Week 18: This Week’s Winning Stories
“The idea just doesn’t compute,” I argued, throwing my hands up in the air, “They’re on the other side of the continent! Plus, it’s not like you four can communicate in any way; the signal won’t go through, and there’s the risk of it getting intercepted. It’s just not going to happen!”
“I know!” replied Emily, angry tears starting to form, “It’s just, I’ve gotten tired of sitting around here in between these concrete walls, with the only place I can go to get some fresh air being the compound!”
“And that place doesn’t even have fresh air!” she threw in heatedly.
“I understand how you feel,” I said softly, “but you and I aren’t like everyone else! And we can’t suddenly go out in the open, walking around colleges like normal people, especially not in your condition!”
“Hey,” I added “I know we’ve been here for a year now—”
“A year and three days!”
“A year and three days. But there must be something good about this place!” I looked at her expectantly.
She shrugged and looked at the wall, “I got nothin’.”
I sighed, “At least these walls, even though they are concrete,” I added, throwing her a glance, “won’t collapse and bury us if we do get attacked.”
I paused, waiting for her to say something, before continuing, “And the TV never has any commercials, and at least it works…Oh, come on! Can’t you fine one decent thing to say about this place?”
“The computers, too,” Emily grumbled.
“Excuse me?” I said.
“I said the computers work well, too,” she replied.
“Oh,” I said, feeling my face grow hot. “Anything else?”
“Well,” Emily replied, seemingly unaware of my little hiccup, “They haven’t found us yet, soooo, I guess that means we’re in a safe place.”
“That is true,” I replied, smiling.
“Oh, oh, oh! And, we have each other to do things with!” she added.
We went on like this for a while—with each statement, Emily growing happier and happier—until finally, she stopped us, saying, “Wow! There really are a lot good things to say about this dirty, old, concrete-walled place.”
“You see?” I said happily, “What did I tell ya?”
“That I wasn’t allowed to contact my cousins, because, ‘They’re on the other side of the world; it’s not happening!’” she said, imitating my voice with a twinkle in her eye.
“Ugh. You’re still on that?” I said, laughing.
There was a moment of thoughtful silence until Emily questioned me. “Hey, do you wanna go in the compound with me?” she said with a mischievous smile, “I’ve heard the air in there’s great.”
I laughed again as we walked together, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Video Games, Legos, and More
“Mo-om!” I call.
“Yes, dear?” my mom answers.
“Where is my ‘Attack of the Titans 3’ game?” I demand.
“It is hidden away because you have not done your homework yet,” my mom calmly replies.
“Argh!” I exclaim, stomping into my bedroom and slamming the door shut. This is the third conflict this week.
By the way, I am Dave, and the crazy, game-hiding lady is my overprotective mom. She is always telling me that I need to do my homework so that I can get into a good college. Or she will say, “You need to enjoy school and be honest and not steal things so that you don’t have to do extra community service.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Suddenly, the door to my room opens. “Bye, honey. I’m off to your parent-teacher conference,” announces my mom.
“My what?” I ask in alarm.
“Your conference so I can check your grades.”
“But, Dave!” she mimics and heads right out the front door of the house.
Well, she will be gone for a few hours, so what should I do. Hmmm. What should I do? I know. I think I’ll call Omar and see if he wants to come over. I dial his number, and say, “Yo!” once he answers. I continue, “Hey, Omar, want to come over?”
He says, “Sure, just give me a minute.”
Exactly one minute later, the doorbell rings. Ding dong! “Hey, Omar, that was quick,” I say as Omar enters my house.
“Dude,” he states, “I live right next door.”
“So, do you want to finish constructing our Lego Mall?”
“Dude,” Omar points out, “we are out of pieces.”
“Are you sure?” I ask.
“Yes, you even made me collect every Lego piece I own,” reminds Omar.
“Not every, single piece,” I argue.
“Dude, down to the last Lego communication Walkie Talkie!”
I sigh. “Well, that could complicate things a bit. So, do you want to watch TV instead? I saw this commercial and—”
“No, dude, no can do TV.”
“I know, Omar. We can look for the video game my mom hid,” I exclaim excitedly. Omar agrees, so I say, “You start in the living room, and I’ll go look in my mom’s bedroom.”
We start looking. I search under my mom’s bed, in her closet—heck, I even look in her underwear drawer. Creepy, I know. I mean, I am desperate. As I am searching through Mommy’s unmentionables, Omar shouts, “I found it! I found it! Dude, it was hidden under the couch cushions!”
“Well, want to play now?” I ask.
“Dude, I can’t. I promised my mom I would be home by 5:00 pm, and it is that time now.”
Omar is barely out the door before I pop in the game, collapse on the couch, and grab my controller. All is well with the world—“DAVE! Have you seen your awful grades?”
Well, ALMOST all is well with the world.
The Vexation of Modern Technology
My computer never loads,
my TV never seems to cooperate,
and I don’t ever compute the right commands when I code.
Oh, the vexation of technology.
At every computer collapse, lag, or malfunction
you want to scream and pull out your hair,
or throw your computer onto the stone, hard concrete.
But you don’t.
You might shake it a little, or bang your hand on the table,
but you know that your parents would kill you if you broke your computer.
My phone always loses connection mid-call,
I always seem to collide with complications,
and too many commercials on one website makes the lag unbearable.
Oh, the vexation of technology.
How I hate having to struggle with connecting to the Wi-Fi,
or how my computer crashes right as I finish my college application,
or when my smartphone never lets me log into Instagram.
