Sunday, December 9, 2012

No.2 Pencil. Armed Terrorist. Bag of Doritos.

I could hear the sirens scream as the wheels of the police vehicles screeched and scarred the asphalt as they came to a stop. The doors opened and closed in a rush of disorderly sounds. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on, one minute I was studying for a distasteful vocabulary final I had in less than five minutes, and now, the classroom lights were off, door was sealed shut only by a tiny built-in lock, and I was crouching next to my desk fearing for my life. Everyone was completely in a state of shock, and the overhead speaker kept buzzing off and on after its last message. The office ordered an immediate classroom lockdown. There was an armed student patrolling the halls, hunting for blood.

I was feeling really nervous in this situation, and when I’m nervous I get really hungry and tend to eat or rather I feel the need to chew on something. Generally in situations like this I have a pack of Trident layers at the ready, but I was regretting giving out my gum so generously last period. All I had with me now were the leftovers of some Doritos stashed away somewhere in my unorganized backpack. With the most subtle of movements, I unzipped my backpack quietly like I had something to hide, found my Doritos, and carefully took a chip out. Right as I was about to bite into my delicious chip, there were several loud bangs, and with one look at the door I thought, “Oh great, aren’t I lucky.” The student was here, just outside the classroom I was crouching silently in.

The maniac student still had his common sense because he simply just shot off the door handle, and cruised right in. Finally, I got a good look at the terrorist, he was quite tall maybe around six feet, wore nice clothing like he was from a wealthier middle class family, but it was his face that disturbed me. His face looked like he got caught up in a schoolyard brawl. It was so messed up that he looked almost completely different, but I knew who it was. This man, this student, this friend that stood in front of me was none other than the person I grew up with, Chris, and without a moment of hesitation, I stood.
“Chris! What are you doing?” I screamed. “Put the gun down, it’s not worth it!”
He looked over at me and gently said, “hah, shut up.”
He opened fire at me, but luckily the bullets only scraped the side my left cheek. He was probably shaken up by the punches and kicks that his head had to endure before going berserk. I was lucky that his hand-eye coordination was slightly off or else, my face would have been blown off. I had to think quickly, and see what I could make of this situation. I heard another loud pop and my eardrums felt like they were torn apart, I looked up and my teacher was lying on the floor with his head torn apart by the impact of the bullet. The blood and brains oozing out of his head made me puke. With the stench of blood and bile now in the air, I blacked out for what seems to be hours, but when I awoke, Chris was standing in the same place. Not even ten seconds had passed by. Now it smelled even worse. A drop of blood fell out of my ears; my eardrums had indeed been ruptured by the loud popping gunshots. I thought carefully and got a plan together to try and stop Chris before he pulls the trigger on everyone. My execution of the plan would be a one-shot deal, and it couldn’t be wasted.
            I threw my bag of Doritos up in the air, and just as I expected, Chris nearly emptied his clip shooting at it. This gave me enough time to charge at him. I tackled him, and immediately knocked his gun across the room. Now we were both struggling against each other. He threw a hard punch to my face and nearly made me unconscious. Now he was sitting on me, throwing punches left and right, I reached for something and I felt something that was like a small stick. Without a second thought, I stabbed the stick into the upper part of his left arm. He let out a scream and pulled the object out of his arm and threw it aside. I looked and it was a Ticonderoga covered in blood. With his arm spilling blood, he dove for his gun. I picked up pencil again and went after him. I managed to tackle him but his fingers were only two inches away from the gun. I let my brutal and sadistic mind take over for a second. I took his hand and laid it flat on the floor, and hammered the pencil into the back of his hand with the cover of a literature textbook that I managed to find right next to me. I slapped the gun away further, and with perfect timing, the police came rushing through the door. They handcuffed me and took me away for accounts of man slaughter. Apparently I was the only one that saw Chris that day, and what everyone else saw was a student soaked in blood with a name tag that read “Ubi Kim”.
 Written by: Ubi Kim

