he could be dead.
We arrived at the hospital worried. They ran his cart to the best doctor in the hospital. He wakes father up somehow, doctors are magic. Father whimpered in pain. Turns out the worst thing that happened is that he broke his arm. He tripped over an apple he said. He remembers everything which is really good.
They put a cast on his arm, so it would heal. We had to take it easy with dad. We all hugged him, but gently. We are a very happy family and a lucky family. We spent the rest of the day with dad, and had easy delivered food. Pizza is still good cold apparently. And then pizza again for our easy dinner. We slept a lot that night.
We were a happy family forever. We were all okay. Dad's arm is getting a lot better from yesterday. I found my forever home with Mary’s family. I lived with her as long as I lived. She even brought me to college with her in the dorms! Mary’s mom and dad missed her a lot when she was in college. We lived happily ever after.
Mystery at Buckingham Palace
by Addie Derrett
I wake up with a feeling of tension, like something strange is about to happen. I stand up, taking in the gloom outside of my window. London is particularly cloudy today, perhaps this is why I feel unsure. I step over to Chrissy’s bed, and shake her awake. She wakes up gently, her eyes barely open. I tell her to get ready, I’m making tea for her. I walk down the creaky old stairs and see Father sitting on our worn couch, reading the paper and smoking his pipe. Mother is stirring a pot of porridge on the stove, humming a sweet laid-back melody.
“Good morning my darling.” She says.
“I’m about to brew a kettle of tea for Chrissy. Where did you store the teabags?” She smiles sweetly at me.
“In the top cupboard with the dishes.” I walk over to the cupboard and take out four peppermint tea bags. As I begin brewing the tea I see Chrissy walk downstairs rubbing her eyes.
“Good morning.” She says. She walks over to the bookshelf and selects an old book. She sits down by the crackling warm fireplace and turns the first page. Just a moment later the house telephone rings. Father puts down his newspaper and stands up. He answers the phone and I watch as a look of horror slips onto his face. He finishes the call and hangs up. Mother walks over to him with comforting eyes on her face.
“Who was that dear?” Father shakes his head for a moment.
“Mr. Homewood went missing yesterday afternoon, a group of detectives later found his body inside Buckingham. It was Margret calling to tell us. Poor woman, she must be devastated.” Mr. Homewood was our neighbor, he lived just across from us. Chrissy looks up.
“Father, did Mrs. Homewood explain how he died?” Before Father can respond I speak up.
“Chrissy, this isn’t a mystery waiting for us to solve, it’s a real situation and there’s no point in trying to figure it out. He’s dead and that’s that.” Chrissy groans.
“Eleanor, I was just asking!” Mother looks at us.
“Children, be kind. Chrissy you may know but Eleanor is right, you must not interpret this as a mystery to be solved, you may know but it won’t fulfill you.” Chrissy nods her head eagerly.
“They found him dead with a knife through his neck.” Chrissy’s eyes widen.
“Woah!” I hear the teapot start yelling so I take it off of the stove. Pour it evenly into three cups.
“Mother, Father, Chrissy, the tea is ready.” The smell of warm peppermint fills my nostrils, comforting me, making me feel full and warm. Chrissy is certainly planning something, but I try not to let that worry me. Roughly 20 minutes later Mother sets down the porridge on the table along with a fresh batch of apricot scones. I pull out my squeaky chair and sit down. I take a bite of my scone and let the crispy, buttery, and warm taste sit in my mouth.
“Mother, maybe we could bake a batch of scones for Mrs. Homewood.” I say.
“Oh that’s a splendid idea darling, I’m sure she could use some comfort.” Perhaps today isn’t so bad after all. After breakfast Mother, Chrissy, and I set off to the market to collect groceries. As we walk back it begins raining, so we must cover up the goods with our coats. Once we get back inside we begin baking. Father is out doing work, so we are all alone. We finish the scones and Chrissy and I walk to Mrs. Homewood’s house. She invites us in for a few minutes and we talk.
“Oh aren’t you just the sweetest girls.” She says.
“Mrs. Homewood?” She looks over at Chrissy.
