English Short Story Showcase By Grade 10 Students! - Part 1
As part of a recent unit exploring narrative techniques, analysis, and writing, our Grade 10 English students developed and wrote their own short stories.
Going through the entire writing process from idea development to revision to final draft, the students created some extremely entertaining narratives filled with complex characters, vivid imagery, nail-biting suspense, and much more.
‘Trapped Without a Goodbye’ by Samira N.
The panic was hugging James so hard that he could barely think straight. The flame burned with unique colors James never thought he would be able to see. Every shade of orange and red. The smell of the dancing flames reminded him of the time when they went out as a family, sitting around the bond fire celebrating James' 37th birthday a few months ago.
This time, he was in the middle of the fire.
He was suddenly thrown back into reality with his eyes stinging. He watched the deep flames burn all the memories made in the house through his blurry eyes. The house they've been living in for the past 20 years...gone. He couldn't hear the simpleness of his heart racing in his chest. He was too busy trying to breathe.
It all started at 4:00 pm that day, meaning it was his job to pick up the kids after school, but it was one of those days where James just didn't feel like it. He was too tired from working all day so had come straight home, making his wife pick them up. She was just chilling at home… it wasn't fair for him to do all the work, he thought. He had walked in, and unmannerly told his wife to pick up the kids without an explanation and lay on the couch with a can of beer. She wouldn't stop nagging about how they would get let out in 5 minutes, and nobody was there to pick them up, so James got irritated and yelled that he just… didn't…care….
She was completely taken out… He really said that?! She thought, heartbroken.
She rushed herself out of the house, trying to get to school on time to pick up the kids because she realized that James would budge.
"Finally, some quiet and peace without anyone nagging in my face!" James had yelled out as he saw her leaving the driveway. James turned on the tv and had started dozing off the sound of the newsmen talking away. The problem here was that he had not given his wife the time to blow the candles, and it was s l o w l y tipping
The fire was all around him, and there was no way he could escape. James already knew. Although he still had a fraction of hope left that he could be saved. The colors and smell of the fire were weakening his body second by second.
Through a tiny hole in the wall, from the time Ben had punched the wall because his favorite team had lost the baseball game, James looked out into freedom.
And there they were.
There was his wife crying. The woman that he had spent the last 20 years of his life with, who was there for him every step of the way...although there were times where he just got sick of her.
There was his son Ben, who he played baseball with every Saturday. He had gotten so good that even James himself couldn't keep up with him! He couldn't believe that it was seven years ago when he first started teaching 10-year-old Ben how to play...although there were times where he just couldn't stand his nagging.
There was his daughter Bella who he adored very much...although there were times where he couldn't stand how clumsy and dull she was.
Reality hit again. His breathing was not doing good. Shallow and staggered. It wasn't like holding your breath in a pool. It was like having a gun to your head and being told not to let your heartbeat.
Then it hit him. This was the end. He thought of the time he had yelled at Bella for accidentally dropping a cup of orange juice on his new pair of shoes… he couldn't get her heartbroken face out of his head. What was the point of yelling at her when he wouldn't even be able to wear his new shoes anymore because it was all burned away?! He was waiting for a rescuing hand to see him, to bring him back to life, to let him live, to his family, to apologize, and be able to start over and love them this time. But no rescuing hand came to save him. The smoke was occupying his brain, and he couldn't think anymore. Somehow managing to get a few words out, he said, "I wish I could I love you to them one last time."
Slowly, the burning pain and smoke suffocating him faded away. Black filled the edges of his vision, and it became silent.
‘Determination’ by Anonymous
It is a cold, snowy night. The wind is howling, with the cries of lost souls. The only gleam of light in the street is a street lamp, a rusty pole with a sloppy paint job, flickering in the distance. You walk towards the lamp post. You reach forward to touch it. Cold. You look to your side and see a dark alleyway sandwiched between two concrete buildings. You know it is not safe to go in. But there was this urge, a need, if you will, to go inside. You step towards it and peer into the dank tunnel. You are conflicted. Your mind raced with different thoughts. "Should I? I Shouldn't. Yes! No! Yes! No! Yes!" You collect yourself, and look dead straight onto the tunnel, and march right in.
