“West End Blues” by Takeru Bulkley

It was a long ago in the dead of night a young private investigator back from the war did not expect what came next. A young female, about the age 29 headed towards the office building als een Kantoor 21. The building was quite old but quite unique. Instead of the usual stalls it was structured like a apartment complex with doors lining up each with its own number, except one. The oak door had a plaque that read “Ermittler,” German for investigator. Opening the door revealed a dimly lit room with three windows lining the left wall. A large desk stood in the middle of the room, many objects dotted the desk, with a single silhouette of a lamp only clear by the moonlight glancing in through the window blinds and a man. The newly made radio stood in the windowsill playing the newest tune “West End Blues,” but was soon turned off by the mysterious figure, that somehow got up without notice.

“I need your help to find this man,” she said, as she threw Polaroid pictures on the table

“Who is it?” grumbled the figure sorting through the images

“Sircio Martelinze, and you don’t need to be that secretive, Bill.”

“Who are you and how do you know my name?”

“I know many things, and your thought to be ‘close relations’ with Sircio is built on lies. “Now, let’s stop wasting time and get to work.”

“Why should I help you, and what’s in it for me?”

“Keeping your head.”

Bill got the lead on the investigation and was off to find Sircio. He didn’t know what to think of it. Bill was off on that dark night to begin the hunt for his old buddy. The first lead brought him to an old diner a few blocks down. A great big neon sign on the roof of the diner was shining down on Bill standing in front of the glass double doors. Booths lined the back walls and a counter dividing the kitchen and the eating quarters. There were only 4 people besides Bill, each more tired than the other. He thought things were quite dull and dead, but he also wondered if he was able to get any information. Bill decided to ask the waiter if she had seen him.

“Have you seen this man?” Bill asked with less curiosity as a dead goldfish.

“Oh, that’s the man that came here every day,” she said in a joyous tone.  “I haven’t seen him in a while.”

“Any clues on where he went?”

“Hmm . . . ” she wondered. “He always talks about that dangerous shipyard downtown. I never understood why he talked about that so much.”

“Thanks.”

From that Bill went to the shipyard and see what he could find. Dark and unsound the whole place had a fetor of fish because of its popular docks for fishing boats.  Only a couple street lamps dotted the port, emitting only a fleck of light.

 

“Holding Hands” by Aleydis Barnes

The plane rattled.

Oliva never thought that there would come a day where she would describe a plane similar to a kicked empty soda can, but she supposed there were first times for everything. The lights above her seat flickered, and the whole vehicle shook. Her younger brother Owen, usually loud, was as quiet as a whisper in a busy room. His face was grey like walls in hospitals. Olivia couldn’t look at it. It made her feel like her brother had been replaced by an imposter, devoid of any happiness or excitement.

Olivia closed her eyes and took three deep breaths. But no matter how slow she tried to breath in and out, nothing could stop her hammering heart and pounding ears. Everything is going to turn out fine, she told herself. You’ll land in Hawaii in just an hour or so. She wished that her parents could be with her. Her mother always knew how to make her feel at peace, even when she was feeling nervous or anxious about assignments. Her dad could make her burst into laughter no matter the situation or mood. But, unfortunately, they were back in California, and supposed to join Olivia and her brother in Hawaii with the grandparents in a few days.

She opened her eyes to assess her surroundings. Usually aisles and rows in airplanes were quiet, filled with sleeping passengers and busy travelers at work. Although the plane was silent, it was of a different kind than of the regular. It was eerie. The only noise was the rattling and clattering of the plane. Outside of her window, Olivia could see foreboding dark grey clouds gathering around each other. She swallowed the thick liquid which had accumulated in her throat. You. Are. Going. To. Be. Fine.

“Passengers aboard this aircraft, please stay calm and in your seats. Unfortunately, we are encountering a bit of turbulence. We are surrounded by storm clouds. We’re trying to get to the closest airport available to make a safe landing. We might have to perform an emergency landing,” the pilot’s voice rang through Olivia’s ears. Emergency. Landing. Wait, like a crash? As the words entered her mind, a loud crack sounded in the air. It sounded like thousands of fireworks exploding at once. Outside of her window, Olivia saw a burst of white light, and then she felt her heart stop and her mouth open and a scream leave her lips. And all the while she was falling down, down, down, down into darkness.

 

*****

It was the third time that week that Olivia had dreamed of the crash. She woke each time with a scream, her forehead wet with sweat and her heart racing like steps down a track. She clutched a hand over her mouth, trying not to let Owen hear. He was so young and innocent; she didn’t want him to know the gravity of the situation. She herself didn’t want to think about it. She hated thinking about the morning after, waking up in the aisle surrounded by lifeless bodies. For a moment before she found Owen, she thought she had lost him. It was all too much to deal with. But for now, they had settled into a routine, a semblance of safety and regularity, and she didn’t want to wipe it away.

“Via, what are we going to have for breakfast?”

Olivia turned to see her seven-year-old brother running down the beach. His clothes were dirt encrusted, mud hiding the little cartoon faces of his favorite movie characters. His brown curls were tangled like a bird’s nest, and small cuts and scabs littered his knees and legs.

“Owen, what are you doing away from the sleeping spot?”

“I was just exploring! I wanted to scout for dangers! Like the Transformers do in battle!”

“Well the Transformers are robots and don’t have to worry about physical harm like you do. You can’t just go running around-there could be animals in the forest!”

“Transformers aren’t just robots. They have personalities too! And they so do have to worry about physical harm!”

Okay, I was wrong,” Olivia said. She could feel her irritability rising-it was hard to appreciate her brother’s penchant for contradiction and boundless energy when she was the person in charge and they needed to find a way off of the island they were stranded on.

“Let’s go see what we have in the Meal Pack,” she said. They made their way to the designated suitcase filled with food they had assembled from the plane. It was stuffed with granola bars and sandwiches and the meals that flight attendants hand out along aisles.

“Can I have a Sprite to drink for today?” asked Owen. Olivia nodded but rolled her eyes as she carefully selected a protein bar. They had to be a bit practical. Who knew how long they would be stuck on the island? What if they ran out of clean water and snacks?

“What are we going to do today?” asked Owen.

“I think we should create a rescue sign,” said Olivia.

“In a movie I saw people created a big fire. A helicopter saw the people and landed to pick them up. Do you think we should start a fire?”

“No. We don’t have anything to start a fire, Owen. I don’t even know how to make one,” said Olivia, trying not to get too annoyed, “I think we should create some sort of sign. I think we should gather up wood pieces and write out SOS.”

“But in the movie they lit the thing on fire and they were rescued!”

“Yes,” said Olivia, “I understand that. But we are different from the people in that movie, so we obviously aren’t going to do the exact same thing as them.”

“Are you annoyed at me?”

“No,” Olivia said, aware of the fact that her voice was harsh.

“Okay!” said Owen. He whipped out of his knapsack one of the many glow sticks that he was obsessed with and brought with him everywhere. He laughed and ran around with his arms spread out. To Olivia, it sounded as harsh as an air horn. She winced.

After about three hours, they had enough bits and bobbles of wood to pile up into a small mountain. The whole experience of searching hadn’t been beneficial for Olivia’s temper. For what felt like almost every minute, Olivia found herself warning Owen away from some obvious danger and reminding him to stay focused on his work. She wished that he had stayed in California, and that one of her parents had gone with her on the plane. Her mother and father always knew what to do in sticky situations. They would have immediately found a way to get rescued, unlike her, who was just barely able to keep herself together.

“Okay,” she barked, clapping her hands, “let’s get started on constructing the sign.”

“Do I have to?” whined Owen, laying on his back on the sand, playing with his glow sticks.              “Yes,” she said. She felt like her dentist would kill her when he saw her teeth, she was gritting them so often.

“What if I don’t want to?”

“You still have to.”

After much begrudging, he relented. Olivia didn’t know how long it took for them to construct the messily shaped SOS, but the sky was darkening into an inky black before they finished. They returned to the sleeping spot from the morning, a large fort of blankets they had managed to gather from the airplane.

