by Sydney

She decided to climb. To climb Mount Everest. Everyone thought that she couldn't do it. She began her preparations 3 months in advance. Going to the gym meant having a personal trainer so that her body could get ready for spending about 6 months high above sea level. On October 4th, she began her journey, alone. She knew that completing this task meant that she would have to spend months in the wilderness, on a mountaintop, with little oxygen, and no company. She would have to fend for herself, and defend herself as well. On her first morning, her initial harness broke after 15 minutes of climbing, forewarning of a treacherous journey to come. Days passed, she grew hungry, because her knapsack rolled off the edge of a ravine the day before. Finally, as she passed a bush, she saw a swollen, purple hand partially buried in snow. She decided to join its owner there, and that was where her journey ended.

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The lost girls

by Jessicca Davies

The sun glittered on the water, like shards of glass. The girl stared out to sea, wondering how long she would have to wait.
Olive, Jazmine and Sandy the dog, had set off in their dinghy at eight in the morning, The air was thin. They felt glad that finally they were allowed on their dad's fishing boat. All of a sudden the wind picked up and carried the girls out to sea. After a while the girls woke up wondering where they were. They saw they were on a jungle island. They decided to look around and find shelter.
The trees were tall like giraffe's necks. The ground, however, was muddy yet easy to saunter across. The monkeys swinging in the trees were as golden as a lion's mane. The colourful cocklebirds flew overhead and deep into the sky. The girls, nevertheless, did not know that another person was on the island, shipwrecked four ago. The person had a gun which they weren't afraid to use.
The girls found shelter in a cave and lit a fire. They became suspicious stomping footsteps were heard in the distance. Sandy started barking, the girls were alarmed a shadow was seen, the person appeared to be coming closer. When they met him he seemed like a nice man, his name was Bob.
Bob had been planning to get off the island for years, Bob had collected stuff from around the island to build a raft but he wasn't good at building. To Bobs surprise Jazmine and Olive were the star builders in their class, so they put the raft together.
They all pushed through the jungle and onto the beach, they attached the rope to the mast to see if it would float and it did. They finally set off, on the raft wondering how long it would take to get home.

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Faith, Hope and Love

by Tami Hummel
(Fort Worth, TX USA)

She cried as she sat on the cot in the shelter. How did this happen? She asked herself. One day she was shopping with her friends, the next day she was here. Her name was Faith, but ironically she had lost all her faith-in God, her parents, and anyone else she ever loved. She was seventeen now, sixteen when she met Jimmy, the boy who changed her life forever. She felt so alone and scared now. She had no money, no job, no home. She looked out the window and saw a limousine drive past. No prom for me tonight. But then, as she gazed down at the innocent eyes of her baby, a thought came to her that made her smile through her tears. My daughter Hope is all I really need.

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by Tiffany Guy
(Desert Hot Spings, CA, USA)

There was once a time of happiness, a time where nothing was wrong. A time in which famine did not exist, poverty and rich were never seen, it was a time of height and glory. That was until desolation hit. Our world became corrupt and filled with greed, with the finding if a new stone, a stone with the gift of unlimited power. People fought for it till the death of their opponent. Till their last words of mercy escaped their bloody, cracked lips, until the last breath of air died from their lungs, until their beating heart slowed to a stop, and death showed its work. I was born into this life of greed and war, slavery, and death, a world with no beauty.

People who wielded this stone however thought of themselves as gods and tried to rule over everyone and as for those that refused, they would strike them down where they stand, with thought to what persons’ life was like. Whether or not they had a family or children. My mother and father died this way. I was only eight years old then, when it happened. However, it wasn’t only because they stood up against the stone wielder it was because of what they were. The Wings. The only elven race known to have the sacred power of purity known as the Wings or Light Keepers, and I am Jet last of the Wings and I will bring back our land.

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by by Shahin L. Zand

a worker lives in a big town. he works day and night in a factory and sleeps there as well. the poor man wishes to buy a home for himself. years pass and he becomes old. but he still hopes that he will buy a home. then eventually he reached to his wish and got his home. a little beautiful home in graveyard.