As you walked, you noticed the sound, a rhythm, from underfoot—the crunch, crunch, crunch of snow, echoing through the alleyway. With no light around, you seemed to be delving further into darkness. You suddenly hear rustling and footsteps behind you. You swiftly look back, but to your avail, there was no one there. You shrug it off and keep trekking through the tunnel. Your hands are trembling, and your knees are weak. You feel as though you can collapse instantly. You're not a wimp, are you? You stumble through the shaft but once again, footsteps. You turn, and no one. You start to get paranoid, but it's probably just your mind playing games on you, but then, boom. Gunshot. The moment you hear it again, you start to run, straight through the darkness. The moment you start to accelerate, the footprints behind you start to speed up. You run and run, but the tunnel never ends. The footsteps behind you have no sign of stopping either. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems to get farther away the closer you are to it.
It feels like you are descending further into madness, but you have to push on. You have to keep going. There is no turning back now. But you know you can't. You can no longer keep running. You are wheezing and panting. You can taste the blood in your mouth. Your clothes feel like weights strapped on to you. You know you will never reach the end. But you still do. Why is that? What motivates you to move forward, despite all the odds against you. Hope? That mystical power that pushes you to your "holy grail"? This intangible force that drives you to your unrealistic goals? I sigh softly. "You humans are a peculiar bunch."
Despite your motivations, you can not make it. Your knees buckle, and you fall onto the frigid snow. You close your eyes. For a fleeting moment, you feel safe. Its soft, gentle grasp cradles you like a blanket. But you open your eyes. You try to get up, but then you see a large hooded figure. The ends of its cloak are burnt off, giving it a shredded look. You look up to see a glimpse of its face, but it's covered with a mask, with a large beak protruding from it. You try to think. You look around, but it's nothing but the cold, cold darkness. You call for help… but nobody comes. You are at a loss. There is truly nothing you can do for yourself. You lie back down and accept your fate. You are finally in despair. The hooded figure takes a moment and examines you and your sorry state, and starts chuckling. Within a blink of an eye, it grabs you. I grab you.
This is the story of a woman named Margaret. She was a hard worker and a loving mother in her family. She worked at a factory specializing in the production of pocket radios. She worked 9 to 5 and always came home to a loving family. Margaret was happy. But one day, something terrible happened. Something that would forever change Margaret. Something she would never quite forget. It was a normal morning for Margaret. She woke up to the sun peering through the spaces in her window curtains and the sound of robins chirping. She took off her blanket and got out of bed. Margaret put on her slippers and headed down the stairs into the kitchen. She took out a frying pan from the cupboard and lit the stove. She also took out a few boxes to pack food for the others. As she was about to oil the pan, the phone started ringing from the living room. The ringing echoed throughout the empty household.
Margaret headed towards the beige phone and picked it up. "Honey. How do I say this?" The person on the other end was panting. "The tumor… It got to Daniel. He…" The caller started stuttering. His mumbling devolved into crying. "He didn't make it." The caller muttered. Margaret was frozen. Dead silent. The phone fell out of her hands and dangled from the table. She grabbed her coat, slouched over the armchair, and ran out of the house. All that was left was the sound of the phone, with its loud monotonous beep, filling the household.
‘A Heart Broken's Tale’ by Zara H.
Trigger Warning: This story contains a scene of self-harm.
Sitting on the edge of the bed with the lights dimmed to a shade of light purple, her heart pounds rapidly as he engulfs her in his arms so gently but full of passion. His delicate lips lightly graze her cheek, leaving her face flushing with a shade of baby pink migrating across her face and the tips of her ears. She giggles while looking into his chocolate eyes, a bubbly feeling rushes through her, and all her worries seem to disappear.
