Writing Adventures

For those of us who'd rather not find adventure in three feet of mud or
clinging for dear life on Mount Everest, but in a good story.

Short Stories

Here are a couple short stories I've written. I basically write for contests, but someday I will write something just for this website... Someday...

Keeping In Time

Background- I wrote this for a writing contest recently (same contest as "Shipwreck on Barracks Island" below) and won honorable mention. Considering the time I spent on this one, I'm honestly very happy about getting an honorable mention. Don't worry though, I'll post my winning story next year. :)

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 Quarter note, half note. Pieces of a melody began to form on paper, then harmony. The electric piano beside me had little fingertip-sized dents in the plastic from overuse, and names of different instruments sat fading away on multiple buttons over the keys of the piano. The music sheets in front of me were crumpled from previous erasing rampages, and broken pencils lay around me like a graveyard of tiny wooden men buried under a thin layer of demolished paper. If I weren't a composer, I’d probably be a writer with a constant case of severe writer’s block.

 I felt my name being called before I heard it. It’s my sixth sense, knowing when I’ll hear something before I hear it. I guess this would mean that a musical composer like me would have it easy if I knew what the melody was before I wrote it down, but in reality, making melodies is sometimes like pulling teeth.

“Hannah, are you coming down? Dinner’s on the table,” my mom called from the bottom of the stairs outside my bedroom.

“Wait, mom! I’m just finishing something up!” I scribbled in some notes and made sure it sounded right on the piano. The last chord was a bit off, and I had to fix it. I began to stomp, when a chorus of complaints coming from downstairs interrupted me and beckoned me to the smell of mashed potatoes and lots of butter. My hands flew into the air in exasperation as I gave in to the smell of something other than paper and ink.

“Making music again?” my dad asked as I sat down.

“How could you tell?” I asked.

“You’re always stomping when you’re composing, dear,” my mother jutted in. “Don’t you think you could have a less stressful hobby? You always look so happy when you’re just playing the piano, but then you try to create a tune, and you go insane! Maybe you should join a sports team.”

I glared at my mother. Balance and coordination were key parts to any kind of physical activity, of which I had none. The only muscles I cared to keep in shape were the muscles in my fingers.

“Well, I’m done with the song, so there’ll be no more stomping from me for a couple of days,” I grunted.

“That didn’t sound like much of an ending,” my mother started. “Are you sure you’re done? You have plenty of time!”

A grunt came from my dad across the table, as he was shoveling the last bits of potatoes into his gaping mouth.

“Your mother’s right,” he said through his teeth. “Also, leave creating for God and Beethoven and just be happy playing music. And the sports thing isn’t a bad idea.”

I knew where this conversation was headed, so I nodded and escaped upstairs. I needed to finish the song I was writing before the week ended, which gave me three days. On Friday, hundreds of high school students from all of Pennsylvania would be sending in their own masterpieces for piano that would be judged and re-judged before a decision was made on which piece would win the grand prize of $5,000.

People asked me if I had an underlying reason for trying to win that much money- did one of my relatives have cancer? Was I donating the money to a charity? Was I going to help my parents pay their bills? No, I needed money for a car. Simple, selfish, and never changing. I only thought what every other teenager my age thought at some point. ‘I’m seventeen, I have a job, and I deserve a car.’ I had quite a sum of money saved already. My goal was not a Ferrari, but an extra grand would boost me up from the family rust bucket from the 70’s to something slightly less used.

The next day, I entered my first class with a look that could made lemons pucker up. I rubbed my eyes in an attempt to open them, but ended up permanently shutting them. Mr. Sandman came ten hours too late last night, and I was beginning to think that I had dreamed going over and editing the song the previous night, and that when I saw it again, it wouldn’t be there. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

“Morning, sleepyhead. How were your nonexistent hours of sleep?” teased my classmate Jake. He also composed music, and was also entering in the contest. We both knew our chances of winning were about equal, so things were tense between us. Five grand at stake can do that to friends.

“I wouldn’t call them non-existent,” I responded, “I would call them productive.” This, of course, was a lie, but I couldn’t keep Jake’s confidence up, or he might explode with self-assurance. He really believed he could win the contest.

“I’m going to win that prize, Hannah. Just deal with it,” Jake teased, though I knew there was a conceited seriousness behind his remark. I shrugged it off and sat down to an hour of mind-boggling equations and head-spinning concepts.

Art class was less of a pain. Small wooden blocks lay on the paint-covered tables, waiting for stamps to be carved out of them. I picked up a small knife and began to work. Straight angles and circles peeked their way out of the surface of the wood. The letter ‘A’ popped out, italicized with curled tails sprouting from the ends. I continued making stamps in alphabetical order, until the bell rang, just as I was finishing the letter ‘G’. I smiled with pride of my work as I swept a handful of wood shavings into the trash and dumped the stamps into my backpack before running out for my next class.