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A Chilly Evening

by Gayatri Viswanathan
(Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)

This story dates back to the time when Buddhist monks ran from the fear of the Chinese Government and sought refuge in India. I was one of the many monks who fled to India. My initial days proved to be difficult. People were reluctant to help me as I was a pariah. I looked different and couldn’t communicate without gestures. But, looking at the bright side, I realized that I made a very dear friend during my stay in Dharamshala.
It was an extremely chilly evening. As I was near the Jammu – Himachal border, I thought it would snow in a few hours. The cold wind sent shudders down my spine. I walked on the pavement and thought, “I must seek shelter somewhere before I turn into a snowman.” I had heard it from my friends that Indians were very kind to monks, but I needn’t disturb anyone, since I saw an Ashram a few yards away. It looked warm and I felt hopeful that I would survive the night. I neared the porch and made a silent prayer to God. I knocked the door thrice and in return, got silence. Then, I heard a few footsteps nearing the door. I knocked again. The voice of a man told me something I didn’t understand. I talked in English, hoping that he would understand. I was overwhelmed with joy when he replied in English; but what he said brought me no joy. He said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have the key to open the door from within.” I smelt a rat and thought of a doing something utterly against my vows.
I slid a shiny one-rupee coin under the door and jerked in surprise when the door opened. I grabbed my little bag - it only contained one more set of clothes and my religious books. The man smiled broadly (wide enough to allow him eating a banana sideways) and introduced himself.
I wasn’t listening to him as my mind erupted into a plan to get my penny back. I grinned as an idea struck me immediately. I told him, “Good evening, sir. I am hoping that I can seek refuge in this cozy Ashram. Could you please get my bags which I left near the pavement?” He walked off happily when I ran inside and shut the door. He returned in a few minutes and asked me in a confused voice, “I’m sorry, sir! I found no bags outside. Why don’t you let me in?”
“This is my chance,” I thought. I imitated his voice and told him. “I’m sorry. I don’t have the key to open it from within.” My words couldn’t hide the sarcasm and I was sure he got the message. He slid back my shiny coin and I let him in. He didn’t seem annoyed. We laughed together and talked throughout the evening.
That night, I made friends with a stranger who has since helped me out through thick and thin.

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The Hidden Treasure

by Ejiro Obanyedo

Just like the ripe fruits of the Persian tree, Hilda grew into the most attractive and desirable female teenager the world could ever produce . Two years after, she was faced with the worst trauma when her parents became still and cold, buried beneath the ground. Although no one knew the cause of their death, it was said that they were assassinated on their journey to the Seventh Seas. They were of a royal lineage but it was not known till their sudden tragic non-existence. The townsmen went in search for the only princess of the greatest dynasty.She was not known by anyone and was considered as a curse to the kingdom, thereby was detained and was suffered to live. She was later discovered, under an olive tree, tattered, hopeless, and abandoned, she was a slave in the kingdom of her own parents. She was led away by the guards, clothed in fine linen and a crown was placed upon her head.She was a hidden treasure: withheld and unknown till she was discovered.

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True Love

by Rohama
(Lahore, Pakistan)

Their eyes scanned the landscape below them: there was only one path they could take. There was a whole crowd of people behind them who wanted to take the lovers' lives'. In front was a cliff...more than a thousand meters fall! What would they do? Would they jump? Would they surrender? What would happen next? Only time would tell their tale.

Annie and Michael were a young couple. They loved each other to a great extent. However. there was a tragedy! Their village would not allow them to get married. After ten years of waiting, deep affection and true love, they decided to run- run to a place where they would be able to live a peaceful and happy life.

So, they did! They left in the middle of the night. They had no idea where to go. There was a little cave in the mountains, a little far from the village. They planned to spend the night there. As soon as the first ray of sunlight would peep through the horizon, they would go to the nearest church and get bonded for life.

It all sounded so easy, but what surprises awaited them till morning- they didn't have a clue!

As the sun crept into the cave, Michael felt the sunlight touching his eyes, whispering to wake up. Michael opened his eyes- a sense of uneasiness within him. He woke his beloved Annie and they started their journey towards the nearest church.

They seemed so happy together, but just then- "There they are!" Someone said from not far behind them. They were shocked! Haunted! Terrified! Now what? How would they escape from these vicious villagers? They had no option but to run- run as fast as their legs could carry them- run as far as they could to get away from these devils! Hope- hope for the best! That was all they could do.

Annie was scared! It was difficult to run in the mountainous terrain. There were deep valleys all around, but Michael was strongly determined. He would do this for his beloved girlfriend- the love of his life- the girl of his dreams- Annie!

He held her hand tightly and started running. Annie just followed. Her eyes closed. She just said three words to him... "I trust you!" This made his determination stronger than ever before and he clasped her hand even more tightly. he wanted to win her. he wanted to prove his love for her. Today was the day. He had to do this for her- just for her! All he could do was run, pray and hope that he would win Annie forever.

