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"Claris" By: Kenyatta Bundy Jr

Part 1

The walk to the dull, grey building was routine at this point. Surrounded by all the other stain glass skyscrapers, the building looked unimpressive and out of place. “One would think that the juxtaposition between the exuberant scenery and the rustic building would be cause for suspicion but no one ever seems to notice.” These were Claris’ thoughts as she approached the building, as she did every morning, at sharply 8am. Claris’ sharp 5 inch metal heals stomped into the ground as she continued thinking about the obviousness of this “secret” location and the uncanny lack of attention it seemed to draw. She eventually chalked it up to the ignorance and self centered nature of the wealthy that inhabit this part of the city and continued about her morning ritual.

After passing through the retinal scanner and full body search, Claris made her way to her office. But of course, not without the usual whistling and unsuccessful mating attempts by the front office clerk. She knew that she could always report him to human resources but she knew that that’d probably result in his mouth being seared shut, which admittedly was a bit harsh, but was the penalty for on-job sexual harassment in the 30th century. Plus, deep down she was flattered by the gestures since he wasn’t necessarily unattractive, although, there was an extreme unattraction to the man-parts hugged up in his size 28 tapered trousers.

With a seat in her office chair, Claris called her partner to find out her whereabouts, to let her know it’d be a late night and to find out her plans for the night.

“Hey Chels, it’s Claris.”

“Shit!”, “That’s my favorite shirt!.... Just so you know.... I was drinking my my shirt is enjoying it a lot more than I am.... thank you for that.”

“Ohh I’m so sorry! I thought I’d timed it so that I’d call you as soon as you were done.” explained Claris.

“Welp... you were unsuccessful. And why don’t you ever just call me like a normal human being?”

“See I would.... but physically telling my computer to call you is so much more work than me just thinking about you and ending up in your head.”

“Psh, I’m sure it would have been soooo much work! And you know how I feel about you being in my...”

“Anyways!”, interrupted Claris. “ I called to let you know that I’ll be home a little later today. My boss just gave me an urgent project and wants me to stick around late so that I can get it done tonight. I hope that isn’t too much of a hassle.”

“Again?!” exclaimed Chelsea. “If I wasn’t the amazing person I am, I would swear you’re out doing something behind my back.”

“Well, you know I’m not, which is all that matters. Well, I have to go so I’ll talk to you later tonight babe.”

“Ok, bye. But if you need to talk to me again can you at least ACTUALLY call me next time so that I don’t ruin another shirt or have a heart attack.”

“Ehhh... no promises.” responded Claris.

Part 2

We watched the waves together. It’s what we did every Sunday morning during the summer. We would go down to the pier and watch the waves. I enjoyed this moment more than any other. This was the only time when my mother and I were able to be completely alone, simply enjoying each other’s presence.


I was only 5 at the time, but I distinctly remember the happiness I always felt within this moment. Then the flash happened. What happened during that flash, I to this day don’t understand. All I knows is when the flash died down and she regained vision, my mother was dead. Blood slowly running down the back of her head from her ear.

“.... CLARIS!”

Staring out the window of her 7th floor office, Claris noticed the lackluster nature of her view. She thought that considering she made upwards of 6 figures per year, she would at least have a decent view of the city from her office window. But, due to the CIA refusing to be anything less than inconspicuous, she instead had a plain view of the dark street, from a meager 7 stories.


“Hmph, wait, what?!” said Claris. Turning to her assistant, Charles, who had apparently been standing there for an excessive amount of time, shouting his bosses name.

“Oh, hello Charles. What is it?”  

She could tell he had been trying to get her attention for longer than one would normally have to by the redness of his cheeks and the sweat forming above his brow.

“What is wrong with you?!” said Charles. “ I’ve been standing here screaming your name for the past 5 minutes without even the slightest response!”

“Calm down Charles. I’m fine. I was just thinking about my mom’s death is all.”

“Again? Why do you do that to yourself? Replaying it over and over again in your head. You were only 5, she died of a brain hemorrhage, it was nothing you could do. Simple as that.” He approached her cautiously, knowing better than to break her 1 rule; no physical contact under any circumstance.

“I know I was young, but I have a strong feeling her death wasn’t natural. I mean, she was perfectly healthy, no history of brain trauma in our family, it all just doesn’t add up. And the flash. None of it makes any sense.”

Charles sat down at the chair across from Claris’ desk.

“I know it’s hard. But it happens. Bad things happen to good, innocent, healthy people. You know first hand about that. Just let it go.”

“I can’t “just let it go” Charles. It’s not that easy….. What if it was me? What if I tried to read her mind or something and killed her. I mean, like you said, I was only 5. I had no control over my powers back then. And look at me now. Look at what I do for a living. I’m a murder.”

“Claris, I’ve known you for 4 years now, and if I don’t know anything else about you, I know that you’re no murderer. Anyone that dies by your hand now, simply deserves to die. They’re the bad guys. If not them, then it would be some innocent person. And I know you didn’t kill your mom with your powers. You can’t even kill anyone now with your powers and you know how to control them.”

“I guess you’re right.” She sighed. “I’m just stressing since it’s 2 days away from the 25th anniversary of her death. I always get like this around this time. Don’t worry about me.” Wiping away the tears that were beginning to form, “Anyway. What’s my schedule for today?”

“Ok then.” Charles stands, “You have a mission across town. Something about a man named Vlogdon. He’s been on the company's radar for a while and they think now’s the perfect time to take him out. All the info is in your phone.”

“What’s the password for today?”

“Chicken Strips….. What? I was hungry this morning.”

“Are you serious?.......Next time, let’s try to keep this professional Charles.”

“But…….” Seeing the look in her eyes, he decided against making the smart remark he had thought of. Then quickly after, realized that he had thought it, which meant that she probably already knew. He wondered if she heard it…

“Yes. I heard that. Now go. Do whatever it is I pay you to do.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Part 3

She opened the file attached to the message Charles had just sent to her phone. Scanning through the mission report, everything seemed the same. It was a usual, search and take out mission. The problem was, normally “take out” meant wiping the person’s memory or bringing them into headquarters to inevitably never be seen again. This time around it was different. There were clear and direct instructions typed into the message:

Exterminate Target

It’s not as if Claris had not killed anyone before. In fact for a period of time, she was instructed to kill every target she received. But eventually, the company decided to wipe the memories of the assigned targets in order to be more “humane”. This was the first termination assignment Claris had received in 2 years. It was clear to her that Vlogdon wasn’t any normal target. She examined the picture attached to his file. He was a stocky looking man, about 5” 8’, very broad shoulders, a balding head although his profile said he was only 30, and a beer belly. His skin looked thick, greasy and extremely pale. Claris was extremely unimpressed. He seemed like a random couch potato who lived with his mom in the basement, reading comic books all day while eating Cheetos. But she knew better than to underestimate any target that she received. If the CIA wanted him dead, and thought he was important enough to have Claris herself handle him then he had to be an extreme flight risk. Like Charles said, the report located Vlogdon on the outskirts of the city.

Claris left her office and found everything she needed for the mission laid out neatly on the table outside of her office.

“Oh yeah. That’s what I pay Charles for,” were her words to herself as she examined her tools. A PDW handgun (her gun of choice), a penetration proof vest, combat boots to replace her heels and her specially made gloves that allowed her to climb walls and regulate the temperature of her entire body.

After saying her goodbyes to Charles, Claris was on her way, being sure to not be interrupted by the office clerk and his sly remarks.

Part 4

I was 4 now. I vaguely remember what occurred that strange evening. My mother and father were arguing. About what, I was too young to know, but I could tell it was about me. They kept pointing at me throughout the argument. I hated when they argued. Partially because of the screaming, but mostly because when Mommy and Daddy argue, Mommy would hit Daddy. He would never do anything back though. I didn’t understand why he would never just hit her back. I mean, she deserved to get hit back. But he never would, until this instance.

After it happened, he kept saying how it wasn’t him. How it felt like he was possesed. He said he watched as his hand came across Mommy’s face but he couldn’t do anything about it. Of course she didn’t believe him. Mommy just screamed even more and went to her room, being sure to slam the door behind her for added effect. That night Daddy cried. I had never seen Daddy cry before. I didn’t think Daddies could cry, but why was he crying? Mommy got what she deserved right? Right?

Claris found herself in front of Vlogdon’s house without much trouble. All it took was a few blocks of searching and questioning. If he meant to remain hidden, he wasn’t doing a very good job at. She was surprised though; he didn’t live with his mother. He actually had an entire family. A pudgy wife, a pudgy son, about 15, and even a pudgy rottweiler to match. These were the hardest targets for Claris. The ones who seemed normal. The ones who had an entire family that would miss them. But it didn’t matter, business was business and orders were orders. Vlogdon had to die. But before that could happen, she couldn’t help but wonder why she was assigned to him in the first place. She decided to read his mind to find out, knowing that one could be really good at hiding who they were on the outside, but that no one could hide who they were from themselves.

“ Hmm…. I wonder if I should get some ice cream… I know I should watch my figure,” Vlogdon thought, “but what does it matter. Helen’s fat. She doesn’t even try to hide it anymore. At least I still suck in my little gut when I take my shirt off. She’s just fat and proud of it… Whatever…..I think I’m gonna get the ice cream. Hell, I deserve it.”

Claris grew impatient fairly quickly. It was her worst quality, but it was the one that saved Vlogdon’s life. Within her short time reading his mind, she found nothing of interest that would grant the death of this innocent looking man, so she decided to go against the missions details of killing him. Instead she planned to simply wipe his memory in hopes that whatever he was doing that caught the CIA’s attention in the first place, he would no longer do.

Waiting until Vlogdon and his family were asleep, Claris climbed through his bedroom window in order to grab a hold of his head. “That’s the one downside,” she thought as she climbed into the bedroom. “ I actually have to touch him just to wipe his memory.” Once in his room, Claris grabbed his head in her 2 hands and began the process of wiping his memory.

In order to wipe one's memory, Claris has to first go through the person’s entire memory, from birth, to that particular second. Once done, she could clear out any and every memory that she desired. 30 seconds into going through his entire memory, Claris ran into a strange situation; his early memories were almost identical to that of Claris’. The day when she was 4, watching her parents argue, her mother’s death. Vlogdon was there for it all. He lived it right along with Claris. He was her brother.

Part 5

My brother Vlogdon and I were 7 and 4 at the time. We vaguely remember what happened that evening. Mother and father were arguing. We don’t remember why though. We were too young to really understand. We watched as they yelled at each other while pointing at us. Mommy hit Daddy. She always hit Daddy, and he never did anything. Until that night. We watched Daddy hit Mommy, but he didn’t want to. Vlogdon made him. Vlogdon made him hit Mommy back because she deserved it. She deserved it didn’t she? Just like she deserved to die.

We were watching the waves. It’s what we did every Sunday morning during the summer. We would go down to the pier and watch the waves. We enjoyed this moment more than any other. This was the only time we would be able to be completely alone with our mother. Simply enjoying each other’s presence. Vlogdon enjoyed it more than anyone. He had been waiting for this day for the past week. He planned it all out so perfectly. He mastered his powers. He knew exactly what to do to make it look natural. And he did. He killed her. He killed her and partially wiped my memory.

After going through all of Vlogdon’s memories, Claris knew what happened to her mother. She knew why her father killed himself that night too. She knew why she grew up without parents. It was Vlogdon. He caused it all. He killed their mother. He forced their father to kill himself. He wiped Claris’ memory in order to keep her innocent. He ran away to live alone and deal with what he had done. He put it all behind him. He made an entire new life. He did it all. All out of jealousy.

He hated when Claris was born. He felt like she would take over his mother’s attention and he did. She became the object of his mother’s attention. Everyone forgot about Vlogdon, except his father. He was still there for him. But he was weak. He let Vlogdon’s mother hit him repeatedly without hitting her back. Why didn’t he ever hit her back? Because he was a man? That wasn’t good enough. He needed to defend himself, and since he wouldn’t do it, Vlogdon would do it for him. But even after being hit back, Vlogdon’s mother continued to hit his father. So Vlogdon took care of her. But his father was weak. He couldn’t live without her. He didn’t want to live without her. So he killed himself.

Part 6

Claris didn’t know what to do with the information. Should she just wipe Vlogdon’s memory like she originally planned to? Should she carry out the original mission and exterminate the target? But he wasn’t just a target anymore. He was her brother. Her brother that killed their mother and forced their father to kill himself. It didn’t matter anymore. He was awake.

“So you found me. After all these years. You’ve found me,” said Vlogdon. “So I’m guessing you know who I am,” he continued, “Well, how ya been sis?”

“How could you? How could you kill our mother? How could you leave me to grow up with strangers? How could you wipe my memory? How could you allow me to believe that I possibly killed our mother? How could you allow me to believe I was the only one left in our family? How could you?!” Claris was sobbing now. For the first time in her life, she was vulnerable. She cleaned herself up immediately.

“I should kill you. But I won’t. That’d be too easy. I’ll let you live with what you’ve done, and knowing that I’m alive and remember everything should make you guilty enough. You’re pathetic.” Claris turns to exit the bedroom.

“So you don’t even want to know why I killed her?”

“ I already know why. You were jealous.” replied Claris.

“No, that’s just what I put into my memories just in case anyone like you ever came around and tried to snoop around in my head. The real reason is a lot more complicated than that…….Actually……. it’s pretty simple now that I think about it…. She was a target. Simple as that.” said Vlogdon.

“What? What are you talking about?” replied Claris.

“What I’m talking about is the CIA. I was a child spy. No one knew, not even mom. But one day, I get a target for a mission and it was mom. Of course I say I can’t do it and question why she would even be a target considering her innocent nature. They said she had to go. She apparently was a secret project created by the CIA. Through genetic manipulation, they attempted to take a normal women, and give her telepathic powers. She was a test subject. The problem was, it didn’t work. Nothing ever happened to her, so they just let her go. That is, until she had her first child, yours truly, and I came out with telepathic powers. Then she gave birth to another telepath. They couldn’t risk her having any more telepaths so they wanted her gone.” explained Vlogdon.

“But why?  Why wouldn’t they want more of us?”

“Because they don’t understand us,” explained Vlogdon, “They don’t feel safe around us. So they made sure that no more of us could be produced. And they made sure that they had complete control over us, which is why we work for them. But I left a few years back and they’ve been chasing me ever since I left.”

“Which explains why you’re my target…..But you didn’t have to do it. You could have saved her life.”

“No, I couldn’t. It was either her, or you, and I chose her.”  replied Vlogdon.

Without responding, Claris left the bedroom. She immediately went to the pier where her mother was murdered. There, she reflected on everything she had just learned from Vlogdon. It was in this moment that she made a vow to never use her powers again. She didn’t feel as though she deserved them if her mother gave them to her, and her mother was dead. But she would wait until she got her vengeance on the CIA. From that day on, she would do whatever it took to avenge the death of her mother.

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The ocean sat still and silent. The boat rocked back and forth above the bottom of the sea, where Gemma perched on a coral reef, brushing her long gold hair with a chipped seashell. The water was cold and the lack of human feet dangling above her filled her with sadness. The blood of a human man is what kept her able to survive underwater, and maintained her green glittery tail.  May to August were the main months for her to swim towards the shore and find her food. In the mean time she lived off of small fish and barnacles. 8 months without male blood, her tail would gradually become dull and get thinner, until it divided into two and her ability to breathe underwater would vanish. The only exception to living without blood is if she could get a merman in the real world to fall in love with her, and then they could decide weather to live on foot or in the ocean. But love was a fantasy to her, it wasn’t real.  The thought of becoming a human terrified her more than anything. Gemma had never gasped a breath of fresh air or even stepped foot on the sand, let alone even had feet. She was so unfamiliar with the real world, she had only heard stories. Stories she’d hear from people she met during her adventure.

The real world was not the only thing Gemma was unfamiliar with. She didn’t know what a family or a real friend was. After a mermaid is born they are expected to live on their own. They believed living in a pack would make it less safe to survive, and easier for humans to discover them. Gemma has been on her own since birth, 18 years. She occasionally met a nice fish or ran into another mermaid, but they could never travel or hunt together. Her heart only grew lonely when the sun went down, and the ocean turned dark. She just wanted someone to talk to.

It was March, and Gemma had gone 5 months without human blood. Her tail was still glowing green, and matched her curious eyes. Her nails turned dark blue, which meant that she needed to eat something soon, or her tail would go a lighter shade of green. The lighter the tail the closer they are to morphing into human legs. She was hungry. She ran her long, skinny fingers across each rib. She heard a sudden splash from above, and a small, lifeless Pipefish slowly sank down in front of her. She flicked her tail at the fish, and the ripples in the water pushed the fish towards her. Gemma watched her fingernails right after she shoved the fish in her mouth. The dark shade of blue that laid across her fingernails became a shade lighter, but still very dark. This worried her. She’d never seen her nails get this dark before, she’d never been this hungry before. It was usually a lot easier for her to find male blood the past winters, but this year was very difficult.

She moved her eyes from her nails, to the boat lingering above her. Gemma moved her tail back and forth, swimming up towards the boat. Gemma laid flat with her ear pressed against the bottom of the boat. She could never make out what the humans were saying from underwater, but she could tell if the human was male or female by the tone of their voice. She bit her lip and listened carefully, praying there was a man on that boat. She didn’t hear anything, but she listened for a while, until she heard the faint sound of a man singing. Her tail moved quickly back and forth in excitement because the person was alone on the boat, which meant an easy attack.

Gemma swam 4 feet lower. She closed her moss green eyes and began to think of a plan, quickly turning into attack mode. Her body filled up with anxiety and adrenaline. She opened her eyes and looked at her dark nails as a type of motivation,  and swam straight up towards the bottom of the boat. She grasped her hands on the side of the boat, still underwater, her tail pointing down and then quickly moved up horizontally under the boat, causing a huge wave. The boat moved a bit but not enough to flip it upside down. She took a deep breath and did it one more time. She saw the boat lift out of the water and flip over in mid air. A faint scream projected out of the boat. An unfamiliar sounding scream. Something didn’t feel right. Gemma turned pink with worry. The boat began to sink, facing down, Gemma watched from the side. A radio sunk a few feet before the boat, with a hand reaching out from the boat. Gemma noticed a bracelet on the wrist. Clear sparkly beads, with a small scallop shell in the middle. The arm was followed by a woman's head. Her long dark hair covered her face, causing her to shake her head around while her arms flapped up and down, the sinking boat on top of her, pushing her down.

Gemma swam away swiftly. Leaving a trail of tears that merged with the salty ocean water. Emotions she’d never felt before filled her up and stripped her bare. She pressed her back against a rock and held her head down against her tail. Gemma had never felt guilt after killing a man, but for this women she felt nothing else.  Killing men was never hard for her because she needed it to live, it didn’t feel much like murder. Her thoughts of hunger turned into thoughts of that woman's hopeless corpse, on the bottom of the ocean floor; lungs full of water and her heart full of innocence. Her human heart no longer beating to the rhythm of her blood pumping through her veins.

After sulking in her own sadness for a while Gemma realized there’s nothing she could do now. She now knew she needed to be more cautious while hunting, but she knew she needed to get food before it was too late.  


One month later and not a man in sight. Gemma’s tail was a pale green, dingy. Not sparkly and full of life like it was when her body was pumping with warm human blood. Her long gold hair, now dull and lifeless. Her fingernails, dark as the ocean floor. Her stomach concaved, and constantly growling with hunger. She only had a few days until she became a human herself. Although the thought of randomly growing legs terrified her, she was very curious about the human lifestyle. The only thing she was worried about was finding food. It was so easy for her to get away with hunting men with the mysterious ocean protecting her. Her only concern was how would she get away with murder? It wasn’t considered murder in the ocean, but once she kills a man in the real world it is murder. She was terrified. Negative thoughts filled her mind but she knew there’s nothing she could do to stop this.

One week passed. Gemma was awoken by a cracking sound. She looked down at her peeling tail, cracking like an eggshell, with visible human flesh right under it. Gemma smiled for a second but then bursted out in tears. It was getting harder to breath. Each gasp of air between each tear hurt her lungs. She needed oxygen, something so unfamiliar to her body.  She quickly swam to the top of the water.

Gemma poked her head out and took a large gasp of air. The oxygen filled her lungs, making them full and tight. Suddenly her tail slipped off and sunk to the ocean floor. She wiggled her legs back and forth so she could stay above water. Her nails changed from black to pink, which meant she was now a human. She watched her hair surrounding her turn back to shiny and gold. All she wanted to do was swim back down, she wanted more time. But she knew she couldn't so she headed to the shoreline.       


Gemma quickly learned to walk after stumbling out of the sand and onto the boardwalk. She was amazed by the beauty of the world. She became overwhelmed with the opportunities she now had. But suddenly a cloud flew over her thoughts, reminding her that she still needed male blood to survive out in the real world. She took a deep breath and continued to walk. The sun coated her with warmth she had never felt before. She felt alive. As alive as  someone could feel being starved and weak.

Gemma walked passed a clothing store. She spotted a little purple dress, with printed starfish along the neckline. She pulled the dress off the hanger and ran under the boardwalk. She was surprised how easy she got away with it. She slipped the dress over her permanent shell bra and bikini bottoms that appeared when her tail fell off.

She continued to walk when she spotted a young man sitting in the sand, under the boardwalk. He caught her eye and she could not look away.

Gemma has never seen a man outside of the water before. She felt a sudden urge to go and speak to him. She slowly walked towards him. He looked familiar, like maybe someone she saw in a dream. He sat with his legs crossed, and his back pressed up against the back of the boardwalk. His body strong and sun-kissed, and his blonde hair blew in the wind. He was so attractive, it was hard to believe he was real. So attractive, Gemma questioned killing him for his blood.  Gemma’s feet left a trail of footprints leading to the boy.

“Hey, what are you doing all by yourself? ” Gemma said crossing her legs and sitting down right next to him, while curling a piece of her hair around her index finger.

“Uh, just looking at the shore” he quietly said, not taking his eyes off the horizon.

“ Yeah, it’s beautiful isn’t it?” She said.

“My name is Gemma by the way,” She held out her hand in front of him. He finally looked away from the water and looked at Gemma in her eyes. His eyes opened wider, surprised by her beauty. He grasped her hand tightly and shook it,

“ Gil, nice to meet you.” His lips curled into a smile, when their matching green eyes met. Gemma’s eyes moved to the necklace tied tightly around his neck, black cord with a starfish hanging on the middle. The same one her father had. Sudden realization came to Gemma. Gil was a merman.

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Karl's Journey

“Hey buddy, you got any spare change?”

Karl stared at the bum, straight faced, and began to take the next few steps towards the

door of the internet cafe he spent his off time in.

“Alright buddy, God bless you,” the bum said with bored disappointment.

“What’d you just say to me? What the fuck did you just say to me?” Karl was shouting; people were stopping to see what was happening.

The man behind the counter of the internet cafe with the grease slicked hair looked up from his laptop screen, a rare occurrence. A cab driver turned the corner and honked his horn to try to stop Karl. At this point, Karl had a grip on the man’s shirt collar and was hurling weak, clumsy punches at his head. The bum, realizing he was no longer in any actual danger began to loosen up. Karl’s blows weren’t nearly enough to do any real damage, so the bum was able to crack a dirty, swollen smile.

The bum began to laugh and a crowd began to gather around the scene. Karl was incoherently screaming scientific facts about how God can be disproven and that saying, ‘God bless you,’ was the greatest insult of all to him and his community of intellectuals.

“You idiot plebeian!” Karl screamed, tears streaming down his face.

The crowd that had gathered around them began laughing with the bum. “Easy killer,” someone sarcastically remarked. Karl, out of breath, his wool khakis spotted with sweat around the buttocks and waistband, realized that he was probably on the losing side of this fight. He quickly dropped the bum and grabbed his leather laptop case which had fallen off his shoulder in the commotion. Then, quite ungracefully, he turned and ran back down Main Street. He ran for what felt like forever to him, but what was actually about 3 blocks to his apartment complex.

He burst through the front doors of building 4, crying and sweaty, and was greeted by the doorman.

“No luck today downtown, Mr. Johnson?” he asked. Karl ignored him and kept running to the elevator.

He ran past the pamphlets for events; Singles Dodgeball, Singles Aqua Aerobics, Singles Cooking Classes. Karl’s apartment complex was geared towards singles looking for love between the ages of 30 and 50. Karl got into the elevator and as soon as the doors closed he collapsed in the corner. No longer fueled by rage, he could only think, ‘I am so out of shape.’

The elevator bell dinged. Floor 69. The top floor.  Karl pulled himself up and waddled out of the elevator, his pants chafing him with every movement. His was the only apartment on floor 69, a lazy design flaw by both the architect and engineers, and was located at the end of a long, doorless hallway opposite of the building’s elevator corridor. The floorplan was exactly the same as all the others, with apartments ranging from numbers 401-420. The 69th floor was different though, apartments 401-419 were nonexistent. The hallway was long and dimly lit, with cobwebs all along the length of it. It was in stark contrast with the rest of the apartment complex which was undecidedly modern and clean.

Karl opened his door and immediately disarmed the multitude of alarms that protected his home. Next to the alarm panel sat his homemade aquarium that housed one of his closest friends, a Chinese Red Cap Goldfish named Poncho. Poncho was the kind of goldfish that looks like it’s brain is popping out of it’s head; Karl praised it for being “one of the smartest non-humanoid beings he had ever met.” In reality, Poncho was nothing more than a common pet store variety goldfish.

Over the 8 years Karl had lived in his apartment he had spent upwards of $2,000 on furniture pieces for Poncho’s aquarium. He wanted to base the interior design of the tank off of the general aesthetic of the mythical lost city of Atlantis. His imagination of the mystical world stemmed from a version of it portrayed in the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Poncho’s aquarium, garnished with a plethora of sea grasses,  brass gears, and miniature brass submarines, was top knotch - to say the least. Karl liked to attribute Poncho as being one of the strongest and most supportive people he’d ever met. He would speak for hours to Poncho, explaining all of his ideas for inventions: gloves to keep dorito dust from caking your hands, a machine to perfectly synthesize the taste of Monster energy drink from home, a vehicle to travel between parallel universes. Karl had almost no scientific knowledge to backup his outlandish invention ideas, and Poncho knew that, but he never actually spoke up to dash Karl’s dreams.

Across the apartment, next to the collection of Victorian era gears and the scale model of an A-Frame house floating above the ground, suspended by a steam powered flying apparatus, sat an object that hadn’t moved for years. It was overgrown and unkempt but still gave off a certain aura that made you feel as though it’s eyes were following your every move in the house. Karl had gotten this Chia Pet years ago, and it bore a striking resemblance to the actor Adrian Brody. It wasn’t quite him, but for a second you’d think it was. Karl still called this ceramic planter Adrian, though. He had been tormented in his dreams by Adrian, an issue he often brought to Poncho for advice on. That aside, Adrian and Poncho were Karl’s only friends. He even considered them his family ever since the incident.

Karl spent his 30th birthday in the basement of his parents’ home, alone, in his underwear, and watching The Big Bang Theory. When his parents got home from their night at the theater they found him half asleep on his couch, with his bare hand in their peanut butter jar and peanut butter covering the immediate area around his mouth. He had done this regularly for his whole life and it drove his parents understandably insane.

Karl had ruined countless jars of peanut butter this way. His parents would try to salvage the jars but by the time they would get there, Karl would have already tainted them with a toxic mixture of Mountain Dew and crushed Doritos. On its own, the Dorito-Dew cocktail was tolerable by some but it was something about the oils in peanut butter that changed the chemical makeup of the mix and caused it to be repulsive and extremely conductive to electricity. His parents were tired of this happening. Their son turned 30 years old that night and he still had no job, no life, and no aspirations. Judy and Paul were both successful lawyers and it pained them to see their son wasting his life this way. They didn’t understand his internet comics or steampunk outfits. When they found him at home that night, hand in their brand new jar of peanut butter, they decided that they had to do do something. His father looked at him in disgust and disappointment, “Get your hand out of that jar and get out of our house,” he said with a crack in his voice. Karl’s parents paid for his apartment and gave him money to live off of every month but otherwise they hadn’t spoken since Karl left his childhood home 8 years ago.

At home, Karl often had night terrors. He would wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat and thrashing in bed. He described his incredibly vivid yet terrifying dreams to Poncho every morning. “They’re pushing me to my limit, I’m telling you. The dreams, they.. they keep getting more and more elaborate. It’s hurting my huge mind!” He said one morning while reading his copy of Anime Quarterly.

That night, Karl poured himself a snifter glass full of Mountain Dew and sat down by the window to look out at swirling night sky. Karl found Kansas City profoundly beautiful at night, more so than any other city in the world, even though he had never actually been out of the Midwest city. He would just sit and watch the sky and think. Doing this, he found, was just as therapeutic as discussing his problems with Poncho.

Karl watched a helicopter fly across the sky and land on the helipad of Kansas City Memorial Hospital. He scoffed and figured that some idiot from Park City probably blew up their meth lab or something. The night was especially cloudy and he could see lightning striking a few miles away.

“Storm’s a brewin’,” Karl heard from across the room.

“Wh-who said that?” Karl asked tentatively after taking a gulp from his glass.

“The lightning’s getting closer. You better get ready to go.” Karl watched Adrian’s ceramic lips move and he couldn’t believe his eyes.

He took a gulp from his glass, finishing it, already intoxicated from the high sugar levels of the soda, then threw it against the wall. Karl knew exactly what to do.

He had a strange sense of Déjà vu; he had seen this all in a dream before. It had all happened, up to him throwing the glass at the wall. Adrian wasn’t oddly cryptic in the dream, though. He was uncharacteristically conscice. Adrian knew everything about Karl and therefore had the utmost control over him. He was able to use Karl’s insecurities against him and play with his heart. Karl could recount a handful of dreams where Adrian had given him what were supposedly top secret government secrets, information about the future, and even the meaning of life. This got Karl into a lot of trouble after he would wake up and try to act on his new found “information.”

The lightning cracked again in the sky, this time slightly closer. Karl recounted a dream he had had just 2 nights prior in which Adrian gave him the blueprints to a vehicle that could travel between universes in the multiverse. Adrian mentioned specifically the codes that needed to be input into the machine to get to Karl’s own version of Utopia: the steampunk universe.

Karl rushed around his apartment to assemble to components he could remember from the list Adrian had given him. He ripped the circuit board out of his television remote and hot-glued it to the lense of his camera. He then ripped the battery pack out of the camera and replaced it with the ignition switch of a barbecue lighter. The intended outcome of this hodgepodge invention would be for the user to stand perfectly still and press the shutter button of the camera, which would cause a web that sucks in everything within 5 feet into a different universe.

Once Karl had the contraption set up as best he could, he took a look out of the window to see where the lightning was. It had just struck the lightning rod of another highrise in his cluster. He took a look around his apartment. It was littered with all of the waste he detested from modern American society. His gaze turned to all of his steampunk figurines and scale models. He grabbed his bottle of Mountain Dew and took a swig straight from it then grabbed a Dorito and his jar of peanut butter and took bites from both in one sweeping motion. He turned around quickly and clumsily, knocking the open bottle into the pile of crushed chips and peanut spread. He was ready to be in the universe he was meant to be in.

He pressed the button and nothing happened. Karl was shocked; for some reason he couldn’t believe that Adrian would trick him like this again. He looked over at the chia pet, it sat there petrified with a smirk on its face. Karl sighed deeply with disappointment and dropped the camera on the ground.

Just as his camera hit the ground, a bolt of lightning shot through his window and struck his kitchen table right at the divergence of the Doritos, Mountain Dew, and peanut butter. It’s hyper-conductivity and complex chemical makeup caused a reaction once the lightning hit it that viciously tore a hole in Karl’s universe and swept him up into a Purgatory-like tunnel. He was falling, yet felt weightless in this strange vacuum. He saw clocks and gears and vast expanses of color flying past him. He looked to his left and narrowly escaped the grip of a dinosaur’s jaws. He was confused and scared.

Karl realized where he was after 10 long seconds of falling that felt like forever. He remembered stumbling upon a book at work, Costco, that detailed theories about our universe. He remembered a chapter about the multiverse theory that hypothesized that our universe is nothing more than a bubble, surrounded by fundamentally similar but slightly different universes in their own isolated bubbles. The theory dictated that each universe began the same way but followed a different timeline of possible options. In one universe, the dinosaurs never went extinct, in another, dogs were the dominant life forms. Anything was possible in the parallel universes. Karl realized that in this case, the separate universes were stacked on top of each other, explaining the pipeline he was falling through.

Karl realized the potential for a positive outcome after getting pulled out of the tunnel. He knew that somewhere, somehow, there’d be a universe that followed the steampunk timeline. Karl also realized the potential for his new universe to be catastrophically bad. What if he got sucked into a universe where Earth was just a barren wasteland? What if he was shot into a universe where everything was claymation? He couldn’t handle that.

Just as these thoughts were going through Karl’s swelling head he felt himself being pulled in every direction. ‘This is it,’ he thought, ‘It’s happening!’ All of a sudden, Karl’s senses were hindered. He was floating in a sensory depraved bliss. All of the thoughts that troubled him, all of the pet peeves that drove him insane, and all of the physical limitations of his imagination were gone.