“Hannah!” my art teacher, Ms. Botts called after me. Ms. Botts was a nervous woman with constantly moving eyebrows and puckered lips that formed the least amount of words possible. What did she want with me?

She pulled out a canvas with a painting already covering it. It took me a moment to realize that the painting was mine, and that I had created it only a week before. I had already forgotten about it, but the curved green brushstrokes for leaves and straight brown ones for a tree trunk became familiar.

“You painted this,” Ms. Botts said, her eyes unfocused, like she was thinking out the entire ten words total she was planning on reciting to me, “with... focus. I thought you were still working on it.”

“Nope,” I responded, a little irked by the meaning of her words. “I mean, it’s just a tree. I started on that other painting of the bird, and forgot all about this one. You can grade it, because I’m done with it.”

Ms. Botts paused, frowning. “Art is never done,” she said. I nodded and backed up, anxious to be gone.

“Well... bye!” I ran out of the classroom to my next class.

My classroom was just around the corner, when Jake ran into me. Tension struck like lightning, freezing us. This morning, Jake seemed to be in good spirits, keeping his teasing at a minimum. Now, he was a walking bomb, making me jump when his eye twitched. Something had just gone terribly wrong to his day.

“Whoa, settle down before your muscles stiffen turn to stone. Are you ok?” I asked, with all good intensions. His reaction, however, was on the bottom of the list of things I expected him to say.

“Do you know what just happened?” When I shook my head, he rolled his eyes in a craze. “Do you know what the band teacher just told me?” I shook my head again. Jake asked lots of questions when he was mad and I knew that actually answering him could result in an outburst. “He said my song is no good. Why would anyone... And you know what else? You’re going to like this. He said if I could compose like Hannah, I’d have a shot. That Hannah is so good she could win the contest!”

“Jake...”

“No, shut up and listen, ok? I have to win that contest. It was never even about beating you until ten minutes ago. How do you pay hospital bills for your dad in the best cancer facilities with minimum wage earnings?”

If someone had taken a picture of my face during the minute that followed, they wouldn’t have been able to guess what I was thinking. That’s because I wasn’t thinking anything at all. Luckily, I was saved by the bell, and walked inside the classroom, my mouth slightly agape and completely unable to form words, and I knew that Jake was doing exactly the same thing.

 

How do I solve all of my problems? A genius epiphany was bound to come any second, but at the moment, I decided to create a new song. It would be something slow and melancholy, since that was my replacement for listening to my country music. I yanked out a piece of paper from my backpack, and my wooden stamps from art class came tumbling out. I picked them up and set them on my piano. A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Was it coincidence that those were the seven letters used for music? My subconscious probably thought about music constantly.

An idea formed, overlapping the music. I set my stamps upside down on the piano and brought out a sheet of paper and a pad of stamp ink. Five notes should do the trick. I quickly picked out random blocks of wood, pressed them into the ink, and stamped the paper. Five letters of the alphabet formed a nonsensical word, but to a musician, it was inspiration. I tried the notes on the piano. It sounded beautiful, and I could see a masterpiece just itching to come out of the melody. It wasn’t melancholy, however, so I knew I couldn’t make it into a good song. The mood would’ve been all wrong, and what was once an elegant melody would’ve become an experiment gone wrong.

Then, another idea formed, one that would solve the mess that the day brought, and possibly more. I folded the piece of paper with the stamps on it and stuffed it in my backpack. I didn’t write any more music that day, even though I knew the contest entries were due in two days.

 

The next day, I saw Jake on the bus. He was looking up at the ceiling of the bus with a tired look in his eyes. I didn’t want to guess whether it was fatigue or sadness. I sat on the seat across the aisle, keeping a safe distance.

“Jake, can I talk to you?”

I assumed I heard a soft grunt of approval.

“Look, about yesterday... I brought you something.” I pulled out the piece of paper with the stamps on it. “Try it out when you get home. I know you were looking for a bridge for your song, and this sounded perfect.”

He made another grunt and he took the paper without taking his eyes off the ceiling.

“I’m not entering the contest, Jake.” This got his attention. He looked at me with a blank look that turned into confusion.

“You really do think you could win, don’t you?” He was still mad at me. I had to think of something that wouldn’t offend him, something that would compliment him. How do I solve all of my problems? We sat on the bus completely silent up until the bus began to pull into the school bus loop. Then it came to me. I figured I’d tell him why I said it someday, and where I had heard it.

