I hope you are ready for some great reading! These authors-to-be took this assignment to a whole other level. By focusing on critical literary elements like plot, character, conflict, and setting, students were able to express themselves creatively. I paired this with a simultaneous academic piece so students could write in both modes: creative and academic. The creative mode focused on them making their own Dystopian World after reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. They also did a compare and contrast academic piece focusing on modern American Society vs the Dystopian World setup by Westerfeld in Uglies. This second piece contained contained cited evidence, formal tone, etc.
Please enjoy these amazing student stories!
Piece 1: "Hybrid" by Clara M.
The hybrid had gotten loose. On hearing these news, President Slock instantly stopped everything going in or out of the country. If America was going to be affected, he might as well make sure it’s the only country. Next the President made a call to Mr. Lursk, the US construction CEO. Slock said one sentence then hung up.
“Start Operation Border.” Walking in swift strides towards his office window, President Slock peeked through the blinds. Outside was complete chaos. People protesting, yelling, swarming the gates. He observed the scene for about a minute before noticing something very peculiar. Bodies had started dropping at a fast rate, almost like…
“The Hybrid’s among them! Jennifer, call the guards down there and get everybody away!” President Slock cried to an intern as he scrambled towards the office door. Slock threw open the door right as it happened. The intern outside crumpled into a pile on the floor. Standing above her was a woman with sharp bird-like features, bright blonde hair, and no weapon in sight.
“W-who are you?!” The President asked, even though he already knew. It was the Hybrid.
“Oh, silly man! You already know who I am! I just traded my boring brown hair, brown eyes mask for this new one!” Being part machine, part human, scientists had to make face masks for the hybrid.
The hybrid stepped over the intern entered Slock’s office. President Slock instantly stumbled backwards, even though he knew it was no use. The hybrid chuckled, then crossed the room in three long strides before laying a hand on President Slock’s cheek. Watching the life slowly drain from Slock’s eyes before he crumpled onto the floor, the hybrid had a sudden realization. Being part machine, it could survive forever, whether forever was spent in hiding or in human life.
“Laney, wait up!” Nikki called to her best friend as she regretted giving Laney a head start. Nikki programmed her Booster Shoes (tennis shoes that funneled air out of the bottom so people could choose to walk or not) to their highest setting. Laughing, she caught up to Laney then zoomed past her. Getting caught up in the race, Laney fell onto the soft, artificial grass. Nikki looks behind her, notices Laney, then also falls. Cracking up, Laney turns her Booster Shoes off then rolls over to Nikki.
“That was one of my best races yet!” Laney jokes, cracking her and Nikki up again. As soon as their laughter died down, Nikki’s watch beeped. Looking at it, there was a message from her mom that read “Time to come home for your three hours of study time! P.S. there’s a notification for you!” Nikki told Laney, then suggested they walk home. Nikki and Laney then started the short walk home.
“So, did you hear that President Crow is going to activate a law that will limit the production of Knicks?” Wanting to be a politician when she grows up, Nikki is always up to date on current events.
“My favorite candy?!” Laney practically screams! She stopped in her tracks, plopped onto the ground, and pretended to be dead. Cracking up, Nikki pulls a box of Knicks out of her pocket and throws it at Laney. Opening her eyes halfway, Laney suspiciously glances at the box than grabs it and jumps up.
“Yes!!” She screamed, “Thanks Nikki, you are the absolute best!!”
The rest of the walk home was spent quietly observing all around, only interrupted by the munching of Knicks.
Life inside the Dome is simple. Sure, there’s no nature, only artificial plants and seasons that are created by the Dome, but it was better than outside. Outside was a hot, sweltering wasteland. Aboveground are all the buildings where people don’t live, like hospitals or schools. Underground are all living spaces, which are apartments, connected by tunnels. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, kids 6-16 go to school from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Every day other than Tuesday and Thursday kids have to study and do school work for three hours. Each apartment has a big screen in the living room where all messages are sent, shows are watched, and pretty much every else technology is used for.
Nikki bursts into her apartment and yells… “WAT UP FAM??!!” As a response her brother grunts, her mom says a meek hi, and their dog barks. Nikki takes her Booster Shoes off, sets them on the mat by the front door, then goes and flops onto their couch. Remembering she got a notification, Nikki tells the screen to show it. Looking at who it is from, Nikki jumps up and runs over to the screen.