Karl woke up on a foggy, moss covered beach. His wool khakis soiled and his polo shirt stained with tears and his own saliva. He rubbed his face and touched the ground, just to make sure he was actually conscious and in a real place. He sat up, his head pounding and massaged his temples. He looked to his left and through the fog saw what looked like a man. Karl examined the man from a distance. He immediately noticed the man’s faded brown leather tophat, garnished with brass trim. Karl had once seen a tophat like it on an online steampunk forum. He kept looking at the man, to see whether he was friend or foe and noticed the man’s extremely thick neck. In fact, the man was quite large all around. He could tell from a distance that this man certainly possessed a physical strength far greater than his own. Karl began to wonder why this man was sitting in perceived solitude on the beach.

Karl tentatively approached the man whose gaze seemed to be set on the open ocean. Or was it a harbor? Karl had no idea.

“Hello comrade!” Karl yelped from about 20 feet away from the man.

Karl watched the man slowly turn his head and stare at him from behind a pair or horned rimmed brass glasses. After about 15 excruciating seconds, the man lifted a finder to his mouth and made a loud “Shhh” noise.

“Where are we? What year is it? Who are you?” Karl spat out nervously.

“I reckon you’re new here, huh boy?” The hulking man said. His voice slow like molasses with a thick accent that sounded cajun.

“The name’s Tommy, Tommy Hilfiger.” He said

“L- Like the designer?” Karl asked, thinking he was being duped.

Tommy gave a crass chuckle. “I do declare you’re out of your element, son. I am no designer; I’m a military man myself. Been fighting ever since I can remember. I know what you’ve been through, I’ve been through it too. The war has ravished our society and displaced many a person like you and I.”

Karl knew this man had no idea what he had just experienced and normally he would aggressively correct him but something inside him told him that would be wrong. Did the trip into this new universe change him? That was neither here nor there he decided. He wanted to talk to this stranger more to try to piece together where he was. At that moment a huge airship passed over them both. The fog parted and light was set onto this steam powered goliath that resembled a cross between a zeppelin and a fighter jet. “Great scott..” Karl managed to whisper to himself. He had made it, he was in the steampunk universe.

Karl heard a faint hissing in the air, the sound of steam being released at an incredibly high pressure.

“I’d say we should probably find a new spot to talk,” Tommy said nonchalantly. Karl didn’t hear him, he was focused on that incessant sound coming from the sky.

“You must be some kind of simpleton,” Tommy said, grabbing Karl’s arm and in a swift sequence of steps pulled them both off the beach and behind a pile of boulders about 30 feet high.

“How dare you call me a simpleton!!” Karl screamed, unaware of the brass box that had just landed on the spot they occupied just moments ago.

Before Karl could continue his rant, Tommy grabbed him and forced him in a cavern formed in one of the boulders. Once again, Tommy silenced him and nodded towards the beach. Within seconds, an explosion rocked the area.

Trembling, Karl stood up. He was ready for Tommy to give him guidance. A tear ran down his fleshy cheek and he couldn’t believe that the world he had always dreamed of living in was plagued with war.

“Let’s saunter over to my safehouse, son.” Tommy said, sensing fear in Karl.

“That’d be nice,” Karl managed to say.

Tommy noticed that Karl had soiled his pants during the explosion and muttered a well intentioned, “God bless this boy,” under his breath.

In his head, Karl began to think of ways to scald Tommy about this comment but realized his pomposity, along with his general weakness would prove futile against Tommy and against anyone in this world that was quickly becoming his nightmare.

In my Skin

By: Tytianna Broadwater 

“Waaeeyooooowaaeeyoooooo” “Get out the way, I'm going to save a life” “

“Jimmy get that truck from under the table, sit down and eat your breakfast. The bus will be here in 10 minutes!”

“I don't need school, mom! Im going to be a firefighter like daddy!”

“Daddy went to school and he liked it just like you will! Get to the table and eat those pancakes”

Jimmy sat down with his toy firetruck and began eating his pancakes. His school bus pulled up and he sprinted out the house with his firetruck instead of his book bag. His mom ran out behind him screaming, “JJ give me that truck and come get your book bag!”

“Mom, come on, you're embarrassing me” Jimmy said as he swapped his firetruck for his book bag. His mom leaned in to kiss him and he scurried away saying he didn't want to be late. She walked back into the house and cleaned off the table and did the breakfast dishes. It was 9:00 and she had 45 minutes before she need to leave for work. She poured herself a cup of coffee and  went and sat on the front porch. Heather, the next door neighbor was out watering her plants.

“Good morning Heather! Your flower are growing in quite nicely.”

“Thank you Taylor. When are you going to start yours?”

“I’ve been so busy!” Taylor said. That was the best excuse she could come up with

“Chasing around after that little boy of yours, huh? I saw the chaos that happened this morning. If you were smart like me, you’d get a nanny. You’d barely have to deal with him”

“Im sorry but uh, I gotta go get ready for work!”

Taylor walked back into the house trying not to think about what Heather just said. She got dressed and drove to work. While she was driving she was thinking about what she had to do.  Then she remembered, it was Wednesday. On wednesdays her and Jimmy go out to lunch.

Before she knew it, it was 12:30. Jimmy was waiting for her outside. They drove to their favorite restaurant, Bistrot La Minette. Taylor ordered the same thing she always gets, Jimmy wanted something different. He skimmed the menu for about two minutes before he realized he wanted the same thing he got last time. They’re lives aren't very exciting, they have the same routine everyday. Wake up, get the kids up, make breakfast, go to work, pick up the kids, make dinner, go to bed. Sometimes they do family things on the weekends, but for the most part they do the same thing everyday.

“Oh yeah, uhhh you're not going to like this” Jimmy


“My brother called this morning, they need to stay with us for a couple of days”

“A couple of days?”

“He didn't say how long,”

Taylor never liked Jimmy’s brother, Shawn. He was always jealous of Jimmy and you could tell. He would only come around for special occasions and not bring anything. He would say, “well Jimmy’s the big shot, right? Can't he handle everything”

“I don't like him”

“I know, but he's my little brother and he needs me”

“And don't get me started on his wife, or their kids. They treat their daughters like they princesses but if you ask me, they're little spoiled brats!”

Jimmy chuckled

“Its not funny!” Taylor whined

“Its not funny!” Jimmy mocked

They laughed. Jimmy leaned in to kiss her and they were interrupted by Taylor’s phone.

“Uh oh, its the kids school”

“I bet its about JJ.”

Taylor answered the phone speaking with a concerned voice.

“Good afternoon”

“This is she”

“Is he okay?!”

“Thank god, I’ll be there shortly!”

Taylor hung up and looked at her husband.

“He got into a fight..”

Jimmy just stared at her for a second. He didn't know what to say.

“Did he win.” he said chuckling

“This isn't a joking matter!”

“I know, come on. I have to go back to work. I cant go with you!”

“You have to, I need you”

“Sorry. You’ll be fine.”

He kissed her forehead

“Shawn should be there before I get home. I’ll handle everything when I get there, okay?


You could hear the disappointment is Taylor’s voice.

“I love you, sweetheart” Jimmy said while kissing her again

“I love you too. Be careful”

Taylor drove to Jimmy Jr.’s school, running red lights and barely stopping at stop signs. When she got to his school the principal was in her office with Jimmy. He had an ice pack under his eye and was holding tissue on his nose. She ran to him and hugged im so tightly his nose began bleeding more. “Baby, are you okay?” She asked as she examined his black eye.

“He was fighting, Richard King” Principal Tyler added in

“Rachel’s brother? Why”

“Because his friends kept calling her my girlfriend and telling me to kiss her. But I don't like her mama, she's my best friend. And then Richard said if I thought about it he’d hurt me and I said if you do your going to get in trouble. I guess he didn't care that he was going to get in trouble because he punched me right in the eye.”

“Jimmy go ice your eye outside so I can talk to your mom.” Principal Tyler said

Jimmy walked out of the office and Taylor sat down. Ms. Tyler’s face gave Taylor a bad feeling about what was about to come out of her mouth.

“Jimmy has been suspended for three days, Ms. Adams

“THREE?! He didn't start the fight!”

“No but he did encourage it and he hit one of the boys who was picking on him.”

“Three is still a lot!”

“Im sorry, but thats policy.”

Taylor was in so much shock all she could do was thank her grab Jimmy and leave. When they got in the car Taylor told Jimmy they would discuss what happened later when his father was home.

When they got home it was a mess. Shawn had pizza boxes all over the coffee table. Mia and Maya spilled juice on the floor and no one cleaned it up. You could tell Monica made coffee because the house reeked of burned coffee beans.

Taylor was so close to losing her temper. She was already pissed off because Jimmy left her, then Jimmy Jr.’s suspension, and now her house.

“Jimmy, go to your room and dont turn the T.V. on!”

“But mom!” Jimmy whined

The look in Taylor’s eyes told Jimmy her answer. Taylor asked nicely as she possibly could, walked over to Sean and Monica and asked them to clean up the mess they made and to not let their children eat or drink on the floor.

Taylor walked to her room and just laid on the bed. She was so angry she wanted to cry. She turned the lights off and tucked herself into, she set an alarm for when she needed to go pick up Melanie and quickly dozed off.

She woke up to what she thought was her alarm. Mia was in her room and turned the T.V. on to Fast 5 and turned the volume all the way up. When Taylor realized why she was awake she couldn't help but yell. Monica and Shawn flew into her room.

“Don't yell at my daughter, she's only 4!” Monica screamed

“Even more of a reason you should be watching her!”

“You dont have the right to tell us how to raise our kids, look at your son!” Shawn added in

“Get out my room, NOW!”

They all left and Taylor quickly grabbed her phone. She called her husband, thinking in her mind he better pick up. When he answered the phone, he didn't even finish saying hello before Taylor started venting. She was talking so face he couldn't even get a word in. When she finally stopped he told her he would handle everything when he got home and she needed to relax. Then he tried to bribe her, It didn't work. She was so angry she just wanted them out of the house!

“Honey, I have to go. I’ll see you when I get home. I love you!”

Taylor didn't even say anything back. She just hung up. It was time for her to go get Melanie. She was too afraid to leave JJ home with her in-laws so she took him with her.

After she picked Melanie up she told her how her day was going. Melanie agreed to make dinner so her mom could rest after the long day she's been through.

They got home and Shawn and his family wasn't there. They wrote a not and put it on the fridge. It said, “went out for dinner. bbl” That put a smile on Taylor’s face. We’ll have a nice family dinner tonight, she thought to herself.

As soon as dinner was ready, JJ set the table. Jimmy walked in a few minutes later with flowers. He kissed Taylor’s cheek and handed her the flowers. She didn't really show much emotion. She was mentally drained. They sat down and Jimmy looked at little Jimmy. JJ was too afraid of what was going to happen so he wouldn't look at his father in the eye.

“Pick your head up, son. Thats a sign of weakness.”

“Im sorry, daddy! I didn't mean to get In trouble!”

“I know son, that still doesn't make it okay! I wont happen again, do you understand?”

“I promise!”

They continued their dinner. Taylor was starting to feel a little bit better but then she remember her in-laws were coming back.

Jimmy had to do the dishes as his punishment. Melanie was in her room doing homework and Taylor and Jimmy Sr. were on the couch watching a movie. They were talking about what he was going to tell his brother when he came back.

Taylor went upstairs to shower before they came back. The twins were already sleeping so Monica went up to bed too. Jimmy and Shawn were sitting on the couch. Jimmy really didn't want to tell Shawn what to do because he was a grown man but he had to do. He set the rules and Shawn agreed to follow them. The Jimmy did something he really didnt want to do. He asked him if he would watch JJ for the rest of his suspension. Of course Shawn said yes because he was staying in his house for free. Everyone went to bed after that.

The next morning Taylor was really scared to leave Jimmy but she had to go to work. Shawn made everyone breakfast and packed Melanie’s lunch. That made Taylor feel better about everything. Once everyone was gone Jimmy went back to his room to play firefighter. Shawn and Monica were outside on the porch and Mia and Maya were still asleep.

Jimmy put on his fireman jacket, boots and hat and pretended like his driving. He drove into the kitchen and turned on the stove to pretended like that was his fire. First he threw water on it. The he turned all the burners on. He remembered when his dad came home with bandages because he got burned in a fire. So he stuck his finger into the fire. He realized his finger didn't look normal, but it didn't look burned. It also didn't hurt. He was shocked and confused, so he stuck his whole hand in the fire and watched as his hand lit up.

Jimmy had just learned something a bit scary and different about his self. When he touched fire he didn't burn, his skin glowed. At first he thought that was the coolest thing ever. Then he realized that meant he couldn't be a fire fighter. When he would have to go into fires his skin would glow and he wouldn't be able to save people. Instead he would scare them and wouldn't be able to help him.

He didn't know how to handle it so he cried. He called his dad’s cell phone, begging him to come, “Daddy, I need you! Please come home.”

Jimmy Sr. didn't know what was going on so he flew home. The whole ride he was saying I knew I shouldn't have trusted Shawn. He got to his house and saw Shawn and Monica sitting on the porch.

“Where’s my son?! Are you watching him?!”

“He’s in the house, relax!”

“Well, somethings wrong. He just called me crying!”

Shawn looked shocked and confused. They ran into the house. Jimmy was on the kitchen floor crying. His fireman jacket and hat were sitting next to him. His dad grabbed him, Jimmy cried even more.

“Son, what happened.”

“Watch” he said as tears rolled down his face

He turned the stove.

“Jimmy you are not supposed to touch the stove!”

Before his dad could turn it off he stuck his hand in the fire. His hand glowed, just like before. Shawn and Monica didn't know what to say, they just stood there. So did Jimmy Sr. Tears continued to run down Jimmy’s face.

“Daddy, look at my hand. Its glowing. And it doesn't hurt.”

“JJ I don't know what to tell you. I've never seen anything like it before.”

“Does this mean I can't be a firefighter?” Tears streamed down as face as he barely got that sentence out.

“Don't worry about that now. We need to go see a doctor.”

“Can mommy come. I need her!”

“Ill call her on the way there. Go get dressed”

Jimmy turned and looked at Shawn and Monica. They looked just as shocked as he did. “What am I going to do.”

“Relax, take him to the doctor and see what she says.” Monica said in a quiet calm voice

“Ill go help JJ get ready, go call Taylor.”

Jimmy walked slowly outside while trying to figure out what he was going to tell Taylor. He dialed the number hoping she wouldn't answer. She did.

“Hey baby, we got another problem”

“Oh god”

“I have to take Jimmy to the doctors. Can you meet me there. Ill tell you whats wrong when I get there.”

“Uhh wha never mind I'll be there.” Taylor stumbled over her words

Jimmy walked out slowly carrying his firetruck in his hand. You could see how angry and disappointed he was. His dad pulled off, trying not to speed. If he went faster than normal Jimmy would know his dad was scared.

Taylor beat them to the doctors. JJ ran into his moms arms, tears streaming down his face, holding on to her for dear life.

Taylor and the doctor could believe what she was seeing when Jimmy put a liter to his son’s arm. Taylor started crying, she was scared. The doctor immediately started typing scaring Taylor even more. She started rubbing her son on his back, trying to comfort him. Jimmy hugged his firetruck tighter.

“I’ve never seen anything like this.” the doctor said

“Is there anything you can do about.” Taylor asked

“I-ummm” the doctor stumbled over her words

That made Taylor cry more.

“I dont think I can.” that time her words were a little bit better

“I wanna be a firefighter, like my daddy! Can I still be a firefighter?!

“Jimmy, your health is the most important thing. If every time you get near fire you glow, thats a problem. If we can find a surgery, then there might be a chance.”

“I’ll get surgery!”

“Its not that simple. I’ve never even heard of this.”

Jimmy put his head down while tears dripped from his face onto his truck. He knew this couldn't be the end. Someone would have to find the answer.

Later that night he asked his mom if they could go to another doctor. His dad told him no. Even though they’ve been planning for Jimmy to be firefighter before he was even born, things changed. His dad knew he had no one to carry on the family tradition. JJ was in his room thinking of a plan. Jimmy was also in his room, working on a different plan. Jimmy and Taylor were planning another baby.

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 9.42.06 PM

Best friends Back In Time


Lucy lives in a small town of Overbrook. Overbrook has about 30 blocks and 85 people. The neighborhood is so small because there is a doom that covers the whole thing. 15 trucks are used to come and bring food and other necessities. The trucks go in through the one hole, in the doom. Lucy doesn't go out much because she only has one friend. Today is April 15, 2013, Lucy is in her room surfing the web, just like every other boring Saturday. Lucy could hear, her best friend, Molly running up the steps and through the hallway to her room. Lucy sat up and prepared for Molly's grand entrance, because she wouldn't be Molly if she didn't have one.

“Lucy! I’m coming in”, Molly says while out of breath.

Lucy gets up to open the door, she didn't want Molly to break it down.

“What kind of story do you have for me today? Did your dog go swimming in my pool again? Are you being sent to your grandparents house this summer?” Lucy sarcastically replies.

Lucy sits in the house all summer long. The farthest she goes is to her aunts house that is right around the corner. While Molly is always sent away they never get to hang during the summer. Every summer Molly’s family take really crazy vacations. Because her father is like the mayor of our town their family is able to leave and come in and out of the doom. The only thing is they are not able to stay out for long. Maybe a month or two at the most, but back to the doom they go.

“No, this summer Im not going anywhere” Molly’s face looks down. She was wishing to visit her cousins in Paris, but she can’t.

“So what is it, spill the beans” Lucy replies with a smile on her face.

If the time really here where her BFF will be around this summer.

“I found a way to become one of the popular chicks again”

“Popular? We could never be them,”

For the past two years both Molly and Lucy where bullied because of the way they looked. Lucy and Molly both wear their sister’s hammy downs so by the time they get the latest trends it is no longer in. When Lucy was in the 9th grade she had the most embarrassing moment of her life. It was her first freshman friday experience, and also her last. A 12th grader poured milk in her gym locker, going on all her clothes and shoes. So Lucy didn’t have anything to wear after gym class. Lucy raged with anger and considered hurting them. She knew during your freshman year you have to be nice. Well, that is if you want friends in your 10th, 11th or 12th grade. The rules of Overbrook high is to play as nice as you can to get your popularity. Sounds weird but mean people are not really popular unless you're the girls who bully me. I think its because their dad is the principal. When Lucy’s mother heard what happened she went to the school defending her daughter. She defended her alright, and also took away any chances she had at being popular. Lucy is now known as, ‘the girl who needs her mommy to fight her battles.’

Molly, is constantly picked on for associating with her. “Ever since my mom came to the school to defend me in 9th grade I will always be a loser. A big one at that, and no one could be seen with me”. Lucy added

“Look Lucy just picture this. We can create a new you. Even though it was one year six months and now 5 hours ago, you’ll be fine”. Molly said grabbing Lucy’s shoulders.

“Trust me” she added.

“What kind of magic tricks are you pulling from your sleeve now?” Lucy says while giving Molly a hug.

“There’s a program we could join and it’ll teach us how to be more popular.” Molly says with a worry voice.

Lucy doesn’t like to go out and do anything because she think all kids are the same. She thinks if even though people did not see what happen to her a year ago some how they all found out.

“Molly, now you know..” Lucy says but is stopped because Molly interrupted her.

“Molly, nobody ever likes me. Blah, Blah, Blah” molly says mocking Lucy because she heard it before.

“Lucy you need to stop begin like that, nobody else knows about it”, Molly adds.

The truth is because their neighborhood consists of about 40 different blocks, it doesn’t take a while for news to travel. When the next door neighbor's dog spot ran away he was found so fast because there wasn’t really anywhere he could go.

*Lucy’s mother knocks on the door and enters*

“Oh hello Molly, I should have figured that was you running up here”. Her mother says

“Hello Mrs.S, sorry I just couldn’t wait to share my exciting news.” Molly replies.

“Would you girls like anything to eat”? her mom asked

“No mom , now please go because you're ruining my life”. Lucy yells as she is pushing her mother out of the room.

“Okay sweety, have fun girls” her mother adds just before Lucy slammed the door

*Lucy’s mother exits*


It’s Monday morning the Lucy is getting ready for school. It’s the middle of the spring so her window is a little crack to let in a little air.

“Come on Lucy, we can not be late today” Molly yells from outside of the window.

“I’m coming, it take me sometime to get ready” she yells back.

“I dont know why” Lucy states to her self. “No matter what I put on they’ll find away to same something is wrong about it”. Lucy adds.

Lucy is now already and walk out the door to her mother's car. Lucy hates when it’s her mom turn to drop them off because then everyone will see her. So everyday she request for her mother to drop her off at least two blocks from the school. The girls enter the car and buckle the seat belts.

“You know Lucy I am not going to get dropping you guys off two blocks away”, her mother says with a demanding voice.

“I understand mom, but until I can become popular again I need this”, Lucys says grabbing her mothers shoulders where the chair is.

“I wonder what kind of joke they’ll have for us this morning”, Molly says staring outside the car window

“You know i’m really lucky to have to as a friend”, Lucy says to Molly.

At first Molly was homeschooled until she got into 9th grade.

She never really stated at the school but she  was transferred in.

‘You had the opportunity to become one of them if you wanted”, Lucy says

“Become what a bully?”, Molly asks

“You know what I mean Molly. I love the fact that you stayed my friend know that this would be your life”. Lucy says as a single tear falls from her face.

“Everybody out of the pool”, Lucy’s mom adds.

The girls exits fixing their clothes on the way out.

A piece of paper fly’s hitting Lucy in the face. She stops to see what it says.

“A young man is looking for a brave guinea pig”, Lucy says reading aloud.

Molly has already ran up a head so she won’t be late for first period. Lucy continues to walk slow reading more of the paper.

“Samuel Brooks has invented the very first time machine, and a brave person to try it out,” She added.

The bell rangs and Lucy runs the rest of the way to school. Stuffing the paper in her back pocket, she’d praying she lose it.


Both girls enter Lucy’s room after school. Lucy went straight for her bed leaving Molly to sit at the computer. Lucys turns the television up so loud is disturbed Molly.

“Do you mind,”? molly says as she’s covering both ears with her hands.

“Shh, and come closer have to show you something,” Luy replied

“What is it now,”

“The idea just hit me in the face, Literally,”

“Ooh noo, any idea you ever have is horrible,”

“Not this one, a guy build his own time machine,”

“And ……. what does this have to do with you,” Molly said while spinning around in the chair

“He needs test bunnies and I think,” Lucy was cut off

“Nope Nope Nope Nope,”

“You haven't let me finish yet,”

“Go on”

“We should go back in time and maybe become popular,”

“Don you know what would happen if my mom find out what I’m doing,”

“She won’t, Molly just trust me I’ll handle everything.”

Molly didn’t reply she just continued to spin in circles.


Molly has left for the night and Lucy is just in her room staring at wall. One thing she

always hated was thinking aloud. She wish she could control herself before she does it.

“Maybe, I would tell my mom that me and Molly are visiting her dad at his job and really go to the mans house. I wonder if we go back in time would the present still go on without us. Or would there even be a present still with all these things changing?” Lucy stop because she heard a noise outside of her bedroom door. “I’ll just go with that plan.

The next day Lucy woke up and hour then she normally does. In her house for some strange reason everyone seem to wake up at the same time. Lucy knew that is she wanted this plan to work her mom couldn’t be up to see her go. So she got dress really fast ran out the house eating a banana and holding the flyer. She went straight for Molly house. She has called Molly the night before so she could be ready and prep. The girls knew that their parents would be worried so they both left their mom’s a note. Molly saying shes with Lucy’s dad and Lucy saying she’s with Molly’s dad. They figured it would at least spare them a few hours until they begin to be worried. The girls arrive at Samuel Brooks house where they plan to become his test bunny.

“Who goes there” Samuel Brooks screams threw the door, loud enough that it scared the girls.

“Ummm, My name is Lucy and I read and ad about your time machine.”

“Yeah, what about it, don’t you and your friend thinks its a little to early to be here?”

“No, we would like to be your test bunnies and we need to do it fast and early before my parents wake up.”

The door creaks open and Mr.Brooks let the girls in

“It’s down stairs in the basement.”, he says point towards an odd looking passageway.”

The girls arrive down stairs and Molly is so scared she refused to answer any of the questions.

“So what time are you going back to” he asks why pushing buttons?

“When I was in 9th grade and the kid threw milk on me”. Lucy replies

She hopes that going back in time to fix the problem then Lucy and her both could be very popular.

“Okay, just step up to the mat and hold very still” Mr.Brooks last words before the machian took them away.


“This is not right.” Lucy yells

“What do you mean” Molly replies

“He didn’t send us to the past he sent us about year ahead!”

“Umm how can you tell”?

“Were standing on my lawn and you can hear the people inside singing happy 26 birthday”.

“Aww man, I say since were here we stay away and see how everything is.”

The girls knew that if they were to stay it would make two of them. So they went to a hotel and check themselves in under a different name. They plan to split in the morning to check out the future and so that way Lucy could try to figure out how to get back. The way Samuel BRooks set the machine up is he programed it to see the girls while they're there. In cases theres a problem or what not. But what he didn’t do was test it so unfortunately the product failed. What does this mean for the girls? Are they stuck?

“I want to visit my family and I would like to see how I am today.” Molly say to Lucy who is packing her bags.

“Okay but be back here @6:00, because were going back”

For the rest of the day while Lucy is running around town trying to remember where Mr.Brooks lives, Molly is spying on her husband and children.

Not know how this could affect their live the 16 year old Molly approaches her son. They talk and he looks at her strange the whole time. In his head he probably is wondering why his mommy looks so young. Or why his mommy looks like his sister.

“Hey Jacob, What are you doing the park alone,” Molly asks her son

“You brought me here with Sarah silly.”He replies confused on why his mom is asking dumb questions.

“Mommy did you know you can change the way you look”?

“What do you mean”

“Yesterday you turned 26 and you were begin to look old. Now today you’re as young as I am,”

“ Well Jacob mommy isn’t who you think she is,”

“huh, what do you mean?”

“I wish I could tell you, but right now I can’t because,”

In storms Lucy with a face as red as an apple. She seems to be a angry about something. And her begin angry means that something is not right.

“Look mommy, here comes aunty Lucy. She looks a little mad and young as well.” Jacob says.

“Umm, Molly I need to have a word with you” Lucy says

“Okay” Molly says in giving Jacob a hug before she walks away.

“So I don’t know where Mr.Brooks lives,”

“Which means what?”

“That we might be stuck her for good,” a tear falls from Lucy’s face. “If we can’t leave then we'll be caught”.

“Damn Lucy, I knew something like this would happen. When it comes down to you nothing ever goes right. I hate you and I wish I would have never been your friend”.

Molly runs away from Lucy. While Lucy is standing there looking in shame she hoped she didn’t mess things up. Until the girls find Mr.Brooks and he fizs the machine then they’ll be stuck for ever. And because the blocks are really small they need to hope that they don't get caught and thrown in jail. Jail is one of the worst places their town has. You don't eat and you basically die in there, just trust it is a horrible place. This story ends with questions being left behind. Will the girl go back home? Will they be caught and taken to jail? Let your imagination choose the way.

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Q4 Art

Art History 

Banksy, an English street artist who keeps his identity hidden. Originally a graffiti artist, Banksy later transitioned to using stencils which became his signature style. His work, with subjects such as children, rats, and people of power, is often controversial due to its political nature. The unique way Banksy points out greed and hypocrisy has made his art well known and loved.

Though famous for his stencil art, Banksy has also done sculptures such as a Crumpled Phone Booth.  His work can be found around the world, and is considered valuable art. Though this does not stop city officials from destroying said works.

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My mother killed me. Before you close the laptop and walk away, hear me out. She was trying to heal me, but things went terribly wrong after August of 2001. I know this is weird, but let me tell you I have lived two lives on earth and the third is just beginning.

“In recent weeks we learned that scientist have created human embryos in test tubes solely to experiment on them. This is deeply troubling and a warning sign that should prompt all of us to think through these issues very carefully. Embryonic stem cells research is at the leading edge of a series of moral hazards.”

“Sara, did you hear?” Virginia said.

“ No, what happened.” Sara replied.

“Apparently our president is a scientist now. He’s cutting off all funds for stem cell research!”

“Wait, he can’t do that? Can he?”

“I guess he can. After he said it was a ‘moral hazard’ I had to cut it off.”

President Bush addressed the nation in April of 2009 to announce the federal budgets ban on embryonic stem cell research. The scientist in my mom’s Pathology lab were appalled because no one has ever put a ban on science.

My mother has dedicated her entire life to science, especially after the school district’s budget cuts. You see my dad was an art teacher, art was his only passion, besides his family of course. With his long dreads, and septum piercing he only wore loose clothing, with a chill attitude. After the cuts my dad was laid off because the school could no longer afford an art class. Mason is a cool dad, even after losing the his job he manages to keep the family happy. He’s a stay home dad with no reservations about his about his role.

On the other hand, my twin sister Sabrina is a brat. She’s a total daddy’s girl and because of that she can get almost what ever she wants. It’s not like she’s dumb or anything, she’s brilliant. She skipped the 1st grade and has made honor roll since pre K. I’m not jealous, just confused as to how on she inherited of the smart genes. Her best friend Riley is cool too. She has a bunch of cool art supplies, eggplant colored hair, and already has a career goal in mind.

Oh yeah! I’m Hayden, I’m the reason my mother even studies embryonic stem cells. She was originally studying the Unfolded Protein Response phenomenon in the 90‘s.Back then UPR was fairly new and doctors had no clue how it correlated with illnesses within the human body, my mom was on to something when she was studying C. Elegans, then she got pregnant with me. The doctors had told her that I had high risk of having type 1 diabetes because it was a trait in my family. “High risk” to her ears meant for sure. And at the age of 5 she was correct. My mother made it her job to find a cure for type one diabetes, so she preserved our placenta. With the placenta she would be able to use my stem cells to grow more beta cells.You know the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Hoping that one day she would be able to make me better. Who can say that their mom is trying to find a cure for them?

In order for my mom to study this has to do some ungodly things, but I say hey if it’s for the greater good then why not.

It was a friday when this all happened my mother came home from her research lab and  draped herself over the couch. She looked defeated, and I knew just how make her better.

“Momma, momma!” I yelled from the top of the carpeted staircase.

“ Yes love?” she responded.

“Look at me! I’m a brand new beta cell.” I skipped every other step, once I reached the bottom I jumped on to the landing and put my hands on my hip. “Beta Boy to the rescue!” I jumped over the umbrella bucket, or at least I thought I did. Before I knew I was laid out on the floor. My mother had fallen asleep on the couch while I was making my grand entrance. I got up, turned my cap to the back and walked over to her. “Mom.” I nudged her side.

“Yes?” she said sleepily.

“Do like my new costume?”

“I love it. Where is your sister?

“She and dad went to the market to get groceries for dinner,” I said walking towards the t.v.

“Oh great I don’t have to cook tonight,” I was happy too, my mother isn’t the best cook.

“ How’s the research?” Although I was 10 I knew a thing or two about what my mother did in those big labs. She always came home with cool stories about explosions or cool treatments for patients. Most of the time I asked just to see if she had come closer to finding a cure for me.

“It’s not so good Hayden,” She says sitting up. She extended her arms out to me to come sit on her lap. “Listen you know our president right?”


“Well our president name is George Bush. He doesn’t believe in the same things that researchers believe in. He’s against science. “

“Is he bad?”

“No hun he’s not bad just, incompetent.”

“What does mean?”

“Don’t worry about that, but he’s not into science.”

“Good afternoon everyone!” My dad came walking in the door with his hands full and Sabrina trailing behind him with a small toy in her hand.“Virginia, what’s the matter?”

“Things aren’t so good at the lab. I’m going to take a shower, then we can all talk at dinner. Deal?”

“Ok,” I responded. My mother was never this somber. She may be tired, but she always’ managed to talk to us and make us smile.

“Hayden come help us,” My dad yelled from the kitchen

“Yeah come help!” Sabrina echoed.

“O.k.” I ran upstairs to take off my cap. As I walked passed the bathroom door I could hear my mom whimpering. “Momma, are you ok.” I knocked

“Yes love, I’m fine.” I could hear her wipe her tears.

I continued to my room, when I arrived I laid on top of my bed with my legs stretched out. I laid their mesmerized by the chipped white paint dangling from my ceiling. I smelt the food cooking and the shower running, but my gut would not untie itself from the knot it was in. I was awaken by Sabrina’s loud voice coming from the bottom of the steps.

“Hayden Butt head Jordan come eat!”

“Who are you calling butt head!” I yelled from my room.


“Oh I’ll show you a butt head alright!” I dashed down the steps ready to battle Brina in a screaming match.

“Hey, you two, cut it out!” My mom yelled from the dinner table.

“Yeah, before neither of you eat dinner.” My dad said . “Dear I thought we made lemonade last night?”

“I had to dump it out a fly landed in it.” As we all sat in our unofficially assigned table seats my father asked the question I’ve been dying to have an answer to.

“So dear what happened today?” He said scooping mashed potatoes on to his spoon.

“Well Mr. President has decided to put a ban on funding for stem cell research as well as banning it in the states completely.”

