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Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Midnight's Terror part 3 by Viresh Patel

-9:00 Pm-

Everyone stood outside waiting for their ride home.
“So how long until the carriages come?” asked Cam.
“I don’t know, they should be here by now,” replied Chris. They waited 5 more minutes for the carriages to arrive.
“Do you guys hear that?” said Alice. “It sounds like hooves stomping on the ground.”
“I hear it too. The horses are nearby,” said Ken. They moved their bodies a little bit and saw the horses. They were on the other side of the bridge.
“Come on guys, they’re right over there,” said Mark. They all quickly ran to the bridge. Ken was the first one to lead the group to the horses. As they approached the middle of the bridge, something happened. There were little cracks starting to happen at the side of the bridge. They expanded once they got to the middle. Suddenly, the whole bridge started to sink down. Rocks started to fall from the bridge to the ground. The bridge started shaking and collapsing into big and small pieces. Everyone ran for it. They ran towards the castle. Ken was just about to make it until he tripped. He went down with rocks. Chris saw Ken falling, so he jumped at the edge of the bridge and grabbed his hand. Chris was about to slip, so William grabbed his leg. Cam, Lauren, Alice and Zoey grabbed Williams leg, along with Ying, Amanda, Mark and Catrine grabbing each of their waists. They heaved and pulled as they brought ken back to the surface.
“Oh my god. That was so intense and terrifying,” exclaimed Catrine. Ken, Chris and William lied on their back, exhausted.
“This is no coincidence. This was meant to happen by some evil ghost or spirit,” said William.
“Definitely,” said Chris.
“So then, how do we go back home?” said Lauren.
“I guess we will have to stay at the castle overnight,” replied Chris. It then started to rain, so, everyone ran back to the castle, tired and wet. Lauren opened the door to the castle and entered. Suddenly, a book came out of nowhere and hit Lauren’s head. She passed out on the floor.
“What is this book,” said Alice as everyone was walking in
“I don’t know, but we better carry Lauren to the couch.” said Chris. Catrine and Alice carried Lauren and set her on the couch. Everyone then sat in the living room next to the fireplace to dry up.
“The title reads, ‘The Eight Queens’.” said Chris. The book was black with golden metal edges on the corner. The words were inscripted in a golden color.
“Come on, read it,” said Mark, impatiently. Chris opened the book and read it out loud.
“As you see, strange things are happening to this castle. This castle is enchanted by a curse discovered a long time ago. It’s only activated when it turns 9 o’clock, on July 9th 2017. This curse is very powerful due some very despicable queen. Now let me tell you a very vicious story about a queen who wanted all the power in the world.
Once upon a time, there was a very selfish queen named Elvira. She lived in a castle that was owned by her mother and father. One day, her parents went on a trip on a boat. What her parents didn’t know was that there was a terrible storm coming. As they were traveling, the boat was caught in a storm. The boat was hit by lightning and sunk to the bottom of the ocean. When Elvira heard the news, she cried for days. She was locked up in the castle by her parents will. Guards surrounded her castle to keep her safe. One day when Elvira was walking around in her basement, she saw something shiny. She went to the shiny object, but it was locked in a small chest. She got a hammer and broke the chest. In the chest, she saw a dagger. On the dagger there were words that were carved into it. It said, ‘The Death Dagger.’ She then went to her father’s notes and searched the files that said death dagger. She found it, so she read what it said.
‘The death dagger is a powerful weapon used to kill any living and non-living thing. It’s power is too much to handle. It can even kill a god. That’s why I hid so no one could harness the power. Anyone who holds this power shall be the most powerful person in the universe’
Elvira was surprised at what the dagger can do, so she picked up the dagger and went to her room. In her room, she found a flower, so she rubbed the dagger next to it. The whole plant died in less than a second. Elvira had a plan brewing out in her head. 10 years later, she was still locked up in her castle. She had a plan, so she invited some of her friends. She called 8 royal queens over to her castle. Their names were Queen Fire, Queen Earth, Queen Water, Queen Light, Queen Space, Queen Time, Queen Electricity and finally Queen Life. These were the queens that controlled the actions of the world. On July 9th 1973, they all got the invitation and arrived at the castle. As they entered, they were welcomed by Elvira. Elvira told the queens to sit at the dining table. They sat and wait for their food. Once the food was served, everyone started eating. Once they were done, Elvira went to the kitchen. She called Queen earth to help her