“The Office Of President Crow??!!” Nikki screams. Her mom, Hope, comes running into their living room. Hope turns to Nikki, opens her mouth, then shuts it again.
“Mom, I didn’t even write to them!” Nikki practically squeals. At this point, Nikki’s brother,Grant, a 16 year old comes in. Looking at the screen, Grant’s eyes practically pop out of his skull.
“Well, open it!” Grant tells Nikki with urgency in his voice. Numbly, Nikki commands the Screen to open the notification. Hope reads it out loud:
Dear Ms. Nikki,
As a representative of President Crow, I would like to inform you that your presence is requested for a meeting with the President. The meeting will be this Saturday from 1:00 till 2:00 in the Green Room of the House. Politics, your future, and what our next steps will be discussed.
Hope you will join us, Solomon Strand, Representative
Everybody stands still, processing what they had just read. Then there was an explosion of “I might actually become President!”, “My baby got a letter from the President!”, and “Why do younger siblings always get more attention?! I mean I’m 16 and 4 years older, but Nikki has to get the letter!”
The next day, Nikki told Laney, who was equally excited. Then they remembered the hybrid.
“What if we start talking about it?!” Nikki worried, “They don’t know that the hybrid is my biggest fear, my only fear!”
“Calm down. I’m sure your mom can tell them and it will all be okay.” Laney reassured Nikki. With that in mind, Nikki stopped worrying and instead got excited.
It was Saturday and Nikki was the most nervous she had ever been in her whole life. Even with some encouragement from her mom and brother, Nikki felt like a herd of hippos was having a dance party in her stomach. Glancing at her watch, Nikki noticed it was 12:00, so she suggested they leave. Nikki wanted to just ride her Booster Shoes to the House, but Hope resisted. Instead Nikki and her mom will be taking the Hover Car that is rarely used. A rusty orange color with yellow highlights, the Hover Car 3067 was an older, not as advanced model. Climbing in, Nikki crinkled her nose up at the smell inside the car, which was a smell of rotten fish dipped in cat puke. Hope just took an air pill threw it up then waited about 30 seconds. Afterward, the only smell inside the car was of a garden in Spring.
Walking into the Green Room, Nikki felt like everyone who ever existed was watching. Sitting right in front of her was THE President Crow. President Crow, a short woman with kind, soft feature smiled gently at Nikki.
“Please, have a seat Nikki. We have much to discuss.” Nikki smiled back then sat down in the very plush seat across from President Crow. Nikki managed a small, nervous smile without throwing up. President Crow looked away from Nikki and nodded at her security, who Nikki didn’t even notice until now. The security left the Green Room so only President Crow and the two vice presidents were left.
“I imagine you already know Vice President Zyke and Vice President Addot.” President Crow said to Nikki, who nodded in reply. To make Nikki feel more at home and less nervous, President Crow started asking many questions until Nikki was leaning forward in her chair, answering.
“Now I would like to start talking about your future, Nikki, our future.” President Crow leaned forward and asked, “Would you like to be Vice President, President, Votling, or maybe even an Enforcer?” Votlings are fifteen people who vote on decisions and Enforces are basically police officers dressed as ordinary people that make sure laws are followed. Being courageous, Nikki has always wanted to be President, and maybe even expands the Dome, which is what she told the President.
“I was hoping you would say that.” President Crow said as she smiled and stood up. President Crow walked around her desk and sat on the edge of it. “I would like to tell you a story Nikki, but it is quite long so please get comfortable.” Nikki nodded, leaned back and stared attentively at the President.
“Excellent. Now let’s begin, but I would like you to know that I’m very, very old. I was an only child, and growing up was not allowed to leave the house at all. I guess my parents were scared of me being picked on or even me picking on others. I always wanted to leave the house more, have more social interaction. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until I became almost a new person. I fled my prison one night, with some clothes and money I had saved up. I changed my hair, got plastic surgery. I met new people, even met the current President. Then, people started disliking me, and I had to change again, then again. After this cycle went on for a while, I decided to hide. If people couldn’t see me for how amazing, how special I was, they wouldn’t see me at all. I hid for awhile then eventually came out of hiding, but had to change once again.” At this point President Crow looked down and frowned, then continued. “People didn’t like me, but I just used that to improve, rise to where I am now, the President. Many people helped me along the way, my Vice Presidents, friends who followed me through each change, and that made me able to continue. Some friends have left, by choice or not, but it doesn’t affect me. Because you see…” President Crow stood up, smiled wickedly, then “ I am the Hybrid.”