Nothing in the world could stop the smile that gradually crept on both their faces. The sweet smell of her perfume consumed the air around them. At that moment, everything felt so right, like the last puzzle piece fitting perfectly into its slot. However, deep in the back of her mind and in her gut, she knew it was wrong. Even though there were fireworks that lit inside of her every time they locked their eyes, she knew it had to stop.
I opened my eyes, panting, sweat trickling down my forehead, and looked over to the alarm at the bedside. 2 am. I got up and looked out the window, the moonlight tiptoeing into my room. I sighed in agony as I remembered the night that we first kissed. The moon was reflecting his eyes and his lips. The way that we both moved in synchronization hypnotized me. The feeling of goosebumps crawling up my arms brought me back to my senses. It has been two weeks since the incident happened, and I haven't been able to sleep properly without dreaming about him. And in those two weeks, my life has changed in ways I never thought it could.
I know what we did was wrong, and I deserve all the punishments that I'm facing, but I miss my normal life. Nothing feels the same anymore. I miss being comfortable with everyone. I miss being able to talk to my friends. And my friends who knew what happened have changed too, and I can just tell from their tone of voice. Everyone's attitudes towards me have changed, and I understand that they don't see me as the same person anymore.
Oh, but let me introduce myself, I'm Zoe Blitzer, and I come from a Muslim family, and the discovery of my secret boyfriend had led my life down a path I never thought it would take. I'm not a bad person; I just made a big mistake. And humans make mistakes, but some make bigger mistakes than others. And I happen to be one of those people who made a bigger mistake.
Every day is the same monotonous routine. Get up, study, then go to sleep. And most importantly, try not to suffer too much from the stiff silence that hangs over you every time you walk into a busy room. Word had spread fast through the rest of the family, and no one wanted to associate themselves with me anymore. Lonely was a weak word to describe the feeling of this shunning. I lose myself more and more every day, finding myself falling into a never-ending spiral of despair. I miss him. I miss drowning in his scent every time we cuddled. Without him and his warmth, the bed feels empty and cold. Tossing and turning at night have become routine, and sleep-deprived seems an understatement. Daytime was dreadful, but when darkness swallows the sky, and the moon takes over the sun, that was a different level of loneliness.
I found that I would smile but not experience the happiness that was supposed to accompany it, just like how tea is accompanied by biscuits. All I wanted was to feel happy again and be surrounded by the warmth that came from loved ones around me, leaving me with a tender and fuzzy feeling. But I knew I would never feel that same tingling sensation again. Feeling happiness once more was my goal, but the darkness that spun around me like a tornado of anguish swallowed me whole, making it impossible for me to climb out. And at last, temptation got the best of me, making my nightmare possess a soul of its own.
I slowly staggered my way over to the bathroom and took a moment to stare at the reflection looking back at me. The girl that stood in front of me in the mirror was someone I couldn't recognize. My frail, trembling frame drowned in my baggy clothing, and my skin was pale, which contrasted with the deep purple bags under my eyes that showed the moments of sleep I was getting. I pulled the drawer open and pulled out a pencil sharpener. I took it apart while tears rolled down my cheeks.
Once I pulled the blade out, I endured one last look at the girl in the mirror and sighed. I looked back down at my wrist and slowly dragged the blade across it, trembling. I soon got addicted to the stinging sensation that came along with little crimson droplets trickling down my arm, triggering a rush of adrenaline that traveled throughout me. I found myself doing it again and again as I slowly sunk into the bathroom floor, feeling limp and lightheaded. My vision blurred, and I was tapping out. Everything around me was darkening, and then - nothing.
‘The Final Gambit’ by Ashley S.
The day had finally arrived. The perfect moment. The day where all the members of the royal family would be at their most vulnerable.
In two hours, she would either walk out of here alive with the reins to build a new nation, or she'd be one more life taken for the Alpin family.