But just consider a world without technology.
Technology saves lives.
Technology builds homes.
Technology is all around us.
But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be lags,
glitches, or the occasional crash.
There will always be annoying tics that happen on our tech.
Oh, the vexation of technology.
Past Years’ Winning Stories
A Fine Autumn Day
It is a fine autumn day, the red and orange leaves hanging by threads off the trees, with the golden sun just rising, shining through. Although the scene never changes during the season, the repetition is never boring. The beneficial part of it is recognizing that the season is changing when the sun shines through the branches because there are no leaves left.
Like always, I am on a tight schedule in the morning before work. Working for Apple, a top company in the United States, while taking care of my six-year-old niece, Jenny, and having a husband, Mark, who is stationed in Afghanistan, is hard work.
Some of these changes are new to me, particularly caring for a small child. My sister, Michelle, and brother-in-law, Ryan, were heading to the mountains for a work issue and left little Jenny with me for the week. Unfortunately, on their way, they were in a serious car accident and both of them passed away. They left their engineering agency to me, so now I’m going out of my mind putting advertisements out everywhere to find employees to work for the agency.
On top of that, I have a huge meeting at the main headquarters of Apple to see if I am right for becoming the top manager of Apple technology. I am currently the head device assistant and was formerly the assistant to the head device assistant. So after the meeting, the head administrator of Apple Technology said that he would give me a call letting me know if the news is good or bad—did I receive the promotion or not.
Later that week, I receive a call saying that I put on a magnificent presentation at the meeting, and if I want it, I have the job! At first, I think there is a problem with the communication line, but then I realize I have heard correctly. I go down to the Apple store and the first thing I say to my former boss is this: “Great; I got the job! Now what’s the catch?”
The reason I ask this question is because every time something seems right for me, it all collapses as my dream world and reality collide. The conflict is me versus society because I have worked in many communities where I am hired in the job to make money, and then I am fired for no reason. What is up with people these days? I mean, I was fired from my last job JUST because I accidentally spilled coffee all over the leather interior of my boss’s brand new white BMW. What’s so bad about that? Oh! Another time, I was working at a construction zone and just because I knocked down some of the framing of the house we were building, I was fired before even getting paid!! Truly ridiculous. I hope my new job at Apple will go more smoothly.
I am nervous on my first day, and I must attend a conference meeting about making a commercial to support and promote Apple. We decide to make a phone out of concrete and show that it is impossible to break, just like the Apple iPhones.
After a while, I am loving this job so much that before you know it, the month comes to an end, and I am called to come down to the store to collect my first pay check. I don’t want to complicate things, so I do as I am told.
The next day, same as the autumn day before, I hear a knock, knock, knock on my door, and when I go to answer it, my sister, Michelle, is standing there. Apparently, there was some identity mix-up when the bodies were identified after her car accident, and she has been in the hospital not the morgue.
Call me crazy, but I am starting to count down how many (crazy) “fine autumn days” I have left before “fine winter days” come into the picture.
Cast of Characters:
- Jake: a boy whose favorite outfit was a towel around his neck, mother’s bright red high heels, and underwear
- Emily: someone who should consider learning to contribute to the the family traditions
- Me: the normal one
“Lily, get in my room right now!” my older sister, Emily, yelled.
I muttered to myself, “What could it possibly be now?”
As I walked to Emily’s room, my younger brother, Jake, jumped out at me. He was dressed in his favorite outfit–underwear, a towel around his neck, and my mother’s bright red high heel shoes on his feet. I had to admit it was a bit concerning having a little brother who went outside in his underwear, and that wasn’t even thinking about the pairing of the red high heels. It also became annoying when just about the whole local community would call my parents to complain that Jake was outside singing in a pink or blue bathrobe.
Just as I entered Emily’s room, I noticed that all that remained in her room was an old computer and a collection of old super model cards that Emily used to collect. Emily was leaving to go to college the next morning so she had been packing like a crazy women–or should I say a crazy teen. Somehow all of her stuff was compacted into four tiny boxes.
I asked, “What now?”
“Why did you touch my make-up?” she exclaimed.
“I didn’t touch your make-up,” I yelled.
“Yeah? Then why is my eyeliner next to my blush when it is supposed to be next to to my eyelash curler? Hmm?” Emily shouted back.
“I don’t know and stop yelling at me right now, or I am going to leave and not tell you an answer!” I responded in frustration.
Emily humphed again, placing her hands on her hips. “See, you did take it; you just admitted it.”
“No I didn’t. Oh, whatever. I am leaving right now. Good-bye,” I yelled to Emily.
“Good-bye, and I can’t wait until I leave tomorrow!” she called. At that moment, I didn’t know whether I was more hurt or more angry.
The next morning, Emily woke me up to apologize. She had forgotten that it was she herself who had rearranged her make-up, and she said that everything that she said about me the other day was fake. She loved me and she would miss me tremendously when she was away at college. Just then, Jake zoomed by in his underwear, towel cape, and red heels. Emily and I just laughed.
