from daring to begin.”
a collection of short stories
written by 4 young authors
edited by Angela Roquet
Copyright © 2015
Distributed by Shakespir
Each contributor owns copyright of their own
work included herein. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Place: L.A. POV: Paige
Paige folded her arms and checked her EyeScreen for the hundredth time. Alec was supposed to be here to pick up the package she had been carrying around for three hours and he had never been late before.
She checked the time on her EyeScreen, an old-fashioned tool that didn’t have a tracker like the new screens today. Seeing that the time was right, she scanned the entire city once again for Alec’s DNA code and found him in a basement not far from where she was.
“Darn it,” she said. “That makes me the late one.” She ran to try to get there before Alec decided she had failed her mission and left.
Place: Basement POV: Alec
Alec checked his watch and laughed softly. Paige was late again because of his training. They had been practicing new experiments to hide his DNA code and it had probably just worn off. He had told her not to use an EyeScreen though, which he didn’t trust, but once again, she probably hadn’t listened.
He looked out the window and saw her running toward the building he was in. He sat down, smiled thinking of Paige, and waited.
Place: Outside the basement window POV: Kaleb
Kaleb heard footsteps running on the sidewalk. He turned and saw that it was Paige. He looked straight at her to let her know where he was. She gave him a disapproving look and motioned him to stay down.
He smiled. It was just like Paige to be so protective. He saw her walk through the door and talk nonchalantly to Alec. He saw her laugh and knew that Alec was flirting with her.
Alec had liked Paige since they were kids. I should know, Kaleb thought to himself. He had spent the last few months privately searching for everything there was to know about Alec Matthew the third.
Paige signaled him by connecting him to her untraceable EyeScreen. He had missed following the package, but it didn’t matter. Since he was linked to Paige that meant he was linked to whatever was inside the package.
He rigged it to blow in one minute and sent a message to Paige: “RUN.” Then he stomped on his EyeScreen to destroy the evidence and ran.
Place: Basement POV: Paige
Paige saw the message and abruptly ended her conversation with Alec using the one excuse that would always work, she had to go Home.
As she went back to the getaway car, she thought about the first time she had met Alec. She was ten and he was nine. He showed her everything there was to know about Freedom and made sure she didn’t get into too much trouble. They had both been jealous of Ember and the attention she got from the Director.
Soon Paige began to learn new techniques that Alec couldn’t, because he was younger. They began to train separately because of his excellent work mentally and her work physically. They began to grow apart. She remembered sadly the day when they became competitors in their training. She felt a tear run down her cheek, bringing her back to the present.
She knew now why he had excelled so much in mental training, because of the drug they had been given every week since they were children. It pushed any emotions or rogue thoughts back until all that was left was complete and utter loyalty to Freedom.
Thankfully, Kaleb had found her and figured out a cure before any real damage was done to her brain, so now when they gave her the drug, she was ready with the antidote. Kaleb had said that he also added something to keep her mind clear so they didn’t notice her wearing down when she trained.
Paige got in the car and pressed the button for the windows to go dark. The license plate had the symbol that all cops knew to avoid, so she wasn’t afraid of getting pulled over. She then called the head lady at Home.
Place: Classified POV: Ember
Ember walked up to the lady at the front desk and smiled sweetly. “I need to speak with my father,” she said.
The head lady said with no empathy at all, “I’m speaking to someone on an assignment. You need to wait.”
Ember wanted to ask why her voice was so weird. Then she heard that the person On Duty was Paige.
When they were still in training, Ember made it clear that she was better than Paige and Alec. She made it her personal vendetta to make Paige’s life miserable. Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well. Alec charmed Ember into letting Paige get the best of everything, and soon Ember’s position became unclear in their group.
Ember had successfully completed her mission, just like always. At least she knew what was in the package—a high emitting E.M.P. for a ballroom mission that she was going on with a boy from the navy. She hoped he was handsome.
The head lady said something else, and Ember heard her father’s voice on the line. Everyone else called him the Director, but Ember liked Father, and he allowed it, even though the fact that she was his daughter didn’t matter to him. He wouldn’t tell her anything about her mom, which sent her scrambling for any clues she could find.
“Your father will see you now,” the weird head lady said with even less emotion.
Ember sighed. She no longer wanted to see the Director of Freedom.
Place: Home POV: Paige
Paige got out of the getaway car, and four guards came to escort her into the building. She laughed. “Umm, guys, the mission was successful!”
But instead of congratulating her like usual, the first guard held his hand out for her EyeScreen and Earcomm. She sent a quick message to Kaleb before erasing it and anything not related to Freedom’s assignment.
When she handed the devices to the guard, he gave her a silver bracelet that meant this was serious. If she didn’t put the bracelet on, they would think she had something to hide, but if she did put it on, the only way she knew to get it off was the Director’s fingerprint.
Paige looked at the bracelet and weighed her options carefully. She didn’t think she could outrun these guys, so she decided her best option was to make sure they didn’t see she was nervous. She smiled and put the bracelet on, hoping they didn’t already know she was a traitor. Then two of the guards grabbed her arms and led her to a dark room where she was thrown to the floor.
Paige waited silently for a sign that someone else was in the room, when suddenly three lights shone on her, Ember, and Alec. Alec’s face was a mess of bruises. She was frightened now, because she knew what came next. Ember’s father, the Director of Freedom, stepped out and smiled.
“My beautiful assassins, do you know why Freedom was founded those many years ago? It was to stamp out terrorists within our lovely USA. We were created to be a team that could be free from laws to help purge our country of those who wish to do us harm.” Paige knew these few lines like the Pledge of Allegiance; it was drilled into her life.
