A Sliver of a Play

Scene 1

Characters: AMALAE (Amalie): twelfth grader, very protective of work, NESSET (Nes-set): clingy little sister, second grade

AMALAE is at her computer in the middle of the room. There is a bunk bed in the corner, suggesting that this is a bedroom.

NESSET runs in.


Amalae, Amalae, what are you doing?

AMALAE looks up.


Go away, Nesset, I’m applying to college.

AMALAE continues doing her work.


But, sis, you never play with me!

AMALAE stands up with a sigh.


Fine, but just this once.

NESSET accidentally sees her sister’s computer tab and gasps.


What is it?


I left something in my bed. You can go ahead.

This is a lie. As soon as AMALAE leaves, NESSET checks the computer. She creeps to the desk. Suddenly interested in being a spy, she does some pretty bad rolls and gets to the most recent tab. She looks at it with wonder.


Why would Amalae be applying to an acting school if she wants to become an artist? 

Scene 2

New character: BECEREA (Bec-a-re-a): a mom who hates actors and loves those who study or do anything other than the arts

They are in a room with a lot of toys, a couch, and a TV.


So what do you want to do? 


Um, um, um.

BECEREA comes storming in after seeing that the bedroom is empty.


You should be studying, Amalae.


Um, um, um.

NESSET looks like she wants to pee her pants or like she is keeping in something important.


Amalae wants to be an actor!

BECEREA looks at her.


What is she talking about, Amalae?

BECEREA looks at AMALAE to see that she has disappeared. The front door is open.


Nesset, how dare you put ideas in her head.

BECEREA storms out the front door in pursuit of AMALAE.


But I didn – 


If I were Amalae, I would run away, too.

She follows her mom out.


I wish that I had kept my mouth shut. Then maybe we would be able to play.

Scene 3

Warning: cliffhanger

BECEREA walks through the streets, looking for AMALAE.


Where did that traitor go?

BECEREA passes the alley that AMALAE is hiding in. NESSET, who is following BECEREA, sees AMALAE writing in a notebook. She runs away.


I don’t need to betray her even more.

AMALAE looks around, making sure she is not being watched. She starts doing something nobody has ever heard her do. She starts to sing (but waits for BECEREA and NESSET to talk. She instead hums).

BECEREA stops a few meters ahead.


Do you hear that?

NESSET, knowing who it is, is scared, and is obviously hiding something. She turns to the audience.


Now she starts singing – just when I decide to protect her?

She turns back to her mother.


I’ll go check.

Who Knows How Long

All my life I’ve been searching

Searching for me (long)

For who I’m supposed to be (long)

For me (statement)

But who knows how long it’ll be

’Til I’m away from my chores

From my history (long)

And I know

There’s a place out there 

My secret lair

Where I can uncover the layer

That keeps coming to haunt me (long)

Cause I’m tired of all the history books (this is where it starts getting exciting)

The tests

The nooks that I can’t find

I wish for a chance to be alone

A chance to hold my own

A chance that’s all I need (long, slows down)

All I need, cause then I’ll be free (long)

But who knows how long that’ll take

Who know if before that, I’ll break

From the pressure

From the control

So I’m breaking out 

They’ll shut their mouths

Once they see what I can do

Then I’ll be something different to you (long)



AMALAE turns and sees NESSET run away.



An actor steps into the alley a second after NESSET would have seen movement. The character is introduced later as MRS. LILLAETTE, the professor of music at the Academy of Foundational Arts, which is the academy that AMALAE wants to go to.


Have you ever considered being an actor?

Scene 4

New character: KAYLEEN: best friend, wants to become a dancer, funny

They are in a dorm at the academy.


Hi – you’re my new roomie, right?


I guess so?


Great, you two are settled in. Amalae, this is Kayleen’s first day, too. The play is in three weeks, and auditions are in two days. Kayleen, the dancers choose their song tomorrow, but the official auditions are on the same day as the play auditions. Bye.


Isn’t this great? When I ran away from home, hoping to find an academy to train at, I didn’t think I’d get the best one ever!


Wait, you ran away from home? I did that, too!


What a coincidence. Anyway, what are you auditioning for?


I don’t even know what the play is!


It’s Beauty and the Beast.

They turn to find two people at the door.


Who are you?


He’s the director of theater.


And she’s the director of dance.


And why are you here?


I wanted to give you the dance we are learning for our performance, Kayleen.


And I wanted to give you the lyrics. All the wannabe-Belles will be singing, Amalae.




You’re welcome.

The teachers leave. The girls turn towards the door across from the beds.


I’m guessing that’s the closet?


I waited to explore until you got here.

They open it and walk in. Inside is a bathroom with two stalls and two sinks, and when they open the stalls, there’s a shower and a toilet in each.


Cool – we get our own bathroom!

AMALAE finds doors on opposite sides of the bathroom.


Yeah, now these doors must lead to closets, right?


One way to find out.

Together, they open the doors.


Oh, wow, there’s a stage and a monitor reading my lines in case I forget.


And I have a dance area with mirrors for walls, footsteps on the floor that match my dance steps, even a bar for ballet.


Let’s start practicing.

KAYLEEN falls into yet another room.


Oh, there’s the closet.

Scene 5

In the house, living room. NESSET has an apple. BECEREA is pacing in anger.


The nerve of that… that… that… fool.


I know, right? 

(laughs nervously)


She is a disgrace.


I know right? 

(stops eating) 

Mom, why do you hate actors?



Because they killed my grandmother.

NESSET spits out apple chunks.


WHAT? Are you sure of that?


Wellll, I never found any real proof, but.


What happened?


You want the whole story? Fine. It started when I was a baby.


You remember when you were a baby?


Yes, shush. I had just turned one when my mother showed me a picture of her grandmother. She had started the line of actresses, she said. My mother then told me that I would be an actress when I grew up. I was excited. I begged my mother to show me the oldest actor of our alive family – I begged for years. When I was seven, she finally agreed. She took me to Broadway to see my grandma’s latest achievement. I was so excited – I watched the first act of Beauty and the Beast with amazement. Then something horrible happened. Lumiere’s candles set the place on fire. The people watching ran out, screaming. The actors tried to put it out, but in the end, they had to evacuate. But not fast enough – my grandmother was trying to stop it harder than anyone – she had gotten the role of Belle! She wouldn’t stop – they had to drag her, but. Her dress was already burning – it was too late. 

A picture of her while this happens has been playing the whole time.

NESSET’s apple drops to the ground. 


Mommy, that’s intense. 


Indeed, now, come on. I think I know where the misfit has gone.

At auditions.


I’m so nervous – what if I don’t get the song right?


I’m nervous, too – what if my feet don’t like modern music?


Girls? It’s time.

Starts dancing (ask director for how).

KAYLEEN is in other room.



And for the leading role of Belle: AMALAE! And for the honor of being up front with the dancers: KAYLEEN!




They are bouncing off the walls in joy.


Good job, girls.



I think they are at the Academy of Foundational Arts. 

Zooms in on outside of school.

Scene 6


Wake up, sleepyhead – you said we should do one more run-through before the play starts!


It’s morning already?!



Yes, that’s how sleeping works – time goes faster.


Wait, last night was… IT’S THE DAY OF THE PLAY!


We have one hour – are you going to be dumb and just stand there, or are we running through my routine and your lines? I do not want to go to breakfast without a refresher!


Okay, okay, let’s go to the dance room. 

In her dance room.


Okay, so it goes one, two, to the left, to the right, cartwheel, fade into the crowd, step on the platform. And shoot into the sky. Then I jump off at thirty feet and survive. I go backstage while everyone else does the rest of the song and come back for the finale. We all start singing at two. 

She actually does this to music.

AMALAE is in her theater room.


I’m sorry, Gaston, but I… I… I… I just don’t deserve you.

Bell that signals places rings.

BECEREA storms into the main office with NESSET trailing behind. PRINCIPAL HANAYES is waiting for them.


Hello, Becerea Temtilask. I knew you were coming. I understand you have a daughter registered and want to take her home.


How did you know that – are you associated with Magic?



Nooo, we have security that saw you enter the school.


I want to be a dancer!


Not now – where is Amalae?


She’s about to amaze the audience as the lead in our first production of Beauty and the Beast.


I don’t care if she’s directing Tangled on Broadway – I want to know where she is!


Mommy, look – Amalae’s on stage.

AMALAE is being shown her new room. BECEREA and NESSET go to stop her but become transfixed by the show. They watch the whole thing. 


Woah, Momma, that was awesome. 

She notices BECEREA is getting pulled to the next room with everyone else.



They watch KAYLEEN.

NESSET sees AMALAE and slips away from BECEREA without her noticing.


Nesset! Wait, if you’re here, that means… I have to run.


I saw you on stage, and although I only saw a part of a play, I’ve realized something.


What is it?


When I grow up, I want to put on a sliver of a play, too.


Nesset, we are going home… Amalae is not worth our ti… Nesset? 

She walks away grumbling about traitors and daughters and actors.


Where am I going to stay now?!


You can stay with me.


March sunshine has come

And you know spring has begun

Birds are chirping

Flowers are blooming

Kids are playing outside

Coats are thrown in the closet

And shorts and T-shirts arrive

April rain has come

And you know spring is here

Softball season has started





And rainbows have appeared

May humidity has come

And you know spring is coming to an end

The rain has slowed

Because summer is near

Jumping in pools

Playing in sprinklers 

Tossing water balloons around

All signs that summer is near

June’s boiling temperature is here

Spring is at an end





Have come to an end

See you again next time spring

The Suburbs

Our family had just moved to the suburbs of New Jersey. I had lived in a city my entire life. In a way, it felt wrong to live in a wooden house with anything I wanted. As our family came towards the house, I realized what had been terrifying me. The house was said to have been occupied by a family that had strangely died one night. Their bodies were said to be there, waiting to find someone and…

 “Leo!” my mom called. She was trying to unpack the luggage, yet was struggling to make progress. “Come help me unload the trunk, and carry the bags down to the basement,” she said. Suddenly, my heart froze. Basements in the city were okay to go in, but those in the suburbs seemed different. If the family that lived in this house had really died, going into the basement would be their entire plan. Instead, I got the luggage and went up to my room. The moment I put my foot on a stair, it started creaking. I slowly went up the staircase, and found my room rather quickly. It was near the attic, and was easily accessible as it was just on the right of the top of the stairs. I unpacked and went to explore the new house. I wasn’t really that much of an outside-type-of-guy. Living in the city had its pros and cons, too. Going outside was definitely a con. Yet in the suburbs, you could have the freedom to do anything you want. Even though I wanted to go on the TV and get my controller to start playing games, another part of me wanted to get as far away from this house as possible. So instead of making my parents mad, I went outside to find some new friends that could distract me from my dead bodies theory. 

