English Short Story Showcase By Grade 10 Students! - Part 2

 

English Short Story Showcase By Grade 10 Students! - Part 2

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.

Enjoy!


‘Old Habits’ by Carla T.

Resting her head full of golden strings, Ally cries silently. You would imagine her voice breaking through the silence, but her crying is silence. She would stay still for what seemed like forever and come back to life once more, leaving dry tears and red eyes as the only proof of the little kid in daddy's room. Ally, finding comfort in food, opens the kitchen cabinets to find hidden ice cream. It didn't bother her to eat the melted treat, and she had gotten used to it. That's what she gets from hiding it, but she didn't have to hide it from anyone anymore. I guess old habits never die. 

She had promised to get rid of her old stuff, stuff she never wanted, stuff she never wants to see again. She had already given the big step and gotten rid of the biggest fear in her life, and now she had to let go little by little the few details of her fear that remained in the carton boxes on the floor. Ally opens the lid of her ice cream and eats in the middle of the living room, standing. Its cookie dough flavor, creamy on the outside and with hard dark dough spots hidden inside of it - just like herself. 

As she stabs it with the spoon, her eyes lay on the box far away in the corner. On the carton written with a sharpie, there is a name she's heard too many times. She stabs even harder, and the spoon touches the end of the ice cream carton. Her hand slowly retreats with the spoon out of the carton and closes the lid. What are you doing, Ally? She closes her eyes as hard as she can and gulps loudly. Have you been hiding that ice cream from me?

"No," whispers Ally and holds tighter to the spoon in her hand. You're lying. Do you know what happens to little girls who lie to their daddies? "No," her whispers come out as a cry for help as she bites her lower lip, feeling the hot tears fall down her cheeks. They must be pun…

And as the doorbell rings, she drops the ice cream carton to the floor, opening her eyes to see that she is alone. All by herself. Far away from danger. Far away from him. Once more, the doorbell rings, but this time, there is also a knock and a young masculine voice.

"Hello? Is anyone home?" She closes her eyes and sighs.

"You promised you would do this," she whispers to herself.

"Hello?"

Her feet would not move, but she had to.

"Come one, Ally," she grunted.

One more knock.

"I can come another time," said the door. "I'm free on…" the rumbling of pages filled the silence. "..next Tuesday or Friday if ne-".

As Ally opens the door, she finds a teenage man standing there. Jack, a young man in his 20's, had his head towards a small green agenda and his eyes on her face as he hung on the sentence.

"I have time now," a silence stayed in between both of them. He smiled. 

"You must be Pat."

"Jack," said the guy with a friendly face. Another long silence surrounded them just like mist. "May I come in?" Ally opened her mouth to say something, but Jack was already halfway through. "It's wonderful you want to donate something to charity." He grinned and winked at her.

Jack entered her life the moment he stepped into Ally's apartment. Tall, brunette, he was full of life. Ally didn't enjoy his company at first. He would come and go every two days. She wasn't able to cry in silence with Jack's company, and somehow that made her forget about what made her cry. He would put the empty boxes on his head and dance around the living room when Ally went to the bathroom. And with time, that made her smile too. 

Soon, she would start giving Jack orange juice in the morning, and she would watch him enjoy the juice while he talked about amazing events that happened to him while he was buying groceries. Just like a little kid. And not to forget about the Braces. That was what Ally most liked to stare at. They were blue, large skinny wire semi-circle, and every time Jack would notice her staring at the braces with a grin, he would close his mouth and look the other way, embarrassed of his teeth.

As the two weeks flew away, Jack had already picked up all the old furniture and clothes that Ally despised to see. He had to part and look for more people with a heart for charity. As he opened the door with his green agenda in his hands, his matching eyes stared at Ally, and once more, he gave her the braces smile. 

"Thank you for donating all those wonderful things to charity, Al."

She nodded and stayed by the door, looking deep into his eyes. She felt it again. Her mother's death. Her smile before the last breath. 

As Jack turned around with the last box of clothes in his hands. Ally reached for his shirt and held onto him. "Stay"

He looked at her, perplexed.

"There are no more boxes I need to move, are there?". He was teasing her. He wanted to hear the words from her lips.

"Not for packing. Not for moving," said Ally in the lowest possible voice. 

"Stay."

The silent mist that surrounded them felt happy this time. Peaceful. Jack leaned and kissed Ally on the cheek.