“Today,” the Director continued. “There is someone in this room who wants to sabotage us, to make us fail in protecting our country, and they will be punished for it.” He gestured with his hands, and guards came rushing into the room.
Place: House in New York POV: Kaleb
Kaleb smiled as he put on his new EyeScreen. It was the newest technology that wouldn’t track him, so it would have to do. He logged into his private account with a fake name. He was about to go take a shower when he got a message under three layers of firewalls that Paige knew only he would be able to crack. He decoded it, and one word popped up that stopped all thoughts of taking a shower.
He fell to the floor in a state of panic. Memories flooded back to him of when his wife was murdered and their daughter had disappeared, how he tried for so long to find out who did it before he discovered that his wife had been working on a Classified Project. When the project went south, Freedom had been called in so they could bypass all laws and kill anyone involved in the project.
Kaleb discovered that Paige had murdered his wife, but when he found a fourteen year old girl with her DNA marked by Freedom to obey with no moral question, she reminded him of his own missing daughter, and he couldn’t kill her. Instead, he showed her the truth about Freedom and helped rebuild her fractured mind.
Kaleb rocked back and forth. “I won’t let this happen to Paige. I won’t,” he screamed. Then he turned on his EyeScreen and began to hack Freedom.
He and Paige had a plan for if this ever happened, and he wouldn’t let her down. He found the communication and light controls easily since everything was online nowadays. Then he worked on hacking into the transportation that Paige would have to lead her straight to him.
Place: Classified POV: Paige
Paige prayed that Kaleb had gotten her message, when suddenly the lights went off. With them she heard the whir of malfunctioning EyeScreens. Paige knew she had three minutes until they came back online, fully operational.
In the panic, Paige slipped through the path to safety that Kaleb had gone over with her time and time again. When she flew out the doors, she rushed to an empty control house, found the breaker box, and shut down all the comm units, making it impossible to send any reinforcements after her. She then turned and jumped on the motorcycle that Kaleb had left for her.
Tired and scared, she raced away from Home, and before long, she found herself cruising on the highway, hoping Kaleb had a way to contact her.
Place: The Director’s office POV: Alec
Alec was standing alone in the Director’s office, angry at Paige for deserting them, for betraying him. He knew there was no charming her out of this mess. The Director cleared his throat, and Alec stiffened.
“Alec I know you felt deeply for Paige,” he said, taunting him. “How do I know that you did not follow her in her traitorous ways?”
Alec tried not to cry, but he wasn’t sure if it was because of missing Paige or his allegiance being questioned. “Sir, I would never,” he said, making sure his voice showed no hint of the emotions playing through his mind.
“Ah, but that is what Paige would have said, had she not known we were onto her. How do I know you’re telling the truth?” The Director snapped his fingers, and four armed guards stepped into the room.
Alec stifled a gasp. This was really happening. His loyalty was being put to the test. He gave himself a minute to think of all he and Paige would have, could have been. He allowed himself to think over all the memories they made, all the laughs they shared, all the times they picked each other up. Then he locked them away in the corner of his heart and decided that if this was a test, he was going to pass with flying colors.
“What can I do, sir, to prove my loyalty to Freedom and to you?”
The Director smiled. “Complete a special assignment for me, Alec, and I will know where your heart lies.”
“Of course, sir. What is it?”
The director pulled out a gun and set it on the table. “If you accept this mission, I want you to take this gun, specially made for a time such as this.”
“Sir, I will accept your assignment, but can you debrief me?”
The Director stood and put his hand on Alec’s shoulder. “There is no need. Your mission is simple. Cross off Paige, Alec, and your loyalty will be rewarded.”
Alec’s heart stopped. It told him he couldn’t do it, that he loved Paige, but his instincts, training, and his will to live won over, and he picked up the gun. As his heart screamed murderer, he turned and said, “Director, nothing would make me happier.”
Alec turned and left, his heart and his instinct still fighting in a battle of wills. He dreaded going to sleep tonight without Paige being in the next room. Even more than that, he dreaded having to wake up in the morning and complete his horrid assignment.
Place: Classified POV: Ember
Ember was livid and very, very confused. She paced back and forth holding the sacred document, her birth certificate. She had found it, and not just the digital version, the real live paper version that they only handed out for three more years after she was born.
For one small moment, she considered burning it and embracing the rituals her father set before her. Then she looked at the name of her mother, Makayla Pride. She auto-scanned her name and pulled up everything there was to know about her. She found out about the project she was working on, and was happy her mom had done such great things. Then she saw that the project had been shut down. When she found out that Freedom was responsible, she became restless.
She then found her mother’s death certificate. It stated natural causes. She fell to the floor, realizing she was three years too late. As she realized that Freedom had been involved, she hacked them. She went to the electronic drives of all the missions that had the name “Makayla Pride” and found that Paige… Paige had been brought in to kill her mom.
A feeling she knew all too well concerning Paige filled her chest. She wouldn’t let her go. Freedom had marked her a terrorist, and Ember would be the one to kill her, just like she had done to her mom.
Ember was about to burn the birth certificate when she glanced at her father’s name. It should have said Alexander William, a.k.a. the Director of Freedom, but instead, it said Kaleb Pride, someone Freedom had just marked as Paige’s accomplice.
Horror marked her vision. Her whole life had been a lie. She went to the profile that Freedom had on Kaleb, and under Mission Status it said “In Process”. Frantically, she called Alec, hoping he would pick up and everything would be fine. When he answered, she burst into tears.
“Ember, are you ok?” He sounded surprised.
Ember was quiet, too relieved to speak.