“Yes?” “How do you think he died? Who killed him?” She looks down for a moment. “Well, it’s obvious that he was stabbed with a knife. Some dimwit that person was, coming up on him from behind But, of course there’s no one who could figure it out.” Mrs. Homewood gets an interesting look on her face. Chrissy pauses for a moment and looks at her.
“How do you know someone came up behind him? At the market the vendors said that no one knew.” Mrs. Homewood looks her dead in the eye.
“Some nerve you have little one. Let’s just say I have my ways.” I see something click on Chrissy’s face.
“It was you, wasn’t it? You killed him.” She gets a sly look on her face. “Let’s keep this our little secret, ok? Otherwise you're next.”
By Emma Finch
You hit the snooze button on your alarm clock, mentally preparing for your early shift at the hospital. Using the last bit of responsibility you had left, you heave yourself out of bed and shuffle towards your closet. Grabbing your uniform was easy, it was the only white piece of clothing you owned. (Aside from socks of course) Looking at your alarm clock, it was almost 4 am. But the numbers kept ticking, 3:60. 3:61, 3:62. You rolled your eyes, pulling the clock's cord out of the wall socket. You wouldn't let the house pull any of its tricks on you today, you were too tired. Oh, forgot to mention, your house is alive. Minor detail.
You'd known this for a while now. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to realize the shifting hallways and rotating furniture wasn't normal. In hindsight, you probably should have questioned why the house was so cheap. Probably just an issue with the foundation, you assumed. Only realizing your unfortunate predicament when it was too late. Not like you had the money to just pack up and move somewhere else, so you were stuck here for the time being.
Funnily enough, the house never looked any different on the outside. So at least none of your neighbors would get suspicious. Now, you might be wondering: Hey, if this house is alive, doesn't it need food and water or something? Well, yeah, it needed food. You'd known that living objects like your house needed food ever since you heard of The Franktown Mall Incident.
Back in 2003, three teenagers broke into an old mall that had closed several years earlier. An old security camera showed they made it into the mall's storage room. Before the floor disappeared beneath them, making the three vanish without a trace. Since no bodies were ever found, investigators concluded that the mall "ate" them. There are many more suspected cases like this, but this is the only one the police department has confirmed. No further info was found on the mall either, it was blown up shortly after the investigation was over.
Back to the topic at hand, the house let you know it was hungry by rearranging the fridge magnets. You weren't gonna feed it people, you weren't a murderer. And you weren't exactly keen on getting eaten yourself. So you settled for the next best thing. KFC.
Specifically, every Friday you would order two chicken burgers, ten chicken nuggets, and a Sprite. Which you would proceed to shove down the sink when you got home. Literal money down the drain, but at least the house was happy.
Walking into the kitchen, you make yourself two pieces of toast. Sitting down at the table, you bite away at your breakfast while fiddling around on your phone. Looking at the clock, it was time for you to go. You pick up the piece of toast you weren't able to finish, and promptly stuff it down the sink. You grab your bag and walk towards the door, reaching for the handle. Only for it to shoot to the opposite side of the door. Sighing, you try to grab it again, only for it to slip through your hands like butter. Looking up at the ceiling, you warn the house that if it doesn't stop, you won't get any barbecue sauce with its nuggets. The floorboards under you squeak, and the handle returns to its original position. Finally able to open the door, you walk outside. Turning back for a second to give a mildly petty thank you.
After taking the bus to your job, the next couple hours pass uneventfully. When you finally get home, you feel like collapsing. Only to have your nerves tested again by the house flinging a pillow your way. Troublemaker, you think, and you toss it back onto the couch. After that little mishap, you heat up a TV dinner. And eat it on the couch, mindlessly scrolling through channels. You don't remember falling asleep. Or the red blanket that now haphazardly covered you. The house could be a goblin in its own little way, but at least it wouldn't let you freeze on the couch.