“I don’t need the money. And I’m not refusing to enter the contest because I know I could win. Art is never finished, or complete. Art is immortal, always growing in some way or another, but never dying. Enter the contest, Jake, because winning it wouldn't make your piece immortal- it would make it legendary.”

On the Road Again

Some might say life is hard, but coming close to death is harder. It does something to a person, like they only halfway died and it’s just a zombie walking around for a while. My dad once told me death is a part of life, only not in the cheesy-movie-with-music-swelling-in-the-background way. It didn’t make me believe it any more, though.

When I woke up in the hospital, I freaked. I was delusional from the pain medications as I got up on my broken leg and hobbled in a panic for the exit, and was not at all comforted when white coats came rushing to me. I apparently caused quite a racket, but I’m known to do that a lot.

I woke up a second time the same day, back in bed, staring up at the sleeping fluorescent lights, only visible by the light of the full moon. I quietly slipped out from the sheets and limped to the end of the bed, where I found crutches. I considered them for a second, but decided against them, concluding that they would make too much noise. Once, my dad said that it’s hard being sneaky when there’s noise in your head, but he’s in the loony bin, so a lot of the stuff he says doesn’t make sense.

The hospital was completely silent, like I had stepped into a horror film and a creepy monster was right behind me, about to slash my throat. I hobbled faster until I found an exit.

Hot summer air puffed at my face like cigarette smoke, and I exhaled with tight lips. I winced, and then swore when I put too much weight on my bad leg.

“Hey.” I didn’t turn around; I could recognize that silky smooth voice if I were in New York City.

“Howdy,” I replied, kicking softly behind me with my cast just to make sure it hit jeans and not slimy monster legs.

“That was quite a fall down the stairs to break your leg, dislocate your shoulder, and crack your skull, missy. Not to mention the 3rd degree burns. Tsk. How did my clever little girl explain that one?”

“I was cooking when I fell, so when I got up, the food was on fire and I burned myself trying to put it out,” I said, on the verge of staged hysterics, and then laughed at my story.

“Too bad the real story’s more heroic. Oh…” He took my shoulder (not the dislocated one) and turned me around so I was facing him. “It’s also too bad you told them your house burned down. I just checked the news. There hasn’t been a single burnt house within 50 miles of this place for the past week. Which makes you…”

“Screwed,” I finished for him. I figured this would happen, but I had to think fast when the police asked me where I lived.

“You betcha,” he said, running his rough fingers through his sun-bleached hair. His eyes were gray at the moment, which probably meant that he was tired. The red rims and dark circles around them confirmed it, as well as his posture, which was slouchier than usual. He stood at around 5’9”, two inches taller than me. Perfect for kissing.

“Where’s the gang?” I asked, taking hold of his hands.

“Uh oh, you weren’t supposed to ask me that,” he teased, and I had a pretty good idea of what he was implying, so I gave him a big bear hug, the kind that he had to return, and it made me feel safe, even though my shoulder began to light on fire with pain. “We’re getting you out of here,” he whispered in my ear.

“Good. I can’t stand hospitals,” I smiled as I pulled away to walk inside.

The gang arrived around 3:00 in the morning. The hospital had been mainly quiet, except for an incident around midnight involving two men in a shootout. I only knew because of Lou, who had filled me in after I woke up, leaning on his shoulder.

“Time to go,” he said after the quick story, and without my permission, picked me up and headed for the door, where Tim and Tall were waiting. I groggily complained, but we were already next to the bus. It was still running, blowing hotter air than the dry summer wind in my face.

The school bus was obviously painted in a hurry, but the twins’ (Tim and Tall) handiwork came through. The front was dark green, and turned lighter shades of the same color as it wound toward the back of the bus, and there were purple flames gushing at the sides. Just like the last one, before it blew up. I shuddered at the memory of flying through that tiny window next to the driver’s seat to the flaming ground below. It did not make me at all eager to start driving again, so I counted myself lucky that I had a broken leg. Lou would be driving from now on until my leg healed, upon request of the rest of the gang to keep “the couple” out of trouble. Tim and Sara had begun to show the start of a relationship, but Sara didn’t survive the crash. The only reason Tim hadn’t jumped off the nearest cliff was his brother, Tall.

Tim and Tall are fraternal twins. Tim is tiny, and Tall is just the opposite, earning him his name. Like all siblings, they fought constantly, but they care for each other, which is a plus since that means nobody else has to. We picked them up around fifty miles into our trip after they begged us to take them with us. Their house had just burned down, and they had lost everything, including their parents. In return for our escape route from their shattered lives, they painted our bus, which had formerly been silver.

Sara was completely against the twins painting the bus, since the silver coat was her doing, but our policy was that everyone had to play a part and make a contribution to the road trip. Lou got us the bus in the first place, Sara painted it, and I drove. When the twins painted over the silver, Sara was bitter about it for days, as if they had kicked her out. Her death made the whole incident very creepy.