“Ok, well I got to go, Ember. I’m on duty,” he said and hung up.
“No!” Ember shouted. Alec was trying to eliminate Paige, but if Kaleb got in the way, then everything that had happened to her mother would happen to the father she had never known. She determined that she would meet him before Alec got there. She would save him. He would see her, and they would be a family together. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she set out to complete her final mission.
Place: Private airplane POV: Alec
The Director had said no backup on this one. Alec would be alone. He was on a plane to Denver, the last known place that Kaleb had taken residence. He tried calling Paige to play the part of a lover, someone who loved her more than Freedom, but she wouldn’t answer. She knew him too well.
As they landed, he loaded a dart gun with chemicals that would trigger a heart attack, dismissing any ideas of foul play or murder. He prayed that whoever was helping Paige knew he was coming, that she would have time to prepare for her death. It never even crossed Alec’s mind that he might fail.
Place: Kaleb’s safe house POV: Kaleb
Kaleb looked over at Paige sleeping soundly on the couch. He knew they needed to leave, but he hated to wake her. He checked on the status of the agent assigned to eliminate Paige. It was time. He had just gotten off the private plane and was headed toward their house. Kaleb rushed to wake up Paige. She awoke gingerly without fear of where she was.
“We have to go, now!” He insisted as he handed her a new pair of clothes and an apple for the road.
She stood and stretched. “Why didn’t you wake me sooner?”
Kaleb gasped at how slowly she was moving. “I wanted to let you rest. Now hurry up! Alec is on his way here right now!”
The playful grin disappeared from her face. She practically ran to the bathroom and was out before he could say another word. “Okay, what’s the plan?”
“Finland,” he said as he pushed her out the door.
Place: “Borrowed” car POV: Paige
“Tell me again how this is borrowed?” Paige asked Kaleb for the millionth time. He laughed as she folded her arms and raised her eyebrows.
“Okay listen, I already reported it stolen, so that means we have about four hours before the cops start looking for it, and by then we will have dropped it off and switched cars.”
Paige sighed. “Also, what does Finland have to do with any of this?”
“We are going to Portland to get forged passports that will hold up under scrutiny, then we are going to hail an ocean liner to Finland, the one place Freedom doesn’t have diplomatic immunity. They will have to play by the rules.” Kaleb spoke assuredly.
Paige nodded and stared out the window. She knew they wouldn’t stop. She’d be running from them until they caught her. All Kaleb was doing was buying her a few extra years on the run. Quietly, she slipped into a deep sleep, then suddenly burst awake. “Kaleb, the bracelet!” She felt her wrists but couldn’t find it.
Kaleb pulled over and grabbed her hands. “It’s all right. I took it off while you were sleeping with an imprint of the Director’s fingerprints.”
Paige slipped back into an easy calmness, happy that once again Kaleb had thought of everything, and said with a sigh, “Are we there yet?”
Kaleb pointed to a huge house that looked like a mansion as they drove up what she realized was a driveway.
Place: Portland POV: Ember
Ember got away from her father by telling him she was needed elsewhere by someone important. He usually didn’t bother with anything she did, but just in case, she made sure the “president” sent him a letter saying he needed her help. She had followed Paige and Kaleb all the way to Portland and made sure there was an opening for a position as a house attendant when she got there. She made sure she had a fake, fool-proof identity made by Freedom.
Three and a half hours later, Ember aced her job interview and was hired Live-In right away. She snuck about, looking in every room for Paige and Kaleb, but they were nowhere to be found. She should have known they wouldn’t keep their illegal guests somewhere anyone could find. She had to go play maid, but she had a few more ideas of where they might be, and she wouldn’t give up.
Place: Virginia POV: Alec
Alec punched the wall in frustration. All he had found was dead end after dead end. He had tried everything to avoid what he hated doing worst of all, research, but now it seemed it was unpreventable. He sat down and started researching forty years of information to see exactly where Kaleb would go to help Paige, and how long before their trail became cold, for good.
One day later…
Alec was in a car headed to Portland, because he had learned that Kaleb was tracking where he was by plane. He thought about how bad a life on the run would be and thought about when the three of them had failed missions before.
Once, Alec remembered, there had been a mix-up. They had killed a senator, but it was the wrong one, and no one bothered to check into it until it was too late, and the senator they were supposed to kill had been put under maximum security. Alec suddenly had a streak of brilliance, and instead of calling Paige, he hacked her EyeScreen and immediately connected their screens.
“Paige, I’m here to make a deal.” There was nothing for a very long while. “Paige, I know you can hear me.” Alec smirked and waited patiently.
After a few minutes, Paige’s voice rang clearly in his ear. “What do you want, Alec?”
“Do you remember the Senator job?” He heard an angry growl.
“If you hacked me just to bring up stupid old memories, I will destroy this EyeScreen immediately.”
“I don’t have to kill you, Paige. Don’t you understand?” He was getting desperate now. He had to make her see it his way.
“No, I don’t see at all how the person who is on his way to kill me, doesn’t have to kill me!”
“Paige, no one will be checking up on me… If I just kill Kaleb instead, I can leave you alone. No life on the run. You can just leave and go wherever you want to.” Alec heard her sharp intake of breath and waited.
“No,” she said, sounding grievous. “Unlike you, I don’t give up friends, even if it means my death.”
Alec swerved to avoid an oncoming car. “I don’t have to listen to you. I could kill him and leave.”
“You will never get the chance.”
Alec straightened the car on the road. “That sounds like one of your challenges, but remember, Paige, I rarely lose.”
Paige’s voice sounded panicky. “Alec, it’s not a challenge. Just leave me alone.”