The Sky’s Secret
It collects its compact tears and cries on us
I can’t complain
It gives water to my community
It connects my people together
The clouds contribute to this gift of tears
The sky confides the secret as to why they shed the tears
In the hope we won’t say a word
We collect the sky’s tears
In hope it brings joy to us and the lonely sky
Whose face wears a look of concern
I talk to the sky and it begins to lighten up
I tell the sky it’s for good use as my conclusion to say goodbye
I later find out the sky has an entire collage of secrets that it didn’t mention
I look back as the sky’s clouds drift away and the sky transforms
By the time I get a word out, the original sky is gone forever
It is now a piece of memory
Winter time, the time where communities and families get together in peace and harmony (mostly); the time where siblings come home from college and your usual conflict begins; the time where you construct fortresses made of snow and instead of using communication to make allies with other people, your face collides with a snowball; the time where you walk home, not able to see the concrete through all the snow; the time where you get to count the collection of socks and sweaters your grandma knits you and you have no idea what to do with them; the time where you collapse on the couch and watch commercial after commercial advertising toys you may want for Christmas. Obviously, winter is the time of peace, joy, and happiness, unless, of course, your aunt that smells like ham comes over to visit. Trust me, we all have one.
Revenge, Best Served Hot or Cold
With great power comes great responsibility. It’s not the destination; it’s the adventure. These are some stupid sayings that my teacher, Ms. Dragin, is making me study. You can refer to her as Dragon Face. I looked to my left and saw my best friend, Riley; I looked to my right and saw my other best friend, Madison. To me, school is just six hours that I’ll never get back. The only way I survive this mess of gorillas is these two friends, especially when I am 4’9” and everyone else is at least 5’5.”
The final bell rang, and I rushed to the door. “Going somewhere?” I heard. The looming shadow of the school bully, Josh, towered over me at 6’7.”
“Just o-outside,” I stuttered.
“No you aren’t,” uttered the giant. I tried to run, but Josh reached out and grabbed the strap of my backpack. I flew to the concrete floor. I was thrown into the wall, and my head collided with the hard surface. I rolled on the ground in pain, and Josh reached for me again.
This enraged me, and there was a brilliant flash of light as I felt my rage grow. I turned on my side and squinted. I saw Josh flying back, and then everything went black. I awakened, prostrate on the floor. Josh had crashed through the window. I turned on my side. I saw two figures looking at me, and I looked up and realized they were Riley and Madison.
“What the heck was that?” Riley asked.
“I have no idea,” I responded. I got up onto my feet and ran all the way to my house, looking at my hands in shock. I threw myself onto the couch in wonderment. I must have dozed off because I awoke to a car door slamming. I shuffled over to the window and glanced out. There were SWAT-like figures approaching with guns drawn. There was also a man in a tuxedo strutting toward my door with guards accompanying him. The door was kicked down and dozens of guns were pointed at me.
“Down on your knees; hands on your head!” a guard shouted.
“Mr. Bruce, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
The man was bald and had a glare like daggers.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I shouted out.
“Team, advance; apprehend the suspect,” the man said into a communication device. The soldiers shuffled in. One pinned my hands behind my back and cuffed me.
“My name is Dr. Earles,” explained the man. “Jackson, you are special; you are electric.”
That explained what happened with Josh, I thought. I have to escape. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Riley and Madison sneaking up on my captors. Riley went to punch the soldier. The soldier reached out and grabbed him. Riley and Madison flew across the room.
“Scan them; if they are not special, then shoot them,” Dr. Earles ordered.
Riley and Madison were scanned: “The boy’s name: Riley Rush, age: 17, a criminal record of loitering eleven times, grade average: D-,1.3 GPA, and 81 IQ.” I heard a smirk from Dr. Earles, the guards, and Madison. “The girl’s name: Madison Patterson, age: 17, no criminal record, grade average: A+, has a 5.0 GPA, and 213 IQ,” the guard said.
“But they are not electric? Vanquish them!” Dr. Earles said. All the guards pointed their guns at Riley and Madison. Millions of shiny red dots surrounded them. In seconds, my friends were going to be dead. It would be complicated to explain their demise. I flashed back to what happened with Josh, the feeling I had inside of me. Riley and Madison had true fear in their eyes but were looking calm on the outside; in seconds they would be dead. I tried to do the same thing I had done in the hallway. I concentrated my rage. The guards that were holding me flew back. I started to glow white-hot. I dived for Riley and Madison to protect them. The room exploded with lightning. All the guards flew back. Dr. Earles was, miraculously, untouched. I formed a lightning ball and tried to fling it at him, but he jumped out of the way and pulled out a gun.
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, Dr. Earles grumbled. Dr. Earles pulled the trigger, and I flashed a lightning bolt at the bullet right before it hit Riley in the eye. I looked around the room. I saw my old toy spy tracker. I lunged for the tracker and threw it at Dr. Earles without him noticing. He cocked his gun and attempted to shoot Madison. I shot out another lightning bolt toward his gun, and it flew out of his hands. He yelped and ran out the door. Riley charged for the door, but I grabbed his leg just in time.
“I tracked him; I will find him,” I reassured him. My mind started to show me a memory. My eyes rolled into the back of my head. The memory was my dad in a uniform right before he died. I saw him slink to the floor and heard sobs from me. I turned my head, trying to see what happened. There was a bullet in my dad’s stomach. I looked around feeling helpless. I looked out the window and saw a man in a tuxedo, gun in hand. In my memory, I focused on his face, and I realized it was Dr. Earles. He was the one who had killed my father. I balled my fists and looked down at my dead father. I recognized that uniform. It was the same uniform of the people who had attacked me.
I ran down to the basement followed by Riley and Madison. I opened the door and saw guns, grenades, and three uniforms. This was our way in.