"See you tomorrow morning then," he said and rushed down the stairs towards his car with the box. The box with the ugly name on it. The box of nightmares and long nights, crying for mom when mom wouldn't come back and save you from dad hurting his little girl.

Mornings became Jack's pancakes at Ally's apartment. Afternoons would be long walks on the beach, and nights where ice cream and board games. She had started to laugh. She never used to do that before. He told her about how he moved from California to Barcelona with his family as a child, and at the age of eighteen, he came back to California alone to find his way in life. 

"Barcelona?" 

"Yes, you know, Spain" Jack did a little traditional Spanish dancing that made Ally smile.

"I didn't know you were born here." 

Jack shoved one full chocolate ice cream spoon in his mouth.

"Yes, sir," he said. "What about you, young lady?"

Ally stared blankly at Jack. His face aggravated as he saw her expression.

"Ally?"

"Yes?"

He sighed and sat down again. He was worried about what he had just witnessed.

"So you know Spanish?" she asked.

"Of course." Another full chocolate spoon. "How was I supposed to communicate with people then?"

"I guess you could point the word from the dictionary, and maybe they would understand you." She joked. And a silence surrounded them. The whole night had been laughs and jokes, not a single moment of silence. 

And there they were, sitting down, drowning in the silence. Ally left her empty carton on the low table and sat closer to Jack. 

"Ally?"

She looked at him and found herself face to face with his eyes. Their noses were almost touching. They could hear each other breathing, and slowly, booths lips traced a path to each other.

For a second, Ally felt she finally found happiness. No more waking up in the middle of the night with the memories of her father's voice. No more memories of wishing she were dead, just like mom. 

"Thank you," she whispered.

Ally moved the ice creams to the kitchen. She put them hidden in the kitchen cabinet, just in case. She opened the tool drawer and took out the scissors. After Ice cream, cookies were a nice treat to eat. She cut the bag open and felt Jack's hands surrounding her waist and hugging her closer to him. 

"Ja-"

Jack kissed her neck. Tears ran over Ally's face while she held her breath. She could swear she smelled the alcoholic fragrance of her father's breath coming from the man behind her. No. She thought I was a good girl, please. Don't. Jack smelled her hair and tried to get a hold of Ally's hand.

"Where is the ice cream?"

No, please. Stop. 

"Did you hide it?" asked Jack, not getting a response from Ally. "Honey, are you okay-"

Ally shouted from the top of her lungs and stabbed the scissors in Jack's ribs.

One, two, three. The stabbing increased as she kept on shouting. She closed her eyes and remembered. Daddy got in the bathroom while she was in the shower because "he had a bad day, and as a daughter, she had to make it up for him." The kitchen knife in her hand while the water ran down her hair in the shower.

Four, five, six. Her dad's body over the bathroom floor. His eyes wide open, looking straight into her soul.

Seven, eight, nine, ten. Driving the body to the other side of California and dumping it where there's no light. His eyes were still open, but he couldn't see her. Could he?

Ally dropped the scissors, but it was too late. It was not daddy who she had killed, and now she was in big trouble. 

"...Jack…?" she whispered with a trembling voice while she stared at the red puddle on the kitchen floor. Eyes wide, hands shaking, the color of her skin slowly turned into a pale eggshell white. She wanted to hold him in her arms and tell him everything was going to be okay, just like her mom would always do. Now she regretted all her thoughts of happiness. Ally wanted to die again. How could she live a life with no Jack and no mom? What was she thinking?! 

"Why…" she shifted her stare to the cookie dough ice cream. "Why did you make me do this?!" she shouted at the empty carton, as the blood slowly dripped from her hands. 

And as she cried silently, she stared at his loved one's body. She stood up, with the dried-up tears and red eyes as the only proof of her sadness, and grabbed the hidden ice cream from the kitchen cabinet. It didn't bother her to eat the melted treat, and she had gotten used to it. That's what she gets from hiding it, but she didn't have to hide it from anyone anymore. I guess old habits never die.


‘The Nightmare of Reality’ by Owen G.

With a metallic thump against a wooden rack, a tall and lean yet muscular man heaved a rusted pickaxe off his shoulder. Across this very same shoulder was a line of mottled purple and yellow tissue with the skin along the ridge of his collarbone a raw and fiery red. From the room where he stood, the man could see the faint lights growing brighter from each of the extending tunnels. The room itself was nothing special, with a ceiling barely an arm's length taller than the man and a circular area that could fit about ten men. Expanding outwards, there were tunnels where the ceilings were even shorter than the room, shorter than most men. This system was akin to a dead, rotting plant, with the roots as tunnels and the base as the central room. 