Alec was tired of playing around. “Game on,” he said, right before he heard the dial tone of a smashed EyeScreen.
Place: The mansion POV: Paige
Paige’s heart was racing. She had just had a conversation with her soon-to-be-murderer. She could have easily linked Kaleb in, and anonymously too, but she had been frozen in fear. She ran through the inner tunnels of the house looking for Kaleb. When she finally found him, he was sitting on the ground, staring soundly.
“Kaleb, there’s something I need to tell you,” Paige said as she sat beside him.
“Me too, Paige. You see, I’ve been thinking about if we get separated, so I made a list of people that you can contact in case I—” He hesitated and Paige thought her heart was going to split in two. “Fall behind,” he finished, smiling as he handed her his list.
Paige briefly glanced at it as she thought about what she would tell Kaleb about her EyeScreen, when suddenly, she saw a shadowy figure dart across the tunnel. “Kaleb, get up. Someone else is here!”
Paige jumped into the darkness and groped along the wall until her hand closed around an arm. She grabbed it and pulled the spy into the light. Kaleb tackled them. Paige realized it was a girl as she ran to help. They let the girl up, and Paige gasped as the haunting realization that it was Ember settled upon her.
Place: The mansion POV: Kaleb
Kaleb had been shocked to find out that the mysterious intruder was Ember. He looked to Paige to find out what their next move would be.
She scoffed. “Was Alec just a decoy the whole time? It was just some sick game you two were playing to mess with my head, and now the ever famous Director’s daughter is here to finish me off, right?”
Kaleb felt Ember bristle under his grasp. “No, I’m not here to hurt you, I promise. I came…I came to meet him.” Kaleb was shocked that she was pointing up at him. Spurred on by what she said, he let her go and went to stand by Paige.
“Well, we were just about to have dinner. You can join us.” Like night and day, Ember’s face erupted in joy, while Paige’s distrust manifested in her facial features. Kaleb tried to give her a look of reassurance, but she refused to look his way. He sighed, took Ember’s arm, and showed her to their private dining hall.
Place: Dining hall POV: Ember
Ember had finally met her real father, and they were going to dinner together. If she closed her eyes to the damp tunnels they were walking through, she could actually pretend that she, Kaleb, and Paige were a normal family. When they finally got to the dining room after almost twenty minutes of walking, Ember was overwhelmed by the smell of what she hoped was dinner.
Kaleb sat down at the long table filled with glorious food. As she waited for Kaleb to start eating or at least say something, she noticed for the first time how extravagant the room was. The shining floor, the bigger than herself chandelier, and the windows, taller than anyone Ember had ever seen, with even bigger light pink drapes with gold chevron embroidered beautifully on them.
She looked over at Kaleb and realized that he was talking to Paige using sign language. Ember silently interpreted it and learned that Paige wouldn’t sit down because she didn’t think she should be there.
Kaleb finally spoke up, “Look, I made a decision about our guest, so you can either sit down or leave.” He then smiled at her and gestured to the steaming food. “Let’s eat, shall we?” He dug in.
Place: Dining hall POV: Paige
Paige wasn’t going to take her eyes off Ember, even if Kaleb trusted her as much as he seemed to.
Ember stared at Kaleb. “Kaleb, you had a wife.”
Paige looked at Kaleb and found him slowly nodding with a look of pain that could only be grief on his face.
“A-and before your wife was… killed, you had a daughter, one about mine and Paige’s age, that disappeared.” Kaleb suddenly froze like a deer caught in headlights. “Kaleb?” Her voice seemed to wake him up from the trance he was in.
Place: Dining hall POV: Kaleb
Kaleb hated for his past to be torn open in front of Paige. He knew she wouldn’t understand why he had kept this from her. Ember stood and walked toward him, and with every step she took, the walls he had built to contain his grief came tumbling down. She made it to his chair and put her hand on his shoulder.
He managed to squeak out, “What is it that you want?”
She sat down beside him, pulled out a piece of paper, and slid it across the table. He picked it up and tears streamed down his face.
Kaleb handed the paper over to Paige and said, “Paige, I would like to introduce you to my daughter. For the longest time, I thought she was dead, but now we have been reunited. Ember, you are so radiant.”
Kaleb stood and embraced his daughter. Then something shattered the window, and he felt the world spin as his own blood splattered the dining room floor. A strangled cry escaped Ember as he slipped from her arms and to the floor.
Place: Dining hall POV: Paige
Paige’s life had gone haywire. Ember and Kaleb had been reunited, and she was trying to come to terms with the fact that Ember would always be a part of her life now. When Kaleb stood to hug Ember, her heart longed for the loving arms of a father as well.
He met her eyes and smiled. She smiled through her own tears, before his eyes widened and she saw him fall to the floor. That was the moment the world turned gray.
Paige’s gun was in her hand by the time she made it to Kaleb. Ember was by his side, holding his hand and sobbing. Paige pointed the gun at her shakily as she grabbed Kaleb’s other hand.
“What did you do?” she yelled.
But Ember didn’t answer. She just shook her head, repeating, “No, no, don’t die, no.”
Kaleb gasped, and Paige finally looked at the wound. It was gushing blood, more than she had ever seen. She tore strips off her shirt to cover it, but Kaleb pushed her hands away.
Place: Dining hall POV: Kaleb
There was so much blood. Kaleb knew then that his injury was fatal, so he pushed away Paige’s meager attempts to help. He coughed as pain rolled through his chest and said weakly, “You two were separated, and you both thought you were enemies. Even now, you sit here anticipating an attack from the other. Paige, you were the daughter that I never had, and through you I learned that it was possible to love again, after I lost my wife and my child.”