“Via! Via! Our sign is gone! Via!” Olivia felt herself be pulled, and as she sleepily opened her lidded eyes, she made out the blurry outline of Owen. The one night that she doesn’t dream of the crash, her younger brother decides to be her alarm. What great luck. Couldn’t she sleep in for one day?

“What do you mean?” she asked, her voice cracking like the sound bacon makes when it gets put on a hot pan.

“It’s gone,” Owen said, “just gone!”

“How could it have disappeared? It must be-,” began Olivia, but as she rose to her feet she saw that Owen was correct. The bundles of sticks clumped together to write out their sign were gone.

All of her hard work, all of their effort, had been wiped away. By what? She saw now what she had missed yesterday-the tide. While they were building the SOS the waves hadn’t even come close to the edges of the letters, so she had thought they wouldn’t be affected by the water at all. How could she have been so stupid? The sticks that they had spent hours collecting were washed away, gone forever into the sea. Now that she thought about it, the wooden slabs wouldn’t even have stood out that much from the beach. They wouldn’t help them be saved in any possible way. Nothing would. She and Owen were doomed to be stuck on the island forever.

“Via? Via?” asked Owen. “Are you okay?”

Olivia sighed and sat down. She didn’t want to deal with her younger brother today, didn’t want to pretend she knew what she was doing all of the time. She didn’t have all of the answers to problems.

“Via?” asked Owen again. “What’s wrong?”

Olivia took a deep breath. Might as well spill it out, she thought to herself.

“I don’t know what we are going to do. I don’t have any other plans. I have no idea how we’re going to get off this island and home to mom and dad, and I can’t stand to think that we’re never going to get rescued at all. I feel like I’ve been put in charge this whole time, and I hate it. And part of the reasons that I hate it is because I feel like you don’t take me seriously or listen to me at all. That’s what’s wrong.”

The moment the words left her mouth, she wanted to pull them back in. How could she say that to her little brother? It wasn’t his fault that he acted the way he did. But like a signature on a legal document, she had made her decision and couldn’t change what she’d done.

“Maybe I would listen to you and take you seriously if you listened to me and took me seriously. When I offered my idea about the fire, you didn’t even think about it before telling me it wouldn’t work. I feel like you don’t listen to me because I’m just a little kid.” His words stabbed Olivia in the heart. She saw now how he must have felt, like his thoughts weren’t worthy of consideration.

“I’m so sorry, Owen,” she said.

“It’s okay,” he said, “I’m sorry, too.”

“You were just trying your best,” Olivia said.

“Speaking of that,” he said, “I have another idea. We can make the sign out of my glow sticks, so that it can be visible from the sky, even in the dark.”

“That’s such a good idea!” Olivia said. “And we can make the sign higher up on the beach so that it doesn’t get washed away, and surround each letter with stones so they aren’t blown off course either!” Olivia was glad that she had taken the time to listen to her brother. She couldn’t believe she had been so angry at him. It was easy to blame him for the situation and stress when she hadn’t considered his feelings, but now she was able to see his point of view and understand his actions.

As the night drew to an end, the two of them slipped under their blankets, ready to go to sleep. Olivia felt a slight rustle, and she smiled, realizing that Owen was reaching out his hand to link with hers. She obliged. Closing her eyes, she slipped away into her dreams.

In the morning, they awoke to the sound of helicopters.

 

“Stealing from Thieves” by Ben Adams

One afternoon Jim, Aaron, and Oscar were walking home from Highland High where they attended school. Jim was the smartest of the three brothers and he spent his time studying and deciding on schools he wanted to go to. Aaron was a star athlete and spent his days out on the football field. He is easily angered, especially when people talked about him being thick headed. Oscar was the most hardworking of the three, but due to his lack of talent he always fell short of accomplishing his goals. Their father had passed away when they were young and they were living with their mother Eliza.

That afternoon when they came home they were shocked to see their mother lying on the floor.

“I can’t move my legs,” she yelped. The three boys rushed her to the hospital in their beat-down minivan. At the hospital the doctors said that she had a rare disease and she would need surgery if she were to be able to walk again.

The news was grim. When they got home, Oscar wheeled his mother inside.

“What are we going to do? We have no money to pay for surgery,” said Aaron.

No one could come up with anything better than sighs and moans so they decided to drop it.

Later that night, Jim was reading the newspaper when he noticed an article about a robbery that took place at one of their local banks. The thieves made off with over $500,000.

“Oh, how nice it would be to have that money right now,” Jim thought to himself.

All of the sudden there was an excruciating, sound of sirens piercing through the night outside of the house. A man wearing dark clothing streaked across the front lawn and in one quick motion leaped over the fence in the backyard. Jim noticed that when the mysterious man had hopped the fence something had fallen from his pocket. When Jim thought the coast was clear he went outside and saw a piece of paper lying on the grass. Jim was surprised to see writing on it, 1771 Arvill Ave. Jim knew he should throw it away or report it to the police, but his curiosity got the better of him and he put it on his desk.

The next morning, they were watching the news and the news man had a report on the robbery. The man had been wearing all black clothing, and had been caught only a block away from their house. Jim looked back at the paper on his desk with curiosity.

The very next day when they were on their way to school, Jim said, ¨I think I left my science homework at home.¨

He started strutting backwards. He got into the minivan and started the car as quietly as he could. He was heading straight for Arvill Ave. When he arrived at 1771 it was an old office building ready for demolition. He knew he shouldn’t go in, but his curiosity got the better of him. When he walked up to the massive spiraling door. He tried pushing on it but it wouldn’t budge. To his right, he noticed a small opening in the pavement big enough for a person to slip through. When he walked up to the hole he heard muttering from inside.

¨Yes, he was caught last night,” spoke the first man.

¨We need to complete the mission,” said another person.

¨But what about the money,” said yet another mysterious man.

On his way home Jim came to a realization that the man who had ran through his front lawn last night was one of the criminals that stole the $500,000 from the local bank and the people below the abandoned building must be the other criminals.

Later that night he was talking with Aaron, Oscar and their mother, he said that there was a large sum of money under an abandoned building on Arvill Ave.

¨Great we should use that money to pay for the surgery,” Aaron blurted out.

¨We should go into the building at night,” suggested Oscar.

Jim and Eliza didn’t like the idea but Jim started thinking about his mother, and never being able to walk again.

He hesitated and said, ¨I will do it.”

They spent an hour preparing, and the three brothers went down to Arvill Ave. in the minivan. They walked up to 1771 and listened through the opening in the pavement. There was silence. Then Aaron and Jim slipped through but when it was Oscar’s turn he got stuck. Then Jim and Aaron pulled down on his legs and Oscar hit the floor as loud as a beating drum. Jim was sure they had been caught and Aaron was ready to fight. After a few moments of panic Jim came to his wits and looked around. They were in a dark room with 3 doors in it. He calmed down Oscar and Aaron.

Aaron wanted to try the door on the left and Oscar wanted to go through the door on the right. They were both sure that their way was the correct one. Jim sat and thought for a while, he noticed that when he held the paper dropped by the thief up to the light more writing appeared. It was a map of the tunnel system that ran under the abandoned building. He studied the map for a while and said, “We need to go straight.”

“Straight? That’s way too obvious to be right.”

Jim showed him the map but he still didn’t understand his logic. Eventually Jim was able to convince his two brothers to follow him through the door. Once they were through the door, Jim led them into the tunnel system. After making a few turns Oscar was getting nervous.

“We should turn back,” Oscar said.

“We can’t turn back when we’re this far,” said Aaron.

Jim continued through the tunnels. The three of them were like mice creeping through the walls, always careful that they weren’t being followed. Jim led them to the end of the tunnel system.

They arrived at a large room with nothing in it. “Where’s the money?” asked

Aaron.

“I don’t know,” answered Jim.