This was the first time I was able to let the stress go, and I realized that it was early morning. I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood and get a view of things. New Jersey definitely won the award for the place with the best scenery in which I have ever lived. There were woods all around me, which I guess is a plus for all the things I experienced that day. After coming back from my short walk, I came in to eat lunch. There weren’t any restaurants, so we had to do the best we could with the food we had. Soup wasn’t my favorite option, but to keep my mind off the dark theory, I decided to just eat it. The day passed quickly, and in what felt like three seconds, it was already time to go to bed. 

Now, I am not the type of person who wants to go to sleep with a teddy bear, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I turned the lights out and tried to go to sleep. I kept tossing and turning, not able to rest. The trees were rustling, the cold wind making me hide under my blanket. Around 1:00 AM, the door creaked open. My brain finally got put to use. My head snapped up, and my body somehow felt warmer. The entire dead body basement idea didn’t feel like a joke to me anymore. I saw a shadow of a tall woman with long hair walking toward the living room. I crept out of bed, and silently prayed she didn’t see or hear me. When I was halfway across the room, she turned around. A dark hood hid her face, yet I could see her looking straight at me.

 “AHHH!” I screamed. I ran to my parent’s room, and jumped on the bed. I got under the covers. I heard footsteps coming towards the room. Closer, closer, closer, and stop. Then, the woman pulled the hood up revealing a white bony face with gleaming white teeth. Her smile was so bright, I couldn’t see what happened. Then, darkness took over.


“Today is the worst day of my life.”

It wasn’t, of course. The worst day of Martha’s life had been the day her whole family died in a fire fifteen years ago. But her otherwise painfully dull life living in a small cabin created a need for some drama. And it was hailing. Looking out the window, watching the hail assault the earth, she couldn’t help but feel that the six-day hailstorm was some sort of punishment. For what, she couldn’t be sure. As the puddles grew larger, the hunger (her last grocery store run was seven days ago) began to set in. And as she grew weaker, dark thoughts seeped into her mind. Maybe it was her fault her family died. Maybe she could have saved them by getting home a few minutes earlier or destroying the stove the previous day in a fit of inexplicable foresight. Or maybe it was because she had gotten cake mix instead of eggs from the supermarket last week. The more she thought about it, the more things she discovered which could be the cause of the hail. The more ways she could have stopped them. If only, if only.

“When will it end?” She moaned to her favorite pan, Becky, which was sitting on a pillow on the kitchen counter next to her. Becky was silent. “Maybe it was the time when I was six,” she muttered. “I was at the ice cream store, and – ” 

Something hit the window and clattered to the ground loudly. She gave a small start, then looked outside. It was not hail. It was a rock. She sighed shakily and looked out into the woods. A teenage boy quickly ducked behind a tree, his cackling muted by the distance and the glass. It wasn’t the first time her home had been attacked. The people of this small town were known for disliking the strange and different, and living in a cabin in the town park was decidedly strange and different. The boys of the town often liked to express their opinions on Martha’s lifestyle through violence. The walls of her cabin had had to be repaired five times already. But there was nothing she could do. No one would listen to her, and she didn’t know how else she could live. She couldn’t bear the crowds of people and their uncaring, obligatory condolences after the fire, like a blanket meant to be comforting that was actually suffocating when wrapped around a child that was too small. She needed solitude, but she also had to be somewhat close to other people, because she couldn’t exactly farm her own food. When she first thought of it, the idea of the cabin in the park had seemed perfect, and it hadn’t taken too much work to acquire a permit to make it a reality. But if she could take it all back, she might just go and live in the woods, even if it meant giving up cake. 

As if to say “All right, then, go,” another rock came hurtling toward the window. It met the glass with a noise that sounded deafening, then actually made a crack – small, but nonetheless a crack. Martha gasped and scrambled for Becky. But she was too late.

Another rock came flying at her, evidently thrown by Roger Morrison, the town’s star Little League pitcher, as it broke the window and landed right on top of Becky.

Martha screamed. “No, no, no, no,” she said, diving for where Becky had landed on the floor as the rock skittered away. “It – it can’t be,” she whispered. Slowly, hand shaking, she picked Becky up. Becky had landed with the side used for cooking down. “A-are you okay – ” She asked as she turned her over, then screamed again. “NO!”

There was a large dent slightly to the left of Becky’s center.

Martha clutched Becky to her chest. “Shhh,” she soothed. “It’s okay. You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.” She sat on the kitchen floor all afternoon and all night, as the hailstorm stopped, holding Becky and whispering to her with more love than she would give a baby until she finally fell asleep and slumped over.

Martha woke the next morning to the kitchen, and therefore, as far as she cared, the whole world, cast in the gold-orange light of dawn. She stood up, Becky sliding to the ground, and smiled. Rejuvenated, she spent the morning running errands. She brought her clothes to the laundromat, bought groceries, and had a handyman come to the house to repair the window. When they had left, she stepped into the kitchen and sank into an armchair. 

“Well,” she said, addressing the house, “I suppose I’ll…” She let the thought drift into action, and took a different pan from a cabinet, and brought it to her stove. She began to make an omelet. Only when she was seated at her table, eating it, did she finally remember that Becky was still on the floor. “Oh,” she said. “I’m, um, sorry that I used, er, Agatha to make my eggs. But, you know…” She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. “You’re dented now. And I know, I know it wasn’t your fault. I was there, right? I saw them throw that rock. So it wasn’t your fault. But… I… I don’t think I can cook with you anymore. It just… wouldn’t be right, you know?” She searched Becky’s surface for understanding, forgiveness, anything. But all there was was metal. Dented metal. “Oh,” she said softly, picking Becky up and placing it on the table. She rubbed her thumb over the dent over and over. “I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t have to be like this,” She whispered. “You’re my oldest friend, you know. You know that. I will keep you, I promise. I just… won’t cook with you.” She looked into the pan again. Then she winced and turned to the window. The curtains outside swayed sharply in the wind in what could only be criticism. She stared at them, neck twisted uncomfortably, until a tear leaked out of her eyes. She cried and cried, but didn’t turn back to face Becky, even after she fell asleep. 

When she woke, the kitchen was bathed not in beautiful golden sunlight, but in darkness. Martha blinked sleepily, then glanced at the clock. It was seventeen minutes past midnight. “Ohhh,” she moaned, out of both drowsy surprise at the time and significant neck pain. She got up, massaging her neck, and stepped into the doorway to the hall. She paused and turned back to the table where Becky rested like a pouting child, if that child were also made of metal and sitting on a table. “I’m sorry,” she said, somewhat annoyed. Then she stumbled into her bedroom, pulled the covers of her bed over herself, and waited to fall asleep. But she didn’t. She tossed, then turned, then got up, did push-ups until she was exhausted, and crawled into bed again, but it didn’t work. Finally, she scowled, got up, and went back into the kitchen and sat down to face Becky. “All right,” she began. “First of all, for the millionth time, I am sorry about the dent. It was… It was my fault. I should have been protecting you better. I suppose I… haven’t been very good to you. I – I cook in you, and I never thank you. I bought you, for God’s sake. I… So, thank you. For everything. And I hope you can understand that I won’t- can’t cook with you again, but that I’ll still love you. Always.” She reached out, hesitated, then rubbed the dent. “B-Becky?” she asked, eyes and heart heavy with tears and overwhelming love. “Oh, Becky,” she cried, throwing herself onto the pan. Her weeping stretched toward dawn.

The next month, the rock hit Sybill, and the cycle began again. 

The Miner

A not-so-long time ago, in a mining district, lived a miner named Bob who was poor as dirt. He supported his family by buying a meager supply of cabbage and coal he snuck out of his mine for their stove. His job was hard and time-consuming, and he was forced to travel thousands of feet down each day to mine coal. He developed a hacking cough and was extremely sick, but in order to survive, he continued his job.

One day, Bob traveled down in the rusty elevator like he usually did. It looked like it was going to be a normal day. But, as he turned the corner, he saw a large, shiny thing sticking out of the cave wall. He went closer to get a good look, but the supervisor caught him. 

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” he yelled through his megaphone. 

Bob, frightened, went right back to work. But he hadn’t forgotten the object. That night, he thought up a plan to sneak into the mine and investigate. He snuck onto the elevator and as the doors closed with a grinding screech, he steeled himself to enter the damp mine. As he reached the shiny object, he slid a dusty finger across it, revealing a blotch of gold. Bob’s heart rate increased as he revealed more gold. He made a mental note of the vein, and then ran home.

The next night, he brought his rusty pickaxe into the mine. He wandered around until he found the vein, swung at it, and made a small crack. He repeated this a couple of times until the chunk fell out, leaving him with a chunk of gold the size of a football. He then ran all the way back home.

The next day, he was going down in the elevator, planning on traveling to the market after the day at work. The gold was in his mining suit, tucked away into a pocket. All of a sudden, the elevator screeched to a stop. The gold chunk loosened itself just a little bit so that it poked out of Bob’s jumpsuit. Bob didn’t notice, as the elevator quickly started moving again. As Bob stepped out of the elevator, the supervisor walked up to him. 

The supervisor patted him on the back. “What’s up? How’ve you been doing?” 

Confused, Bob thought, What has gotten into him? The supervisor then hurriedly rushed away. Bob shrugged and went back to work. Meanwhile, the supervisor was huddled in a corner, smiling and holding a pile of gold.

Bob, on his way home, realized that the gold was gone. He then realized that it was the supervisor who, in bumping into him, had pickpocketed him!

Bob rode the elevator back down, and at the bottom, met the supervisor who was waiting for the elevator. Bob grabbed his collar and slapped the gold out of his hands and back into his, then dashed into the elevator. He tried pressing the “close door” button, but the supervisor was too quick. He got in just as the elevator doors shut with a groan. The elevator began going up as Bob and the supervisor grappled for the gold. Bob managed to wrench the gold out of the supervisor’s hands and shoved him up against the wall just as the elevator arrived on the surface. Bob ran home, panting. 

Upon arriving home, he, while gasping for air, told his family that he would be leaving for the market. 

As he made it to the market, the merchant at the pawnshop stall offered to pay $1,000 for the gold, more than Bob was expecting. He paid for some food for his family and medicine for himself, and they lived happily… for the next month.

Poem of Writopia

This is a place where stories are born.