Breathing as slowly as possible. I continue to breathe as slowly and quietly as possible so as to bring as little attention to myself. The alarm sounded less than two minutes ago indicating there were terrorists on campus but I didn’t need to hear the alarm, all you needed to have heard was the bullets echoing through the school. Momentarily I mentally laugh because I should have known this was going to happen. I attend Brighten Youth Academy where all the bright or rich kids go. I’m one of the bright ones but it’s kind of ironic because this has happened before as I chose to continue my education here. What the hell was I thinking?! Well, this school has connections to some if not all the Ivy League universities, and graduating from here meant getting accepted into schools, such as Stanford and Harvard, would have been a cake-walk.  
Anyways, everyone student was assembled in the cafeteria for lunch. Every student, perfect time for these yahoos to attack us because we were all in the one place. The alarm kept blaring until a few more shots echoed and blew out the speakers. Steps were lightly audible down the hall way in this indoor campus. Damn. Light engulfed the hall as the twin doors swung wide open. Everyone DOWN!!I Yelled a guy with a sky-mask carrying a P-90. Multiple guys wearing the same black-drab colored outfits rushed in. AAHHH!! People cried out in fear. Five terrorists rushed over to the teacher table and knocked down Mr. Greeley and Mr. Nesper by hitting them with the butt of the P-90’s. A few other teachers shrieked.  
I crouched near Matt Patel, Ubi Kim, Elizabeth Hotchkiss, Lizbeth Estrada, William Veroski and a few othes. The man who had initially yelled out at us to get down spoke into a walkie-talkie: Report. Report now! A momentary pause and another voice responded: Clear so far sir. Sky mask asshole took a breath before getting out his cell phone with some sort of device attached to the antennae. He dialed a number and said: The school is ours. Pauses to listen to the other voice. Of course, it shouldn’t be long now before the perimeter is set up and the mines are place around the campus. Chris almost down placing the motion sensitive bombs around the windows. Should I make the call? Pause. Affirmative. 
Elizabeth shifted her gaze.   
We can take the guy by the door. We can make a run for it.   
Matt responded with incredibility:  Are you crazy?! They have P-90’s and look highly trained.  
I’m sure we can take that guy. He keeps looking in the other direction. Ubi and I can tackle him with Tae Kwon Do and then make a run for it to call for help. 
Mrs. Wingerden’s room has a satellite phone and Rucker’s room is right next door filled with chemicals. We can totally make it and build us a mini bomb. I responded, momentum building. 
Okay, ready. Set. NOW! We jumped and ran. Ubi and Elizabeth tackled the surprised guard. They both jumped back up and made a run  for it, or at least tried to. The tackled guy was conscious enough to grab hold of Elizabeth’s foot. The man in charge look at this discrepancy in his plans and scowled. He turned around and raised his gun. Everyone knew what was going to happen. I grabbed Liz and held her so she couldn’t see.  
BANG!! The shot echoed loud and it sent shrills down everyone back.  
COME ON! We have to keep moving before they catch us. I yelled and startled Ubi and Matt out of their trance. Will ran ahead of us and made sure the coast was clear.  
Clear let’s go.  Will whispered. We hearded into Wingerden’s room.  
 I’ll dial, while you guys try and make something with those chemicals. Liz, Will, Ubi and I quietly ran next door and closed the door.  
Okay Ubi stay by the door. Make sure no one is coming. We will try to make something. Will ordered.  
We can make a potassium nitrate smoke bomb using that sugar over there and a mixture of potassium and nitrate. Liz responded with certainty. 
Huh?!?? Will and I looked at each other dumb founded. 
Youtube videos. There is so many interesting things on Youtube She responded earnestly. 
Will and I nodded our heads and started the process. After twenty minutes, Ubi made the sign that someone was coming.  
Okay the chemical should be done by now. Uhm Liz grab that empty bag of Doritos so we can poor the substance in there. Okay tie it good. Awesome, everyone hide in the storage room. Will whispered. Footsteps followed by the door opening was heard.  
Room E-33 is clear. The intruder said and then left. 
Okay guys lets go see if Matt got the phone to work. I said and lead the group outside after checking to see if the coast was clear.  
Matt. MATT! Where are you? Matt popped out of the closet. He was followed by one of the sky-mask terrorists who had a P-90 pointed at the back of Matt’s skull. 
You kids have been naughty. Sneered the terrorist. Ubi quickly reacted. There was a No. 2 Ticonderoga sharpened pencil and his Asian senses tingled. He grabbed the pencil and flung it directly at the terrorist’s right eye. Down went the terrorist.  
Geeze, Asians! I responded still in shock. 
Uhm, thank you Ubi. I got the phone to work and called the police. SWAT will be here in as little as twenty minutes. Matt said with relief.  
In the meantime, we have to make sure those terrorists don’t hurt anyone else. I said. 
It’s a good thing we have this. Liz said holding up the bomb smiling. Let’s do some damage. 
Let’s. I agreed with her smiling. …….. To be continued.
Written by: Felicitas Ruiz