We walked out of the house, loaded up on guns and in uniforms. In his rush to escape, surprisingly, Dr. Earless had left his car here, and it was a Ferrari. Riley hotwired the car, and I rode shotgun. Madison grumbled about being in the back, but didn’t say much. I looked down at my tracking monitor and saw that Dr. Earles was nearby. We caught up to him on a bridge, and I shot at him. Dr. Earles jumped from the bridge’s railing and landed in the water. My monitor blanked. We sat in our compact car, thinking of our next move. I looked at my laptop and saw an email.
“You will never win; turn yourselves in,” the email read.
“Madison, trace this IP address, and then put it on my monitor.” In a matter of seconds, my monitor filled up with light. I put the address into the GPS, and Riley took off. Three hours later, we rolled into a building compound.
Dr. Earles’s voice bounced around from all directions. “Prepare to die.” Bullets were flying from all directions. We dove down, and I threw a lightning ball. We threw ourselves behind the car and started shooting. I was flinging lightning. I ran into the middle of the compound, commanding, “Come out Dr. Earles.”
“O.K.” Dr. Earles said. He was holding Riley and Madison. Riley threw his head back and his head made contact with Dr. Earles’s nose.
“Kill him,” Dr. Ealres growled. A guard grabbed Riley and took him into the middle of the compound and shot him in the stomach. I lunged forward, but Madison grabbed me. We ran to the car and drove away. I drove through my tears. We drove into the woods to hide out. Despite my grief and anger, I fell asleep. I woke up to the crushing of a branch. I thought about my conflict, whether to go back for Riley or stay with Madison. I looked out into the night and saw a shadow wearing a guard uniform. I threw a lightning bolt at the shadow, but the figure ducked.
“Whoa, man,” Riley said.
“You’re back!” I exclaimed with relief.
“Yeah,” he gasped, and then he collapsed. I constructed a bandage out of moss. Madison was using a collective basket to collect herbs for medicine. We fixed up Riley and got into the car. We went back to the compound. I saw Dr. Earles and shot a lightning bolt at him. He dodged it.
“Madison and Riley, take out the guards; Dr. Earles is mine,” I ordered. I charged for Dr. Earles and pushed him down. I saw a lake and dragged him over to it. I put his head over the water.
“If you give me answers, I won’t kill you. Why did you kill my father?” I threw his head into the water. “WHY?!” I yelled, lifting his head as he gasped for air.
“Because he knew too much information.”
“Okay, now I know,” I said as I started to dunk his head in the water again.
“We had a deal,” he sputtered.
“I don’t make deals with a murderer.” I dunked his head in the water and shocked the water with my electrical power. Now I was safe and had revenge for my dad, but now I had something in common with Dr. Earles. I, too, was a murderer.
The First Meet
“We’re there,” called Mom. I got out of the car and lugged my bag up to my room. We decided to stay at a hotel the night before the competition so that we wouldn’t have to get up at 5:00 in the morning to drive to San Mateo for the meet that started at 7:00. My dad took out his computer and checked his email, while I connected my phone to a charger because it was low on battery. I had a pasta dinner the night before the competition, and then I fell to sleep thinking about the next day.
BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! I woke to the sound of my alarm blaring, so I quickly got up and got ready. I headed downstairs and went to talk to my coach…it was time. As the first event came on, I had to make a choice of whether to do my bonus or not. I considered that I had not warmed up well and decided not to add the bonus. I had a pretty good high bar routine, and I was satisfied with my performance.
The next event was pommel. I did terribly on my warm-ups, and my coach didn’t think I was going to do very well, but I killed it and got a score of 11.4. I was pretty sure that helped contribute to the team award. I was competing with Dylan, and we like to compare our scores to see who did better on each event. The next event was vault, and I was complaining because I hurt my knee the day before the meet. I pulled through and got a 9.0, though.
Our next event was rings and a kid got hurt during warm-ups. This was a conflict because we had less time to warm up. Despite that, I had a great routine, and I stuck the dismount. I got a 9.7, and I was sure that I was probably going to place. Next came P-Bars—parallel bars—and right in the middle of my routine, my arm collapsed, and I fell. “Well, that complicates things,” I said. Now I couldn’t fall again. Luckily, I didn’t, and I closed out my meet well. After the meet, my brother got me delicious sour patch and red vines, and I told my mom that I wanted to watch the college competition next. She said that we didn’t have time because we needed to get home, so I climbed into the car, and we headed home.
Daydreaming can take
You anywhere you want to go
Whether it be to Africa or Idaho.
When dreams and reality collide,
Your imagination is your best friend.
You can construct anything, anytime, and
Any place; there is no concrete barrier
Blocking you from where you have to go,
You could go back and help write
The constitution if you wanted.
There are no conflicts to make
Life imperfect while daydreaming;
Your hopes don’t collapse like faulty buildings;
There are no problems in communication;
Everyone speaks your language, whether it is
Texting language or smart-people language.
Your dream world may be compact,
Or you may have a huge beautiful mansion.
You can collect your favorite fruit
From your own personal orchard.
Everything fits your personality;
There are no complications.
Everything is perfect
The Strange Meteorite
Nobody knew that the meteorite was coming until it took down an important communication satellite. Then NASA scanned space where the satellite was supposed to be, and it was right there hurdling through space toward Earth, ready to collide. The first weird thing was that the meteorite was a perfect size, as in it was the right size to do lots of damage to civilizations, but NASA would be able to destroy it without damage to the Earth. There was a conference at NASA, and they decided they would send a probe to study the meteorite because their scan showed that it had a faint electrical signal. That was the second weird thing. However, something strange happened when the probe returned; it malfunctioned and crashed.