Royal Guard Captain Asta White braced herself as the impact from the West Wing's hidden bomb went off, sending shockwaves throughout the Grand Ballroom. Every last detail, down to what uniform she wore today, was planned meticulously. The location of the bomb was perfect. Close enough to warrant inspection and cause chaos, but far enough to give Asta time to guide the royal family away.
"Attention! A possible terrorist attack warrants a Code Black. I and a few others will remain with the royal family and escort them to the bunker." Asta gestured to the five soldiers closest to her. "The rest of you head to the West Wing and aid anyone who's still alive."
The guards nodded and marched out of the Grand Ballroom's golden doors. The rest made their way towards the royal family, and she followed, trailing behind and silently cutting the throats of each of the guards except one.
She'd made it to the throne room a few minutes after the others. With the collapsing ceiling and screaming servants, nobody noticed another four bodies and her late arrival.
She could hear the last guard muttering to the Alpins, a smidge of pearl white against royal blue. Asta crept around the circular room, locking the doors. It was almost time.
Her sword was already dripping with blood. Red splattered against the vibrant threads of the carpet. Innocent emerald eyes widened and teared up at the morbid sight.
As the Crown Prince hid behind his mother, the last guard thrust himself in front of the King. "Captain. What are you doing?"
"Get out of the way, Hudson."
"No. I don't know what's going on, but I'll stop you."
"You could certainly try."
She lunged forward, and a resounding clang echoed throughout the room.
It was a shame. Hudson had been the first person she met when she infiltrated the royal guard, her first friend since the incident. She shrugged and stepped over his body. Some pieces always had to be sacrificed in a game of chess.
"Your majesties. I'm sorry that we had to meet in these circumstances. Now look at me," she sighed, "my uniform is ruined! These kinds of stains will never come out."
The Queen held the Prince closer as she backed away, his whimpers muffled by the satin dress. Asta stepped forward, forcing them back against the elevated station that held the golden thrones.
"What do you want with my family, Captain?" The King hissed, stepping in front of the weeping Queen and child.
"I want to ask you a question. A question nobody ever dares to ask. A question that vindicates me."
"What question could vindicate the crimes you committed?"
"Do you know what happens to the children of the 'criminals' you've condemned?"
The King looked taken aback for a split second. "Does it matter? Their parents were criminals. Lenia has no business looking after traitorous blood."
"I'm so glad you said that! Now when I end your miserable lives, I can rest easy knowing that your son deserved to die alongside you." Asta tapped her chin mockingly, "perhaps I'll even make him watch. Like all those children were forced to watch those executions. I wonder if you know how many innocent people were hung in the name of the Alpins. How many homeless children perished on the streets." Asta's eyes narrowed, "how many ended up like me?"
"Where are you going with this?" The King demanded, cold shell cracking. "My son is the heir to Lenia. He is worth more than those pathetic orphans!" The King was screaming now, the room echoing with his wrath. "There are no innocents in this game! Only victors and the defeated."
"I see only one victor here. And she's about to be Queen."
Asta lunged forward toward him, ready to grant him a painful death. But before the cold metal could make contact, a white blur threw itself between the King and her sword, gasping once, before collapsing.
A guard? What were they doing here? They should've been occupied for at least an hour with the West Wing bombing.
Another blur appeared, and Asta parried a strike from a stray sword. She glanced at the watch on her wrist and felt her blood run cold.
Hudson never had the intent of beating her. He just bought time for the others to get here. Asta howled in rage as dozens flooded the throne room. Hudson had played her. But she wouldn't go down without a fight.
The dark braided bun had fallen apart. Asta's cap had been lost, and the pearly white uniform was stained crimson and torn. Her grip hadn't left the sword handle since the throne room had been bolted shut. Nothing else could save her.
There was no doubt that she was excellent with the sword. She'd spent the last seven years training assiduously to accomplish her quest for revenge.
Yet, as she cut through soldier after soldier, precision and form disintegrated. There were slashes across her back, her arms, yet she could feel nothing more than blinding rage.