I hopped up the stairs and collapsed in the nearest seat, ignoring the pile of clothes Tim dumped on top of me, finding the hospital smock loose and cool in the heat. I flashed back for a second to an image of my father, even before he went crazy, wearing just his boxers around the house, saying how comfortable he was compared to me and my mother, no matter how embarrassed we both were by it. I was beginning to understand his thinking there.

The three boys were talking outside, arguing about the paintjob until a doctor began walking out of the hospital with a groggy and angry look on his face, which made them scramble on the bus and hurry the hell out of there. I ducked behind the window when I recognized the man as one of the doctors who forced me back in bed and stuck a needle in me when I freaked earlier that day, but I was too late. He stopped and gaped when he caught sight of me, then sprinted back inside for the phone. I was suddenly very awake, and very nervous.

“Hey, hurry up, we might have some police trouble here,” I yelled to Lou, who was behind the wheel with a grim look on his face. I guessed that he already knew, since he had already stomped on the pedal harder a few seconds before.

“Tim, Tall, get ready to do the fastest painting in history, or we’re all going to be painting prison walls with our piss,” Lou roared, and the twins scrambled for their paint cans as we pulled into the school bus parking lot. The man obviously saw that we were riding a very colorful school bus, so that was the first and most easily recognizable thing about us. We couldn’t go on a road with our signature stamped in bright green and purple.

The twins were off the bus before Lou hit the brakes, pouncing on the bus we were in and covered everything except the windows in dark red. Lou jumped out too with a third red bottle and helped. After a while, my consciousness slipped, and I was asleep again.

A couple months later, we had only gotten 200 miles from that hospital. Money for gas was low, and we avoided highways by going on back roads for days, which meant sometimes going where buses were not meant to drive, which also meant a lot of resting and camping. My shoulder was finally feeling normal again, and my head no longer hurt when I touched it, so I figured it was time for the leg to be healed as well. With the help of Lou and the twins, I got my cast off, luckily to find that it had healed.

“Ah, finally, I don’t have to drive that damn bus!” Lou shouted with relief, so I slugged him in the arm. I had been nervous about this day; I hadn’t driven a bus in too long, it seemed.

Lou was so happy that day, we drove on a road that passed right next to a major highway, but we all gave him a punch to remind him not to be reckless. He got off on the nearest country road, but kept humming “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson until we all gave him another punch in the arm.

“Hey look guys, I’m stopping in a couple of miles, ok? You can beat me up when I’m out of this seat,” Lou snapped after the second round.

We stopped at an abandoned parking lot with no apparent purpose. Lou had turned the bus around to get back out on the road, and stepped out of the seat, gesturing for me to get in it.

“She’s all yours,” he said, and for a second, I sat there, thinking about getting up, willing myself to just get up there and start driving. But I couldn’t. Somehow, there was a voice in my head telling me I couldn’t do it, not even if I tried. I would just end up blowing everyone up, just like last time. I looked at Tall, who was dozing off, listening to the radio through headphones. There was a scar on his face from the explosion that stretched out every time he smiled. Then I thought of Sara, but quickly pushed the thought away. I couldn’t do anything like that to anyone ever again. I looked up at Lou, who still had his arms stretched, pointing to the seat, and shook my head. His eyebrows creased.

“What do you mean, no?” he asked, clearly disappointed I hadn’t leaped up to save him from his temporary duty.

“I can’t do it, Lou. I won’t get you all blown up again,” I whispered, looking down.

“Is that what this is about? This is all just because you made one little mistake? Come on, get in the seat; you’ll be fine,” he said. He was on the verge of anger, so I stood up and made my way to the driver’s seat to satisfy him. That was a big mistake. Painful memories of the crash flooded my mind, and I bit back a scream. Above all the sounds of ambulances and screaming in my head, one thing stood out, not from the crash- I remembered my dad saying that if you don’t get up on the horse after you fall, you’ll never get on again. I knew what he meant now.

I ran off the bus onto the parking lot, fell to my knees, and wept.

Shipwreck on Barracks Island

Background- I wrote this for a writing competition quite a while ago, and I got 2nd place in it! I'm so happy! It was a great ego booster for me, even if it was only 2nd. Oh, and this is the unabridged version, so it's different than the one that got me in 2nd place in the contest. I had to cut out 400 words from it because it went way over the word limit. It was a pain taking all that stuff out. I hated it! Please please please give me advice about it!