Then, something really bad happened! Michael stopped. Terrified. Scared. Exhausted. Where should he go now? The path had ended! There was no where to go. Annie opened her eyes. She cried. She looked at Michael with questioning eyes. He looked back. Then down. He understood her pain. "I haven't brought you to die Annie" he said looking at the deep fall, more than a thousand meters fall only inches from where they stood. A tear trickled down her dusty cheeks and onto the dry, dusty mountain path and was absorbed at once by the thirsty mountain dust! "I would prefer to die with you rather than live without you" she managed to whisper- her voice shaky and dry like the dust. Michael wasn't ready to let her die. What would be worse? Dying with her? Or living without her? Behind them was a crowd which approached them with full speed and high aggression. before them was a thousand meters fall- a deep, steep cliff. What would be their decision now? Would they live apart for the rest of their lives? Only time would tell their tale! At that moment, they just stood there with no expression except for the love and sincerity that they had for each other. their only weapon- LOVE!

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Wait For Dark

by Zoe
(Vancouver, BC, Canada)

We were sat shivering around the fire. He told us the story of the shadow that gets bigger and bigger, until there’s nothing in you but shadow. The little blonde girl screamed, and we all looked around in terror. Nothing. Of course; the story was but a lie.

We slept on our cold hard mats in the tents that night. Everyone could sleep, even the little blonde girl. The one who screamed and shocked us to our bones. Everyone but one. I sat alone outside by the last bit of fire, and shivered as the imaginary growing shadow crept into my mind. The shadow that gets bigger and bigger, until there’s nothing in you but shadow.

We didn’t know. He didn’t know. Small lies can get bigger, big lies can get bigger, massive lies can keep getting bigger and bigger until they fill everything and there’s no room for anything else and there is no adjective big enough.

There’s a shadow in that corner. The one where the light meets the tree’s. There’s a piece of darkness that shouldn’t be there. It’s getting bigger, edges creeping to consume the light. Creeping to have anything in it’s path filled and surrounded by secrets and lies and darkness.

We didn’t know. He didn’t know. Small lies can get bigger and bigger until they fill everything. If something is everything, then it has to be real.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe it’ll be me, but dark. Maybe I won’t exist anymore, just the dark. But I’ll know soon. The shadow has put the fire out.

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The Introvert and the Writer

by Julia

As I entered the Function Hall at 7 pm, I knew all eyes were going to be on me in about two hours and for a shy introvert this is torture.
The speech was to take place at 9 PM. It was my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and my siblings were forcing me into reading it.

Glancing at my watch there was an hour to go . I was constantly asking Is it good enough? Will they like it? what will everybody in the room think?

All I could hear were my own thoughts. I was running to the bathroom every fifteen minutes to practice, and this would only add to my anxiety. I finally realized there was no way out.

As they called my name to the front of the room it was like I was walking in quicksand. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it through my whole body.

Finally, after what felt like eternity I reached the table in the front of the room. Took the deepest breathe of my life and looked at my parents.

Now, The moment of truth..
My mind played through the years
and it all came down to this moment

It was as if everyone else left the room.
My father looked so sharp in his suit and my mother so beautiful in her dress.

My trembling hands opened my paper and I began to read. Everything I wrote to them came from the heart and flowed like magic.

My parents and I shared something together that night.Something that is unspoken and cant be put into words, and I finally received the answer that has haunted me. How many people need to like your writing for it to be considered great?

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Hopeful Regret

by J.Wilson
(Garden City,Mi.USA)

Tracy felt horrible for the girl she was staring at.She was her age,yet looked so much older.She was pregnant,big pregnant.Her eye was swelled shut,nose & mouth,swollen and bloody.What kind of monster would do that to anyone,much less a young,soon to be mother.

You could tell,she was a pretty girl ,underneath the ragged look and tangled hair.Her spirit was beat down and crushed.Why was this girl in this condition?Didn't she have family that loved her?And if she did,where were they?

Then Tracy snapped back into reality,and slowly turned away from the mirror that had her so mesmerized.Real life flooded back over her,reminding her of her family,how she came to be in this situation and the miserable,brainwashing,little evil bastard that guided her into this life.

He promised to love and care for her.Against her family's cautions,she left and moved in with him.The first week was bliss.Then hell opened.

After picking up the phone to tell her parents she was ok,her next memory was sitting in a pool of her blood,as she got a crash course in who was the boss and house rules.

With a deep sigh,she wondered would her family welcome her home.As she walked out the door,she had a last glance at the supposed to be "love of her life".Would he yank her hair as he had so many other times to keep her there?
No,not this time.This time,all he would do as she walked out the door,was lay there,cold,lifeless and gray.With a butcher's knife,deep in the back of his neck.. 

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The Secret Song

by Julia

Nina was a beautiful brown eyed 4 year old with a smile that could illuminate the darkest room. She loved all kinds of games and had a special friend that lived next door. There friendship was extremely magical. Anna was 10 a free spirit kind of kid and was stuck between being a small kid and an adult. they were the perfect friends. They would play hide and seek, draw, play in the sprinkler just about any game that they could imagine would do.