They flow from deep crevices in the caves of our minds

And float into the air

Which is good-natured just like the instructors – 

We watch the raw ideas mingle above our heads,

Akin to lovers under the mistletoe,

We let them be destroyed and reborn, 

We bounce them back and forth

And shine them in different lights

And take them apart and see how they work

And learn their secrets – 

Learn them so well that we can put them back together when we’re done

We blend it all together into a thing strange to us

But beautiful, somehow,

To those who read it

And when we have finished

We sate our mouths

With salt and sugar and cream

Like the sovereigns of old

And then come back 

For more –

For more mayhem 

For more tangles of words

For more thickets of plot

For more rolling pastures of poetry

For more, for more

Because this is a place where stories are born

The Lake

It had been a long time since I had visited my mom. My mother had always been insecure, but ever since my father’s death, she became disconnected from all of my family members and moved away to a tiny lake house nestled between the trees of a huge forest. She never really talked to me — not for a long time. However, about a year ago, we started sending each other letters and emails, and one day, she invited me to her house. It had been a long time since I had seen my mother, and I was naturally worried about her, so I was eager to see her. 

As I drove more into the wilderness, I found her house. My mom was waiting for me on the front porch. There were a few wrinkles on her face, but she was as gorgeous as ever. Her long brown hair was pulled up into a bun and ringlets framed her face. 

“Lily!” she exclaimed and ran over to hug me. “I’ve missed you so much,” she said, tears filling her eyes. My mother stepped back and smiled at me. “I would like you to meet someone very special.

“Johnny! You can come out,” she said. A handsome man walked out of the lake. When I said handsome, I meant knockout handsome. The rosy light from the sunset outside gave him an angelic glow. 

“Lily, I would like you to meet John,” she said, beaming at me.

“How do you do?” the man said, shaking my hand. His grip was so strong that when he let go I breathed a sigh of relief. I stared at him suspiciously — a handsome man walking out from the water? There was something very wrong going on here. 

We stared at each other for a few seconds until my mom clapped her hands together.

“Do you want dinner? It’s pork roast!” she said.

We walked inside. It was clean and cozy, and the pork smelled so good. I soon forgot about being suspicious about John from enjoying the meal.

“Can you pass the salt?” asked my mom. As I handed her the salt, a little bit fell off the shaker and landed on John’s hand. John cried out and cradled his hand before he ran off into his room. My mom and I stared at each other, then stood up and went to our rooms. 

I couldn’t sleep that night because strange lights were emitting from the lake. At midnight, I crept out of my bed to see what was in the lake. Outside, it was cold, and the sand was wet. I squinted my eyes and saw John walking into the lake!

“JOHN!” I cried, running forward. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I turned around. John was facing me. 

“What do you need?” he asked. 

All Because of Three Little Screws

“WHY DOES TIM NOT HAVE A CHAIR, AND WHY IS THERE A BROKEN CHAIR THERE?!” Ms. M screeched. Don’t understand? It makes sense. Here is the full explanation: 

It was the second month of third grade. During math class, Kevin was studying hard. The problem he needed to solve was 58 + 65. He did the math. It was 13. He carried the one to the tens place, and the 5 + 6 was 11. He wrote down his final answer, and then realized he made a mistake. The eraser rubbed hard against the flimsy sheet of paper in his notebook.

Kevin, you’re so stupid. Yeah, I know. No, I mean you need an award. Shut up! No, you should shut up, you’re the dumb one! SHUT UP!!! This was one of the many conversations he had in his head during the day. He had forgotten to carry the one! Kevin quickly added that one and his final answer was 123. He was about to raise his hand to share his answer with the class, when he heard a slight thump under his chair. He poked his head under his chair to investigate the odd sound. To his surprise, there were three screws under the seat. He raised his hand.

“Yes, Kevin.” Ms. M had called on him.

“Um…” Kevin started. “There are some screws under my chair.”

Ms. M stopped her rant about how this class was the worst class she has ever had to teach (this time it was because someone had forgotten to carry the one) to come over to Kevin’s seat at table three and calmly picked up the screws out of Kevin’s cupped hands.

“Thank you,” she said, not too enthusiastically. Ms. M went back to her post by the SMART Board™ and put the screws on a low bookshelf that was part of their class library. She made nothing of it and continued her rant.

Flash forward to a little bit past the halfway point of the school year. They had a one time substitute since Ms. M was out on family business. They were working on a math worksheet again, and everyone was relaxed that day because of the substitute. The entire day was chill, so Kevin swiveled his chair for the umpteenth-million time to talk to Jeremy. There was a slight ping-pang on the floor, and before he realized it, the seat of his chair became another backrest. As it rose up his back, the last screw had fallen out. He remembered the beginning of the year and thought to himself, So that’s what the screws were from. It made more sense to him now, but he still was not happy about his current predicament. He got up, put the seat back into the correct position and hauled the chair into the back of the room, then hauled it over people to eavesdrop on their conversations. Someone was in the middle of a heated argument with one of the other students about which word the person should use in a sentence: their, there, or they’re. He put the chair down and on the way back to his seat — or lack of seat — he made a quick detour to the empty seat that no one sat in. He brought it over to his seat (the others were still going with their debate, by the way) and put the chair at his desk. 

Moving on to a different side of the story, you get Isabell and Ted. Isabell was a bright student, just like Ted. They both finished their math work and wanted to check their answers with one another. Isabell went over to the seat no one sat in after talking to the substitute about it. Since there was no seat, the substitute brought Tim’s chair over because Tim was absent. However, Isabell and Ted forgot to put Tim’s chair back; this resulted in — best way to put it — disaster the following day.  

The next day, all the kids lined up outside. The buzz and chatter of a new day was in the air. The class watched Ms. M walk slowly down the stairs like a sloth crossbred with a snail who made out with a tortoise. All of the teacher’s pets yelled at everybody to get into two distinguished lines. Ms. M stood in front of her class waiting for two of the most perfect lines that she had ever seen in her life, and about 45 seconds later, she led the class up the back staircase.  

The hike up the staircase with their backpacks was a hard one, but they got used to it after a while. They didn’t like the thought of having their strict normal teacher anymore, but they knew that there was no getting out of it now. They passed the door from one kid to the next. 

Not even half of the class got through the door when Ms. M screeched, “WHY DOES TIM NOT HAVE A CHAIR, AND WHY IS THERE A BROKEN CHAIR THERE?!” 

Kevin leaned his head back and casually said, “I don’t know.” He was only halfway lying. He did not know, at that point, why Tim did not have a chair. 

Ghostly Figures

The road near my house was the pinnacle of fright. 

Not the road itself. The road was fine. It was what was on the road that was creepy. 

Normal stuff was there. Cars, bikes, motorcycles, passersby. Nothing you wouldn’t really expect. Except, I saw something different there. 

People. Countless people, milling through their daily lives. And not just people from now, either. The people were dressed in pelts, or large petticoats, or tight-fitting leggings and Rollerblades. People with loincloths, people with fancy tuxedos, children, adults, the elderly. They were all doing their own thing, stuck in their own little world. And they all shared the same feature, a pale green glow, making them see-through and ghostly. 

Maybe they were ghostly. Maybe they were ghosts. Maybe they were lost souls, and this was just a rest stop to get where they were going.

It wasn’t on any other blocks, either. Just this specific road, 18th Street and Butler. And it didn’t seem like anyone else was bothered by all the ghosts — ahem, ghostly figures — or they didn’t see them at all. 

Every time I walked past the road on my way to school, I slowed my pace. Waved to some of them. Sometimes they even waved back. I stopped overthinking it years ago. 

I didn’t know what caused it. I didn’t really care, either. I didn’t care until they all disappeared. 

The Spider Tree

It was the Christmas season, and I was in my cozy apartment building where nothing exciting happened. We had several traditions, like watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and doing secret Amazon shopping for everybody. We had bought our Christmas tree from a different Christmas farm this year, but it was perfect, and we had decorated it with Christmas ornaments the night before while blaring Christmas music. It was December 21st, and I was watering the Christmas tree, my favorite job. Little did I know, enemies were making their way into my hair. I didn’t suspect anything until that night. It was pitch-black in the hallway as I stepped into my parents’ bedroom. Suddenly, I felt something tickling me. 

“Indi, this better not be one of your games!”

No response. Taking a deep breath, I groped for the light, and as it flickered on, I turned suddenly. Staring at the floor, I was petrified at the sight of a spider! A large midnight one about the size of my thumbnail crawled along the floor. With an ear-splitting scream, I alerted my parents. I don’t have a phobia of spiders like my dramatic older sister, Indira, or Indi for short. They were just annoying, but once they climb out of your hair, you might have a change of heart. I did, and I was now deathly afraid. Luckily for me, my scream made my mother jump out of bed and race to the doorway. Thankfully, the only thing she was frightened of were waterbugs, so she could be my exterminator. As she stomped it dead, I huddled next to my snoring father, trying to comprehend how the spider had found its way into my hair. The most obvious thought never occurred… the innocent Christmas tree. Shaking my hair, no spiders fell. I was in the clear… for now, until the spiders found me again.


I was still shaken by my spider incident, but I put it behind me. I needed to continue with my life. Easier said than done when the spiders are lurking nearby. My daily job of watering the tree had been completed at 3:15 PM precisely. It was midnight, and I was settled in a chair, reading a book, until my “friend” decided to come out and play. As I flipped the page, an orange spider stuck out on my hair’s strands, which hung from my face. 

“You’re hallucinating,” I tried to convince myself, but fear won that round.

As my sister and mother chatted rapidly in the hallway, I let out my famous ear-splitting scream. 

Moments later, they suddenly stopped their conversation and arrived at the end of the hallway, where I was trembling. 

Stuttering, I started, “SPIDER, in — in my hair!”

I shook as the real message arrived to me: two spiders in my hair in two days. The spiders were trying to send a message, and the worst part was, my sister and mother didn’t believe me! They thought I was making it up! With determination, I searched the wooden floor and found the culprit. As my mother exterminated it, I decided to huddle next to my sister. After my mother exterminated it, she researched and discovered that the new type of tree we had bought this year was one spiders liked. Then the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Every time I put my head UNDER the tree to water it, guess what crawled into my hair at 3:15 PM, then waited for seven to nine hours to scare me at night? Spiders! We decided that right after Christmas we would throw the tree out, and NOBODY would be watering it!

Kiss, Marry, Kill

Editor’s Note: Content warning — partying/mature content, violence/murder. We recommend an older audience for this psychological thriller.

The fresh air of October sprang through my lungs, the aroma of a fall night chilling my spine. My red flannel wasn’t doing much for the cold. The only thing I wore other than that was a short red dress with spaghetti straps that hugged my curves. My friends convinced me to go to the Halloween party that happened annually. I wasn’t very social. I didn’t have any social media accounts that were for anything more than me using the app and liking friends’ posts. It wasn’t like I was surprised that not that many people were interested in me. After all, there wasn’t much to be interested in.