reach for a jar, so Queen Earth helped her out. Once Queen Earth got close to Elvira, Elvira took the knife out of her dress and stabbed Queen Earth with it. Blood was dripping out and pouring. Elvira got a bowl and put it under the spot where it was dripping. She then dumped it in the sink. She carried Queen Earth and put her in the cabinets. She then went back to her chair. The queens wondered where queen earth was, so Elvira told them she was just washing her hands. Queen Light wanted to go to the bathroom, so she asked Elvira where the bathroom was. Elvira instead guided her to the bathroom. When they reached the bathroom, Elvira took her knife out and stabbed Queen Light in the chest. She hid her in the bathroom. Elvira went back to the dining room and asked Queen Fire if she could help her get ready for the ballroom. Queen Fire got up and helped Elvira. Once they went to the ballroom, Queen Fire turned around to face Elvira. Before she even got to ask what help was needed, Elvira stabbed her in the neck. Elvira dragged her body across the hall and stuffed her into the closet. There were only 5 queens left. She went to the dining room and told everyone to go to the ballroom. They all exited the dining room and entered the ballroom. Elvira said to everyone that it was time to dance, but something was missing. 3 of the queens weren’t there, so the other queens got suspicious. Elvira didn’t want the queens to get suspicious, so she turned off the lights in ballroom. One by one, Elvira killed the queens. She cut Queen waters head off. She then sliced Queen Spaces arm off and then stabbed are in the back. She stabbed Queen TIme and sliced her arm off. Elvira was on a killing streak. Two of queens were left. They knew what was up, so Queen electricity used her powers and turned the lights on. Once the lights were turned back on, two of the queen's saw all the dead bodies lying on the ground. Queen life tried to bring them back to life, but it was hopeless. They saw Elvira with a dagger in her hand, so they used all their powers on her. Before they could do that, Elvira threw the knife at Queen electricity. The knife stabbed her in the neck. She fell to the ground in pain. Elvira walked closer Queen Life. When she passed Queen Electricity’s dead body, she took the knife out of her body. Queen Life backed up, but she tripped on her dress. Elvira got up really close and said the words, ‘Bye Bye.’ Elvira then stabbed her as hard as she could on the chest. Queen life painfully died. Blood splattered everywhere, even on her face. She then took the knife and dissected on her chest. She put her hand in her chest and looked for her heart. After a couple of tries, she found it and found her pulled it out. All she needed was Queen Earth’s leg, Queen Fire’s leg, Queen Light’s stomach and Queen Electricity’s hair sample. After 5 minutes, she collected all the items. She quickly rushed to the basement with all the body parts. She put her dagger on the table next to her operation table. There was 8 tubes all ready for her to be loaded with the body parts, so she put them in the tubes. Once she was done with that, she hooked herself with all the wires that were connected to the tubes. All she wanted was the powers from the queens. She then could become the most powerful queen in the whole world. Suddenly, she heard footsteps coming downstairs. It was the guards. The guards quickly ran to her and grabbed her arms and legs. two more guards tore the wires off her arms and legs and disconnected the machines. 4 guards carried a coffin and put it on the operation table. The guards then carried Elvira and put her in the coffin. Elvira screamed so much that it hurt the guards ears, but they still continued their work. They then took the coffin’s lid and put it on the coffin. They closed it and sealed it tightly. Then they put chains around the coffins and locked it. The 4 guards carried the coffin and put it inside the stone floor that they dug up. After it was placed, they covered the coffin with dirt and stones, like it was never even touched. That was the end of Elvira. The guards hid the death dagger somewhere, where no one could find it ever. This is the story of Elvira and the 8 Queens. This is what you're experiencing, right now. You’re experiencing Elvira’s awakening. Elvira has bonded with the castle and the objects living inside it. She can control anything and kill anything, but can’t have control over your bodies. She will still hunt for power and will do anything to get her full body back. To stop Elvira and her madness, you need all the 8 queens and Elvira’s prized possession. They are scattered around the castle. By 6 AM, the castle will sink into the ground including those who are in the castle. All you need to do is survive this night. This is going to be your worst nightmare ever.” The book the jumped out of Chris’s hand and exploded into pages. The book was set on fire. Everyone watched as the book crumbled down into ashes. Lauren then woke up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Complex Art of Letting Go By Priyanka Sarkhel