A loud bell, striking 12 times, was the only sound other than that of the crackling torches and the raspy breaths of the man. He gently placed himself on the floor, bones creaking, and stretched out his legs further than he had in the past two days. Carefully, as if not to turn the cloth into threads, he unwrapped a small parcel that had been tucked away in a carefully sewn, hidden pocket on the inside of his burlap pants. His breath quickened, and his hands shook as he unraveled the veritable feast of a meal he had displayed on his lap before him. A slice of cake, no wider than his finger, lay in front of him, with frosting that would've been white as snow.

The rest of the men came piling in, 13 others as well as an old man who looked like the embodiment of a poor, wizened wizard. His beard, a light shade of grey, had bright white flecks hidden throughout that shone even in the dull light of the lanterns. His skin was taut against his bones, making his beard comically large in relation to the rest of his starved body. 

The rest of the men bore some similarities to both the first man and the old man, with large, thick beards and calloused hands, yet they were much younger and more fit than the old man. As they all shuffled into the main room, many pulled small cloths and parcels from within their hole-strewn pants. One man, who sat in the corner, had no such parcel to eat from and found himself staring at the slices of meat and bread in the others' hands. He groaned audibly, and though everyone turned towards him, no one made a move nor even eye contact. That is, no one except for the old man, who shuffled over with a gait that suggested years of hunching over in cramped spaces. He silently forfeited one of the two slices of bread he had to the hungered man. 

"Thank you, Solomon," the hungered man voiced graciously. To that, Solomon smiled cracked, slightly yellowing teeth. A few men too murmured their appreciation of his actions, and one man, a particularly young one, stood up to help him back down onto the cold stone floor. Then, silence once more.

The first man curled his cloth around the cake as he brought it up to his lips, but the sweet scent of frosting attracted many eyes, and soon, every man was looking at him with narrowed eyes and curled mouths.

"Don't mind them," Solomon said, eyeing every one of them. Then he turned to the man sharply and quietly said, "I need to tell you something, Olson. Your wife and child are in danger. Now, I know that's a lot, but you need to listen to me very carefully to understand what's happening up there." Pointing his crooked index finger to the shaft leading up to the surface, where soft light tried to penetrate the barrier of dust to reach the men at the bottom. "The Lord of the land is not happy; his wife was found to be lying with another man, and so he is turning to the women of us poor, who, to him, are no more than animals, to take out his anger. Now, the others I know don't have anyone left for them, but for you….," he paused, taking a deep, raspy breath. "For you, it's not too late. If you can make it back to the village before sunset, you can get yourself and your family away from this god awful land." 

Olson's face dropped, and his dirt-covered fingers ran through his long, greasy hair. His breath caught, and he brought his softened eyes up to Solomon's. "Thank you, my friend. I owe you everything. I will take my family to the place that has appeared in my sleep ever since I laid eyes on it. It's a peaceful land, much more so than this hell that we are stuck in. I would take my family and build a home for them, with the timber from the surrounding trees. The tall trees would give us shade in the summer and protect us from the winds in the cold. There would be a creek nearby that our beautiful child could play in. It would be perfect." 

Olson wrapped his lean yet muscular arms around Solomon's thin frame, feeling his shoulders and ribs digging into his flesh.

And back to work, they went, swinging, and swinging, and swinging with the same gusto that they had before. Slowly digging into the sides of dark, damp tunnels, hoping to find salt, to be spared from the overseer's whip once out of the hole.

Today was Olson's lucky day; his pick broke apart a particularly tough piece of stone, salt flew into the air and showered the ground with white particles. And yet, as he stooped lower to shovel these into his barrel, his face showed now signs of the joy that it would've brought him any other day.