The broken, old concrete on the stairs of the barn creaked as I walked in, music from inside blasting in my ears. Every year, the seniors got to pick where the parties were held. This year, instead of some rich kid’s mansion, they decided it’d be a good idea to break into an abandoned barn on a farm in the middle of nowhere, away from our high school in the suburbs of New York City. I couldn’t tell whether the barn doors were knocked down before or after the party started, but I could tell that there was no way they were going back up. 

My friend, Andrew Heightman, was the one who hosted and invited me to the party. I wouldn’t even really call him a friend, we just had an ongoing Snapchat streak that broke most records of people who were actually friends or dating.

I stepped into the crowd of sweaty bodies. My nose cringed at the overwhelming amount of Axe body spray and cheap perfume. I was almost certain everyone there was either drunk, high, or just out of their mind. The very loud beat of the music and screaming made my head hurt, making me lose some of my concentration. I fought my way through the crowd of teens, looking for someone I knew who was even a little bit conscious. 

I got about halfway through the tight crowd when, suddenly, the music stopped. The lights flickered out and the room filled with quiet whispers of overexaggerated fear and gasps. If they knew what was about to happen, maybe their fear wouldn’t have been exaggerated.

I wasn’t fazed — after all, it was a Halloween party in an abandoned barn. Someone was bound to pull a not-so-scary prank. The lights turned back on with a loud, familiar click — except this time, it wasn’t the light switch for the entire barn but a spotlight. 

I stood on the tips of my Converse, trying to see what the spotlight was reflecting on. There, under the spotlight, was a fully empty circle, except for the host, Andrew Heightman, standing smack dab in the middle in a cheesy Dracula costume. I exhaled, annoyed at the drama of it all.

“Hello, and welcome to the Annual Halloween Party!” he exclaimed, grinning a cheeky smile, and the crowd erupted with cheers. My feet began to grow tired from looking at him for that long on my tippy toes, so I fought my way to the front of the circle to get a clearer look. 

“Tonight, I thought we would play a game,” he proclaimed, his deep voice echoing off the walls. “Not a middle school game of Spin the Bottle, or a game of tag, but a friendly game of Kiss, Marry, Kill.”

To be honest, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t weirded out by this. Beer Pong was an example of something teenagers would play at a party. Kiss, Marry, Kill, was more of a sleepover-with-your-best-friends-to-find-out-your-opinions-on-people kind of game.  

I wasn’t exactly sure how this would turn out any other way than outing people on who they wanted to make out with.

“Now, I can see you’re all surprised. I’m not dumb. I understand why. ‘How would you play that at a huge party?’ you might say. And to that, I would tell you to just listen to the name of the game, and you know most of the rules,” he explained with almost too much confidence. He smirked and brushed his gelled hair back a bit while the crowd remained silent, not completely sure what that meant.

“Some of you probably picked up on the fact that I said ‘most’ of the rules. There are some more, completely unique to my amazing, awe-inspiring game.”

I scoffed quietly. Sometimes he could be so self-absorbed.

“Rule one: just like every single other thing that happens at this party, the details of this game will not be spread to anyone outside the guest list, or we will make sure you and the person which you shared it with aren’t able to tell anyone else.”

Most people were concerned about the rule, while I only noticed it when he said “we.” He was alone, wasn’t he?

“Like Fight Club?” a guy in the back of the crowd joked loudly, followed by a chorus of confused laughs.

However, Andrew didn’t seem too amused by the joke. “Yes, Jake, exactly like Fight Club.” A crooked smirk appeared on his face. “Except this won’t exactly be a fist fight, will it?” Now he began to pace in his empty circle, his arms behind his back in a fake attempt at looking fancy in a Dracula costume, the way you see people do in movies when the movies are set in the 1800s or something.

“Now, before I continue to explain, we need a few volunteers.” He stopped pacing when he said the end. “A girl and three boys is what we need. If you’re completely sure that you don’t care what the rest of this game entails, no matter what happens and that you will not stop playing, please step forward into the circle.” His words echoed in my brain as I thought about it. He knew that no one would step forward quite immediately if he made the game seem mysterious. And I had to give it to him, he was right. 

Before I could think any more about it, I felt a strong hand push against my back, pushing me into the circle. I stumbled a bit, but regained my balance as I looked for who did it. 

It was a guy I recognized only from him being a part of the high school football team and a part of the popular guys. Also known as the designated a-holes of the school. 

“Jerk,” I muttered, turning to go back to my spot. But before I could, I felt a cold, sturdy hand on my arm, keeping me in place. I looked back and saw Andrew.

“Nuh-uh-uh-uh. No matter how you get in the circle, voluntarily or not, you cannot leave the circle. You, Miss Stone, are staying.” Couldn’t even call me by my first name. 

Sighing, I looked at the people that were now in the circle. Thomas Sanches, the football captain, was standing there with his old bomber jacket and fake zombie prosthetics. Angel Lee, the guy who everyone loved till he came out as gay and suddenly everyone who was homophobic just “never really liked the guy.” And last, and definitely least, John Young. He was the kind of guy that didnt smoke, didn’t fail any classes, and most definitely didn’t really go to parties. But he also wasn’t the valedictorian or anything. He didn’t really do anything. The kind of guy who you could be in school with for years and completely forget he existed. 

“Now that we have all of our lovely players, we might as well start instead of wasting time explaining the rest, am I right?” The crowd murmured in agreement, and you could tell they were starting to get suspicious of the ominous game Andrew was proposing. 

The lights went out with another loud click, and I heard the scraping of wood and concrete and the footsteps of about four people walking to where I could tell was the middle of the circle. They were only standing on the sides.

Another click, and the lights were back on. Andrew was now not in the middle of the circle but off to the side. Replacing him in the middle was now a single wooden chair facing three more chairs in a triangle shape. I noticed John take an audible breath in through his nose and then sneeze into his elbow quickly.

“Now, Miss Stone, please step forward into one of the chairs,” Andrew instructed, pointing to the chair that was facing the rest. Annoyed at the fact that I probably should’ve been drunk right now but instead was playing a stupid game, I shoved my hands in the pockets of my flannel and walked to the chair. I plunked myself down on the chair, self-conscious about myself when I saw the glares people were giving me.

  “Now, boys, be gentlemen and sit across from her, will you?” he said, as if he were more of a gentleman than them. As they stepped forward into their chairs, I felt myself forgetting why I was ever friends with Andrew. On the topic of friends, where were the friends that invited me? 

I zoned back into the real world when Andrew spoke. “The game begins.” 

A smirk traveled up his face as he snapped, and the all-too-familiar click of the lights filled my ears. I felt my arms being guided up to the sides of the chair by unfamiliar hands of people I could not see. I sighed, trying to play it cool. It was all a prank orchestrated by Andrew to scare everyone. 

As I started to question myself, I felt rope being tied around my hands, securing me to the chair. The mysterious hands pulled the rope tightly and the lights came back on. 

“What the hell is this?” I glared at Andrew. I tried to turn my neck to see the faces of the people that tied me up, but no one was there. Just a confused crowd and a few familiar faces. I noticed John once again sniffing through his nose and gulping. Was he nervous?

“Relax, Stone. It’s just a friendly game,” he said. The sudden change in nickname made me feel more intimidated for some reason I couldn’t name. It’s just a prank, part of me said. But it was kind of hard to listen to it when the other part was screaming, You’re definitely not okay!

 “Now, as I said before, Miss Stone will have to pick out of these three gentlemen who she would like to kiss, marry, or kill,” he said, his smirk still remaining. “Kiss?” he said, giving me a questioning glare.

I hesitated, then I just chose to say the first person I looked at. 

“John, I guess?” I said. He looked at me weirdly, his brown hair that usually covered half his face now showing his shockingly gray eyes. The look he gave me wasn’t of disgust but of surprise. As soon as I matched his look, I could tell he wanted to rip through the rope around his wrists and run far, far away. 

Click. Darkness surrounded me once again, and I felt my chair being pushed and moved. I felt what felt like another set of human legs covered in jeans push against mine and then another click

My eyes adjusted to the light again, and I saw what had changed. I was now pressed against John’s chair, our knees touching. Everyone gave us an odd look.

“So kiss,” Andrew said.

“Huh?” John stuttered.

I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t feel like making this take any more time than it already was probably going to take, so I leaned forward and pecked him on the lips, his expression surprised as I pulled back. The crowd erupted, and suddenly, I realized that if Andrew wanted us to kiss for the kiss part of the game, what would he want us to do for the marry and kill part?

“Shocking. Didn’t think that would ever happen,” Thomas spoke up. Only the football team and the girls who liked him laughed. It was like a cult. He was basically their god. 

Whatever he or his girlfriend, Leana Brown, did, the rest of the school just followed. Don’t ask me why.

“Thank you, Mr. Sanches, for your unneeded opinion,” Andrew spat back, and although he hid it well, I could see that pause of frustration in his cocky smirk. “Thank you, Miss Stone and Mr. Young, for participating in the first part of our game,” Andrew said, and I gave him a fake half-smile. 

Click. Darkness consumed the room yet another time, and I could feel my chair being moved by the invisible humans hidden in the darkness. 

Click. Light filled the room from string lights on the walls as I was once again facing the three boys. 

This time though, there was tape over Thomas’s mouth. I watched in horror as he squirmed in his chair, muffled cries coming from behind the tape. Loud protests came from the crowd. 

“Oh, shut up, or I’ll put tape on all of your mouths,” Andrew said in an annoyed tone. The crowd stopped arguing other than a few over-exasperated gasps.

I looked down and noticed my hands were shaking slightly. I tried to stop them and keep them still, but they just kept shaking more than before. 

“Turning back to Miss Stone.” He turned on his heels, his wicked smirk not just annoying me, but scaring me now. What was he hiding behind it? 

“Now, what were we saying before we were rudely interrupted by some people here?” Andrew questioned, the question having absolutely no reason other than trying to intimidate the crowd. I snorted at his stupidity. 

“Right at the point where you forced two strangers to kiss, actually,” I retorted, gathering all the confidence I could into my voice. His eyes rolled. 

“Those cocky remarks aren’t fooling anyone, Stone. We can all see your hands shake,” he argued, his brigade of the cocky game-master starting to crumble like a stone wall being hit by a missile. Quickly.

“Just get the game over with,” I remarked, eager to leave. His smirk returned to his face, and he stepped over to stand behind the three boys I was looking at. 

He rested his hands on Angel’s shoulders, standing straight in the middle, making an uncomfortable amount of eye contact with me.

“Get your dirty hands off me,” Angel said, his sass finally seeming to annoy Andrew.  Angel shivered his shoulders for a couple of seconds before Andrew straightened his shoulders and held Angel’s shoulders down. His biceps shone through his shirt sleeves as Angel fought for freedom from Andrew. Andrew started to lean down, and soon his mouth was at Angel’s ear. 