Aaron hit the wall out of frustration. There was an ear blasting smash, followed by the fast footsteps of three people coming through the tunnels towards them. Then Oscar was hit in the head by a large briefcase that felt as heavy as a brick. The case hit the floor and cracked open. It was the cash! Aaron did some quick thinking and picked up the briefcase before the money fell out. The three brothers prepared to fight the men coming through the tunnels.

They ran as fast as their legs would take them and they rushed passed the three men before they could come to their senses. The three of them reached the original room where they hoisted each other up and out of the building. It was in the nick of time to because right as Oscar squeezed through, the building collapsed. They had escaped with the money and their lives.

They drove home in the beat down minivan and they told their mother that they had the money to pay for her surgery. She was as happy that she would be able to walk again.

 

“A New Beginning” by Shannon Yehl

“There’s one!” I shouted.

The rusty yellow taxi cab was coming in our direction. My mom whistled for it to come to us. The cab came to an immediate halt. We ran as fast as we could with our large bags in our hands, hustling to make it in time. The cab driver opened the door and took our bags for us. I sat myself on the seat and peered out the window. I shivered. It was 35 degrees, typical New York weather in December, that I, however, was not used to.

“Where to?” asked the cab driver in a deep voice

“594 Euclid Lane.” My mom replied.

As we pulled out of the airport and into the city, I couldn’t help but feel so nervous. I tugged on my curly brown hair. So much had happened to me this fall, I didn’t know what would lie in the New Year to come. The first thing was that my father had died. He had been fighting lung cancer for 3 years. When he died, my mom told me that we would be leaving Santa Monica, to come to New York. When I asked why, she responded, “Santa Monica reminds me too much of him. We both need a fresh start.” Like always, I had nodded and never asked why again. When we left, I had been leaving my friends, neighbors, and my house behind. I knew that I would have to make new friends, and get used to the island of New York City. In addition, my mom had worked for a hospital as a nurse, and she had managed to find a hospital that could take her at the last minute. She also found us a small 2-bedroom apartment that fit our belongings. Also, she had found me a private school, Constance Billard School on the Upper East Side. My mom seemed to have everything planned out for our “new future.” I felt like the whole world was sitting on top of my shoulders, every plan and every decision. I closed my eyes, trying to remember what it felt like to live in the world I used to live in.

“Beep!” honked a nearby car.

My eyes flew open. I guess this is what my new life would be like.

 

*****

 

I stared up at my ceiling in our apartment later that day. My room smelled putrid. The room had a small bed in the corner of the room, a bookshelf on the wall. However, it had a window that faced the entire city. It was beginning to get dark out and the New York City lights had already looked like twinkling stars in the distance.  The city was ablaze. I sighed and looked at the boxes of my belongings sitting on the floor. I should probably unpack. A loud knock interrupted my thoughts as my mom swung open the door.
“Ready for dinner?” she asked, holding up a frying pan. I nodded and escalated out of my bed.

The next morning, I woke up at 6:00 am. I was greeted by a loud shriek, “WAKE UP IT’S YOUR FIRST DAY!”  I groaned and pulled the covers over my head. It couldn’t be the first day. It just couldn’t.

As we drove to my school, the sun had begun to rise over the New York City buildings, I was exhausted but completely nervous about school, most kids have their first day of school knowing what friends are going to be there and what teachers they have. My head was spinning like it was on a roller coaster of thoughts and questions. But it would be completely incommensurable for me. We pulled into the front entrance of school. The top read Constance Billard: Home of the Tigers! My palms began to get sweaty. All of a sudden my whole body was shaking. And I felt like a zillion butterflies were fluttering in my stomach. My mom turned around and smiled.

“You’re going to do great, Sweetie.” she said. “I know the first day is rough, but you will get used to it.

“Thanks, I hope,” I replied.

An old man with a dark gray suit was knocking on the car window. He had grayish and white hair. A girl was standing next to him. She had long black hair and was wearing the same uniform I was. All of a sudden, I stepped out of the car and shook the man’s hand.

“Welcome to Constance, we are delighted to have you here,” he smiled. “What is your name again?

“Ava,” I replied

“Well, Ava, this is Jacqueline,” he said pointing towards the girl. “She will be showing you around Constance today to help you feel welcome at our lovely school. The girl was wearing dark eyeliner, and had a two piercings on her ears. She wore silver bracelets all over her arm. I smiled plainly. She rolled her eyes in frustration. Well, so much for trying.

She walked to the entrance and I followed. We opened the large doors to the school.

“So, you moved here from Cali?” She asked. She grabbed gum from her pocket.

“Yes, recently.” I nodded.

“Wow, aren’t people from California, like, really rich?” she asked.

“I guess. I don’t know.” We moved down the large hallways of Constance. The lockers filled hallways and classrooms doors had been shut. The school looked different

“So, last week I got detention for bringing my lighter into school,” she said, almost bragging. “So, wanna help me steal it back?”

Her dark brown eyes pierce deep into my dark green ones. She stared at me waiting for an answer.

“I . . . uh . . . err,” I attempted to find the right answer. I couldn’t get in trouble for something on the first day. But was I that desperate to find a friend? Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.

“Ok,” I nodded. Jacqueline smiled and blew a bubble. Pop!

“Let’s go to the detention room.” We walked on.

The detention room was at the end of the hall. We peered inside the room. An old lady was sitting at one of the desks. She was sleeping and let out a large snore. The classroom was empty.

“There it is!” Jacqueline whispered.

She pointed to a small plastic box that marked BANNED ITEMS. The small red lighter sat in with a bunch of phones and other devices.

“Ok, here’s the plan. You stay here and keep watch, while I take back my lighter. If anyone sees you, bang on the door as loud as you can. Got it?” She asked.

“Alright,” I felt even more scared than before. What had I gotten myself into? And why was this going to be the way I wanted to make new friends?

Jacqueline quietly opened the door. The old lady kept snoring. Jacqueline tiptoed across the room to the box. She reached for her lighter and waved it in the air. I heard footsteps. A teacher had been coming towards the room. My heart started to beat fast like a moving train. When I was about to start banging on the wall, the teacher turned the corner and was gone. Jacqueline came out of the classroom. She had a big smile on her face.

“We did it! Oh my god, let’s go steal more things! It’s so much fun!” she cheered. I looked at her strangely. It all hit me at what I really wanted. I didn’t want friends who forced me into things, and I didn’t want to end up like Jacqueline, with her gothy makeup and dark jewelry.

“No, I am not a person who doesn’t follow the rules and thinks that they can get away with it,” I snapped. Her smiling face turned into a dark scowl. “I want to make real friends.” She looked at me up and down and flipped her black hair. I turned around and ran as fast as I could.

“YOU’RE WEAK!” She shouted. “YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT HERE!” But I didn’t care.

I ran outside to the steps of school. It was lunchtime and everyone was eating their lunch.
“Hello?” a voice behind my said.

I turned around. A girl with blond straight hair was standing right in front of me. She had a kind smile on her face, a different greeting that I had gotten before. She had blue eyes that sparkled like the ocean.

“My name is Caroline. Do you want to come sit with my friends?” She asked. She pointed to a group of girls sitting at the lunch table.

“Someone told me you were new here, so as SGA president, I wanted make you feel welcome.” Welcome, there was that word again. I didn’t know what welcome meant anymore.  But maybe I should take a chance. So many changes were happening to me so maybe to make them seem less scary I had to take changes. I took a deep breath a squeezed my hands.

“Ok, my name is Ava by the way, and yes, I would love to sit with you guys.” She smiled and we walked to the table. Maybe my new beginning wouldn’t be so bad after all.

 

“The Life Changing Cruise” by Grady Wiley

Jeff Smith was a lonely middle aged man who lives in a small apartment outside of Miami. He was a bartender at a small bar in the sleepy town he lived in and barely ever had interactions with other humans. He had saved up his money and went on a cruise in the Caribbean and while on that cruise noticed that the company that operated the ship was hiring bartenders. He instantly knew he wanted this job so badly.  It had been a couple of months since he had sent his application for the job and he was anxiously waiting for the reply when he finally received an email from the company–he had been accepted.