“ Mom can you still do research?” I said holding my fork to my mouth.

“Um, honey look I have plans on how I’m going to keep doing research, but we won’t be able to live in the states.” She said as she cut her steak.

“So where do we have to go?”

“Indonesia.” She put her cut steak in her mouth.

“Indonesia?” My dad said with a puzzled look on his face.

“I know it’s a stretch, but I know that I’ll be able to find a cure there.”

“Dear, why Indonesia?”

“Indonesia has a large population of orangutans. Orangutan are primates and with these animals I can further my research. Also because the country has not put any bans on stem cell research. Look guys I know this is a stretch, but Imagine living in the jungle, playing in creeks, and curing Hayden.”

“Can I talk to upstairs for a minute dear?” I knew my parent were going to be gone for the rest of the dinner so Brina and eye just went to the couch to watch t.v.

“Do you have uproot our lives and carry to the other side of the world to find a cure? It’s not like the boy has cancer! He has diabetes, all he needs is his insulin.”

“I took him to the doctors a week ago and he told me that his immune system is not only killing his beta cells but is also beginning to eat away at his liver and lungs.”She said as she walked to the divan

“There is a possibility that is cancer, but the doctor said that it was some sort apoptosis mutation. Instead killing cells it eating away at vital internal organs.” She sat down.

“Does he know?”

“No, I don’t want to worry him. It’s bad enough he doesn’t think I can find a cure.”

“But Dear...” My mother cut him short.

“I don’t want my 10 year old to think of death before he is able to ride his bike, without training wheels. I don’t want my son to have to live each day waiting to die. He is a child! My child deserves to live.”

“Dear you aren’t god you can’t heal everyone.”

“That is why I dropped all of my past experiments to help him! I am not healing everyone I am healing my child. Why don’t you get that?” She stand to walk out of the room.

“I do, I’m sorry. I just don’t want you to be discouraged if you don’t discover a cure.”

“That’s the difference between you and I hun, I won’t stop. I won’t sleep. I promised my son I would cure him and I will.” my mother rushed out of the room and down the steps. “Kids! pack your things we are moving to Indonesia next Saturday.” She said as she stood in front of the t.v.

The next week was hectic. My mother still needed to find us a place to stay, my dad had to take us out of school, and my sister and I had to prepare ourselves to live in a different country. We had never been outside the country, the only places we’ve been were to Puerto Rico, Virginia, and Kansas.My father told us that we were relocating for a better life for us all especially me. I understood it all, but I couldn’t help but think that something else had to be wrong.

“Kids when we get on the plane chew the gum immediately, Brina you know how your ears start to popping as soon as we hit cruising altitude.” She said as she handed out our boarding passes.

“We are now seating rows L through O.” The woman called over the loudspeaker.

“Ok guys that is us, lets go.” My father led the way through grey tube that took us to the airplane. “Brina and Hayden are you excited?”

“I’m excited dad. You know I was a bit nervous this morning on our way over to the airport, but now I am super excited.” Brina said

“I just want to go explore the jungle,” I said as I looked back at my mom.

“Oh and I will be you two’s new teacher,” My dad said

“ Dad can we have school in the jungle?”


When we got on the plane I felt like crying. I didn’t know where we were going, I only saw google images of Indonesia. When we arrived I was in awe. The trees were so green, the soil was a glistening brown tent, and the sky was clear.

“Welcome to the jungle kids!” My mom opened her arms wide as if she was going to hug the forest. “Our home should be just up the trail!” It was just up the trial, disguised as a tree. I ran into the family room to a panoramic window. “That over their love is lab,”she pointed to a smaller bungalow, “is where we will be spending most of our time.”

A week later my mother took the placenta to the lab and began to extract stem cells. She also took some cells from my pancreas to study the cell lines. Then she found an impregnated orangutan, bled her and took her beta cells. My mother worked tirelessly for weeks. She created an artificial protein that would allow the pancreatic cells to produce insulin without the immune system killing them off. This worked well in the orangutan cells so she tried it on mine.

“Mom, how’s it going?” I asked her when she walked in the door

“Great! I’m really close but I want to run a couple more test to make sure that everything is ok with the cells.”

“What kind of test?”

“To see if the cells are actually able to produce insulin.”

“Oh ok,” I reply I as walk to my room. I close my door and lay on my bed.

“Hayden?” I hear a soft knock at the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Brina.”

“Why are you whispering?”

“I don’t know. I thought it would make it would cooler.” Brina said as she walked in.

“I miss Riley, man. I can’t call her, or see her.” She said as she laid on my bed.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Don’t be sorry bro just listen.”

“Um, ok.” I flop on to the bed too.

“I like Riley.”

“Of course you do! She’s your best friend.”

“No, I mean... I like Riley the way that boys like girls,” She looked away from me and out the window.

“Oh. Ok. How long have you felt this way?” I turn to find the back of her head.

“Since the beginning, besides you, she’s the only other person I feel close to.”

“Na uh, dad.”

“Not even him.” She out her hands across her stomach. “Are you... scared?”

“Scared of what?”

“Of dying.”

“I mean, what if mom’s little potion doesn’t work?”

“First, it’s not a potion! It’s cells, beta cells. Secondly, mom would never put a deadly cell inside of me.”

“Oh, if you say so.”

“Why do you think that?”

“I have that weird feeling in my gut. Like I’m afraid for you.” She reached out and touched my shoulder. “Hey if you trust it then so do I.”

“Yea, I do.”

“Oh yeah dad told me to tell you to come eat.”

“I’m coming.” I turned over and stared out the window.

“Hayden some eat!” My dad yell from down the hall.

The next day was the big day. My mother had fed me a hearty breakfast, or should I say my father made it and she made sure I ate it all. She told me I would need as much food as I could get because it would be a long process. After I ate the plate clean we walked to the research facility, My mother gave me a white gown, and then laid me on her check up table.

“OK Hayden I’m going to inject this needle right into the pancreas.” She help up the longest needle in the world, and plucked it. “It’s going to hurt a bit, but try your best to stay still.” A short tan man walked in and introduced himself.

“Hi, I’m doctor Carr I will be administering your cells today.” He held out his hand.

“Cool, I’m Hayden.The patient.” I shook his hand.

He giggled a bit and responded, “ Alright I’m going to ask to to lay flat on your back.”

“Alright Doctor Car.” I closed my eyes tightly and laid flat.

“Take a deep breathe.” He said while my eyes were tightly shut. Soon I felt the needle penetrate my skin. The needle was long, and putting the cells in took even longer. I was beginning to tear up, but I would not open my eyes. My insides felt felt warm and fuzzy, and I no longer heard my mom and Dr.Car in the room. My skin began to feel furry, and brittle. I opened my eyes and my vision was a bit different. I lifted up my hand and saw the reddish orange fur.

“Mom.” Although it didn’t sound like english or human. “Mom!” I yelled even louder and it sounded like a groan. I was afraid, no one returned to the room. “Brina!” No one heard me because I wasn’t speaking I was groaning like a monkey.

I got up from the table and fell to the floor. I was shorter, furrier, smellier. I ran around the room trying to find a mirror of some sort but I couldn’t. I ran to the bathroom. I knew I find a mirror in there and I walked in on my mom fixing her lipstick.

“Mom, mom, mom!” I scream from within the body but the words couldn't translate to english when they left my mouth. My mom began to fight me, or at least try. I jumped on to the sink and I saw my reflection. I was an orangutan. How?

“Get out! Now! Stop!.” My mother screamed at me.

I jumped downed and walk towards the entrance. I had to get Brina to realize me.

“Get out of here you monkey!”

My mom went back later that day to check on my body. I was gone physically changed I was gone. My mother had seen me and did not even notice me. Brina was right about having that feeling and that feeling I had on the plane. I felt better, I wasn’t tired or sore I was effervescent and healthy. My mother say me approach the entrance and  came charging at me.

“Get out!” She opened the door and shoved me out.

I was in the jungle, exposed, confused, tired, and Dr. Carr was no where in sight. I had to get to Brina, she would notice. Well I think she would my mother didn’t.

I had been in the jungle for the 3 days, no orangutans in site. I’m sure my parents were worried sick!I had to say living of the and had been a lot of fun. I could swing from trees with out my mom yelling get down. I could eat all the fruit I desired. I heard Brina walking towards the garden my senses were heightened as a monkey. I walked up to her calmly, hoping out twin telepathy would spark something in her mind. I stood there looked her in her eyes and didn’t move.

“Hayden?” She squinted her eyes as if she could see me in this body. “Hayden, answer me.” I made an awful noise and she knew i was in there somewhere. “You can’t talk can you.” I shook my head as she walked closer. “Look come with me, you can hide in my room.”

I followed Brina home. When we arrived dad was looking out the front window.

“Wait here,” She said. “Hey dad, can you come help me?”

“Sure kid. Did you see your brother or something?”

“Yea I thought I saw him up the trail. At the blue sign go over there before he leaves and I meet you, I have to go change my shoes.”

“Alright, hurry up”

She watched my dad walk down the path before she signaled me to come. She took me up the step and into her room. Brina was a private person so I was never invited onto her room before.

“O.k. stay in here, I’ll bring you some food. You must be starving.” I nodded my head.

I heard Brina talking to our mom in the kitchen.

“What is that on your hand?” My mom asked

“Oh nothing i as trying to climb a tree earlier.”

“I need to put some neosporin on your knee on it and clean it. Go up to your room I’ll be right there.”

“Oh no mom it’s fine I have to go meet dad.”

“No before I clean that scar, you don’t want it to get infected.”

I ran to Brina’s closet, but I couldn’t get in there fast enough.

“Hayden hurry get in the closet.” Brina shoved me into the closet I could hear the worry in her voice, but I wasn’t going to get in the closet mom would notice me. “Come on get in.”

“Sabrina! Step away from the monkey. Come here. Now. Close this door and step outside.”

My mom looked me in my eyes and walk out closing the door behind her. I thought maybe she had some sort of reversing serum, but she returned with some sort of gun.

“Look, I told you in the lab to leave my family!” I jumped up and down trying to get her to notice that it was me. I walked closer. “Back up! she shot the liquid at me but I jumped back to fast. “Slick one huh?”

“Mom stop Brina yelled!”

“No it was trying to hurt you!” She shot it again and it hit me! I slowly turned back into Hayden, the boy. I could see the regret in her eyes. “My son, my son!” She ran over to me and held me in her arms. I looked up at her then my eyes closed. And I was gone.


La Casa Magnífico Para Andrés

Chloe, Fodie, Osman



Cliente: Andrés


El nombre de mi cliente es Andrés Castro Samayoa. Él tiene veintiseis años. Es muy inteligente y cómico. Te gusta leer y cocinar. También le gusta la natación. No tiene carro o bici. su color favorita es morado.

La Casa Descripción:

La casa está cerca de un supermercado y transporte público y un parque pero lejos de el tranvía. La casa es fresca, moderna, habitaciones amplias, decoradas con arte moderno. La Casa es grande y tiene más espacio. Tiene tres pisos, tres habitaciones, dos baños, un gimnasio, una piscina, un cocina, un sala con más libros. La cocina tiene viking estufa y comedor mesa. La ubicación es tropical y fresca y muy calor. La casa es en Rio cuál es muy guapa. El clima es siempre perfecto. La sala es muy moderna. Tiene dos sofás y un tele. ¡Comprar la casa! ¡Lo es Fantástica!

El cuarto de bañ. Tiene manta y esejo.

La casa con una piscina. La piscina es hermoso.

El gimnasio (El pesos)

El estante (Mucho libros)

La sala (sillas, tabla, escalera)

La cocina (sillas, tabla, horno)

La casa está cerca un parque (El bancos)

La Habitacion con una cama y dos sillas. (La cama, el sofá)

El jardín. Hay muchos flores y ellos son bonita.

El sótano es exquisito con buen pasos.

Este es el ático. Tiene una cama, cajón y gabinete.

Diseñado por Flaco Inc.  

Phone Number: 1800-Flaco-Inc


The Fire Within

“Get yo ass up! Let’s go,” Luke yells. “I told you about sleeping all day. It’s 10:30 in the morning. You ain’t that tired.” Ashton wakes up while rubbing his eyes.

“It’s only 10:30,” he replies. “I don’t care. I said get up,” Luke says. Ashton’s father walks down stairs to the kitchen to make his cup of coffee. While he leaves Ashton throws the covers off of him and begins to get ready for the day. “And get dressed. We're going to get our haircuts today,” Luke yells up the steps to Ashton.

They both get in the car and head off to the barber shop. During the car ride there is nothing but silence between the two with the sun shining through heating up the leather on their skin on this very hot summer day. Luke pulls over to a donut shop for a bottle of water and iced tea and returns to the car.

“Which one is mine?” Ashton asks.


“They both for me,” Luke responds while laughing. After they finish their trip to the barbershop Ashton goes straight to his room and closes the door.

“Why was I cursed with him as a father?” Ashton says to himself. “All he does is treat me like shit. I don’t get it. I don’t.” As Ashton continues to talk to himself, his hands begin steaming, after a while his whole body. “What is going on? Smoke? From where?” Ashton wonders. “I’m sure it’s nothing.” After he completes some homework, Ashton falls asleep.

“Hey Ash, dinner is ready,” Marley says. “Woah why are your eyes so light? “They never were before.”

“I just woke up,” Ashton replies. That happens to a lot of people. Here I come now.”

“Here’s your food. Oh my god why are your eyes so bright,” Barbara asks with an alarmed look on her face.

“Mom that happens to a lot of people when they wake up from a nap. I was pretty stressed out with the homework too and I think some of the hair from the haircut may have gotten in my eyes,” Ashton replies with a stern look on his face.

“I know you wasn’t up there crying?” Ashton dad Luke says jokingly. “yo. Don’t forget you have the chores tonight and them dishes better be cleaned right because there was shit still on them yesterday,” Luke says to Ashton without making any eye contact.

“I didn’t even have to do the dishes yesterday. Marley did,” Ashton replies with a confused look on his face.

“I don’t care who did them yesterday. I’m telling you now to make sure they cleaned. Matter a fact, hurry up and finish eating so you can start them now,” Luke responds. Now having an attitude with his father, Ashton decides to continue to eat his dinner at his own pace. “What did I just say. Hurry up and finish your food so you can do them damn dishes,” Luke says.

“Luke calm down. Let him eat his food. The chores will get done,” Barbara tries to calm Luke down as she begins to see his frustration with Ashton.

“See every time I tell the kids to do something you always have something to say about it,” Luke responds.

“I do not.” Barbara now begins to get angry with Luke. “You over there rushing him to eat so he can wash dishes. If it’s bothering you so much, why don’t you clean them? He shouldn’t have to rush and eat because you want him to do some damn chores. He can enjoy his food like the rest of us.”

“No mom he’s right. Let me stop enjoying my meal and go do  these dishes even though I didn’t dirty any of them. Excuse me,” Ashton stands up.

“That’s what your want to say out your face? You can do the chores for the rest of the week then since you want to be a smart ass,” Luke says while smiling. Trying his best to keep his anger under control and to himself so he won’t get into even more trouble, Ashton quickly walks over to the sink. Both his sister and mother go upstairs as they prepare for bed and get ready for tomorrow since the week was beginning again. Luke walks into the living room and watches tv.

“I swear I hate him so much. Who gives a fuck about these stupid ass chores,” Ashton murmurs to himself. While washing the dishes his hand begins to smoke again, causing the water to heat up rapidly. He takes his hand out and bangs it on the countertop forgetting his dad was still down stairs. *Bang!* when Ashton pounded the countertop with his fist, a burst of fire flashed from under his balled hand.

“What was that?” Ashton thinks to himself. He slowly picks his hand up to check for any burn marks.  “Fire? Why didn’t that hurt?”

“Aye!! What is all the noise in there?” Luke yells. Luke gets up and walks over to the kitchen.

“You in here crying again?”

“No,” Ashton replies, but doesn't look up at his father.

“Then why does your eyes look like that? And why is the trash still in here. That’s apart of the chores. You see its full. Take it out.”

Ashton continues washing dishes since that was what he was told to do first.

“What did I just tell you to do?” Take this fucking trash out.” Luke grabs Ashton and pushes him at the trash. “Why are you so damn hot? You sick or something?” Luke quickly pulls his hand back from Ashton after feeling his hot skin. “probably because you got this water on too high. Turn that shit down. Take that trash out.” Luke walks away and heads upstairs. Ashton remains on the floor. Palms on the ground. His eyes turn a bright yellow and his arms begin enlarging. He groans, as he tries his hardest to hold in his anger and rage towards his father.

“He’ll pay for this. This…...This humiliation. I’m supposed to be his son, but he treats me no better than this trash in front of me.” Ashton says to himself. Ashton begins taking deep breaths as he tries to calm himself down, knowing that he still has the chores to do and he needs to get to bed. “One day,” he says. “One day.”

“Ashton you’re late. You know what that means,” Ms. Greene tells Ashton.

“But it wasn’t my fault. The train was stuck at a stop for about 15 minutes. What was I supposed to do?” Ashton responds.

“Whether it’s your fault of not, that’s 2 points off of your grade. Be here on time next time so you can now turn your 69 into a 70,” Ms. Greene adds.

With all of the class eyes and attention to the conversation that Ashton and Ms. Greene were having, Ashton feels a little embarrassed considering the fact that everyone knows about his struggles in english class. He races to his seat next to his best friend Kutcher.

“Don’t worry about it man. I’ll help you if you need it.” Kutcher says as he tries to reach out to his friend.

“No. At this point I don’t really care and if I can’t do it on my own then maybe I deserve to to fail. I’ll figure it out,” Ashton says.

School is over and the boys just get off the bus and begin walking towards their homes.

“Hey Ash. Seriously, if you need anything just let me know. You know I’m always here for you. Look at me man. Is everything alright?” Kutcher tells him.

“Yea. Everything is fine and I know. Thanks. I do appreciate it.” Ashton tells Kutcher as he walks off and turns down the block to his house leaving Kutcher.

“Something isn’t right. I know it isn’t.” Kutcher begins thinking to himself. “It’s probably because of what happened in class today, but that wasn’t all that big of a deal and Ashton wouldn’t let something like that get to him so easily. Maybe its his dad. He always tells me the problems he has with him. That has to be it. I’ll wait and see how he is doing tomorrow.”

“Kutcher! Kutcher come here.” Ashton pulls Kutcher aside before they both enter school. Before Kutcher could say a word. Ashton begins speaking again. “Ok. Something weird is happening to me and I don’t know how to explain it. Yesterday, When I came in the door, of course that bastard starts yelling at me again for the dishes not being washed good enough and he claims that I did not sweep at all last night because the floor wasn’t spotless. I had enough of it. I was fed up with all of his shit so I exploded. I began cursing and yelling and I just felt so much anger building up. My dad grips me up and throws me against the wall and punches me a few times. He tells me to go to my room and not to come out. This where it gets weird. I was so angry I felt like I was getting hot. And I really was. I noticed there was smoke in the room and it was coming from me. I could see it off of my hands. Just as I became worried I overheard my dad talking about me to his friends, so I got angry again. That’s when it happened. Fire was coming off my hands. I quickly ran to the bathroom and put them under water. It was weird cause as I was doing that, my hands started hurting. They didn’t hurt when they first caught on fire, but when I put water on them it did. What should I do?” Kutcher stands there for a moment in disbelief.

“Dude. You have fucking powers man. That’s awesome. I wish I could turn into fire,” Kutcher says with excitement. “Come on, let’s talk about this in class.”

Ashton and Kutcher both approach the table where they eat their food, making sure they are away from everyone so they can discuss what has been happening to Ashton. “So can you control it?” Kutcher asks.

“Uhm I don’t think so. It just happens sometimes. I notice it only when I get angry.” Ashton replies.

“Maybe it only happens when you’re mad. Get angry so I can see.” Kutcher suggests.

“I can’t just get angry. Let me see if I can push it out. Come over here.” Ashton grabs Kutcher and takes him to a secluded area.

“Ok. Here goes. haaaaaaaaaa!” Ashton begins to yell and push as hard as he can to get the fire to erupt inside of him. Kutcher begins to laugh.

“Dude you look like you’re constipated and the shit is like right there but it won’t come out.” Kutcher begins to laugh.

“Really man? See I was trying to be serious and show you something,” Ashton begins to walk away. Kutcher continues to laugh

“Ard man calm down. You should have seen your face though. It looked so funny from my end. You looked like Goku from Dragonball Z or something,” Kutcher says while laughing.

“Wait a minute your eyes do look a little red from the….. (Kutcher pauses for a moment) oh never mind that’s just redness from when you were screaming and pushing like you had to shit.” Kutcher begins laughing again. “Come on. Let’s get your silly ass to gym class. It’s dodgeball today.”

“Alright class. I hope you are all prepared for class today because we are playing dodgeball. I’m going to split you in half and who ever is on your side is on your team,” The gym instructor splits the class in half into 2 different teams.

“Hey look who’s on the other team,” Kutcher looks in the direction of a group of teens and points. The group begins laughing at both Kutcher and Ashton. One of the girls whispers into the ear of one of the boys.

“I will. Don’t worry about that.” The boy says.

“Alright the game is about to begin let’s go. We don’t have all day,” Mr. Lou yells. “On your mark….get set….dodge those balls.”

Mr. Lou blows his whistle and the kids race to the balls. Everyone starts to run around with balls flying everywhere. Ashton and Kutcher catch a few and throw them back.

“Hey Ash! Come closer to me. Let’s work together!” Kutcher suggests.

“I got you Kutcher.” You know who I want to hit, Jason.” Ashton turns his attention to Jason and begins eyeing him down with balls flying everywhere forgetting all about Kutcher’s plan.

“Ashton, where are you going?” Kutcher loses sight of the game and gets hit in the face by Jason’s girlfriend Letisha.

“Oh that bitch. She hit Kutcher!” Ashton begins dodging balls as he shifts his attention to Letisha. He throws a ball with all his force at her. Jason, with a ball in his hand deflects Ashton’s ball and together they throw their balls towards Ashton. Direct hits as the balls hit Ashton in his face and head. Ashton falls to the ground grabbing his head. Jason, along with his friends began pelting balls at Ashton while he’s down.

“Hey hey hey! That’s enough. He’s out already.” Mr. Lou yells. “Are you alright son.”

Mr. Lou grabs Ashton’s arm as he tries to help him up.

“Yea, I’m fine.” Ashton tells Mr. Lou.

Mr. Lou quickly pulls his hand back from Ashton’s arm. Ashton picks his head up slowly as he looks up at Kutcher on the sideline. Kutcher notices Ashton’s eyes are a bright yellow.

“Holy shit,” Kutcher says to himself.

Ashton pushes Mr. Lou back to the bleachers and stands up with his arms three times the size they were before along with his body steaming. He grabs a ball and throws it at one of the friends. The ball is released with such force that it knocks the guy back a few feet. The class is stunned as everyone noticed the fire tailing from the end of the ball. Ashton grabs more and throws them all at the group. Becoming more enraged his hair catches fire and his arms begin to grow even more. The class scatters with fear. Letisha and Jason exit the gym holding hands.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Ashton says.

With his enhanced speed he runs and grabs a ball and throws it through the door catching the back of Letisha’s head. She quickly drops to the ground without moving a muscle. Jason continues to run.

“Jason, you’re next.” Ashton continues to chase Jason while laughing hysterically as he closes in on him with each step.

“Dodge this!” Ashton jumps into the air and throws the ball with all his might at Jason. The ball hits him in the back and Jason drops to the ground.

“How do you like it. I hope it hurts. It still doesn’t make up for all the pain you caused me over the years. Get up.”

Ashton grabs Jason and holds him against the wall.

“Why won’t you look at me? You never had that problem before, Jason.”

Ashton begins to chuckle. Ashton’s body begins to flame. He drops Jason and breaks a whole in the wall as he tries to escape the water from the sprinklers above.

Just as he leaves Kutcher runs up to him.

“Ashton! what the hell man. Is this what you were talking about? You can turn into fire?” Kutcher asks with a concerned look on his face.

“Yea Kutch. This is it.” Ashton’s last words to Kutcher as he blasts into a sprint leaving the ground where he once stood on fire.

Ashton is no where to be found for hours. He finally arrives home after his outburst at school.

“There he is. I was calling your phone. It’s nine o’clock. Where the fuck were you.” Luke begins to raise his voice as he stands up.

“I had a long day ok,” Ashton tries to go upstairs.

“Uhm where are you going? Bring your ass over here,” Barbara yells.

“No calm down Barbara. Don’t even get mad at him. He wants to stay out late, let him. He doesn’t live here anymore. Get your shit and get out,” Luke says.

Just as Ashton reaches for his book bag, Luke grabs it first.

“No no. This mine. I paid for this. Just leave since you want to be disrespectful and only do what you want to do.” Luke pushes Ashton towards the door.

Ashton grabs his father’s hand and pushes it back.

“Who the hell-” Just as Luke was talking, Ashton turns to his parents and bursts into flames. His hair is on fire. Even his eyes become flaming.

“I’m sick and tired of this. You think I’m disrespectful. I’ll show you disrespectful!” Ashton says.

Ashton blasts off the door and lets out a loud roar with fire coming out of his mouth. He pounds the ground repeatedly causing the porch to cave in as fire blasts from around him. He walks into street throwing fire balls at cars and the sky.  He stops and stands in the middle of the street and lets out another loud scream with a fire vortex forming around him, lighting up the night sky.

“Are you happy now dad?” Ashton shouts as he begins to laugh with an evil smirk on his face. He takes one look back at his home and sees his sister Marley standing on the sidewalk. They lock eyes and at that moment, Ashton begins to cool.

“Marley get over here!” Luke grabs his daughter and pulls her back in the house. “That’s not your brother anymore. He’s a monster.”

Ashton overhears his fathers words to his family and he begins to flame again.

“I don’t care if he’s on fire or not. He’s still my brother,” Marley says with a tear sliding down the side of her cheek.

“What kind of freak are you?” a man says as he stops at the top of the block in his car, astonished by what he sees in front of him. Ashton’s anger begins to take over his decisions as he charges at the car at full speed. He launches himself into the air and jumps down on the car, leaving nothing but blackened metal, a blackened man with fire surrounding him.

*Knock Knock*

“Ashton? Dude what is going on? We been hearing weird noises lately. Like explosions.” Kutcher says with a worried look on his face.

“I know. I did them. look.” Ashton’s hands and hair catch on fire. “I just came here to say goodbye man. I can’t stay here. Not like this”

*Police sirens*

“Back away from the house and keep your hands up!” The voice on the megaphone says.

“I’m sorry Kutcher.” Ashton takes off into the night leaving destruction in his path.

Police knock on the door of Ashton’s house.

“Ma’am, we want to do a DNA test on your son. We need to figure out what he is so we can stop whatever it is that is making him like this,” The detective says.

“Yes, of course. Here’s his mouthpiece.” Barbara hands the detective Ashton’s mouthpiece.

After a long discussion about the whereabouts and actions of Ashton the detective finally leaves.

*Barbara begins crying*

*Marley begins crying*

“My son. What has happened to my son.” Barbara drops to her knees. Marley comes to comfort her with tears running down her face.

“we’ll get him back Barb. Don’t worry,” Luke says.

*Knock knock*

“Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions pertaining to your son?” the detective asks.

“No not at all.” Barbara says.

“Ok we found that his skin cells have a yellow ember around them and are enlarged. How was your pregnancy with your son?” The detective asks.

“Luke, that explains why his eyes were always yellow. As far as my pregnancy. I did smoke with him, but so have a lot of mothers.” Barbara responds.

“Did you eat anything particular with him?”

“I did eat a lot of spicy foods. That’s what I craved with him. I couldn’t help it. We were also in Death Valley because of my husband’s job at the time and Ashton was born on the hottest day of the year.”

“Well there it is. While inside of you his body must have adapted to all of the hot temperatures he had to endure during your pregnancy. I guess as he grew, the cells became more advanced and now he turned into this. When did you guys first notice any weird changes?” The detective ask.

“Oh I know. When I told him he had to come eat that one day his eyes were yellow and the room was a little foggy.” Marley says.

“When was this Marley?” Luke asks

“Oh about 2 days ago. He seemed mad when you guys came back from getting your haircuts,” Marley adds.

“And then the loud bang when I asked him why was he crying. His eyes were yellow then too. Then he turned into fire when he came yesterday when we were yelling and screaming at each other. I think it’s triggered by his anger.” Luke comes to realization.

“So it was you who did this to my baby. You're the reason why he’s so angry?” Barbara begins to stand up.

Barbara begins yelling and screaming and starts to cry once more.

“We need to find him and get him back now!”

“We will do whatever we can to bring him back Mrs. Brown.” The detective reassures Barbara as he heads out of the door.

Barbara runs upstairs to her room and slams the door.

“Daddy, will we ever get Ashton back?” Marley asks with a concerned look on her face.

“I don’t know Marley. I do not know.” Luke says as he places his hand on Marley’s shoulder. She quickly pulls away and runs upstairs. She enters her room and slams the door. She sits at the foot of her bed staring out the window.

“Where are you Ashton? Come back,” she whispers and she closes her eyes.

La Casa Perfecta Para Keyaria

La Casa Perfecta Para Keyaria



 Nuestro cliente se llama Keyaira Doughty. Es muy guapa y amable. Su encanta el color azul, y estampado de leopardo. Tiene 18 anos. Su profesión es médico. Tiene 2 niños y un perro. Tiene un carro. Le encanta natación, cocinar, ver a la tele, ver peliculas, jugar videojuegos, escribir cuentos/libros/poesía, y ir de compras.

La casa

 La casa de Keyaira sueños es sofisticada y muy elegante.  Es mediana. Tiene 6 habitaciones y 4 baños. Quiere tres pisos, un jardín, piscina, y un “cueva de hombre.” Está cerca de la playa. Quiere una cocina grande y cuarto de jugar. Casa es muy fabuloso. Es muy colorido y atractivo. Con bonito muebles. Es perfecto para Keyaira.

1. La casa es muy colorido y único.

2. ¡Es mediana, pero perfecta para Keyaira y su familia!

3. Tiene muchas habitaciones grandes, con Keyaira’s cosas favoritas.

4. ¡Buenos muebles, muy estable!

5. El exterior es muy fabulosa, con piscina y carro.

6. Su carro es rojo y bonito.

7. Su dormitorio es muy cómodo.

8. ¡En exterior tiene pista de baile con DJ, es muy divertido!

9. ¡Muchas cosas azul, su color favorito!

10. ¡Muchas juegos para su hijos, muy divertida!

Diseñado por: Niah Lombo y Kara Heenan
Floorplanner   La Casa De Keyaria
Floorplanner   La Casa De Keyaria2
Floorplanner   La Casa De Keyarias

Man Made By Enthony Chhin

“Dear Barbie,

Being pushed out was all I ever wanted to feel. But considering the fact that I was assembled like I was a Tonka truck, I never got to feel that. Or anything at all to say the least. I do love my parents, but then again, I don’t know what love is. I never felt it. And plus they’ve been annoying the shit out of me about how the business isn’t making as much money as the used to. I hate being lifeless.  I wish I can just have a heartbeat like a normal woman. To have something for a bra to hold up. To freaking lay in the sun without worrying about my motherboard overheating or my plastic skin melting. Can I just be normal?


Yüyi “

This letter was never sent because it seemed as though Barbie didn’t care anymore. She was always with Ken in their Dream House. And it would be pretty dumb of me to send a letter to a doll. But then again, I’m not human either. I heard my mom screaming my name from down the stairs. It made my wires spark. She asked me if i wanted to eat dinner.

“Yeah, right.” My mother was asking a doll if it was hungry. Sometimes I wished I could taste all the delicious food that was laid out on the table every night. I still went down stairs to satisfy my mother. Even though I didn’t eat, she still wanted me to be there at the table. I walked down stairs, well I tried to. It was hard for me to bend my knees because my mannequin legs restricted me. They are nice though. So soft, and I don’t have to shave, which is a plus. But it wouldn’t hurt having to shave every week. I sat in the chair cushion and I completely fell off the chair because yet again I couldn’t bend my legs at a 90 degree angle for the back of my knees to hook onto the edge of my chair. My mom asked me if i was alright. I was. I couldn’t feel anything. I’m fine. My parents tried to make conversation with me. They always told me the story of how my name came about. Dad would always say, “Lady Gaga has an alter ego named “Yüyi the Mermaid. She was the most unique mermaid out of all the mermaids and so are you, my beautiful monkey” but of course he didn’t speak so fluently since he was always chugging down a 40. Then mom would add, in her ‘proper voice’, “That’s right, Yüyi and since you were made by the company, Mané, that is your last name. Oh how I was so tired of hearing that story. They would always then ask me about my personal life and my school life. I wondered why they asked me about these normal things because I was something far from normal. I’ve never step foot into a school let alone be with a boy and experience things. Everyday, they told me that i was normal and i never believed them for one second. I am a living doll. no girl in America can say that but me. They cut the pep talk and began eating. They scarfed down the food like they haven’t eaten in a while.