There secret way to tell if they were out in the yard and wanted to play was for Nina to sing songs nice and loud so Anna would hear, once the signal was heard Anna would show up in the yard and let the fun begin. The next thing you know the hose would be on and they would be slipping and sliding down the slide.They used all kinds of songs from every kids movie know to man, but there favorite was Somewhere over the Rainbow.

This went on for years until little by little Anna starting showing up less and less. Then when Anna hit about 13 she just stopped all together. Nina was devastated she just couldn't understand what happened to her best friend Anna. For months she was so depressed she would go outside and sing long and hard but nothing. it was awful watching her play out there by herself. Then one day we were coming home from the grocery store and we saw the moving truck parked on the other side of our house. As we were struggling to get the groceries into the house we could hear a little girl's voice in the back round singing Somewhere over the Rainbow.

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Ashlee's best birthday wish

by Bridget
(South Africa )

"Finally!A beautiful sunny day just for me."said Ashlee waking from her bed,wiping her face and then went downstairs.

"SURPRISE!Happy birthday Ashlee"shouted everyone in the lounge room."wow!thanks everyone,it really means a lot."at her surprise,she said wish a smile of appreciation.Amongst those people there was Mac the magician, he said to her,"Ashlee,as the magician I want you to wish for anything and you shall have."Ashlee immediately knew what she wanted then she asked,"Anything?"and the magician replied,"yes.Anything."

"I wish to spend one more happy moment with my mom."said Ashlee ,though her mom was no more."so your wish shall come true "said the magician with a smile,leaving Ashlee wondering.

The night came on the very same day.During her sleep Ashlee had an unusuall dream."Ashlee dear come,you and I are going to celebrate your birthday at the mall."said her mother in her dream.

Ashlee followed her as they went to the mall.They went to cinema and a movie together.They then bought ice-creams as they went to the park holding hands.Both had a lot of fun at the park then her mother said to her,"Happy birthday dear,I love you."Said her mom as she softly kissed her on the cheek"I love you too mommy."whispered Ashlee as opened her eyes,only to find that it was only a dream but,the best birthday wish she have ever had.

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When to Not Text

by Maureen Welch
(North Scituate RI )

We mostly hear about texting being deadly on our roadways. People seem to only text these days instead of communicating with each other in person or on the phone. My story about texting is about Father's Day, my husband who is divorced with two adult children. One child is a girl she has two children of her own in which my husband adores them all and is always giving them presents,visits two to three tims a week. On Father's Day he receives a text from his daughter saying Happy Father's Day, will catch you this week, we have a gift. That was it, no phone call, no visit. She did go to see her boyfriend's Dad, then went to her brother's house for a cook out. In my disbelief, I text her later that night stating how lucky she is to have a great father and that I would have loved to have spent one hour with my deceased Dad. She then called her Dad and told him off saying very mean and rotten things all because I text her stating I was so sad for her father who only got a text message. I watched my husband be brokenhearted for so long with his children who show no respect or love. Lesson I have learned, do not text someone you love on a special day and if you are a stepmother mind your own business. Sincerely

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Mystery at Woolly Hollow

by Jerry
(Hector, Arkansas, USA)

The wind was blowing briskly, with a slight whistling through the leaves, as I was hiking in the forest. As I was nearing a hollow an eerie echo was heard coming from it. A cold chill ran through me as I glaze into the hollow, for it was dark and narrow with steep sides that would be impossible to climb. As I ponder at the entrance deciding on investigating what the echo was, for it kept on without stopping, a dense fog appear out of nowhere. It would be foolish to enter the hollow, but I was credited for doing foolish things. About a quarter of the way I could sense something was watching me, for the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but I continue on. Ahead of me there was a sharp bend, but the echo got louder and more intense. As I rounded the bend a cave could be seen with the echo coming from within. It was pit black inside, but I always carry a lighter with me in case of emergency when I am hiking, so I fasten a torch together to light the way. Inside the cave on the walls was difference kind of picture signs telling a story of the past. It occurs to me that the cave was used by a tribe of cave dweller. A hundred yards inside the cave the flood begin to slope down, until it came to a big cavern.