She could see flashes of royal blue between other soldiers, glimpses to tantalize. She staggered forward, slashing with wild abandon at anyone around her, hoping she would get lucky. But for every soldier that fell, another two appeared.
At last, she collapsed, breathing heavily and using her sword to keep her on her knees. Piercing blue eyes danced around the room, gauging how much damage had been done. Eloquently carved statues were permanently disfigured, and the elegant plush carpet by the throne was soaking with death. This was a legacy she could live with.
"Your highness," she purred, lifting her head to lock eyes with the King.
"It's been an honor, serving the last monarchy of Lenia." Without another word, she flung her jacket off, revealing the hidden bomb strapped to her chest, a bomb with enough force to kill everyone in the room and then some. She tore one of the wires away.
"See you in hell."
564 dead at the bombing of Alpin Palace - Royal family, killed in an act of terror by Royal Guard Captain Asta White who perished with them.
‘Asian Parents’ by Mizuki S.
(Inspired from Fish Cheeks by Amy Tan)
"What happened, Saanvi? You've always been a straight-A student," said Mrs. Susan as she handed back my test papers. It was marked B+ in red at the top of the paper.
'Oh crap,' I thought to myself. I knew Mama and Baba wouldn't be too happy about a B+. Mama and Baba are both graduates of Hudson University. Mama's parents almost disowned her for not getting into Sky University. Anyway, my parents have three possible reactions to my B+. One. They will scold me, I get grounded for a month, and my phone gets confiscated for a week. Two. They beat my bum and put chili on my tongue. Ow! Three. Mama will cry, Baba will write me out of his will, and send me to the tuition center. In any case, I did NOT want to go home tonight.
I shoved the paper in my bag and walked out of the classroom, where my best friend, Lindsey, waited. Lindsey is caucasian. She has blonde hair, blue eyes, and her nose is as sharp as a knife. Yeah, we are quite the opposite. I'm Asian. I have black hair, dark brown eyes, a stubby nose, and short legs. Mama once told me a story of how our legs became short over time. She said it's because our ancestors carried rice that they harvested on their heads, and over time, our legs became shorter because of the weight—definitely a myth.
"Hey, Saanvi! How was the test?" asked Lindsey.
I gave her the look. We didn't have to speak. Lindsey knowingly gave me back an oh girl, you're fine face, and rolled her eyes. Yep, she could also figure out that I got a B.
"I don't wanna go home…" is all I have to say.
"Come to my house, Saanvi. I'm sure my mom will let us have a sleepover!"
Now I am SO thankful for this gal.
"I guess today IS Friday Funday after all?!"
We looked at each other and giggled.
We rode our bicycles to Lindsey's house. As we ate chicken soup and baked potatoes around the big dinner table, Lindsey's Mom asked, "How was your day, girls?"
"I got a C+ on my English test… But I swear, I tried my best!" replied Lindsey.
"Aww, baby, it's alright. What matters most is that you did your best, honey. I'm sure you'll do better next time," her mom said.
'Wow. She got a C, and her mom didn't even get mad?? Mama and Baba would never be happy with a C,' I thought to myself.
"You're lucky you have understanding parents. I wish my parents cared about me more than my grades," I mumbled.
The sky was getting darker into Mama's lipstick color.
'I wonder what Mama and Baba are doing right now. I didn't even call them to tell them where I am.' I thought.
The doorbell rang. Lindsey's mom rushed to the door and greeted the visitors.
"Oh, Hello! Long time no see! … Yes… She's here… Alright…SAANVI?" she called me.
"Saanvi, your parents are here. They want you to come home."
'Uh-oh. That's not good…'
I was so sure they somehow knew I got a bad score. Asian parents know everything. I gave Lindsey the oh crap eye and gave her a goodbye hug.
"I'll see you at my funeral," I said, and grabbed my bag and walked toward the door.
My mom screamed at the top of her lungs.
'Oh god, she's scolding me in front of Lindsey and her mom? Seriously? This is so humiliating!' I thought.