The Beau Soleil
by Sasha Glakas
Heidi Quinn lives in a small apartment in Los Angeles. She had gotten a job on the most expensive cruise ship of the time. The Beau Soleil. She was one of the deck attendants. She was in charge of doing any tasks that the deck manager could not. She had been on one other cruise ship before on her trip to England. She loved riding on ships. It was her dream to be the captain of a cruise ship since she was a little kid.
“Okay, I have my clothes, toiletries, cruise ship books, and my phone. I’m all set.” I say to myself. I
put my bright red, curly hair in a ponytail and I take my bags down to the lobby. I see Mr. Aron, the door man.
“Hello, Tim!” I say.
Tim and I became friends when I moved into my apartment after college. We chat for a bit until I walk outside, to the cars honking their horns, tires screeching, and people yelling. I Call over a taxi and get in the back. The old man puts my bags in the trunk. I tell him my destination and we stop a little while later. I get out, pay the man, and walk to the giant dock where thousands of people are waiting.
“Employees first! Employees first!” A man calls. I squeeze through everyone and walk up the stairs. I show a man in a red suit my identification badge. He lets me on and I walk up one of the dozens of flights of stairs onto the main deck. I go to my suite and insert the key. Inside there is one bed and pillow, a small shelf, a rocking chair and a bathroom with a curtain. I unpack my clothes and books and put them on the shelf. I lock the door and sit down on a rocking chair with a book. After a little while, I put on my uniform and walk up to the deck. I follow the map to the front deck, stopping by the supply closet and getting some brooms. There are dozens of people looking out at the sun setting. I sweep and mop and dust until the sun disappears. I put all the equipment away and walk down to her suite to get dressed for dinner. I put on a blue dress with black high heels.
I walk down to the Galley. They are serving lobster, mashed potatoes, peas, and other fancy dishes. I get my meal and sit down. I stare at the ocean and the night sky. I finish and go up to my suite.
The next day I start the day like usual, picking up breakfast on the way to cleaning the deck. The day goes smoothly. As I sweep the last deck, I watch the sun vanish under the horizon. I go down to my room. I fall asleep. The other guests are still up, dancing and eating. The boat starts rocking rapidly. Suddenly a giant wave sends me flying off my bed. A few paintings fall off the wall and my glass of water falls and breaks. I get called to the main deck. The wave sends the boat off course. The crew members see an iceberg that makes the humongous Beau Soleil look like a mouse. The Captain tries to steer around the iceberg but doesn’t succeed. Now people are running to the front deck and screaming. The Beau Soleil Smashes right in the middle of the iceberg sending every passenger falling to the ground. The hull has a massive hole in it. The crew members start putting women and children in the life boats.
The bottom was filling up with water quickly and I didn't have time to board a lifeboat. I jump over the edge of the boat into the cold icy water. The water squeezes my chest as I tread water, waiting for another lifeboat. But all of them had floated away, leaving me alone, in the middle of the Pacific ocean. My only choice was to swim to the iceberg in hope a small chunk would break off.
I swim a few yards until I’m only inches away from the iceberg, I grab onto it, my hands numb. I pull and pull, trying to break off a piece. But no such luck. I grab an edge of the iceberg and try to pull myself up onto it. I pull with all my might and thankfully lift myself out of the freezing water. I sit on the edge, trying to keep warm. I am as cold as an iguana that has wandered into the arctic. I curl myself up into a ball until I think I hear crying. I listen carefully. And sure enough, I hear sniffling.
I get up and climb around the iceberg. Then I see a black haired boy, with purple lips and red cheeks. He is shriveled up in a ball, tears dripping from his eyes. He looks up at me, with his blue eyes.
“Who are you?” I ask him.
He murmurs something I couldn't understand.
“Hmm?” I ask again
“Luke.” He says louder, his teeth chattering.
“Why are you here alone?”
“My Dad told me to stay here and wait. And he would come back for me with help tomorrow.” He sniffled.
What was he thinking? Just to leave his son on an iceberg in the middle of the Pacific ocean? I thought. I sit next to him on the ice. Even though I have never been so hungry, I take out a granola bar and hand it to him.
He reaches out, takes it, and takes a small bite out of it. “Thanks.” He says, sniffling. “What’s your name?”