The Complex Art of Letting Go
By Priyanka Sarkhel
I still remember the beginning of freshman year when I met my first best friend in high school. It was during gym class, and she came up to me and said, “I’m new here, and I don’t have anyone else to talk to, so I’ll just talk to you.” That day, I found out she lived in two different countries prior to the United States, a fact that intrigued me so much, I stayed for more.
It was easier back then to trust that every person I met and loved would stay the same way I stubbornly would. Throughout the past two years, however, it’s gotten so much more difficult, and getting to know me as a person has become a task many people cannot accomplish successfully. Back then, however, I was as vulnerable as a lamb. So it was incredibly easy for this girl, my former best friend, to weave herself into my life and stick there.
She was incredibly intelligent, beautiful, and charming, as in, everything I wished I could be. I wasn’t jealous of her, though. She became someone I admired instead of someone I envied, and I guess giving someone that kind of power more often than not leads to your own downfall.
The both of us shared passions, and our conversations consisted of heated debates, excitement, or a mixture of both. But we both shared the passion of reading the most, and it was through sharing book titles and words that we found out more about each other than we ever could by simply talking. She read way more than I did, though, and every couple of weeks, she would bombard me with a new title, with a new author, with a new story. I would do the same to her, except I would bombard her with my short stories, brief spurts of inspiration, and the rushed chicken scratch on a random piece of paper I wrote during a boring class instead of paying attention. I spoke with my writing, with my ideas, and she spoke with her memorable quotes and characters.
It was because of her that I was able to finish my first novel length work.
Throughout freshman year, we were inseparable.
In sophomore year, however, things changed. This is the part where she flourished in every possible way, and I slipped down into a seemingly unending chasm of restlessness and stagnancy. Depression spread through me like a parasite, and school became nothing more than a burden, a pain I had to endure for the rest of forever.
Nevertheless, I kept texting her (even though we had no classes or lunches together). Those texts stayed unread, my propositions to hang out together dried up and disappeared, and waiting for her to show up for the Skype call became way too tedious a task. I kept slipping into the background, and she kept stepping closer to the limelight. But I never hated her. Even now, when most of what we had is gone, I can never bring myself to resent her for using me up and leaving me behind. But that is my great, fundamental flaw: I let people back, no matter how much I need to let them go.
Truth is, she gave me a lot of my good qualities. I became a better person from being her friend. But here’s the uglier part of that truth: she also damned me to feeling disposable. Even then, I do not blame her. I blame myself.
I saw her yesterday talking to a boyfriend she never told me about, living a life I stopped being a part of. It was the salt in the wound, and it hurt.
It was also a wake up call.
She is happy. She doesn’t need to show me book titles, characters, and new authors to convey that to me anymore. I see it crystal clear in the way that she has moved on.
In all honesty, I am naive. See, she showed me what reality rearing its ugly head looks like, so maybe this whole debacle was not as depressing as I am making it out to be. People come and go, and life sure as hell loves to get in the way. Looking at her now, I cannot see the same person I used to share my writing with, nor the same girl who would jump with excitement whenever a new book came out. It’s been two years, and I am still stuck on the first chapter of a book that I’ve almost finished reading.
It’s junior year now, and I am not a freshman anymore.
Maybe letting go of someone does not have to be as complicated as it seems. People come and go, but they also change. She changed, but not for better or worse, but simply for the fact that life and its circumstances mold people differently.