Jeff had been working on the ship for four years but finally the excitement had faded away and it felt like his old job all over again. He was considering quitting this job and decided he would quit after the next cruise. The cruise had started and he was working the night shift on the first night. The bar was located at the front of the ship on the main deck. That night it was the same kind of people he always saw coming to the bar, the parents on the cruise who needed a deferral from the kids. Every now and then there would be some kids that were coerced by their parents to come with them although on this particular night a four-year-old girl was dragged along. Usually, Jeff didn’t care and the kid wouldn’t either but this girl started trying to talk with him.

“What’s your name, Mister?” she asked.

Jeff didn’t know what to say, he hadn’t had anyone ask his name in a long time.

“Jeff,” he told her.

The girl asked him some more questions and he answered all of them with enthusiasm. He was used to drunk men yelling at each other but now this sweet little girl was interested in talking to him. This was the first time that Jeff felt like he made a friend in a long time. Eventually, the girl’s parents got too crooked so they decided to leave, as a result Jeff was lonely again.

The next night the girl came back again and they talked some more. Jeff learned that the girl’s name was Ashley and that she liked to swim and dance. Again, Jeff felt happy and was excited to have finally made a friend. Later that night after his shift at the bar he went back down to his room that he shared with another bartender. Jeff and the other bartender never really got to know each other, however Jeff decided to tell him about the girl he met. The other bartender just stood there and laughed at him.

By now it was the fifth night of the trip and they had just left Nassau in the Bahamas and were on their way to the Dominican Republic. Tonight was Jeff’s first off night of the trip and he decided to go to a concert on the main deck. He made it up to the concert and was able to get a seat up close to the stage since he worked on the ship. During the concert the blaring speakers sounded like a thunderstorm in his ears but about halfway through the concert, he was able to hear the fire alarm. Jeff along with everybody else thought this was just a customary drill. The alarm was still on and a couple people were getting worried. All of the sudden a couple of people came screaming from the front of the ship. There was a fire.

Jeff thought it was another small fire like the one a couple weeks ago, but then the captain of the ship came over the P.A. asking people to be prepared to possibly evacuate the ship. This is when Jeff saw it, thick black smoke looking like a wildfire out of control coming from the front of the ship. He knew this was bad. He started making his way towards a lifeboat along with everyone else from the concert and started getting into the it when he realized something. The bar was at the front of the ship and this meant that Ashley was at the front of the ship. As his lifeboat was starting to be lowered he made the decision and jumped back onto the deck. He ran like he was in a marathon in the final sprint towards the front of the ship and saw the true size of the fire. This was the first moment that he thought he might die. He looked towards the bar but couldn’t see it through the smoke. Without hesitating he ran into the smoke. While running he heard crying in the direction of the bar. He knew this could only be one person, Ashley. He followed the sound of the crying to where Ashley was. She appeared to be fine but her parents weren’t in sight. They were surrounded in flames, so Jeff decided to leave and they ran back towards the front deck. By now the ship was slowly starting to sink lower and lower into the water like a toy boat sinking in the pond. Jeff who was carrying Ashley finally made it back to where the lifeboats were and found that all of the lifeboats had been taken. There were a couple of other people also stranded on the sinking ship who had decided to jump. Jeff was about to jump as well when he realized that he had Ashley with him. He remembered their conversation the second night and her saying that she liked to swim. He thought about it one more time then jumped.

As he was falling through the air he looked back at the ship and saw that more than half of the ship had burst into flames. When they hit the water Ashley was ripped from his arms and he sank below the surface. He came back up and looked around for Ashley, she was nowhere to be seen. Jeff worried that she had drowned when he looked to his left and saw a little girl swimming like it was a warm summer day at the pool. Jeff was reconciled to find her but they were still stuck swimming in shark infested waters. They had been swimming for 30 minutes trying to reach a lifeboat but each time it would float too far away without someone noticing. Finally, someone on one of the last lifeboats around saw them. They boarded the lifeboat, and made their way back towards Nassau.

When they got back to Nassau they were put in various hotels for a week before they were flown back home. The third day of the stay in Nassau, Jeff found out that Ashley’s parents didn’t make it. Jeff went to tell her the news and surprisingly her reaction was much the same as he had been 29 years ago when his parents died in a car crash. Both of their parents had been alcoholics and weren’t caring for their child. Later that day Jeff also learned that Ashley would be taken to an orphanage back in Boston where her family had lived. Jeff thought about this for a while and decided that this sweet little girl shouldn’t have to go through the same childhood he did. Jeff ended up adopting Ashley and they lived in that sleepy town outside of Miami for the rest of Jeff’s life. He was never lonely again.

 

“Deployment Day” by Max Walker

Craig was staring back at the setup of tents and buildings where he had spent 6 of the last 8 years of his life. He saw the building where he had his first combat lesson, the spot on the road where he did his first push-ups, and the hut where he cried himself to sleep half the nights, thinking of his wife. The thought occurred to him that he might never see this place again, and he realized, maybe it is a good thing he is moving on.

Craig took one last look at the misty sky, the dust coated roads, and his home for the past years, and he boarded the stealth jet with his squadron. As the doors closed he was about to begin a new chapter of his life that would change him forever.

The jet took off very early, so Craig was tired from the beginning. An hour into the flight he decided that it would be fine to rest his eyes for a bit. As he was falling asleep everything around him was quiet. The quiet was like the calm before the storm, everyone was silently anticipating the war they were about to be dropped into. Craig closed his eyes and didn’t wake up for 3 hours.

Craig was greeted from his nap by loud blaring lights and the panic of everyone around him. Everyone in the back was nervously chattering as the pilots were talking in frantic yells.

“I think we’re going down,” the co-pilot realized.

“Yeah, the left turbine is out,” shouted the pilot, “I don’t think we’re going to make it.” Just as the pilot shouted out his last words there was a loud explosion from the front of the jet. The entire cockpit was ripped and shredded from the rest of the jet by an enemy rocket. Craig could no longer hear anything except the violent ringing in his ears. He saw the deserted and decimated streets of Russia out of the front of the jet, and the red lights flashing all around him. He started to feel the jet lose momentum and fall out of the sky. As things were getting ripped out of the front of the jet, Craig gripped his seat with all of the strength inside him and braced for impact.

In what he thought were the final moments of his life, Craig thought of his wife and his son, whom he had only seen pictures of. He thought of how his wife would feel, knowing that he was dead and couldn’t deliver on his promise to be a dad. Finally, Craig knew he was going to come through with his promise, and he would be a great father. Craig knew this wasn’t his time. Craig watched as everything around him lit up with the spark of 8 souls being torn from their bodies. Then, everything went dark.

In what must have been hours later, he woke up in a cold sweat. His head felt like it had just endured hundreds of bullet shots. Everything in his body was sore and everything around him was dark. His ears still had a slight ring in the background of what he heard outside. He listened very closely and heard what sounded like men talking in Russian. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but listened anyway. They stayed there for 10 minutes or so, until they must have decided to leave and come back with a team of men. Craig wasn’t sure though, so he waited about 5 minutes after they passed until he left the rubble of the jet. Before wearily crawling out of the jet, he grabbed the first aid kit above his seat and the nearly smashed emergency phone that was hidden under the secret hatch in the floor.

It took a while for him to get out, because he could barely tell which way was which. He crawled very slowly to make sure he didn’t bump into any walls. After a minute or so of searching, he found the exit. Eye piercing light shone through the hole in where cockpit used to be. Outside the air was dense and debris filled, and the road was covered in metal bits of jet and smashed cinderblock from the surrounding buildings. The war zone looked like a ghost town. Nothing was there except the buildings and the occasional Russian patrol.