“Heidi Quinn.” I reply, putting my hands in my pockets to prevent getting frostbite. “Well, I think we should go to bed. Or try to. Luke finishes the granola bar.I lay down next to him. He rests his head on my stomach as we both soon fall asleep.
“Heidi! Heid!” he yells while shaking me awake. “Look! A rescue boat! They came to save us!” It is still below freezing but I sit up to see Luke pointing at a ship. “I think I can see my Dad!”
We start waving our hands as the boat comes nearer and nearer. Soon they let down a ladder into the water. We jump into the water and climb up the rope. Luke runs up to a black-haired man in jeans and a dirty T-shirt. The man hugs Luke affectionately.
“I’m so sorry, Luke! What was I thinking? Leaving you alone on a moving iceberg!” the man says squeezing Luke tighter.
“I wasn’t alone!” Luke says. He drags his dad over to me. “Heidi was waiting there too! And she let me sleep with her!” The man smiles at me.
“Thank you so much, ma’am!” he says and holds out his hand. I shake it and smile.
“No problem, he was a delight!” I say. Luke gives me a big hug and then runs off with his dad.
The Rat, The Witch and The Shadow
by Leoni Judenau
The witch approached the castle, an evil glint in her black eyes. The guards took no notice of the Shadow slipping under the crack in the door, or the eerie shapes crawling up the walls. The vine-like Shadows crept around the castle until it completely covered the whole building. The sky darkened, clouds covering the sun, spiders and rats climbed out of the cracks in the walls.
The witch walked through the empty hallways, for everyone was celebrating. She slipped under another door, into a huge banquet hall. The empress sat on her high and mighty throne like a child who was given an A+, not noticing the Shadows creeping up and down the walls. The darkness encircled the throne, turning the gold and blue chair, black and rotting. The empress screamed, everyone stopped whatever they were doing. The witch appeared suddenly at the end of the table, face covered by a mask, black robes draped around her body. The witch glided forward across the room, until she stood right in front of the empress looking down upon her. Slowly she removed the mask, the empress gasped in horror at the pale face covered with black lines, huge black eyes and wide dark mouth. The empress stumbled back, hitting her throne. The witch turned around slowly observing the room, thin, pointed fingers twitched at her sides. Suddenly the empress’s closest friend Hector's eyes turned black, Hector grabbed a knife from his pocket. With forced steps Hector walked toward the empress, Hector raised the weapon, his hand shaking.
Blood splattered the throne behind the empress, she fell down a dark liquid taking over her body. Hector's eyes returned sea-green, he dropped to his knees in horror and cried over her dead body. A smile twitched at the corners of the witch's face, before she covered it up with a mask again. Hector wiped away his tears, he stood up, faced the witch, and ran at her yelling wildly holding the stained knife up high. The witch reacted calmly, she stuck out her hand in front of her, flexing her fingers, the Shadows on the wall became 3d. Grabbing Hector's arms, legs, face and neck, they pulled his body back, tying him against the wall, more wrapped around him, after a second he stopped struggling.
The people taking in the event before them screamed, running wildly, one tried the doors another the windows, all locked slowly, accepting their fate, the people looked at the witch. The witch looked around the room, and stuck her hands in front of her. The Shadows tore through the air.
The King slammed the newspaper down, shaking the table.
“Third one this week!” he roared. “This witch must be stopped! She’s destroying every kingdom in the world!” he continued. “Work on Defense and attack plans now!” he shouted at his advisors and generals, spit flying from his mouth, And stormed out of the room.
I groaned and stretched out, this was boring, I hated the king, so dim- witted. I was a rat though, no one cared what I had to say. I bit my tail absentmindedly, glancing at the clock, 3:00pm. Wait what? I thought, jumping up, It's lunch time! As fast as I could, I scampered across the wooden beams of the castle, through a crack in the wall. Up, left, left, right, stop and left I remembered, landing finally in the kitchen. Racing through the legs of chefs, I picked up dropped food, bread, tomato, mint, and mozzarella. Back into my home, 2 lefts, a right and home! It wasn’t much but it was a great view of the town, the tallest tower in the castle provided a lot of space. The breeze felt good against my fur, a crack in one of the tiles in the roof acted like a window. I climbed through the whole, observing the preparations for the party tonight. Chomping down on my food, I noticed something strange below me, the Shadow of a box, moving, could only mean one thing, witch.