Piece 2: "The Secret of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault" by Christian V.
How It All Started
It was an outbreak. A zombie virus that had gone wrong and infected everyone on earth. Except, a small group of people had still lived, and those people were living at the worst place in the world. The punishments at the horrible place were worse than the apocalypse. And the name of the place was the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. And that place had a secret.
Christian awoke to the sound of bloody hands bashing against his window. This was of course regular to him because it was the zombie apocalypse, a society of the undead. He walked to my kitchen starving for breakfast when he saw a bloodthirsty zombie standing in the dark corner of my hallway. He had forgotten to grab his crossbow from his closet. He slowly crept through his kitchen trying to stay out of sight when the floor squeaked. The zombie started to crawl towards him while he swiftly went to his room. He grabbed the crossbow, loaded it, and then shot the zombie in the head. Christian had almost gotten cornered but luckily he didn't. As soon as he got outside, he saw a black Super Diesel heading towards him. And someone, was driving it.
It was another human! She was wearing a bulky camouflaged jacket and camo pants. She walked towards Christian with a handgun and asked, “Are you a zombie!?” Christian said “No” and she introduced herself. Her name was Ginnie and she looked like she was prepared for the apocalypse.
They argued over a plan to survive for a while, but then came to an agreement that they should both go to a gas station. When they got there, there was a large crowd of zombies.
Since she had a handgun she loaded the gun with ammo that she had pulled out of her pocket. Christian covered his ears with his hands while Ginnie shot the zombies with perfect aiming skills. When Christian looked he saw about 50 zombies on the ground dead.
As Ginnie and Christian entered the gas station the first thing Christian noticed was the slushy machine. SInce it was the apocalypse, Christian said, “Oh well” and went to town. When Christian was in the middle of going to town drinking slushies, Ginnie called out, “Look what I found!”
Ginnie was holding a polished black book with a picture of a zombie on the cover. Christian walked over to Ginnie and looked at the book. “So what do you think it is?” said Christian. “What do you think it is, idiot!?” Ginnie said. Christian stood silently for a moment and said, “I’m triggered (outraged)!” “What did you say twerp!?” “I didn't say anything,” said Christian in fear, “let's just read the book.” “Fine” she said.
If you’re reading this your world has probably become a zombie apocalypse, but don't worry because this is a step by step instruction book on how to survive.
Things you’ll need…
Consider storing the following:
Jugs of water
Canned or dried goods
A sleeping bag and pillow
First aid kit and medication
A light but powerful weapon (hand gun)
Warm clothing (if climate requires it)
A duffel bag or backpack (anything to carry a lot of things in)
Consider store supplies for just getting by:
Flashlight (preferably solar light)
Pot (for cooking or boiling water)
Plastic eating ware (plates, mugs, spoon, fork)
Rope or twine
Something to write with
Consider putting these in your emergency kit:
Bandages and bandaids
Consider working with a group in order to improve hunting, scouting, and killing large groups of zombies.
If you plan on having a bunker, the best place to have one is off the ground. One reason this is good is because it allows you to stay away from the zombies and snipe them, or snipe animals for hunting.
One thing you should probably do is go to the nearest airport, or drive to the Global Seed Vault. By doing this, you will encounter every other survivor that there is. Also it will provide provide protection for up to 50 years.
How to get past large groups of zombies:
The best way to pass large crowds of zombies is to drive a car. If you choose a car, the best one you could use is a bus. A bus can be used as a shelter and can carry a party of people.
If you were to choose one of the two harder ways you could kill a zombie, rip up the zombie, put the zombie’s liquid guts in a spray bottle, and spray yourself to hide your scent from other zombies. When you do this, you’ll be able to pass zombies as you please.