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The Runners Mind

by Bernice Brown
(Chicago, IL USA)

My breathing is heavy, drips of sweat fall into my ears, arms pumping and my heart races.
One, two, three… one, two, three goes the cadence of my steps. Short but quick strides, feet
land on the pavement. Passing tree lined streets with leaves or red and orange. The leaves
crunching under my feet have the sweetest sound. I enjoy the pain and the rush that running
brings. There is pain and then there is the rush of the feeling of floating on air. How long will
it take until I feel like I am floating on air? It was five miles last time. I just passed six miles.
Is that a side stitch I feel coming on? Keep running you will float soon. Think. Think. Keep
this pace, you are doing great. It is all mental I tell myself. Select a point and then get to it.
Then select another and the another. Get there. People wave as I pass and sometimes dogs
give chase.
I keep looking down but I must look ahead. In and out, in and out my breath goes. Stomp,
stomp,stomp…the sound of my feet.
Seven miles pass and I am floating. I don’t feel my arms or my feet moving. I feel elation. I
can feel a silly smile coming over my face and my eyes getting smaller. Every part of me is
I can see that I am gaining ground but not quite sure how I am getting there. I am floating.
How long will it last? Don’t think just enjoy the ride. Mile ten and the pain returns. I feel it
all again. It all begins again. Just one more mile.

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If It Wasn't For The Lightning

by Spencer Hall
(Show Low, Arizona, USA)

We were running. Trying to escape the cold, hard rain. It was seeping into every pore, making everything wet and cold. We had been hiking and stopped for dinner when out of nowhere dark clouds came and attacked us with their torrents of water and hail.
Lightning flashed. In the distance we could see a cabin. Every flash it got a little closer. The lightning flashes gave us hope. Then it struck a tree not ten feet away from us. It blew us back and I was in a half conscious state. I looked where the tree was and saw a huge river. If it wasn't for the lightning we would have been swept away in the black mass of water.
The lightning was helping us see. We found the cabin again, but it was on the other side of the river. Then we saw the bridge. It was an old bridge made out of rope and wood planks. We had to chance it. My friend Robert went across first. The bridge sagged so that it was almost in the water, but otherwise, it was okay.
Eventually we made it to the cabin and started a fire. As I sat there warming my self I couldn't help but think: If it wasn't for the lightning we never would have made it.

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Strange Visit

by Lisa Gilmore
(Hope Mills, NC)

Emma stepped out onto the front porch of her grandmother's turn of the century Victorian home. The old wood boards under the welcome mat let out a familiar yet comforting squeak. It was a warm summer night with a gentle breeze which made it just right for star-gazing. Many years had passed since she had ventured back to the small hometown to visit her beloved Gigi, the woman who had raised her since the accidental death of her parents when she was only 9 years old. "I really need to get back here more often", she muttered to herself as she sat down on the dusty wicker chair and lit a cigarette. Looking up at the night sky, she thought about how much she loved her grandma. Gigi had always been such a strong woman, so supportive and encouraging, but something about her had changed. Was it the passage of time or the fact that she was now in her late seventies? Something about her was different. Emma could not put her finger on it though. She lit up another cigarette and took a long drag. Things would seem better in the morning she thought. "I'm just tired from the long drive", she assured herself.

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by josh moore
(sioux falls south dakota)

1st Postcard to Kate
Dec 10 2011 900P CST
Just made to Williston. It is about the same distance from Soo Fools to Rapid. Passed through Minot. I have not seen the Souris since I have been a child. The middle to west part of North Dakota is all lit up. Beds are Burning.
2nd Postcard to Kate
Dec 11 2011 500P MST
Just made into Havre. I am not sure what to say. The bassist from Pearl Jam is from this town. Montana has mostly been sparse and flat. Many wheat fields covered with light snow. Excited to see the mountains.
3rd Postcard to Kate
Dec 12 2011 10 AM MST
Just made it to Kalispell. Sat in the observation car, ate hash, used the EOS 35mm and listened to “Selected Ambient Works 1985-1992.” I began the divide. Fucking A. Estimated Prophet?
4th Postcard to Kate
Dec 13 2011 430a MST
In Spokane. Train branches off here can go to either Portland or Seattle. Portland this time. I have never seen the Columbia and I am excited.
Fifth Postcard to Kate
Dec 13 2011 7p PST
Just got to Portland. Really tired. Hard time sleeping on the train. At the hotel in Portland. I think these people do nothing but smoke dank play video games and go to shows.
Sixth and Final Postcard to Kate
Dec 20 2011 PST
Just walked over the Columbia. The locks are amazing. Things are so different out here. I can see why Gary Snyder loves it. I am not coming back to Dakota. I am sorry I will see you at the restaurant at the end of time. Thanks for all the fish.
Love Josh
PS: The train is never on time.

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For the Love of My Family and Patron God

by Melissa
(Denham springs, La U.S)

Upon, entering the army barracks the soldiers in step went instantly to their knees and saluted.

The General looks around the room they've been working in and nodding her head in content, puts smiles on all the men faces. Then she continues to her office.