As humans, my parents weren’t the most typical parents. Dad was always turning the machines and inhaling the chemicals that he combined with the melted plastic as he made the mannequins and as for Mom, she was always dancing with the mannequins and wishing she looked like the motionless statutes. She knew nothing about being a mannequin or the consequences of being the perfect model of the American woman. She knew nothing about not feeling anything. They began talking on and on about the company and how it wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t want to hear the argument because I already knows how it ends. Dad is going to keep raising his voice and mom is just going to give up and she would somehow always end up on the factory floor with a bottle of whiskey next to her. Before the commotion began, I walked my ass back up stairs, so I wouldn’t have to hear it.

When I got to my room, I laid there lifelessly, like any other day. I watched the fan on my ceiling spin and spin and I thought that the ceiling fan’s life was even more exciting than mine. I began to get dizzy so I stopped and walked to the bathroom. I stared at myself for a good 15 minutes. Besides the echo of my parents screaming, my “skin” was really bothering me. It was just so perfect. A little too perfect. No pores present or even a fine line. I wished I had crow’s feet like my mother but all I have to look at is perfect skin and lacquered lips. I was tired of looking at the perfect looking back at me so I turned around and began undressing myself. I took off my shirt and pants to reveal my painted panties and my nippless boobs. Damn. No life and no nipples. I’m a nightmare. I got into the bathtub and laid there and forgot that I can’t take baths or showers because my motherboard would be ruined and i would be dead, which isn’t such a bad idea. It would be the same as being alive now. So, grabbed a washcloth from the covert and wet it a little bit. I rotated the faucet handle and scorching hot water flowed through. I literally moved my hand away from the faucet so fast, my arm dislocated from its spot and broke the mirror.

“Fuck!” I screamed. “Remember that there’s a plastic woman living in this house! Damn!” Thank God my arm flew off because it would've melted since the water was so damn hot. Thanks a lot, mom. I avoided the disaster that was going to happen and bean wiping myself down. As I got to my you know what area, the paint of my underwear started to come off. Honestly this wasn’t my day. I opened the door to tell my mom to bring the white paint from the factory up. I heard nothing. Usually Mom and Dad would still be going at it during this time. I kept calling her name so she can bring the paint up but I still didn’t get a response. Then, I heard a sudden bang that startled me to death. I put my clothes back on and ran down stairs. My parents weren’t in the kitchen. I guess they heard my request. So I went back upstairs and did my business. When I was done wiping myself down, my father knocked on my door. I opened the door to see him drenched in red paint or that’s what I thought it was.

“You’ve got to see this, Yüyi.” He said to me in a shaky tone. I told him to let me get ready first before I saw what I had to see. Considering the fact that no one brought me the damn white paint I needed, I just put my clothes on when my plastic was dried. I walked down the stairs of the factory so my father can reveal his big surprise, which was probably just a new finish to the mannequins. I saw that my mother wasn’t in the factory with him. She wasn’t upstairs or in the kitchen. Where could she have gone? I looked at the figure that was standing under the ragged cloth. It was in the silhouette of all the other mannequins but this one seemed more thicker and curvier.

“You created a curvy mannequin? Dad, they already have those.”

“its not just any old curvy mannequin.” He removed the cloth to reveal what he called his masterpiece but from what I was seeing, it was complete horror, to me. It was not red paint that cascaded down the back of his ear. It was not red paint that was scattered around the factory floor. It was definitely not red paint that was filled in the bucket next to him. I didn’t want to see what I saw, but my father’s respect told me to. My mother stood on the stand with a chester’s smile on her face. Her feet were replaced with legs that modeled mine. Her milky white skin was now shiny finished plastic. My father had made my mom into a monstrous mannequin.

I looked at her and I saw my twin, a mess. I saw someone that I hardly knew. The face was familiar but the presence was gone. I reached out to her and touched her face.

“Mom?” She didn’t respond. I wanted her to though.

“Aren’t you glad she isn’t in our hair anymore?” My dad maliciously said.

“Dad what the fuck did you do?” I asked him. I wanted to know what was going through his head when he decided to end his wife’s life.

“Well, it wasn’t easy. Your mom is a fighter. She bit me a few times, but I bashed her face against the edge of the table and she knocked out. And I knew she was dead after that. What a better way to make her into something that she always wanted to be. She still has the same heart and mind but instead of blood, she has electric current swimming in her “veins.”

“So, she’s basically like me now?”

“Exactly. She has a motherboard and everything, but she’s more human than you. Which isn’t that bad.”

“Are you fucking kidding me, Dad? Why would you ever think this is ok? This is my mother. This is your wife. You made her into a monster hybrid. That doesn't hit you in anyway?”

“Correction she was my wife and your mother. No. Not really. I mean you’re a talking doll and you think it’s normal.”

“Dad, I’m far from normal. And she isn’t even talking or even acknowledging me.” I knew he has been hitting the bottle because I could smell it everytime he gave me a dumb ass reason to why he did this.

“Oh, Yüyi, I didn’t even start her motherboard up.”

“Dad. This isn’t ok. She had a life. Flowing blood in her veins and you just took it away from her.” Dad began drinking the 40 again. He tipped the bottle upside down to get the last drop. I swiftly smacked the bottle out of his hand and watched it fall to the ground. A loud clash met the floor and shattered glass was everywhere.

Well I’m tired. It was nice talking to you and reconstructing your mother. Have a nice night.” The way my Dad acted in that very second, I wanted to punch him so bad, but he might end me too. I turned around to stare at my new mother. What did she do to deserve this. I mean she was always saying that she wanted to be like me but not like this. This was just a mistake.

“Mom? Mom? Wake up please. I just need you please. Please?” She didn’t answer me but I was hoping for the opposite. I slightly lower my head to mourn the death of my mother and a minute later, I felt a slight touch on my head. I look up and it is the doll I used to call mother. I didn’t even know what I was looking at. I was a caricature of my mother or at least what she used to be. I saw the features of her old face combined with my face and honestly, I didn’t like what I was seeing. It was something I didn’t enjoy and for once in my life, I didn’t want anyone to be like me. A hollow piece of molded plastic. I just wanted my mom back. I didn’t value her enough for her to be gone soon. She was in front of me but it wasn’t her. It wasn’t enough. I tilted my head to mourn the death of the person who created me and I felt a slight grasp on the back of my head. It was the doll I used to call mom.

“There there, Yüyi. It’s ok. I’m here.” The voice I heard was nothing like the symphony my mom used to have. It was sort of like a more robotic and computerized voice. Even though she wasn’t in the condition I wanted her to be in, at least she’s somewhat alive and  she acknowledged me so, that’s good enough for me.

“Mom! I’m so sorry for what happened.”

“Honey, it isn’t your fault. It’s mine. I should’ve never cracked wine glass on his head. I brought this upon myself.” As a robotic mannequin, she seemed like she was more human than what she looked like.

" Where is your father?" I asked her why she wanted to know. She asked the same question again. I told her what she wanted to know.

“Thank you. Now get out of my way, Yüyi. I don’t want you to see this.”

“Tell me you aren’t going to kill Dad.”

“That is exactly what I’m going to do Yüyi.” Here we go again. She started to tear up. It was something I’ve never saw her do. “Look what he did to me. I’m a monster.”

“Mom, you don’t have to be a monster. You can live your life without him. Live your life like me. It isn’t as hard as I make it seem.” My mom rolled her eyes and it made me think she wasn’t going to listen to anything I was saying.

“Since he made me a monster, I’m going to show him how monstrous I can be.”

“No, Mom, Don’t do this.” I tried to block her from the door but she lifted me up and threw me across the room. It wasn’t that hard I weighed a feather. When she threw me, I lost one of my legs. Buy the time I found it, she was already out the factory door.

I quickly ran up the steps to find out where she was. When I walked out the door, a heavy kick met my chest and I rolled down the steps.

“Don’t disobey me, Yüyi. I made you and I can take you apart just like that.” She closed the factory door and locked me in. I wanted to warn my dad before anything destructive happened. I shook the door back and forth to try and break myself out. That door was locked shut. I didn’t know how the hell I was going to get out of there. I looked over and I saw the smallest window I’ve ever seen. But I knew how i was going to go through it. I started throwing my body parts out the window and finally my torso. I was freed but not freed from the nightmare I was going to encounter inside the house.

I snuck in the house quietly but the house was far from quiet. All I heard was Dad screaming his lungs out and Mom destroying the house. It never got this out of hand. I ran up the steps. I tried running as fast as I could but I seemed that I was only as fast as a car going 12 miles per hour. I screamed from the steps to make them hesitate the war they were having, but it didn’t work. I began running a little faster but I could feel my motherboard getting a little warm but I wanted to save my dad before I went. I reach the top of the steps and I couldn’t find my parents anywhere. I heard screaming so I followed the sound of his voice to find him. It was a very distant scream. I knew he was probably in the bathroom or in the attic. I checked the bathroom first because it was the closest room to me and it will take me a while to get up the stairs to the attic. As I walked closer to the bathroom, Dad’s screaming got louder. I opened the door of the bathroom and it immediately slammed shut.

“Mom, open the door!”

“No, Yüyi. You stay out of this.”

“Mom, you’re just like me its going to be fine.”

“No, Yüyi! Just go away I don’t want you to see this.”

“Yüyi!” My dad screamed. Step away!”

“No! You guys are going to hurt each other.”

“I can’t be any more hurt than this.”

“Yüyi, step away from the door now!” I listened to my dad and I stepped away from the do and my dad threw my mom at the door so hard, she wasn’t even in the bathroom anymore. I ran to my mom as fast as my long plastic legs could and tried to protect her. I used my body as a shield but it didn’t last for that long because I somehow ended up in the bathroom. I looked over and watched my dad hoover over my mom’s body. I ran over there and jumped on him. my strength wasn’t enough to keep him down. I couldn’t even hold his arm down.

“Yüyi, I said stay out of this!” He threw me across the room once again. I struggled to pick myself up. He needed to hear what I had to say.

“Listen, you fucker!” He immediately stopped in his tracks and turned around.

“What did you say to me?” he questioned.

“You heard me. You little selfish fucker. You are the worst thing to walk this earth. You are a sad excuse of a man. Since you can’t be happy, you make the other people around you as miserable as you. And when you don’t want to listen to the truth, you take another sip of the lies that swirl in the bottle that you hold all day. You killed mom so you don’t have to listen to the truth.” He was speechless because it was the truth he didn’t want to hear. But he needed to because i knew it was going to get into his head one way only. I watched him drop my mom and watched him walk towards me with fire in his eyes. i knew it was ending and this is what I wanted. I didn’t want to watch my mom be demolished again. I’d rather go before her.

“Yeah come on.” I wanted to provoke him so he can just get me over with.

“Jo, no! Don’t do this.” my mom said with a soft voice, “Its not worth losing our daughter. Don’t do it. I’m the one who should die. Hell, I’m already dead.” Not listening to my mom, Dad grabbed my neck and held me high. I didn’t know if he was trying to suffocate me because I didn’t feel anything and I didn’t know if he knew I didn’t breathe. So I pretended to struggle and act like he was actually doing something to me while my mom grabbed the empty 40 ounce to smash against his head.

He fell to the ground immediately. I waited for a few seconds to see if he was knocked out cold. He let out a little moan which made me know that he was still alive. And then he started moving and trying to get up. I swear this man was on steroids or something. I had to get to my mom fast and try to get out of the house before my dad got up on his feet.

“Yüyi, hurry!” I ran to my mom as fast as I could. “He’s coming.”I turned around to see my dad was already at his feet and picking the tiny shards of glass from the back of his head. I tried picking my mom up but it was too late. My dad picked me up by my scrawny little legs and swung me across the room. I picked my head up to watch my mom being carried over the shoulder by my dad into the bathroom. I dropped my head to the floor because I could feel my battery overheating. i didn’t want my mom to get hurt, or what was left of my mom. I tried to crawl to the bathroom but with every grab of the rug, I heard a sizzling noise. My battery started melting my back. I was being killed from the inside out. I didn’t want this to stop me from saving her. She was all that I had left. I looked up and I heard the faucet running.

“No! Dad, don’t do it!” I screamed. I knew he heard me but I got no response back. All I could hear was the screaming of my mom telling my dad to let her go.

“Jo, let me go! I’m sorry.”

“Cynthia, this was the last straw. You brought this on yourself.”  I continued to crawl towards the bathroom and when I opened the door, my dad was hovering my mom over a pool of water. I kept telling him to stop. This was all too much at once. My battery was overheating which I thought would only happen if I was laid up in the sun. My mom’s life was on the line and my dad was a fucking drunk addict who was about to kill the only woman who ever loved him.....again.

“This the last straw,” my dad said.

He glared into my mom’s eyes and dropped her into the water.

“Dad, no!” I watched my dad’s fat fingers let go of my mom’s neck and my worst nightmare came to life. Mom began screaming for her life. Electricity sparks swam through the water as my mom pleaded for help. I crawled closer to her but I couldn’t reach her in time. Her motherboard was out. I just stared at her because I didn’t want to end my life now that she was gone.

“Dad. Look what you’ve done.” I said. I was having deja vu because I knew I already said this to him but it bears repeating. he couldn’t seem to process what he just did because he stood there blankly. His face with no emotion and his body became statuesque.

“I’m talking to you, dad. listen to me.”  He didn’t answer me. I wanted him to talk to me because he seemed stunned. I got up and walked over to him and asked him to talk to me.

“You’re just like your mother.” He finally replied.

“What are you talking about?”

“You are just like your mother. An annoying bitch.”

“Maybe I am like mom. But you aren’t going to change me. You made me like this. It’s your fault.” Dad’s eyes grew with astonishment. I knew this was officially the last straw. He grabbed me by my neck and I asked him, “What are you going to do? Drop me in the water?” He replied with a simple no. He reached his hand down my back and pulled out my life system. I was out. I was now just like my mom, like he said.

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Pulse by Betty Louis

These were her final seconds. Her last chance. All she has to do is accept it and help me out. I need her to work with me and come back. She could hear me, right? She has a pulse, she just needs to wake up.

"Mom! Mom, its me your son Mason! Please, wake up mom! I need you..."

Burying my face into the sundress she wore I cried. I cried because I prepped myself for this moment and I failed. She had been sick for a year and I knew her death would come soon. But, now I couldn't bare the thought of actually losing her. I worked so hard in fighting fate, when I should have just accepted and faced it. She was gone and not even the artificial heart and animare cells could keep her alive.

I wiped away my tears and walked over to the monitor. As usual everything looked fine and the monitor showed signs of a pulse, but she didn't move an inch.

“I guess you can’t beat death, huh mom?”

Silence was her reply. I slowly pressed the off button on the monitor and sat next to her in silence. I closed my eyes and rested my head by her arms. Memories of her rocking me to bed when I was young faded into my mind. Songs that she sang to to me with her soft whistle like voice came to mind and soon the tune hummed through my lips. Like it was happening all over again. Doing this my heart beat slowly and I regained some peace. I felt a cool rush to wind blow in from the only small window in my mother’s room, but I ignored the goosebumps that crept onto my skin and stayed comfortable in my mother’s possession. Since this would be the last time. But the suddenly I felt small faint movements within the bed. Knowing how my mind can play tricks on me I ignored it. Assuring myself that it was a figment of my imagination. But, then pokes of  dry crusty fingertips prickled along side of my arm and then my hair. I lifted my hair quickly as possible in shocked of what could be happening.

“Mom!” I shouted to her as I looked into her deep brown hazel eyes hoping she'll reply like “My baby or pudding,”

and a bright chocolate smile would appear upon her face. But all I got from her was

“Who’s Mason? And why do you keep calling me mom?”

Stunned by this reply I sat there and watched as she slowly sat up, caressing her head in her withered hands.

“She wants to see you now. She’s in room 306.”  Doctor Heath said with sorrowful and heavy eyes.

“Thanks.” I replied. I didn’t know what else I could say. Walking down the hospital halls, each step I took felt heavier to the point where I felt like I couldn’t lift my feet anymore. So I stopped, turned to my left and saw a family surrounded by an old women who appeared to be smiling at me. Her bright smile seemed to bounce off the chrome walls of her room and touched on me. I was smiling too. But once her smile had a ripple effect on me, her heartbeat had slowly left her and it was announced to all her family members as soon as she slowly closed her eyes with the monitor making that dreadful sound and that beautiful smile still on her face. Hoping none of her family members saw me staring, I quickly turned aways and began to walk again forget about the illusion of my heavy feet. Two rooms away and I heard urgent worried voices. No. One voice. It was Doctor Heath's voice and he was talking to someone I had never seen in the hospital and usually never forget a face. But he look familiar. For some reason I stopped to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“Is it true? Can it really bring back the de--” Doctor Heath said

“Shhh.. there’s cameras.” said the other guy. Then, he took Doctor Heath's arm and pulled him aside to a corner where a camera wasn’t monitoring.

“Listen, it took 3 -4 days but so far the ape has responded to the animare cells and  has a pulse. We need to do further research on how he responds to our test of fully ---” said the man before he heard my almost crushing a gum wrapper. Stupid robotic janitors must have missed a spot. Before he could move to see where I saw I made it to my mothers room. She was staring at the ceiling holding onto yellow sunflowers with a goofy smile on her face.

“Mom? What are you doing?” I chuckled,

“Oh hi my darling. I was practicing my pose for my funeral. With the flowers or without? What do you think?”

Mother always did have a way with serious situations. She liked to think of the bright side of even the worst case scenarios.

“I think that you have plenty of other important things to worry about then the pose you make when you're dead. Besides it wouldn't exactly be up to you, it would be up to the people who prepare you.” I’d always be the one to bring her back to reality.

“Not if I write it in my will,” she argued

“Oh mother,” I chuckled as I sat beside her and held her hand. “I love you.”

With her free hand against my cheek, “I love you too sweetheart,”

“Alright, how is my favorite patient doing?” interrupted Doctor Heath,

“You should know,” I replied back. Mother squeezed my hand as a hint to be nice. Doctor Heath always spoke nicely and respectfully but I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach about him. To me at least he always showed signs of being robotic. As if he had no true feelings and did what he was ‘programed’ to do.

“Well we all know. Her heart is getting weaker and bigger by the second and her body isn’t strong enough to continue on with the state that she is in. What’s even worse that we’re seeing is that the chambers are having trouble filling with blood. So what we can do now is simply hope for the best and pray.“ he said, as if he ever prayed.

Mother looked away at what he said, trying to fight back tears. His phone rang before I could insult him on his incompetence, once he saw the caller he rushed to get out and said

"I need to take this. I’ll be back with your blood test results."

While rushing out the door a piece of paper that loosely hung outside of his back pocket fell to the ground. I picked it up and opened it. While going back to the seat next to my mother and caressing her back with on hand I read what was in there paper in another. It was the researchers inquiry.

'DNA animare cells give life' under the heading was a picture of an ape. So that was what Mr. Heath and that strange man was talking about.

“Mason,” startled by this I hid the paper.

“Yes mom,”

“Can you do me favor?”

“Of course mother,”

“Take this,” she pulled out an envelope and handed it to me.


“Take it,” She said interrupting me. “One day you’ll need it. And one more thing?”

“Anything,” I looked into her eyes.

“Can you remember me and tell your kids stories about when I die?”

“Mom, you can never be forgotten and thats a promise and I’ll make sure your grand babies don’t forget about you either.” I gave her a smile

She chuckled.

“Little tiny Mason’s running around,” she said as she closed her eyes and went to sleep.

As much as I wanted to stay as close to my mother as possible I had to find out more about those cells. Since they could possible help her. Although the thought of putting random cells into my mother’s body sounded creepy and untrusting with her being in her condition I had nothing left. She was going to leave me soon and we both knew it. But with these cells she could possible could stay just a little bit longer.  I went to the basement to find the old macbook pro my father gave to my mother when they were dating. I always tried to avoid looking at this thing. It was dusty and had a couple cracks but it was the memory of my father. He liked to do things the old-fashioned way. Inside of the front screen I see sticky notes covering everything, but the mid-center. No one ever touched his laptop because well it reminded us too much about him and his death almost destroyed my mother. After he left I put it in the basement so she wouldn’t have to remember. No one ever knew his password but my mother and I. My father was old, but he was smart. His password was a series of numbers and letters. I was surprised I remembered it all. As soon as I opened it there was a typed letter on display.

‘Dear Mason,

My darling Mason. If you are reading this then you are on the right track and your father and I have taught you well. In the envelope I should have already given you, there is a key. Your father, as smart as he is has been saving up since the day I told him I was pregnant. Now darling don’t get too excited but this money is for you to continue your studies in college. The key opens a safe that is in the back on the closet where we use to put all of our old shoes. If you pick up some of those old shoes and feel your way through you’ll feel a hole. That hole is really an opening to a small door. Open it. Once you do, you’ll find the safe. In that safe there should be about 3 million dollars. I know you’ll put it to good use. You father and I raised you beautifully. Baby boy, if and when you read this I should be in the hospital because you know my condition doesn’t allow me to live long. Please don’t cry or even feel sorrow. God will build a way for you and for me. I shall meet you father once again and we’ll be watching over waiting for you to join us. Please live a long and fulfilled live and continue to make us proud my love. I know you will do and discover brilliant things just like your father. If only he could see was wonderfully you have grown into an eighteen year old man. Our little Mason, a man. I love you and I know with all my heart your father does too. Bye now my darling.’

I looked inside of the envelope and it was a key. In the key was engraved my father’s password. That probably was the hint from my mom. 3 million dollars? Why save it when she could have used it to get new organs or even better treatment? As tempted as I was to take the money and rush to the hospital so they could help I knew it’d be too late and my mother wouldn’t accept it. For her condition a heart-lung transplant for her would be almost one fourth of that sum. So I continued on with my search about the animare cells. My father use to work for NASA and I’d always be around whenever he did his research. I use to always be so fascinated about how he conducted his experiments. I started by searching anything about animare cell in different search engines. I saw many articles that popped up like the one that Doctor Heath dropped. But they all said the same thing and I needed more than what those articles covered. Then, I started reading my father’s stickies around the laptop. One that really caught my eye. “DNA cells reanimate brain?” I quickly went to the search bar of the macbook and typed in “cells”. Many different searches came up. But I chose the one that said ‘DNA Cells’. In that was a word document. In that document seemed to be a journal in which my father wrote all of his thoughts down about what he knew about cells reanimating the brain. It would be a serum filled with micro highly advanced brain cells, blood cells and organisms that stimulates the human brain and heart. It turns out my father was the one trying to create this new technology, but because he died he was unable to finish it. But, who did? My father only had only one partner in NASA that he actually trusted. Rubert. Rubert was his high school buddy that my father entered into NASA with. My father always thought it to be  blessing that they both go in. I call it a conspiracy. I could have sworn I saw Rupert trying to make a move on my mother and since that day I never trusted the man. He could have been the one to take credit for my dad’s work and have tried to finish the process my dad started. I’d believe it and I’d find a way to make hims pay for it too. No wonder Rupert came by the house asking for my father’s laptop. It’s a good thing I lied about not having it. There was another sticky note that said “DNA cells prt 2…” I searched it up and found another file but this one happened to be cut off. The basement was my dad’s own personal laboratory. According to the journal he had created his own serum and wanted to try it on a dead animal out on the street before trashbots got to it. I guess he never got the chance. It says that he placed the serum in the mini fridge to preserve it. There was two.

The next day mother wanted to be let got from the hospitals care. She knew that she wouldn’t survive so she wanted to spend her last days home. I didn’t mind. I told her everything that I found and my plans. I still didn’t get the chance to look at the 3 million dollars, but she knew I’d find it and find out about father’s old plans. She too went snooping around his laptop. Though she didn’t want me to try it on her.  I tried to respect her decisions but she didn’t try to respect or understand how much I needed her by my side. She was all I had left, yet she still believed I could make it without her. I couldn't see that happening so I continued on with my research. Every since I got a job mother made me a bank account to manage my own money in my own way. That afternoon I took 1.5 million dollars from the safe and put it into my bank account. Then I spent the rest of the day with her. I cooked for her, laughed with her, and watched movies with her, lying that I finished all my work in school just so I could spend her last moments with me. Together. Just like how it use to be. That night when she went to sleep coughing I tucked her into bed and gave her a kiss goodnight. Then, I went online to amazone in search of the perfect artificial heart and surgobot to perform on mother. WIth the right amount of in the year 2043 you can find just about anything. Once I found right functioning heart with mother’s blood type, a 4 starred surgobot, and asked for express shipping the total cost rounded up to about 1.5 million. This is my mother’s life on the line here. I pressed accept without a doubt in my mind. I went to bed and looked at the article that I saw come out of Dr. Heath’s pocket. I’ve read the article a million times now at school, but for some reason I wanted to read it again.

The next morning mother grew even more ill. Each time she continued to cough blood would usually be the product of it. Whenever I tried to call an ambulance for her she’d just stop me and say “No. Just hold me hand.” And so I did. But I couldn’t bare to see her in this condition. I want to remember her as they way we were yesterday. Beautiful and happy. Now she is weak and exhausted. I closed my eyes and prayed for God to find another way for her. But it didn’t seemed to be working. She just just kept coughing out blood. When she finally stopped she looked me in my eyes and said

“You always did look just like your father. My darling, remember that I love you,”

My first tears in all of this began to fall from my eyes because I knew these would be her final moments alive. Thought my plan could work it there was still that chance that it wouldn’t and it crushed my soul to lose her.

“I love you too mamma,”

“Forever and ever?” she said hoarsely

“Forever and ever,” I replied

Then she closed eyes to what seemed like she fell asleep, but she lost her grasp in my hand. I knew she was gone.  I sat there in silence and a minute later the doorbell rang. I went downstair from her room to get it and saw it was a man with a clipboard, a high definition robot holding a large package.

“Are you Mason Smith?” he said looking up from the clipboard.

“Yes,” I said.

“Sign here,” he said as he handed me the clipboard to sign. I signed it and handed it back to him.

“Here is the manual for the surgobot. He is already programed as you asked and ready to perform. That is the organ,”

“Thanks,” I told him.

“Here’s the number of the seller if you need any help. You have a good day sir,” he said as he walked away.

“Alright. Let’s get to work surgobot,”

“Surgobot 5000 is ready to go,”

“Surgobot carefully take the box all the way upstairs and then go to the first room to your right. Wait for me there,”

Then surgobot proceeded up the stairs. I ran straight to the basement and took one of the serum. My father wrote that too much could possible cause brain damage. I went back upstairs to my mother’s room and found surgobot standing there, waiting.


“Yes master,” it responded

“Please. Do as you were programed to my mother,” breathlessly I pointed to my mother’s dead body and surgobot got to work. I watched it all. I sat down and watched as surgobot 5000 opened up his chest and display of all different types of surgery utensils came out on a tray and took some things from the package and hooked my mother to a monitor. I watched as surgobot cut open my mother’s chest, took out her weak and enlarged heart, put back in the heart I bought, and sew her back up. All the while, all I thought about was my father. I thought about what was he planning to do with this serum. Did he already know about mom’s condition before she even did? Why did he pursue to do such a thing? Maybe , it was because we worked in NASA and he mind just wondered to those things. Maybe he just wanted to discover or create something new. Maybe he knew something. I was wondered and could never figured out what was would go on in my father’s mind, but my mother could. It was like she was a psychic. Which is probably why he loved her so much. Mother understood father like no other. Mother understood me also. I wonder if she knew what I’d be doing. Oh God, please let this work. I can’t loose all I have, not now when I need it the most.

“Master?” surgobot said interrupting my thoughts.

“Yes,” I replied. Within 5 hours of constant nail biting and piercing thoughts rattling in and out of my head surgobot 5000 was finished.

“I am finished what I was programed to do. Is there anything else you would like me to do master?”

“No. Thank you surgobot,”

“Have I done a good job?”

“Yes, you may now go to sleep if you please.”

“Thank you master,”

Surgobot found a corner and put himself to sleep. The monitor now had a beating sound which meant a pulse, but she needed more than just that. she needed the serum. I opened up the top and poured the serum into her mouth and watched as it went down her mouth. Then, I sat down beside her and waited.

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La Casa Perfecta Para Isabella

Screenshot 2014-06-06 at 9.48.51 AM
Screenshot 2014-06-06 at 9.49.16 AM

Nuestra clienta, Isabella D’Angelo, tiene quince años. Su apodo es, Sabelle. Es muy alta, guapa y extraordinaria. Ella es muy atlética. Sabelle practica remo, todos los días. Le gusta Starbucks café, así como Qdoba y Hip City Veg. Comida es muy importante para Sabella. Ella tiene un gato, su nombre es Ninny. Prefiere la casa moderna, enorme y en la ciudad. Una cita de Sabelle, “URBAN OUTFITTERS LIKE YAS SEPHORA LIKE YAS.” Ella quiere su hermano, Carmelo y sus gatos. Quiere cuatro baños y seis habitaciones. Le gusta ver la tele, ver películas, hacer arte y ir de compras. Su colores favoritos, son blanco, gris y negro.

¡Está casa es perfecta! La casa es muy grande y tiene mucho espacioso. Está casa es situada en la ciudad de Nueva York.

La casa tiene un solo piso y con un gran jardín. Puedes vivir cerca de la ciudad con está casa! Está cerca de muchos restaurantes, tiendas y parques. También hay un centro de tenis. Un río está también cerca de la casa. La casa está cerca de Urban Outfitters. La casa no está lejos desde cualquier cosa. Está en el centro!

La casa tiene seis dormitorios. Son todos muy espaciosos. Tiene tres cuartos de baño. Además, hay un bonita cocina y la sala de estar. Hay una película habitación en está casa. También hay un espacio de oficina. En general, está casa es increíble y le encantará!

¡La moderna casa es perfectamente situado cerca de lindo Parque Central! Es un elegante color blanco y cubierto en enorme ventanas, con vistas de Parque Central. La casa no tiene uno, pero dos pisos. La grandísima cocina es ideal para personas quién quiere mucho cocinar y comer! El dormitorio principal es bastante lujoso. Es cómodo y moderna! Cada increíble dormitorio tiene alta techo. Los baños tienen ducha de lujo y vasto espejos, perfecta para aplicando detallado maquillaje de Sephora. El jardín de la azotea tiene muy verde hierba! Además, hay una nueva, una especial, y azul claro piscina en el techo!

(Numbered in order from left to right: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.)

1. La casa

2. La sala y el comedor, hay dos pisos

3. El dormitorio principal

4. El dormitorio #2

5. El baño #1

6. El baño #2

7. El jardín de la azotea

8. El dormitorio #3

Diseñado por: Grande Elsa y Pequeña Rifah Corredor de bienes raíces.

Contactar Rifah Islam:

Contactar Ella Donesky:

¡Gracias usted puedes contactar!

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The Lost Sister

Deep in the expanse sparkling sea, lives a drop-dead gorgeous mermaid, Maria. Some might call her a sea goddess. Traveling through the sea one day, Maria came across a strange and beautiful creature.

“What is this beautiful creature?” she asked herself.  

“Uhh...hi...please don’t hurt me.” the creature said, looking indirectly at her.

“It talks!” Maria was surprised by this creature “Hi there! What are you? I’m Maria, the most beautiful mermaid!”

The frightened creature looked back and forth as if there is some kind of suspicion. “Don’t be scared, little one. I’m not harmful.” Maria said calmly. Maria carried the creature up into the palm of her hands and said “I’m here to help. I’m the good mermaid.” Maria looked closely “Wow, you’re a cyclops with antennas and very small ears! ”

The cyclops was scared to be touched and fear overcame him. As the cyclops was in Maria’s palm, the cyclops rolled on his back with his face towards Maria. They made eye contact for the first time and the cyclops never knew it was a stunningly beautiful and good mermaid.

“Wow! You’re different. You’re stunning!” the cyclops said.

“Hi there! I’m Maria...again. What do I call you?”

The cyclops felt comforted knowing there was someone to accompany him. He felt safe. “You can call me Plathro, Maria!” The sunlight was dimming and the dark moonlight overcame the horizon of the sea.

Together, they both swam and explored the bottom of the clear sea. “Look at all these fish, Maria. There’s so many groups of them.” Soon, they could see something gloomy and cloudy approaching towards the frightened mermaid and cyclops. It was darker than the night.

”What is that? It’s getting closer and closer to us. Look, ” the cyclops said. “I have seen a lot of weird stuff on my planet, but this is something surreal, for sure!”

Maria was astonished and anxious to see what could lie in front of her. As the mysterious object came closer, Plathro quickly grabbed Maria away from the mysterious object.

“Maria, it’s the Meranias! Get away!” Plathro said.

“A what?”

“Meranias. They are a group of wicked mermaids who seeks brains for them to form a one big Merania, called a Megarania. They’re vicious. Watch out!”

Together, they swam through across the sea looking for coral reefs to hide under. “Hey look! We can get in there. Come on!” Maria said. Maria was thankful that the Merania didn’t chase them, but she wondered why.

“Whew! That was close. How come the Meranias didn’t chase us? I thought they saw us.”

“Meranias can only see at a distance when their eyes glow red, meaning they are getting ready to take your brains out,” Plathro said, “The Meranias that we just saw were nothing like the one I saw before. They have grown from a medicine called Yortamite, created by humans that makes them five times stronger.”

Many questions arose for Maria as she listened to Plathro.

“How did the Meranias retrieve the medicine?” Maria said.