Maybe it’s time for me to change too.

Ayesha Sawnani The Greater Good (A story from the Incredibles Movie & the life of Fro-Zone)

Ayesha Sawnani The Greater Good
(Disclaimer, I do not own the rights to these characters, nor do I make any profit from this story)
Cast:
FROZONE (Lucius)
HONEY

[SETTING: In the middle of  The Incredibles movie, giant robots begin trampling down the road, shooting everything in sight. FROZONE looks outside the window of his penthouse, alarmed. He quickly rushes to his dresser, searching for his super suit. With no luck, he decides to ask HONEY.]
FROZONE: Honey?
HONEY: Yes?
FROZONE: Where is my supersuit?
HONEY: I, uh, put it away!
[A helicopter crashes on the ground after being shot by a robot.]
FROZONE: WHERE IS IT?
HONEY: WHY do you need to know?
FROZONE: I need it! The city is in danger!
HONEY: My evening’s in danger!
FROZONE: (hotheaded, contrary to his name) You tell me where my suit is woman! This is for the greater good!
HONEY: Greater good? I am your WIFE! I am the greatest good you are going to get!
[FROZONE scoffs]
HONEY: (appalled) You don’t think so? What exactly is a  “greater good” to you anyways?
[FROZONE stops rummaging through his closet, confused as to why HONEY was not following the script.]
HONEY: Answer my question, Lucius.
[FROZONE, puzzled at first, plays along]
FROZONE: [groans] Honey, I do not have time for your games. But I shall go along just for now if you promise to give me my supersuit.
[FROZONE thinks for a couple seconds. Robots outside continue to shoot lasers. One almost hits the penthouse.]
FROZONE:  I would have to say that the greater good, in my opinion, would be something worth doing because it benefits others.
HONEY: So helping the city while it is in danger is beneficial to others?
FROZONE: *Sputters* But of course woman!
HONEY: (raises voice) And having dinner with your wife is not? Aren’t I being benefited by you having dinner with me for one night while you are out for the rest?
FROZONE: I guess you are.
HONEY: Then by your definition, aren’t I too, a “greater good”?
[FROZONE is speechless while another helicopter crashes.]
HONEY: Aren’t I being benefited by you spending time with me?
FROZONE: You are.
HONEY: Won’t the children be benefited by you staying home? Won’t they be excited to see you after you being gone for so long?
FROZONE: They will.
HONEY: So then, does that not make our family also a greater good?
[Police sirens are heard outside. FROZONE looks to his right at the window apprehensively.]
HONEY: “Greater good” does not always have to apply to society. Staying at home one day and looking after the kids while I go out to work - that can also be a greater good, can it not?
FROZONE: I guess so... But isn’t it beneficial to you and the kids as well if I am out saving the city?
HONEY: (confused) What do you mean?
FROZONE: Well, according to my definition, the “greater good” is something worth doing if it benefits others. So if I save the city, does that not provide you and the kids a safe place to live? One that is out of danger?
HONEY: You have a valid point, Lucius.
FROZONE: Therefore, isn’t me helping the city beneficial for the family?
HONEY: Yes Lucius, it is. But you must also dedicate time to your family!
FROZONE: Ah! But see, now the definition can be turned around! Now what if I say that staying with the family is not beneficial?
HONEY: What do you mean?
FROZONE: By staying home and having dinner with my family, while it may be beneficial to you and the kids, is it not selfish of me to stay home?
HONEY: It is, but-
FROZONE: So then, by the same definition, isn’t staying home, eating dinner with the family, also technically not a greater good?
[A large explosion occurs near the penthouse. FROZONE yelps and begins to look for his super suit again.]
HONEY: But why do you dedicate your entire life to saving the world?
FROZONE: (throwing clothes everywhere) Honey! This is my job! It is what I do!
HONEY: Isn’t a job a task or piece of work that you are supposed to do? Look at me when you speak Lucius!
FROZONE: (Stops, turns to HONEY, and sighs) Yes.
HONEY: Is tending after your kids, looking at our financial state, helping around the house, are these things not tasks that you have to do?
FROZONE: They are.
HONEY: So, therefore, being “Frozone” is not your only job, is it Lucius? Looking after the family is also your job, correct?
FROZONE: Yes, Honey.
HONEY: And to add on, aren’t jobs also a greater good? Isn’t what we do somehow beneficial to someone one way or another? Mr. Incredible’s job at office is beneficial to the country’s economy right?
FROZONE: I believe so
HONEY: You better darn believe so! Anything can be considered as a greater good because everything is worth doing since it helps others. There is nothing in this world that can be seen as a selfish act.
FROZONE: But at the same time, isn’t everything a selfish act? Isn’t there always a selfish reason to do things? If you decide to buy me something, that makes you selfish.
HONEY: (perplexed) How? I am giving you something, therefore it is benefitting you!
FROZONE: Yes, however, by buying me something that act makes you feel good about yourself. Therefore, it is selfish.
HONEY: You are right, I guess.
FROZONE: So then, Honey, while every activity is considered a greater good, these same activities also are not “greater good”, because in the end, there is a selfish reason for everything.
HONEY: Well if this is true… then your definition of a greater good is false. You said that it has to benefit others, but you never mentioned that it has to benefit yourself. You’re basically saying that everything, yet nothing falls under the category of  “greater good”.
[FROZONE stops to think for a minute.]
HONEY: Therefore, Lucius, if your definition of a greater good is incorrect, then you saving the city is not for the greater good. Rather, it is for yourself. Your selfish motive for helping the city is so that you can feel good about yourself for helping others. That is egocentric, right?
[FROZONE gets mad. Cries and screams of civilians can be heard from the penthouse.]
FROZONE: Honey, you have wasted enough of my time with your philosophical stance on some measly phrase. I must go now before our city turns into a disaster.

[FROZONE spots his super suit in the corner behind HONEY. FROZONE grabs the suit and leaves.]

Define a Hero by Priyanka Sarkhel A dialogue based off Marvel superheroes.

Define a Hero by Priyanka Sarkhel
A dialogue based off Marvel superheroes.
Disclaimer: these characters are not my own and I'm not receiving any monetary benefit from this work.
Tony Stark: Also known as Iron Man. Impulsive playboy and war profiteer turned superhero.
Steve Rogers: Also known as Captain America, skinny boy turned muscular after given super serum (basically steroids, but let’s not question things)

Stark and Rogers previously had a heated argument that began by them pushing each other's’ buttons. Now, Stark is back for some answers, thus, a debate about what it means to be a hero ensues.

