Thursday, March 3, 2016

Writing Challenge: Root Words

Spect-

Spectator, Spectacles, Spectacular

Back in my day, the Mafia would make me watch as they did their dealings with other gangs. Whether it was a trade or a fight, I was always on the rooftops as a spectator. These old spectacles I'm wearing now are the very same ones I used to watch the Mafia's affairs with. Sometimes I would be positioned where I got a spectacular view of the city and the skyline. My vision's pretty terrible now and I can't see for a bucket of apples.

Monday, January 4, 2016

"Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I once met someone, a good friend, who was able to inspire me to pursue something I didn't know I loved.

        When I was in sixth grade, I had taken band as one of my classes and during the time that I was there, a junior, from the high school, was doing an independent study with us and taught the class. He had told me that I was talented with music and that I should join the marching band. I hadn't thought much of it at the time, band was just a fun class and I was the best saxophonist in the class. Later that year, I had decided that I would try out the marching band, and in the summer, the third wednesday of summer break, I had attended the first practice of marching band. I had always enjoyed music and after the first few practices, I had learned to love the pain marching gave me. There were a lot of new people, including myself, and a some veterans of the marching band, but whoever they were, we all became a family in a short time. This is something I love and enjoy, and even though I'm still young and able to pursue another career, this is something I am committed to.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Make It Stop- P.V.