The young woman enters her office and is met with a room full of Blue Hydrangeas flowers.

Doing an about face, she finds herself looking into the brown eyes of her aide.

Taking a step back Rags smiles up at the woman. “They certainly are Beautiful?” Glancing over her shoulder, then steps around her.

He enters her office with Xena following him and shutting the door.

She pads over to a shelf in the window that was full of flowers. “Yeah they are. However, who are they from?” She already had a pretty good idea but asking anyway.

The aide walks around the room observing the flowers.

He plucks one out of the vase and walks over to where Xena’s standing.

He pauses in front of her and sticks the flower behind her ear. “King Phillip, and he wants me to tell you that they remind him of the color of your eyes.”

Rags studies her eyes. “And you know he’s right.”

“Yeah.” Xena looks around grimly. “You know those two soldiers at the castle gates yesterday; I caught goofing off? Get them in here, have them do something with these.”

Then waving her hand around indicating the flowers. “Have them take some to the Gazebo at the swimming area, and spread the rest around town.”

She turns to leaving the aide to carry out her orders, and she stops in mid stride. “And tell the king thank you.” With that she leaves her office.

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Open Land

by justin
(Calgary Alberta)

The sort of place where the grey sky remains high above, and does not bother the breathy ground air before the traveler. The trees here are sparse of leaf and quiet, outlined things; with a presence of their own, and a breath and smell of warning when one comes too close. When danger comes here it is large and fierce, and the sky lights up all a sudden and screams for blood.
The traveler is clothed in the dirt of the weary. He comes upon the ruins of some old and forgotten castle. The castle is forgotten but it is far from dead and deserted. A strange, present gloom hangs about the place, and the traveler sparks with excitement at the taste of the castles grit and the menace of its hanging vines. He softly grips the hard, dirt-layered stone of the wall and his eyes open wide with his sudden alertness. The wall and his fingers dash together across the glowing, clear grey sky and there is a feeling of awe. A breeze approaches with the scent of horse and woodland and the man acknowledges his surroundings and his unique connection with it. And then it is gone, gone the trail of balderdash and uncertainty under the harsh stain of human perception as the man takes his hand back and places it at his side.
“This place is cold and I am afraid what lies beyond that hedge.”

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A Message Unreplied

by Sankari Ganesan

“Hey, Karthik the material is here. Take this. I want the work to be done in about 1 hour. I want everything ready. Got that!”, imposed a hard voice of a bold man. He is bold not only in his voice, but also in his gesture. He sat down in his busy and hectic schedule on his desk. Just to infer through his laptop about the confirmed message from his higher official in the email. In the 10 messages that filled the inbox, he cross checked the message he wanted. When the mouse click moved up, to “sign out”, he saw one new message pop up. He clicked at it, expecting it would be some order for his material. But his expectation was overruled. It was a message not from his owner but from his own creation, his very own daughter. His hectic schedule would have not permitted him to read it but the subject of the mail caught his eyes. “I missed you dad, all through my way”. He was caught back to his seats to continue reading. The message goes,

“Hello dad, I know you would be going through a day of hot water on your feet. Yet I wanted to tell you something I withheld all these days in me. This day, I felt as if I achieved everything in my life. An award of ‘The Best Actor’, in the National School of Art and Drama. The very aim in my life came true today. I had everything I wanted around me today, except you near me. As usual you didn’t turn up to the ceremony. But I know the air around will be filled up with your blessings. Dad, do you remember that night, when I rang you up and cried hard? For your absence in my annual day in which I enacted as The Princess. And you convinced me easily on the video chat telling that your princess is always in your heart beat. That your heart never sounded ‘lub tub’ but my name instead. I knew you never cooked that sentence but really felt it from your soul. Now I stopped crying for your absence. Instead I learned to prepare my mind, convincing it that you would be attending an important conference. Oh dad, I need to tell you this, you have given everything in this universe that I wanted. A luxurious life style, comfortable home, all that the elites have. Still, I found the smile of a guy who stood next to me with his parents on the stage missing in me. I know the work you do is not going to pay you anyhow. That is all only for me. Whatever it might be, the perfect dad in this world I know is none other than you, who lives only for me. In case you had time to read this last line, all I would tell you is a thank you for sparing time to read this message. Bye.”
Before even he finished reading the last line, there were tears in his eyes. He closed his eyes for two minutes and thought deeply about how much he missed his daughter living far away from her. Overseas and mountains to cross. Just then he had a call “Excuse me sir, Mr. Adarsh has come to meet you for a discussion” told a voice. He put down the call and rushed leaving both the chair and his heart empty. After all, this man worked so hard only for his princess. But the message was open waiting for a reply.