The musky taste of paint and wood saturated the inside of Michel’s mouth. Chewing his #2 Ticonderoga was a habit he no longer noticed himself but Westerdin High School’s prom queen Samantha Torres and cheer captain Lucy McBride noticed. Michel could hear their whispers, snide remarks about his pencil chewing tendency.  “Ew! How gross! His spit is all over it!” “How much wood could a wood chuck chuck…” and so on.

With every second that passed on the clock it felt like a life time. He could feel his leg shake and let his desk slightly bounce up and down, up down. 11:47. Three minutes. He could feel his heart racing! A pound synchronized to the bouncing of his leg, ticking of the clock, chatter of the pencil between his teeth. 

11:48. Two minutes. The bell would ring. He looked around the room at his class mates.

Samantha Torres and Lucy McBride: the stereotypical bitches everyone hates but pretends to love.

 Samantha’s boy friend, Jake Smith: Captain of the hockey team, sleeps around with Lucy.

Markus Merano: sells pot, and has been to juvy twice.

Sasha Banks: book worm, smarter than you and not afraid to let you know it.

Jane Mather: Preacher’s Kid with three tattoos to prove it.

Oscar Vendez: Knocked up his girl friend last year, he didn’t even go with her to get the abortion. Also helps Markus sell pot.

Kendra and Penelope Schmidt: Twins, co captains of the girls tennis team and debate club. Have both had affairs with teachers and teachers aids.

Andrew Pina:  also known as the tormenter and school bully.

Josh Jackson: New, got kicked out of his old school of drinking on campus.

May Walsh: Oscar’s ex. Pregnant again.

Holly Austin: repeating the class because she failed last year. Failing again.

Norah Wilson: freshman whose been moved up to a junior class. Acts like a freshman still.

And … was it Dill… or

11:49. One minute.  The bulk of steel in his pocket burned with expectation. Michel could feel it through his jeans. Just one minute. It was if the world had frozen. What stood between his class mates and certain death… was one minute. It must have only been seconds now… seconds that they would take for granted… Seconds that would be their last.

“Hey” Michel could hear the words, they seemed like miles away. “Hey” Michel dropped his hand from his pocket and looked up. It was that kid… Phil… WILL. The kid’s name was WILL! “Hey man,” Michele checked the clock 11:49.

“Hi…?” 11:49

“I was just wondering…. Do you want the rest of my Doritos?” Will stretched out his hand holding a family size bag half full of chips. 11:49.

“I….” DING DING DING. 11:50. The class dashed out, including Will whom left the Doritos of Michel’s desk. “I…”

So there Michel sat, eating his Doritos. “Today… Today I will eat my Doritos. Tomorrow is a new day.”
 Written by: Elizabeth Hotchkiss