“Ahem. It is a funny story actually. A group of doctors were fishing on this sea and one doctor thought he caught fish, but it was one of the Meranias. The doctor was pulled down into the sea and got his brains taken out by the Meranias. Other doctors on the ship were unaware that the doctor was kidnapped by the Meranias. It all happened silently.”

“Wow, thats crazy!”

“Yes, very. Then the Merania took out his brain and used it for their own benefits in making a Yortamite medicine to make them stronger. They used the information and knowledge of the doctor’s brain to make the Yortamite. Meranias.... just be a lookout for them at night. They have changed.”

That night, they slept and comforted each other inside the coral reef looking out for each other. It was only the beginning of their journey.

It was finally morning, after the adventurous night.

“I haven’t even asked you this, but why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be in space on some planet?” Maria said.

Plathro laughed through  his miniature ears.

"Why yes! I am suppose to be there, but some rocks kept on hitting my planets. I came to the only planet that has water because I was thirsty and here I am! All thanks to my newly built spaceship control, where flying is always at ease. My spaceship equipped laser gun helped me so much by shooting out the rocks that were in the way. Thank the lord for that!”

Maria couldn’t resist his personality and laughs non-stop.

“Oh, wow! You’re a funny alien, Plathro. I’m glad that I met you. If you’re wondering, I’m here searching for my lost sister. She’s a mermaid, like me.”

Plathro thought for a second and looked at Maria.

“Hmm. How was your sister lost at sea?”

“My parents are human and they had two marbles. I was a marble and my sister was a marble. The marbles separated when my parents threw them into the sea. They wanted me to search for my sister. My parents claimed it was some kind of ritual that good thing would happen to my sister and I, if I found her in sea.”

Plathro had a blank and grossed out face.

“That is some weird ass ritual! That’s the first time I heard that.” Plathro said. “Yeah, well that’s my story. I’m on a journey to find her. Would you like to join me, Plathro?”

“Yes! Now, let’s get this mission on!”

They set out to search the sea together looking for Maria’s sister. It was midday and all the fish were swimming around the beautiful sea. Sharks, catfish, clown fish, and even stingrays all joined together with Maria and Plathro. It was an environment where anything can happen, fish eating another fish, sharks eating other sharks. “Wow, look at that clown fish stalking another clown fish!” said Plathro. Maria laughs as that got her attention underneath her. Out of the blue, Maria saw a beautiful mermaid a cuddled up in seaweed. “She’s probably cold.” Maria thought to herself.. Plathro behind Maria’s draft as she went straight to the seaweed, cuddled mermaid. “Be careful, Maria.” Plathro warned her. “Meranias are pretty sneaky and cunning and their powers are impressive” Maria got to the mysterious mermaid.

“She’s beautiful! Look at her sparkling scales! Amazing!” Maria said.

“Oh my, yes. She is beautiful. Hey, how you doing you beautiful creature?”

Maria ignored Plathro’s flirtatious comment and went on untangling the mysterious mermaid from the seaweed. Both, Maria and Plathro, carried the mysterious mermaid back down to the coral reef, allowing her to rest.

“She was gentle for first impression. She’s not growling, her crystal eyes seems normal. Maybe she is Maria’s sister after all.” Plathro thought to himself.

He kept quiet and didn’t want to lose Maria’s hope for finding her sister.

“Look at her. Beautiful as you, she could be your sister.”

“Thank you, little one...,” the mermaid said, “I see that you all are in shock. I am Elizabeth the Second. Nice to meet you.”

Plathro stood still and amaze of how soft and beautiful her voice is.

“It’s uhh...very nice to-to-to meet you too...” Plathro said.

“Where are you from, Elizabeth?” Maria said.

Elizabeth looked straight ahead for a while and moments later she said “I am from here. I was born here. How about you? What’s your name?”

Maria wonders why she didn’t answer her right away.

“I am Maria and I am from here as well. I was born artificially from a marble that my human parents threw into the ocean. My sister and I were the only marbles that ever grew into a mermaid. We were the special ones. My sister is lost and it’s my goal to find her.”

“Maybe I can help you look for your lost sister, Maria. As a matter of fact it’ll be my honor,” Elizabeth said, “And you only have one eye. It must be hard to search for Maria’s sister with one eye.”

Plathro felt offended and humiliated.

“Yes. I know. I’m a cyclops. If I have two eyes, you would be in trouble.”

Elizabeth ignored him.


As the day went on, they continued to roam the sea together. In the middle of roaming the sea, Plathro asked himself how Maria would know if a random mermaid is her sister or not and why didn’t she confront Elizabeth if she is Maria’s sister or not. Maria saw that Plathro was not being himself.

“Hey buddy, you alright?”

Plathro sees the careness that Maria showed towards him.

“Yes, I’m fine. But how do you know if a random ass mermaid is your sister or not?”

“That’s a good question. See this circular bump under my chest? When me and a mermaid make our tails touch each other and this bump and her bump glows up, that mermaid is my sister.” Maria replied.

“That’s amazing. So you can never mistake anyone with your sister. That’s awesome!”

“It sure is!”

As the hours get farther into the night, Elizabeth went out on her on path and forgets about Plathro and Maria. Elizabeth swims towards a group of creatures that can only look so disgusting from many different angles. Their glowing eyes can be seen for miles in the sea.

“She is found. What is that we must do now?” Elizabeth said.

The creatures all looked at Elizabeth.

“You must now find a way to get her brains out, before she figure out that her sister is a Merania. We will die from her crystal tears if it comes in contact with us.” said Suranian, the leader of the Meranias.

The Meranias, including Suranian, all looked at the incomplete formation of the Megarania.

“We will serve you well, Megarania.  We’ll get you your brains...eventually...”

Maria and Plathro came to a realization that Elizabeth was missing.

“Where’s my beautiful Elizabeth, I mean Elizabeth?” Plathro said.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her ever since I came over and talked to you.”

Out of nowhere, Maria sees something miles away that appears very odd to her. She figures out that it is nighttime and the only thing that she could thought of at night are Meranias.

“Is that...a Merania?” Maria asked.

Plathro hears Maria and froze. He was speechless only until when the hidden object came closer to them.

“Wait a second, that’s Elizabeth. I recognized her beauty and feminine scent.” Plathro said.

Maria looked at him strangely.

“You know you’re underwater, right? There is no scent.”

“Yes but I can sense it from my underwater antenna. Duh!”

The object appears larger and larger to them.

“Swim!” they both said.

“Don’t swim away! It’s me, Elizabeth!” Elizabeth said while still panting for breath, trying to catch up to them.

Maria and Plathro felt a sigh of relief from the surprise appearance.

“Where the hell were you?” Maria asked.

“I was just lost in sea. Good thing I found you guys though.” Elizabeth replied.

Plathro sense that Elizabeth is up to something. His brain is tingling under his hardish cartilage.

“I feel a tingling in my brain, Maria. Something’s not good.” Plathro said to Maria.

Elizabeth felt shakened and shivers got to her spine all the way down to her fin. “What is it, Elizabeth?” Millions of thoughts and reactions came to Elizabeth but she is afraid. She had no response but to flee the scene, roaming the sea. “Elizabeth! Elizabeth!” Maria shouted. Nothing was heard and seen except the shadow of Elizabeth swimming away into the night sea.

Moments later, there was still silence from Elizabeth. No sign of her. Silence. Neutral. “So are we still on a journey, Maria?” Plathro said. “Yes. My sister is still at lost. I will have to come in contact with mermaids for this bump to glow up.” Nighttime was much longer for them now as they wonder what Elizabeth is. “Come on, Maria. Let’s go get your sister!” They both swam together just like how they first met.  

The night lit sky is about to diminish and sunrise is beginning to shine through the clear, blue sea. The night left them wondering into different parts of the sea as they exerted all their energy swimming frantically.

“Man, I’m tired. Aren’t you tired?” Maria asked.

Plathro still trying to keep his head and staying awake.

“Hell yeah. Been up looking out for Meranias ain’t fun. Plus, we increased our chances of encountering them because we been all over the sea last night. Good thing we didn’t swam into them.”

Maria took a sigh of relief and guided Plathro to a beautiful resting place. “Come on, Plathro. Let’s take a rest over there. It’s much more calming and soothing.” Maria guided him and took him over to the clamshell, where they can just relax and rest for their adventurous night.

“Do you mind sharing your clamshell with us, little creature? We just need a place to rest and this is the most comforting shell that we can find.” Maria said. The little creature was more than happy to share some space for Plathro and Maria. “Sure! Here you are, guys! Come, sit down.” the little creature said.

The clamshell was so comfortable that they slept there for the entire day, forgetting about the consideration of the little creature. All their stress and tiredness all dissolve as the slept the day away. They both woke up that evening confused. Plathro grunted as his tries to get up from the clamshell. He stretched out his antennas, arms, eye, and his two short legs. Just when his eye is stretched out, he noticed something odd.

“Woah, why is it so dark in here? Hello?” Plathro said.

Maria was woken up by the high-pitched voice and is confused just as Plathro is.

“We are still in a clamshell, aren't we, Plathro?”

Platero took a moment to feel the surroundings him and felt something slimy.

“Yep. We still in the clamshell. It got shut.”

“Ugh! It’s too tightly closed. I can’t open it,” Maria said, “what in the world was that? Does this thing have feet?”

A sudden tilt of the clam left Maria and Plathro unbalanced. The clam rocked back and forth, causing Maria and Plathro to fall side to side. “It finally stopped now. What in the world was- AHHHHHH” Plathro yelled. There was a sudden jolt of the clamshell and unpredictably, the clam was opened by a Merania. Maria grabbed Plathro and swam to the back of the clam trying to hide from the Merania. Maria recognized someone very familiar. “Elizabeth? Thank you for helping us out the clamshell.” Maria said excitedly. Maria and Plathro both grasp as they saw something very unusual and shocking. “What the? Swim, Maria! Swim away!” Plathro said.

Just as the moment that Maria that she was saved, Elizabeth transformed from a beautiful and innocent mermaid to a vicious and ugly Merania. “Roar!” Elizabeth screeched. Maria and Plathro flees the area and they could still hear the distant screeching from Elizabeth. “There’s more!” Plathro said as he looked behind, hoping to lose sight of them. Plathro stopped and sent out mixed signals from his antennas towards the Meranias, hoping they would lost track of where they are going. “What are you doing, Plathro! We must swim and keep on swimming....far!” Maria said. Plathro continued swimming away with Maria. “Maria...why is your bump under your chest flickering? It’s trying to glow. your sister nearby?”

Maria thought of this was almost impossible because in order for it to glow, both Maria and the other mermaid has to make contact. Maria was surprised by the flickering bump. “Plathro...I need you to stay by my side. I am going to to swim around here to see if my bump will glow brighter. Look out for the Meranias.” Maria said.

Maria swam side by side with Plathro in different directions, hoping to get a stronger signal for her bump to glow up bright. “Come on, Plathro. We can complete our journey together. We’re really close to finding my sister!” Maria said. Plathro felt confident and proud of Maria’s perseverance. She never loses hope. Plathro thought to himself as to why he never has a family. No siblings, mother, or father.

“Straight ahead, Plathro.” Maria said.


“It stopped glowing... Did we went too far?”

Plathro sees this and continues to have hope for Maria.

“Probably. Let’s go back and we’ll get a signal. Let’s go back to where your bump was flickering.” Plathro said.

They both went back to the original place, where it first started to glow. This time was different. “Plathro, it’s not glowing anymore.” Maria said. They were too focused on finding Maria’s sister that they had lost thoughts about the Meranias coming towards them. Plathro still wonders about his family. They both stopped swimming and thought about where to swim next.

“Wait! Maria! It’s glowing again. Flickering still.” Plathro said.

“Yes! That means my sister is probably swimming near us. Maybe we should just stay still...right here. We probably have been swimming around too much causing us to get further to my sister.”

They both set still, looking around for any signs of Maria’s sister.

Out in a distance, they saw some object swimming closer to them in the sea. More and more was coming towards them.

“Umm..Maria.. I think we should go. It’s not safe here anymore. They’re coming.” Plathro said. Maria frowned and looks down at her flickering bump. “No. I am staying here. My bump is flickering less and less. I am staying here.” Plathro looked towards the Meranias coming towards them. “Maria, they’re getting closer and closer to us. It’s only for our own safety.” Plathro still advising her to go. “Maria! Behind you!” Plathro shouted out to the top of his miniature lungs. “Ahhhhh!” Maria, in pain as she was struck from behind by a Merania. “Maria! Swim away!.” Plathro shouted. Plathro tries sending out mixed signals from his antennas. It was too late. They were already too close. There was no point. A Merania sees Plathro doing some sort of alien cult, attacked Plathro. Plathro tried to gain back his conscious and swim towards Maria. Plathro saw a Merania coming towards Maria. They both race towards her, like the angel and the devil. “Maria! I’m coming!” Plathro said, trying to gain back his conscious. The Merania came first and gripped Maria by the neck. Plathro stopped and watched Maria suffers in pain. “Maria....” Plathro said softly, almost in silent. Plathro looked at the bump under Maria’s chest. Tears dripping down his alien scale face. “How?”

Maria still grasping for the sake of her life. She was in tears. “Look....” Maria said softly, pointing down at the Merania’s chest, still trying to escape the grips of the Merania’s hands around her neck. The Merania looked down to her chest, then at Maria’s. Her grip loosens. Maria’s tears mixed in with the sea water. Other Meranias suffocating, like a virus trying to escape from the body. Plathro watched the many beautiful mermaids in awe. More and more mermaids swam around Maria. Once Maria’s sister got back to her normal state. They both came together and tears of joy from both of the mermaids were strong enough to kill Suranian. The crystal, clear blue sea, full of mermaids. “It’s over, Mary. I’m here now. You’re here.” Maria said gracefully.  Maria’s sister was blessed to find her lost sister. “Your tears...your’s you.” Mary said while touching her face, smoothing out her cheeks from the tears.

“Oh I want you to meet somebody. He’s the one who has been helping me find you on this journey and of course running away from you guys...,” Maria said, “the Meranias.” Maria continued in a whisper in Maria’s ear. Plathro still there crying in tears of how joyful the reunion is. They both head over towards the crying alien. “Maria, this is Plathro.” Plathro was surprised at how beautiful Mary is. “Wow. You are guys are beautiful.” There lies a tale of a happy alien and two beautiful mermaids sister living in a vicious free world, the seaworld.

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Living in Kepler but wanting Earth

It was 8 o clock. I should have asleep by now. Instead I chose to stay up and stare at my ceiling. I saw the shiny stickers of planets, dad put them on my ceiling to encourage my imagination. He said they are a part of something that is called the Milky Way Galaxy. It is probably very far from where we live since I had never heard of a place with that name in Kepler.

From a very young age, I remember my mom reading me stories about a place called Earth. She would say that Kepler is very different from Earth.

“Alec, did you know that Kepler is much closer to the sun than Earth and that it would take 20 years to go from Earth to Kepler.”

“No, mom I don’t know. I’ve never there remember, just heard about it from you.”

My father had never been to Earth either, since he grew up in Kepler.

I could hear my mom coming inside from the backyard.

“Alec?” I heard my mom call with a questioning voice from downstairs.

“He should be asleep by now.” My father replied, as he watched cosmos with my older brother, Ethan.

“Are you asleep yet?”

I did not reply. I just stayed quiet so she wouldn’t have to come upstairs to check.

“Alec?” She called again as her gentle footsteps came up the stairs.

I quickly covered myself with my blanket and pretended to be asleep as she began to open my door. I could feel her eyes staring at me from the foot of the door and knowing that I was not asleep.

“I know you are not asleep. You can’t fool me this time.”

I stayed still and didn't reply.

“Okay, fine if you're really asleep then I guess I will go back downstairs.” She closed the door.

I didn’t hear anything so I decided to come out from under my sheet. To my surprise, she was standing right next to my bed with her arms crossed. My mother had the face expression of a smile and smark combined together.

“So, I see, you’re not asleep. Alec, your five, you should be asleep by now.”

I started laughing because I knew my plan of staying up would not work anymore.

“I was thinking about when you told me the stories about Earth and all the cool things that happened out there.”

“Ah, yes the stories I told you many times about Earth. I’m guessing you want to hear another one”

I gave her a big smile and moved over so she could sit on my bed.

“Anything specific?” She asked.

I looked at the sticker of Earth on my ceiling. “Mom I know you grew up on Earth and that it must have been very fascinating for you. But you never told me why you came to Kepler or how you are connected to it. I do not know, you have always told me these stories so I kind of want to just see it for myself and know everything about it.”

“Well, then I guess its time to reintroduce your grandfather in to our lives.”

I listened carefully as my mother started to tell the story. I had a feeling that I would soon end up falling asleep, since I tend to do that when I hear stories like this.

My mother looked out my window into the dark night sky and began her story. “Your grandfather, was someone that studied the formation of things around Earth. He had always wanted to go to other planets, which was why he decided to looking into time machines or machines that could teleport you from one place to another. He would take me along to work and I would get to see the amazing picture of other planets like Earth or similar to it. I was never the child who was so well behaved like you. I would mess around my dads lab and find cool things to interact with. That curiosity of mine was good but it also got me into a big trouble. One day, I was walking around your grandfather’s lab when this beam of shiny light began to hit me in to the face. I looked around and saw that it was coming from a door that was slightly open. The perfect amount of sunlight was shining through it. I walked in and saw that there were these big machines. And then there was this one that looked a lot like a hamster ball with a chair inside. Remember I told you about hamsters and their toys”

She looked at me and I nodded in agreement. She continued.

“I looked around and saw a picture of outer space. On the image, something that looked like Earth was circled, labeled Kepler and its coordinates were written besides it. I didn’t know what to do so I decided to come back the next day to check it out. The next day, I left my dad a note saying that I had found out about Kepler and wanted to learn more. I went to the same room and inspected the machines a little more. I looked at the hamster thing really closely and then ended up walking in. As soon as I did I noticed everything turn on, I didn’t know or think that it was that touch sensitive. Inside, it had a huge keyboard and big screens. There were numbers on the screen, numbers that matched the numbers of Kepler's coordinate. There was also a chair, so I went and sat on it. I was startled when I heard a little voice greeting me with the words ‘greetings master’. I was  so frightened that my arm mistakenly hit a button. I had no clue what that button was for but then the machine started to move so I kind of figured that I activated something. Looking through its visible screen, I could see it was getting loose from the joints that it was originally tied to. I closed my eyes because I got scared and next thing I knew, I did not know if I was still on Earth or not.”

“So that must have been the first time you arrived to Kepler?” I asked curiously.

My mother was quick to respond. “Yes, at the time I did not know it was Kepler. I had thought maybe I just changed the screen of the machine but when I stepped outside I knew I was not on Earth. At first, I did not see any signs of living creatures or see anything that looked similar to my daily life on Earth. The place seemed to lack in water so I was getting very dehydrated. As days went by I become more weak. I ended up fainting one day. I woke up as I felt the touch of a wet substance on my lips. I opened my eyes and saw a floating leave that carried red liquid. I drank it and supposed that was their water. Around the leave was a shimmering figure that was very difficult to see. I looked closely and saw that shimmery figure had a face that looked a lot like the face of a male human. As years went by I became really close to him, although I could not see him completely, I liked the fact of having him near.”

I was began to get sleep but I still wanted to know more “How did grandpa feel? Did you know?” I asked.

My mothers face lost a little of its shine. “I never really found out how my father felt after I left. By now he had probably read the letter and is very upset with my actions. Who knows.”

My mother glanced over to the clock to see and the time, I glanced over after her and then looked back at her to smile about how late it had been.

“Mom, it’s about two hours past my bed time.”

“Yes, I know. This is what happens when you get me into story telling. Anyways, go to sleep and I’ll see you in the morning.”

My mom slowly walked out the room and closed the door behind her.

Five Years Ago On Earth:

For the past few years Alec’s grandfather had been working on a new plan that would allow him to send out a message to other plants, and hopefully he will get a message in return. The first planet on his list was Kepler since his daughter had gone there five years ago. He never thought his creation would lead his family into harm. He wished everyday for his daughter to be safe. He didn’t collaborated with anyone or told anyone, he did not want this message to get into the wrong hands.

It was the year 1995 on Earth. The grandfather knew it was time for him to finally sent out the message, to finds his missing daughter. He went to a lab that was in his basement, since that’s where he worked on his project so that it would remain hidden. The message is somewhat like a signal or sound wave that continuously echos and repeats the same thing. The message is “We are from Earth and we are looking to interact with other living creatures.

Fifteen years later on Kepler:

I was peacefully sleeping when I suddenly felt the touch of water on my forehead.  I quickly move from under the aim of the water. I saw that it was my younger sister trying to pour water all over me as I layed on my bed.

She looked at me with a huge smile on her face. “Wake up, Alec. Wake up. You are going to be late for your first day at the Laboratory.” She hopped on my bed and started jumping.

I smiled at her and said “You know that is so not true. With my speed I can never be late.” I got out of bed and walked into my dark bathroom. There I stared at myself, to see myself more clearly. All I saw was a shimmering figure I didn’t look like my mother or sister. They both seemed to be solid as I seemed to be in liquid form.

“ALEC!! Hurry up!” My mother yelled from downstair. “I don’t like rushing you everytime. Hurry...” Before she could get to her last word I was already standing in front of her, all ready to go.

“I love you, mom. See you, when I get home.” I said as I sped past her.

Once I got to the lab, I went to do some research about a messages being sent from one planet to another. My mom was recently telling me about a message being sent to outer space from a planet. She, herself, did some research to find out about how life may be on Earth and found out that my grandfather was the one that actually sent out the message, in search for her. I did some research and found out that a message or something to come to Kepler from Earth would take about 20 years.

The day went by pretty quick which was good because I went home right after. My mother was no where to be seen so I had to do a whole house search. I later found her in the basement near a Journal and a box. My mother looked up from the journal as I got closer.

“Oh, hey, I did not even hear or see you come in.” My mother said.

I nodded and looked every curiously at what she was doing. She was trying to cover up the journal because she saw me glancing over it.

“What’s that?” I asked as I placed my hand out to grab the book but instead she moved my hand and the book way. “Is it really that personal that I cannot know?” I went to grab a chair as my mother began to ponder the thought.

“Well, then I guess I could tell you since you are going to annoy me about it later on. In the journal are daily progress notes of my life on Kepler, everything that happens or has happened is written down in this book and my other journals. In the box is the key to where the machine is. I haven’t opened the box or even touched the key in ages. I wanted to come down now and look at it because I remember the conversation me and you had a few years ago about the machine that brought me here. I guess that you didn’t know that is was under our basement this whole time.”

I was shocked to hear that the machine had been in the basement this whole time and she was just now telling me, when I wanted to know everything about Earth and her childhood that night when I asked. She saw that I was upset about not knowing about this earlier. She tried to explain.

“I didn’t tell you this before or when you were younger, obviously because you were younger. I wanted to wait till you were older and till I found out about the message that was sent to outer space from Earth.”

“Mom, I would have really appreciate it if you told me earlier. I guess that dad already knew about this.”

“Well, yeah, he is your dad.”

I did not want to tell my mother that I was planing to use it and so I could go to Earth myself. My mother didn’t show me the machine so I decided to come back later to check it out.

It was ten o clock. By now everyone was already asleep. I could easily get away with things. I walked to the basement and got the key from the box and went to look around. I didn’t know what I was exactly looking for, instead that its big and looks like a hamster ball. I saw a picture of my sister on a shelf with nothing else on it, so I went to pick it up when suddenly the floor under me started to fall. It was as if I was in a box. On the side was a place that said insert key. I placed the key in and the wall in front of me opened half and there it was the machine was sitting right under our house and basement. I walked through the open doors of the machine and activated.

“Greetings Master.” said the voice.

It greeted me just like it had once greeted my mother. I saw many different buttons. There was a button that was labeled return. I had a feeling that, that would take me back to Earth so I went ahead and pressed it. The machine didn’t shake the ground like my mother had said. Around the machine everything became dark and then it became bright and everything turned off. I stepped out the machine thinking that I was still in Kepler but to my surprise I was not because the sky was much brighter and the water was not red but clear. I must have been on Earth. I started walked around but then ended up seeing two solid figures talking to eachother. I walked over towards them in curiosity but they didn’t seem to notice me. I figured they were just too busy talking to each other to notice me. I saw another group and walked up to them as well but nothing happened. I tried again and again no one said anything. I couldn’t understand what happened until, I got to a tall glass building and saw that I could barely see myself. I had forgotten that Kepler was much darker than Earth, which is why everyone could see each other much better. My mother never told me this would happen.

I was getting pretty hungry, so I had to find myself some food. I saw a place with many people sitting around and talking so I decided to walk in and hopefully find something. Nothing seemed like food I was familiar with. I decided to get anything and walked out. I never thought I would feel this much out of place. I guess this is how my mother felt when she arrived to Kepler. I decided to go back to the machine. At my arriving I saw something flashing on the screen, that said open. I pressed enter on the keyboard and the words “We are from Earth and we are looking to interact with other living creatures,” came from the machine. I figured that was the message that was sent out to outer space.

It would have been really interesting to meet my grandfather and say that his daughter is in good hand but what if he reacts to me and is completely frightened. Thinking of all the bad things that could happen made me think of going back to Kepler, a place where I would fit in without complication. I decided to go back and pretend as if nothing ever happened.

At my arrival my mom was surprised to find out that I went to Earth. However, she later understood when I explained everything. For most parts Earth was interesting but overall, I don’t think Earth is for me.


Revenge (or I Should Have Gone To Shul)

Ivan sat in bed, contemplating his options. A series of bad decisions had led him here. Apparently, Ivan realized, having big plans of getting work done on a Sunday night and actually getting work done on a Sunday night were two very different things. And now he had several options: stay up later and work on his device, stay up later and do work for his banking job, wake up early and do a combination of the two, or sleep now and sleep later and not get anything done. Ivan went with the last option, rationalizing to himself that he could get it all done the next day during work, as long as business was slow. And business was always slow.

Ivan worked at an independent bank. A real for-the-people operation. It prided itself on not giving out predatory loans and taking risks. The bank was not doing well. It has no name-recognition, and people would rather stuff their money right into fat cats’ pockets than trust a bank with no name-recognition. Who the hell had heard of a bank called Abernathy’s Treasure Chest? It was a clever name, a play on Thomas Abernathy, the famous 18th century English pirate who was rumored to have died trying to find a lost treasure chest. But who the hell had heard of Thomas Abernathy?

The next day, Ivan got no work done. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to, it was that he couldn’t. Every time he faced his computer he wanted to throw up. Why was he wasting his time at a bank? I need to be working on my device, Ivan thought. With a sigh, he turned from his computer and pulled out the crossword puzzle he had been carrying around with him for the past few days. It was in that crossword puzzle that he saw it. He saw the answer to the “cute little side project” (as his coworkers liked to call it) that he had been working on for four years.

Ivan could not wait to get home. At work Greg Winters from accounting had ridiculed him for being excited about a science project. The 15 minute subway ride felt hours long. When he finally got to West 4th Street he shot out of the subway car and power walked to his apartment. 

“Hiya, Ivan! How’s it going?” said Aaron, his door man.

“Fine thanks.” 

“Another day another dollar, eh?”


“Hey listen, whaddya think of this new polish we’re using on the door? Look any shinier to you?”

“It’s glistening,” Ivan said and hurried past Aaron before he could ask any other questions.

He had done it. During a particularly dull day he had found the answer to a problem he had been working on for four years. He had spelled it out. Eight letters, going vertically down, starting with C.

Once inside his apartment Ivan sat at his desk and set to work. Chloride! All this time, how could he have not known. It was right in front of him. Chloride was the key. He got a beaker from the drawer and inserted in the tablespoon of chloride he had picked up from the lab after work. Ivan gingerly poured it into the opening in the device all too aware that if his hand was one millimeter too far to the left or if chloride was not the answer he would be set back years. 

Yes! It was working! He had done it. The name Ivan Kominsky would go down in history. His family in Romania would be proud to know they had not saved all their money to send him to New York for nothing. 

He picked up his device and placed it on his head, attaching the wires to his temples. He hummed and thought of the first person that came to his mind - his boss, Harold Marton. With any luck Ivan would soon be inside his boss’s dream.

White. It was all white. Every now and then there was a flash of dark blue, but maybe it from his eyelids when he blinked. White and hazy. 


Ivan turned, it was coming from his right. No, his left. No, it was circling around him. Coming closer. From the white haze emerged Mr. Marton, running, in a nightgown. “Eeeeeee!” The sound was coming from Mr. Marton. Ivan stared at his boss’s mouth, only it was closed. Mr. Marton stopped in front of him. The sound stopped. It seemed the screeching had been coming from his feet. A thought popped into Ivan’s head, were the feet and the mouth so different? Ivan’s head hurt. He spoke, “Mr. Marton, I am going to be late to work tomorrow, and you will not notice.” Ivan realized the words seemed to be streaming from his elbows. Or perhaps it was his belly button. Mr. Marton tilted his head back and opened his mouth. “Eeeee!” said his feet. 

Ivan woke up.

The next morning Ivan looked out the window of the subway car at the dark graffitied walls. How will Mr. Marton react to my lateness? If all had gone well last night he should have no problem with Ivan being late from now on. Ivan glanced at his watch. Five minutes. He was going to start with just being 5 minutes late. 

Ivan now stood, straddling the gap between the elevator and the eighth floor. His palms were sweaty and he was sure large unsightly pit stains were on their way. If this hadn’t worked, he could be in serious trouble. Mr. Marton did not play around when it came to punctuality. I should never have done this, Ivan thought. What would Bubbe and Zadye think if they learned I just threw my job away for yet another science project?

Ivan thought back to when he was a little boy, always doing science experiments. His father encouraged them, but his mother never wanted him to be spending his time running tests on bugs. His Bubbe and Zadye always said to their daughter, “Oy, Chava! That son of yours is a schlub!” And after his mother asked them to stop calling her by her childhood name (She was Hannah now) she made him stop so Bubbe and Zayde wouldn’t complain to her anymore. 

Only Ivan didn’t stop. When his family went to shul he would fake a stomachache and claim he couldn’t get out of bed. Once he was sure his family had left, he would leap out, get the treasure chest his Bubbe got him for his 4th birthday down from the back of the top shelf in his closet, open up his materials, and set to work. 

I should have just gone to shul with them, Ivan now thought. I should have never gotten into science. I just want to be a banker for the rest of my life. He squeezed his eyes, and counted to 3. I take it back. I take it back. I don’t want to go down in history.

“Ivan, are you alright?”

Ivan opened his eyes and realized he must have looked rather silly standing there. His boss was looking at him. 

“Yeah, just didn’t sleep very well last night,” Ivan mumbled. “I’m a little out of it.”

“That makes one of us!” said Mr. Marton, smiling. “I slept so deeply I woke up feeling excited to come to work! Imagine that! Now, I’m glad you’re on time because we have a lot to do today. Do you have those files I asked for?”

Ivan felt his insides flip over. 

Sitting at his desk Ivan thought the situation over. He used the breathing and counting exercises the flight attendant on the plane from Bucharest to New York had taught him so he would stop hyperventilating and disturbing the other passengers.

1..2..3… Inhale. I just invented a way to enter people’s dreams… 3...2...1… Exhale. I could use this...1...2…3…Inhale. I could take over the world.... 3...2...1… Exhale. No, I won’t do that, I’ll use it to help people...1..2..3... Inhale. I should get a patent on this as soon as possible….3..2..1.. Exhale. No, I can’t tell anyone….1..2..3… Inhale. I have power dictator’s could only dream of...3..2..1… Exhale.

Ivan decided it was best to play it safe, not let anyone know about his breakthrough. Turning on his computer he went to his email. Huh. That’s odd, Ivan thought. An email from an anonymous sender? With no sender, subject line, nor signature, it said: 

We know. 

Come to 881 West Stanley Ave. 13th floor. 

Tonight. Alone.  6 pm. Don’t be late. 

Ivan plugged “881 W. Stanley Ave” into Google. It was the headquarters of McOranges, the huge Fortune 500 fast food company. 

“Whatcha doin?” Ivan looked up to see Greg Winters from accounting hovering above his desk. Before Ivan could think of a response Greg had pushed him aside and was reading the email. 

“Whoa man,” said Greg. “You gotta go.”

“It’s probably some practical joke, I have better things to do tonight,” said Ivan, thinking maybe he should enter Greg’s dreams next and tell him to stay out of his business. 

“Whaddya think they mean by ‘we know.’ That’s a bit cryptic,” said Greg, scratching his leg with his foot.

Ivan wanted to take that foot and shove it somewhere. “The whole thing is cryptic,” he said trying not to roll his eyes. “It’s probably one of the guys from marketing.” 

“Sounds like an adventure to me, you’re gonna miss out! Anyway, what else is more important than a little adventure? It’s not like you got a girl to take out tonight or anything,” laughed Greg. 

“You don’t know that.”

“Yeah, right.” Greg poked Ivan’s side, laughed tauntingly, and walked away.

It was probably him, thought Ivan. 