"Why are you here? You were supposed to come home by 4 pm sharp! You can't just disappear without telling me! Oh, and I know about your test! You are so grounded."
Teardrops formed in my eyes.
'Damn, how do they know already?' I thought.
"Why can't you be like Lindsey's Mom? Why can't you be proud of me? I got a B once! So what?" I fought back.
"So what?! Saanvi, do not talk to your parents like this."
Baba defended Mama. I tried to hold in the tears, but they rolled down my cheeks. Mama began crying too.
'Oh my god. Mama and I are both crying right in front of Lindsey and her Mom. So embarrassing!'
I thought, but I couldn't stop myself. I ran inside Baba's car and slammed the door.
I'll never forget how my Baba and Mama acted on the car ride home. Mama sobbed into her shirt. Baba was quiet. On that day, I somehow didn't get punished.
Now that I'm older, I know that Mama and Baba were worried sick that day because I didn't come home. Even though I didn't understand back then, my parents were strict with me because they cared. Mama told me that she just didn't want me to live through life, wondering what could have been.
Back then, I thought that they just wanted me to go to Sky University, but now I understand that they just didn't want me to have regrets when I'm older. They just wanted to make sure I was doing my best, just like Lindsey's Mom.
Now, I look up to my parents for wanting the best for me.
‘The Way Out’ by Amelia W.
Roland got up and stretched, some feeling seeping into his limbs. He didn't want to stay cooped up for long and decided to go for a walk to the strange old cottage by the edge of the woods, and he wanted to introduce himself to whoever lived there as their new neighbor.
He wrapped his tattered grey bathrobe around himself and sighed, opening the door. Roland braced against the frigid morning air. There was a slight stench of manure, mixed with the delicate scent of dirt and rain.
Roland had moved from the city and wasn't used to the loneliness that came with living apart from people.
As he headed towards the cottage, Roland quickened his pace looking forward to sitting down with a nice cup of tea when he came home. The wind started to pick up speed. It became so loud he couldn't hear much else, and he thought it sounded like a woman's cry, disconcerting and filled with pain. Roland hesitated but continued and came upon the old cottage, much like his own with a thick thatched roof and reddish toned walls. Still, it was somehow older and more ominous than his own, the old man stumbled forward, curious, the warm cup of tea long forgotten.
As Roland looked around, he could see a cluster of small rose bushes surrounding a tree behind the cottage. The more he looked, the more he thought he could see an old stone bench in front of it. The door to the cottage was made of deep mahogany wood and looked like it had once been a well kept beautiful house. Reaching up, Roland went to knock on the door, but as he did so, he noticed a large pile of flyers on the ground by his feet.
Did someone even live here? Roland jiggled the door handle, wondering if he should be getting back home, but shook off the thought uneasily. All of a sudden, the door gave way under his hand, and the door swung slowly open. Roland hesitated at the threshold but decided to wander inside; the house was dark, gloomy, and dead silent. It smelled slightly of old books and leather.
Gently Roland pushed the door closed with the heel of his boot and scanned the entryway. The wooden floors were the same mahogany color as the door frame. He felt a weird sense of disconnection from the rest of the world. Roland took a step and then another, noticing there was barely a layer of dust on anything, which struck him as odd. His youthful curiosity all but vanished, and the old man became apprehensive.
Roland took a step back. Perhaps no one was meant to be here. Perhaps the house was occupied, which meant he had made a grave mistake. Roland took another step back, his boot hitting the door. Turning around, he grabbed for the door handle. However, his hand was met with smooth wood, not the cool metal of a door handle that was expected. He squinted, feeling blind, but there wasn't a door handle in sight.
Beginning to panic, Roland could feel his undershirt was beginning to become damp with a cold sweat, feeling as though he was losing his mind. The old man looked at the plain slab of wood and felt lost. Was he going mad? He banged his fist against the plain slab of wood, desperately wishing he hadn't come into the house.