If you wanted to get past zombies another way, you could fly an airplane. It could be easy if you were a pilot, but hard if you are not.
Have fun surviving!
“Well that was helpful” said Ginnie. “Looks like we better find a map so we can get to Norway.” said Christian doubtfully. Since they were already in Norway, all they had to do was find a school bus drive to the seed vault, but first, they had to cover themselves in zombie guts!
Ginnie and Christian knew that it wasn't going to be easy getting there, but they did know it was going to be easy once they were there. Christian and Ginnie walked towards a zombie that was gnawing away at a manikin that was set up in the gas station. As Ginnie walked towards it she grabbed an over priced axe that was $500, and when she got close enough, she swung the axe swiftly over her shoulder splitting the zombies head open and getting zombie guts all over her cloths.
Christian could see the grossed out look on her face, and he felt bad for her, but for some reason he could not hold back his laugh. “Looks like your done with your turn” said Christian. “Oh be quiet Christian, you still have to spread brain juice all over your body” said Ginnie angrily. As Christian walked over to the boys bathroom Ginnie was trying to hide a big smirk on her face.
As Christian got out of the bathroom Ginnie was awaiting him by a wrack of sunglasses. “Ready to go” said Ginnie. Christian looked at her with a smile and said, “I’m ready when you are”. The two of them walked out of the store and hopped into the front seats of Ginnies black Super Diesel. Ginnie shat a confident look at christian and said, “let's go”.
After six hours of driving from Denali to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, they had finally reached their destination. The vault was about the size of a small hotel made of iron and steel. As christian observed it he got kind of sacred to knock. Ginnie could see the frightened look on his face, so she walked up to the door, pushed Christian aside, and knocked.
After 5 minutes of waiting for someone to answer, a slit in the door opened and a pair of cloudy, milky eyes stared back at her. As soon as he realized that they weren't zombies he opened the large metal door. The man was terrifying and was most likely going to give both of them nightmares. He was an old man that was probably in his 70’s, he also had a long white beard with pale wrinkly skin. The man called himself the gate keeper, and told them if they wanted to pass, they would have to talk with the general. Ginnie told him to fetch the general and be quick about it because they were in a rush. The old man came back awhile later with a tall young man that called himself, General Eli. The general took one look at them and said, “They are perfect, let them in”.
General Eli gave them a tour around the vault. When they were half way through the tour around the vault, Christian and Ginnie were getting bored. Soon after the tour, General Eli showed them to their rooms. When they looked in their rooms, it looked like it was meant for a rich person. After we settled down in the rooms for a while, Christian and Ginnie got bored again. They had left the rooms to go explore. After exploring through the halls for a short time, they realized how big the vault looked from the inside. Then they ran into General Eli. General Eli then showed them to the other survivors’ rooms. The rooms weren’t as nice as theirs but still decent. What they realized is that there were no survivors in the rooms. When they asked the general, he said, “They are all getting fattened up in the dining hall.” “May we go get some food in the dining hall?” asked Ginnie. “Of course you can.” said the general. The general then led them to the dining hall and they sat down.
After a short minute of waiting at their seats for food, three waiters arrived with large silver platters that looked like they could contain a whole cow. As the waiters lifted the lids off the platters, Christians mouth was drooling. Then as soon as he saw the salads, he lost his appetite. After two hours of consuming their weight in food, they were stuffed.
The general escorted Christian and Ginnie to their rooms. After a long period of time just sitting on their beds, they got very bored and decided to go exploring around the vault again. As christian and Ginnie were goofing off in the halls, they heard loud growling noises coming from the general's office. When they went to go check out the noise, they opened the door and found nothing. But they could still hear the growling of zombies. As they looked around the office, Christian realized the noise was coming from under the general’s desk. When Ginnie went over to inspect the desk she didn't find anything at first. After a while of looking she found a small knob. When she turned it the ground slowly started to rumble. After it was done rumbling a large hole was in the floor with a staircase leading to what seemed like a basement.
When Christian and Ginnie walked down the staircase, they could still hear the noises. As they got closer to the bottom, the noises were getting louder and louder. When they finally reached the bottom, they peeked their heads around the corner and saw what could only be a group of people eating another person. Ginnie looked over at Christian and whispered, “This must have been why they were trying to fatten everyone up with salads. Because they are cannibals!!!” the general looked over at Ginnie and started to slowly walk towards them. He got very close to the point where he could reach his hand out and touch them. As soon as he got close enough Christian and Ginnie started running away fast.