Make It Stop


Tap, tap, tap, tap. I woke up to a blinding light in my eyes, a lamp hanging from the ceiling was directly above me. My eyes adjusted and  I found myself in a concrete room with no windows and a visible door. I could barely control my body as I sat up in a bed and then laid back down, eyes closing. I had recently had these strange sort of dreams of the concrete room and never payed any mind to it. After all it was just a dream. I woke up back to reality, away from the cold cell.
I was back in my home with my parents getting ready to leave for work. I was a little delirious from the dream and it took me a minute to realize what was happening. “Goodbye Alice,” said my mother, kissing my forehead. “Your father and I will be back at 3pm which leaves you with the house for six hours.” My mother and father then exited the household and left me to stand alone in the living room. I didn’t have any homework and I didn’t feel like engaging with others so I went upstairs to my computer. There I researched spies and how they would kill themselves if they were ever to be caught by using a cyanide pod in their cheek. They would bang the point of the cheek where the cyanide was hidden against a hard surface, causing the pod to disperse its deadly contents.
In the process of reading these articles I heard the taps start to get a little louder. These taps… started this month. I had suffered a mild brain injury when I had fallen down the stairs but I had recovered nicely. The taps started then and they wouldn’t go away. I thought everyone could hear it too and just never spoke about it. I easily got used to having the the taps being a background noise in the back of my head.
It was 12pm now and I had found a site where I could buy some of the cyanide pods that would be able to be be hidden in the cheek. I ordered a single pod with the money I had earned over the month. I started to hear taps in my head and read on the internet that becoming insane might cause the victim to perform violent acts against others. I then ran downstairs and grabbed some bread and some cheese and as I was going back upstairs the phone rang. I didn’t want to hear its annoying ring so I picked up.
“Hello, this is Alice of the Barrowman family,” I greeted.
“Hey Alice, it’s me, Jonathan. I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today. Maybe at the park?” I paused for a moment before I answered. Jonathan was a nice boy who specialized in math and was always kind to me. We were good friends but it was a little out of the ordinary for him to hang out with me.
“Sure, I’ll walk over there now. We could meet at the baseball bleachers. Sound good?” I asked.
“Yeah, that sounds great. Okay, see you there, bye,” he replied and hung up.
I started to walk out the door when everything turned dark and I reappeared in the room made of concrete. This time I stayed in the dream a little longer. “Hello?” I whispered, “Is anyone there?”
No response came but I did notice a camera in corner of the room which I looked at for a while before I found myself back in the uncomfortable cot and waking up. Now I was at the park, sitting on the bleachers with Jonathan. Time clearly had passed and I wondered if I had sleep walked there or possibly teleported, but teleportation was unheard of these days.
The darkness of the afternoon started creeping up and I had to get home soon. Jonathan had brought sandwiches but none of us were eating. “So do you want to go to the dance with me or not?” he asked. I was started to hear the taps, growing louder and louder, like the banging of drums. “Look, Alice, you’re really nice and over the years I-” I told him to stop, clutching my head in pain. I couldn’t hear anything anymore, the banging of the drums becoming so uncontrollably loud. TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP. He was looking at my face mouthing some words but I couldn't hear him. Soon I was pulling a sharp stick from the ground and stabbing him, unable to control myself. Stabbing him until I could see nothing but red, until the puncture marks became holes all the way through his chest.
I was filled with relief as I was dragging his body into the woods and disposing of my jacket and the weapon which I had used to kill Jonathan Chandler. I walked home, going through every backyard and alley way, hoping not to be seen. I then entered my home through the back door and took a shower, making sure there was not a spec of blood on my body. I scrubbed my clothes in the sink of the bathroom and tossed them into the laundry basket. I put on new clothes and a fresh new plastic smile, acting like everything was normal. The banging of drums had faded to a fingernail hitting a table’s surface. But it was still there, always there. Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap… Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap… Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap.
My parents returned home an hour later and I came downstairs, greeting them and asking how they were doing, just as I had practiced for the past half hour. “We’re fine honey, now your mother and I will cook up some dinner. Go upstairs and use your computer for the time being,” said my father as he walked through the living room to the kitchen. I slowly walked upstairs with a knife, hidden in my shirt sleeve. The taps, increasing in sound, just enough to be noticeable.
I woke up in the dream of the cell I was caged in and thought that maybe I might be able to find a way out. I ran my fingers on the surface of the walls trying to find a door. The camera made me a little cautious about my actions and I made sure not to look suspicious. I could hear the taps in this dream too. The faint tapping of a single fingernail hitting the surface of a wooden desk. The camera in the corner of the cell seemed to be controlled by someone as its gaze always fell upon me when I glanced at it. I then decided to get back to reality so I went to the bed, the only way to escape this prison, and awoke in the living room with the knife in my right hand, ready to strike a deadly blow.
My mother’s back was facing me and my father was in the kitchen. The tapping came back again, becoming louder and louder, the banging of drums blocking my thoughts and emotions. I went for the kill, sinking the blade so deep into her back that it punctured her heart and then swiftly extracted the knife from her body. She fell backwards looking at me with the blankest of eyes and hit the floor. My father then ran out of the kitchen to see me holding the murder weapon and his beloved wife, bleeding on the floor. He looked at me with a look of sorrow, surprise, and some anger before he ran at me, preparing to tackle me to the ground. He never made it. As he ran towards me, I threw the knife at his throat, the blade delving into his flesh and causing him to fall forwards to the ground. He looked at me mouthing some words before he died but I heard none of them. The taps were too loud for me to even think about what I had just done.