As the bell counted four chimes, Olson was already moving out of the shaft, carrying his bucket, filled only about a tenth of the way with salt, on his sweat-stained bareback. Cresting the lip of the staircase up was the usual scene, with the overseer standing with a couple of sneering officers off to the side, by a weighing counter. As the first one out, Olson had to deal with their full attention, and as he started to pour out the contents of the barrel, he knew two things. One, there was only about an hour before the sunset. And two, his salt wouldn't be enough to escape the cold stinging whip of the overseer. His jaw set and hands shaking, he poured the last dregs of the salt onto the scale, watching it move ever so slightly downwards, closer to the ground. And as he finished, he locked eyes with the overseer's cold, yearning face, and slowly, with a pounding heart, pressed ever-so-softly on the scale, pushing his weighing platter just past the other. He leaned forward, covering up his finger he had hooked on the side of the scale's plate, and a small smile escaped, to which the overseer responded with a hard scowl of disappointment, yet waved him on. And so he walked forth, into the path through the forest that led to his village. 

As he started onto the path, his smile dropped as he heard the cracking of whips on bone and flesh and the accompanying screams through gritted teeth. He started to run, sprinting along the path, as fast as he could with his almost alien, thin, deprived muscles. Those muscles soon wore out, and he exchanged sprinting for a combination of jogging and fast walking, something his muscles could handle.

By the chimes of the fifth hour, he had stumbled upon the forest gates that beckoned him to his village and his family. His body longed for the comfort of his straw bed and the warmth of another body besides his, but Olson shook this from his mind and just as he was about to open the door to his hut, something bright caught his eye. 

Standing against the darkening sky was a series of torches, weaving down from the village on the top of the hill, where the Lord lived. Olson's eyes, reflecting the torchlight, were enthralled by the terrifying sight of his future. His body froze, and his breathing quickened. 

Then, the screaming and burning started. The men had reached the little village and had begun to throw those bright torches upon any houses they came upon and fired arrows at anything that moved. It was the stench of burning hay and the screams of children that brought Olson partially out of his haze. 

He gazed around, his eyes widening at sight before him. Flames, taller than he, licked the skies and leaped out of windows, lighting up the night sky for miles. It was the dead that finally brought Olson fully into the present. Women and children, whose husbands had been at work, lay in the village center. Dead. Slaughtered.

The Lord's men waded through the dead, stopping to put an arrow through any of the injured or pretenders. And then, the Lord waddled into view on his short, stubby legs. He smiled as he moved along and chuckled with every wet thump of an arrow that killed one more. As he reached the edge of the dead, he found a woman, dead already, and took his sword from his sheath. His face turned purple, and spit flew from his snarling lips. His sword swung down, over and over again, as one might chop down a tree with an ax, or a butcher might cut up a pig.

This horrific scene was what tugged Olson away and back to his family. He burst open the door and called out for them. His wife, with their child, tucked in her arms, crawled out from under the bed.

"Oh, God, Olson. Thank you…. Thank you," she muttered repeatedly into his arms as tears streaked down her soot-stained face. To see her like this broke Olson, but he had to move quickly. He shattered the back window as he threw a piece of wood from the hearth through it.
    
And then they were gone. As they made their way through the night forest, they could barely hear the hounds baying and the softening of the villagers' screams. All that remained of them in the village was a tattered piece of his pants and a streak of blood on the windowsill, along with their innocence and ignorance.

And still, the world kept turning. A few miles away from the village lay a relatively undisturbed patch of land, in the forest, hidden from society. With thick and tall trees shading the ground everywhere and little slices of sunshine making their way past the canopy, the patch of land was a paradise... Off to the side of a particularly flat patch of land was a creek, filled with gently rushing water, bubbling as it passed through the area and deeper into the forest. In the scorching heat, animals such as deer and squirrels found themselves seeking refuge by the creek and in the sheltering shade of the trees. It was a peaceful place, undisturbed by society and man.


‘Jallianwala Bagh’ by Vrinda AG.

April 13th 1919, Amritsar
Set the scene, a bagh real green
I wasn't there, but I know
'Cause blood tells stories and
I'm Indian, so my blood holds stats, numbers, and facts
Fact is:
History only holds the winners in glory

Back to April the 13th
Another number that reminds
Sends chills down a spine
1650, keep that one in mind

There were kids there
Clutching petals in palms
Later petals on pyres
1650 rounds fired
Exits dammed with muzzles of lead
No warning bell
People forced to guzzle that lead
120 found in the well, dead
Drowned in bullets, not water 
They killed sons, they killed daughters
Put flowers not bloomed yet on pyres too soon 
Because 1650 wasn't enough for those goons

More numbers, get prepared
50 gunslingers with their
Lee-Enfield .303s
Which, in case you need, 
The stats, shoots about 2 aimed slugs every 60 seconds,
Divide that by 600 seconds of slaughter, 
that's 10 minutes
And they would've continued
But finished, hit limits, cause ammo isn't infinite