When NASA finally got the information from the probe, they kept the collective information for a while. However, things got even weirder. The meteorite did have an electrical signal, but it seemed more like a form of static. The main material in the meteorite’s exterior was concrete, and the interior was completely copper, which explained the static. NASA told the masses that it could not have been naturally formed in space. This started a few things: a line of end of the world commercials for all sorts of things, the collapse of most people’s sanity because NASA told us the meteorite would hit Earth the next day and that it would be hard to destroy, and to complicate everything, the meteorite was releasing radiation that was messing with plants and animals.
Because of this, many things were going awry. Communities were creating conflict by demanding some group of NASA to destroy the meteorite. Finally, after NASA had drummed up a lot of drama, they shot a space missile to destroy it. When it finally collided, the pieces of it hit Earth, but were too small to do any harm to the Earth. This, however, just happened to be the beginning of it…
To College with Confidence
I am going to the East
of the U.S.A
I’m going to Harvard
after considering a collection
of other Ivy League schools
such as Princeton and Yale
and I compared them considerably
When I arrived at Harvard
ready for school,
and I hate to complain,
but the dean gave me an order
to compose a symphony
in front of the entire Harvard
* * *
The day of the show:
“Oh no, he’s passed out!”
The Magic Computer
I bet you think that everyone’s had a weird day, but no one has ever had a day like this. I was complaining to my mom that my computer was too slow. I just wanted to connect to the internet so I could get information for the conclusion to my report. I looked at my computer, and it was acting all weird. It was blinking and saying “control, control,” so I leaned in closer, and BAM! It sucked me in.
I stopped and looked around, and I was at some type of college. Then I saw a person who looked like me, and I heard a voice say, “That will be, but only if you change your ways.”
In my head, I was all like WHAT? Nevertheless, I just said, “Who are you?”
Then a floating computer came up to me and said, “I am here to show you what happens if you spend less time on your computer. That is you in college.” I followed the older me into the compact dorm room where I saw a collection of trophies. “You are a great softball pitcher; you are a great contributor to the team, unless you choose to continue to live on your computer,” said the computer.
Then I saw a girl walk up to the older me. I turned to the computer and asked, “Who is that?”
“That is your best friend, Mimi, in whom you confide all your secrets,” answered the computer.
“Okay. I’ve seen enough. I will definitely change my ways,” I said. In one second, we were back home. I ran to my mom and said, “I think I am going to consider playing softball.
Deep underground, on an undiscovered continent in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, invisible to any radar or satellite, is a top secret military base. Not even the President of the United States is in command of this base. These classified conditions are perfect for the genetic laboratory that exists there. The scientists in this laboratory perform experiments to compare DNA codes, to create medicines for common illnesses, contain new and deadly viruses. They continue to attempt to compose a vaccination for cancer, but so far, they have not been able to do so. One day, when they are able to compute the content of this vaccine, they will finally be able to rid the world of cancer.
The Day at College (Almost)
Usually people watch us birds, not in this case, though. I write this because I, Suzy Tweetburge, and my BFF, Chipper are going to college! Well, of course, we’re not like taking classes; we’re just watching. I sure know that when my mamma bird finds this out, she will for sure complain because of the lame rules: blah, blah, blah this; oh, and the worst rule is that birds who live in the park named Walnut Park are not supposed to ever leave the park. It’s just not fair!!
That sunrise, I anticipated the bear hug arrival from my best friend forever, Chipper.
After a couple hours of waiting, he arrived. We soon reunited with hugs and then flew up the tree home to my nest room.
“So, what’s the plan?” Chipper questioned.
“Well,” I responded and laid out a large half-crinkled sheet of plan paper on my leaf-made desk. “I sure hope I can confide in you my plans and you’ll keep the plans private. I was thinking we could collect loads of cash from the community of Tweet Ville down the path an-”
“Why, instead of doing all that crazy stuff, can’t we commute there by flying?” he interrupted.
“Oh, well, that’s a good idea, but will you at least consider wearing cool superhero costumes? If so, I call being Bird Girl!” I crowed with excitement.
“Well, of course!” he replied and did a happy dance while saying this.
The day has finally come! For this is the day when we shall fly! Fly to a college called Saint Mathews and look at weird people and computers. Being a member of the Suzy and Chipper Club, both Chipper and I must sign a constitution that states we will be nice, calm, and concerned for each other in any situation.
Whoosh, cha, cha! Whoosh, cha, cha went our wings as we fluttered towards the sitting college.
“I’m a little worried about this; how about you?” Chipper croaked cowardly.
“Nothing will happen prom-”
Vroom! A “racing” car zoomed by at considerable speed.
“Whoa!” Chipper screeched. “Maybe we should go home.”
“Now? After all of this?” I asked in a dramatic way.
“I’m leaving; bye,” he said as he rushed away with a rude look on his bird face.
“Whatever!” I uttered under my breath.
As I went along with my trek, I started seeing why Chipper had left: it was cold, it was filled with giant cars, and it was without friends. I soon decided to go home.
Chipper and I are much better friends now, and I know never to disagree with my BFF.
NOTE TO READER: If you’re a bird, don’t leave the tree; it’s a scary world out there in the wild.
Life from a Dog’s Perspective
Hello, how do you; woof? (Sniff sniff sniffffffff…) My name is Riley, and my master is Bert. He is a very good master; oh, yes! And I am a very good dog. I know that because he told me! We do have our conflicts, but I am loyal to my master, oh, yes! We reconstruct that loyalty always, that’s for doggone sure! Sometimes I even go to my person’s conferences at their little building. I’m that good of a dog! My little person, I heard, got an F on the paper thingy that a mean looking lady waved about. I wonder if that means food. Now, I’m going to help you humans understand our side of the bone, because you have it all wrong!