He paused to take his hands from Paige and caressed Ember’s face. “Ember, you were the daughter that was stolen from me, and even now, on my dying day, I grieve for what could have been.” His voice faltered as his vision began to blur, and he learned what it felt like to have death pull at him. It was like a little whisper begging him to let go, and it was slowly getting louder and louder.
“But now you sit here,” he said, taking both their hands and pushing them together. “Crestfallen together, and though you came as enemies, for me, you will rise as one.” He gasped as he felt a wave of pain unlike anything he had ever experienced, and then…
Place: Dining hall POV: Paige
Paige swore she could feel it when Kaleb died. He had held on for so long that the loss didn’t seem real, but when she looked into his blank eyes and felt his cold hands, the reality of his death came crashing down on her. She looked at Ember, their hands still connected by Kaleb’s.
They sat there for a minute, as if moving or breaking the silence would somehow finalize it. Paige felt incredibly numb, and the world around her seemed bleak.
Ember mentioned the motorcycle that Kaleb had hacked, but Paige shook her head. It had been destroyed when they got to the mansion. Like a streak of lightening in a thunderstorm, she remembered the list of contacts Kaleb had given her. She handed it over to Ember and sat down while Ember called the first number with her EyeScreen.
While Paige waited, she picked up Kaleb’s EyeScreen off the floor and turned it on. Then she heard a voice. Alec. She froze. In a matter of ten minutes, her world had come crashing down, and it was All. His. Fault. He said, “Paige, you can hear me. I will leave and never return, but know this: I won*.*”
She fell shaking to the ground and erupted in sobs, until sleep finally won and she closed her war-torn eyes.
Place: Bedroom in mansion POV: Ember
Ember had found an unoccupied bedroom and carried Paige to the bed, careful not to wake her. When Kaleb had finally taken his last breath, she allowed herself ten seconds to grieve. Then her survival instincts kicked in. She had called all the necessary people and started Kaleb’s plan up right where he had left off. She and Paige would spend the rest of their lives safe, in the country on a farm with enough acres to breathe.
She heard Paige stirring and got her some water from the bathroom connected to the room. Paige drank all of that and three more glasses before she stopped shaking. Ember told her everything that had happened while she was asleep.
“Look,” Ember said, holding up passports that she had found on Kaleb. “Do you know what this means?”
Paige shook her head.
“It means that we will never be alone. That we are safe. Paige, it means we are going to be ok.” Even with tears clouding her eyes, she saw Paige smile.
Through the silence, Ember heard Paige whisper, “Alec did not win.” And she was right.
About the Author
VICTORIA SPARKS lives in Syracuse, Missouri. She is a 9th grader at Applewood Christian School and plays volleyball there. She enjoys writing, drawing, and is a very passionate and avid reader.
I got out of bed and took a shower before going to school. I was on my way out of the house, when I saw my brother Luke exit his room and asked him for a ride to school.
On the way, we saw people outside city hall protesting. Some of them were walking in a circle, chanting something I couldn’t hear. And some were handcuffed to light poles. Something about this felt off, but I didn’t know why just yet.
When I arrived at school, I headed for math class and sat in a desk next to my friend Tom.
“Did you watch the news this morning?” Tom said with a worried face. “A lot of people are turning up missing. No one knows how. Just woke up, and they were gone.”
“No, I was too busy getting ready for school. But I did see a lot people outside city hall protesting,” I said to Tom.
“Yeah, well I would protest too if I found out my family disappeared over night. Anyway, my older brother and some of his friends are going to camp out in the old cemetery. Want to go?” Tom asked.
“Sure. I just have to tell my parents I’m staying at your house tonight,” I said.
When I got home, I emptied my backpack on my bed and filled it with some snacks and a few glow sticks. On my way out of my house, I told my mom that I’d be staying the night at Tom’s, and that I’d be fine and not to call. With that done, I headed to Tom’s house just a few blocks away.
It didn’t take me long to get there. I knocked on his door, and his mom answered.
“Is Tom home?” I asked. “We’re going to go camp in the park tonight, and I was wanting to get there early before all the good spots are taken.”
“Yeah, he’ll be right out, Parker. Just wait one sec,” Tom’s mom said.
It didn’t take him long to get out of his house.
“Ready?” he asked me.
“Yeah, you?” I said.
“Yeah, let’s go. I want to get there before my brother,” Tom said.
When we arrived at the cemetery it was about 7:30, so we found a good spot to start a campfire. Just as we started cooking the hotdogs on the fire, Tom’s brother showed up with his friends and found us.
“Ok,” Tom’s older brother Drake said. “Since everyone’s here, let’s start telling some scary stories. Anyone want to start?”
“Sure, I’ll start,” Tom said. “But what story should I tell? The monster in the lake or the legend of the cemetery?” Tom asked, shining a flashlight in his face.
Everyone wanted to hear the legend of the cemetery.
“It started,” Tom began. “In the 1800’s, when the people of Rake Town began building the city hall. It was going fine, until one day, the local Native American tribes said they were building on a sacred cemetery of lost chiefs. When they found out the people of Rake Town wouldn’t move the city hall,” Tom continued, “they put a curse on anyone who was involved with the building. The curse was that in the year 2015, their relatives would come down with a sickness that would cause them to go crazy and start eating each other. And the people their relatives killed would come back to life and do the same. That’s the end of the story. So did it scare you guys?” Tom said.
“Well, it’s the year 2015. I don’t see any people attacking anyone,” Drake said.