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          It had been three weeks. We should’ve landed three days ago. Worse, the captain has fallen ill, and nobody else seems to have any knowledge of this bloody airship. Its maker called it The Draco, but this rickety old ship hardly deserves the name The Goddamned Piece of Junk. Our food supply was shrinking into nothingness, and just an hour ago the captain said we probably had flown through the wrong portal, creating anger and much confusion with the crew. We needed a lot more than luck to save us from this mess.

“Anna!” my father barked. I scrambled up on deck. “Everyone’s preparing for an emergency landing. Get up here right now!”

The shortage of food has made everyone grumpy, but not to this degree. I hope it was just anxiety. After all, we were going to do an emergency landing on the ocean by using a device that probably won’t work, and possibly get everyone on the ship drowned. The chances of anyone on this ship surviving were very slim. I could just see Hades smirking at us with schadenfreude, waiting for our unlucky souls to join him in his dark and dreadful abyss of death.

“ANNA!!” I jumped and stood at attention in front of my father. The veins on his neck were bulging, and his face was scarlet from shouting. I could only guess that the captain had put him in charge of the shouting. I could see the captain himself at the controls, obviously obliged to operate them, since, of course, he was the only one on this bloody ship that was able to.

“Anna, get the lifeboats ready. If this doesn’t work, you climb into one of them and save yourself, do you understand?” I stood there in front of my father, who was possibly going to drown, and trying hard not to cry, I replied.

“Yes, father. I-I understand.” Then he picked me up and gave me a big bear hug, the kind that only a father could give to his daughter. Since he couldn’t see me, I started to cry. The tears soaked his shirt, and unfortunately, I couldn’t stop when he put me down. I ran to the cabins to keep him from seeing me be so weak. I threw myself on my bed and sobbed.

“Everyone ready?” my dad called to the crew up on deck. I slowly climbed up the stairs to the deck to get ready. I was still wiping my face dry. “Alright. We are executing an emergency landing in 5, 4, 3…”

Time seemed to slow down. The crew was moving in slow motion.  I was moving in slow motion.

“2…”

I climbed into one of the two tiny lifeboats. I wrapped my arms around my knees and started to shiver. And it was still in slow motion. I could feel my eyes tearing up again, so I wiped them, then hid my face in my knees to cry yet again.

The men kept shouting in stentorian tones, so I clapped my hands over my ears to shut out the noise, but kept alert for any signs of terror. I clutched my stomach as the ship lurched downward. Everyone else stumbled a little as they moved along. The sudden downward movements continued.

I knew we weren’t going to make it. But that didn’t help when everyone slowed down, some even sat and rested, because they knew that all of their efforts were in vain. I grasped the side of my tiny lifeboat, longing for better protection, and continuing to shiver in fear. With my hands off my ears, I could hear my father as he spoke:

“We’re not going to make it. There is only one lifeboat left, but nobody can fit in it. Everyone, find a floating object and tie yourself to it- that is our last hope.” He said quietly. I quickly put my hands over my ears again.

The downward lurching abruptly came to a halt, and I heard a faint splash, then bubbles coming up from the sides. Our ship had a leak.

“EVACUATE!” My father yelled, and everyone on The Draco jumped off board, holding large floating objects. My own lifeboat started floating away from the sinking ship in the opposite direction of the crew. I yelled to my father, but he couldn’t hear me. I shut my eyes to stop the tears welling up, and soon, I fell asleep.

I woke up in a daze about an hour later. I sleepily looked around me. I had finally reached land. I cautiously stepped out of my boat, blinking from the sun. Behind me was the sea, so vast, I felt as tall as an ant. When I looked the opposite direction, it made me feel shorter than a flea. The shore was lined with a forest of the most colossal trees I had ever seen in my 9 years of existence. The forest trees kept getting taller and taller, creating a gigantic mountain at the middle of the island. I did not intend to go near that place.

Just then, my stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten since the previous day, and that was just a half a bowl of soup. I winced. How was I to survive on this desolate island without food? I looked in my lifeboat, hoping for some rations, but finding none. Damn.

With my stomach still demanding to be fed, I decided that my only chance for finding food was to explore. Unfortunately, the only area to explore was the forest. I would only be an hour or two. Just until I found some food.

My exploring had taken two hours, and still I had found nothing, not even a source of water. I took breaks often, and the afternoon sun began to burn through the trees and scorch my face, making progress even slower. I was pretty sure I was lost, even though the whole point of my expedition was to find food without getting lost. I sighed and sat down against a shady tree to take a brief nap.

A coconut hitting my head waked me up. I jumped, thinking that I was being attacked be natives. I looked up into the trees and found out that I WAS being attacked. I saw three more coconuts coming towards me. I nimbly jumped aside and let the coconuts hit the ground. Then I could see who my attackers were. Two young boys, probably around my age, were holding four more coconuts and aiming them at me.