Right off the tennis ball, I’m going say that we aren’t all made of that puppy-eyed, goobering, slobbering goof you see on those commercials that appear on the weird boxes that have mouth-watering wires that are so fun to chew…the zing of the metal………. Sorry! I’m awake; I’m awake. Anyway, our ancestors are the almighty wolves! They lived with no persons in packs, not communities. We are made of some pretty tough stuff, man. I hope now that is set in concrete… or is it set in stone? Hmm…..
The second ditch is about communication. Let’s get this backbone straight, WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT A SINGLE THING THAT YOU GROWL!!! Moreover, some of us just plain ignore you, like bulldogs for instance. I have never in my life ever met a more stubborn dog than a bulldog. Now after a hard day of training, if you ask us to collapse, we will do your bidding even before the bark has left your muzzle!
The last hurdle to clear is about treatment, especially about getting dressed. This may not happen to larger dogs, but smaller dogs feel the full impact of babying. I have witnessed wiener dogs, Chihuahuas and various others dressed in turtlenecks, rain jackets, hats, booties, vests, and plain sweaters all in an assortment of colors from hot pink to sequins and cheetah prints! Smaller dogs already have to cope with short, spindly legs so why complicate their lives further by forcing on them the humiliation of such silly attire? I have set eyes on dogs colliding because their hats are as big as my master’s! I observed dogs tripping and being dragged along even when nature calls! It’s comical, I admit, but it’s got to stop.
It was nice howling with you. Well, nature’s calling, got to go answer! Hope you get some F’s, too! Bye now.
My Dad’s Job
For a living, my dad is an electrical engineer. I like my dad’s job because you can save yourself a ton of money. I would consider being an electrical engineer because, as I said, you can save yourself lots of money by fixing things yourself. I would also consider being an electrical engineer because at my dad’s place of employment, there is a vending machine, free sodas, foosball, ping pong, and a pool table in the lunchroom.
The only concern or bad thing about being an electrical engineer is that you must go to four years of college for this job. There, you sit in a comfortable chair all day, hoping that you don’t have any problems connecting to the Internet. That much research could be a drag.
My dad is not a commuter because he works in the same city that he lives in. Sometimes I feel bad for him because he sits in a compact cubicle all day. However, that bad stuff is ALL worth it because when you collect quite a bit of money. Plus, the community I live in is a really good place. Additionally, my dad’s company is constituted of very smart people.
I recommend being an electrical engineer for all of those reasons.
by Alex S.
I work at an advertising agency. My job is to film commercials. Today I will meet with a representative from a construction company. In our conference, we will be discussing all the services offered by the company.
Once the client arrives to the conference room, we will construct some mock-ups of the different services the company provides. This could be somewhat complicated because the client may already have a vision of what he wants. That often leads to some conflict, so I must work hard to have good communication.
In this case, the client and I finally agree on a commercial in which the client will be shown reconstructing a road after a huge natural disaster. There will be trees that collapse and collide due to thunder, rain, and lightning. Then after all that is shown happening, the construction company will be depicted rebuilding the roads with pavement and the sidewalks with concrete. We will also be filming another commercial where the construction company rebuilds communitites. Since the client has approved our commercials, I will begin filming right away!
The Worst Winter Break Ever
When we get home, my mom tells me that she is concerned I am not learning well enough in school, and over winter break, I am going to have to attend extra enrichment classes at the community college. I try to convince my mom that this will mean she is commuting too much, and it will be a waste of gas, but she is not going to change her mind.
The first day of class is terrible. We take tests on the computer, and we learn about the constitution in history. The only fun thing we do is connect Legos together during free time. For homework, we are required to collect leaves from outside to bring back to school the following day. After two weeks of this, I may consider school more fun than winter break!
Earthquakes and What Happens
During an earthquake, the concrete roads that you walk on or drive on can split, if the earthquake is strong enough. It can happen at any time in any community, even during an important conference at work, or when you’re planning to construct a building. An earthquake can be extremely scary and deadly, but what causes an earthquake you ask?
An earthquake can occur several different ways; one of them is when two tectonic plates collide into each other. The next one occurs when one of the plate boundaries collapses underneath the other plate. Another way is when two plates slide past each other. The last way occurs when two plate boundaries smash into each other, forming a mountain; this happening is also related to the Vertical Fault, which does the same thing.
For some families, after the earthquake, they are in need of assistance, and so people who care for their survival make commercials so those people may get the care that they need. This can really help a lot because people who weren’t impacted by the earthquake donate money and supplies.
When an earthquake occurs, it’s like a big conflict between tectonic plates and humans.
Last but not least, earthquakes can be hard to navigate, so be sure that if you are someone who is a perfectionist at studying earthquakes, you have something to tell how big the earthquake is. Beware, though; this tool can be complicated to make!
P.S. Plate boundaries don’t communicate in any way.
The following three things are some advice when an earthquake happens:
1) When an earthquake occurs, stay calm.
2) Never stay near something that could fall and injure you in any way.
3) Stay underneath something that is strong and is not likely to fall anytime soon.
Be careful during an earthquake, and stay safe!
Brrr! Was that all the New Yorkers could say? The snow was almost fifteen feet high, making it hard to get school and work. My dad was grumbling about having to find a commuter subway to work because it was not safe to drive himself. I, however, was delighted and was entertained as ever. My sister, Rosie, and I would have snowball fights and make copious snowmen with pointy noses and wicked grins. But, all fun has to come to an end someday, right? Fun can’t go on forever…or can it?