I continued with my night normally, except for the fact that I had to clean the floor of any blood and dump my parents in a sack in our cellar. I went upstairs, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.
I woke up in the dream again. Nothing had changed about the cell and it seemed that I was fed and received water through tubes that would enter my arm during my sleep. I soon realized that whoever put me here didn’t want me to get out since there was no actual doors and not a sound of another soul. The dream was d boring so I laid back in bed and woke up to the real world.
My cyanide pod had arrived outside on our porch which I had only noticed after I closed the front door. I grabbed the box, brought it inside and opened it. I could be late for school since I had the best grades in all of the classes. The pod was clear and small and the instructions were to cut a small hole in the side of the inside of your mouth and put it inside. The flesh would grow over it and when you burst the pod, it would fill your mouth with cyanide and kill you in a matter of seconds. I followed the instructions which was a little painful and then I walked to school, keeping several weapons from around the house in my backpack.
I walked into the office, getting my late pass and started to head out to class.
“You’re usually quite early Alice, is something wrong, or did you just have a bad morning?” asked the secretary.
“I’m fine. You could say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” I lied. I arrived in my science class to find that no one was in the room except for Isabelle. “Where is everyone?” I asked.
“They went to the park to do some lab experiment. Something about like, leaves or plants, I don’t know,” she said looking up from her seat. Considering her history with most of the teachers, I didn’t need to figure out why she was alone in the room.
“I’ll wait here for them to come back. I don’t really want to go venturing out for them,” I said as I walked toward her seat. During the year I had learned that Isabelle had an interest in Jonathan which could assist me in… executing her. “Hey, I know you like Jonathan and I think he likes you back,” I whispered.
“Really?” she asked, leaning in closer.
“Yeah, I think he’s planning to ask you out to the dance,” I exclaimed, pulling a kitchen knife out of my bag and keeping it under the desk, out of her sight.
“I hope he asks soon. He isn’t at school today and the dance is in a couple days,” she said, sounding a little worried.
“Oh don’t worry Isabelle,” I said, getting the knife ready to penetrate her jugular, “he’ll probably ask tonight.” I then lifted the knife from under the desk and pierced the knife straight into her throat. “Shhhh, Shhhh,” I whispered, as she grabbed her neck, helpless and unable to stop her inevitable end. I began to realize that this was my past, that I had killed Isabelle Keller before. Almost as if I was dreaming of past memories. I started to realized what reality, really was.
I rose from the bed in the cell and looked at the camera with its flashing red light and I started with the slight bit of curiosity of who was on the other side. “Do you hear it?” I say, pointing to my head, “The taps, do you hear it because I do. Every minute, second, and moment I am living on this god forsaken earth I hear the taps.” I started slamming my fist into the metal table in the rhythm of the taps. Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang. “DO YOU HEAR IT?! THE DRUMS, THE TAPS, IN MY HEAD?!” I yell at the camera expecting a response, yet it no reply arrives. It just stares at me, monitoring my actions, making sure I don’t do anything rash. I don’t go back to the bed, to return to my dark memories. I sit on the cold, metal chair and think. I think of all the terrible things I’ve done, but they weren’t terrible, no, I reject to think that those things were terrible, after all, I enjoyed every moment of it.
So I sit, and wait. Wait for any sign of civilization to come forth. I get ready to go back to sleep, walking over to the cot, when a booming voice comes from the walls.
“Do you know where you are, Miss Barrowman?” says an unknown voice.
“Not really, due to the fact that there isn’t a way to see outside of this cell, let alone check the time.” I say, with a hint of sarcasm. I look from wall to wall, trying to figure out where the male voice is being projected from. “I see there aren’t any windows so I can guess we are somewhere underground,” I say, giving up on finding the voice’s location.
“Correct. We are in a secure underground facility, three miles under the earth’s crust. The walls you see around you have six feet of concrete on each side and three feet of iron surrounding it,” the voice explains.
“Is it because I killed all those people?” I ask, looking into the camera with cold eyes, not showing the smallest bit of remorse. The voice takes a moment before speaking, choosing his words wisely.
“You are mentally unstable, and quite dangerous. You’ve killed seventeen people in total, including one of my officers with surprising efficiency. But what I’m more curious about, are these taps you tend to hear,” he says. I have nothing to lose and there is no way I’m getting out of a secure underground facility so I tell him.
“I hear the taps all the time, never stopping, never skipping a beat. It becomes increasingly loud, turning into the banging of drums, when I am near someone who I’m going to kill, which is most people. The only way to relieve myself of the taps, or at least reduce their intensity is to quench its thirst for blood. I’ve grown to enjoy it, hurting others, but the taps are something I can’t control,” I say. I start to tap the table with my fingernail. Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap… Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap. “So I have one question for you, a simple question. Do you hear it too?” I ask, hoping for the answer that maybe I’m not insane. I hear him breathe in through the microphone.
“No, I don’t hear any taps, it’s all in your head. No other person can hear what you do,” he says sounding the slightest bit sad to say it.
I merely look down at the cold metal table and I whisper to myself “I’m not a person, I’m a killer.” I see my reflection to see what I have become, and what do I see. I see pretty little Alice Barrowman, but that isn’t me anymore. I clutch the ends of the table with both hands, raising my head up and slam it onto the table, falling to the floor. The cyanide seeping  into my mouth as foam fills it, overflowing so much that it leaks to the floor. The speaker seems to have left me, letting my body shut down and my eyesight dissolve into nothing but darkness. Finally, I was at peace from the terrible taps that once consumed my soul.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Death Follows as Madness Clings- Paul Vo