Ivan took the bus home. He didn’t know what made him do it. Or rather he told himself he didn’t know what made him do it. He took the bus home because the bus route went past McOranges headquarters. I’m not going to do it. It would be stupid. It’s probably a practical joke. Ivan realized he had been mumbling this to himself when the woman in the pantsuit next to him gave him a dirty look and changed her seat. 

The note had said, “We know.” What could that mean? They couldn’t possibly know about his dream device, could they?

“West Stanley Avenue,” called out the bus driver. Ivan didn’t move a muscle. Then he did. He found himself pulling the cord for the stop, getting out, and walking up to 881. This is stupid, he thought. And yet, his feet still carried him to the front door and his hand opened it. Maybe it had been Greg’s comment about having a girl, maybe it had been that Ivan had been waiting for a moment like this since he had to hide his science experiments from his family, but something made him walk inside.

He took the elevator to the 13th floor and stepped out. Looking around he found himself to be in a fancy office waiting room. The walls were gray, except one which was all windows. It was filled with natural sunlight and there were plush chairs that looked more comfortable than some beds. A receptionist was sitting at a desk looking down. Ivan walked up to her. She had a fashionable blazer and straight shoulder length hair, a jet black color that couldn’t have been natural. Before he could say anything she looked up and said, “Follow me please.” Ivan was ready to leave right then and there, but this woman had a magnetic force, he found himself following her to a conference room. He walked in and she left. The door closed behind him.  

The room was similar to the waiting room, with comfortable looking chairs, only in this room three of the walls were entirely windows, giving a stunning view of the city. There were four men in business suits sitting at one end of the table. “Have a seat,” said the man second to the left with the bald spot on his head. What could he do? Ivan obeyed. The chairs were not as comfortable as they looked.

“Ivan Kominsky,” said the same man. He seemed to be in charge. “Let me introduce myself. I am Mr. Jobes, these are my associates. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Kominsky.”

“A pleasure,” said Ivan.

Mr. Jobes grinned in a way that made him look like a lion about to kill a gazelle. “Let’s cut to the chase. We know about your dream device. Don’t worry about how, we are here to propose a deal. We want to bring you in on McOranges new advertising campaign.”

Ivan swallowed. “Why me?” He asked. Why not just buy it from me?”

“We all know that you built the device so only your DNA would activate it. We’d like to offer you a large commission for every 5 people, I mean customers, you tell about the potential of our fast food restaurants.”

Ivan understood what they meant. They wanted him to go into people’s dreams and tell them to buy McOranges food. 

“How much?” 

Mr. Jobes grinned again, wrote something on a slip of paper, and pushed it across the table to Ivan. Ivan looked at the paper and thought of his family in Romania. There were so many more Jews in New York, they would be much happier here. He could bring them here! They could live together in the land of the free. Ivan looked up and nodded.

Back at his apartment that night, Ivan put on the headgear for the dream device. He thought of his door man, Aaron, who had given him a friendly smile when he came in. Five people per commission. His first commission would be enough to bring his whole family to New York. He thought of Aaron, and plugged into his dream.

This time Ivan found himself in a green space that did not change when he blinked. There was less haze, more awareness. Aaron was sitting in a rocking chair a few yards in front of Ivan, smiling at him. Ivan walked up to him, “You want to buy McOranges food. Eating at McOranges is the best thing you can do.” Aaron just smiled and rocked.

Ivan woke up.

Ivan was waiting by baggage claim. He would see his family for the first time in five years in a few minutes. Ivan paced back and forth. They hadn’t exactly left things off at a good spot when he left Romania for New York. His family had saved up for years to be able to send one person to New York, and it was between Ivan and his younger brother Jacov. Jacov applied to Abernathy’s Treasure Chest; Ivan applied to Bank of Commerce. Jacov got in; Ivan did not. The day before Jacov was supposed to leave for New York, Ivan had cut the wire on his brothers bike that operated the break. Jacov crashed, snapped his leg, and got a concussion. Ivan went to New York in his place. Now he wondered if Jacov would snap his leg when he saw him.

“Ivan!” a voice cried to his left. “Ivan! Over here!” It was his father, waving his arms at him. 

Ivan needn’t have worried. His whole family surrounded him, pulling him into a big hug. Bubbe was fussing over his hair “Oy, what is this? You need a hair cut! I’ll do it for you when we get home.”

“Leave the boy alone, he’s a grown man, he can do what he wants with his hair,” said Zayde. 

“A grown man would know when he needs a haircut! This is not the haircut of a grown man!” replied Bubbe. 

His mother and sister Rachel cried and kissed him and his brother hugged him. “It’s good to see you,” said Jacov smiling.

Back at his apartment sitting around the table his mother turned to him, “So nu? What’s this job you have that made so much money you were able to bring us here all at once?”

“Yes! We’ve all been dying to know,” chimed Rachel.

Ivan hesitated. Then he told them about working on his dream device, finding chloride in the crossword puzzle, entering Mr. Marton’s dream, the note, and his deal with McOranges.

His family was silent for a long time. Finally his mother spoke, “So are you going to brainwash us next?” 

“What? No, of course not.”

“But you would do it to these innocent people?” said Zayde.

“It’s not like I’m doing something bad to them, I’m just advertising.” 

“In their dreams! Without their consent!” cried Rachel.

“I can’t believe you guys are reacting like this. I’m not brainwashing them. I’m making money! I brought you guys here!” 

“This is just like Ceaușescu!” said Bubbe. “It’s a dictatorship! McOranges is the dictator! This is not good for the Jews!”

“Bubbe, listen to yourself,” said Ivan. “This is America, we are free here! It’s different from Romania, and definitely different from communism, this is a democracy. I know you and Zayde lived through Ceaușescu, but this is America, you don’t need to worry about that here. It’s called a free market economy and I’m just working for the free market. Jacov, you know what I mean.” 

Jacov, who had been silent the whole time wouldn’t meet Ivan’s eyes. 

Ivan walked to work now. Since everyone he knew had begun eating McOranges, people had gained a lot of weight. Ivan didn’t want that to happen to him so he walked to work. Not that he actually ate McOranges, he would never. He saw what it did to people. After he entered their dreams and told them to they would eat the stuff for every meal. They would gorge themselves. Then they would throw up and gorge themselves again. It was becoming the most important thing to people.

That day, Ivan was on his way to quit his job at Abernathy’s Treasure Chest. He was making so much money doing dream advertising for McOranges that there was no reason for him to work at a bank anymore. Mr. Marton would be upset, he knew, but that couldn’t be helped. 

He walked into the office and knocked on Mr. Marton’s door. “Come in,” came the voice from inside. Mr. Marton was sitting behind his desk. Ivan flashed back to his meeting with McOranges. A nagging thought popped up You’re not doing the right thing. Ivan pushed the thought out of his mind. “Mr. Marton,” he began. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

“There’s something I need to tell you first, Ivan,” Mr. Marton interrupted. “This is a bit uncomfortable for me. I was in McOranges the other day, buying a gift card for my daughter. I had them email me the receipt. When they did, they accidently emailed me something else as well. It was an exchange between someone by the name of Mr. Jobes and one of his coworkers.”

Ivan swallowed hard.

“Ivan, I know everything,” continued Mr. Marton. “I know about the dream device. In fact, I know more than you do. And there’s something I need to tell you, something you don’t know. McOranges has been using you, and not just for your labor. This is hard for me to say.” Mr. Marton glanced out the window, and then continued, “It seems they have been pulling the strings your whole life. Since you were born, they were making sure your life went they way it did. They were the reason you were able to skip shul. They were the reason your family was lucky enough to be able to save up money to send you to New York. They are the reason why ‘chloride’ appeared in that crossword puzzle.”

Ivan was speechless. He tried to open his mouth but no words came out. He wondered if maybe his feet were screeching.

“You see, Ivan. McOranges knew how to build the dream device long ago. They just needed your DNA to activate it. So they made sure you invented the dream device, and gave you help along the way. They needed you to think you were acting on your own free will.

“What do I do?” said Ivan.


Ivan ran. Only he didn’t run away.  He ran past sick people, throwing up people. He rain past their vomit. He ran past the lines outside McOranges restaurants. He ran to 881 W. Stanley Avenue. He got to the 13th floor and walked past the fashionable receptionist to the room where he first got into this mess. He opened the door. 

His brother, Jacov, was sitting at the table where Ivan had sat a few months earlier. Across from Jacov were the four men.

“Ivan,” started Mr. Jobes. 

Ivan slowly raised his index finger, pointing at him.

“I see you have done some research. Ivan please, let’s not start this. We can all benefit from your new knowledge. You see, we have developed a way to let another person operate the dream device. We get to continue the operation and you get to feel good about yourself for quitting”

“How?” Ivan asked.

“A person similar in DNA.”

Ivan looked at his brother. 



The Sanctuary by Nia Hammond





Learn more at

Sometimes, the life you have and an ad like that is all it takes to give into it. Eight months ago, I saw that ad on my bus ride home. Despite the less-than-bold font, typical stock photo of a first world citizen in distress, and cheesy content, I was drawn to it. It could be my ticket out, I thought, and began to reach for my phone in my back pocket. Pulling up the browser on my phone, I punched in letter by letter the website I was eying on the ad across from me. What came up after hitting “Go” seemed like such a joke. Out of desperation, I played along.

* * *

It’s now day one seventy three of experimentation at the OHS—Opti-Human Sanctuary. In a week, everyone here will change units for the second time since our arrivals. I’m not sure I’m ready to move out of this unit though; I like it. In the Sleep Focus unit, the main thing to focus on is… well… sleep. The scientists here are pretty creative with names for these things, obviously. But, more specifically, in the sleep focus unit, we sleep how we’re supposed to. No fetal positions or burying your face in your pillow. Go to bed earlier and without distractions; wake up when you’re sleeping the lightest. The rules are only there to help you and the scientists. And the rest of the world, supposedly.

It does feel like it helps, though. Falling asleep is no longer like a hard task, and it’s not involuntary, either. They place you in a dark room, close to but far enough from others in the unit practicing the same concept. Your own bed is soft — not quite the sinking of memory foam but not the bouncing of a mattress full of springs. Once your body hits it, though, there is no way you’d want to get back up. There are no distractions. The bright screen of a phone or digital clock doesn’t exist in these rooms. If your eyes are open, you could think you’ve gone blind, because what you saw was identical to what you’d see if your eyes were closed. Every night of sleep felt like a peaceful, welcoming death and waking up to a whole new life.

Experiments like these make me wonder how normal people in the world outside OHS even got to function on such poor sleeping habits. I wish the rest of society prioritized their citizens’ health the way they prioritize the market, entertainment, and all the other unnecessary things we… or they, succumb to like sheep. But, if all goes well, and there’s enough evidence of humans in optimum condition, the world can gradually change into a society like this. Will they want to — that’s the real question.

Seeing as though I’m in the first batch of experiments, probably not. Or, maybe, the ads weren’t specific enough about what the goal was; they were very vague. Only those in search of an exit from their everyday lives — besides death — probably found their ways into this isolated place.

It was rough at the beginning. The day I saw the ad and got home, I did all the research I could find (which was scarce) on this OHS ad. Apparently, there were few ads of OHS that people saw and felt compelled to write about on the Internet or elsewhere for that matter. I dragged my finger across the trackpad of my laptop and clicked when the cursor got to “More Information” on the website from the ad. Less than two seconds later, a page full of more boring font from the ad appeared on my screen.

Through skimming, I assumed for myself the details: a group of scientists had the idea to begin a society with more reasonable aspects of an American’s everyday life to meet the actual criteria for how humans should be living.

“And that’s where we come in?” my friend Georgia asked over the phone the following day.

“Exactly. Also, since it’s an experiment with humans, there’s money involved, just like they do for like testing cosmetics and stuff,” I added.

“I don’t know about this, Des… You sure you’re okay with your life and everything now…?” The tone of Georgia’s voice seeped through the speakers into my mind with her unforgettable face that matched it.

“Georgia, I’m as fine as I’ll ever be. Please do this with me. Think about how amazing we’ll feel afterwards! It’ll be like studying abroad but coming back healthier instead of more culturized, yeah? What have—”

“Yeah, what have we got to lose, right? How much of that website did you read anyway?” she asked.

I shrugged my shoulders, and realizing Georgia couldn’t see that, I said, “Enough of it.”

“Oh, enough? All the fine print that probably binds you to the project for even after your year of being at that sanctuary, the absence of insurance of your own life at that place.. You’re allowing yourself to be their test rat! How do you even know if they’re real scientists? I mean, Odessa, do what you want, but just know this is how I feel about it. I don’t think you can count me in this one.”

“Oh, alright… I’ll let you know if I get to go in a few days, I guess, then,” I said, and we hung up.

Two weeks after I’d sent out my application for the program, I received a letter in the mail with more specific instruction, which sounded more and more like a voluntary kidnapping — we met the scientists at a place that isn’t very busy, they gave you a codename and either you got in their van or you didn’t. From within the van, you couldn’t see where you were going unless you were a passenger up front. The look on the staff member next to me’s face was crumpled into itself, looking just as disappointed as I felt.

“I guess it’s going to be a long ride then,” I say out loud, turning to face him. He caught my glare but didn’t maneuver towards me until I smiled politely. His face was still a little twisted — eyebrows furrowed and lips in a tight line and cheeks approaching the color of tomatoes. Maybe I wasn’t the only one nervous for this trip.

“Well, yes,” he finally replied, “about six hours according to our driver.”

“Whoa,” I said, truthfully. “Where is this sanctuary supposed to be anyway?”

He paused to glance at another worker who nodded, and then said, “It’s located in a small city not far from Boston.”

Not knowing what else to say, I said, “Oh cool…”

We didn’t speak again until everyone boarded off the van. Outside of it, the sun was high in the sky, with some clouds behind and around it, and we were all standing on concrete outside of a tall, fortress-like wall that went on for what seemed like miles in both directions.

Before we could go any further towards the fortress, the workers instructed us to line up against the walls with our belongings while we waited for other vans to pull into the lot, one by one.

“Welcome to the Opti-Human Sanctuary, everyone,” a woman’s voice from a megaphone said when most vans had arrived. My eyes wandered around the crowd to find the source of this voice.

She continued, “You will all be spending at least a year here, and we’ve broken up that year into different units in which you’ll study and practice different ways of living — the right ways of living. We still want you to be as free as this experiment can allow you. Once we get inside, we can match up your applications with the scientists you’ll be working with in your first unit.” The only noise you could hear besides her voice was that of her heels hitting the ground in a slow, saunter-like pattern. The megaphone sounded as she lowered it from her mouth and to her side, and, by her heels, I could distinguish her from the rest.

The woman had a short stature, her cherry red pumps raising her a good four inches off the ground. On the left side of her blouse was a nametag — I couldn’t make out the full name, but I think the first word had said “Dr.”

* * *

The worker from the van showed me to my living space after registration. The world behind the fortress wall seemed like a new one entirely — even on the other side of the wall the air somehow felt cleaner and crisper; every breath I took was a deep one, as the scientists asked that we’d do if it wasn’t too difficult for the first day. Hundreds of other people in the experiment seemed very on edge, so maybe that was it. We had no reason to be nervous, though.

The worker led me into a plain room with a closet, bed, and small but tall desk with a lamp atop. The chair was missing. I looked at his shirt for a name tag like the other woman had. “Where’s your nametag?” I asked.

“You’re quite the curious one, aren’t you?” he answered, smiling.

“You must be feeling better than you did on your way here, huh?”

“Oh, yeah. It was my first time outside of the wall for quite a while, and this time we brought back live experiments. Many people don’t know what this means to our team,” he said. “I’m Doctor Ren Sewell.”

The title “Doctor” took me aback, and he chuckled lightly after seeing my eyebrows and eyes raise at the term.

“For fun, I dressed as a worker to help with the rest of the team in getting our first bold batch of future opti-humans. How does it make you feel that you’re starting history by being a part of this?”

“Well, I never looked at it like that… I just needed this to get away from my life at home for a while, or maybe longer… I’m Odessa… um… Colton. People call me Des for short.” I offered my hand, which Dr. Sewell took in a firm grasp before letting his own fall back to his side.

“So, they’ve instructed me to tell you that your first unit of focus is exercise and other physical practices. Not everyone is starting at the same unit. In a few months, we’ll be rotating the experiments around,” he said, and I nodded, looking him in the eye. “The goal for everyone in this unit is to gradually adjust to practical everyday human things the way they’re supposed to be done. For example, sitting for less than three hours a day can add about two years to your lifespan. Some have linked excessive sitting to cancer, diabetes, and heart problems for the future. Watching the television while sitting adds even more to that…” He trailed off for a few seconds, as if he were pondering something in his own life that related to that. “We’ve already been sitting in that van for more than six, so I suggest you get up and move around or something. Exercising is a larger part of this unit, as you can tell.”

I slowly rose to my feet. My bottom did feel a little sore from such a long ride. “You guys’ll let us know more stuff as we go along, right? It’s a lot to take in at this very moment,” I said.

“Oh yeah, of course. We try not to put much stress or pressure into the subjects — it has potential to alter the results. But, there are ideas you should try to keep up on. And finally, here’s a little map of the sanctuary for you, just so you can get around. It’s great for this unit, because instead of sitting they can walk around, explore, and meet other people.” He walked over to the tall desk and opened a drawer, bringing the map out, which was folded in three parts like a brochure.

Dr. Sewell opened the brochure briefly, glanced at inside the cover, and stretched his arm out to hand it to me. “Thanks,” I said, taking hold of it.

“No problem. So I’ll just leave you to it, and I hope you enjoy yourself and live better. Listen out for announcements on the overhead.” He pointed towards the ceiling before stepping out of my room, closing the door behind him.

For the next several weeks, I spent less and less time sitting and more time doing all things else. I mostly explored the new grounds, which probably went on for miles in all directions. It really was a “sanctuary.” By exploration, I found a massive gym where many of my unit members went daily, even if they weren’t going to work out. Also, I noticed there were even children and their parents in the society, and wondered how the kid felt about living differently from all his peers from before.

My first friend in the Sanctuary besides Dr. Sewell was named Nat; who came from the food unit part every other day to use the gym facilities as scientists suggested for him. Whenever we weren’t focusing on our units during weekdays, Nat and I would talk about our lives before OHS.

“I lived in Cali, going to school for acting,” he’d told me one day.

“So is that you or a character you’ve played before?”

“No no, it’s the real me. I was going to school for a reason, Des,” Nat said, “I can’t act!”

“You wanted to be an actor that bad? My parents would have made me become a lawyer or something before sending me to school for something I knew little about. You Cali kids…” I snickered playfully.

“Oh yeah, us. But what about you? Where are you from?” he asked me.

“I’m from good ‘ol Philly, just outside of it. Decided against going to college.” My eyes wandered towards the ground in between where we were standing.

“Oh really?” he said, reaching out to lift my chin with his hand. “Why is that?” he asked.

I shifted before saying, “I dunno, man, school just wasn’t my thing. It drove me crazy trying to do well, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand another four years of that in college.”

“Ah I see, so what do you do instead?” Nat asked, still interested.

“I’m kind of a job hopper, but I normally work for a firm and do wedding photography on the side,” I answered. “It’s really not all that interesting…”

No matter what day it was, we still never got tired of each other’s stories. We also had a little trouble making friends besides each other as it was — maybe it was that we didn’t want any more friends.

* * *

After the rotation from the physical health unit, I moved into the sleep unit, which, thankfully, Nat was also a part of. We could spend more time exploring and practicing not sitting for that long, even though that wasn’t my focus anymore. After exercising all the time and taking big day adventures all the time, I felt like sleep was a good way to level all that out, even though I would probably be doing mostly the same things.

The scientists said that depending on the medical history provided, the sequence of units you’re placed in should build on each other. Like I’d already said before, the sleep unit was the better of the two units I’d already experienced. With a week left to spare, however, I spent more time focusing my unit, which the scientists in charge of it didn’t seem to mind. Dr. Sewell stayed in the physical focus unit, but we still saw each other around the sanctuary from time to time, talking if he wasn’t in a hurry to get somewhere, like yesterday.

“Scientists are always a little busier around the rotation period. We have to think about who’s going where and how they might cope with the new environment and how it’ll build on their old one,” he said.

“I’ll never understand how you guys can do all this, it must be so much work and dedication to the outcome of this project.”

“Well, yes, it is difficult at times, but we all look forward to the results of the experiment. Those are the main motivations for all of us, I’d like to think,” he said.

We were sitting at one of the few park benches. You’d think that by now everyone would get sick of trying to stand more often, but I guess it was really just me being lazy that day. I cast my gaze on the tree above us, rubbing my eyes sleepily. It was only midday.

“How are things over at that physical focus unit?” I asked, opening my mouth to yawn. “Excuse me,” I murmured, covering my mouth.

“Things are going smoothly, you know? People here are getting more used to the practices here, which is great — they’re adjusting faster than what we’d predicted. Maybe this batch of experiments is just a motivated one, you all,” Sewell said, placing his hands on his knees.

Just as I was about to throw out another conversation topic, a watch on his wrist beeped a few times, pulling him back into his regular duties as a scientist. “Well, Des, I gotta run now, but we’ll talk more after rotation!” We both stood — I felt like my three hours for the day was almost over anyway — and we headed in opposite directions. He went towards the main scientist headquarters, while I headed for the gym to try to lift my sudden tiredness.

There, of course, I ran into Nat, who was speaking to another girl he must’ve known from his first unit. Seeing me, Nat sprang up farther into his feet, for he was already standing. His eyes glowed with excitement while mine remained neutral. Nonetheless, I smiled because I was glad to see him.

“This is Des,” Nat told the other girl. Turning and gesturing towards her, he said, “And Des, this Elle, like the French for ‘girl.’” Elle giggled, bringing her hand up to her mouth.

“Nice to meet you, Des,” she said, extending the same hand to shake mine, which I took.

“Same to you, Elle,” I replied, curtseying and holding out my imaginary skirt while doing so.

“What unit are you part of?” she asked.

“The sleep focus unit, have you already been in it?”

“No, I’m in the psychological focus unit, and I was in the food one before with Nat,” she said.

“Well, it’s amazing. You’ll never sleep better in your life!”

“I agree with that,” Nat added.

“Oh yeah? I hope that’ll be my unit then next cycle,” she said.

“Well, we have two more days to find out,” said Nat.

“What’s this whole psychological focus unit? I haven’t heard much about it,” I asked Elle.

“The scientists said it was an experiment within the experiment. It’s kind of hard to explain. There’s just a lot of exercises for keeping your brain and emotions manageable, especially if you’ve had a rough time in the past. It’s like therapy without all the talking. You get the knowledge, and help yourself however you want. They also want you to work on how you interact with others so that everyone can be a little more decent to each other in the future, if this project is ever extended to the rest of the world, you know?” she said.

I could only stare as I tried to make sense of what Elle said in my head. By the twisted look on my face, she said, “Well, I guess you don’t. It’s really cool, though. My favorite of the two units I’ve been in so far. It just helps create lots of peace within yourself, which was something I needed.”

Nat glanced at me at this, and getting bored with the conversation, said, “You guys wanna go for a jog? I feel like I want to be outdoors right now.”

We agreed and ran our regular route around the sanctuary, taking in all the sights of this internal group working their ways up to being opti-human.

That night would be my last in the sleep focus unit, so Nat and I decided to head on back to the sleep unit building after grabbing a bite to eat with Elle at the food unit and walking her back to the psychological unit.

Outside the sleeping room, Nat and I stood against the wall talking for a bit.

“What are we gonna do next rotation? We probably won’t be together again,” Nat said.

“Well, we weren’t together the very first unit, and we still met each other then. We’ll always be around each other,” I said, trying to comfort his seemingly petty worries.

“I guess you’re right,” he said, stretching his arms to the ceiling. “Ya bruh’s gotta sleep now, Des. I’ll see you in the morning,” Nat patted my head and walked past me into the dark room.

“Enjoy your last amazing sleep,” I called after him. I stood for a minute, and followed his trails into the room but into my own bed.

* * *

Hands were all over. A groping, followed by a flash of light to the face. It was so blindingly bright that I couldn’t open them long enough to know what was happening. I felt like a bat in a cave. It wasn’t just me that felt hands all over, but everyone in the sleep unit. Murmurs everywhere. The figures that moved around were probably scientists, I assumed. Though nothing like this ever happened before, I could only think of them as a reasonable explanation for all the madness.

“Everyone, we’re sorry for disrupting your sleep, but please exit the building and stand outside until further notice. Let’s make this easy, now,” a voice from the overhead said.

I did as he said, groggily trudging out of the unit building and into the dim light cast by the night sky. Nat found me within minutes.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” he asked me.

“No, not at all… I was looking for Dr. Sewell to see if he had anything to do with it,” I answered him, feeling the heaviness of my own foggy breath leave my mouth.

More and more people were pouring out of the units while Nat and I watched. Whispers around us were all mentioning something about the psychological focus unit, and I could not for the life of me guess what was going on. Thankfully, Dr. Sewell, who was standing by a light pole, caught my eye. I grabbed Nat’s hand and dragged him over to where Sewell was.

“What’s going on?!” I said.

“They’re all saying that someone has escaped the sanctuary.”

“Escaped? Why would anyone ever want to escape?”

Nat, Sewell, and I all exchanged eye contact.

“Do you know who it was?” Nat asked Dr. Sewell.

“A woman from the psychological health unit. I believe her name is Elle something.”

“Wait, our Elle, Nat? Are there any other Elles in that unit?”

Nat sighed before answering, “I guess it was her… I had no idea she planned on trying to leave the place,” he trailed off.

“So you knew about this?” Dr. Sewell raised one eyebrow at Nat.

“Look, I suspected something was up with her. She puts on a happy front around everyone else, and is probably acting like the psychological focus unit is helping her. Truth be told, from the things she’s said to me, Elle seems far from healthy.”

“In what sense do you mean ‘far from healthy’?”

“Just generally unhealthy. She talks about how sad and angry she gets at herself all the time, and how there was no hope for her. I don’t think I’ll ever grasp what made her feel that way, but I’m guessing it was a problem before she came here.”

“Do you have any idea of where she might go if she’s left the grounds?” Dr. Sewell asked him.

“She always said she’d wanted to go to Canada one day,” Nat replied.

“Alright. Thanks for your help, Nat. I have to be getting back to work now, they’ll need a search team for her pretty soon I bet.” Sewell glanced at both of us before disappearing into the crowd.

After that night, though, Nat and I never saw or heard from Elle again. I hoped the best for her, wherever she was. What Nat said about Elle and her mental health hit me personally. Even though I’d only known her for a few hours, I reasoned that we had more in common with each other than what we originally saw. What if she came to OHS for an escape just like me? But, if it was so good for her why did she run away? My questions would never be answered.

* * *

The next rotation unit I was placed in was the food unit, so Nat and I weren’t together as often. Without him, though, I would think about what to do after the experimenting year was over. Maybe Elle left because she figured everything out. Or, maybe, she needed to fix something. I imagined her taking it to heart with the directions “learn your brain and then fix yourself how you’d like to.” I found that no matter what time of day, my thoughts always seemed to stray back to her. I was just so curious. It also inspired me to do what I thought Elle might have done by leaving the opti-human sanctuary.

Day in and day out, I would plan things out in my head — while eating, exercising, even before I slept I thought about my old life. The days and nights of it were long and complicated. My work in the firm was miserable and lifeless. I relied on my wedding photography to lift my spirits, but no one getting hitched wanted Odessa to take their pictures. My best friend, Georgia seemed to agree with me less and I still hadn’t talked much to my mother and father since graduating high school a year and a half ago. Because of where I lived, I was constantly reminded of it, too. OHS was the perfect way out. Throughout the second half of my stay at the sanctuary, I grew more and more conscious of my responsibilities as a growing human — not only my physical health and lifespan, but my life around others.

* * *

The final rotation: Nat and I were together once again, for the psychological focus unit. Elle was right about everything they taught. What made me feel better was that I was already figuring things out for myself before the brain lessons. Nat heard about my plans too, while we were on a jog one afternoon close to the end of the year there.

“Give me all you’ve got, girl,” he said.

“You’ll be so proud to hear all this.”

“Go go go, I’m listening.” Nat gently ran into my side.

“Alright, so, I’m staying away from Philly. It’s home, but it’s a reminder of all the complicated things. I’ll quit my job at the firm. As for my parents, I think I need to say something to them. It’s ridiculous not to talk to your own family just because of the choices you make,” I said.

“Completely agreeing with ya.”

“I’ll expand my wedding photography business, too, and move somewhere people marry more,” I continued, stopping jogging to tie my shoe. Nat slowed down next to me.

“Wonderful. You, Miss Colton, have gotten your life together. There’s just one thing you’ve forgotten about.”

“And what is that?” I smirked at him and raised my eyebrows, waiting for an answer.

“Your destination. But I have an idea for that.”

“Go on…”

“Room with me. We can keep each other in check.”

Surprisingly, the idea had never crossed my mind.

“But… I thought you were in college. Don’t you live in a dorm?”

“Comfortable apartment, with a spare room, actually,” Nat replied.

“Oh my god, Nat, you don’t know what this means to me! Thank you so much.” After I finished tying my shoes, I stood up and threw my arms around his shoulders. “Thank you thank you thank you thank you,” I said into his shoulder.

“Nah, thank you! I prefer company besides by own, and you’re an incredible person, Des. I need to keep you around, you know?” We pulled away from each other.

“So it’s decided,” I said. “When the year is over, we’ll opt to leave the sanctuary and deal with our lives head-on. Two weeks.”

“We can stay healthy too, I’m way too used to this lifestyle anyway. I’ll find a compromise. We’ll compromise,” Nat said, nodding his head.

That was that, and we were set in stone.

* * *

For me, it was the right choice I made. I’m happier and healthier, one of hundreds of anticipated opti-humans in processing.

The Flame Inside

“Wake up Remy you have to go to school.” I awaken, rub the crust out of my eyes, and do my early morning stretching. What’s the point, I think to myself as I ponder about going through another year of high school.

“Wake up!” my mother yells. My mother urging me out so that she may call her suitors over. She pretends to care about my education; I know what she really wants. Some early morning loving.

“I’m up Ma! Calm down.”

I go into the bathroom and scrub the filth from my body, then put on my Levi Jeans and army fatigue shirt for the first day of a new year. I walk downstairs to see my mother laying on the recliner, drinking what seems to be her fourth beer of the day while empty cans crumple under my feet on the way out the house.

“See ya ma. I’m going to school.”

School was never really for me, it’s not that I didn’t understand the material or I had bully problems. It just all seems pointless. I know I have a bigger meaning, a bigger purpose in this sick world we live in. I know I’ll change the world, for the good of mankind I don’t really know yet. But for now I have first period science class.

In class my teacher Mr. Bentz introduces and urges the class to pay attention so they we may strive. Right from hearing this I go to sleep until the bell rings signaling the end of class. I rise quickly and dart out the room.

“Give me your lunch money.”

“No, please.”

“I said give me your lunch money before I whoop your ass.”

“Ahh, help me. Help!”

I run to the screams, that lead me to a dark hallway with faint lights flickering in the distance. I see the bullies taking advantage of this poor kid. I don’t know if I should help him or not.This isn’t my problem after all. The bullies and I make eye contact for a split second before I decide to walk away to my next class.

Now in PE I can clear my mind of my mother, bullies, and whatever’s to come. I decide to hit the weights and work on my arms. I pick up the 30 pound dumbbells, to begin my sets.

“One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eig...,” said Remy.

“Yo, did you rat on me?”

“Nine, Ten.”

“I said, did you rat on me!”

I look up to see the bully towering over me with his fists clenched. His friend is behind him like some sort of body-guard. Trouble always seems to find me.

“No I didn’t say a word to anyone. Now let me finish my sets,” said Remy.

“I don’t believe you, now stand up and fight me like a man,” the bull replied.

Damn, I didn’t want to get into any kind of trouble the first day. But since he was asking for trouble, I had no choice. I stand up nice and slow and put the weights away. Before he knows it my fist slams into the bullies face. Crack. He drops hard to the ground rubbing his nose. He signals the rest of his friends for help. At least seven more stocky teens run towards me. Damn, I know I’m in trouble. I turn and run for the doors. I sprint through the hallways trying to find an escape or some type of hiding spot. I see a pair of doors in the distance that I go towards. As I went to open the doors they wouldn’t barge open. I turn around looking for another way out only to see the 8 bullies staring me down.

“You don’t want to do this. Just let me go. We can pretend it never happened,” I say, as I try to reason with them. My words don’t phase them, for they continue giving me evil blank stares. They charge me and slam me to the wall. They begin to punch and stomp on me aiming to crush and bruise my ribs and head.

“Now this is what you get bitch,” says the lead bully.

“Yeah dumb ass,” says another.

Blow after blow, I fade a bit more thinking of what my father would do in his troubled times. Half conscious, I begin to feel a sensation as my heart begins to pump faster and faster. What are they doing to me? My skin begins to tremble and vibrate and my body begins to steam ever so slightly. The bullies stop pounding me and back away a couple of feet. I caress my face only to feel massive bruises and a stream of blood flowing from my head on the green grid printed school floors.

“Ahhhhh”, steam begins to rise from my whole body. I stand up and look towards the bullies.

“What have you done to me, help me”, I plead out.