The Terrorist's Machine
    There once was a man who didn’t like anyone to call him by his first name. A slender, tweedy type fellow who also, never ate biscuits on days of the week which contain an “R” in them. And indeed it fit nicely with his disposition that this man’s name was, and always would be, Mr. Nemo.
    Grievously, Mr. Nemo worked the “five-to-nine” (instead of the usual “nine-to-five”) at a stannic and cramped chip factory on the corner of Main and Tognazini where it was his job to make sure that the machines which distributed the chips into the bag worked properly.
    One day, he got into a bit of a row with his supervisor. Well, when I say little, I mean it was big enough to make Mr. Nemo very upset. He decided that he hated his job and the people around him. They all just did their job quietly and never uttered a word of greeting towards him. Not that he would’ve wanted them to, but at the moment Mr. Nemo just couldn’t stand the rudeness of everyone that surrounded him. So he went home in a huff.
    The next morning Mr. Nemo got dressed at 4am, put on his favorite wood cap and ate breakfast in a rush. He arrived at the factory 45 minutes before everyone else. He let himself in and hurried over to the machines. Then, out of the large hand bag he was carrying, took out a machine of his own.
    He had made it all by himself the night before.
    It didn’t look special at all. No flashy lights or colorful designs on the side and that was why this machine was so beautiful. As the first light of the morning shone through the only barred window in the room, Mr. Nemo saw himself reflected on one of the metal sheets. He looked withered and rough and he thought to himself how horribly unfamiliar this image was to him. Had it really been that long since he had shaved? His whole essence was now warn and he was amazed at how much time had passed since he had last looked in a mirror.
    “Bah, we’re not to think on that now,” he said to himself. “There’s mischief afoot!”
    He placed his machine on a stool next to the main conveyer belt and programmed the other machines to only fill the bags half way full of chips. This was where the genius of his plan would spring to action!
    The machine he had worked on so hard the previous night was actually built to assemble mini bombs! This was why he needed to place it next to the conveyor belt and this was why he needed to program the other machines to only fill the bags half way. The genius of his plan was that he would make it so the other machines could never be programmed to fully fill the bags again. The machinery was so out dated that only he knew how to work it properly. Even if his supervisor was clever enough to find out what was going on (And Mr. Nemo didn’t think he would be), he would never be able to fix them!
     He let out a small chuckle as he put the finishing touches on every machine and gave it a test run.
    Out came the first dozen bags and he walked outside and gave it to the factory’s secretary who had just arrived at work for the morning.
    “Good morning, Mrs. McCrawley.” he said with the warmest smile he could muster.
    “Oh, good morning Ma-- I mean Mr. Nemo. What can I do for you?”
    “I just thought you’d fancy the first bag of chips for the day... It’s on me.”
    “Well, thank you Mr. Nemo. I’m flattered you thought to give it to me.”
    Mr. Nemo never just wandered over to her desk to wish her a good morning and offer her a bag of chips. She wondered if something was wrong, but then again she always did have this notion that Malcolm Nemo had a bit of a mental issue so, she smiled and was extra pleasant as she received the bag from his hands. Mr. Nemo smiled back and walked around the corner where he waited for the inevitable... and he didn’t have to wait long. A small “pop” resonated through the halls and Mrs. McCrawley gave out a yelp. Pleased with the result, Mr. Nemo strolled back to the main factory room.
    Workers were finally beginning to arrive at 5:12am, but that was no matter to him. His work was finished. All he had to do was sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Part 2
    A week had gone by and Mr. Nemo was finally beginning to live again. He had quit his job at the factory and was now working as an ice-cream man at Doc Burnstein’s. Everyday he saw happy people enjoying nice servings of ice-cream in the afternoons and people thanked him with a smile whenever he’d pass over that chocolate chip ice-cream cone with sprinkles on top. Why, he even began to tell jokes! Very irregular for a man such as himself, but he liked the change none the less. He had heard countless explosions come from the little bags of chips he had once obsessed over. At first he had been overwhelmed with joy about this fact, however now that a week had past he was beginning to feel like a fowl git. He wished he hadn’t acted so rashly and was considering going back and destroying the machine for good.
    A few days previous, the factory Mr. Nemo used to work at held its first tour of the building. Many adults were present, however there was this one little boy named Thomas Gatalley who decided it would be a great idea to stick his No. 2 pencil into one of the machines. It just so happens that the closest machine to this little boy was Mr. Nemo’s mini bomb machine.
    Back in the present, as Malcolm Nemo was thinking about destroying the machine he was having his pleasant 30 minute lunch break outside of a sandwich cafe. A man came and sat down at the table opposite him and out of his pocket he pulled a small bag of chips. Malcolm only recognized the logo as his previous employer after the man had tore the bag open. Malcolm didn’t have time to warn the man.
    The plastic was ripped and he braced himself for what would happen next.
    Strangely, however, the man was fine. He reached into the bag and placed one of the chips into his mouth and then continued eating his sandwich.
    “Perhaps the machine has broken down on its own,” he thought, “perhaps everything has already sorted itself out.”
    This has been the story behind every half filled bag of Doritos but every now and again walking down town, at school, or at work you may hear a small popping noise sound from the person next to you.
 Written by: Sarah Gutierrez