Death Follows as Madness Clings

As I entered the school building I saw a group of friends talking with each other. I didn’t bother to say hi. I didn’t plan on being late for math and make my grade any worse than it already was. Walking into Mr. Stern’s classroom, I saw a piece of paper laying on my desk. I slid into my seat to find out that it was the math test from last week with a big red F on the right corner and the words See Me in cursive. Could’ve done a little better I thought to myself and shoved the paper into my bag. The rest of the day continued as a blur of missing homework and barely making it to each class.
Lunch came like a sudden stop where I was able to be with my friends instead of lecturing teachers.  As I sat down and unpacked my ham and lettuce sandwich, Richard, on my right, asked “How’s your day been going, Jack?”
“Fine” I deadpanned, wanting to discontinue the subject.
Then Amanda quietly asked, “Is everything okay at home? Are your parents okay?”
“Yeah, it’s fine, whatever. Why is everyone focused on me, what’s going on in your lives?” I asked trying to not base the conversation on me because it was starting to get uncomfortable.
Liv then added “Sorry Jack, it’s just that... We’ve noticed what’s been going on between your parents and-”
I cut her off yelling “You don’t know anything. I don’t need you to ask how I’m doing or confront me about my parents! This is my business and you stay out of it!” I stormed out of the of the lunch hall and ran to the bathroom. Anger and sadness clouded my thoughts and I began to cry. I sobbed until no more tears could be pulled from my eyes. I didn’t know what time it was and I didn’t plan on going back to class so I packed my things and went home.
As usual, my parents were each in separate rooms, filling out divorce papers which left me with my room. I locked the door and opened up YouTube on my laptop. I wanted to listen to some commentaries, doesn’t matter the subject, I just wanted to sit back and relax. Sadly, no new videos were found on the home page. The next 5 hours consisted of me looking at my phone and watching stupid videos on YouTube.
In the middle of a video I heard my mom knock on the door.
“Jack, come down and eat your dinner” she said.
“Leave it outside my door Mom” I responded.
“Come on Jack just come down and eat, don’t just stay in your room all night” she stated.
I was considering opening my room and going downstairs but I really didn’t want to see my parents right now.
“Mom please just leave it outside of the door, I’ve had a really… difficult day and I really just want to be by myself” I said, my voice louder than usual.
There was a moment of silence before I heard her foot hit the first step the stairs and then the next as she slowly walked down the stairs. I waited on my bed and three minutes later I heard her leave the plate outside my door and walk back downstairs. I didn’t eat that night, too much was on my mind and I couldn’t take it all.
As my alarm went off, my mom called me downstairs to get breakfast which was surprising since my parents never made me breakfast let alone woke up before me. When I walked downstairs I saw my dad and mom sitting at the dining room table. Between them lay a plate of eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. They both greeted me with a smile saying goodmorning. I immediately knew that something wasn’t right since my parents never acted lovingly around each other.
“What’s going on?” I immediately asked, not angrily but more curiously.
“Nothing honey, I heard you felt stressed yesterday so I thought we could make you some breakfast” Dad responded  
I sat down, still a little suspicious about the current situation and grabbed some hashbrowns and bacon.
“How’s your week been going?” asked Mom.
“Fine” I stated, quickly eating the food.
“You know, if you need any help, you can always see us” Dad said.
I stayed silent. The word hit me like a brick and I realized what was going on. My parents never referred to themselves as us, it was always me, him, her, your dad, your mom. It was all an act, to get me to feel better and when I returned from school, it would just be the same as yesterday, the both of them filling out the divorce papers as usual.
“No!” I yelled “No I can’t go to either of you for help because the help I need is not with school. It’s with having to deal with you two getting divorced! I love you both very much and I wish you would stay together but when you act like we’re one big family, it breaks my heart to know it isn’t true!”
They were speechless and I started to grab my stuff for school, tears filling my eyes and starting to roll down my cheeks. I opened the front door and ran out, not bothering to close it. I ran to Liv’s house, not thinking about anything else. I just needed someone to comfort me and hide me from the madness at my house.
She was quite surprised to see me at her door and after seeing my the tears on my face she let me in. “What’s going on? What happened?” She asked
“A lot has been going on, can I stay here, for today?” I ask quietly.
“Yeah sure, I’ll tell my mom, should I stay here with you?” She asks
“Yes please” I whisper.
As Liv walked up the stairs she asked “What’s going on?”
“I’ll explain later, I just need a minute to escape all of the madness” I reply.
I walked in and got on her couch, covering myself in blankets. When she came back, I bawled all the tears out onto her shoulder.
“Did you tell your parents that you’re staying over?” Liv questions.
“Yeah I texted them on the way here” I say, sobbing.
I stayed at Liv’s for the night, not hearing word from my parents until the next morning. I was sleeping Liv’s couch when I heard four knocks on the door. “Liv someone’s at the door” I yelled up the stairs but no response came. I answered the door to find my mom and dad looking at me with tired eyes. There was a moment of silence between me and my parent where I stared at them with cold eyes, but I relax and the tension in my muscles ceases. My parents seem to searching for the right thing to say to me so I just wait until one of them speaks. “Jack, you know it’s difficult for the both us too but we believe this change will benefit both us and you. Your father and I aren’t meant for each other. It isn’t that we hate each other but the conflicts between us cause too many problems and we just need to go our separate ways.” mom says. I knew that they  got into fights often but they always seemed to care for each other, but not in a loving way.
My mouth slowly begins to open and I say “I understand that you two get into fights quite often and that you experience the same stress that I do. If the both of you need to split ways, that’s fine. I just… I care about you so if this divorce will make the both of you happier then go through with it. I just want to be able to see you two instead of living with one of you and not seeing the other.”
“Honey, that’s fine. Your mom will keep the house and I will be living in town so you can come over whenever you want. I’ll have a room for you so that you can sleep and live in both your mom’s and my house” explains dad.
“That’ll be nice” I say semi cheerfully, though I still feel sad about the divorce.
Three months have passed and I’m in the living room at dad’s house watching Doctor Who. Mom has the old place and dad now lives in apartment several blocks away from mom. Every month we all hang out and mom and dad now have a friendly relationship. The divorce papers took two weeks to finish and soon they went to a lawyer to get divorced. It was a long process but I’m happy now that I don’t have to hear them fighting all the time. Mom has actually started dating and dad was happy for her about that. My average grades of C’s to F’s have raised to B’s and A’s which both my mom and dad approve of. You could say that we’re all happy since we got what we wanted. Mom and dad aren’t fighting anymore and are happier in the state they are in and I don’t need to stressed out about my parents. It’s one small, spread out, family, or so I thought.
Two years later, mom was in withdrawing some money from the bank when it got robbed. She was among the victims that the robbers shot. She bled out in the ambulance that was rushing her to the hospital. I was at school when I got the news and I immediately went to Dad’s house. I walked in to see him on the couch looking down to the floor, the TV on mute. There was a phone to the left of him on the couch and I could see the tears drain from his eyes. I sat next him and we grieved together, not able to control the cries of anger, pain, and most of all, sorrow. Mom’s funeral was held a week later and dad and I attended. The only other people there were mom’s parents and dad’s mother. Mom and dad didn’t have any siblings and dad’s father passed away seven years ago from a heart attack. We didn’t have a preacher, just a moment of silence where we could mourn the loss of a soul that we cared very deeply about.
The weeks start to become difficult as dad plunges deeper and deeper into depression and I have to take charge of taking care of him and making us food. I try my best to hold up but it’s difficult when everyday you see your father weep about the precious person that made you who you are. School finishes quickly and I don’t know whether to move on to college or to stay and take care of my dad. He keeps telling me to go to college and get an education and that he’ll be fine but I’m not so sure.
I’ve been at college for two years now and have just received news that dad died of a stroke. I take a break from college for a week and go to the funeral. This time the only attender of the funeral is me, the last in the family. I go back to college and study to become a marine biologist in the field of oceanography.
I now live in a decently sized house in Florida and travel quite often to study the ocean. I am now at a beach in Malibu, California and plan on collecting data on the ocean life and how they are adapting to the climate. I jumped in with a small jump and my feet hit the sea floor. I was searching for any kind of sea life to see their behavior. As I walked deeper into the sea I felt something move under my right foot. I looked down but nothing was there so I kept walking. I then felt a little prick on my back and chest and looked down to see that a stingray had lodged its tail through my chest. The pain was minimal but I knew that the outcome was fatal so I let my body fall to the sea floor and never rise again.
This is the story of marine biologist Jacqueline Stewart, and this is how it ends.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Story Excerpt