We went around the campfire, telling scary stories until everyone had a turn. Once we finished eating, we set up the tents. It took longer than it should have, because Tom and Drake decided to have a sword fight with the tent poles. When the tents were set up, we went to sleep.
It was nice and quiet, until a strange sound woke us all up.
“What was that?” Tom whispered. “It sounded close, but I’m not sure how close.”
“I don’t know. Let’s go check it out,” I said. “First, let me grab the glow sticks from my backpack.”
When we left the tent, I saw that everyone else was thinking the same thing.
“Ok,” Drake said.” Let’s start a fire so it isn’t so cold and listen to see if we hear that sound again. And if we do, we’ll go look for the source of it together.”
Tom and I looked around for firewood. Once we got back to camp, everyone was sitting by the fire pit waiting. Tom and I cracked several glow sticks and placed them a few feet outside of the campfire’s light so we could see if anything moved. It wasn’t long after we got back to the camp that we heard the sound again.
“We’ll go and look for the source of the sound,” Tom said. “If you find anything, call out so we know. Two people will have to stay back at the camp, just in case the source of the sound comes to the light of the fire. So be ready if anything happens to anyone,” Tom said, grabbing a flashlight from his backpack.
Tom and I looked around the graves, but we didn’t see anything until we walked around a huge oak tree that was at least four feet wide. There was something lying against the trunk of the tree, with blood all over the ground. Then we realized it was the groundskeeper, and his body was covered in bite marks and scratches.
We called out for Drake, and it wasn’t long before he found us.
“Oh man. This isn’t right. Something is going on that we don’t know. Let’s go back to camp and tell the others what we found,” Drake said, covering his mouth and nose.
Halfway back to the camp, we heard a scream, so we ran. When we got to camp, we saw the two friends of Drake’s that stayed at the camp, lying on the ground. Crouched over one of them were two people, eating away at her stomach and throat. There were five over Drake’s other friend, doing the same to him, just a lot more gory than I thought zombies would be.
After what we saw, we ran to the gate of the cemetery, only to find it already closed and chained shut.
“Why did this have to happen?” Tom said, while shaking the gate with anger. “Now Mom and Dad are probably dead, and we’re stuck in a cemetery with man-eating zombies. I mean, how could this get any worse?” Tom sat on the ground with his head in between his knees.
“Tom, now is not the time for complaining,” Drake said. “We need a way to defend ourselves. Parker, any ideas?”
“The groundskeeper’s maintenance shed—there should be some rakes and shovels. And it would be a great shelter for the night,” I said, pointing at a metal building about a hundred yards away.
Once we were there, Drake opened the door and made sure no one was inside. “Parker, lock the door so no one can get in,” Drake said.
Once I locked the door, I looked through the small window on it. I saw some movement a few yards away. “They followed us here, so start looking for weapons to defend yourselves. Here is a glow stick. Tom, look for a light switch,” I said, tossing a glow stick from my backpack to Tom.
Once the lights were on, I looked around to see what I could find. It took some time, but I found some useful items. They included two machetes and a shotgun. “Drake, you can take the shotgun, since Tom and I have never shot one before,” I said.
After Drake took the shotgun, Tom and I each grabbed a machete. We set up a watch, and Drake took the first shift. I took the last. When Tom woke me up to take my watch, it was 5:30. Once my shift was done, which went by safe and sound, I woke Drake and Tom up so we could eat and get ready to head to the gate and shoot the chain off of it.
We were about out the door when Tom said, “Parker, wait. When Drake shoots the chain off of the gate, if it’s anything like the movies and they’re attracted to sound, won’t the gun shot alert them?”
I thought about it for a minute before I said, “Well, I guess we better run like a dog chasing a car with a stake taped to the bumper.”
Once the chain was shot off the gate, we ran to the closest place we could think of—my house. There were a few zombies on the way there, but nothing Tom and I couldn’t handle with the machetes. When we arrived at my house, I walked in and didn’t see anyone, so I said it was empty and that they could come in.
“So Parker, any idea where your parents or Luke could have gone?” Drake said.
I looked at him and said, “I have no clue. I haven’t seen Luke since he dropped me off at school, and we never planned for an actual zombie apocalypse to happen. But now I wish we had so I’d know where they are.”
I told Drake and Tom that I needed some time alone to think about what we were going to do next. It hadn’t even been ten minutes when Tom came running into the room looking shocked.
“You might want to come see this. It’s your parents,” Tom said, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward the bathroom, which Drake was standing outside of. And there I saw them, my parents, lying dead next to each other on the tiled floor.
“I was on my way to wash the zombie blood off my hands, when I found your dad,” Tom said. “He must have gotten bit on his way back from work, because I found him eating your mom.”
I was about to leave when I noticed a piece a paper in my mom’s hand.
“What’s that?” Drake said. I turned the piece of paper over in my hand. On the other side there was a note that read:
Parker, if you are reading this, it means you’re still alive and I’m not. Your father has been bit and is pounding on the bathroom door, trying to get in right this second. I don’t know how much longer I have, but I need you to be strong if you’re going to survive this. I left the keys to the mustang on my dresser. In the trunk of it, you will find the groceries I bought before coming home. Lucky for you, I didn’t have time to put them in the house. You can hide out in our summer home in the country ten miles away from the city. Just don’t take the high—
That’s all I could read. The rest was too smeared with blood.
“It’s a note, and it says we have a way out of the city. Drake, can you drive?” I said, handing him the note.
“Yeah, I can drive, as long it isn’t a stick shift,” Drake said.
Once we were in the car, Drake asked me, “Parker, which way do we take to your summer home?”