They passed by.  Walking dogs.  Walking children.  Holding hands.  Carrying bags.  Doing nothing at all, or seeming to be doing it all at once.  Your eyes tell you they are people.  Wearing shoes.  Heads with hair.  Mouths with teeth.  Sockets filled with eyes.  Your nose practically tells you nothing about them.  Useless.  Your tongue, tastes nothing of them but the last thing you ate, if you even ate at all.  Some people hardly do.  Or they constantly chew gum.  Touch. Useless because there’s nothing to touch. Ears.  What do they tell you?   It depends on if your eyes are open or not.  So much changes just by turning them off.  You see people, you hear footsteps.  What are footsteps without people?  What are jangling coins or purses or chains without people carrying them?  What’s barking without a dog?  What’s all this noise?  What are these sounds? 
           Footsteps in puddles.  Cars passing by.  Branches falling from a tree.  Scraping on cement.  Buzzing from this dying street lamp.  It’s all a rustle.  Motion suspended in time.  Motion that doesn’t go anywhere.  But going everywhere.  It comes and goes.  Rises and falls.  It fills me up and leaves me empty.  It speaks like a voice but I cannot see what is speaking.  My eyes are closed.  Not knowing what any of these sounds are.  It is beauty.  It is magic.  It seems to be pure sensation.  Without knowledge.  But the only thing missing is my sight.  Without my sight I know nothing.  Without my eyes.  Forgetting everything I once knew.  Even just for a moment.  Every other sense has to redefine the world.  My ears tell me that’s a splashing puddle.  My lungs tell me they feel cold, moist, crisp.  My nose smells moisture.  Again, taste is hardly there.  My ears.  All that’s left.  I hear this sound.  Like a voice.  Similar to what I hear when I speak but smaller.  Higher pitch.  It sounds distressed.  My only knowledge at this point is of only emotions.  Of my human being at the most basic level.  It sounds like crying.  But I only know because I once cried and I know what that sounds like.  But I don’t know what the thing that is crying looks like.  I can’t see it.  Again this splashing puddle.  I honestly can’t tell you what it is without my eyes to tell me.  Without my eyes I don’t know what water is.  Just the sensation.  I know what rain feels like but I don’t know what it is.  This splashing.  It happens after it rains.  My only connection.  I drink something that feels like rain does. 

           Something just made contact with my leg.  It seems to be stuck.  I adjust my leg and foot.  Such a strange noise.  What is this?  I feel it.  It crumples.  I crumple it and I get a noise unlike anything I’ve ever heard.  It doesn’t taste like anything.  Smells like something I have smelt before but without my eyes I cannot identify that smell.  So many things smell so similar.  Unreliable. 

           I sit here.  Holding this thing that makes such an awful sound.  The hitting of something wet begins again.  That sound of constant shower.  Smacking the ground.  Splashing.  It is raining but I don’t know what that is.  It feels good.  But cold.  My skin tightens.  I shiver.  That’s how I know.  What my body tells me. 

           I sit here.  On this bench.  For hours.  Without my eyes.  Suddenly the rain stops hitting me.  I open my eyes.

           “Excuse me.” She said.  Her umbrella held above us both.  Smiling slightly, leaning over me, hair suspended in space, in the void between her and I.  With my eyes I can tell you it is curly, dark, reflects a lighter brown tone.  With my eyes I can tell you the street lamp’s light reflects off the puddle next to us and onto her face creating a dancing, rippling, reflection of bright gold upon her pale, rosy cheeks.  She must be cold, maybe.  Without eyes I would know none of this.  “Would you like an umbrella? Unless of course you like the rain that much.”  My ears, even without eyes, tell me of her soft, light voice.  But with my eyes it isn’t just floating in space.  It has an origin, a direction, a purpose.  To my emotions, it subtly soothes.  Something pleasant to hear.  In the world without eyes, her voice would be music. 