Jack (Jackeline) is a girl in her sophomore year of high school who has two parents that hat each other and get into fights a lot. Her parents are getting divorced and she wants them to stay together, with grades going down at school and assignments piling up, her life becomes very stressful. Her friends know that she is going through hard times and try to reach out to her but their efforts fail and Jack rejects their help. One morning, after a stressful day, Jack discovers her parents had made breakfast for her and were sitting at the dining table without fighting. She yells at them because she knows that they are putting up an act and they will go back to fighting with each other after she returns from school. I enjoyed writing this part because this a moment where Jack is able to confront her parents about how she feels about them and how she is going through a ton of stress because of them. This is also the point of the story where her parents realize that she does care about them and their relationship but she keeps it to herself.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Scenes and Summaries- P.V.

In my book, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, I have noticed that the author mostly uses scenes instead of summaries. The author uses summaries to show the passing of time and to speed up less important parts of the book. Due to the fact that each chapter in this book are 3-5 pages long about different subjects and moments in time, there are many scenes and very little summaries. The author uses scenes to describe how the main character, Miranda is feeling and some important things in her life that we should know about. The author is better at scenes than summaries since she uses them more. One example of a way that the author uses scenes in this book is when Miranda is heading to her class and how she dislikes a character named Julia. ""Oh no!" Julia sighed deeply and pointed at Annemarie's arm. "Oh, Annermarie, your turquoise sweater (there was mustard on her sweater sleeve from the sandwich shop). It's your favorite. Poor You!" And Mom thought I was dramatic." This scene shows that Miranda isn't really good friends with Julia and how she disliked how dramatic Julia was over Annemarie's sweater. What I really like about how the author uses the scenes is how it feels like you are in Miranda's shoes and it makes it feel like your in the book.