“Shoot,” Craig muttered to himself, “I need to find shelter before a patrol or someone worse finds me.” So he went as fast as he sore legs could go and went into the basement of one of the nearby buildings. He just than realized, the jet must have crashed behind enemy lines. Meaning that Russian troops could be anywhere, in any of the buildings. Craig needed to stay hidden. He was worried he could be in danger of getting discovered. So he took a huge piece of cinder block and covered the entrance to the basement of the abandoned building. He was safe for now and exhausted. As if on cue, all of his limbs went limp and he collapsed.

He woke up to the sound of wheels barreling over the road outside. It must have been Russian tanks. His head was feeling a bit better but he was still sore. Craig went to go peek out of the door when he remembered the emergency phone. He ran to the spot on the ground where he had dropped it and tried to turn it on. Nothing. The screen was nothing but black. This phone was his only option at the moment, so he took of the back panel to see what was wrong.

He was no expert on how phones worked but he had worked with computers many times before so he knew he had a small shot of knowing. Lucky for him it didn’t take a genius to tell when a battery pack is pierced. If he was anywhere but confined to the basement of an abandoned building in a ghost town, this would have been an easy fix. However, there was no replacement battery and no manual way to power the phone, so Craig had hit a dead end. So he racked his mind for ways he could make it work. He thought for hours on end but just couldn’t figure out a way to get the phone to work. He was just about to give up when he saw his ticket home, the one thing keeping him from getting back to his son. It was the jet turbine. He figured that if the managed to connect the phone to the wires of the turbine and spin it with his hands, he could generate enough power to make the call back to base.

He went outside and took a good look around to make sure there were no more patrols around. When he saw there wasn’t he grabbed a very sharp rock and sprinted to the jet. He wouldn’t have much time because a group of enemy soldiers could appear at any moment. He found the hole in the jet where the cockpit was, ducked through it, and was inside. He could just barely see, by the light of the sun peeking through. He went to where the turbine would be and saw one of the wall panels was out of place. He reached his fingers in and tried to pry the panel away, it didn’t budge.

He grabbed the rock he had brought and banged the panel making a loud ‘Clang.’ The panel still hadn’t moved. Over the next hour he used all his energy prying and smashing the panel until he finally managed to dismantle it.

At this point he was starving. He hadn’t eaten or drank since the day he left the base. It had been about two and a half days, he was starving and his body had started to consume his muscle to get energy. He was close to death probably only another day away. But he was so close to getting home and knew he couldn’t give up now.

His short black hair was dripping with the sweat of hours of work. He was tired but had to keep working. Next, he took the internal wires of the phone that connected to the battery and hooked them up to the output cable of the turbine.  He reached his hand to the backside of the turbine and spun as fast as he could. As he spun, it got faster and faster. Soon enough, the emergency phone screen flickered on and lit up the jet. He had paid attention when they instructed him on how to use it so he knew what to do. He went to the keypad and dialed 767 on the keypad for S.O.S. After a brief moment he heard the strict voice of the general of the special ops training camp filled the jet.

Craig told him who and where he was. The general immediately replied, “We will send the closest chopper to your location, be ready in 15 minutes.”

Just at that moment he heard a gunshot in the distance. Craig knew it was the Russian troops, but he started to feel a bit light headed. He tried to walk but saw the world around him start to swirl around and around until nothing was left but darkness and the stone cold floor.

Craig woke up in a coughing fit. There was a bunch of Holter monitors attached to his chest and a heart monitor sitting beside him. He opened his eyes and saw a huge overhead light and one large set of eyes staring down into his.

“He’s awake,” Announced the woman who was looking down on him.

“Honey it’s me,” Craig heard. He looked up and saw his wife, Sarah walking over to him. He burst into tears,

“I love you so much, Sarah, I’m never going to leave you again.”

“I missed you,” Sarah responded, “How would you like to meet your son?”

 

“Dawn of Rebellion” by Maddie Shavitz

My eyes flashed open my body flooding with sweat. I looked at the clock and it read 3:30am. I felt fear crawl through me, and I took a few deep breaths to calm myself down. Tomorrow was the day—the day I will get chosen. I will find out the job I will have for the rest of my life. I have been dreading this day since I could remember. I look around to see the other kids sound asleep. They are also 15. The age you will learn your fate.

Again I wake up, but this time it’s from the morning bell. My friend Kaia came over to me she said, “Tough night sleep?”
“Yeah,” I replied with a simple nod. We got dressed and headed down to the cafeteria. I ate my food slow, for it’s the last meal I will eat before I stand in front of the decision makers and learn what I will do for the rest of my life.

Together all the 15 year olds walked down to the podium in the center of town square. The podium was used only for the day of the decisions, unless a decision maker died and a new one was elected.

The ceremony began and kids learned who they will see who they will never see again.

“Emma Gust,” the announcer yelled. The sound of my name rippled softer and softer into my ears.

“Farmer,” yelled the announcer. I shut my eyes and a single tear ran down my cheek.

One by one kids got chosen until there were none left.

“Tomorrow, you will be transported to your respected areas. Have all your personals ready by then.”

For the past month all the 15 year olds have stayed in an old college dorm dating back to the 2000’s. Thousands of imbecilities ago, in a simpler time, where people were able to choose their own path. We learned in school of that world, the place we are today was a country called America, the land of the free.

I collected all my things, so did my roommates. Kaia who was my best friend was leaving to cook for the decision makers, the leaders of our land. While Jade my other roommate was a designer. The only person who became a farmer with me was a small girl who slept on the other side of the room. She never talked to me in the entire month we were here. However, I knew her name was Ginger. The boys on the separate floor had been chosen for different types of jobs. My friend Jeff was going to be a teacher in town. I probably would never see him again.

The next day came, and I hugged my friends goodbye as I stepped into the cold white van that is in front of me. The other kids on the bus were not strangers to me. Mia was in my apartment building, but not in my dorm. The boys that are here look unfamiliar to my eye, they must have been shy during communal events.

“Um . . . I’m Jasper,” said one of the boys as we all gathered on the bus. He was a bigger kid, 5’10” at least. He had the body of someone they would want working the fields. The other boy whose name I later found out was Jeremey didn’t say anything.

I turned my head and looked out the window as the town I spent my whole life in vanished before my eyes. Since there were only 5 kids in the van we decided we should get to know each other. “I’m Emma,” I said. “My parents worked in town as tailors. We were a middle class family.”

Then Mia said, “You’re forgetting we spent the last month together in the apartment building, being watched to find out which job would suit us best.”

I wanted to say that I knew I wasn’t meant for this job, that I knew I should have been a soldier. I knew from the beginning of grade school girls never could fight, but my gut was disagreeing with everything. But still, I didn’t speak. That was just my mind making up excuses for why I shouldn’t be a farmer.

“I think we should get some sleep. The ride to the countryside is pretty far and we don’t know what the farm has in store for us,” Jasper said.

We agreed and feel asleep on the bumpy road rocking us to sleep.  Later when we got to the farm a middle aged man in overalls came and greeted us. He said we had until 6:00pm to unpack our stuff and get situated. He showed us the housing. There was one mansion for the adults and one medium sized house for the teenagers. The 16 and 17 year olds helped us with our stuff knowing what we had been through the last few days.

“I’m Gunner,” said one of the teens. “2 years ago I was in your spot. Scared and not knowing what’s ahead. But, the farm’s not that bad. We have the freshest food in all of the country and we have land expanding 1 mile. Tess over here will show the girls to their rooms while I got the boys.”

I looked over to Ginger who was biting her nails violently. Me and Mia talked along the way with Tess. She seemed kind enough. Inside the house there were 2 hallways—1 for the boys and 1 for the girls. They met in the center where there was a bathroom with 5 toilets and a communal shower. Downstairs there was a kitchen along with a living room with a TV. I haven’t seen a TV since a field trip we took to a museum back home. Also there was a hangout area with couches and games.

As soon as we got our stuff unpacked we took a tour of the work fields. You get to choose whether you want to work in the sun picking weeds and harvesting food or with the animals. Either milking cows, collecting chicken eggs, or butchering the meat. I choose to work with the animals because it seemed the least labor intensive. The thought of working here was like a knife was cutting through me.