Damage still done 
By vest and suit-wearers
But remember where that cotton's spun
Where they cut our thumbs,
Paid our toil in briefcases of saffron soil and spatter
Then inform with incorrect data, 
Say only 300 dead
If so, 
How come we still mourn for 1650 worth in lead
The walls won't let us forget
101 years later
Those .303s still drew red

The bricks tell more than we see, ever
Each hole, each dent
A story of a shot missed,
A body not dropped yet
A slug closer to the massacre over 
Sluggishly slow these images hover 
Hum over our history like the sacred vibration
OHM, but the peace is broken
OHM, but the gun is loaded
OHM, we tried to run-

April 14th, 1919, Amritsar
See the scene, bloodied bodies left on green
 

Bibliography

"Lee–Enfield." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Sept. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee%E2%80%93Enfield

Rana, Yudhvir, et al. "Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: How 1,650 Bullets Changed the Course of India's Freedom Struggle - Times of India." The Times of India, The Times News Network, 12 Feb. 2020, 14:59 IST, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jallianwala-bagh-massacre-how-1650-bullets-changed-the-course-of-indias-freedom-struggle/articleshow/68752809.cms.


‘Endings’ by Murphy C.

I exited the house, Gradually and methodically making my way towards the tree, the white trees of the Darkseed around me. There was no path in the Darkseed, no light either. The leaves of the trees cover the sky, and nothing gets through. The trail opened up into a lone shack in a small clearing, one of the only places light got through. 

The house was made of logs and wood, a stone chimney rising from the top of the house. The door was closed, windows shattered, and only shards of glass pointing out. Around the outside of my house, there were small fire pits, unmoved after all of these years. Where my family was cooked and eaten. Screaming.

I opened the unlocked door into the small living room charred and burned. Around the corner, there were three doors, one with cracked white wings on them, to the right a purple door stained with crimson. I walked into the room on the right, the bed torn and dried blood painting the walls. Images flashed into my mind of a person over a fire being torn apart, the screaming tearing into my brain. I fell to the ground clutching my head. I felt the breath leave my lungs. I can't breathe, I can't breathe… I started to breathe erratically and frantically after an unknown amount of time. I walked out of the house, drew Ravensbane, the cold blade with runes in the shape of ravens along the side, and started hacking and slashing the wood until the house fell. Thousands of pounds were relieved from my back.

The light grew dimmer as I walked towards the branded tree. Nausea took over. I came to the base of this tree, the tree itself black, a contrast to the pristine white of the other trees. The tree is 200 feet tall and 100 feet wide, once a marvel at the center of this forest. Now a shop of torture. I walked in through the hidden heavy iron door. Into the cage that once was my life for a year of pain and suffering. A large pool of reddish liquid sits where the cage once was. I walked into the pool of blood, letting it take me over. I sat there for a time, the warm crimson comforting, uncertain if I should be doing this. I breathed in the blood. It filled my nostrils and flooded my lungs. I am whisked away to a black sky that seemed to be stuck in time. 

A small city under the platform that held me aloft. Gentle, low lights illuminating parts of the Fortress of Memories. 

Flying out of the fort and flying through the clouds towards me was a large raven with silver feathers spread throughout the wings. The form stopped on the platform I was on. It started to change into a feminine form, with a mantle of raven feathers adorning her neck, rising 16 feet, towering above me. A simple black robe flowed, into a dress, of raven feathers. Her wings from the raven form didn't go away. Neck cracking, wings folded into her shoulder blades and disappeared. The white porcelain mask covered her face.

In an effortless elegant tone, the Raven Queen addressed me. "Cornelius, it has been some time since we last spoke. What troubles you?"

"I.. I.." I took a deep breath, "you have helped me through so much of what was. You helped me gain vengeance, helped punish the devil that plagued me. I have you to thank for that. But I need to turn a new page myself, we… we need to start over and turn the page."

Her expression was unseeable, hidden by the mask. I watched her shrink to my size. She removed her mask, showing a tear leaking from her face. A beautiful face and soft elven features, yet hardly different conflicts over the years. Cold black pupils staring at me.

The Raven Queen stammered, "What did you tell me when we first met?."

"I said I was born an angel but will die a devil." the silence hung. 

"What did I show you ?"

"Myself in a mirror."