He whispered something quietly into Angel’s ear, making him gulp and making Angel’s face turn an uncomfortable shade of gray. 

“So, Stone, please select which to marry,” Andrew said, turning back towards me. He gestured his hand above Angel’s and Thomas’s heads like he was a shop worker trying to sell a new flavor of ice cream. 

“Uhh…” I said. Angel looked at me, and he slowly mouthed, Me. I didn’t mouth anything back, as Andrew was still watching me like a hawk. 

I looked at Thomas, but his facial expression was blank. 

“Angel,” I muttered quietly. Even if he asked me to do it, I still felt kind of odd for saying I would marry a gay guy to his face. 

Angel let go of a breath he seemed to have been holding for a while. 

“Fair enough,” Andrew said. 

Click. The invisible hands were back on mine in seconds. I felt something being slipped onto my ring finger, and I took a shaky breath as I guessed what it was.

Click. I looked at the new things added to the room: rings on Angel’s and my ring fingers and what looked like legal documents on a desk in between us. 

Angel and I met eyes, and both our eyes were filled with the horror that this was real. I let out a strained, choked, laugh. 

“Very funny, Andrew,” I said, the words coming out as if they had to fight a thousand wars to slip off my tongue. Sweat began to form on my hairline, making my black hair come out of its original curled style. 

“If it were a joke, you would be laughing. This is real,” Andrew insisted. I gulped, my breaths not coming so naturally anymore. 

“I’m done, Andrew. Get me the hell out of this chair,” Angel said, finally cracking from stress. But he mouthed “me” earlier as if he wanted to continue, didn’t he? Or was that for a different reason?

“Nuh-uh-uh. The four of you came into this circle, and only three of you will come out safely.” His words made my breath hitch, and my heart started beating millions of miles an hour from what I can guess. Andrew paused and walked over to Thomas, and to Thomas’s demise, put his fingers under Thomas’s chin, forcing him to look up at Andrew. Andrew’s chiseled features glinted in the dim lighting, making him even more terrifying. But I could see the way his black hair was shiny with sweat. It was not hot in here. It was mid-fall. So why was he out of all people sweating? 

“Speaking of, there’s only one step left for my little game. And there’s only one person left for the job. Isn’t that right, Thomas?” Andrew says, a laugh escaping his lips. I looked at the crowd and noticed one of my old friends, Gray, was in the first row of people in the antsy crowd that was held back from entering the circle by fear. His hand was holding something mostly hidden by his black jeans. I then realized it was a phone camera. With a light on. Gray was recording this.

What would he do with the recording? Did he not notice Andrew’s threat? Would he post it anonymously online? 

Before I could think of any more scenarios of what he could do with the recording, my ears filled with a click.

He’s gonna kill Thomas was all that went through my head.

Before I could think, I summoned all the strength in my body and broke through the ropes, my wrists burning from pulling on the rope so hard. I picked up the chair, turned it over, ripped off the bottom of the chair with a disgruntled yelp, and walked blindy towards the figure that I could make out as Andrew from my limited sight. 

Without another word, I plunged the sharp wooden leg of the chair straight in his chest, and, choking and bleeding out in the dark, he fell to the ground. My hand slipped to my face, cupping my mouth. 

Tears filled my eyes as I heard the gunshot. The gunshot I knew had killed Thomas. I slipped to my knees, realizing what I had done. A hand covered my mouth with a cloth, making me grow drowsy as I slipped from consciousness.

The Day That Goes Haywire – Trilogy

My day today:

8:13 am – Wake up

8:15 am – Log on to Writopia Lab (Yay!!!!)

9:45 am – Writopia Lab ends

9:46 am – Go downstairs

9:48 am – Eat breakfast while watching the test cricket match

9:50 am to 3 pm – Do some studying, play cricket with my uncle

3 pm to 6 pm – Go to a friends birthday party, stay there until six, eat dinner, and come home

6 pm to 9 pm – Come home, play a few games of  The Sequence, and sleep

This is how my day should look today, I think as I get up.

“Joe! Are you up yet?” Mom shouts from downstairs. 

“Yes! I’ve been up for about 10 minutes,” I shout back as I log on to Writopia. The next minute, I find that my internet isn’t working. Then, my day goes totally awesome (I’m being sarcastic). 

Three things that go totally awesome in my day are logging on to Writopia Lab, going to a friend’s birthday party, and playing a few games of The Sequence. I have to shut down my computer, and start it up again 2 times. Finally, I get to Writopia Lab. For the rest of the lab, I have no problems. 

Next, I find that I am late for the party, by 50 minutes. Then, I get to the party and play till 6 pm. 

Back at home, I can’t find The Sequence, a board game where you have to make two sequences of 5. The first person to make both of them wins! You can also play in teams of two. Same thing goes: the first one to make two sequences of 5 wins the game. Finally, I find it. Then, me and my family play 5 games, 1 of which I won, and 4 that I lost. Then, I brush my teeth, and go to bed. I have a ton of nightmares, such as missing my book report deadline, being late for my State Report Oral, and other stuff, like missing Math or Social Studies or even SCIENCE.

The End lLets just hope that my Monday isn’t the same!!) 

The Day That Goes Haywire: Episode 2: Summer Starts

I, Joe Johnson, started my Monday like a normal Monday. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had the end of school year exams on Monday, as Monday was the last day of school, and I hadn’t studied a single bit!!! Dun dun daaaan!!! My grade, although I hadn’t studied, was 99.9%. My parents were furious with me! 

“Joe! You should have gotten 2,000,000,000,000,000,000% on your exams! Your mom and I always got that score on our exams!” my Dad said. I was startled.

 “Sorry!! I forgot to study for the exams!” I replied. Then, my day went totally awesome (sarcastic, again). As I tried to focus on the fact that school was out for summer break, I started worrying about Summer Camp, or Summer School. Or… or… or some other horrible thing. Instead, Mom and Dad planned a trip to, you guessed it, The Park of Waters and Slides that Stretch Up To 60 Feet Off The Ground, even though they know that I absolutely didn’t like that park. I guess that it was supposed to be some kind of punishment.

The next day, at 4AM, we flew to Cancun, Mexico, to go to the park. The park was not very fun. The resort, on the other hand, was awesome, but terrifying. 

“Ahh!!! Help!” I yelled. I had just triggered a booby trap.       

         To know more about Joe’s Summer Vacation, read the third book of the Day That Goes Haywire Series.

                         The End

The Day That Goes Haywire: Episode 3: Summer Vacation 

Summer is going horrible and horrifying for me so far. My parents are being controlled by an Evil Madmind. I only got to know about this when I overheard them a few weeks into summer vacation.

                  A few weeks ago: 

“Joe Johnson! Get up!” Mom shouted from across the room.

“Okay! Okay! Stop! Mom! Seriously! Stop throwing pillows at me! I’m up! I’m up!” I replied, as I held my hands up in surrender. Just as quickly as that had passed, Dad threw another volley of fire. 

“Dad! Stop! Chill! Why? Okay, seriously, you have got to stop throwing pillows at me now!” I roared, as I threw a volley of fire back at both Mom and him. I was shocked at this behavior from Mom and Dad. It really was surprising how carefree they had gotten after coming to Cancun. Was I the only serious one left?

This was actually true. I was really the only one left that was serious. My parents were being sort of “controlled,” though I didn’t know this yet. I only found out one night when my parents thought I was asleep…

Now: 3 Weeks into Summer Vacation

I only found out one night when my parents thought I was asleep. They talked about the madmind and how he was their “master,” and the most powerful person in the world, and how he would give them all that they wanted and so on and so forth. I was shocked at this. I was really surprised that they, of all people, would let themselves be controlled. They weren’t those kind of people. Upon investigating a bit further, I found out that there was a super secret camera that was hidden in my parents room. It zapped them with a weird blue light 2 times a day, one time in the morning, and one in the night. Now that I knew how that worked, I just had to disable it. I snuck into my parents room when they were out shopping. I then disabled the zapper. Now, I had saved my parents!


The End

Inspired by “Goodbye to a World” by Porter Robinson

“I love you.” That is how it all ended. On October 12th, 2067, the world ended. After seeing many collapse, he started seeing in slow motion. Looking at her, she was falling slowly, her eyes half closed, she looked worn out. Vision started being blurry until… she said, “I love you.” She collapsed and went still. No longer in this world, with nothing to live for, he collapsed. With one last breath, the world ended.

Why Everyone Should Have a Hobby

Having a hobby is very important. My brother and I have had hobbies since we were little, and it all started when I was two. I played violin then, but now I play viola. My brother and I were living in Hong Kong at the time. Since we were only two when we started, we had to use foam violins that made no sound. The only thing it helped me with was knowing where to place my fingers. When I turned three, they let me start with a real violin. It was one-sixteenth of a normal violin; it was tiny. But, it was the right size for me. When I was four years old, I moved back to New York and started with a new teacher. The new teacher was pretty bad so I got a better teacher. Besides being better, that teacher was very strict. 

This teacher had a reason for being strict: the viola and the violin are very hard instruments. One of them even caused my brother to quit. We went on for a few years and the teacher got very mad because Christoffer fell asleep in class while standing. So, after that, my brother decided, at age six, to quit violin. He quit because it wasn’t easy for him to play and he was also figuring out that this wasn’t his instrument. That’s the thing about hobbies: they have to be something you enjoy. At the beginning you might like this instrument, but when you grow older, you might like something else. 

So, he then started cello while I continued violin. When I turned eight, my parents started trying to change my teacher again. It turned out that she was a little bit too strict after all. A year later, I switched to my third teacher and she was nice. With her, there was less yelling and more smiling. We soon figured out that she taught viola, so I tried it for a couple of weeks, and I now play viola. Since I have been playing this instrument for a long time, I use muscle memory to play because this instrument is an instrument where I can’t always tell myself how to play it. I use muscle memory because the violin is very hard, but my fingers fly over the strings and the music they make sounds good.

All in all, people should have one thing that makes them enjoy life. I like my hobbies because they are challenging and unique. People should have challenging hobbies because they will need to learn how to fix challenges and that could prepare them for a job. It should be unique because it will make them proud of what they do. I always have a song that is very hard for this exact reason. One example is when I was six and I was learning the song Perpetual Motion. This song was super hard because in a second you need to play four notes, and I couldn’t do that quickly. For the first week, I could not even master the first line because it was just so different from all the other songs; they were slow yet this one was fast. I kept trying and trying, but I just could not do it. Then, on the first day of the new year, I started to play it perfectly, and ever since then I have been playing viola and violin better than before. I hope that you have a fun hobby too, one that makes you feel like your fingers are flying.