The next day we start our work, the beating sun coming down on us. As soon as the day finishes all of the teens in our house hang out and watch TV. Ever since being chosen I couldn’t get the thought I didn’t belong out of my head. Therefore, I said, “I have an idea. It’s risky and we may not make it out alive.”

“What,” everyone said with sudden interest.

“We need to rebel,” I continued. “The decision makers shouldn’t decide our fate for us. Long ago when our ancestors lived people chose their job, and I feel we should be able to do that, too!”

After a few more days of working and all of us being miserable word spread of my idea. A man who looked about 30 came up to me. I recognized him from the van he was the driver. He said, “I have heard of your rebellion and I want to take part. My hatred for this job is like a wildfire that can’t be contained. I can transport you to town square, then you can attack the decision makers. Get your crew together because tomorrow we leave at sunrise.”

Ginger, Jasper, Tess, and Gunner decide to come while everyone else worked double to make sure the head farmer didn’t realize we were gone.

The ride was long, the perfect place to come up with battle tactics. We decided the only way to win was to defeat the decision makers in a mind game that we have used for generations to decide important topics. We would challenge them to a game of rock paper scissors. Thousands of years ago the thought of this game being important would be ludicrous, but in our society today it is said that the winner automatically gets the item or idea that was bargained for. Also, you can’t back out of a challenge or you are thought of as defeated for the rest of your life.

After a few hours my old life comes into view. “Emma,” Gunner says, “in order to make sure the decision makers are unaware of us coming we must go slowly and quietly. Their work day ends in 1 hour so we have until then to get past security to the main office.”

“Okay,” I reply waving everyone over to the entrance. “Jasper, create a distraction while we roll past the security and get in the elevator.”

Jasper sprinted in and started yelling that he lost his parents and he needs their help finding them. This gave us the perfect amount of time to make a run for it. Jasper found random adults and told the security thanks for the help because those were his parents. Annoyed, the guard walked back to work while Jasper stayed outside.

Soon after this we walked into the office room while the decision makers are having a meeting. “Why are some puny teens here!” yells the decision maker. “You should be working for another 20 minutes.”

As my heart races faster than a sprinter, I bring up enough courage to say, “We challenge you to the ancient game of rock paper scissors. The winner gets to decide what the new regulation is. And just in case you were wondering, the cameras are rolling and nobody will trust you if you say no and we have evidence.”

“I haven’t heard a threat like this since I was inducted into this job, but I cannot disrespect my people and back out.”

Rock! Paper! Scissors! Shoot! The commands flashed through my mind like a rocket flying to space, and I throw my fist in a rock.

“Oh my! I lost!” yelled the decision maker with rage, holding out a scissor.

Now that I was in charge I demanded to be placed as a soldier. Also, I called everyone to town square to spread the news of freedom in picking what job you want. This is something most people never thought would be true. But now freedom would range over all people, the rein of the decision makers was over. There was a new time for freedom in what we want to do.

 

“The Avengers” by Sabine Ocana  

“I don’t want to ruin your moment, but you two against a whole army of Frost Giants seems a little unbalanced,” said Fury.

“He is right,” said Sabine. “It would be 1000 to 2.”

“Luckily for you,” continued Fury, “I have a couple people in mind.”

They all went back to the control room, as Fury took out 3 files.

“Here are the three people who will make our team complete,” he started. “First, there is Captain America. He has gone into battle before and is a great warrior,” said Fury. “We can trust him. His true name is Steve Rogers. Second, Hulk, he is not known by everyone. He is mostly known as a scientist. he has incredible force, which turns him green if he is mad. He can destroy anything. He is as strong as ten men and as long as we don’t get to his nerves, we can work with him. His real name is Bruce Banner. Last is Iron Man. I don’t personally know him, but I knew his father. He is a very intelligent man with great fighting skills. Sabine, I know you will not like working with him, but his is indispensable for the team. His real name is Tony Stark.”

“The billionaire. The one that thinks he is a god. The one I hate more than anything in the world?” asked Sabine.

“The one and only,” said Fury.

“I’ll be fine. I will finally get a chance to tell him how I feel about him, and in person. How will we get them to meet us?” asked Sabine.

“I have texted each and one of them to meet us in that building. We got on all those years ago, do you remember, Sabine?”

“Of course, I remember that is where we first got into the Helicarrier and I met Phil,” said Sabine.

“Exactly Sabine. And Phil is exactly who will be waiting for them at the building.”

“Shall we go?” asked Fury to Sabine and Thor. Sabine nodded her head.

Thor said, “Of course, but just a question. What is ‘texted’?” he asked.

“Oh god,” said Sabine covering her face. “We will explain to you later.”

Fury then took control and started flying towards the building.

As they landed on top, Sabine opened the ramped and said, “And that is a full explanation of texting. Do you get it now?” she asked.

“No, and what is a phone?”

“Ahh, never mind, you’ll never get it,” said Sabine.

As the three of them walked off the ramp, they saw Phil standing in front of three men. Sabine ran off the ramp and hugged Phil very tightly.

“Phil, I haven’t seen you in ages, not since Fury went to New York and you had to babysit me.”

“Ha, I remember that. It really was a pain in the neck, you were as annoying as a little kid, just kidding. I missed you too Sabine, but you were actually so anxious, it was really cute,” said Phil.

“Here are the new recruits,” said Phil to Sabine and Fury pointed to the 3 men. “Good afternoon everyone, my name is Fury, and I am the chief of the organization that called you. This is Sabine, another member of our organization,” he added as Sabine raised her hand. “And this is Thor,” he continued pointing to Thor. “He is the brother of the guy, Loki, who is in charge of the army we will fight.” He started introducing the men to Sabine. Since they are lined up, he starts with the one on the far right.

“Sabine, this is Bruce Banner, also known as Hulk.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Banner,” said Sabine as she shook his hand.

“Please, you can call me Bruce.”

“This is Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America,” said Fury.

“Very nice to meet you,” said Sabine.

Finally, they arrived to the last of the three men, who stood there as if he is the owner of the world. Fury then said, “And here is Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Stark,” she said barely looking at him.

“Oh please, call me Tony, Love” said Tony.

“Sure,” said Sabine in a sarcastic voice, “Just don’t call me Love.”

Fury and Sabine walked back in front of the three men and Fury said, “Please follow us back inside.” When they were all inside, Sabine closed the ramp and Fury took control of the ship. He raised in altitude until they were a little above the clouds, then he put the ship in automatic mode.

“According to what we know, Loki is going to attack Earth with his army of Frost Giants,” started Fury. “His goal is to destroy Earth with his army so he can hurt Thor, since he loves the planet very much. Loki then plans on destroying Thor. We are not going to let either of them happen. For that, we need to stop Loki. To stop Loki from coming to Earth, we need to get his staff. His staff is what teleports him. All we need to do is be ready when Loki attacks. Any idea where that might be and when Thor?” asked Fury.

Thor then said, “Well, he would start in a big place, where there is a lot of people and a lot of buildings to destroy.”

“The only place I can think of is in DC in front of my building,” said Tony.

“Why are you always so selfish?” said Sabine.

“No, Sabine, he actually makes a point. DC is where Loki has made an appearance before and that is the perfect place to do that, in front of Stark’s building,” said Fury.

“Thank you, Sir,” said Tony, looking at Sabine with a look that clearly stated, “I told you so, Love.

“But, when will he strike though?” asked Fury.

Just as he says that, Sabine points at the TV that is on and says as she raised the volume “Look!” On The TV you can see a portal open right in front of the Stark building and Loki coming out of it.

“Well, let’s move people,” said Fury as he took control of the ship and started heading towards DC.

Fury landed his ship on the ground, leaving all four of them and went back up in the sky to leave them the terrain clear. As Sabine was going to say something to the men, two enormous monsters came out of the portal.

Sabine said, “Okay people, we need to move fast. Thor because you know him better, why don’t you go and try take the staff from Loki. Stark, go with him.”

“Yes Ma’am,” said Thor.