As fast as I could I scampered down the wall, once at the bottom, I saw them, the witch and her Shadow, the witch's hood and mask was off, revealing dark red hair, a thin plan face, and black eyes. The witch and her Shadow were arguing in some mind argument, the only way the witch was able to talk. Due to my connection to witches, I could step where the Shadow was floating and join the conversation, I did just that.
The world flipped, and there was darkness, and suddenly the witches' empty mind, bodies floated around, but I turned my attention to the argument between the Shadow and witch. I could barely understand the garbled conversation, but I got as much as they were arguing about when to attack the castle.
“Right now” murmured the Shadow, its voice was somehow comforting and snarly.
“When something big happens” grumbled the witch, with a monotone and dry voice.
“Or tonight” I added annoyedly. This witch is clearly unprofessional I thought. Oops, forgot they hear everything you think when you're in their mind I remembered, feeling embarrassed. The witch turned to me.
“Do you know who I am!” boomed the witch, red hair flying up. That's when I realized, the witch in front of me was the killer and destroyer that had been murdering all the rulers of the world.
The Shadow regarded me for a moment then rasped “Why tonight?”
“The king's daughter's birthday party is tonight,” I responded.
“Can we keep it?” asked the witch, sounding very much like a toddler.
“It’ll be like a spy for us,” agreed The Shadow. The witch and Shadow turned and discussed this for a while, and turned around.
Then the witch asked “What's your name?”
“Skunk” I replied, hating my name. Some kid has given it to me, and it stuck.
“Well Skunk, welcome to the team” verified the witch. The world flipped as we left the mind, and we were standing in the soft grass. The witch, now unable to speak, put on her mask and hood. The Shadow glided behind the witch taking form as her shadow. The witch extended her arm to me, and I climbed up happily. Once I reached her shoulder, I nestled in the collar of her cloak. It was an honor for a rat to work for a witch or warlock.
The witch walked off with me on her shoulder, and a Shadow at her side. That night, screams ran through the town like a stampede of bison.
by Kassie Kercher
I hit the ground hard, the gears in my side whirring in alarm. As I stand, my arm swings brokenly and I hunt around for the bolt that kept it in place. Once I find it, I reattach my arm and secure it, screwing the bolt back on as tightly as you would hold your favorite old T-shirt that your mom says you have to throw away. Suddenly, I detect a frequency. Something is nearby. I instinctively pull out my dagger.
Abruptly, Berlin lands in front of me, the screws in his knees bringing him up smoothly. “Where were you?” he ask. “We were holding that man off for ages.” I sheath my dagger. “The control panel was a decoy. We need another plan.” Quebec lands nearby with a soft tap. “Another plan? That was another plan. We only have half an hour to make a Plan C, because the guards aren’t far behind.”
“Half an hour?” Brasilia makes herself known, hitting the floor with an echo. “You couldn’t have bought us more time?” “I got hungry.”
All four of us were part of an experimental project, Mission K-12, meant to create supernatural beings out of children. However, since human experimentation was illegal (shocker, I know), the man in charge of the project, Octavius Khan, (or Mr. Khan) selected us four to be secretly taken from our homes as undetected as possible so as not to alert the governments in the area. Trained by professionals, we were made to be the best assassins the world had ever seen (or never seen, depending on how you look at it). And it might have happened if we didn’t have anything to say against being given metal for arms and legs. We had almost never been to the outside world. We weren’t going to be remembered as thoughtless experiments - we wanted to be remembered as human beings, wanting to be part of the world, not take away from it. After escaping the main complex, we planned to override and destroy the technology that made us what we are, so nobody else could get hurt. After that, we decided to do away with the lab begrudgingly acknowledged as our home.