My first memories of playing chess are a little fuzzy, but I do remember I wanted to beat my brother Shepherd at something he was in a club for and I wasn’t. I had a really competitive spirit and I still do now. I wanted my brother to show me how to play chess and finally my brother was forced to by my mother. Luckily, my kindergarten school had a chess club which is where I met my best friend of five years. After playing with my friends and winning, my competitive spirit slowly turned into a love for chess and finally at my first rated tournament I got to put my skills to the test. I was in the lowest section and there were five rounds (it was a city tournament). The section was K-1.  Everyone had an under 400 rating. I won each of the 5 rounds and I got first place. I shot up my rating to 925 and got kicked out of the section because my rating was too high. I helped my team to get first place with 4 people (top 4 add their points together for the team points).  In total, we had 16 points (my brother – 3, a 1st grader named Joshua – 4, my best friend Avaan – 4, me – 5). I played in many tournaments, finally reaching a rating of 1000 at age 6. 

Skip forward a few years to 3rd grade. My parents made me stop playing chess tournaments because my schedule was full. I adapted and for two years I didn’t play chess.

Skip forward a couple more years. In 5th grade, because of Covid, all the chess was online. There are differences between online chess and real chess. One difference is that there are distractions at home. Siblings can be very annoying when you are trying to focus. When we are playing in person, everyone has to be quiet. I started to play online chess and broke 1500, hurraay! My rating started bouncing around between 1475 and 1525, finally settling around 1510-1530. 

However, then my rating jumped down to 1488. WAAAAAH. At a tournament in April 2021, I won two out of two games. I thought I could win all 4 rounds. Unfortunately there was someone who is higher rated who I hadn’t beaten in the last 5 games we played. I beat him a long time ago, but I thought, It probably won’t be today… UUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHH! His name is… Elliot Goodrich. He is only in 2nd grade and has a rating of over 1500!  

First round, I played a guy named Andrew Plasse. 20 moves later, it was still even. Finally, I thought of a tactic. Win a pawn. Then, I was up 1 point. I won another pawn. I was winning when we got to the end game.  I was up 2 pawns. Me- King, Bishop, Rook, and 2 more pawns than him. Him- King, Knight, Rook, and 2 less pawns than me. He resigned. Victory for me! I checked his rating after the match, 800. Cue the groan of disappointment. 

Note: I could only see his name when I was playing. His name allows me to know where to search for his rating, but I didn’t look him up. 

In the second round, I won again. Then I played Elliot… And I won! I was so happy!

Just to mention, there is a timer in chess that ticks per second. There is sometimes a delay which means if you don’t move in a certain amount of time, your clock starts ticking. After each move, you get time back on the clock. But the increment isn’t used for every chess game. In person, every time you move, you are supposed to hit the clock switching which side is ticking. If someone’s timer reaches zero and the other person can win if they continue, it is a loss for the person out of time. If the other person cannot win if they continue playing, then it is a draw.

Chess can be very frustrating for me at times. There are two specific times when I got really mad. I was winning at the game when I put my opponent in a stalemate, when he cannot move his king or any piece anywhere. This means it is a draw. At the first game I was in the last game of the tournament at board 2. My friend and I were the top two players, both at 3/3. My friend beat his opponent and won the section, but I drew to my opponent by stalemate even though I was winning and I got second. He got 4/4 but I got 3.5/4. And no, it was not on tiebreaks. I was the only one with 3.5 as my opponent went 3/4. Stalemate means that the opponent cannot move or you cannot move, therefore resulting in a draw. This is different from Chinese chess though.

Even with all my troubles and frustrations, I still continued playing chess. I actually started writing this paragraph on the 2nd day of the New York State Chess Championship. It was between rounds 4 and 5 on April 17-18, 2021. There were two days and three rounds per day. 

The first game, I was winning by a bishop and a pawn. Then, I dreadfully lost a rook by a simple tactic that I found immediately after I moved. Then. I lost. I was so mad and so sad. I was playing a 1000 which was not even that good. The word STUPID ricocheted across my mind. Then, I got over it in an hour by telling myself that the next round would be easier. 

2nd game, also against a 1000. I got his bishop in the first 10 moves. I took everything from him then I mated him. Easy enough. 1/2 points is my score.

3rd game, last game of the day, and the most insane. Lost the exchange. Then I won a bishop for a pawn. The game was tied. Then, I lost a knight. Then I lost the game. I was playing 1200. I won ⅓ of the games.

In the 4th game, I played another 1000. I won a bishop. I went to the endgame and was victorious. Yay! Return to the present.

In the 5th and 6th game I beat a 1000 and 1200 respectively. I got a score of 4/6, 27 out of over 100. Not really impressive. My friend though, got a score ⅚, and got 3rd place! Considering this is the championship for elementary players, he is basically #3 elementary school chess player in the whole city. Interestingly enough, when we were in the K-1st grade we played each other infinitely and beat each other around the same amount. Like, 10 times each.

I don’t really know why I like chess so much. It’s hard for me to explain my feelings. I just like it, no need to push, that’s it. So, you people can try it and see how you like it. I am still going to play, not planning to stop. But I think this essay is lengthy enough. But just so you know, if you challenge me, I won’t go easy: I like to win.

*P.s- You may be asking yourself what the title is. The letters start a word. The letters are the first letter in the word. The numbers are what number the letter is in the alphabet, for example, 1=a, 2=b, 3=c, 4=d, 5=e.  The title is a puzzle just like chess!

P.s.s- This was written over a period of time (you’re probably thinking DUH).


Chapter One

“Ugh. I’m so bored.”

 I flop down on my bed. 

“Hey, Siri. Interesting things near me.”  I scroll through the options. “Hmmm… Brooklyn escape room. And it’s called…. Playtime. It says two to four players. I’ll try to invite some of my friends.” 

First, I call Susan. 


“Hi, Susan, there’s a really fun looking escape room and I scheduled it for 4:00 tomorrow. You wanna come?”

“Sure, I’m free tomorrow.”

“Great! See you then!”

I try calling Margret next, but she doesn’t pick up. Then, I call Lily. 

“Hi, Lily, wanna come to an escape room with me and Susan at 4:00 tomorrow?” It’s a bit of a risk, since I know Lily doesn’t like Susan, but I hope she can come. 

“I’m sorry, I have a class from 3:30 to 5:00.”

“That’s fine, Lily! See you at school!” I hang up. Guess it’s just Susan.

Chapter Two 

It’s a cloudy day when Susan and I go into the escape room. I’m talking with a worker at the escape room.

“Well, you see, there’s an emergency button, if something were to happen,” he says.

“But wait a second, where is it?”

“Have a good time!” he says, and closes the door. Weird guy.

“Huh,” says Susan. I look around. It’s a room. I mean, I know it’s an escape room, but this just looks like a little girl’s bedroom. You know, toys, a frilly bed, a dresser, and a bookcase. I notice that it’s very clean.

“Hmmm. I feel like there should be a puzzle we solve or something.” 

“I know, right?” Susan says. We keep searching the room for some idea of what will happen or some sort of clue everywhere we can think of (under the rug, in the dresser, on the bookshelves) when the lights flicker. On and off, on and off. Susan and I freeze. It stops. 

“Okaaaaay. What just happened?” 

“Don’t ask me.”

“Wait.” I spot something on the floor. It’s a piece of paper, and I pick it up. It’s in cursive.

 Mary likes playtime.

Okay, I’m really scared now like really. And that’s before I hear the whispering.

“Do you hear that?” asks Susan.

“Yeah, I do.” Whispering. Little voices. I can’t tell who they belong to. They talk over each other in a language I can’t understand. I plug my ears, but it doesn’t help. I feel like it’s creeping into my brain. Then, suddenly, it stops.

Chapter Three

“Okay, isn’t there an emergency button?” says Susan.

“I don’t know, he didn’t say where it was!”

“Well then, we’re just going to have to find it, won’t we.”

I used to not like how Susan could be bossy sometimes, but right now, I really appreciate it. We start checking on shelves, in drawers, in corners and crevices. Everywhere possible. Until finally, the only place we haven’t checked is under the bed. I think we’re both a little scared to go under there.

 “Okay,” says Susan. “I’m going under there.”

 ….. orrrr maybe I’m the one who’s scared to do it. She slowly crawls under the bed, going farther down until I can’t see her anymore. I wait for about a minute, but she doesn’t reply. “Susan?” I call. I lean down. “Susan!” 

But I don’t see her.  Like, as in she’s not there. There is nothing under the bed. Not even a dust bunny! (Like I said, it’s very clean.) But seriously! I’m alone! I’ve done escape rooms before, so I went with the creepiness, but this is too much. People don’t just disappear! But I had a feeling I was next. If there’s one rule that goes for everyone in the world, it’s that if your friend disappears under totally random circumstances, you can freak out. So that’s exactly what I do.

I try to bang on the doors. “Help!” I shout, but it’s like nobody hears me. So I search around. I’m sure there’s something I missed when trying to find the emergency button. Finally, I think I see something behind the dresser, so I muster up all my strength and push it to the side. Sure enough, there’s a green button. I press it but nothing happens. I’m shocked. I was sure that would be the answer. All of a sudden, an alarm starts blaring. Nobody comes. But the alarm doesn’t stop. I start tugging on the doorknob. I thought they weren’t allowed to actually lock people in! I give up and flop down on the bed. I can’t believe this! But then the alarm stops. I hear a click from the door. I decide to try one more time. I go to the door, grab with both hands, and pull. Like the door had never been locked, it opens easily. I’m so happy! But what about Susan? I think. But that’s when I see the… thing on the other side of the door. That’s really the only way to describe it. Something unspeakable. Something out of a horror film. One rated Z, which doesn’t exist. Yeah, that’s how scary it was. A monster. I’m about to slam the door in its… face-like thingy when all of a sudden, I feel a strange sensation in my back. I’m about to turn around when my perspective goes black. I close my eyes. And never open them in human form again.


A man sits alone in his house. As he stares out the window, a tear rolls down his cheek. He remembers the day about a month ago when his daughter disappeared. He wonders if she will come back someday. And maybe, just maybe, whatever his daughter had become was watching him, waiting for the day that he would join her. 

The Count’s Letter

Chapter I

Snowflake, a bunny, lived in the town of Meenlam. She was a postbunny, meaning she ran around the town delivering letters to her fellow townspeople. Snowflake also went to some of the nearby towns, such as Baldis, Rineen, Yoham, and Sarvenos. Snowflake was good at her job, but she was not the best because many of the other bunnies who worked with her were extraordinarily fast. Even when they ran to some of the farthest towns, they could get there in a very speedy three days, because those towns were over twenty kemdos away. Snowflake had heard some bunnies talk about the towns being over fifty miles away, but she had no idea what miles were. 