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The escape

by Paige Schmitt
(O'Fallon, MO)

Bursting out of the room, running with all my might, I could feel the burn in my legs from the months of no exercise. But, I ignored the pain and kept going, knowing this is my only shot at freedom. But I mustn’t get too ahead of myself. I stop, panting. Feeling the horrific burning in my chest as my heart beat incredibly fast and my lungs try to get the oxygen I need to keep going. I stand in the empty hallway, neatly decorated as to show his wealth. Red velvet carpets that were so soft on my bare feet, making me shiver. Curtains were drawn over the window as to let in no light. Being so dark in the hallway, the only light source was that of a few candles lining the walls just a little above my head.
I had to get ahold of myself, knowing he’d be back to the cold, dark room in 10 minutes after he leaves, as always. Knowing now, I have lost about two of those precious, crucial minutes. I remember back to being chained to the wall with barely acceptable clothing and just scraps of his fine dinner as food. I stood there, recalling his dark demented stories of this evil mansion's secrets: the trip lines that released deadly arrows to the other side of the hall, of the doors that lead to nothing but the edge of the cliff we were on, or of the designed pits in the floor with poisoned sharp spikes, so neatly covered with a fancy rug as to hide its sinister purpose.
I start ahead, going fast but cautious of the dangers that could be lurking around any corner. I also had to be sure as to not run into the maid. I never knew what to call her. She was a little overweight with an ugly face but neatly done black hair. She always wore the casual white and black maid outfit that was mandatory in the workplace of the wealthy. I kept going, staying close to the wall with the beautiful wallpaper of butterflies, grass, and flowers. It made you feel as though you were outside. My chest expanded, breathing in the memory of the outdoors, remembering the soft, plush grass upon my feet, the smell of freshly dropped rain. I felt moisture running down my face, placing my hand under my eye I realized that the thought had made me cry. It was such a sad, happy memory that seemed so far away now.
Seven minutes passed, I had been looking every time I passed a clock on the wall. They seemed to be following me. I felt a zing in my chest, that made my heart beat faster, I was so afraid and getting extremely paranoid with every passing second. I made it to a big room that was very dark. I could make out a couch, a table and an empty fireplace, and at the far wall a door!! I could see the light shining in from the cracks! Right then a loud voice filled the mansion, “Annabelle!!” My ten minutes were up. I sprinted to the door, stepping on something that cut my foot. I could feel the warm blood as I grabbed the cold doorknob. Swinging the door open I was blinded by the bright, beautiful sun. Still unable to see, I stepped out.
With a gasp, I awoke in a cold sweat. Looking around, I saw nothing, but felt the freezing chains upon my wrists. With tears running down my face, I screamed.

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The Weeping Windows

by Jessica Song
(Dardenne Prairie, MO)

The windows made the house come alive. The light shone through the glass like light coming through nothing at all. The translucency made the world outside the same as the world inside. They tremble under the harsh breeze and the impending weather. They scream under the force of lightning storms and shiver on contact of winter snow.
The only comforts they have are the walls hugging them in support.
Looking out onto the fields, they hear a crunching of leaves. This is new, for the house has not been inhabited for years. A young man, in his 20s approached the house slowly and cautiously. He had a camera around his neck, which hung loosely as he opened the door. Stepping inside the house, the windows watched with earnest. The man pointed his camera in their direction and, flash, went the bulb. The windows did not like this unnatural light and shook in their frame. The man set lowered the camera, confused. There was no wind outside when he came in. Shrugging his shoulder he went on taking picture after picture.
Each flash brought on more and more trembles from the glass. The windows were being disturbed. The curtains lifted a bit from the ground. This captured his attention. The windows were closed. The curtains blew up higher and higher and enwrapped the man in its fabric. He ran out of the door in terror. Looking back at the “haunted” house, he began to walk away. Walking down the steps, he stopped and looked back for a second. He heard a strange noise, seemingly coming from the windows itself. Creeping up cautiously, he pressed his face against the glass and heard a small, barely audible noise. The man heard weeping.

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by Eva

Gramms looked at the spindly clump of flowers in the teen girl’s hand. “They’re not moonflowers! They’re weeds! You should know the difference” Grams scolded. “Go back and find moonflowers, but hurry, you can only find them when the moon is full.”

Gramms was making a love potion. “Why do I have the crazy Gramma” Ivy thought. She rolled her eyes then ran out the back door, into the woods. The moon was indeed full and bright, lighting her way in the dark night.

She treaded lightly, not making a sound. As she approached a small patch of shrubs, she saw a figure bending down, digging. She recognized him. His face was lit by the moon, and his flashlight. “Newbie” she thought.