We immediately stop talking after we all detect footsteps. Everyone braces themselves like a cat readies to pounce on the old sock that you haven’t put in the laundry yet. The air is thick with tension. A minute passes without anyone making a noise, yet still we do not see nor hear anything. However, a strange sensation leaves me feeling prickly. Before I have time to process it, someone grabs me from behind, catching me by surprise. “Uh, guys-” is all I manage to sputter before I knock my head against the wall and the world goes black.
I wake up with a gasp. I am in a room I have never seen before. I stand up, gingerly rubbing my head. I look around for the others, but the room appears to be empty. That is until a voice behind me says, “Hello, Taipei.”
I whirl around and painfully crack my neck because I’m smooth like that. Standing behind me with gelled hair and a jewel encrusted cane stands Octavius Khan.
He smiles genuinely as his boots click towards me. It’s a little annoying, actually. “I must say, overriding the security codes? Smart move.” Mr. Khan examines me. “Couldn’t have escaped more efficiently myself.” “Get to the point,” I say flatly because I’m great with words.
His smile flickers for a moment before launching off into story: “Did you know I was raised in a concentrated environment? Me and my countrymen were threatened by death simply because we believed in something others didn’t. We were treated poorly, so poorly that half the camp rioted and the supervisors had to call in the armed forces. Which led to this.” He points to an ugly scar invading his jawline. “My younger sister was taken away in shackles during the riot, despite my attempts to save her. After I was let out, I found that she had been deported. With no passport or actual location, I failed to reunite with her, even as years passed. I did the next best thing. I hunted down the concentration camp supervisors. I wanted justice. After all, why should we be hated just because we believed in something? But I didn’t kill them. I subjected them to the same thing I had been through. Harsh treatment, removal from society. Their cries for mercy became one with thin air. Of course, they eventually withered away. But it had gotten me thinking; why couldn’t I do what my countrymen had tried and failed at? I could liberate everyone from those cruel conditions. I could make the job quick and painless, show them mercy. But I couldn’t do this alone. I recruited scientists, engineers, and, of course, you.” He inclines his head. “You could do the job, help my cause. But then you up and ran away before you knew what glorious destiny awaited you.” Mr. Khan holds out a hand. “Well?”
“Sorry, what’d you say again? I zoned out, like, halfway through your evil scheme.” He sighs dramatically and tells me the whole story again. “So are you in or not?” I think for a moment, then shake my head. “You’re wrong,” I state. “People shouldn’t be judged or shunned, but the people that judge anyway don’t deserve to be put to death. You can’t liberate people by killing them.” Mr. Khan’s smile fades. “I should have known,” he says coldly. “I thought death would come easy to you, with your face and mind being reduced to the metal mask you wear now.” He raises his cane. “But I suppose some things can’t be helped.” “What, you gonna hit me with your shiny stick?” I almost laugh. And then he hits me with his shiny stick.
I’m surprised at how much it hurts. It must have been the jewels. I dodge and weave to avoid the evil cane. I look for something, anything, to escape or defeat Mr. Khan. The doors and windows appeared to be locked. That’s when Berlin, Quebec, and Brasilia explode through the door. Seriously, Quebec is holding an explosive remote. I cough.
“Look who’s decided to join us,” Khan swings his cane. “I’m going to enjoy this.” “No, I’m going to enjoy this.” Brasilia gets a running start and lands a solid hit on Khan’s nose. He stumbles, nose bleeding. Seeing an opening, I rush toward him and sweep his legs, making him fall. Quebec plants explosives around the room. “What the heck are you doing?” Berlin snaps. Quebec shrugged. “Getting rid of harmful material?” Out of the corner of my eye, I see Khan extend his cane from the floor. Before I can warn Quebec, Mr. Khan bashes his cane into his shins. I hear metal clang and Quebec screams,
dropping the remote. The cane leaves flying sparks, exposed wire and jewels embedded in his leg. Mr. Khan scrambles up and shoves Berlin into the corner. I try to choke hold Khan from behind, but he flings me aside like a frisbee. Finally, Brasilia grabs his arm and whirls Mr. Khan and bangs his head against the window. We both surround him, triumphant.