Snowflake loved baking. When she wasn’t delivering mail, she could often be found in her kitchen, baking something delicious. She often gave half of what she made to her neighbors because she lived alone and couldn’t eat everything before it went stale. Snowflake’s favorite things to bake were chocolate chip cookies because the batter was just as good as the cookies, and chocolate cake, just because chocolate cake is amazing. 

Snowflake also loved going to the beach, but only on cold days when she could be alone. Everybody came on the hot days because they didn’t like the cold water. Snowflake tolerated it better than most bunnies because she did it all the time and she also had a thick coat of fur. Besides, most of the time she just sat on the sand and gazed at the ocean or read. Snowflake liked being alone because she could think without having to hear everyone running around on the beach. 

One cold winter day, Snowflake decided that she should go to the beach, since she hadn’t been in a while. She sat down on the sand and watched the chilly waves rush towards her paws and then fall back into the ocean just before they pierced her boots. After about fifteen minutes of this, Snowflake decided to walk along the beach for a while. She was halfway to the small, abandoned garden of lilacs when she felt her boot thud against something sharp. She lifted her shoe, and she saw a tiny crab scuttling around on the wet ground. It looked lost, so she picked it up and walked it over to the sea. She set it down and the waves escorted it into the murky blue depths. A little bit later, she turned back and walked home. When she was nice and warm by her fire, she slept for an hour or so, and then she got up and made a batch of brownies. 

As she was waiting for the oven to ding, someone knocked on her door. She got up from the couch, and she opened the door. A cold gust of wind swept into the house, moving the fog covering the town to reveal a young bunny sitting on the doorstep. 

“Are you S-S-Snowflake N-Neepim?” the little bunny asked. Snowflake couldn’t tell if he was stuttering because he was cold, or because he stuttered no matter what. 

“Why, yes. I am Snowflake Neepim. What’s your name?” Snowflake replied. 

“B-Benny. Mrs. Evental a-asked me to f-find you a-a-and then to journey w-with you to this place and deliver t-t-this letter with you,” Benny said. 

Snowflake asked, “May I see the letter?”

“Y-yes. The l-letter is v-very important. A-at least, t-t-that’s what Mrs. Evental s-said. Also, s-s-she said it was. . . across the Forest!” Benny squeaked the last part as he handed the letter to Snowflake. He squeaked because the Forest was the most dangerous part of the world. Nobody knew what was past it, but clearly Mrs. Evental knew because she had to get a letter to someone there. Rumors flew around the village whenever someone went in because everyone believed that monsters and carnivorous plants lived there. The last time someone had gone in and come out alive was thousands of years ago when the Forest was new. To Snowflake, it didn’t seem right to risk her life just to deliver a single letter, but she would do it because Benny couldn’t do it alone. She grasped the letter as she looked at the address. 

32084 Grenom St NW


“Alright. We’ll go across the Forest. We need to pack lots of food for the journey. Do you have any idea why Mrs. Evental wants us to deliver the letter?” Snowflake declared. 

“N-no, Ms. Neepim. Can I search your h-house for good f-f-food to bring?” Benny answered.

“You can, but please, call me Snowflake. I despise being called Ms. Neepim,” Snowflake replied. They walked into her house and started searching the cabinets to find foods that would be easy to bring. They ended up with two backpacks and two sleeping bags, and as they left the house, they waved at a town they might never see again. 

Chapter II

Snowflake and Benny stopped when they reached the Forest. They stared up at the towering trees looming above their heads. Then, with brave glances at the other, they pushed the shrubbery aside and stepped into the Forest. 

They had crossed the river before then, and they were miraculously almost dry. The river was known for being very fast and powerful, and most bunnies were drenched if they tried to cross or go fishing in it. Snowflake was very glad about that, since being wet while trying to cross a dangerous forest would not be good.

The first thing Snowflake noticed was the quiet. Before they went in, she heard the sounds of the river, birds, and the wind. In the Forest, there was nothing. There were no birds, no wind, and no animals of any sort, only the sound of their footsteps, which even now sounded muffled. 

“W-where are the n-n-noises?” Benny asked softly. 

“I don’t kn- aahhhhh!” Snowflake screamed. Benny clung onto Snowflake as a huge snake slithered down from the trees. It stared at them for a minute, and then it glided up the tree. Snowflake and Benny calmed down and continued walking. They came to a huge wall that appeared to be made of ivy, but it was probably stone underneath. They poked around for a while, searching for a door. Benny yelped as he fell through the wall, and Snowflake rushed to him. He had found the door, and he fell through it. Benny stood up and dusted himself off, and they paraded into the place beyond the wall. 

It was a castle that stood behind the wall. It towered above the rest of the Forest, leaving an immense shadow over the trees. Loud chirping noises could be heard anywhere, and the air smelled of royal perfume. Snowflake wondered how she hadn’t noticed it as they were walking, but then she remembered that nothing could penetrate the canopy. As soon as they stepped through, however, a group of guards rushed towards them, and they tied their paws behind their backs. These guards weren’t bunnies, though. They were parrots!

The guards bumped them through the palace and stuck them in a small cell. The only words they said were, “Breakfast is at 7, lunch is at 12, and dinner’s at 6,” and then they left them all alone. 

“W-what just h-happened?” Benny quivered as he spoke. 

“We’re in a castle, and those guards just imprisoned us! We need to get out of here!” Snowflake answered. She frantically searched the cell, but there were only two tiny cots and a toilet. She spied a nail beneath one of the cots, but she couldn’t reach it. 

“Benny, can you get that nail for me? I can’t reach it,” Snowflake asked. Benny nodded and squeezed under the cot. He stayed under there for a moment and then he popped back out, nail in paw. 

“Is t-this the nail y-you wanted?” Benny said. 

“Yes, thank you,”

“You’re w-welcome.”

 Snowflake reached her paw through the bars of the door, and she stuck the nail into the lock. Unfortunately, a parrot guard came down the hall, and Snowflake had to stop. The clock struck noon, and the guard started to unlock the doors. The prisoners trudged out of the cells and they followed the guard to what was probably the dining hall. Snowflake and Benny had no choice but to follow everyone to the hall. 

The parrots serving the food passed out trays, and they spooned a bluish-gray glop to everyone. Benny looked down at his food in disgust, and he spat and pushed it away. As she did the same, Snowflake whispered, “Hey, I’ve got some apples. We can eat those once we go back to our cells. Then we can break out of here!” 

“What’d you do to get in here? I smashed one o’ the windows in King Obb’s palace. You look like some little stupid people, so I’ll tell ya that this is King Obb’s castle,” a gruff voice grumbled. They turned around to see a massive pig with a severe underbite point to a window high up in the hall. Sure enough, it was smashed to bits. 

“I insulted King Obb. This guy did the same,” Snowflake replied. Benny nodded in agreement. Just then, bells rang and all the prisoners stood up and got escorted back to their cells. 

Benny gasped, “They c-cleaned it! Our n-n-nail is gone!” He plopped down on his cot and began to sob. Snowflake dug out her apples and handed one to him. She sat down and they began munching forlornly on the apples. 

“I have earpins!” Snowflake cried. 

“S-s-so?” Benny said. 

“So, we can use them to pick the lock!” Snowflake said joyously. She dug in her bag and she pulled out two earpins. She stuck one in the lock and wiggled it around. The door swung open just as a royal-looking person flew down the hall. Benny jumped up and shut the door. 

“What was that?” King Obb asked. His voice was nasally with a snooty accent, and it sounded wicked. King Obb spun around, and his gaze locked on Snowflake and Benny. 

“Probably one of those little punks bangin’ on the bars,” a parrot guard replied. King Obb didn’t look satisfied with the answer, but he turned around and marched on, the guard trailing behind. As soon as Snowflake could no longer hear their wings beating, she opened the door again and slipped out, backpack and sleeping bag with her. Benny followed her out, but then he whispered, “How w-w-will we get o-out? G-guards will be w-w-watching the exits.” 

“The window that the big pig broke!” Snowflake exclaimed after thinking for a few moments. They ran up as quietly as they could, and then they stopped. The window was too high up for them to reach. They couldn’t get out that way. 

“I know! We can s-stack the t-tables!” Benny exclaimed. They began stacking the tables, one after another, making sure they had a way to get up to the top of the stack. Once the tower was high enough, they crawled through the window and jumped down. Half of the dining hall was below ground and there were some high bushes below, so they weren’t hurt falling down. They ran to the wall, and they climbed up the ivy, and they jumped over. They were free. 

Chapter III

Snowflake and Benny raced away from the castle. They had gone out on the opposite side of where they came in, so they didn’t have to circle all the way around to continue going. They trekked in silence for a while, but they began to talk when the ground beneath them started to pull them in. 

“Why is the ground sinking?” Snowflake asked. 

“I t-think it’s q-q-quicksand!” Benny replied. They screamed as the quicksand swallowed them, but they stopped when they fell into a huge cavern. Floating lights filled the cavern with a warm glow, and dancing bunnies wearing bright dresses were twirling around a stage on the far end of the room. A slow, romantic piece of music was being played by an orchestra that appeared to be in a glass room above the ceiling. Snowflake loved the lights bobbing about. She wanted to hold onto them forever, and she felt herself drop into a dreamlike state. She saw Benny walking slowly towards them, and she felt a very strong urge to do the same. Snowflake walked to the lights, and the last thing she remembered was hugging them, and then everything went black. 

When Snowflake came to, she was still clutching the lights. Benny was muttering something about how he loved the lights so much, he would never let go. Then he woke up. Snowflake saw the lights again and she went over to them. One of them morphed into one of the dancing bunnies, but this one had a wicked grin, and she bent over and kissed Snowflake on her forehead. Snowflake collapsed on the ground, fast asleep. The bunny walked over to Benny, but he batted her away. Now the bunny came flying back and she knocked Benny down! As she stalked over to him, she tripped over her long high heels. Benny used this opportunity to grab a stick and whack her. He hit her until she was unconscious, and then he grabbed her keys and dragged Snowflake out. 

When Snowflake woke up, a massive Venus flytrap was looming over her head. She shrieked and Benny woke up with a start. They had both fallen asleep after they escaped. 

“What’s g-going on?” Benny asked groggily. Then, he noticed the plant and he screamed, too. He jumped up and quickly slashed the Venus flytrap’s stem with a sharp stick, and then he collapsed and he promptly began to snore. He was just tired.  