“Jason” she said in loud whisper “what are you doing?”

He pulled on patch of flowers and with a great heave, they all came up. “The little buggers are hard to pull out. I’m gathering moonflowers for my mom” he said sheepishly. “She sends me on these silly scavenger hunts. And you?”

“My Gramms, bad hip, so she sends me out for stuff.”

They both nodded in agreement.

“Can I have some?” Ivy asked.

“Sure” Jason smiled “hey, you want to go on a scavenger hunt sometime?”

“Sure!” Ivy gushed, a little too eagerly. She turned and said she had to hurry back.

Gramms watched Ivy come into the kitchen, her face lit up like the moon, humming a tune. “Ivy, you sure look happy.”

“Just glad I found the flowers. I’m going to bed.”

In the morning, Ivy noticed the moonflowers in vase on the table. “I guess the flowers didn’t work?” Ivy asked Gramms.

“They worked” smiled Gramms.

Ivy just shook her head, “crazy Gramms” she thought, and then ran to catch the school bus.

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Deadly Night Shade

by Jayne May-Stein
(Pittsburgh, Pa)

Perspiration ran down the backs of the half-nude teenagers, the heat of the night showing itself on the glisten of their backs. A fire glared at them, its flames licking its chops in the hopes that an unlucky foot or hand would fall in for it to relay a painful bite. Half naked women danced in a circle around the fire in a rolling, almost lifeless dance as if led by a puppeteer that no one could see.
But what controlled these women was no puppeteer, but a ringleader. A ringleader who danced with her subjects that went by the name of Lola. Although all the women were beautiful, no one was quite as beautiful as Lola. Her hair flowed like black milk pulled by gravity to its concrete end. Her eyes glowered and seduced the men that watched them as evenly as the fire in the middle of their dance. Men watched them dance, their eyes filled with lust and want. They all wanted the women that danced for them, their beauty undeniable. Lola wanted them too, she drank their lustful gazes in like whiskey and felt confidence in long strides run through her core.
The moon was full that night, yellow and large in a cloudless black night. Lola made eye contact with each and every beautiful man that watched her and stopped her dance. One by one, the other women fell in a halt next to her. She grinned, her teeth sharper than before, her eyes glowing in the night. The men took a step back, and the women took a step forward.
The screams that followed haunted nothing, because no one was around. But the howls of wolves that followed haunted every living creature that slept in the forest that night.

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The Fight

by Emily Hamilton
(Waco, Texas)

"Daddy, where are we going?" The little girl said to her father.
"Far away from there, I promise you sweetheart." Said the man speeding on the highway.
"Why did we have to leave without mommy?"
"She-She had other plans, dear."
The man became choked up at his own thoughts.
"I don't know."
He slowed down the minivan and took a sharp turn into the parking lot of an old beat down motel.
"Why are we here?" She asked her father.
"We might be staying here for a few days, honey. Is that okay with you?"
She gave a hesitant nod as she unbuckled her seatbelt.
He hadn't explained to her how things would change. His wife had kicked him out of the house and when he left, he found his daughter, curled up in the back seat, crying. She must have heard the fight. She had been asleep for a while, he only noticed her when she woke up. It was too late now, they were already miles away.

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Camping trip

by Sobia Balal
(England,Buckinghamshire,Milton keynes)

As the midnight air turned its way to the darkness, a little shiver of worries ran down my spine, the only thing I could hear beyond the trees around me, was the swishing of the bushes that swayed in a circular motion when the wind blew, I could also hear a colony of wolves howling away into the pitch black distance; the sound of waves trembling across the ground as if they were dancing. I felt a bit dizzy after a while, when I was gazing at stars so I took a break and fell asleep. The next day the sunshine that had come out hours ago flowed into a shock of greyness. I ran back into my camp site tent and waited till all of this nightmare was over, but the nightmare wasn’t over it was like a dream that you could never get out of your head! Soon the sea rushed back and forth like they had lost an world champion football game, although the sea was rushing, waves where lapping each other and the wind was howling in anger. It was a storm! Whoosh. Whoosh! The waves went. Roaring like a spark from hell, the wind went wild and the sea drowned with enthusiasms. Furthermore, lightning stroke red, blue, and gold, it was feeling of frustration. My hair went crazy, as if it was static. Nevertheless, the howling wind hypnotised me giving me a lot of attention; it was like a hair dryer blowing in my face constantly. Out of nowhere, my tent began to tremble and shake like jelly. Sunshine swept across my face, and I felt like I was on something really soft like a marshmallow – only bigger. Nevertheless, I had found myself in a mysterious comfy cottage with monkeys surrounding me eek!

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