With that, she spread her cloaked arms, revealing two mirrors. One of which was a picture of a black-skinned tiefling lying on a cold stone floor. Wearing tattered grey clothes, his hair long and tangled, a tattered mess, a broken man bruises from guards and other prisoners adoring his face. Burn marks all along his right arm climbing up to his neck, laying on a cold stone floor weak and broken.

The other mirror held the same black-skinned tiefling. Wearing pristine purple and white clothes, hair long, well kept, with small strands of silver and purple, Many different scars run along his body from the year of conflict. Burn marks all along his right arm that appears again on his neck and branch to his heart. Behind him, plate armor with black sapphires, pearls, and amethyst, cut and decorated in the armor. Next to the bed lays a sword in a scabbard carved with ravens. He is on a warm bed with another's arm draped over him.

"You are no longer broken, Cornelius. You live a free man, freed from your chains. That once bound you," spoke the Raven Queen.

"I have you to thank for that, and I will always be a friend to you. My children will meet you when they understand."

"I look forward to that day."

"Thank you." Now a tear was on my face. I walked up to my friend and hugged her. After breaking, she kissed me on the cheek, turned into a raven, and flew back to the Fortress of memories. I watched her go with overwhelming sadness.

With night falling fast, I left the blackened tree, past the rubble I had created, to a new house made of stone with black, white, and purple swirled together to create a door.

Walking into the quiet, I saw Skyra Sleeping on the bed, a small grey tiefling lying next to her. A little girl, I picked her up, was careful not to wake Skyra.

"Ryjule," I whispered to the child. "It means raven in our language."


‘A...Plane Trip’ by Jason NQL

He asked if I understood.

"Yes, brother, I understand."

"It is a shame that we could not get you a seat with the rest of us, but it should be fine, yes?"

A little brokenly, I said, "Do not worry."

Amused, he replied likewise, "Good."

And they queued to board the plane.  

And then I thought of Newark, and its skyscrapers, towering tall against the morning sun, taller than anything I had seen before. As if my skin were a lake, the epicenter, the back of my neck, a wave of wind rolled across me, this would be a life-changing moment for me. 

Newark, I still can't believe how beautiful it is. The buildings are new, and the weather is quite comfortable, if not a little cold. And the airport is sleek and modern. I wanted to sit just a little longer, to enjoy the luxury of sitting, and take in the bustliness amidst a tiny oasis of calm surrounded by even more chaos. Just a little more. But once the line started shrinking, I decided to join after a rather sharply dressed man in a business suit. 

Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk. We walked through this long corridor that was suspended over the ground, and I was quite nervous, but I reminded myself to relax; you've been through this with The Family a hundred times already. And I clutched the red ribbon everyone in The Family was given. But it wasn't comforting, and the silk was cool and smooth as a sword, 
metaphorically. 

As I entered the plane, the same words kept telling me to stop, to go back to normalcy, the same feelings of doubt and worry swelled like an angry storm, raining little beads of salty sweat on my head. 

As I saw Ahmed and Hamza on the third row to the left, Ziad in the front row to the right, and Saeed on the fourth row to the right, I kept trying to relax, but their faces offered no consolation. Although we called ourselves family, I was alone...

And then I took my seat on the sixth row, aisle-side, next to the gentleman. To pass the time, I decided to count the remaining passengers boarding the plane, but that was short-lived as there were only nine more people. 

And then, "Crrkkle, chik, please watch the flight safety video and fasten your seatbelts." Like any good citizen, I obliged. On the screen in front of me, I saw some truly baffling images. Talking giraffes, dolphins, and what could only be described as circular, fiery ferns. After what felt like an eternity watching paint dry, I checked my boarding pass and my watch again. 

Flight UA93      FIRST CLASS     Gate A17
Faizah Amin     Seat 6B               Boarding 7:30

Allah.

It was already 8:00. How long would it take to leave? And as if by divine timing, the plane started moving forward. Only to stop at the runway, with that crackling voice saying there was congestion. Then the guy to my right, quite dark himself, said, "care for a game of chess to pass the time?" 

And against the preconditioned instructions of my family, I agreed. Of course, I had to ask for help with getting the application open. He clicked a few buttons on our screens and then came across a screen with a long bar and a lot of letters, and he asked, "What's your name?"

And, of course, I answered with Will.