I look in their leader’s eyes and see fear, as he signals the crew to slowly back away. Suddenly my hands go ablaze. My eyes widen as my hands are on fire but I feel no burn. I’m not hurt. The fire consumes my body and heals my wounds. The bullies run away screaming.

“Fire! Fire! Fire!”

I step towards them, leaving a burning trail behind me. One of them pulls the fire alarm, the cold water puts the flames out. From the fire alarm I get dizzy and pass out.  

Opening my eyes, I see a white light dangling from above my head. I lift my head urging myself to get up but it’s a struggle as my body is completely in pain. I manage to lift myself up, but my head is still in circles. I lift my head up and notice I’m in the principle's office. I see my mother in near distance speaking to him. My head is in so much pain that I’m seeing in my mother in doubles. It takes a while but my senses start to come too. Damn, what the hell happened?! Once my mother and principle Philips see that I’m awake, they signal me to come sit in the empty chair that is beside my mother. I walk slowly to the chair, as I have no clue of what’s to come. My heart pounds and pounds, it feels like it may  pound right out my chest. As I sit down I stay I stay silent, waiting for them to reprimand me. The principal glares at me, while my mother wipes the sweat from her clammy palms and slightly shakes as she looks at me.

I look towards the principle, “What seems to be the problem?” I ask.

“You, my boy, are in deep shit. It seems you like to start fires. You’ve picked up some bad traits from your father and just like him you’ll eventually end up in jail. Just like him, you like to burn shit up.” says Principal Philip.

“What are you talking about? I didn’t start any fires. It just sorta hap ... happened. I’m telling the truth.” I was trying to plead my case as best as I could without knowing the true facts myself.

“I have witnesses that say you started a fire, so since you are clearly lying I ought to kick you out of the school. But since your mother has convinced me otherwise” he continued, smirking in my mothers direction, “you’ll just spend a week in detention.”

“That’s not fair, I haven’t done anything.”

“Not fair?! I should send your little arsonist ass to jail. You should be grateful you’re only getting detention. But for now I’m sending you home with your mother. You’ve started enough trouble for the day.”

As I walk to my mother’s old BMW three series, I think about what principle Philips said to me about my father. I’ve never known my father but apparently he seems to be an expert. Maybe now my mother will finally talk to me about my father. The rusted material on the door squeaks as I open it. I sit on brown ripped pleather seats. My mom gets into the car and we drive off. From the look in her face she doesn’t seem angry but she begins to sweat every time she looks my way. What’s on her mind? Does it have something to do with my father? Is the expense too much to handle?”

“Mom, I know there’s no true way to try to explain myself, but you have to believe it wasn’t intentional and I’ll do whatever I can to help pay off the damages.”

“No, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. It’s about your father and fire and well we’ll talk about it when we get home.” I see my mother’s face begin to drip in sweat like she’s made a big mistake or something. I’m sorta relieved though; I finally get to know about my father. She’s kept him a secret from me for so long I had almost forgotten he existed. It’s a long drive home in the car driving on the dirt desert road. While getting out the car, we rush in the house as we see a pack of wild coyotes in the distance hungry for meat. We manage to make it inside without them noticing. My mother and I sit down in the 2 recliners. She looks and messes with her own hands.

“Do you want a glass of lemonade?” she asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“I’m going to get you a glass of Lemonade.” I can tell my mother is really stalling and trying to stray away from this talk. This is driving my patience to another level. I wait 15 minutes without her return. I then clench my fists. Bam! I bang on the table, causing it to crack at the core. I feel a stream of blood flowing down my hand before noticing my hands steam again like before. Oh no, I’m starting to feel that special sensation. What’s happening to me? Just before my hands combust into flames, my mother rushes to my side and pours ice water on my hands.

“That was a close call!”

“So you know what’s happening to me. You know what I’m going through.” I look into her eyes trying to find an answer. My hands are sore from the liquid relief. I search my pockets for some Advil.

“You have to learn to control your emotions. Your fire capabilities are directly linked somehow. Your father couldn’t handle that task. That’s why he’s dead now.” My heart drops; even though I never knew my father, I’d always imagined that we would meet up someday, that I would have the chance to meet this notorious man. But I guess I won’t be able to.

“How’d my father die... who was he? Did he use his powers for the greater good or for the downfall of mankind?” Questions of curiosity fill my head as I strive to learn about the lost stories of my father. I know he must have been a great man, regardless of what my mother will tell me, I just know it.

“Slow your roll Remy?, Calm down,” my mother said.I relax myself, sitting up in the seat and eager to learn about him.

“It’s a long story, starting on August 6, 1945 in the town of Hiroshima,” my mother began.

“That date sounds familiar.”

“The date should sound familiar, or all of Arizona’s public school teaching is a complete failure. It’s the time America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing over 135,000 people.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” I can smell the beer on her breath as she tells me the story. I can’t really tell if she’s being sincere or if she’s on a drunken rant. For now, I’m going to decide that whatever she says is the truth. Maybe she’s finally telling the truth after years of lying and deception.

She continues, “Your great grandfather was a refugee there when the bomb hit the town. He was one of the lucky ones who didn’t die instantly from the blast. But, unknowingly, he had been affected with radiation poisoning that wound up killing him years later, after he had kids. Something happened to your grandfather before his death though. He was changed... Somehow, the radiation from the bomb changed his genes and DNA strands. Every other person affected by the radiation lost eyes, hair, or at the most grew extra fingers or toes. But, no, your great grandfather was special. The radiation gave him fire powers.”

“Fire powers?”

“Yes. Your great grandfather, grandfather, and father were all wonderful men before they discovered their capabilities. The fire took control of them, and they couldn’t control their emotions or capabilities. Before they knew it, the ones they loved were in danger. I thought, prayed, wished that this vile curse would end, and that it would skip over your bloodline, but it didn’t. Tears roll down from her face.

“Don’t worry, mom, I’m not like my father or his father before him. I’ll control my capabilities.”

“I don’t want to take that chance, so from now on I’m keeping you home until I can trust that you can control your emotions. Don’t try to plead, either. This is very serious and I don’t want you burning your classmates to a crisp when one of them steps on your shoe.” Even though I didn’t agree with her decision, I would have to accept it. From now on, my main thought would be control. I did research on being calm and watched a lot of superhero cartoons to get tips. I’m not going to lie I watched about 100 cartoons to 1 stress relief video. I was trying to find if any heroes in the cartoon world went through a similar dilemma, to find out if superheroes go through this a lot? I needed to practice using my powers on command. First, I went out back and set up a shooting range, basically a bunch of cans and bottles lined up that my mom didn’t need anymore. I needed to use the energy inside on command, and not by anger. I focused long and hard on my hands hoping they would come ablaze but never did. What was it? Why couldn’t I control my powers. I thought back to the comics and cartoons and didn’t really remember any tips on control but they were the goal I had set. I wanted to be one of them, to be a hero, someone that the public could look to for safety, someone my ancestors could be proud of. From this my ambition to be great helped me focus to where I created the sensation all on my own and before I knew it my hands had combusted into flames. I was still fascinated how my hands were engulfed yet I felt no pain. I managed to spread the flames to covering my arms and eventually the rest of my body. I can’t lie, the power felt good, real good. I take my powers into play as a shoot down the targets with ease, I’m a natural.

My mother just came from work was standing silently at the door observing me. “Just like your father.” she said. I  then looked in her direction, she looked scared as if she’d seen monster. I didn’t want to make her cry so I relaxed my body to shut my powers down.

That night before falling asleep, I thought of a plan that would make my mother proud of me, just like the heroes in the comics. She’s never told me she loved me or that I was special to her. We never had a real connection, I was determined to change that, I would make her want to praise me as a son. I then practiced my capabilities non stop until they were under my control. I was so good that I could light a candle from a mile away.

After a practice session outside in the back of my house, my mother approaches me with some lemonade.

“I’ve seen you’ve done a lot of practice on controlling your powers,” she says.

“Yea ma, I think I’m ready to go back to school now.” She puts the lemonade down and gets serious in her tone.

“I’m not to sure of that though, see you’ve managed to control your powers, which I congratulate you on but yet to have control over your emotions.

“But aren’t they same thing since they are so called “linked” together.”

“This is the same thing your father thought before the fire took over his body and pushed him to his breaking point.”

“I’m not my FATHER! I will never be like that clown, he’s not me, he couldn’t do what I can do. I am all powerful.” My head and body light into a flame uncontrollably.

“AHHHH” I scream and shoot fireballs into the air, it feels like my body is being taken over.

Coyotes from all around see the flames in the distance and come rushing towards us, damn. It’s hard to concentrate, it feels like my head is exploding. These coyotes aren’t scared of my flames but instead attack with no let-up, I guess they were hungry. At least 20 blood driven, red eyed, coyotes with sharp fangs and tearing claws charge towards me. The pain from the overpowering flame is causing me to see in doubles, I don’t know what wolf is real compared to the fakes. Trying to fight the coyotes off and protect the family is a tough task, but I have to get through it for the survival of the family. Before I know it, I focus on my goal of being a hero again and i’m able to control my abilities a bit more. I see 2 charging coyotes, I quickly burn them in a flash. More coyotes come to the fight to where my mother and I was getting shredded alive. I had no choice and unleashed my flame, causing my flame to spread turning all the coyotes into ash. I had done it, saved the day. Afterwards we went into the house to rest from the epic battle. Going through the fight in my head, I realized if I were ready I would of handled that situation a lot better instead of killing off a whole pack of coyotes. Good guys don’t kill and I did it effortlessly.  I couldn’t let my mother know of the concern that I had with my abilities so I pretend that everything it Ok.

“Mom I told you, I’m ready for the real world I clearly had things under control.”

“Oh but you hadn’t, it’s your fault that we were in that predicament in the first place.” Surely enough she had realized the same thing I had. As hard as it was I didn’t want to believe it but she was right. I caused all that fight, unintentionally but caused an unnecessary fight. I put my head down and mope to my room. I known know that these powers aren’t a gift, aren’t a way for me to do something great, but a curse like my mother said. She was right about everything, I would follow the footsteps of my dad and grandfathers. Even though wanting to be good, wanting to be a hero, I’m not destined for that sort of greatness. Rethinking my plans on what i’d do now with my life is a hard thing to do. I can’t go back to school because I might burn it down which wouldn’t be a bad idea. Theres no point in training anymore since controlling my powers are pointless, the flame inside of me is uncontrollable, it’s energy is pure evil which I can’t overcome. My mother is scared of me and hates me because of the monster I am.

Later on I hear a ruckus downstairs, I walk half way downstairs to see my mother and about 10 men in police uniforms. Knowing my mother, she must of did something.

“Mom what’s happening.” She doesn’t reply at first but points towards me so that the officers may get a clear view of me. There’s faces don’t look to pleasant.

“What seems to be the problem officers?” Again at first no response but they start to move in my direction. I’m sweating through my shirt and my hands begin to steam.

“Son, we have to take you into custody. Your mother has informed me that your a serial arsonist that has no sympathy for human life.”

“No that’s not true, I swear.” My body begins to steam a bit more. I didn’t want to combust and to prove my mother right, so with all my strength I held back the flame inside. The officers then reach for their pistols.

“What are you doing?” I look towards my mother, trying to urge her that this isn’t the way, that I didn’t want to die.  

“Just do it already, KILL HIM, KILL THE FIRE BOY!” said my mother. My heart sunk to the bottom of my stomach after hearing those vile words. I then knew that I wasn’t the monster, I wasn’t the demon, she was. She was the bad mother who never showed me any type of love or affection. She would rather be with her boyfriends than her own son. She couldn’t believe in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. She brought me this low level of self-confidence. She just wanted me out of her life.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Three shots hit me clear in the chest, as I fall to my death a single tear rolls down my face, only ever wanting to be loved.


My dad was never home. He was either at work figuring out how to create a cure for all disease that sea creatures could have or at the bar down on Lambert St. When I did see him, it wasn’t something that I looked forward to. He also would nag me about cleaning my room or keep a B average in school. Every since mom left, he never really showed me any type of positive attention. It went from,

“Hey Jenny, you need anything?”


“Hey Jenny, how was school?”


“I never see you doing shit, get your lazy ass up and do some homework.”

This made me wish that  he was the one to go instead of my mom.  My mom had left us roughly 3 years ago. She never really told me why. I remember about a year ago receiving a postcard from Hawaii that simply said,

“Hey Jenny it’s mom. I’m doing much better. The people out here are so wonderful and I found a new man  that showers me with gifts and pays me all the attention that I need. I think I might marry him. Toodles!”

I guess she was receiving the cold shoulder from my dad that I am now receiving. I mean, my mom was never really there either. She was too busy tying belts around her arm to find that perfect vane to eject herself with drugs that she never really gave me the time of day. However, I would prefer a lifeless body laying on the couch for 3 days straight, then a mad scientist that gives me his ass to kiss as if I had done something to him. But hey, I couldn’t exchange the piece of shit parents that God left me with.

I was in my room painting when my dad knocked twice and came in,

"Get up Jen, you're going with me today."

"Going where?"

"Stop asking me questions, and get washed. Meet me in the car in 20 minutes." He walked out my room and slammed the door

The ride to the lab was much different from the last time. The old crumpled buildings were replaced with tall apartment buildings, so tall that when I tilted my head back to see the top of the building, it hurt my neck if I stared too long. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the lab and about another 20 for us to sign in.

The first time I came here I was probably about 5 years old. I know thats too young to remember a lot of things 10 years later but I don't remember going through these procedures.

In order to be allowed in the Lab, I had to get my finger scanned to make sure I was a United States citizen. A nurse wearing a all white jumper then dug a 6 inch needle in the side of my arm that felt like it was sucking the life out of me. She then took what seem to be a pint of my blood and squirted it into a tube. The tube turned a bright yellow and a bright green "A" ran across the screen that the tube was connected to . The giant double doors sled open and my dad and I walked through.

"What was that tube, and why did it glow up?" I asked

"Its to make sure that you weren't ill because if you were, you would not be allowed in the Lab. And if you were ill, The tube would turn blue, and the darker the blue the higher your level of of contamination  would be. In some cases the nurse would have to.. Never mind"

I didn't ask anymore questions. I knew that if I did, my dad would stare at me so hard he would burn 2 holes on the side of my head.

We walked down about 20 different hallways before we got to to the room marked “ML Testing 213”. If anything, this was the only thing that I remembered the last time I was here. I knew that once these doors opened I would be greeted with the most beautiful sea creatures god could have ever created.   

As we walked through the doors, I noticed something was very different. The room was quiet and deem. There were tall black drapes that started at the top of the ceiling and dropped down 2 inches before the ground. I reached for a string that seemed to be the key that opened the drapes when I felt my dad yank my shoulder and stare at me blankly.

“Jen, I promise you, what you remember being here is no longer here. “

What do you mean, aren’t there still fish?”

“There are, but they are much different, much much different.”

“Im sure its not that bad.” I reacher for the string.

My dad grabbed my arm again and with a stern look he said, “I warned you.”

I snatched away from him and pulled the string as quickly as possible. When The drapes were completely open, my eyes grew wide and I stepped back.

The fish were still here however like my dad said they were much different. So different that I could not take my eyes off of them even though I wanted to. Some had double heads with 8 eyes, others had tentacles growing out of the place where there eyes would be and others were covered in brown bumps that oozed orange every time the inhaled the mud brown water they lived in.

“Why? What happened?”

“They are sick, I have been trying to cure them for about 4 years now. But every time I dump a different cure in the water it has created a different mutation.”

“You did this to them?” still staring at the tank.

“Not exactly. They were already ill internally. “

“So  what are you going to do?” turning to look at him.

“I have made another potion that I believe is the answer. The answer to every single  disease that aquatic life could ever have. All I need you to do is go get it out of the closet.” he pointed near the door.

I walked over to the closet. There was a keypad on the door meaning that it needed a code.  Unconsciously, I typed in my birthday and the red light that glowed so brightly turned green. I reached into the closet. There was a tube that was similar to the one the nurse squirted my blood in, the only difference was that it was much larger and inside the tube wasn’t liquid. There were little fish the size of a quarter that swam back in forth so fast that I didn’t even know what they were until I stared for about 30 seconds.

“Come on, Jen, Bring them to me,”

“What are they?”

“I will dump them into the tank. This is the cure.” he grabbed the tube from me and stared at the tube as if he was amazed by what he was seeing “Help me.” he shouted to me as he tried to climb the ladder to the top of the tank where there was an opening for food.

“They are called Micro Aqafinic bots. Once I drop them into  the tank, they will swim in the heads of the fish,” he continued up the ladder, “they will than arrange the fish brain cells so they can send a steroid like substance to the fishes white blood cells. This will than make the fishes white blood cells strong enough to kill any disease that tries to enter the body of the fis....”

Before he could finish his words, we both were on the floor. The ladder had snapped into two and fell from the side of the tank. The  top to the tube was across the floor and the bots were everywhere. I looked to my left and I noticed that my dad was laying on the floor lifeless.

“Dad !.” I tried to get up and move to his body but something was holding me back. I felt a stinging pain on the bottom of my right leg. I pulled my pants leg up and one of the bots were crawling up my leg. It had broke my skin and was making it’s way to my brain.

“Ahhhhhh!” I screamed “Dad! Help me! Help me ! I cant get it out.”

But there was no response. I was too focused on how I would get the bot out my leg that I didn’t notice the pool of blood around my fathers head until  it was too late. I clawed at my skin but it would not stop crawling. I felt it maneuvering through all  the blood vessels and ligaments that were once placed so neatly in the muscles of my hip now being torn to shreds. My side, my shoulder and then my ear, the bot had finally reached its destination. I dug at my ear but there was no turning around. The bot had made its way in my ear and before I knew it my head had hit the floor and everything became a blur.

“Dad..” I said in a faint whisper reaching towards his direction and then the room fell black.  

I was awaken to a room filled with big white lights. I attempted to hold my head up but there were wires that ran from my forehead to a machine that would not allow me to do so.

“What is this? Where am I?” I attempted to yank the wires out of my head but they would not budge.

“Get these off of me ! ”I screamed so loud it made my throat hurt. I heard the clicking of heels as the ran to my bed side. Within 20 seconds, there were about 5 nurses wearing white jumpers standing over top of me. They all took turns looking at me and by the glow of their eyes, I knew they saw something that surprised them.

“What? What is it?”

but no one responded.

I looked to my right side where the machine was placed that feed the wires to my head to see if there was a way for me to detach the wires but I found something different . The machine contained  a blank screen which made it possible for me to see my reflection. Well, the reflection of what I was becoming. I reached to touch my face in disbelief of what I was seeing.

There was green slime falling from my eye socket and the soft skin on  my checks were replaced with rock hard scales. I tried to get up but the place where my feet once were was replaced with webbed feet. I fell back in disbelief. I heard as the monitor that I was connected to beep in an extremely fast past. Everything became a blur again, but I saw as the nurses put on gloves and started hitting buttons on the monitor. The room fell black and all I could hear were high heels clicking as they scattered to and from my bed side..

One yelled, “We have to operate!”

When I opened my eyes, I was back to normal. The scales were gone and my beautiful soft skin was finally replaced. I looked back at the monitor and watched as my soft black hair fell over my face. I wiggled my toes to make sure that those too had changed back and they did.  The wires were still connected to my head but they were much longer now and I was able to get up.

There were big glass windows but I couldn’t see what was on the other side. I remember this room when I was younger. This is where they would bring the test subjects so they could inject them with their latest creations. But I was no longer someone who observed a test getting ran on a species. I was the one getting tested. I looked around the room and noticed a white jacket with a black collar like my dad wore to work.

“Dad?” I thought “Where’d my dad?”

There was a thin remote next to my bed that had a woman silhouette on the side.

I clicked the orange button and in about 1 minute a nurse was at my side.

“Where is my dad? Why am I in here? I want my fucking dad right now!”

“Please Please just calm down.”

“I want my dad! Let me the hell out now!” I screamed.I hit her in the side and she flew across the room I had never been this angry before. My chest was beating so fast that I could see the print through my shirt. My face began to turn read and hot. When I went to wipe away what I thought was tears, I found the same orange slime as before.

the nurse got up and pressed a big red button on the side of the wall. A loud alarm went off that made me grab my and rage built inside of me. The webbed feet and the scales returned but not just on my face and feet, they were everywhere. I jumped up and the wires did not detach from  my head. I yanked them so hard that they finally came off with about 21 scales flew off of my face.

“Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed  and fell to my knees. I reached for the spots on my head where I expected the scales to be missing from. But just that quick they were replaced with new ones.

I saw the knob on the door twist and I knew that I had to hide but it was too late. The nurse I had hit across the room had regained her strength and was making her way towards me. I jumped up and grabbed her by the mouth and pulled her behind the door.  In barged a man wearing all black with some sort of gun in his hand.  I grabbed a serigen  that I saw on the table that was next to door the door and walked slowly from behind the door with the serigen  pointed towards her neck.

“ Let me out of here, and if you try anything I will plunge this needle so far into her neck you won't be able to get it out.”

“Calm down please, we will not hurt you. We are here to make you better. Please just let her go and let us take care of you.” the man said.

I could not bring myself to let her go. I saw as the man reached out towards me and before I knew it the serigen  was no longer in my hand but hanging from the nurse’s neck. Blood gushed everywhere.The man dressed in all black  plunged on the floor to catch her before she fell and by the time he touched her lifeless body I had slid past and made my way for the door.

I ran faster than I ever did before. I did not know where I was at but I knew I had to get to water quick because as I ran my hand on my scaly face, it  felt dry. Everything felt dry. It was so hard for me to breath the point where I was panting and fell to the floor every 10 steps as I was running. My mind could not think of  anything else but water.

The alarm was still going off and I heard footsteps running behind me.

“Stop her! Someone stop her !” a distant voice shouted.

I had came across a room at the end of the hallway that read “Releasing 23”. This was the first door I saw that did not have a lock so without hesitation I barged in. In the room was as flight of steps that looked as if it lead to heaven. I had no other choice but to climb, I was extremely clueless as to where the stair cases leaded.

When I finally got to the top of the staircase, there was a big glass window with a door in the middle. Behind the window, it seemed to be an ocean.

“Water!” I thought, and without hesitation, I reached for the doorknob. As  my hand touched the doorknob, a shock ran through my body that made me fall to the floor. My body was stunted and it was extremely hard for me to get up. Before I knew it, bars that looked like they belonged to a cage began to rise from the floor. I grabbed on to the bars in an attempt to get up but just like the door knob, a shock was sent through my body.

“A trap.” I thought, but it was too late for me to do anything about it. I still has not reached the water that my body so desperately needed and on top of that I was being electrocuted.

While I was laying there, I noticed that the alarm went off. I laid on the floor lifeless.

About 2 hours went pass when I heard a buzz noise indicating that someone had entered the room. I laid there stiffly as I heard the screeching sound of heels clicking up the steps.

“Jenn..” a male voice said to me softly, “Jenn, look at me. We are here to help you.”

The voice was so familiar. But I knew it was no way possible for it to be who I thought it . I did not have enough energy for me to turn around and see who it was. My eyes were so dry that they would not open no matter what.

“Jenn, turn around Jenn. Im going to help you, I just need to know that you are not going to hurt anyone else.”

I Felt someone stroke the tear away from my face and continued speaking

“Jenn, I’m so sorry I am the reason this is happening to you.”

I could not believe it. It was so hard for me to open my eyes but when I did, I was blessed with the presence of my father. He looked health and unharmed.

“I thought you were dead,” I bursted out in cries, “Daddy, I’m so scared. Please let me out of here, I want to go home.”

“We will, but it will take some time. I have to sedate you so we can operate. just stick your arm through the bar.”

“Okay,” a tear rolled down my face, “Just promise me you won’t leave me here dad promise.”

“I promise, Jenn.”

I stuck my  arm through the bar and I watched as my dad stick a 6 inch needle through my scales. I drifted off slowly and before I was completely asleep, I noticed one of the nurse who came up with my dad pull out a remote, point it to my father, and click a button and just like that he was gone.

I couldn’t scream. The liquid that the hologram of my father injected into me made me extremely weak and just like before, my head fell smack to the ground and the room fell black.

When I woke up, I was in a room that looked like a one room apartment, it had everything I ever needed for the rest of my life. I scanned the room, and I noticed, that this is where they planned to have me for the rest of my life because there wasn’t a door insight. Next to the bed was a huge tank, big enough to fit about 4 adult whales.

This reminded me of the fact that I was now  a subject in their experiments and I grew angry.  I kicked the tank constantly. I picked up any and everything that I could see and threw it at the tank.

“Stop it subject 453 before we have to shock you!” a loud voice ran through my room.

I didn’t pay it any attention. I picked up heavier and harder things which created long cracks through the tank, the voice  grew stern,

“This is the last time. Subject 453 stop it now!”

I screamed to the top of my lungs and began to bang at the side of the tank. I heard a buzz noise like before that indicated someone was coming in but there was no door. The top of my  ceiling began to rise and down fell 3 black boxes. There were wires that flew out the boxes and connected to every part of my body. Before I could react my body was already shaking outrageously and there was nothing I could do about it. I fell to the floor and orange slime ran out my eye socket. A bright white light lit up the room and I laid there lifeless.

“Im done please just turn off the light”

I realized that my life would never be the same. I was going to be stuck on this hell hole until I died and there was nothing I could do about it. I was stuck in the body of an unknown creature and I had no choice but to donate my body to science.


Adventure To The Surface Of The Earth

Chapter 1:

I don’t know how I got here, living under water, but i know I want to explore above the water.

“What else is out there?” I asked my parents when I was younger.

“Nothing. Everything is down here.” They would always reply.

But if that’s true, then why are we the only people who lie down here? Not even animals are under water with us. My parents never talked about it, but I knew that they have been to earth before, they just did not want to tell me, knowing I would get curious and want to leave to explore whats above us. I knew they were lying to me, but never really cared and wanted to pursue my thoughts until I got older.

Before Thomas was born, when his parents were still living on earth, their neighbors figured out that they had gills on their bodies and that they were not humans. His parents decided to escape and start a new life under water before their neighbors exposed them to the world.

That’s when it really hit me: my teenage years. Being a teenager, one would want to go out and have fun with their friends, but me, I had no friends. My friends were literally my parents. Everyday I would wake up, clean the house, and cook dinner. My parents didn’t have jobs. They just sat outside the house all day and read books. They left me in the house all day everyday to think about how I was going to get to the top of the surface. And so, I began to think of a master plan.

Knowing that my parents know where I’m at, every single second of the day, I need to come up with an elaborate plan that would trick my parents into thinking that I was doing what I normally do while I make my way up to the surface to discover what is up there. I knew this plan would take time, so I started as soon as possible. First I took a few pieces of paper from my dads office to map out my ideas on how I’m going to get to the top of the surface. I figured that I would need to come up with a plan to get my parents to stay in the house for a good ten minutes while I make my way up to the surface. I knew this wouldn’t be easy and I had no help but I was confident that I could accomplish discovering what is up there.

Chapter 2:

I knew that this would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. My parents basically lived outside. From the crack of dawn, until it was time to eat dinner and go to bed while I stay in doing the work they don’t want to do. So there it was, I then figured out that the only time I could make my way to the surface was when they were sleep. I needed to also plan out how long I planned on being up there? Maybe just before my parents wake up, then I can come back down I thought to myself. What if I get caught? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life stuck inside a house. The night drifted on as I started to second guess my plans on going above the surface. It all started to turn into a bad idea in my head. But I couldn’t go much longer without knowing what is up there. Without knowing there could be a better life for me above the surface. More opportunities for me that my parents never took advantage of maybe. I have to do this. Theres no backing out now, I have to do this for my self. I repeated these words in my head everyday day and night until I was ready to leave home for the first time.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Chapter 3:

Today is the day. The day I’m gonna go explore outside of home. I figured that I would leave about 2 hours after I knew that my parents were actually sleep, like sound asleep and nothing could wake them up. I chose to leave out my window, I had tested it out earlier: if it made a lot of noise when I opened it and it made a little, but not enough to wake my parents out of their sleep. My supplies bag was light, but there was so much more that I wanted to bring with me. Even though I don’t get out much, I found ways over the years to keep sane. There aren’t any opportunities here, and so there is no reason for me to stay. Yet, I don’t know the world outside of these waters. But if I am ever going to do something with my life, I have to try.

Slowly, I raised my bedroom window. The rust from the window left a slight residue on my hands. Quickly, I wiped it on my shirt and kept pushing upward. Peeking my head out of the window, I could see the top of the water. A beautiful full moon guided my trail, as I swam as fast as my body would allow. The thrill of the water rushing across my body was so oddly familiar, and I have missed it greatly. The moonlight was perfect enough to keep me on the path to the top. Suddenly, I sensed something along my path. From the looks of it, a great white shark was headed near me. My mother once warned me of their relentlessness, so I immediately panicked. There was no turning back now, but I was its prey. Gripping my back sack close to me, I tried to shoot up to the top of the water. It was the only sure way to throw off the shark.

My timing was too slow for the shark, and it inched closer to me the more I panicked. I wish I could just disappear that very moment. Forget getting to shore, I just don’t want to die. If it bites me, I will be the next full course meal. I felt its nose graze on my foot.

Chapter 4:

What is this place called? It’s nothing that I expected it to be. What is this stuff that ‘Im breathing? As I catch my breath for the first time I’m distorted. I stubble over into the sand thats all around me. I look up and see big buildings, bright flashing lights and loud people. Well I guess there people. They resemble my parents a little, but they’re using their feet to get around. Underwater, we get around by swimming. I thought to myself.. I wonder if these things know how to swim. I hesitantly move a little bit forward, not sure where I was going but I was trying to get used to how people get around out here. I see a long wood made elevated surface that people are walking along. They often stop at these house looking things but with things inside of it such as clothes and shoes that everyone could see. So I decided I should go over there and see.                                         As I start to move, I feel this sharp pain in my foot. I had stepped on something sharp in the sand. I stop and try to make out what it was. It was dark outside still so I decided to pull out my flashlight and point it on the bottom of my foot to see what it is. It appeared to be some type of shell. It took me a while to get this thing out of my foot, and when did a read watery substance was leaking from it. I was in so much pain, I feel into the sand and held my foot for a while. I started to get tired so I thought I would just go back home, I knew that I could come back another time to discover this place even more in depth. Drifting off into sleep, I woke up and it was bright outside. My heart raced as I thought about how much trouble i would get in when I returned home. But then, I saw someone. A woman running along the beach. She was running towards me, and I knew she was looking at me, but not looking in a normal way.

Chapter 5:

It appears as though she was running towards me, and every second that she got closer, I knew she was coming to say something to me. I tried to avoid her and act like everything was ok. But I still had a pain in my foot. She stopped me to figure out if I was ok and did I need any help. I was startled. I didn’t know what to say. I never had a conversation with anyone other than my parents.

“Hello, are you ok?” She said again.

I replied with a “yes”, but it seems that somehow she knew I was lying. She seemed to be so concerned with me, that I let my guard down and told her that I had something stuck in my foot and could not get it out. I told her that I was in so much pain and could barely walk. She took me in as if I was her own child. She pulled out a kit full of band aids and alcohol to treat my foot.

“Where are you from? You live around here?” She had asked.

“I’m from out of town, I was just visiting a few friends.”

Knowing I have never had a friend in my life. I had told her I didn’t know where they lived nor did I know how to get in contact with them.

“So how are you going to get back home?” She replied in a concerned tone.

“My parents are coming to get me in a couple of days I think.”

“You could stay with me, well you could stay in my garage if you want to. I wouldn’t want you sleeping out here on the beach.”

“Thanks, but I know my friends are looking for me and I think it would be best if I stay here.”

“Ok. I hope your foot gets better.”                                                                                            

I thanked her for all of her help as she started her run back up the beach. Is everybody up here as nice as she is I thought to myself. Maybe I should take her generosity, at this point I think that I really need it considering I have no idea what I’m doing up here. Maybe she could show me around. Basically she could give me a tour of this foreign place. She had not run that far away so I decided to call her back, but I didn’t even catch her name. I managed to get her to turn around by yelling “hey.”

Chapter 6:

She turned around in shock, stood there for a couple seconds then made her way back to me. I think staying in your garage would be a good idea I told her. I do not have anywhere to stay now that I think about it. She looked at me and smiled. I’d be glad to have you stay with me until your parents come to pick you up.

“Want to go grab something to eat?”

I shook my head yes, not knowing what the food up here was like. Underwater, we ate fish that were swimming in the surrounding area. We go to that long thing made of wood were all of those house looking things were.

“Lets go into this store, I really love this shirt.”

I followed right behind her, scared of what was going to happen next. But I discovered what these house looking things were. They were called stores. I was looked at strange by everyone in the store, like I was an alien or something. I knew that I didn’t fit in, so I tried to act like they were. I began to look around the store, pick things up, then put them back down. Thats what everyone else was doing. We leave this store and go to another. But this one was way different.    

They didn’t have clothes in this store, they had what appeared to be things that people up here eat. Surprisingly they had what appeared to be fish. It was kind of brown and crunchy but it still tasted like it. She had got a salad, which back at home was seaweed. Up here, she told me that it was called lettuce, which was a vegetable and that it was good for their bodies. So I decided to try some. After we ate, we made our way to her home. It was kind of a long ways to go, but my excitement overcame me feeling tired.