“Hey! Stop that!” I yelled up to them. I could tell they heard me, because they started talking quietly up in their post. I couldn’t catch any of their conversation; they were too high up in the tree.

I waiting for a minute, getting impatient and starting to pace. Would they just hurry up? I didn’t have all day, and I was starving to death as I stood there.

Finally, one of the boys climbed down the tree. When he jumped down, I had my first good look at him. He had dark skin, dark eyes, and dark hair, like the pictures of the Native Americans in the history books at school. The only thing that stood out was his clothing. He was wearing a hot pink tight shirt and neon green jeans. The color combination clashed in the most unpleasant way and made me squint with disapproval.

“My brother and I will take you to our village,” he said shortly. Then his companion climbed down the tree and jumped to the ground.

“Sorry about the coconuts. We were just having fun,” he said innocently. Humph. That’s not what I would call fun.

“Follow me,” ordered the other boy. He seemed to be older the way he took charge, but the clothes he wore didn’t help. For a minute I considered not following them, but I had no choice. If I didn’t, they would leave me here, lost and confused, and I would soon meet the same fate as my father and the crew of The Draco.

I followed the two boys through the forest, struggling to keep up in their winding path because I was so hungry.

“Wait up!” I called to them. I was more than 10 feet behind, and I was losing sight of them. They came to a stop and waited as I caught up to them. Finally seeing how hungry I was, the younger boy offered me a half a coconut, which I gratefully accepted and quaffed. He laughed when he saw coconut milk dripping off my chin, and I quickly wiped it off and thanked the boy for the food.

It took half an hour to reach the village with all the stops we made so I could catch up. In that time I drank 51/2  coconuts worth of milk, and I was feeling refreshed and optimistic as I walked into the village.

The two boys took me on a tour of the village. It was a middle class but primitive area where many people were taking advantage of the cool spring weather outside. Children were chasing each other around on air scooters, something I had given up long ago for other toys.

To end the tour, the boys took me to their house, where they explained to their parents who their guest was. It was there where I started my new life on this little island called Barracks.

For the past few years, I’ve been raising funds to go on an expedition to find my father. I have a strong belief that he is alive, and I will find him, even if he’s not.

As I write this in Amir and Amin’s house, I have already raised enough money for a good boat- much better than The Draco. When I find my father, I vow that I will help this little town rise up in power, but that is in the future, of which I cannot predict. For now, I have ended my story.

Why Kids Hang Shoes Over Telephone Wires

Background: This was an English assignment; I  enjoyed writing it, so I've posted it.

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Not so long ago, in a little town called Ithaca, New York, there was a small and poor neighborhood, where there were many little boys and girls who played in the desolate, cracked streets. They were all around ten or eleven years old, and they were all very good friends. However, not unlike most people, friends don’t always get along. They have fights, arguments, and competition.

One day, a boy named Stan went up to his friend and challenged him, saying, “I know you can run faster than me, but I’ll bet I can beat you at anything else.” So he and his friend rallied up the other neighborhood kids and planned a day where the boys would compete in all kinds of situations to determine who indeed was the best boy of the two. They made up all kinds of strange races and games, sometimes throwing a few punches to get an idea around. But eventually, the program was all set, and the next day, the two boys would find out who was their better.

“Good luck tomorrow,” Stan sneered as he walked backwards to his home, keeping his eyes on his friend. “Don’t drink too much coffee, or your heart might stop and you’ll drop dead.”

“Oh yeah?” yelled his friend over his shoulder, who was very short and stocky with square shoulders. “Where’d you hear that?”

“In a book!” Stan laughed.

“Since when did you know how to read?” Stan’s friend had to shout to be heard as they walked slowly farther and farther apart.

“My mama taught me!”

“Your mama don’t know how to read, stupid!”

“I’ll kick your butt tomorrow, Will.” By that time, the two boys were too far apart to hear each other, and Stan’s last sentence blew away from his lips with the wind, away from his friend’s ears. The boys both got home, ate dinner, and went to sleep early, with thoughts of triumph in their heads.

The next day was sunny and warm, perfect for the competition. All the neighborhood kids, including the girls, woke up early so as not to miss any of the excitement. Some kids brought scraps of paper with Stan or Will’s name on it, waving them like flags and shouting their names. They were both very popular kids.

The first match was one that a big Italian boy in the neighborhood, Sammy, made up- who could do a handstand the longest. The boys both got on their hands and started. The streets were complete chaos. Kids were throwing things at the boys, whose faces were turning odd shades of color, and parents came and threw junk at the spectators to make them shut their mouths, and the noise and the stench that rose up from the frenzy was one no sane human being would want to ever withstand.