He typed it in and hit the enter button, and I saw his name above mine, James. When he sat back down, the game had started. I was white, and he was black. So we were playing, and he tried to talk to me, asking me questions like where I was from and what I did for a living. 

Then he asked, "Why are you working as an engineer?" to which I answered, "My family, I need to support my family. My sister and my mother." He seemed to show much sympathy for this, replying, 
"I get that. I get that. I need to support my wife and daughter with my job too. Here's my daughter. See?" and I saw a plump, happy girl next to her father and mother.  

When he checkmated my King, I wanted another match. Of course, he obliged and continued to tell me more about his family while the plane took off. When the plane was cruising, I told him of wanting to fit in and my wish for peace. 

Like the swelling sound of an ocean wave, I felt a twinge of pain, square in my chest, like a lightweight. This man was like me. He was not much different despite what they said. It's quite interesting. He has the same problems, the same jihads, struggles. 

And yet another part of me, like a tidal wave, said, "This is an infidel! He does not believe in Mohammed! Do not betray your Muslim family!" yet that quiet voice persisted. Checking that none of my' family' were looking, I said to him, "There is to be a hijacking in about three minutes. Go to the bathroom. Please."

Eyes widening, he promptly closed his mouth and promptly moved to the lavatory to the back of the aircraft. Three wraiths billowed into the aisle, brandishing ceramic knives. Screams of terror could be heard from those in the first rows of First Class. With the help of Hamza and Saeed, Ahmed broke through the door to the other side. 

As the small herd of men, women, and children passed, I put on my headband and made sure no-one was to go back to First Class. Ziad stayed in his seat as planned. Suddenly, the world seemed to shift upwards, and the back of my legs, spine, and feet tingle as if falling off a cliff in a dream.

But this wasn't a dream. 

The panicked, faltering shouts of Mayday" "MAYDAY!" quickly filled the room, and then soon after, it became almost sniveling, with him in the full capitulation of any hope at all and crying, "We're all going to die..."
The plane finally leveled, and it then took a hard and obvious left turn. I could hear a woman begging for her life. And then silence. 

Zzzzznnnngg, zzzzznnnngg. A phone call. Then another. And another. Like a twisted symphony, at first sight, it looked like chaos, yet each passenger followed the same motif of silent hopelessness, calling their mothers, husbands, children. One woman said, "We're gonna. They're gonna kill us, you know, We're gonna die."

Waves battered my heart again. And then they all hushed. They seemed to talk about something, and a minute later. James walked up to me and said, "They want to kill you. Please help us and our collective families."   
  
"They are my brothers," I replied.

"Yes, they are your brothers, but we have so many more brothers collectively. Whether you're in or out, we're going to fight," gesturing to the 30 something passengers. "Don't make me fight you." Checkmate.

A pseudo battering ram, the food cart, rolled through the aisle. I retreated backward as a wave of people followed the cart in full sprint. I backed all the way to the first row, between Ahmed and Hamza, and we prepared to protect our mission. 

As the cart passed the third row, I plunged my knife into the abdomen of Ahmed and dived to the side as the unrelenting train penetrated through the door, and Hamza too. As I got up, I heard the word Traitor repeated. 

But now, we needed to wrest control from Saeed and Ziad. As I entered the cockpit and felt the 757 throw me from side to side for a bit, I saw that apparently, hijacking the plane was easy with the help of boiling water, a butter knife, and 30 warriors that desired to go home. They didn't even need my expertise. 

And then, mustering all his courage and the final reservoir of strength, the dying pilot gave James his final order; land the plane. He muttered a few things, and then, as his breath began to fade, his words light as wisps, he asked if he understood.


‘Hide and Seek’ by Batuhan M.

Friday morning before my run, Oscar rushed into my room, looking for his headphones. He was angry and frustrated, running around. "Where are my headphones" he shouted, pulling my bedsheets, trying to find them, which was useless as I wouldn't be hiding them there.

"Can you please leave me alone? Find it yourself."

"Nah bro Nah, I know it's here, I can just feel it, don't ask me why." I made my bed and headed towards the door, ready to start my day with an energetic run. "Let's get this," I said, "hopefully it doesn't rain anytime soon." 

The indigo blue sky covered in patches of white fluff absorbed my eyes. It was so beautiful I couldn't keep my eyes off them. Oscar's missing headphones reminded me about the game hide and seek. Always hiding, almost like the headphones are scared of Oscar. "Hahaha, I didn't know anything could be scared of Oscar!" I laughed.