Chapter 7:

I know that I should go back home, but I’m torn. We arrive at her home. This feeling of excitement, but scared at the same time, we walk through her door. She shows me around her house, then shows me where I’ll be staying for the next couple of days. I figured I would only stay for the night but a feeling came over me. I was torn between staying here to figuring out more and going back home, knowing my parents were worried sick about me. Wasn’t this the point of me leaving home? To experience what else is out there? I’m starting to feel like maybe I wasn’t ready to leave the nest. A couple more years at home with my parents wouldn’t hurt me. Then I thought, when I return home, I’ll probably be in so much trouble, I’ll be there for a long long time. She came to check on me only one time that night. But I knew inside that she was becoming a friend. My first friend and I must admit, it felt great to have someone that cares about you; other than my parents. I never had to make such a hard decision in my life before. I knew that I would eventually go back under water, but whether or not it would be anytime soon was what stuck in my head back and forth for the entire night.  I only got about 2 to 3 hours of sleep, waking up to the sound of her walking down the steps and opening the garage door. “Good morning” she said enthusiastically as I slowly opened my eyes. I yawed and told her Good morning back.

“Want to go for a run with me this morning, get some exercise?” What the heck is a run I questioned in my head. That thing she was doing yesterday when I first met her maybe? Whatever it was, I decided to go along with her. Why not learn more new things.

Chapter 8:

Unaware, His gills seeped into his skin overnight and that meant that he couldn’t go back into the water. His gills had suddenly disappeared from being up above the surface of water for a long time. I got up, got dressed and waited for her to come back to tell me she was ready to go for this “run”. Remember, try to fit in with everyone else. Do not stand out too much I told myself. I don’t want anyone to notice anything weird about me. She came down stairs with this strange attire I had never seen. Maybe I was the one who was dressed strange for this. I didn’t have to proper clothes so I guess this will just have to make do I said to myself.

“Are you ready?”

“Ready as I can ever be” I said. She opens up the garage door and the bright light from the sun blinds me. I’m not used to this type of sun. of course I can see it from under water, but the impact it had up here was a million times different.

“We’re going to run to the beach and back ok?”

“Ok.” I replied.

Little did I know that was about a mile, which I was not capable of doing, I barely knew how to walk and now I have to run, great. We started our run and she wasted no time getting there. She was so far ahead of me I would lose her once a crowd of people appeared. I could see the long thing that was built with wood. I knew we were close to where I entered this place, she was closer than I though.

Chapter 9:

We reached the beach. Now we started running on the sand. Excused from running, I decided to swim in the ocean at the beach while she continues her run. Little did she know i was trying to go back under water with my parents, but when I hit the water, I could no longer breathe under it. Did I come adapted to breathe up here now? I started to suffocate, and once again she came to my rescue.

“What happened! Are you ok? Why would you ever get into the water if you do not know how to swim?”

“What?” That you can just magically breathe underwater without holding your breath or something?” She said in a tone of voice I have never heard from her before. She sounded really upset with me. I think I should tell her what I really am, where I really come from and why I’m here. I could risk getting into more trouble than I imaged, what if she thought I was crazy and reported me to the police? I have so many reasons why I shouldn’t tell her about the real me, but I also have one good reason why I should. She’s my friend. My only friend. Listen, I’m not what you think I am, or what you portray me to be. I come from under the sea. That’s where I live. I came up here to discover something new. I was tired of being stuck in the house everyday and wanted to really just find myself and mature. This adventure didn’t turn out the way I thought. I thought that I would be back home by now and had got enough experience that if I wanted to, I could come up here again. But now its like, I don’t even want to leave. I’ve learned so not only much about this place, but about myself and what it’s like to have a friend. I can even prove it to you. Still, she doesn’t say a word. He lifts up his shirt to prove to her that he can breathe under water. When he lifts up his shirt, he expects her to see gills, but it was the complete opposite.

Chapter 10:

She sees that he doesn’t have gills. Theres nothing but skin in place of where his gills should be. He looks like a liar to her, but he begs her to stay, because he can’t explain what happened. I need your help more than ever he pleads to her. Can you trust me? I’m telling you the truth. My home is underwater I made everything up. I was not staying with my friends and got lost. I came up here to discover new things. I wanted to experience something new. My parents never let me outside. We’re the only people who live down there. I never had any friends, ever. Please don’t leave me. How will I return home? “You're crazy!” She screamed at me

“Are you insane?”

“No I am not! I’m telling you truth, why can’t you just believe me?”

“How am I supposed to believe you?”

“But I thought we were friends. Aren’t friends supposed to trust each other?”

“I mean we are, but this is just crazy. How am I supposed to believe that you’re really from under water?”

“Because you just have to believe me. That’s what friends do.”

“Im sorry, I just can’t.. nice to meet you.”

“Please, you have to help me find my parents.”

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The Year 2050

“Louis! Get downstairs. Breakfast is ready!” said my mom.

As I was rubbing my eyes trying to find the courage to get out of bed, I couldn’t help but want to stay asleep. To keep my mom quiet, I found the strength to flip over, push the covers ff, and trudge downstairs to the kitchen.

“Eat breakfast and get ready for school.”

I nodded my head in a reply and ate my cereal. Another damn day at school. I powered back up the stairs, put on a white tee shirt, brushed my teeth, and walked out the front door.

“And please .. do NOT be home after dark,” said my mom; giving me that stern look she does every morning after she says this statement; in hopes that I don’t forget.


I don’t blame her though. You see, living in Huttson; which is right outside of Pennsylvania, wasn’t the safest place in the world. It definitely was the cheapest. The population was quite big and that’s because owning any home around here was under $30,000. Things have changed since the early 2000’s. It was  2050 and they all said life would get better as the world continued to evolve, as technology advanced, and blah blah blah. But no one was safe and no where was paradise.

In Huttson, it washighly recommended by every parent, teacher, priest, mayor, and even news reporters that you were supposed to be in your house before dark. Because if not, you just might be in trouble.

There was a group of members; no one knew their names, faces, or where they’re from. So, we gave them a name ourselves - the Hunters. There were six of them. They just simply showed up and attacked. And it happened every night after dark. Some people simply couldn’t help but be home after dark. Families worked late jobs, kids left parties. It was all up to chance whether or not you would make it home safely. When your mom used to warn you about the scary monsters under your bed; that’s what this was like.

So far my mother and I haven’t encountered interactions with the hunters and we don’t plan on it. I hung out with my friends for two hours after school, then I’d go straight home. And since it was just my mom and I, her shift at the local hospital ended at 5 o’clock. However, it was tough on the weekends. It was hard for my mom and I to make night plans because we were simply too scared to take the chance of trying to go home after dark - we were all we got.

The aftermath of these incidents wasn’t what Huttson was afraid of. It was just the actual experience. Because in Huttson, the aftermath of someone getting hurt, the wounds, the scrapes, the damage, didn’t concern us. Each house in Huttson was supplied with a first aid kit.

No, not the kind on television or the one that your school nurse pulls out of her drawer when you scraped your knee. In the kit was a spray bottled called “Mend-On”. The spray heals all wounds or illnesses, like the ones you go to your school nurse for. Or, the ones that you were faced with when you're faced with the Hunters after dark.

The spray contained cells that mend on to the person’s wound to redevelop the skin that damaged. The cells were from healthy skin from those who get paid to donate some of their skin cells. There was a big laboratory in Huttson that used the skin cells that were donated to produce even more cells, to create the spray.

Now you can see why the population was so big here and why it stays that way. No one dies. We all live pretty plain, simple lives. Which was why we were afraid with being faced with the adrenaline of dying from the Hunters; even though we knew we were covered.


I finally got to school and met Liza at her locker. She was the only one at Huttson High School who has been face to face with the Hunters. I’ll never forget the story: It was my 14th birthday and we had a party dinner at my house. Her parents were both working so they couldn’t pick her up. And she only lived around the corner. So she borrowed my bike and went home. It was 8:30 at night. No one was outside which made her even more scared. As she was pedaling, she turned her back to see if anyone was behind her. She was cleared. As soon as she turned her head, the Hunters jumped out and attacked her. They broke the bike and broke her arm. This was before Mend-On came to Huttson.

I forgot to mention - Huttson doesn’t have any hospitalization since Mend-On was produced. As I told you before, my mom worked at the local hospital; in other words - she was working there to pack up her things and find a new job since all of the hospitals were closing in a few weeks. Its been a debate for a year now whether or not hospitals should still be running. They just made it official that the money can be put to use for other things.

The only downside to this was that my mom losing her job. Besides that, Mend-On was the best! We all love living here even though it can be scary. Unfortunately, Mend-On can’t fix damages that were created before its time. So, Liza has had a broken arm for 3 years now. It was casted up and was good for no use. I couldn’t do anything but feel guilty for letting her go home that night.


The day went by pretty fast, thankfully. It was raining outside so I rushed home. I wanted to invite Liza over but my mom has always been on the fence about her coming over since she broke her arm. She doesn’t want her having to go home late at night again.

My mom wasn’t home yet, which always worried me because sometimes I’d have thoughts that she won’t make it home; if the hospital extends her shift for too long. So, I did my homework and too a nap to distress myself from the bittersweet reality I live everyday being in Huttson.

“Louis, I’m home. TV dinners will be ready for super soon.”

“Thanks Mom.”

We sat at the dinner table and told each other how our days were. Things were pretty quiet in our house. I admire my mom a lot. She plays all the roles I need to have in my life and she does it very well. I think my mom feels the same way about me too. We depend on each other for almost everything.

“Mom, I have a question... What if we run out of Mend-on? And one of us gets attacked by the Hunters? Then what?”

“Oh God, Louis. Don’t say such a silly thing. That will never happen.”

My mom went on a rant for the next three minutes about how I have to stop being pessimistic. But I couldn’t help it. Sometimes you have to think that way, in order to prepare for the worst. My biggest fear was being faced with death and knowing that there was nothing I could do to stop it. But my mom was right; that’s just non-sense.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------        Since my mom decided to catch an attitude during her rant, I went straight to my room after dinner and texted Liza.

“Wyd?” I asked.

“Bio HW. Hbu?”

“Laying down. I miss you,” I said. Fuck it, I clicked send.

“I miss you too bestie!”

Oh God.. “Bestie”? It was times like these where I tried to figure out what exactly my feelings were for Liza. I knew I liked her; it was obvious. But everyday, she hit me with the “bestie” title and I shut down. I guess I’d let that dream go. It was clear she didn’t like me. After that text message I was too irritated to reply. I went right to sleep.


I woke up in an irritated mood from what happened last night. I don’t know why it got to me every time; its as if I wasn’t expecting her to not respond like that - I should’ve already been prepared for the disappointment.

It was another day; so I went through the same process of my routine. I flipped over from my bed, pushed the covers off, and went downstairs for breakfast. Luckily, I beat my mom to the kitchen, so she didn’t have to yell up the stairs forcing me to come down.

“I found a new job!” said my mom.

“Where at?” I responded immediately.

“An animal shelter. I start tomorrow night!” said my mom.

“Tomorrow night?” I said, extremely confused.

“Yeah that’s the thing ... the shift I have is after dark. But they said they really need me and the pay is great.”

“No mom, I won’t allow it. Has what’s happened to Liza not mean anything to you?!

Doesn’t that scare you?!” I couldn’t even finish my cereal; I was too disturbed.

“Yes it scares me but we need the money Louis. I already set up a cab transaction. The driver will be at the front door of the shelter at 10 p.m when I’m off of work; and will drive me straight home. Everything is going to be great!” insisted my mom.


I stomped upstairs and got dressed for school; having to rush because I was too focused on what I just encountered. After getting dressed, I left out through the front door without saying a word.


I saw Liza in the hallway when I got to school but I pretended like I didn’t. Surprisingly, she came up to me first.

“You okay? You never responded to my text last night,” said Liza.

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Haha, good. Alright, I’m going to first period. I’ll see you later; maybe you can come over after school.”

“Yeah, I gotchu.”

Man, she’s so beautiful. And she asked me to come over! She never did that. Could this mean something? Ha, I’m funny as shit to think something of it. Just two “besties” hanging out after school .. Great.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                 I could barely concentrate throughout the entire day at school. I felt like there was so much on my mind and sometimes I thought: what if I didn’t live in Huttson? Would I be live a better life? I used to think Huttson was great; that we were all happy and untouchable - nothing could hurt us; especially because of Mend-On. All these great people to meet, no one can go broke - we were all living at reasonable costs, and we can basically live forever. I was very wrong.

I rather live in a normal town and live a normal life. Here, we were given unlimited power to live because of Mend-On but what good was it when I have had to totally limit my life and organize what I do, so I don’t have to be faced with the damn Hunters.

But it was okay .. Just like my mom says. Everything was going to be okay. I hoped.


I decided to go over Liza’s house. I met her on the front steps of school once the bell rang.

“Ready?” she said.

“Yeah, we taking your car?”

“Yeah, I don’t mind driving. And I’ll drive you home too.”

She never said that before either. I’ve known Liza for too long and we’ve always been close. But she’s never done things to go out of her way and be super friendly. Maybe I was just over thinking things because of last night.

I haven’t been over Liza’s house since the incident. We just thought it was too risky ever since she got severely hurt.


We got out the car and went in her house. No one was home.

“Let’s go to my room,” she said.

“Okay,” I said.

What the fuck? In all my life of being friends with Liza she has never asked me to go to her bedroom. I wasn’t sure if I should be excited or confused. Would this have been the time to kiss her or just straight out tell her how I felt?

We walked upstairs and she put a movie in the DVR. Every time we hung out, we’d watch “She’s The Man”, starring Amanda Bynes.

We laid on her bed and watch the movie. I sat down and laid back first; completely shocked that she decided to lay down right next to me, with her arm on my leg.

“Okay Louis.. Try not to panic. Calm down before she feels your heart beating fast; you fucking freak,” I repeatedly told myself in my head.

The room was silent.

“Can I tell you something?” said Liza. I was kind of happy she was the first one to speak.

“Go ahead.”

“I don’t think you feel the same way, but I like you. I always did. That’s why I brought you here,” she said, looking down at the floor.

“What the fuck, so what’s up with all the “bestie” shit?”

“It was just my way of covering up my feelings. Everyone sees us as best friends and that’s how I thought you saw us - just as best friends,” she said without hesitation.

“Liza, I’ve liked you since day 1. That’s why I didn’t reply back to your text last night. I was too mad - I thought I was in the friend zone.”

“Haha, not at all.” She smiled, coming towards me with a kiss.


I stayed later than I should have at Liza’s house. It was already 8:00 at night and I had 5 missed calls from my mom.

“Sorry, I got caught up at Liza’s house. I’m coming home now. She is giving me a ride - don’t worry. I’ll be home in 10.” I sent her a text message.

Liza and I both fell asleep after holding her in my arms and watching the movie. I tried waking her up.

“Liza! Wake up! Its past dark!”

“Oh shit. Okay, let’s go. I’m not letting you walk home.”

We walked downstairs and ran to the car, locked the doors, and buckled our seat belts. We looked left and right before pulling out of the drive to make sure we were clear of the Hunters.

We hurried up and drove to my house. The good thing about driving to my house was that the Hunters don’t carry weapons. All of their defense and violence was with their bare hands. So, there was no way they could get through to us if we were in the car.

We pulled up to my driveway; looking left and right again. I saw a black blur down the street but I wasn’t sure what I was looking that.

“Is that who I think it is?” My hands were shaking.

“Louis, its the Hunters. Get out the car now! Hurry!”

“No, I’m not leaving you alone here.”

This was the first time I was faced with the Hunters; and the second time for Liza.

“What’s it like?” I said.

“What’s what like?”

“Being faced with the Hunters,” I replied.

“When you see actors in scary movies running away from the killer.. and you think wow, it looks so convincing. I was the actor; but I wasn’t acting. You feel everything happening right in front of you but it goes by too quick for you to stop it. You just use that adrenaline you have from being so scared, and you experience it. You don’t know when it is coming and you don’t know when it is going to end.”

As I took in that message, I looked over in the rearview mirror and saw the Hunters approach us. We tried hiding by slumping and scrunching up in the car as much as possible, hoping they didn’t see us. My palms were sweaty, my heart was beating, and I was panting. I looked over at Liza and she was calm and content.

I heard the Hunters inching towards the car trying to look through the windows. Luckily, they don’t stick around for long - they didn’t notice us.

We waited another five minutes before we decided to lift our heads in safety.

“Shit, that was scary.”

“Yeah I know, I wasn’t tryna break my other arm,” said Liza, while chuckling.

“Haha, stop that. But you right. Okay, I’m gonna leave now,” I said

We kissed.

“Be safe Liza.”

“You too Louis.”

I ran out the car, opened the door, shut it behind me, and locked it.

It was such a weird night. I checked on my mom, but she was already fast asleep. Even though I was sleeping for three hours at Liza’s, I jumped into bed and went o sleep immediately. Too much has happened in one night; I needed the rest.


I woke up. Same shit, different day. I first went to my mom’s room to check up on her.

“Mom, you okay? I’m so sorry I came home late last night. Did you get home from work alrigh?”

‘Yes, I was fine. Coming home to find out my son isn’t home!”

“I know, I’m sorry. I feel like I should tell you - I saw the Hunters last night. Don’t worry; I’m fine. I was in the car, hiding with Liza. They peeked in the car, but didn’t see us.”

“Louis! That’s the kind of shit I’m talking about! You see what happens when you try to come home late?!” She got out of bed and left the room.

I followed her downstairs to the kitchen.

“I know mom! I’m sorry! It won’t happen again.”

She didn’t reply so I went upstairs to get ready for school.


I met up with Liza and we entered school holding hands. It was nice. I kissed her goodbye as we departed to go to our classes.


It was 3rd period, so I met Liza in the library for lunch.

“My mom was mad at me last night; I think it was because she was scared. But she’s okay.”


“So what are you-” I started talking as I got interrupted by the loud speaker.

“Attention! Students and teachers! There is an important announcement! The Government has just announced on international news that Huttson is currently experiencing an economic crisis! They are unsure of how this is going to play out. All they know is that all around the world prices for housings have been raised, and stocks are dropping. Some of us might be losing jobs. You will be notified when school will proceed. There is going to be a rapid dismissal immediately after this announcement. Associates from the governments are going door to door in all neighborhoods of Huttson as we speak to collect your Mend-On kits. The city might sell the invention to other town, so we can have money for all of the people. More information about this will be announced on the news tonight. Please get home safely to your families and do not leave the house! Beware of the Hunters!”

“Holy shit, I gotta go home. My mom can’t go home after her shift that late at night without Mend-On! What if the Hunters get her?!” I said as my voice was getting louder and louder.

“Louis, everything is going to be okay. You just have to keep calm. We will work this out. Let’s just get home.”


I get in the house and it was silent. I’m assuming my mom heard about the announcement. I think everyone in Huttson was being informed about it.

I sent her a text to check up on her then started working on my homework; hoping I could concentrate. The door bell rang.

I walked downstairs and opened up the door. Two men in suits stood before me.

“Can I help you guys?”

“We are from the Mend-On agency; here to collect your kit.” They both said, in deep voices; gesturing their badges towards me.

I lead them to the cabinet in the kitchen and handed it to him.

“Do you think we will ever get Mend-On back in our homes?”

“That is undecided, kid. Have a good day.” They shook my hands and walked out the front door.

I went back upstairs, jumped into my bed, and stared at my phone.


I rub my eyes and flip over on my bed. Fuck, I fell asleep. I check my phone for a response from my mom... nothing. My eyes were drawn to the corner of my home screen on my laptop. What the fuck! It was 7:30 at night. I looked out the window. It was dark. I jumped to my phone and called my mother.

No answer.

Okay, Liza told me to stay calm. Fuck that. I texted Liza to make sure she was okay.

“You good? Is your family home?”

“Yeah we’re good. Is your mom home?” replied Liza.

“No, and I’m worried. I’ll text you when she gets here.” I clicked send.

I go downstairs, pacing back and forth, staring at the front door - waiting patiently for it to open.

I decided to cook a TV dinner to stall time.


It was 10:30 at night. My mom fuckin’ drawlin’. Fuck it. I put on a jacket and went outside to walk towards the animal shelter. She should have been home. As I was walking, I kept calling her phone.

Still no answer. I’ve been worried; but now I was past worried.

I start picking up my pace.

“Mom!” shouting out to the neighborhood.

“Anne! Where are you?! Its Louis! Answer me!” I kept shouting.

I started running out of breath, so I slowed down. As I was walking, tears fell down my eyes. Was my mom being faced with death right now?

I got to the animal shelter and banged on the door.

“Hello! Is anyone there?! Someone help me! Where is Anne?!” I kept shouting.

No one was answering. I turned back around and started heading towards home.

As I was walking, almost arriving at my house, I saw the same blob and blur of blackness that I saw last night when I saw the Hunters. Could that be them?

I hid in a bush. Oh shit, there was a woman being attacked. I paniced all over again. Fuck, what do I do?

As I got closer and closer to the scene, my entire life flashed before me.

Its my mother.

“Get off of her!” I’m running towards them at full speed.

This time it was only three of them.

All this adrenaline and power poured out of me; it was completely unexpected. I punched one, kicked another to the ground, and stomped on the other. Long enough to make them all unconscious.

I ran towards the pavement where my mother was lying.

“Mom! Say something! Wake up!” I kept tugging on her, crying.

“Louis. I’m so sorry,” she said softly.

Blood was rushing out of her head.

“Mom! I’m calling the hospital!”

“Louis... there’s no point. Its over. I should have listened to you,” said my mom with her last breath, barely keeping her eyes open.

My mother was faced with death and she lost. Nothing could save her. No doctor, no Mend-On kit, no God could rewind this night and stop what just happened.

I froze and sat there for the rest of my night. I had no physical or mental strength to get up. I was now on my own for the rest of my life; no family to live with.

I knew this day would come but I didn’t know it was going to be so soon. I knew that one day this bittersweet town would have been in trouble. That time was tonight.

As I tried to stand up, I turned my head and right in front of me were all six of the hunters, alive and standing.


What Doesn't Kill Me......

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is difficult sometimes, ya know? It’s like, one minute you're doing everything right then, BAM, you get hit with something outta nowhere, fucking nowhere I tell ya. I guess it all started way back when, if I can even remember what happened correctly. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another, it’s one of those things I just don’t get. Anyway, my name is Jack. I’m from Rome originally, but I moved to the states to find “The American Dream” or the cracked up version of it anyway in college in California.

Everything went well there I suppose, I graduated within the top 10 in my class with a double master’s in Philosophy & Clinical Psychology. I study the mind in order to understand my own. For the longest I’ve been on all types of medication. Mood elevators, Bipolar medication, you name it, I’ve been on it.  My parents didn’t know any better but to trust whatever doctors said. I’ve been taking those medications all my life. I can’t even function throughout my day to day life without them...but man 280 bucks a month on medication is a lot more the I can afford to blow on pills. Anyway thats not the story I’m here to I said; my memory isn’t the most reliable.

Living on medication your entire life isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you have skin like mine that looks like a cracking mask. It’s always been hard for me to wake up and look in the mirror. My face filled with craters, dead skin, and pimples the size of tennis balls. This in turn leads to one crappy love life and not many friends. Niko, Hayden and Laura, they get me through anything and everything. They have since our days at the University of Southern California. Best friends for life, Niko and Hayden follow by the book, helping my self esteem and my overall demeanor.

But Laura, oh man sometimes I don’t know how I conceal the words,


I’ve had a crush on her since Intro to Psych, freshman year. I could never tell her, every time Niko talks me into almost getting there I chicken out...and end up going home and drowning out my failed attempt in whiskey and meds that I should have taken a week ago. But, there was that one time, that one particular time, that thing that made me the way I am. That light at the end of the road. Even though I can’t reach it.

I guess it all started downhill when I started really paying attention to bills and how much my meds and drinking binges were stacking up. It really wasn’t pretty. But it got day I came home to see all my shit out on the sidewalk. So I elected to have a chat with my good old landlord, Martin.

“What the hell Martin ? You said I had another week before I got kicked out ? This is bull man” I said using most of the base in my voice.

“I said that last week ya donche, This ain’t the time to be getting all touchy feely, you knew the money was due. So pay up or scram”

After that I started picking up my stuff, because there was no way in hell I had the money to pay him back, I didn't even have the money to front him to make it look like I would pay up. I had just gone into another drinking fit last night after trying to talk to Laura again.

All I could really think to do was to call Niko, so I did. He was at work so of course he didn't answer. Just like every other time it was actually important and not about a girl, well Laura of course. I tried Hayden’s cell but all I got was dead with nothing to do and nowhere to go I just headed downtown. I remember distinctly how the air changed as I got further and further south. The air was thick with the steam curling out of the sewers and the smell of the fermenting trash getting heated up from the exhaust of the many cars parked around. It smelled sweet like cheap Chinese food and booze, but dank at the same time. Almost like mildew and sex.  Honestly it was a crap neighborhood.

After walking far enough and I found a pawn shop, which was actually helpful to me. I still had the stuff I could carry from my apartment with me so I decided to sell most of it. It was all useless to me anyway without a place to live. I made about $200 within an hour which was just about enough to get somewhere to stay. After that I just crossed the street and strolled into a cheap run down looking bar/motel. Convent enough right?

I head in with my money in hand, and slide right into a stool at the bar. I order a Whiskey Sour and wait. Once my drink was handed to me by a less than attractive bartender I downed it. Then another...then another. After I lost count of the number of drinks I had and how much money I had left I felt it. The inevitable effect of drinking in general but especially alcohol. I really had to pee.

Once I got to the bathroom I stood there doing my thing just kinda staring at the wall and I noticed that there was something written on it. It was an address and phone number next to a weird science looking symbol. All that info was boxed in then a sharpied on arrow pointing to another box, with the word “Nirvana” written in it. I took a blurry picture with my phone and figured I’d check it out once I sobered up again. Maybe there was a way to get enough money out of it to get my old place back, or even a new place. Hell I might even be able to turn my life around just enough to get up the balls to talk to Laura for real and not just in my dreams.

I woke up to the sound of yelling and throwing as the bartender kicked me out. So I went to go wandering  around until I found the building that I had the address to this science project. I went to the front desk and asked how could I get it in on doing this project for some dough. The front desk lady told me to take a seat until they called for people. So I sat around Doing just that...waiting. I had been sitting around for about an hour when I was finally told to go to the back room where I would talk to someone about the information I knew, what I could do to help them and of course in turn, what they could do to help me back.

I was told that “Project Nirvana” was a case study conducted by a nearby college. In all honesty it was about getting funding or some other B.S for their science department, I zoned out half way, but I came back right at the good parts. They would be administering a type of virus/inoculation hybrid drug into me once every other week and monitoring my progress or lack there of. So basically, I got a free place to stay, free meals, money handed to me, and a miracle drug that would make me ‘better’. I was so down it I didn't even care to listen to the rest. I signed the release and the waiver, handed over my belongings and got checked into the building’s living quarters; were I would be living for the next year.  

It didn’t take long until I got in the building. After I filled out the paperwork on the spot they handed me a room key and told me the address. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it wasn’t too crap either. Beggars can’t be choosers right? As I settled in I noticed there were two beds instead of one. My first thought was back to my days living in a college dorm, and all the trouble my roommate caused me. In any case, I was told that  was to keep us socially active while living there, since we couldn’t get cell phone reception in the rooms and the internet was slow as all hell to boot. But not knowing who’s gonna be rooming with you is kinda scary. The thought of knowing they’re going to see you at your best, worst and ugliest is weird. But low and behold who came clutching their black plastic bag through the door with that red hair and sleeve tattoo I could never forget. It was my old college roommate, Jet.

Jet was... I guess what you would think of when you hear “College Party Boy”. Jet was everything in those, coming home super late after the latest frat party and banging back-up quarterback’s girlfriend because he was too scared to attempt the starter’s girl and turning in everything late to every professor. I honestly don’t know how the kid made it through four years at college, or how he even got in the first place since he was the classic kid who the dean hates in every 80’s sitcom. We didn’t really talk after college, since he was going to become the next neil armstrong in biking and take the world by storm...but I don’t think shooting up in the middle of the night really helped him get that far in his pursuit.

“This block 47 A right kiddo? He said to me as he blew a ring of smoke that hit me right in the middle of my face,

“Yeah, your bed’s right over there. I moved all my shit on the other one, it’s down the hall if ya need me,” I said.

“Thanks. Hey wait….. I know you from somewhere don’t I Kid? I swear, were you on the back of a milk carton?” He said, as I saw curiosity from his face for the first time in, well ever.

“Nah dude, last time somebody said that to me was way back in was 2017 when I was a college sophomore or some shit at SC in dorm……”

“Hmmm, wait a sec…. Hold on, holy shit what’s up man? I haven’t seen you since the party days back at college” He said as another blast of cigar smoke hit my face.

We had a little chat about catching up and what we did after college, the usual shit like that. Turns out, a slacker can hold down a steady job at rite-aid and keep an apartment. That is until is your girlfriend throws all your shit out of the window when you have long “meetings” with your boss almost every week. I mean, it’s Jet I didn’t really expect much more.

Everything was pretty smooth for the first couple weeks. You know, treatments, monitoring, physical workups, social activities, diet changes, everything I was told to be expecting. Things only started to get weird after about a month or so. I noticed that most of the other ‘subjects’ that were in my dorm block had either left or been removed from the study as the nurses so politely put it. Why they were removed we were never told, but I also noticed that I saw Jet less and less, and when I actually did get to see him for a little bit he was different. I mean, he was always an asshole, but especially so then. He was always moving really sluggish, and really short with everyone he came into contact with.

Then things just got progressively weirder. The side effects of whatever they were pumping into me started to hit. I got really lethargic and lost all the want and need to eat. I started developing blackouts/fainting spells because of my lethargy combined with insomnia, and time skips to top it all off.  Apparently whatever hormone supplements were in the drug cocktails were warping my brains neurological receptors, making my  brain freak out and in the eventuality deforming it.

Now I still had full function of my brain and body although I still had the skips and no more than three hours of sleep a night.  

“Have you been having any body,muscle, or joint pain as of late?” Asked a looming nurse dressed in a pale pink scrub set, as though a peppy color would distract me from the fact that I had made a mistake coming here. I would look at medication without being reminded of the flowers I had not seen in the new coming spring season in the past 4 months I had stayed in this hell hole. Getting god knows what put into my body; because I thought it was an easy paycheck.

“No not really, still can’t sleep though...can’t you give me anything for that?” I said,  That is really all I could say. Thats all I ever said, ‘no can’t sleep’, ‘no can’t sleep’.    But this time I needed to say more, I needed to hear what my barely sober self had not bothered to pay attention to not even a year before.

“Look, I was really out of it when you guys explained exactly you would be doing to me, so would you mind telling me again, reiterating if you will, what it is you are doing?” I said

She never answered me herself. Instead she tore a piece of paper off her little notepad and scribbled down some numbers on it. They looked random to me, like she was just pacifying me or telling a child a story to pass the I was really just a number on a page, an appointment, a paycheck. After she left and I went back to my room in the dorm I took my time to go call the set of numbers I was handed. It rang for a while then eventually a machine picked up. But it wasn't really a machine, just a human recording.

“The purpose of ‘Project Nirvana’ is to figure out the correct cocktail of drugs to create a super soldier or highly advanced human. This may consist of warping the pain receptors in the brain, physically augmenting the body’s form or general makeup, or even hormonal supplements. In short the task is to dehumanize humans. This project will go on for a year, at which time the facilities will be sanitized and removed.”

Still not understanding the full picture I went back to my room and flopped on the bed. After about ten minutes I noticed I was laying on something, paper, small, pointy...mail. I opened one after another little spam mail envelopes, then I got to the last letter, addressed from Hayden. He was telling me to take it easy, brush my teeth and take my meds, which I hadn’t been doing since about exactly the night I was thrown out of my apartment, but I figured it didn't matter and he was just trying to mother me like the friend he was supposed to be.

About 3 months after that I was really tired of the poking and the prodding, the questions and monitoring. I just wanted it to get out of that place, so I packed my stuff and headed for the door one night.  I got about halfway out the door when security got there and tried to take me back to my room.

I was kicking and fighting, until I felt this calm wash over me. I really didn't need to work as hard as I was, I could kick ass without even breaking a sweat. I punched one guard, then another. Once they stopped coming at me the only one left standing was the administrator that checked you in and out. She was slouched against the wall and wouldn’t look at me. So I picked up my bag and walked away.

I walked through town, and it was completely empty. Probably because it was pouring rain and freezing out. A late autumn rain. I walked until I reached Laura’s apartment. Then I walked all the way up the stairs until I got to the landing in front of her door. I had just been through hell, getting all types of random shit put in my body and basically being held prisoner for almost a year. I was above having butterflies for my best girl friend.

Eventually I got up the courage to knock on the door and wait for her to come answer. As soon as she did I knew something was wrong. Her face twisted up into a play dough mound of terrified and disgusted and her eyes looked frozen in place. Then came the scream...and it all happened as soon as she caught a glimpse of me, or what’s left of me.

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