Eventually, Stan won. The crowd went berserk. Fights started up, and the crowd had suddenly condensed and seemed smaller because all of the kids were on top of each other. As the games continued, the pandemonium slowly died down, as parents came to take away some of the kids, either for fear that they might be killed, or because they were pretty close to that already. Stan was on a winning streak- he had not yet lost a game, and Will was very upset.

After the last game, Will still had not won a single one. His fans had long since gone, from disappointment and shame for supporting such a loser. Stan lay on the road, his arms spread-eagle, panting like a dog, drool rolling down his cheeks and sliding down with the sweat. His face was beet red, and his eyes were wide open, with extreme triumph glittering in them. Will was standing up a little ways away, his arms crossed as he too panted like a dog, but with his eyes like slits. He would not admit defeat.

“Hey Stan,” he puffed, not moving anything but his mouth. “Say we had… another race.”

“Another race?!” Stan laughed. “You bet, if I can win it.”

“Oh, you’ll like this one. You see, I can run fast, but only with my shoes. Say we have a race bare-foot.”

“Fine by me. Let’s go all around the neighborhood.”

“Wait!” a spectator called. “Where do we put the shoes? ‘Cause what if one of you gets your shoes later in the race? That wouldn’t be fair!”

“Good call,” Will yelled back. He took off his sneakers, tied them together, and threw them over the telephone wire. The laces caught, and the shoes stayed there. Stan did the same. They then began the race.

The race went on for nearly half an hour, and the two friends were just about to give up, when they saw the finish line- the telephone wire with their shoes. They sprinted until the very end, but Will had more stamina. He stretched out his chest, and fell into the finish, and the remainder of the crowd went wild with anger, since most of them were Stan fans. Now it was Wills turn to lay on the road and drool, while Stan stood and crossed his arms. After a great deal of panting and sweating, they walked up to each other, shook their friend’s hand, and walked home, completely forgetting their shoes. There would be many more words said later.

In the meantime, a family was taking a tour of little Ithaca, New York. The two people in the front seats of the car, the parents, were determined to look at every nook and cranny of the small town, while their one son had other ideas. He’d look everywhere when they passed through poorer neighborhoods for any kind of evidence of mischief lay around for him to pick up on. As the family drove into Will and Stan’s neighborhood, the boy in the back seat of the car caught sight of the two pairs of shoes that weighed down the telephone line. He gasped in delight. If only he had thought of this before!

Suddenly his urge to go back to his home grew, and he impatiently rocked back and forth, looking through the back window at the shoes hanging there. He knew the perfect kids to be the victims of his next plot. Never before had home seemed so welcoming to him. So began the commonly-known trick pranksters love to play on their enemies. And that is why in almost every town, there are always pairs of shoes tied up that are hung over telephone wires.

 

Life

Background: I wrote this for a contest, but I didn't win it :( I'll be working on it more I guess...

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It was arguably the most epic scientific breakthrough since the discovery of DNA. It shocked the world to its core, erupting volcanoes of outbursts and questions. This was supposed to happen a hundred years in the future, not 2009! Is it possible to speed up scientific progress by that much?

“Well,” Dr. Hiatus stuttered, wringing his hands and licking his lips. His pupils were dilated, and his red, puffy eyes flicked back and forth from one camera lens to the other, wincing as he failed to avoid the blinding camera flashes. He looked down at his knees, reminding himself under his breath why he was there, and continued, “It was bound to happen sometime or other. The search, you see, has been going on for about… fifty years or so. And with our technologies rapidly improving and becoming readily available to us, our progress is relentlessly speeding up.”

Dr. Hiatus paused, wiping his hands on his khaki pants, gaining confidence. The lab rat instinct that made him shrink back from the media and his desire to creep back to his work ebbed away, and his confidence dripped color into his face. His shoulders dropped two inches, and his hands slowed their fidgeting. Remembering a tip from a friend, he focused his eyes just a millimeter above all the cameras and kept them there. He prayed that his friend was right and that it would look as though he was actually looking at the cameras.

“We take thousands, sometimes millions of pictures per day with our highly advanced telescopes and varied technologies. However, with such a vast field to search, we… we knew it would take some time to find what we were looking for.” He paused when he saw a tall man emerge from the crowd, walking up to him. Dr. Hiatus shrank back; he had hoped he wouldn’t have to talk to an actual person.

The man, with the air of celebrity, came up with a large wireless microphone and a square, minty smile, and stuck the microphone in the scientist’s face.

“Dr. Hiatus!” he boomed, as if the two men had known each other for years. Dr. Hiatus tensed, his confidence draining quickly. The man smiled even wider, and keeping a straight face, asked, “So how did you find life on this distant planet? I’ve seen pictures of the planets you’ve photographed and they’re… definitely not your good old Kodak pictures, am I right?”