I thought about which route would be the fastest, but the only one that came to my mind was the highway. “The highway is the fastest way, so just drive down it, and I’ll tell you what streets to turn on,” I said.
Once we were on the road, we saw all the damage that had happened to the town. There were some zombies walking on the yards we passed on the way to the highway. Once we turned off onto the highway, I knew what the rest of the note said. She tried to tell me not to take the highway, because everyone else had the same idea. And now we were stuck, because we weren’t paying any attention to what was following us.
There was a huge hoard of zombies blocking the way back. So with nothing else to do, we started killing zombies. There were so many that Drake had to use the shotgun, which brought more zombies to the fight. I was too busy taking care of the zombies in front of me to notice Drake get tackled. He was on the ground, screaming from the pain of the zombies digging into his stomach.
“NO!” I heard Tom shout from behind me. He ran to his brother’s aid.
With that split second distraction, a zombie tackled me from the side. There are two things I saw before everything went dark. One was Tom screaming out in pain as a zombie took a bite out of his ankle. The second is my brother Luke—a zombie now—grabbing my forearm and biting.
And then I’m dead.
About the Author
JAKE DARSON is a fun person to be with. He likes to scare people, and to be scared himself. He loves to play Call of Duty Zombies. You can find him playing Magic the Gathering at his local card shop in Sedalia, MO.
Once, on a hot summer day, I, Jessica, and Shasta were hanging out, and we decided to have a sleepover at my house.
When I asked my parents, my mom said, “I guess, Madison, but you are going to have to wake up in the morning and make breakfast for you and your friends and call their parents to make sure it’s ok.”
I said, “Okay, and can we get pizza for dinner?”
My dad said, “I guess.”
So after my friends went home to get their stuff and came back, the pizza arrived at my house in Smithton. When the table was set for us to eat, we ate dinner. Then we went to the downstairs basement, where we made our sleeping arrangements.
When we were done, we got on Netflix on my TV downstairs. We ate popcorn and watched movies all night. When I woke up in the morning at 6am, I made a big breakfast: eggs, bacon, toast, and fried potatoes.
I guess my friends smelled the food, so they woke up around 7am. When I was done cooking, we all sat at the table and ate our breakfast.
Then we went outside to my tree house. We climbed in and thought about what we were going to do. After a while, we finally decided that we were going to go swimming in my pool.
But there was one problem. The girls didn’t have swimsuits with them.
“Hey,” I said. “Why don’t we walk to the store and buy you two swimsuits for when you are at my house. They said okay, and so I went in and got money for their swimsuits and we walked to the store.
When we got there, we went back to the swimsuits, and they both picked out one for five dollars each. So now they had swimsuits for my house.
When we walked back to my house, we put our swimsuits on and got in my tree house to go down the slide to get into my pool. When we were in the pool, we had so much fun!
A little while later, when we were done in the pool, we went inside. We dried off and put fresh clothes on, and then we called their parents, and they came and got the clothes, but the girls stayed at my house.
After their parents left, we went to get ice cream from the ice cream shop down the road. On the way, Jessica found the cutest little dog wandering around, and it didn’t have a collar. So we got ice cream, and we took the dog home with us.
My mom said, “Girls, where did you get that dog?”
“We got it from down the street by the ice cream shop,” said Shasta.
Mom said, “Oh, so I suppose you want to keep it.”
“Yes, Mom,” I said. She kind of mumbled no, but then she said okay, but that we had to get tags for the dog so we wouldn’t get in trouble.
When the girls went home after the long day, I found something very suspicious going on with them. They wouldn’t reply back to my texts.
After a while, they answered, and I asked what they were doing that they couldn’t reply? They both said they weren’t doing anything. I asked if they were doing something together without me. When they replied back, they both said they were at home doing chores.
Then I called Jessica, and she didn’t answer my phone call. After that, I knew something wasn’t right. So I went over to Jessica’s house to see if she was home, and her mom said that she thought Jessica went shopping with Shasta. I asked her where they might be, and she said the Buckle. I said bye and left to go to The Buckle.
When I got out of my car to go to the Buckle, I walked in and looked for them, and there they were. Jessica and Shasta were by the Miss Me Jeans near the fitting room.
I was so mad that they were lying to me, so I walked over to them and said, “Hey girls, I thought you were at home doing chores.”
When Jessica saw me, she said, “Madison, how did you find us?”
“I went over to your house and asked your mom where you were,” I said.
Jessica said they were shopping together to get some clothes for me. “Then when we all figured out what was going on we went to my house and played with my dog. So that’s the story of three girls who wanted to become friends again.
About the Author
NATALIE WOMBLES is in the 7th grade. Her favorite sport is b-ball, and in her spare time she likes to go shopping.
This is a story of three girls who were in the ninth grade and were bullied since the fifth grade by the same boy. It took place at Smith Cotton Junior High School. The bully’s name was Blake. He was the cutest boy on campus, and summer break was about to begin.
Blake always played football. It was his passion. Every day after school, he would go practice, and if he messed up, he would beat himself up over it. The three girls, on the other hand, had different passions.
Echoe wanted a normal life, and to just have a good future. D’on wanted to be a masseuse, and she was already very good at it. She was also very laid back about everything. Fatima was an amazing artist, and even when she doodled, the finished product was always beautiful. She had a fantastic memory and was a very happy girl, and it was hard to get her down.
The three girls were best friends who could tell each other anything. They liked most of the same music and got together every time they had a chance. Their bond was unbreakable. They were all in last hour class together, and it was the last day of school. They also sat at the same table. Unfortunately, Blake sat with them too.