When Christian and Ginnie had gotten to the point where they thought they lost him, he appeared again and started chasing them even faster. Now, they all were running towards the exit, when Ginnie’s arm had gotten caught by the general. Christian looked over at the general and kicked him in the shin. When they had finally got to the exit they had forgotten about the gatekeeper. “What do you two think you're doing leavin” said the gatekeeper. Christian looked at him and said confidently, “We were just about to go find more survivors like the general told us to.” “Oh, okay then kids, run along now.” and just like that they had gotten away. Ginnie had remembered the supply of oil she had in the back of her super diesel, so she put a string in the oil and went to the roof. When she got to the roof she found a small trap door that lead to the main dining hall. She lit the other end of the string up with her lighter and dropped it in. a loud kaboom filled her ears and nearly made her deaf. When she heard all of the screaming of the dying, innocent people, a stream of pain and regret flowed through her blood. And she would always remember the day, she had killed hundreds of innocent people.
Piece 3: "Smart, Dumb, Kill" by Violet B.
I looked at the building in front of me. My face filled with horror. I was about to take the most important test of my life. Will I get put into the smartest or the dumbest group? Can this be the last time I would ever see my parents again? All of the questions came pouring into my head. “ We will take everyone in now. Parents say goodbye to your children”. There it was. The words that I have been dreading. “ Honey, we love you so much.” My parents said “ I love you too”. Then the loud voice came on again. “Everyone walk into the building. You will find your seat with your name on it, Good luck”. I waved goodbye to my parents. I met up with an old friend, Lukas. Lukas and I have known each other since we were three. We talked about this moment for a very long time. Of course there was the fear of being split up, but we have studied so much in the past two years that we are pretty confident about staying together. But no one has a clue what's on the test. The room was dark. All you could see is the chairs and computers. I sat down in my seat. Lukas was on the other side of the room. As more kids came into the room, the more nervous I got. Pretty soon the room was filled. Then there was a buzz. Me and Lukas looked at each other. I could feel some tears coming on, The buzz finally ended. Deep breaths Annabelle I said to myself. The test came out on a robotic arm, scanning the identification marks we got moments before. There it is. The packet that will determine my future.
After the horrible first hour ended it was time for the bathroom and water breaks. I caught up with Lukas. “How’s it going” Lukas asked. “Stressful” I replied. We got back to our seats. As the second hour begins I started to hear muffled voices. I was curious. So, I raised my hand and said it was an emergency. They said only under one condition, be back in ten minutes. I walked past the bathroom and saw two men in white coats talking. “ There are flaws in the test. We have to do something” said the guy on the left. “ What about the others” said the other guy. What were they talking about. There is only two groups, the smartest and the dumbest. No others. I almost didn't make it back to the testing area on time. I Ran as fast as I could to get back. The rest of the the hours flew by. All done I said out loud. I saw Lucas looking panicked. “ You ok? “No, I was sorted into the…” STOP I yelled. “ Annabelle listen to me, please.” “Fine” I said with hesitation. “ They got my test scores first. I’m in the dumbest. “ Why?” I said crying. “I’ll be ok” he said. He got taken away from a guard. “Bye Lukas”I whispered under my breath. Then I heard “ Annabelle Oliver”. “ Come with me, please”. So, I followed him. We walked into this room and he broke the news to me. “Annabelle… You’re in the smartest!!”. I waited to smile but I couldn't. “Thank you” I said. I went outside to think about what just happen. I will never see Lukas again. I started to cry. He’s so smart. Why? Why? Why? I said in my head. I wanted to curl up inside a little ball and never come out. But, I can’t do that. I walked back inside, wiping away my tears. My parents are picking me up in a few minutes. I waved goodbye to everyone and run up to my parents and hugged them. “ How did it go” my mother said. “ Great for me, horrible for him”