The mood changed as the leaves rustled, trying to escape the windy storms. Bushes perished as trees came towering over the alleyway. However, in the distance, I spotted a lake, a beautiful river filled with crystal clear water covered in moss. The air was as fresh as new, almost like I was somewhere not on this planet. The scent of the river, the clear blue heaven filled my nose with joy. Everything was perfect, from the rainbow-colored river to the strong armored rocks.

Darkness filled the atmosphere as the milky white clouds vanished into thin air. I spot something in the distance, a plain white statue, almost like an enlarged marshmallow. The tall tree-like unknown creature stood there staring at me, its white pale eyes filled with horror. Shivers crawled up my spine as the unknown creature stepped towards me. Slapping, gliding, and harassing, the white mysterious creature waited for me. I fell back, not knowing what to do. "Come here, young boy," the creature shrieked in a dark, monotone voice. "Who are you, and what do you want?" I screamed, trying to hold my tears in. POW! The creature starts bolting after me, its long arms and legs sprung like a trampoline. 

Petrified, I start running. The further I ran, the further the land seemed to be. This was when it struck me. He's got me in some sort of game, a game of hide and seek. My mind went crazy as I was fighting the fear of death. I felt death crawling up my legs, pulling me down into the abyss.  

Hiding behind the trees, I desperately tried to find some sort of signal to call my parents, but there was absolutely nothing, no signal, and my phone was dead. "How did it die? I just started using it?" The glistering leaves rubbing against my skin made it impossible to move without making noise. I sat there waiting, waiting for something to happen, waiting to see if I'll be able to ever come home. Panic stormed through my body. The trees in the distance turned black, almost as if the creature had killed them as well. Was I next? 

Moving from bush to bush, battling my anxiety, not knowing what was happening. "Come out, come out wherever you are," The creature screamed. The bushes faded, collapsing in my lap as they fainted from fear. I wasn't the only one hiding from this malicious creature. 

Crackles, crackles, crackles, my heart dropped into my stomach. I could feel the cold air breezing past my left ear. Wheezing down my throat, I slowly closed my eyes and turned my head. As I opened my eyes, I saw the beast up close. The black face blew a breath into my mouth. I stood there, petrified. My emotions had stopped me from running. I couldn't move. My body was in shock.

As the creature got closer and closer and closer, I felt its heartbeat pounding out, almost like it had found food for the first time, and I'm it's dinner. From instinct, I punch the creature and run as fast as I can. The creature in shock comes rushing towards me, shrieking, "There's no place to hide." Adrenaline filled my body as I felt my legs move faster than ever before. The trees enable me to dodge the humongous monster-hunting me down. BANG! 

The next thing I remember was not being able to feel my legs, and they were numb. The dust in the atmosphere blurred my vision as I sat looking up, realizing that I had tripped and fallen down the mountain. As I try to stand, my body collapses, failing to move. I look down towards my ankle, which is completely destroyed. "What is my luck" I mutter to myself, not knowing what to do. Then reality hits again, and I hear the beast yelling, "I will find you."

My head is still spinning. I see a stick that I can use to support my leg. As I grasp it, I take off my shirt to use as support, "Maybe these scout lessons have been handy," I mumble. Electric shocks go through my entire body as the pain finally gets to me. 

Barely being able to move, I find myself trying to crawl to get home. However, as I get closer, the beast does as well. The screaming gets louder and louder. The mouth opened, teeth sharpened, the monster, a pitch-black animal, hunted me down like a lion looking for dinner. 

Realizing that I was on the right path, I sped forward, completely ignoring the beast and only thinking about getting home. Seconds later, POW! I feel my leg give up as the monster came in and swept it. I started to fall, and all my hope went with it. When I was falling, it felt like slow motion, and maybe my life was passing as time slowed down. This could be the end. Then I spot something sharp, a silver Swiss army knife, lying on the floor. 

I pick up the knife and push it right into his heart. SPLASH! The monster whimpered as it slowly came tumbling down. Ears enlarged, mouth closed, I walked away without looking back.

As I got home, covered in blood, I went upstairs into my room, traumatized by what I had experienced today. My parents rushed into the room, wondering where I had been for the past week. "Week?" I tell myself, maybe I was in an alternate universe. 

Gazing out of the window, the monster had disappeared. I can promise myself that was the last time I ever went running. It was like knowing the unknowable.

 

 

ISKL Open Day