We are not expecting him to break out cackling. To our horror, he holds the explosive remote in his callused hands. He laughs high and cold, putting a shiver down my spine. He presses the 20 second countdown. Brasilia bolts for the window, breaking it with her elbow. I haul up Quebec, his patched metal face contorted with pain. Berlin brings himself up, his body language unreadable. We’re about to make it through when a hand pulls me back into the room. Khan pulls me up by the collar.
“You think you can outrun me?” He taunts joyfully. I close my eyes, accepting death, waiting for the blinding lights. Instead, a shadow settles over me. I am dropped from Khan’s grasp and my eyes fly open. Hands push me towards the window, but I try to pull them with me out the window.
Berlin squeezes my hand. “You need to go,” he says. I shake my head. “No,” I say firmly. “You can come with us.” “Khan would follow us wherever we go,” Berlin replies. He looks back at Mr. Khan, holding him down with his other hand. “We need to end this here and now.” I gulp. A simple thank you is all I can say, but no words can cover the endless void of sacrifice between us. I leap out the window, an ear-splitting boom erupting from behind me.
Quebec, Brasilia and Taipei stare at the bonfire formerly known as Khan’s lab. Flames greedily enfulge the building in a red fury. There is a stillness in the air, like something was missing. Maybe it was the fact that they thought they would be standing here with four people. I brush away the grief. I did what I did for the chance that my friends might get a chance to be free. Now it was time for my freedom. I turn around, taking in a full view of the outside world for the first time. A shining light comes from above my head, and I am gone.
“Are you ready?” Quebec asked. “Nope,” Brasilia said, “Let’s do it.” They start walking to the unknown.
“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.”
- Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States
by Campbell Logan
Cherry Maine was a simple person. She didn’t want much. Just her family’s farm, and her younger twin sibling; Peach and Pear. She was happy with that. She liked her job as a seamstress. It made her feel useful, and it brought in money, which to her was more important them being happy with a job, being the only one who could work; with her siblings so young it fell to her to pay for the house and food. She also had to make sure there was money for her siblings to get new clothes. It exhausted her sometimes, but whenever she saw her little siblings break out into smiles, she knew it was worth it. Just thinking about her siblings made her smile.
She turned onto the next street and watched as the tree grew thicker and the dirt road became unkempt. She was the only one who truly used the path. Soon the tree line broke up, allowing her to see her family’s little house. The white stone was worn from the years of exposure, and the blue tiled roof was missing some shingles, but she thought it added character. She could barely see the fruit orchards behind the house. It was where they made most of the profit in the spring, selling cherries, pears, peaches and a few other fruits.
Cherry walked in and dropped her bag on the sofa with a sigh. She then made her way to her mother’s old room. The curtains were pulled back, letting the sun fall on the bed. Mango Maine had fallen sick last February and had soon passed. Cherry exited the room, letting out a deep sigh as she closed the door. Seeing her mother’s room empty always made her sad. For the longest time, it had only been Cherry and her mom. Pushing away those thoughts, she moved towards the back door where she heard laughing. As she stood on the small back porch, she couldn’t help but let out a smile as she saw her six-year-old brother and sister run around the orchid.
Peach was the eldest of the two. She had inherited her mother’s bright red hair and dark freckles, which stood out on her milk chocolate skin. Peach had always been the outgoing twin, with lots of opinions that she wasn’t afraid to tell you. Pear, on the other hand, preferred to keep his opinions to himself. He was still an outgoing kid, just not as much as his sister. He had the same color skin as his twin, but his hair was a bit darker. He also had deep brown eyes while his twin had warm brown eyes, which were different to Cherry’s, which were a light blue to match her bleached hair and white skin that was darkened to a tan by the sun.
One of the few times she brought her siblings into town, she had heard whispers of whether they were even her sibling, because it was true they looked little alike, but that was only because they had different fathers. Which really made them half siblings, but she loved them all the same. With that thought she went back inside to start preparing dinner. They didn’t have much, but with access to fruits she was able to make a fruit salad with some boiled vegetables on the side. It wasn’t excellent, for cooking wasn’t her area of expertise. That was her brother Pear; he dreamed of being a professional chef. Finishing up, she got up to call her siblings in, making sure they washed their hands before they sat down.