           “If you don’t mind.”  I tell her, finding myself mimicking her smile.  A slight curve to the left. As I look at her face. 

           “Not at all. I can share.”  Still smiling she sits beside me on the right.  Umbrella between us.  “Do you like Doritos?”  We both sit, looking at the bag in my hand.  That moment, only a second, but in space it felt much longer.  That moment, sitting there; we, both looking at the bag in my hands, the bag that I didn’t know was a bag.  The bag that I would never have known was a bag with my smell, with my ears, with my taste.  I would never have known it was blue.  If only we could hear colors. 

           “Not exactly.  This just happened to find me a few moments ago.  Two lonely things find each other I guess.”

           “You and me you mean? Or you and Mr. Cool Ranch”

           “Well, no.  The bag and me.  Yeah. But if you’re lonely too that makes a second truth to this.  Count the bag out.  Just a bag.  Not a single chip anyway. That makes a single truth.”

           “We’re sitting next to each other, sharing my umbrella, does that make us previously lonely?” Moments like these move so slowly.  It’s clichéd bullshit but it only feels this way.  Feels like the rain continues and will continue without end.  The people will continue to walk by.  The cars will continue to pass by.  The sounds will go on.  But we will sit here in slow motion or slow time.  That question drifting between us.  Sharing a moment in space and time.  “Are we presently lonely now that we are sitting together, or has loneliness left us for this moment? I wonder.” She trails off, smiling to a couple walking their dog.

I never would have thought of her to wonder such.   But how could I even have such a thought?  I just met her.  All I know is what she looks like.  That she wears a black, long pea coat with a red knit scarf.  She’s really good looking to me.  But none of this means anything beyond what it already primarily means. On the surface. 

“I can’t tell.”

“Hand me that.”  She says opening up her hand for Mr. Cool Ranch.  The trashcan is on her side of the bench.  I watch her hair fall from her shoulder as she leans over to the right to throw away the bag.  Quite a reach for her. 

“Thanks.”  I say, cracking my face with another one of her slant smiles.  Even on the topic of empty bags and loneliness she still seems to carry a warmth.  Much like her voice.  Something I can’t seem to mimic.

“Cool Ranch is pretty good.  Maybe he will find friends in there.  It’s like a big party of trash for him right?” She says half laughing. 

“No idea. But that makes me wonder, can we still be lonely if the people we are around are not like us.  Of course, you can’t categorize people like you can trash, but if you are around people unlike yourself, you can still be lonely can’t you?”  As I turn my head to look at her I realize how close we are sitting.  Sharing the same umbrella.  They must think we’re together or something.  Or they think nothing of us.  She’s warm.

“I think so.  Maybe that is how we find people to be with.  We know we’ve found them when we don’t feel lonely with them.  Do you still feel lonely?”  She looks at me now as I turn slightly, half looking at her and half looking down the street at the corner café.  Steam rising from all the cups sitting out in the rain.

“I don’t.  Do you? Or, were you ever?”

“I don’t. Perhaps I was.  Though, I can’t say for sure.  I don’t usually pay that much attention to myself.  You didn’t seem to either, sitting out here in the rain.”  We both kind of laugh.  I really like her smile.  Perhaps we just mimic what appeals to us most?  Maybe it isn’t the smile, but how her lips look smiling.  “So, how long have you been sitting here?”

“I don’t exactly know. Hours.”

“How long do you intend to sit here?” I look over at her.  She’s looking at me.  After a moment she nods, knowing what I mean to say without me having said it.  The rain hasn’t stopped.  “Can I sketch you?”

“What? Right now?”

“Yeah, right now.  Here, hold the umbrella, and sit, yeah, just like that.”  I take hold of her umbrella as I turn my head to look toward the street, my arm resting up on the bench.  Other than this, I have no idea how I look to her.  Good enough to draw I guess.  As she sketches my portrait, on this bench, in the rain, I watch the people at the café across the street on the corner.  All of them enjoying company, a book, or some kind of hot drink.  Constant flow of people leaving and arriving.  Again and again.  Cars drive past, across my eyes.  Blocking out what I see as if blinking for me.  So many different kinds of cars in this city.  They all blur together to me.  So many different people but they can all look the same.  You can never tell who anyone is surrounded by everyone else when you don’t know who they are.  Some people stand out of course.  But does that make them any different?  I don’t think so.  Cars and people. 