Roland stumbled backward onto the wall of the small entryway, banging his head on something in the process. Jerking his head up, he cupped the back of his head with his hand. And turned to see what had happened. Roland was met with a large oil painting of a middle-aged woman. The Victorian-looking lady was pale, with deep frown lines, and dark, almost black eyes. She had eyebrows that were stern and bushy, and they turned at a downward angle at the center of her forehead, giving her a harsh look. Her face was sallow and ghostly, the rouge on her cheeks looked unnatural, the harsh onslaught of color reminded him of a funeral he had once attended, the casket had been open, and they had dressed her up, painting her face to make her seem lively. But it hadn't fooled him, and it had looked unnatural. There was no hiding the fact that she was grey with death. She looked like the sort of woman who might smack your hands with a steel ruler for misbehaving. She wore a thick purple gown and a thick metal catholic cross around her throat.
Feeling disturbed, Roland started forward again, desperate to find another way out. Taking the stairs to his right, he checked the whole upstairs for some sort of window or another door, he then looked downstairs, but all he could find was a large window looking out upon the crumbly ruins of the bench he had seen earlier.
His frail bones became tired of banging on the walls, and he slouched down into the comfort of the chair he had dragged to the only window in the house. As he watched the sun slowly make its descent and disappear over the horizon, he could almost feel himself age.
Roland woke up on the floor of the dining room of the weird old cottage, feeling the sun from the open window on his face. He looked out the window at the tree he looked at every day. It was the only reminder of the time that had passed. Its branches had grown and spread to cover the large patch of rose bushes surrounding the bench that was almost gone by now. The sun and the rain had beaten it into rubble. He sighed. His birthdays had come and gone with the seasons, but not a single silver hair had sprouted on his head since the incident. He got up and wandered through the house, stopping on his way to the dining room. He peered at the painting by the wall that once was a door like he did every day, and every day her face seemed to be harsher, and her cheeks more hollow. He had named the lady Ms.Gregory, and it seemed fitting somehow. The deathly pallor of Ms. Gregory's skin seemed more extreme each time he looked at it, which always made him drop his stare, feeling disturbed once more.
He had made a friend since he had become trapped. And he checked up on him every day. He wandered into the kitchen. He smiled, feeling content when he heard a squeak coming from the countertop. He laid his hand out, and a small rodent scampered up onto his hand.
"Hello, Elliot!" Roland said cheerfully. He and Elliot had become good friends, and they relied on each other for companionship. Elliot's two beady eyes peered at him as Roland brought little Elliot to the table and set him down. They made a cup of tea together. Roland finished putting milk in his tea and went to try and pry open the slab of wood that had once been a door. As usual, it did not budge.
As Roland sat at the table again, he thought about a boy that had come to the old cottage a number of times. However, he never got within a foot of the cottage, instead climbing the old tree outside the window. Once he grew older, the boy slowly stopped coming back to the old tree until he stopped coming altogether. He thought of the boy sometimes, and a shadow of sadness would drift over his mind.
He heard a creak and the wailing of the wind when he sat back down at the dining room table. Roland hesitated. He hadn't heard a creak from the door in a very long time. He jumped up, some of his tea spilling on the floor, and Roland all but ran to the door.
He stared at the handle with apprehension. It had appeared out of nowhere, and it was silver and gleaming just as he recalled. Reaching his hand out tentatively, he pushed it downwards and pulled. The door swung open with a creak, and he felt the sun and the air on his face. There was a slight stench of diesel and the scent of dirt and rain. The old man took a deep breath and finally felt the weight of his old age settle onto his skin. He took a step down, onto the flyers that had created a mound at his feet, and stepped onto the earth, his bare feet tickled by the blades of grass.
Roland sat down and pulled at the weeds, feeling the dew and moisture stick to his hands. He sighed. The sigh was filled with pain and fatigue. He put his head back onto the grass and curled himself into a ball. Roland could barely keep his eyes open and decided he would like to close his eyes and rest. He would like that very much. The old man dreamed of the sunlight streaming through the large window, framing the cup of tea sitting untouched on the table, until he lay still.