Rosie was seventeen, and she was planning on applying to Stanford University. Soon, I would lose my snowball throwing sister and my clever trickster. Before I knew it, Rosie would be off to college. I would have to figure out a way to forge an extra close bond with Rosie so that we could connect in that extra special sister kind of way. So maybe, just maybe, my sister would not want to leave me. I would have to collect big sister points so that Rosie couldn’t stand to be apart from me.
I was going to tell my mom about my master plan. She would initially show some concern, but I thought ultimately she would admire my plan. I knew this because my mom didn’t want Rosie to leave for college either. So we were on the same page…for now. If my mom was in on it, maybe, just maybe, Rosie would reconsider her decision when she realized how much we cared for her.
In the meantime, Rosie was scrambling trying to find the right supplies, like a compact mirror to put in her purse and much, much more for college. She was desperately scavenging online at the computer for extra little things to spice up her wardrobe. Rosie was so audacious that she even started posting comments on the community website about how worried she was about college and how she was petrified that she wouldn’t get all of her collectibles in time. But, of course, everything would go well because Rosie had a very strong constitution and could handle any curves that life might throw her.
Later on, something in my head told me to consider that my scheme wasn’t right, that maybe I shouldn’t keep Rosie from achieving her dreams. I bet Rosie wouldn’t hold me back from my dreams. Even though Rosie was the best sister anybody could ever ask for, I did have to let her excel in life and do what she really wanted. I could visit Rosie, but it would never be the same. I guess the mission, “Keep Rosie Away From College,” didn’t really work out. But I now know that Rosie is living her dream, and that dream is doing her personal best in college!
Going Away to College
“Mom, do you have my books ready?” said Samantha
“Almost, honey,” said Libby (Samantha’s mom).
Samantha was heading off to Sacramento Community College.
“Okay, honey, we are ready,” said Libby who was piling book by book in the car. As soon as Samantha heard that message, she jumped down the stairs because she was so excited.
Samantha was always the geek in the group and a teacher’s pet. She never really fit in, but she was positive that this year was going to be different.
When she got to Sacramento, she raced to the school to find out her classes for the semester. When she got the paper, she started to cry. “What is the matter?” said Libby, ready to get back in the car and leave.
“I just found out what classes I got,” said Samantha, who was gasping for breath. Samantha wanted to go and complain, but she knew that was not the right thing to do, so, instead she stuck with it and said, “It’s only a semester.”
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When Libby was about to leave, she had a great big concern that rushed through her head. “Is Samantha going to be okay alone?” Those words stuck in her head all the way home.
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Samantha hurried to school. She was so excited, but then she remembered her first class “Oh, no, I have to go to computer class today,” stained Samantha’s mind. That was the only class she did not do her best at.
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A few days into that class, Mr. Smith (Computer teacher) pulled Samantha off to the side. “Samantha, just to let you know, you are getting a C- in this class. and I looked at your past grades, and I do not think computers is the right class for you, so, I was wondering have you considered dropping this class,” whispered Mr. Smith.
“Yes, I have, Mr. Smith. Are you okay with that?” asked Samantha.
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The next day after school, she met up with Mr. Smith to confide to him that she was embarrassed about dropping the class and that she felt like a quitter.
“It is fine; trust me, I myself failed computers and I was nervous like you. I never regretted switching,” Mr. Smith muttered.
“Okay, I will switch,” Samantha said with a grin.
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The next day Samantha met with her counselor, and after discussing the collective group of classes, she chose to switch to Legal Studies. In this class, they discussed the constitution. Samantha felt that she could connect with this subject.
Samantha called her mom to tell her the exciting news. Libby was so excited and relieved that her daughter was truly happy. Samantha knew, from that day forward, that she was going to love college.
I’m going to attend a new college soon! The college that I’m going to is called Northern California University and it is in a really nice community with a lot of nice people. I am a commuter student, which means that I do not live on the college campus. I am a little concerned because there has been some gang activity going on at the college so I’m kind of scared. It seems strange that there would be gang activity in such a nice area. I would never consider joining a gang so that is nothing of my concern.
I went on my computer to connect to the college website, and I spent some time reading all about the college. The next morning I got ready for my first day at college. I made sure to collect everything I needed for my first day. I had a hard time putting my laptop computer and all of my books into one compact backpack.
I arrived at the school parking lot, and as I got out of my car, I heard some guys talking behind one of the buildings. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but they were talking about doing something on Tuesday afternoon at Ridge Way Park. It kind of worried me because Ridge Way Park was right by my college.
Nevertheless, I got my class schedule and went to my first class. We were learning about the United States Constitution. I did not complain when my teacher asked me a question. My next class wasn’t until the following day, Tuesday, and that afternoon I heard a car pull up in front of our school. There was silence, then BAM! BAM! BAM! I heard rapid gunfire outside of our classroom. We all ran outside of our class and tackled the gangsters, who had just attempted to kill the Dean of the college. Our professor called the cops, and the gangsters were arrested. It turns out that the gangsters stole their weapons from a government compound. My classmates and I were very proud of our collective effort to catch the gangsters. We all went out for pizza that night, and I did confide in my friend that I had been really scared during the incident even though I did not show it.
The next day we had to write a class report. We decided to write about the gang shooting that had happened at our school. Each person in the class had to contribute a piece of the report. In the report’s conclusion, we talked about how the gangsters were arrested and how everything ended well.