It sounds like this would get boring to look at but the constant motions keep your senses stimulated.  Sitting like this, sitting idly by while the world moves around you is what I think makes my time feel slow.  My time that is now being shared with hers.  I continue to watch everything go by in this city.  Letting my focus shift from something to everything and back.  I begin to focus on a van.  It pulls up and the people get out.  They leave in different directions from each other.  They vanish from me.

… … …

In that moment, sound stopped. Taste and touch never were.  I smelt burning rubber and gas. Saw people drop to the ground.  Glass shattered and metal was torn to shreds.  Café tables blew over along with their occupants.  Those steamy cups and mugs split and crushed.  Coffee spilling out like the blood from people on the ground.  Newspapers and magazines strewn across the street, flung straight into the air, soaked with rain and running with ink. In a flash I took all of this in.  Only to trail the column of smoke into the sky with my eyes that could barely see.  They burned and watered.  Flame was everywhere. 

For a fraction of this moment my vision went black.  Something black was on top of me.  The umbrella was black, but so was her coat.  I rolled over on the ground to see my face in her eyes.  I couldn’t hear what she was saying.  Could she hear what she was saying?  The world around us seemed to shake.  Sound came back ringing.  A constant ringing that only gets higher and louder.  Looking at each other’s faces, dripping with rain and tears of sudden shock, we picked each other up. My hands hurt, pulsing with every beat.  I carried her by the hand. 

Looking back we saw the smoke rising higher, only getting blacker.  Nobody yet had realized what had happen to us all.  Just as her and I shared our time on the bench together, the whole city in this moment was sharing its time with all of us.  In this moment we were all together, and together we were all shattered.  Some of us killed.  It was simple enough what happened when we all came to realize it.  But the effects would never be simple matters and will resound in all our hearts and minds.  Our moment of tragedy together. 

My beating heart met hers through our clasped hands as we continued to flee the explosion.  We are all shattered.  Pieces of us all left here.  Mr. Cool Ranch and her no. 2 pencil left beside the bench.  Dying people and broken hearts fallen to the ground.  A blown up car and fragmented reality of screams and sirens.

We ran.  Kept running.  Even though our lungs and eyes and hearts burned.  I didn’t let go of her hand, not a second.  I had no idea where we were running until we stopped.  Central Park.  Just down the street.  Not far at all really.  But everything moved so slowly.  Everything was so hard to do.  We fell down, beside each other, after so much pain, backs against a sad, peaceful Wonderland.

Holding the sketchbook and my hand, she fell into my shoulder and sobbed.  We all are children when our emotions take over.  Her and I, both, two sad children, Wonderland just a statue to rest our backs against, and all of these people, this part of the city, shattered. Holding her in my arms, my nose buried in her hair; time nearly stopped...

All I heard was her, and the rain.
Written by: Trevor Hudgins 

This was a scene I’d seen all too many times before. I sat in the middle of a dimly lit room, tied to a splintered mess of a chair with my mouth taped shut. The single source of light in the room is above me, swaying about. It’s your typical ‘captive room’ light fixture, its bulb occasionally flickering. The ground is cold steel, and I wouldn’t doubt that there are blood stains from other captives somewhere on this floor. Torturers aren’t known for their cleanliness. Blood trickled down from my own brow, causing my right eye to only open half way, but this wouldn’t change my expression. No, I had been trained much better than that. I would remain stoic as I waited for my captor to appear.

I scanned the room to look for any signs of escape, but it was no use. Nothing visible existed outside of this pocket of isolation. It was only me and this chair, our existence governed only by this poor excuse for lighting. Everything outside of the lighted area, if there was anything, was shrouded in darkness. Darkness not even my eyes could peer through.

Directly in front of me, I hear a large metal door slowly creak open. It was show time. I brace myself, tensing my muscles and putting on my best more-angry-than-scared face, as I waited for the torturer to come into the light.