“Oh Darling, it’s ok” my dad said calmly”. “No it’s not. You don’t understand. I will never see Lukas again” I yelled. “ Can we please go home now?” I asked. “Sure”. We drove past the city that I lived in all my life. When you get sorted into the smartest, you have to pack up everything and move in two days. That’s the law. We got home and I went upstairs and started to pack up everything. I’m an emotional wreck today. I cried at everything. I feel asleep packing. I woke up to knocking. I heard talking and my parents came up to my room. “Did you get everything packed?” “I guess so”. “Ok, great! We need to leave in two hours to go to our new house” my mom said. ‘Wait! Two hours?” “Yes, sweetie they need us to get out as fast as we can” my dad said. I got out of my bed and got to packing. My parents walked out of my room. The two hours passed by. My room is empty. Nothing but the memories in the walls. I walked downstairs with boxes in my hands. ‘Hey Anna, I know you’re hurting but it’s for the best” my dad said. “ Can we just go?” I asked. “Yes, Come on now” my mom replied. I glance around the empty house. Wondering about the new family that is going to move here. Goodbye home. I walked out of the house and into the car. To get to the smart side you have to cross a bridge. If you are a dumper (the name they call the dump) the bridge sets an alarm off. The police come and get you. We cross the bridge. No alarm. After a few more minutes, we pulled up into the driveway. I saw a girl next door. She has short brown hair and glasses. She seems friendly. After the car stopped. I got out to greet her. “Hi, I’m Annabelle”. She looks at me and smiles. “Nice to meet you Annabelle. I’m Sally”. Before we knew it we became really close friends. Sally told me that she never has a close friend before. Her family invited us for dinner. Me, Mom, and Dad went over around five. It seems like we were over there for years. Our parents became friends pretty fast. Since we are in the smart, we don’t have to go to school, but it’s highly recommended. Me and Sally found out we are going the same school. “Thank you so much for having us!” “You're welcome!” Sally said. We walked back home. I have to get up really early to go to school. I was getting ready to go to bed when I heard something. Ring Ring Ring. Could it be the bridge going off? I went to my parents. They seemed more worried than I did. “Go to the basement and lock all door and windows”. “Ummm.. What do you mean dad?”. “Listen, Annabelle do what I say and don’t ask questions until I tell you to”. Ok now I’m freaked out. I heard the doorbell. It was Sally’s family. We walked down to the basement. Our parents brought down food, water, blankets and clothes. “Can someone please tell us what’s going on?” I asked. “Be quiet Anna” Then I heard it. It was a gunshot. I’m crying and my mom is holding me like a baby. Sally is crying. It will be over soon. The front door closed. We didn’t say anything for a hour. Finally I said something. “What was that about?”. My dad just give me and Sally the saddest looked on his face. “If I tell you something do you promise to keep it a secret?”. “I promise with all my heart”. “If you get put into the dumb you have to take another test” he explains. I kinda understand that part a little bit. He started to talk again. “If you get a higher score than seventy five percent you are safe”. “Dad, what do you mean by safe?” ”Sweetie, you don’t ….. die”. Did I here him correctly? You don’t die if you are safe. My dad quiety said “If you're not safe the government kills you.” I looked at Sally. Her face said it all. “Dad, stop joking”. “Annabelle, I’m not joking with you. People die every night. Since we live in the smart, we have to deal with people coming in and shooting the house. If we’re not careful, they can kill us.” “Please stop” I yelled. Then it came to me. “Is Lukas going to die?”.
Piece 4: "The Outsiders" by Amelia G.
I wake up, and like every other morning I put on my all black outfit. My I-Pad woke me up. My alarm has my sacrificed mother's soft voice. “Come on Biviana wake up sweetheart. Go down to the pit. Come Bivi,” I remember recording this. It was the day my mother was shot point-blank with an old gun instead of a vaporizer because she wouldn’t cooperate. I shut of my alarm before I start crying and walk down the stairs of my empty house. I had set out scrambled egg squares the night before and popped three in my mouth. I walked down to the pit. Alone. All of my friends had been sacrificed when I was younger. They left smiling, like they had fully lived there lives inside these walls. It was practically a prison.