The constant buzz coming from the cameramen quickly grew louder and more distracting, and the scientist paused for a moment, staring blankly at the glass eyes zooming in on his face. Some other reporters in the background began shouting questions at the cringing interviewee.

“Dr. Hiatus, are you sure you’ve found life on a different planet?”

“Dr. Hiatus, what kind of camera did find this planet?”

“Have you communicated with the planet’s inhabitants?”

“Are there real aliens out there?”

“Dr. Hiatus, do you subscribe to Scientific American?”

Dr. Hiatus was nearly in tears. He had reached the end of his tolerance, and bit back a scream. In a half-crouched position, he whispered into the microphone so that it just barely picked up the sound waves emitting from his mostly closed mouth.

“There are three necessities to life,” he began, and everyone immediately shut their mouths and hung on to his every word. Dr. Hiatus blinked slowly and spoke again in his normal voice.

“Food, water, and shelter are usually easy to find, here on Earth. Not so much on other planets though. We can tell the difference between Earth and Mars by our green and blue planet compared to Mars’ desolate red surface. What we have found is another planet approximately fifty light years away from our solar system that is definitely comparable to Mars.”

“What did your cameras pick up, Dr. Hiatus?” a reporter amid the crowd dared to yell out. Rather than making the scientist more nervous, though, his confidence grew again, and he sat up straighter and talked with more authority and excitement.

“What our cameras picked up did not make sense to us at first. After all, we were extremely lucky to get photos with real color, but we were reluctant to exhibit them at first because of the controversial evidence that was found. It appears as though this planet has plenty of food and water, but of an odd sort. The vegetation is a dark purple, and we have inferred that the seemingly blank spots on our photographs are actually black oceans of clear water.

“The explanation for all this nonsense is that though our planet has green vegetation, it is possible, underneath a different sun that is in a different stage of life, that the chlorophyll of the planet makes the plants purple rather than green, and the brightness and color of the light emitted from the star might contribute to the color of the water. So there you are- proof that there is life beyond Earth.”

The hubbub began to rise again, and the flashing lights increased. The scientist smiled. He was a hero. He was important. Dr. Hiatus nodded his head to all the reporters and cameramen, and quietly slipped back into the lab building.

Dr. Hiatus’s ears were ringing from the sudden stillness in the air, as if he were almost used to the commotion, though he wasn’t. He breathed a sigh of relief and joy and marched back to his lab room. He opened the metal door and felt around for the light switch, but instantly regretted it.

“Hiatus!” the scientist nearly had a heart attack as his friend, Dr. Sharke, appeared out of nowhere in the doorway.

“Not. Funny,” he puffed, leaning over and clutching his chest.

“Woah woah woah, you alright there? Didn’t mean to scare you that bad! Maybe you’re not as young as you once were,” Dr. Sharke laughed. “Anyway, happy April Fool’s Day!”

“What are you playing at?” Dr. Hiatus squinted suspiciously at his colleague.

“It’s April first! Haven’t you figured out my joke yet?”

“No, I didn’t catch it. What was it?”

“Come on, Hiatus, you might be old enough for heart attack, but you haven’t gone blind, have you? Did you really think those pictures of my little ‘distant planet’ were real?” Dr. Sharke laughed.

Dr. Hiatus froze. This was impossible. His face was on public television. Everyone knew the name Dr. Hiatus. Now a so-called scientific hero. And the photos were fake? A hoax? He had tested again and again… Then he remembered what Sharke’s job was- computer imagery and editing. He should’ve thought of that.

His fellow scientist froze too, guessing what he had done. His hands covered his face, and he let out a choked gasp. Several swear words escaped between his fingers, and he squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them again, as if this nightmare would just disappear. Once out of his shock, he let his hands drop into his jean pockets again, and he felt a new emotion- guilt. He’d been warned many times that the little jokes he loved to play on his family and colleagues would get him into trouble, but he had blown it off, not suspecting anything like this would happen. He bit his lip and stared at the floor.

“I’m sorry, Hiatus. I didn’t think that this would happen. I really didn’t,” he whispered.

“I’m going home now. Cover for me. You owe that to me, at least,” Dr. Hiatus replied, looking down as to not reveal any emotion. Sharke didn’t look up, but heard his friend’s footsteps leading to the doorway. He promised himself he would cover for Hiatus. He was determined that he’d make it up to him somehow.

He never got the chance, though. Dr. Hiatus was never seen again, not even by his family. He was gone, and so were the phony pictures of the purple planet. Soon enough, people forgot about the whole embarrassment. Life went on.