“I believe you have something,” he says. He pauses for what seems like an eternity. “Something that we want.” His deep emotionless voice shatters my once solemn isolated existence, changing the room into a more hostile environment. He still waits in the darkness, perhaps being the embodiment of the shadow itself.

“You already know what I have. And you know I won’t talk. So tell me, why the need for the torture room? You think that’s going to, what, help you find it? You’re gonna scare me?”

He quickly moves from the shadows to directly in front of me, staring menacingly into my eyes.

“Do you think this is a game?!” he shouts in my face.

“Well, if it is, it’s pretty borin-…” Before I can even finish my sentence, he’s already delivered a punch directly to my stomach. The force nearly drives the chair to its tipping point, but he swiftly pulls me back. I cough up a small amount of blood as he turns around and slowly retreats back into the shadows.

“Wrong answer,” I hear him say calmly from the darkness.

I hear the telltale clicks of a briefcase being unlocked. The sounds echo across the room, almost taunting me with what is to come. There isn’t much chance of escape at this point, so I might as well try to stand up to the torturer’s arsenal as best I can.

“Did you know, ever since the Great War, these have been made illegal in nearly every country?” I can tell he’s admiring the weapon, but it’s too dark to make out what it is. “Deemed ‘unnecessarily violent’, and they stopped all production. But they couldn’t get rid of all of them, could they?”

He makes his way back into the light, his arms held behind his back. He has a crooked, evil smile on his face. I watch as he pulls the weapon from behind him, his smile growing wider. In his right hand he held the weapon. What he revealed filled me with dread. It was the one weapon I feared the most; a type 2 Ticonderoga pencil, used by only the most sinister of men.

“No…” This word slipped out without my consent, as if it was going to happen whether I’d wanted to say it or not.

“Good,” he says, “you recognize the weapon, which means you know what will come next.”

“No!” My outburst wouldn’t change anything. I was dead where I stood.

His sinister smile returns. He then makes his final reveal, showing me the second piece of this torturous couplet.

“Do you know what this is?” I only stare blankly back at him. “An 882-E, 100 question, A-E response choice Scantron form.”

I can feel my heart racing, my thoughts rushing, my blood boiling. So this is how I die, I think to myself. He must have noticed this as well, for he erupted in laughter. An evil, sinister, megalomaniacal laughter.

“Let’s see how much you know about Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, shall we?”

“No!” I scream again. “There is no conceivable way I could pigeon hole such a work into 5 concrete predetermined responses per question!”

Once again, he just laughed. The sound filled the room, surrounding me. I can see the end now, I thought. My brain is going to essentially be forced out of my own skull.

His head strikes the light fixture above me as he moves back to find the multiple-choice murder weapon. Light frantically moves around the room, like a horror movie flashlight attempting to find something in the darkness. As the reveals previously hidden elements of the room, I notice something. As the pendulum of light returns to this something, I am overwhelmed with relief. Maybe, just maybe, I can make it out of this alive.

He returns from the shadows once more, holding a large packet of papers loosely stapled together. Here it goes.

“Present circumstances considered, do you have anything you’d like to tell me?...
Withholding information at this point is unnecessary don’t you think?”

“I just have one thing to ask.” He looks taken aback by this.

“Oh?” he replies.

“Yes.” Here goes. I take a deep breath in and say, “Are you going to eat those Cool Ranch Doritos?”

Confused, he turns his head back to look to where the Doritos are located. “Wha-“ he manages to get out, before I put my heel into his chest. It connected right in the upper abdomen, with enough force to knock the wind right out of him. We hit the floor at nearly the same time, my chair being knocked over by the force of the kick. As I hit, I hear the chair break. I roll backwards and hop to my feet.

I grab the multiple choice test and throw it on the ground next to him. “Nietzsche would be disappointed…” As I say this, I deliver a quick strike with my fist to his temple, rendering him unconscious. Finally, I am free.

As I exit the room, I breathe a sigh of relief. Having narrowly escaped a painful and agonizing death, I know now I must appreciate every step I take. Whatever challenges I may face will be nowhere near the death I had just escaped. No one would want to be remembered by their last Scantron test taken.

Written by: Ian May