‘’What have you two been up to today?” Cherry asked
Looking up from her salad, Pear replied, ‘’We went down to the river and met up with some friends. It was fun.’’
‘’And did you have fun?’’ she asked Peach, who had only pushed around the food on her plate.
She mumbled something Cherry couldn’t quite hear. She repeated the question and told her to talk louder.
‘’Taynoue was not there. Apparently, he hasn’t been seen in a few days,’’ she said dejectedly.
Cherry understood why she and Taynoue were good friends. She had heard rumors that Taynoue had been taken, which people didn’t outright say, but they knew what had taken him.
Decades ago the world had been separated into different countries, until the northern kingdom invaded their neighbor which started all sorts of event, which led to the world being under one country. At the end of the war there were a lot of orphans. So, a deal was made where orphans would be given to new families who lost a kid or couldn’t have one. It was supposed to stop after most had homes, but the government never stopped it. The leader decided to continue it and now children disappeared all the time, mostly of young age, so they could be molded to fit what was wanted. Those in the north liked the deal, they got lots and lost little. But the southern people hated it, giving it the nickname ‘The Trade,’ as a reference to the old hated animal trade from years before the war.
Peach greatly hated The Trade. She had lost a great friend to The Trade; She hoped when she was older she could stop it. But Cherry know that the people in power would not want to let it go.
The rest of dinner was quiet. After it was over, Peach and Pear did their chore of washing the dishes before heading to bed. Cherry, though, could not sleep. Tynoue was not the first child to be taken. The surrounding towns had reported missing children, but this was the first since Peach’s friend Raymond was taken two years ago. It worried her like a mother lionbird worried about her chicks. With her working all the time, she couldn’t be with her siblings. They were the age when most children disappeared. There wasn’t anything she could do about it though. Checking one last time that the twins were asleep in their beds, she went to her room and fell asleep.
The Next Day
Cherry awoke to the calls of the LionBird that lived above the porch. After waiting a few minutes to truly wake up, she got up and got dressed. As she walked out of her room she could hear bickering from the kitchen. Something about pillowfluffs. Chuckling at her siblings, she walked into the kitchen. Pear was standing on a stool to reach the counters and was chopping different fruits and had some scrambled eggs set on two three separate plates.
‘’It smells good, Pear’’ Cherry said and got a bright smile back. Turning to look at the table, she saw Peach reading a book.
Within a few minutes, Pear had brought the food to the table, with help of course. It was a quite morning. Peach finished first, running off to do something, Pear followed soon. Cherry was last. She picked up the dishes and washed them down, leaving them to dry.
Grabbing her bag from where she had left it, she headed outside. Looking up at the clouds, she could tell it would probably rain sometime today. Walking quickly to try to avoid getting wet, she headed into town. Walking down the main street, she saw a poster that said MISSING, with a picture of Taynoue underneath.
Walking into the Paduim’s Wardrobe, she headed to the back to put her bag and coat away. Looking at her desk she saw her list for today. It was rather simple: Fixing some ripped hems and loose buttons. She got to work. By the time her shift was done she had finished the list. Putting the clothes where they would be sorted tomorrow, she grabbed her bag and put on her coat and started walking home. Halfway there it had started to sprinkle. By the time the house was in view it was full on raining.
Rushing inside, she put her coat on the rack and dropped her bag on the kitchen counter. She noticed the dishes still on the drying rack. It was the twins’ job to put them up. Calling out to them to put them away, she got a different dish down to prepare dinner. Looking up when no one came, she called them again. Hearing nothing, she went to the twins’ room to find it empty. Frowning, she walked to their little library. It was empty, too, except for a spilled drink on the floor and a book on the ground. Picking up the book, she recognized it as the one Peach had been reading.
Running out of the library, she went to the back door only to see it cracked open. Running onto the porch, she once again called out for her siblings, but she got no reply.
They were gone.