My sector took up half the inside of the pit. I was one of the oldest. Two young boys were shooting each other in the leg with dart guns and then rolling on the ground, almost dying from laughter and pain. I got a front row seat. I did not even like to watch the sacrifices. It seemed that everyone else did though. I was nervously shaking. Being older was nerve wracking. There was a greater chance of me getting sacrificed. “Quiet,” representative Elijah Burbank's, the highest in our government stood in the middle of the pit. Silence fell around the whole pit and both the sectors sat, quiet. The big screen on the back of the pit lit up. It was time to start the sacrifice. The screen started flashing. White, black, white, black, over and over again. I closed my eyes. When I opened them, MY FACE was on the screen.
My monitor, the chip in my neck started beeping. The day I sit in the front row I get sacrificed. Two men, who worked with the government's army, moved toward me. They roughly grabbed me and set me to my feet. They held me up. I was so nervous I couldn’t even stand by myself. They strapped me to a board, in the middle of the pit. My body aligned with the burn marks and blood stains from past sacrifices. Then everything came to me. This wasn't right. Killing people. Innocent people. I was gonna die unloved and alone. I did not want to die like this. I wanted to die a hero. Tears streaked my face. At least I can join my mother, father, and friends. Maybe I could wriggle myself free… then I remembered what happened to my mother. I would be shot by an old gun. With a bullet, in the head. Everyone in the pit cheered. I scowled at the man in front of me. He was smiling, holding a vaporizer which pointed at my stomach. He smiled, like he was going to enjoy this. He probably was. “This is going to hurt, a lot,” I watch him take his stance. When I hear the loud sound, I brace myself for the most painful thing. A quick pain shot through my body. I could feel the chemical reaction, interacting with my blood. I took it in deeply. Maybe an old gun would have been better I think.
The feeling leaves my body quickly and what felt like forever, ended up being 15 seconds.
I was on the hard ground, dazed and confused. This time, another gun was jabbing at my neck. “Name,” I don’t know what to say, even though it is a really easy question. He says it again, this time harsher. “Um,um, okay um Biviana, um Bivi. Yah Bivi,” He takes the gun off my neck. “Okay Bivi, stand up,” I’m staring straight into a young boys hazel eyes. I fall back down. He helps be back up. “Whoa. Take it easy there. Bryan. That’s my name.” I look around, realizing we're not alone. Duh. He wouldn’t just come out here at 9:05 A.M by himself. “ I am supposed to be dead. Where am I?” They look at me and smile. “You are not supposed to be dead. You are at the outsider safe haven, let's say, we are beyond the wall, outside the city.”
We get to a big dome where there are at least 600 people. Bryan hands me an outfit, it is like the ones the others are wearing. It has lots of padding. I walk to the back room and put it on. It is a little tight, but I am sure that it is supposed to be. The rest of the day, Bryan gives me a tour and more information on this safe haven. We are a supposed threat. The ones who are most likely to pick up flaws and find out secrets. The most uncooperative. When we get back it is almost sunset. The food here is not bad. It isn’t as good as food squares though. All of this in just one day is overwhelming. When bed time comes I get excited. I have to admit though, having a curfew is weird. I have not had one since I was a little girl. I get a cot near Bryan. He gives me a bigger one, his old one. He said it was fine so I took it. It was uncomfortable but it was doable.
I lay with my eyes awake for at least an hour. When I finally fall asleep, I do not feel safe and I keep waking up. Hopefully tomorrow night I will sleep better I think. Instead of school, my father brought me here sometimes. It was his job to come out here and check on the outsiders. He did not agree with the things they taught. He said it was lies, all lies. I did not understand that at the time, but now…. My dad got sacrificed even though he had a job with the government. Normally, people that had jobs with the government did not get sacrificed. He must have done something. No wonder he was acting so strange the day he was sacrificed. I never went back to school after that.
I sat up in my bed. My father must be here.
I walk outside. Dust rolled around the ruins, fogging up the air. No one was awake yet. The sun was rising from the east, like normal. To my left was north, where the city is. What do we pose a threat to? I run inside and most people are awake. Everyone was wearing the same exact outfit as me except for the only middle aged man. He was talking to someone else. He had dark hair like mine. The door slammed behind me. Everyone turned around and looked at me. “Newbie,” the man says. Everyone is silent. My whole world just turned upside down. His blue eyes. This was my father. My throat was dry but I managed a croak “Dad,” of course. I knew it was him. That he would be here. Now that I see him, I don’t know what to feel.