Snowflake waited an hour before trying to wake Benny again. It had been really early in the morning when they were faced with the Venus flytrap, and they would still get an early start that day. She nudged Benny until he woke, and they ate a quick breakfast before continuing across the Forest. 

For the next three days, they trudged through the Forest, only talking when they had to. It was a very boring journey, especially since nothing else imprisoned them or tried to eat them. 

Snowflake was thinking that the Forest never ended and that Mrs. Evental had just made it up when the Forest suddenly ended and they were standing in a beautiful meadow with flowers in all colors of the rainbow. Snowflake and Benny rushed forward, only to smack into an enormous web and the meadow flickered and disappeared. They tried to move around, but the web was sticky and they couldn’t break free. There was a buzzing noise that sounded like a bee, and a huge firefly loomed over their heads. It lifted Benny off the web with ease, and it made a weird sound that sounded as if it were sniffing him. It tossed Benny to the ground, and it repeated with Snowflake. This time, the firefly must have thought she would taste good, because it lifted her up to its mouth, and it was about to put her head in when Benny swooped down on a vine, grabbed Snowflake, and launched over the web. They tumbled down a small hill and landed in the creek at the bottom. 

“Oof,” Benny groaned from underneath Snowflake. She slowly stood up and grabbed Benny’s paw and helped him stand. 

“I thought… fireflies were… herbivorous,” Snowflake panted. 

“Me t-too. I guess t-that one w-wasn’t,” Benny agreed. They dusted themselves off and they continued walking. They had learned to just keep on moving, even when something was hard. 

They walked for two more days, which made them very, very tired, and then there was light up ahead. Snowflake and Benny glanced at each other, and they ran towards it, despite their legs aching as if they had just stood for a week without sitting once. They pushed through the bushes, and there was a small town sitting there, waiting to be discovered. They were out of the Forest. 

Chapter IV

They raced into the town, and they noticed a sign that said Bartrembos as they frantically searched for the mysterious creature’s house. They ran around for a little while, searching for the house, but it became dark very quickly, so they found an inn called The Four Mugs. Once Snowflake and Benny had checked in and placed their stuff in their room, they sat down at a table in the dining room and began to talk about their mission. 

“So, just to remind you of what we’re doing, Mrs. Evental gave us this letter to give to somebody at this address, and it’s very important that we deliver it because something really important is inside. Also, do you have any idea what’s in the letter?” Snowflake informed Benny. 

“N-no. Mrs. Evental s-said, ‘This letter has s-something very important inside. Please d-d-do not open i-it. Just give it to the c-c-count at this address,’” Benny said, mimicking Mrs. Evental’s voice. 

“Do you think we should open it? Actually, the count would probably notice, so we shouldn’t open it,” Snowflake said. 

“H-how would he k-know?” Benny asked. 

“The seal wouldn’t stick, and it might be broken.”

“Oh. W-what if we got a n-new seal?”

“We don’t have Mrs. Evental’s seal stamp. Look, the name Koria Evental is engraved in the seal. This count probably knows what the seal looks like, so he would know that we opened it,” Snowflake pointed out. A waiter walked over to their table with two lemonades and two bowls of fettuccine alfredo. They ate a delicious meal, and then they went up to bed and got the best night sleep they had had in days. The next morning, Snowflake and Benny ate a quick breakfast and then they left to go and find the count. 

“Scarcem s-street. . . J-jalims street. . . Grenom s-s-street!” Benny read the names of the streets as they passed them. They turned down Grenom Street and they looked for number 32084. 

“There it is!” Snowflake cried when they found it. 32084 Grenom St. was a tall and dark house. It was very neat and nothing looked broken or out of place. A weird smell was coming from the house. It was something like cinnamon combined with molasses. Odd chattering noises came from the back of the house. Snowflake and Benny walked up the steps to the door and they knocked on the door. It swung open to reveal a tall and gaunt bunny. He wore all black, which contrasted his pale white fur. He looked sad, as if he had been living all alone for the past ten years, and he had a very long nose, a thin line for a mouth, a worry crease, and very dark eyes. He gazed at them for a long time, and then he said, “Come in. I am Farmirn Jayis. Why are you here?” 

“We’ve come to deliver a letter from someone in our town named Mrs. Evental. Also, I am Snowflake,” Snowflake answered as she and Benny walked into the house. 

“Was Mrs. Evental’s first name Koria?” the count asked. 

“Y-yes,” Benny said. 

“And what might your name be?” Farmirn inquired. 

“B-benny,” Benny answered. Farmirn gestured for them to sit down in some large armchairs as he got out whatever had made that weird smell earlier. They turned out to be cinnamon spice cookies, and Snowflake and Benny took them gratefully. 

“Now, may I see this letter?” the count requested. Benny handed him the letter, and they peeked over his shoulder as he read it. 

August 7, 1483

Dear Farmirn,

I write to you to warn you of a bunny hungry for power in our village. He knows there is a place beyond the Forest, and he plans on storming Bartrembos and claiming it for himself. I want you to know so that you can protect Bartrembos from this evil bunny. He has black fur, green eyes, and one of his ears is half as long as the other. Please, protect yourself and your town from this bunny. I love Bartrembos, and I would hate for it to be taken over. Oh, I forgot to mention his name. It is Dreim Varlik. He is a powerful bunny in our town, so he will not have trouble recruiting an army and going there. Please stay safe. 

On a lighter note, I received your present. Thank you so much. The sapling was a very thoughtful gift. I still do not know how you can send that in the mail and get it here so quickly. It is a sapling, and that makes it very hard to transport it, especially all the way across the Forest. Thank you again!


Koria Evental

“So, this b-bunny named Dreim Varlik is coming to take o-o-over Bartrembos just because he can, and w-we have no i-idea for how he learned about this p-p-place, right?” Benny said. 

“Yes. We must go to the Council at once and inform them of this danger!” Farmirn cried. He stood up and bolted out of the front door, letter in hand. Snowflake and Benny rushed after him. They were exhausted and out of breath when they reached the town hall. 

“Councillors! I am sorry for coming without warning, but I have just received a letter from my friend in a town called Meenlam. She informed me that there is a bunny in her town who discovered Bartrembos and they want to come here and take it over! We must pro — ” Farmirn said quickly. 

“Hold on there, Farmirn. Repeat that more slowly,” a councillor, who had the name Councillor Jinlis on his chair, interrupted. 

“I have a friend in a town named Meenlam. She just sent me a letter warning me of a bunny who has discovered Bartrembos, and that bunny is going to come here with an army and take over our town,” Farmirn repeated, much slower this time. 

“Thank you. Do you have any idea of how powerful this bunny is?” A councillor called Councillor Zarina asked. 

“My friend, Koria Evental, said he is very powerful and he will have no trouble recruiting an army and pushing through the Forest,” Farmrin answered. The Councillors turned towards each other and they began talking in hushed voices about how they should stop this threat. Eventually they came to a decision. 

Councillor Barikl said, “Go to the Emnesi. For the two young bunnies, that is where our army resides and trains. Tell them to block the town off and prepare their weapons. We are going to war with these flops for bunnies.”

Chapter V

Snowflake ran straight to the Emnesi after receiving directions from Farmirn on how to get there. 

“Block the town off! Prepare your weapons! A group of bunnies are coming from across the Forest and want to take over Bartrembos!” Snowflake yelled when she got there. 

“Who are you?” one of the soldiers asked. 

“I’m Snowflake Neepim of Meenlam. I came here to deliver a letter from all the way across the Forest, and some bunnies from my town are coming here to take over Bartrembos!” Snowflake cried. The soldiers murmured in discussion. 

Before they could speak, Snowflake called out, “The Council ordered you to do this!” As soon as she said “Council,” they started running about the camp, gathering their weapons and rushing out the door. Snowflake watched as they positioned themselves all around Bartrembos, making sure their weapons worked properly. They waited for hours, but at sundown, loud footsteps started coming from the Forest. A couple minutes later, Dreim Varlik’s army burst out of the Forest. They must have thought the people of Bartrembos would be just going about their normal day, but they found an army instead. Dreim’s army waited for a minute, glancing at each other and appearing to think, How did they know? before they charged at Bartrembos’s army. 

The next hour was filled with the clashing of swords and bows shooting nonstop. Everywhere Snowflake and Benny looked, soldiers were fighting and bodies were lying on the ground. Some moaned and twitched, while others lay still. Bartrembos was winning, but then the other army rolled a huge cannon out of the Forest. Three bunnies had to work to get a single cannonball in, but the balls were weak and they only destroyed a couple houses, which was not much compared to what it had looked like. Snowflake spotted Benny on the edge of the battlefield, and he was creeping towards the giant cannon, a bomb in one of his paws and a box of matches in the other. 

“Benny!” Snowflake shrieked. Benny turned around and put his paw to his mouth, signaling for her to be quiet. He crept up to the cannon, and he began to army-crawl between the bunnies’ legs. He went underneath the cannon, and he stuck the bomb into the hole after lighting it. He jumped up and ran back to Snowflake as the bomb exploded. 

When all the smoke had cleared, Snowflake saw the cannon, but it was completely destroyed. Many more bodies now lay near it, and Snowflake recognized them as the bunnies operating the canon and other warriors. The soldiers from Bartrembos used this opportunity to start fighting again while the others were still in shock. 

“Where did you get that?” Snowflake asked Benny. 

“F-farmirn gave it to m-me just in c-case we needed it,” Benny answered. Shouts came up from the battlefield, and Snowflake and Benny peeked over the wall of the fortress they were on to see the Bartrembos soldiers standing in victory. They had won the battle! 

Chapter VI

Snowflake and Benny were at a massive party. Once the battlefield had been cleared up, it was decorated with streamers and balloons that flew high into the sky. The town bakers had worked hard to make cupcakes, cakes, salads, and more for the celebration. It was so loud, Snowflake and Benny had to scream to hear each other. Near the end of the party, Farmirn got up onto the makeshift stage and quieted everybody. 

“I would like to propose a toast to Snowflake Neepim and Benny Kembi. They delivered a letter to me from Meenlam informing me of the bunnies who attacked us earlier today. If they had not come and given me the letter, we would probably be dead right now. To Snowflake and Benny!” Farmirn called. Everybody raised their glasses of lemonade and said, 

“To Snowflake and Benny!”

After the celebration was over, Snowflake and Benny stayed at Farmirn’s house for the night. The next morning, he took them in his donkey cart, and he drove them all the way back to Meenlam, and it took them only four days to get there. When they got back, they were celebrated as heroes because they saved another town from destruction. They became leaders in the town, and the first thing they did was create a road through the Forest to make it easier to get from one place to another. Snowflake and Benny led very happy lives, and they were written about in history books because they accomplished so many good things, and Snowflake and Benny became the greatest leaders in all of Meenlam history.