Boom! The walls of buildings are cracking up and the concrete has risen. Buildings have collapsed and loud squeals are being heard. People are screaming and running. A giant tail appears from the ground and brings people down. The F.R.S. (Fallout Restriction Service) is trying to bring down the monster that is constricting everyone.
“This is Private Ryan! We need an air strike on this dumb worm! We can’t defeat it alone! Bring in mortar teams, air strikes, and maybe a nuke! This thing is gigantic! This is Private Ryan calling out!” screams Pvt. Ryan. An F-22 flies by and drops down a load of rockets. The monster screams in fury, and a giant acid cloud releases from its mouth. The monster submerges into the ground and lets out a piercing scream. The scream is so effective the ground starts to shake even more, and the continents start breaking apart. What the monster is doing is a sacrificial explosion. Its final breath releases, and the continents break up, and the cities explode. All that is left is dirt and ruin. What will come of this destruction?
Three years later…
“This is Jeff Gorz, and I am releasing this broadcast to see if there is still anyone alive. Is there anyone else but me? Somebody ple- Communication failed,” said Jeff.
“Dang… this dumb old radio never works right. Well, I need to scavenge around the area to see if there is anything I can collect,” said Jeff as he walked into the destruction of Los Angeles. An hour passed, and all Jeff found was a pint of water, some bullets, and bottle caps. The day finally came to night. Jeff was back at his little encampment. All he had was a small blanket and a fire to keep himself extra warm. He took out his pistol and grasped it. He didn’t want anything that was affected by the radiation to come and attack him.
It’s been a week and I’ve been broadcasting every day. Is there really no hope of life out there anymore? I guess I have to keep looking around. This “new world” is way too complicated for me. This is Jeff Gorz signing out.
“Well, I guess I’ll put away my journal and walk around,” sighed Jeff. He walked further down into LA this time. He found himself at an old warehouse. He walked in and pulled out his pistol. He walked around and found a couple of bottle caps and a bottle of Nuka-cola. He turned around and dropped his gun.
“GET DOWN!” yelled a mysterious person. “IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY, I WILL SHOOT YOU!”
Jeff got down on his knees and said, “I don’t want any conflict between you and me. I was just looking around here. Please, just don’t shoot me!”
“What’s er’ name? Do ye know what that means, soft-skin? Well, do ya?!” said the man.
“My name is Jeff Gorz, and I don’t mean you any harm!” said Jeff.
“Hoo, hoo! Ha ha ha! Ay, soft-skin? Why you so scared!? I wasn’t going to shoot you! I just like scarin’ people! He ha ah!” laughed the man. “The name’s Charles. I’m surprised to even see another body out here. Well, then, Jeff, how ‘bout you stay here for a while? It’ll be fun.”
“I guess I’ll stay out here with you for a while,” replied Jeff, kind of scared.
“Well,shoot! That’s the greatest news I’ve heard since I got my scholarship for the college known as Har-vord!” said Charles with a hint of happiness in his voice. “Well, let me show ya around! I’ve got two beds, surprisingly. You can get dat one dere. I also have some food. Just beans and stuff I found out in the LA square. Well, then Jeff, day’s almost over so I’m gonna go out to find a little bit more stuff. You go and make yerself comfortable. Hee ha!” Charles left with a large grin on his face, and Jeff sat there and took out his journal.
I walked around and found myself at an old warehouse. I met a man named Charles. I’m surprised there is still someone out here. That must mean there are more people out there! I’m just really happy that I have a better shelter to sleep in now! Jeff signing out.
The day passed, and Jeff awoke to the noise of gunshots.“Ahh! What’s going on?” screamed Jeff.
“More soft-skins! They’ve found us, Jeff! C’mon! Let’s get ourselves out of here!” yelled Charles. As they were about to leave the compound, Jeff grabbed a can of beans. They started running west. A sniper aimed at Charles and shot. The bullet collided with Charles’s leg. “AGH!” screamed Charles in pain.
“No, no no no! NO! Charles, it’s going to be all right! Come on; get on my back! We are going to make it out of here, alive!” said Jeff as he picked up Charles.
“Ungh, heh heh. You have a strong mind and big hope. That’s what I like about you.” answered Charles, still in pain.
They reached an area that was blocked by walls. Jeff put Charles on the ground and tore a piece of his shirt off and tried to turn it into a bandage.
“Don’t waste your blood, kid. I’m at my end. You can’t help the fact that I was shot with a fifty caliber. Urgh, you can’t do anything,” whispered Charles in a shallow voice.
“Be quiet! I’ll help you! You can’t die now! Please… STAY!!! LIVE! COME ON!” screamed Jeff, as tears started running down his cheeks.
“You have much more life to live than me! Ya know, when I first met you, I knew that you had hope of a new being around you. That’s what was cool about you. Forget about me. I’m nothing now. Just keep being who you are and stay that way. Just always remain cautious. Good-bye, Jeff, you are still a kid in a way. I’m proud that you were in my life… a small portion of it…” and Charles’s last breath came out.
“NOOO! CHARLES! No… you- guh- you can’t die… You’re the first person I’ve met after the Armageddon. Are you okay though?” sobbed Jeff.
Charles didn’t answer. “Why?! WHY?! It just doesn’t seem right…” said Jeff. Jeff started crying, and then the ground started shaking. A large construct came from the ground. A bright light appeared as Jeff got up and started looking at it. “What-what is th- that?”
To be continued…