“As you wish,” said Tony.

“Bruce, Steve, and I are going to deal with the monsters. Now go!” finished Sabine. Tony and Thor go up to the Stark’s building to defeat Loki. Meanwhile, Sabine and the others walked towards the monsters.

Sabine said, “It would be a great time for you to turn green, Bruce”  He then became huge and green.

“Wow,” said Sabine. “How do you do that? I thought you could only do it when you were angry.”

“You want to know my secret?” said Hulk. “I’m always angry.”

Then Hulk hit both monsters really hard in the nose and they fell on the ground paralyzed. Captain America and Sabine then put a sword through their hearts. The Frost Giants then came after them and started fighting Captain America and Sabine. Hulk grabbed one of the Frost Giants and twisted his neck, killing him. Captain America then put a sword through the other Frost Giant, who got distracted by what Hulk did to the other Frost Giant. With that dealt with, they brought their attention to Tony, Thor, and Loki. The three of them were fighting in the balcony of the Starks’ building. They were fighting really hard, but Thor and Tony had the advantage of 2 versus 1. Finally, Thor got a hold of the staff and took it away from Loki. Then Tony grabbed Loki’s hands and flew back were Sabine was with Thor. Sabine then put handcuffs on the hands of Loki as Tony still kept a hold of him.

Thor then said, “My brother and I have nothing to do here anymore. We will go back to Asgard.” Thor then opened a portal with the staff and left with Loki back to Asgard after saying, “Goodbye, Sabine. I will never forget you and goodbye to you all, thank you for helping me stop my brother.” Then, they all go back to the Helicarrier and they all say goodbye.

Captain America jumped off the ship to get back to his house; of course, he had a parachute. Fury left for his room to rest. Now the only ones left in the control room were Sabine and Tony. They just stand there for a moment awkwardly with their heads down until he said, “Sabine?”

“Yes,”

“Would you go out with me?”

She kissed him. She had fallen in love with him and had to admit that he was really hot. She loved how he wanted to save people. He wasn’t that bad after all. They were made for each other.

 

“The People in the Past” by Emilia Moberg

Jerry Butler left college early to make more time for his photography. He never actually kick-started his career and one could call him a “struggling artist.” Monica Thomas was a model. She had gone to modeling agencies all over the country. But she settled in the small town of Saratoga, California, when she got engaged and married Jerry Butler.

As you would assume, they were an attractive, happy couple, and they thought they had their lives set and stone. They were at about a year through their marriage when this all started. They woke up every morning at precisely 8:00. But for about a month, the alarms would go off at 7:59, 6:20, or even 1:00 in the afternoon. They tried to fix it, but that didn’t work. They bought a new clock, the same thing happened with that one, too. This was a little conspicuous to them, but they didn’t speak to each other about it.

Until one day, Jerry was quite extremely late. Extremely late. He had his first meeting with a new photography group, who were interested in his art. Luckily, he had laid out his outfit and made breakfast the night before. He was positive he did. He even sent a picture of it to Monica. But they weren’t there. He burst through every door of the apartment. He even looked on the porch, in the lobby, and the washroom. But his clothes were nowhere to be found.

“Slow down, Jerry!” Mrs. Jenkins called after him, but he could not, would not slow down. He had to get to the meeting. He looked through his drawers again, and then he stopped. He stopped for a second, and then, as though his brain was being controlled by something else, he looked up. And there they were. His clothes. Above him. Floating . . . in the air. He did not know what to make of it. But there they were, his tie, shoes, cufflinks, everything.

The next day, while Jerry was in the middle of his (rescheduled) meeting, he got a call from Monica. He declined it and kept talking to the group, but in the span of 8 minutes she called him 7 times. He finally asked to be excused, and answered the call.

“What could be important enough for you to call me in the middle of my meeting?” He asked, as fierce as a lion. He waited for a response, but only heard the faint trace of the local news playing in the background. “Hello? Monica?” After a couple seconds he heard the phone move, and Monica’s voice responded.

“Hello? Who is this?”

“Monica? It´s Jerry . . .”

“Oh. Hi honey. Is your meeting over?”

“Did you butt-dial me?”

“No, my phone has been on the kitchen counter . . .”

“Not again.” Jerry responded with a groan. You see, these kinds of little things have been happening to Monica and Jerry for a long time. They have had little oddities happening multiple times every day.

The couple went to people everywhere, and they found out that (by the sounds of it), they were being haunted. This actually angered them quite a bit. But they wanted this to stop, because this is obviously no way to raise a family.

Not too long later, Jerry and Monica went to visit Jerry’s mother Mary Grace, in a small town in California. There, she had anything that might give them a clue as to what might be going on with the whole haunting catastrophe. Mary Grace had the diaries and scrapbooks of almost all of their family dating all the way back to the 1500s. The most promising ones to Monica were the ones dated 1692, from the Massachusetts family members. They were on the verge of giving up, calling it a day, and content with living with ghosts, when they find a box of books that were incredibly helpful. There were some diaries and notes that were written focusing on just the Witch Trials in Salem! These diary entries that seemed to help the most, and they were dated all the way back to February 23, 1692.

 

Dearest Diary,

 

Dear Abigail’s burning is today. If only there was a way to cover up the truth. If only the pendant was strong enough to take out the whole town. If only. Then we could escape, we could get out of here. Clarissa gave the pendant to me when I was young, when I just began my studies. She says it brings good luck, but if I use my power incorrectly, it will let the Sisters know, and they will punish me. I think it’s insane. Maybe enough so that if I use the power to save Abi, I won’t get punished by the Sisters. I’m saving one, so they should not punish me for it. Well, I will do it. I hope that nothing unfortunate happens.                            

 

Wish me luck,

Bridget Bishop

 

There was another one after it, but it looked like it had gotten wet. The only words that Monica could make out were “salvage”, “punish”, and “curse,” so she is guessing that it didn’t go all that well. “Oh, yes. My father told me that the Massachusetts family always made things up, but they do tell a superb story. And they gave neat gifts, too.” Mary Grace left the room while Monica showed what she found to Jerry. When she walked back in she held a reddish-blackish stone with bronze twine, twisted to resemble a tiny tree, as small as a grape seed, wrapped around the stone, hanging from a long, thin, bronze chain. Mary Grace smiled and put it around Monica’s neck. The moment that it hit her chest, it started glowing. It was not too noticeable, at first glance, but if you are studying the design and every little scratch, looking for a clue, any hint to make the story unfold, you would see it eventually.

“So may I interest you in a glass of water? Or a brownie? You two have been working as hard as dogs, are you looking for something specific?” Mary Grace asks. A moment of silence fell over the three adults, and then Mary Grace broke it with “Brownies it is!”
A couple days later, after continuous research, Monica found a website that spoke of an Adams family, including a John Adams Jr., Chelsey Adams, and Abigail Adams. There was also a Theodore Bishop, with his wife, Eleanor, and their 6 daughters, May, Hayley, Ava, Therese, Gennie, and Bridget. Adding on, there was a talk of the governor’s wife, Clara Burton. The article said that the whole Adams family was burned at the stake for accusation of being witches, and that there were also theories against a couple of the Bishop girls and Mrs. Burton. One of these girls (being Bridget) went on, stake-free, to marry a David Butler, and start a family of her own. She was later charged for murder of her 3 youngest and 2 oldest children, and nobody knows for what reason. She was known to be a trickster, as well.

“I don’t know about you, but I think that this might be our ghost.” Jerry told his wife.

“I think so . . .” she replied, trailing off at the end. “Oh my goodness, Jer, I think I know what to do.”

Monica’s plan was to write back to Bridget. Killing her own kids had to mean that there was probably something incredibly wrong in her life, so she thought that writing her back could settle her soul. She didn’t know if it would work, but she wished that it would.

So, once Monica and her husband decided on what to say, they began to write.