Rogers groans internally as Stark approaches him, anticipating the beginning of another headache.

Rogers: You really won’t let it go, will you?

Stark: *ignoring Rogers* So, Cap. Please do enlighten me as to what you mean when you say, “If you want to call yourself a hero, Stark, then act like one!”?

Rogers: *rolls eyes* Easy. A hero is someone who is willing to lay down on the wire and let the other guy crawl over him. Someone who sacrifices his or her life for the greater good.

Stark: So basically…a martyr.

Rogers: I didn’t say that.

Stark: All I heard was “you’re only a hero if you die for someone else.” Does that mean we’re not heroes, then? Since we’re still breathing and all.

Rogers: I didn’t say that either.

Stark: Then what? People who go into battle and live don’t count as heroes, then? Veterans? What about firemen? Policemen? Philanthropists? Animal rescuers? The Joe Shmoe who helped the kid’s cat out of a tree?

Rogers: Alright, calm it. *sighs* A hero is someone who is willing to give up their own lives to save someone else’s. Like us.

Stark: What about doctors who perform life-saving surgery, but aren’t really too hot on the whole dying thing just yet? And really, you’re going to disregard the philanthropists and the Joe Schmoes again? Unbelievable.

Rogers: You really won’t drop it, will you?

Stark: Hey, I’m just asking for advice from the wise one. You told me I needed to act like a hero, so I’m just trying to figure out what that means. Now, answer my question, old man.

Rogers: Fine. A hero is just someone who saves lives. Done.

Stark: Question.

Rogers: What now?

Stark: What if said hero was once someone who used to take lives, or what if said hero had to take lives in order to save others? What then? I’ll give you examples. For instance, our good friend, Black Widow was once a Russian spy. She was raised as a killer, but now she’s on the Avengers. Bruce Banner, or The Hulk, turns into a giant, green rage monster. Self explanatory there. Hawkeye was a secret agent for S.H.I.E.L.D., an elite one at that, who met Black Widow on an assignment to assassinate her. You killed Nazis and others from the Axis Powers during the World War. I killed people through war profiteering. Is our past taken into account? Or do we just disregard it because we saved New York from aliens?

Rogers: You are infuriatingly hyper verbal.

Stark: Just asking the relevant things, Cap.

Rogers: Then let me put it this way: a hero is someone who grows from the past, someone who tries his or her best to be good. A hero is someone who learns from his or her mistakes and tries to do better.

Stark: But that could literally be anyone. And me stopping the war profiteering thing and turning my company into a green-energy focused corporation, and then becoming Iron Man doesn’t count as being a hero? I’m trying to fix my mistakes, right?

Rogers: Sure, but you don’t have the right temperament to be a hero with how you’re acting.

Stark: Oh, you mean I’m not being all self-righteous and patriotic and GoodTM  like you? And what does it mean, for a person to be GoodTM ? Are we all supposed to punch Nazis in the face in order to be considered GoodTM ? Apple pie, white picket fence, two and a half kids, the American dream, that whole shebang?

Rogers: *sarcastically* Your logic is blowing my mind right now.

Stark: Define GoodTM , Cap. Help out an Avenger in need, would ya?

Rogers: Look, goodness can only be shown with how you treat others, by what you’re willing to do for others. All of us have history, yes, bad history at that. But ultimately, what makes us the good guys is the fact that we fight against oppression, against evil, so that people can live in peace. We save as many as we can, and sometimes that doesn’t mean everyone. We sacrifice, fight the fight, only to go home and do it again later. Get it?

Stark: Nope.

Rogers: *face palms*

Stark: Sure, sacrifice. Let’s talk about that. What exactly have we sacrificed?

Rogers: I thought geniuses were supposed to be good at critical thinking.

Stark: No, really. What exactly have we sacrificed? Our lives? Last time I checked, we’re all still here and not six feet under. Our money? The Avengers live in a mansion funded by a billionaire. Our lives? Being a superhero is our life. Everyone makes sacrifices, but in all honesty, we haven’t made any. Not anything that matters.

Rogers: Sacrifice isn’t always necessary. Frankly, a hero can be anyone, Tony. There’s no concrete definition.

Stark: Then what definition do you hold me to? If you don’t know the standards of being a hero, of goodness or sacrifice, then why do you tell me that I’m not acting like one?

Rogers: I-- *mouth thins* I don’t know.

[awkward silence]

Stark: Good talk.

fin.