Ever since the beginning of school, the girls and Blake didn’t get along. They were constantly bickering and fighting, and when they asked the teacher to move him away, the teacher said no.
That day, they had to watch the movie The Avengers, because the teacher wanted to. Surprisingly enough, no one liked it. Usually, at least one person in any class would. Most of the time, the teacher droned on and on about the movie, so all the kids were not excited about it. They were happy when the bell rang in the middle of the movie.
Everyone in the school ran out of the classes yelling and screaming that school was out. They got their stuff from their lockers and left the school as quickly as possible-except the group of girls. They ran out of their classroom and to their lockers, but instead of going home, they went to the art room.
Fatima’s mom, Mrs. Jones, was the art teacher, and they did this every year so they could do a little art before going home together for the last time that school year. This was a nice getaway for them, because when Blake followed them to Mrs. Jones room, she wouldn’t let him in, and after a while, he left.
They made several crafts with the supplies available to them. They made clay people and animals and the more difficult yarn bowls, but they cleaned up the mess they made.
Then they went home with Fatima and her mom so they could spend more time together. On the way, Echoe and D’on called their moms and asked if they could stay the night at Fatima’s house, like every other last day of school.
Usually, their moms all said no, but this time, they said yes. Mrs. Jones always had tooth brushes, hair products, makeup, blankets, and pajamas, just in case. They always had an awesome time when they went there, and they never forgot to say thanks.
When Fatima’s mom parked her car in the garage and they started to get out, Mrs. Jones screamed, “Get back in the car!” And they did as fast as they could.
The girls asked Mrs. Jones what was wrong, and she screamed that she saw a possum by the garage door. Everyone but Echoe screamed, because she was used to possums, so she started laughing.
When they asked her why she was laughing, she said, while still laughing, “You’re scared of those things! As long as you don’t bother him, he won’t bother you. See? Look.” She got out, shut the door, and walked two feet in front of the possum.
It just stood there, hissing at the car and the people in it. Then Echoe stopped laughing and motioned for Fatima’s mom to back the car out of the garage, so the possum could get out of from between the car and the wall. She did, and the possum followed.
Echoe told the possum to stay and it did. Then she told Mrs. Jones to back up, so she did, and the possum stayed. Then Echoe told the possum to go home, and it did, just like with every other order. Fatima’s mom drove back into the garage, and they all got out of the car and looked at Echoe as if they just found out she was a super hero or something.
Echoe asked, “What’s the matter? Haven’t you seen me do that before?”
They all shook their heads no with jaws to the ground. Echoe snickered and told them that was her possum, Max, and she trained it to do that.
“One time, I went to find the perfect pet for me at the local pet shop, like I did every year. They stopped selling possums, because to many people didn’t want them. No one thought having a possum was a good idea. However, they were giving away free baby possums. They were so adorable.
“My mom said that I was to immature for one though. I asked if they would hold one a little longer, so I could prove to my mom that I could take care of an animal. They agreed, and I took a week and showed her that I could. I washed dishes, folded laundry, and kept my room clean. I’ve had a clean room ever since. When I went to get the possum the man said he would save for me, he told me he let the other two go. He gave the possum to me in a cage. I’ve been taking care of it ever since.”
This is how the summer started, and the further into the summer the girls got, the worse their problems got. They got into trouble for things they didn’t do, like painting on the side of the school, breaking a street lamp, yelling in the library, and just about every other thing you can get into trouble for, every week.
Most of it was Blake’s doing, and the girls denied everything. Everyone except Mrs. Jones didn’t believe them. No one would listen to them. This went on all summer, and it didn’t stop until Blake messed up and left his library card by his newest masterpiece, which was on the outside of the boys restroom wall at the park.
He painted a very detailed elephant, and the girls found it and the card while they were walking by. Echoe picked up the card and put it in her pocket. Then they went and fixed their make up before going to Mrs. Jones to show her the card.
They then took a trip to the sheriff’s office and explained what happend all the other times, along with this time. It was last week of summer vacation. The girls got off the hook, and Blake had to do community service, as well as clean up all of his messes. This took half of the school year to do. Once Blake got back though, he never messed with them again.
About the Author
SHIRLEY CAMIRAND is in the 9th grade. She lives with her parents in the country. Shirley has two brothers and two sisters, of which she is the youngest. They have a cat that loves to catch mice and brings them onto the porch for a treat. Shirley enjoys writing short stories. She also enjoys reading, swimming, puzzles, and making rubber band bracelets. Shirley’s favorite color is orange. She also likes to watch Duck Dynasty.
ANGELA ROQUET is the author of Crazy Ex-Ghoulfriend, a YA novel about zombies and prom. She has penned several adult novels as well. When not writing, she enjoys painting, goofing off with family and friends, and reading books that raise eyebrows. Angela lives in Missouri with her husband and son, and she is a member of SALC, the Sedalia Area Literacy Council.
The SALC is a group of dedicated women who organize an annual tea and auction every spring to raise money for literacy programs within the Sedalia area. You can find out more about the council and their next tea and auction on their Facebook page:
And you can find out more about Angela and her novels on her website:
The 2015 Teen Writing Workshop of Sedalia, MO presents... secret spies, zombies, slumber parties, bullies, possums, and more! Budding Bards is a collection of 4 short stories by teen authors who participated in the 2015 Teen Writing Workshop at Boonslick Regional Library in Sedalia, MO. Let Freedom Reign by Victoria Sparks The Day Everything Changed by Jake Darson Best Friends Forever by Natalia Wombles The Worst Summer Ever by Shirley Camirand The collection is edited by fantasy author Angela Roquet