 

Dear Bridget,

           

I am married to one of your very, very great grandson, Jerry Butler. My name is Monica. I have been being (I know it sounds crazy), but, haunted. I have been reading about your family and I thought that it might’ve been you? I’m sorry if that’s offensive, but I was hoping that at least you knew who it was. If you do, please ask them to stop. I would really appreciate it.

                                   

Thank you loads,

                                    Monica Butler

 

As soon as she finished signing the note, the ink seeped into the paper. She was quite confused, for nothing happened. She flipped the page. There, words were appearing on the page.
Young Monica,

           

So, you have probably heard of what I have done. It wasn’t my fault. After using the pendant to save my best friend, I was cursed, as a punishment. The Sisters made me as crazy as a june bug until my dying day, when I was, in an asylum for killing my children that I was not even completely aware I had. Everything was unknown to me. I want my life back. But since I know that won’t happen, I decided to wait for a completely euphoric couple, and I’d mess with their lives. So I chose you. Anyways. I mean I could always stop . . . If you do me a favor. If you bury the pendant next to my grave.                                                                

 

Kisses,

             Bridget Bishop

 

“Okay then, honey. I guess we’re taking a road trip.”

They found Bridget’s grave after a little over 8 hours of searching. This graveyard was a dark ocean of graves, with moss-covered hills and different levels of tombstones. Bridget’s was partly covered by other graves and it was obvious that there were other people buried above her. But there it was “Patient 223, Bridget Bishop, Mother, Daughter, Wife. 1688-1739.” Monica pulled out the necklace from her jacket pocket and set it aside the grave. She pulled out the diary, flipped to the next blank page, and saw that two words were written.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Ferry Boat Scrub Caps, Tumors on the Walls, Post It’s and Houses of Candles” By Emily Mitchell

“Mer . . . Mer . . . Mer can you hear me?” Alex yelled, like I was about to walk into an exploding volcano.

“Alex what do you—”

“Mer.”

“Yes, Alex”

“She’s lucid. Someone get Bailey. NOW!” Alex seemed like he was in a race against time.

“Alex, would you like to tell me what’s happening?”

“Mer, I missed you so much, and I’ve been here every morning. We’ll explain when—”

“We’ll?” I was so confused and didn’t know how I got into a hospital bed.

All of a sudden I saw Bailey come into the room, along with my kids who seemed to be

older but all of a sudden I saw Christina.

“Christina?” I wasn’t sure if it was really her or if someone was messing with me.

“Yeah Mer, it’s me,” she seemed sad but still cheerful.

“Can someone explain what’s going on?”

Bailey stepped forward and said, “Meredith, you have Alzheimer’s. You’ve had it

for 5 years and it’s very advanced. We don’t—”

I cut her off before she finished, “You don’t know how much longer I’ll be alive.” Everyone looked very upset and not sure what to say. They looked like a deer caught in

headlights,” that’s why Christina is here and all of you came to my room, because I’m dying.”

Everyone still didn’t know what to say, didn’t know if they comfort me.

“We all just want to spend as much time as possible with you,” Christina whispered loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

“Can I just talk to Alex and Christina for now,” I exclaimed.

Everyone but Christina and Alex left, they looked shaken but excited to see me and talk to me.

“So,” I said, “what’s been happening? What have I missed?”

Alex started to walk closer to me and talk, “Well me and Jo got married, Keppner and Avery are back together, Callie’s back and I think her and Arizona are back together and Megan and Riggs are together,” Alex seemed nervous, scared about what I’ll say or do.

“Alex, I’m fine. Riggs should be happy, I’m glad he didn’t wait 5 years for me to get lucid,” I immediately changed the topic to make things less awkward, “Christina, how’s Owen?”

“Well,” Christina stepped forward,” he wasn’t sure what to do when I first came because as I started walking up to him, he kissed Amelia. Then she walked away and he saw me.”

“Wow, well what did he do? Where’s Amelia, I didn’t see her. Is she in surgery?”

“Mer,” Christina seemed upset, she couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Amelia overdosed, she died 5 years ago,” Alex said with despair.

“But I would’ve known 5 years ago, I was lucid,” I didn’t understand what they were saying.

“Mer, when I came she knew that I was Christina, Owen’s ex-wife. She freaked out and went super dark and twisty, like when you told the shooter to shoot you, or tried to drown, or put your hand on an explosive bomb dark and twisty,” I could tell she was trying to tell me what happened by not saying what I needed to hear.

“So basically, she went to dark and twisty and overdosed so she’s dead,” I couldn’t hear any more of it, “So, how’s Owen?”

Alex and Christina looked glum, not for Amelia but for me. They could tell this wasn’t the news I’d want to hear after basically being dead for 5 years.

“Were together and Mer I know this is weird coming back but I hope you’re cool with this.”

I knew what Christina needed to hear, “Christina, I’m fine. I’ve gotten through all the crazy stuff,” Alex and Christina were baffled, ”I’ve gotten through meeting my boyfriend’s wife and then him choosing her, putting my hand inside bodies with active bombs, almost drowning, growing up with my mother, watching O’Malley die, watching my husband get shot and then telling the shooter to shoot me, being stranded for 3 or 5 days after the plane crash, seeing my sister die out there, having Mark die because of the crash, almost losing the hospital and then buying it, the storm where I almost died giving birth, when Christina left, having Derek die, almost dying again giving birth, losing Callie to the doctor who killed Derek, being attacked in the hospital, when Alex was almost sent to prison and watching the hospital blow up. I’ve been through it all, and I’m glad everything is good here but tell me about my kids. Derek will like the good news and will want to hear about Zo, Bailey, and Ellis,” Alex and Christina didn’t understand what I was trying to say. “I’m going to die and it’s ok. I’m going to see him. I’m going to see Derek.”

Alex and Christina looked so upset and seemed like they’d forgotten about the fact that I’m dying. Alex started talking to comfort me,

“Well, when you see Derek tell him everyone says Hi, I have to go so if you’re asleep when I get back just know we all love you, but for now why don’t we have Zola, Bailey, and Ellis come in for a while to keep you company?”

Alex looked excited and upbeat, he’s the only one who’s looked happy today. All of a sudden Zola, Bailey, and Ellis ran in. They all looked as if a pot of gold was at my bed side. It was the best thing that had happened that day, they told me all about their lives, school and what I’ve missed.

“You’re mom’s gotta get some sleep now, grandma Avery is with Harriet and Sofia, she’s gonna take you guys home. Ok?”

I recognized the voice but couldn’t remember the name.

“Hey Mer, we’ve missed you,” I realized who was talking, it was Callie. Jackson, April,

and Arizona were all behind her.

“Who are you people? Do you know where Derek is? I have a name for the,” I stopped talking and couldn’t hear anything.

“She’s in b-fib, get a crash cart in here, NOW!” Jackson was screaming, Callie was trying to help but April and Arizona knew what to do and realized they didn’t have good odds.

“Guys, she’s too far gone,” April couldn’t get anything else out, Jackson went over to comfort her.

Callie finally said, “Who’s gonna call it?”

All of a sudden Alex walked in with Jo behind him. Alex took off his scrub cap and said,

“Time of death, 8:52 pm,” He immediately left the room, Jo ran after him so she could calm him down.

After I woke up. I was in front of Joe’s Bar but I didn’t know how I got there. It was like a movie where you switch scenes, very quick and sudden. I walked in hoping to find out what happened to me or where I was. As I walked in I saw Lexie and Mark playing darts, they looked so happy together and I was happy that after the plane crash they found each other. I walked over and sat at the bar, looked around hoping to find Derek. As I turned back around there he was, he was smiling, and I was falling in love again. He looked over joyed to see me and I was thrilled to see him. It was like two peas in a pod that were back together.

“What’s your story?” I knew what he was doing.

“I’m just a girl in a bar,” I replied but all I could do was smile.

“Well I’m just a guy in a bar,” his face lit up in a smile.

I missed that smile and his eyes. I knew where I was, I was in a world of ferry boat scrub caps, post it’s on the wall, tumors on the wall and houses of candles. I was in a world of happiness, a world that would last forever.