‘The Filling Of Fear’ by Lucy A.
People used to go missing in Nerva.
Not as much nowadays, but now and then, when the sea's breeze blows cold, and the sand bleeds red with the setting sun, mothers hold their children tight and remind them to stay close to the fire.
No one knew where they went, for once a person was taken, they would never return. The stories of the taken were passed throughout the town, striking fear in the hearts of everyone. The stories hit the children the hardest, making them tremble when they walked the streets alone. When a child ran crying to their mother, she would laugh, soothe their hair and tell them people didn't go missing anymore and they had nothing to worry about.
Then Waren didn't come back from the docks, leaving nothing but a muddy shoe behind.
Everything changed after that. Women walked in groups, men watched the town with caution, and the children hardly ever left their houses. A blanket of terror had settled over Nerva, engulfing everyone and everything. The adults tried to hide their fear, but in truth, Nerva was now as frightened as the children had been. The only thing that seemed to keep the town from falling into utter chaos was Cozbi and her meat pies. The pies she made were heavenly. The crust burned just right and embedded with warmth, no matter how cold the wind blew.
Sorin was next, Illyana after that, slowly and slowly more went missing leaving only remnants of their existence. A necklace, a lock of hair, a piece of an ear, otherwise not a single trace of where they went. The people of Nerva started to get restless, trying to place the fault on someone else so they could feel safe once more. It got so far out of hand that Cozbi's homemade warmth couldn't keep the havoc tamed anymore. Dante said he had seen Luna speaking to Illyana before she disappeared, but Luna swears on her husband's grave that it's false. Amara confronts Tane, trying to prove that he had killed them for his horrible pleasure, and Waren's mother blames the sea, cursing at the waves for them to bring back her son.
No one who had been taken ever came back, that was until one did. It was a miracle in a small town, having someone return from what they presumed to be certain death. For she had been missing for months, Neith had been a loud and childish young woman, always yelling and screaming so loudly you could hear her from any part of the town. She used to run along the broken pavement, knocking on people's doors and running away before they could catch her. Yet now, she never said a word as she drifted through the streets, never acknowledging anyone, even when they spoke to her directly. She had lost a lot of weight in the time she had been gone, for her bones stuck out at her elbows, and her face was sunken in. Yet, of all the traits that had changed about her, Neith's eyes were the most noticeable. Those dark orbs that had once been full of terror and tears were now painfully barren.
Parents would come to her, pleading and praying if she knew where their children were or if they were alive, but Neith said nothing. Hunters would appear on her doorstep and ask which beast had kidnapped her so they could kill it, but Neith said nothing. Townspeople would stop her in the streets and tell her how brave she was to have come back to them, but Neith said nothing.
Finally, the children came up to her and asked her if she feared being taken. Neith tilted her head down at their tiny, frightened faces and smiled, her new eyes gleaming.
"Being taken is not what you should be afraid of."
This cryptic warning caused the children to step back. What was she talking about? A small boy stood out from the ring of confused bodies and brought forth that exact question.
"If not being taken, what should we be afraid of?"
Neith laughed and shook her head at his bravery. Her empty eyes matched his green as the young woman reached out her wraith-like hand and cupped his chin.
"The danger is not in the tide or on the wind. It is much closer than you have ever realized." The green-eyed boy stared at her for one moment longer before he flinched and shook her claws off him, storming out, leaving the other children in his wake.
He was the next to be taken.
The spring flowers of hope that had sprung up when Neith returned were trampled with the reality everyone realized they were living in. The fear continued to spread, creeping from house to house under the dark sky. Neith was the only person within Nerva who was calm as if she expected the boy's disappearance. She strode down the lane, right up to Cozbi's house, and bought a single meat pie. Neith sliced the warm treasure open, bathing in its heat.
And within the pie lay a single green eye.