Phew. I take a deep breath
“Why didn’t you come back for me?”
“NO! I don’t-”
“THEY WIPED MY MEMORY BIVIANIA!”
I look at him. “Why did they take you away. Oh yeah, you probably can't answer that,” that whole sentence had burned the back of my throat. Thank God he remembers me. “Actually, Biv, I can. Follow me.”
I follow him to his office. It is so hard to see your father after 9 years. There is so much to say but it feels like something is stopping you. Like if you say something he’ll be taken away again. His office is a mess. A clutter of maps and sticky notes. You could tell this had taken him the whole 9 years he was here, and he probably never cleaned once. “How is your mother?” I did not even know how to tell him. Tears well in my eyes and I look up, hoping he would get it. “Well she always was an uncooperative one. Well, anyways, before they slated me, I wrote this.”
It was a scrap piece of paper. It read the following: she has a plan, to trick the people. A serum will make the people who are loved by the ones who are the strongest and most worthy sick. She needs these people to get something.
“I was not there long enough to figure that out.”
“Would it help if I knew where we are?”
“Of course. Do you?”
“Yes,” I wonder what we could do to help the city. He smiles. “We have an announcement to make. Don't we!” I look at him “Are you crazy! What are we gonna tell them. If we tell them anything they are gonna go to the city and get themselves killed!”
“We don't have to tell them where we are,” this is a good idea. “We could start a war. Expose the government. We have to save the people.”
I walk outside. There Bryan is waiting for me. “You okay?” I smile. “Me? Oh yeah, couldn’t be better!” My dad yells above the crowd. “We know where we are. We need to go back to the city. We have to fight,” no one cheers. “Why? What if we are happy here?” My dad looks confused. He is stunned. Lost his confidence. That is when it is my turn to stand to take the stage. “How many of you have people you love back in the city?” almost everyone raises their hand. “They are in danger,” now people start talking. “How can we help,” Bryan says. I smile. “Who is ready for a war?”
People are still talking and have been for the past day. “Hey Bryan, who can fight in this civilization?” He grabs my hand and stands still “Why do you think we’re the biggest threats? If you give these people something to fight for, they will until death.” That gives me a plan. “Bryan, I have to talk to my dad.” I walk away. More details of my plan are forming. “Dad! We have to go to the city!” I have a plan!” He tells me that it is up to me. I am the new leader.
I never knew leading a group of hooligans would be so hard. These teens won't listen to me. “ENOUGH! All of you be quiet!” That got their attention. “Now, I have been trying to tell all of you something for a long time. We are north of the city. A day's walk from here. Since we have a wide range of weapons, we will start a civil war. Outsiders versus Insiders,” they all cheer. Bryan smiles at me and gives me a big thumbs up. “When do we start this journey?” Everyone starts chatting, the same question boggled their simple minds. “Tomorrow. Sunrise.”
Everyone , wearing their identical outfits are ready to fight. They seem excited. This was going to make them heroes. Bryan smiled at me. He is the only friend I have made here. A gun was strapped to each person's back. These were the strongest, bravest, and most uncooperative people alive. Whatever Elijah wants it probably won't be good. What has floated in my head was why she couldn’t do it herself? I realized last night that it was most likely because It was far away and would create many deaths. I couldn’t let people die for her. What is she wanting them to get?
We stand outside the gate, my plan was either going to work or to fail. “Stay here,” I ask Bryan to come with me to help out. When my dad brought me here one guard was on duty. Just in case, I wanted Bryan to come with me.
“Hello..er sir. Uh I...I have an alien with me.”
“Bring him in,” when he turns around, Bryan walks through the gate. I take my gun and bash the guard over the head real hard. The guard hits the ground, unconscious. I motion for the rest to come through. My dad stood with me at the front of the group. It was almost dark. Our time to attack.
When it reached dark, we walked to the center of town, where the main building was. All around there were posters saying “Is your loved one sick? Do you want to help them? Go to the main building for a cure.” When we walk in, the guards are off duty. Elijah does not believe in having night guards. We were heading towards the casting room, where we can send out a message.
The casting room is dark with many recording cameras. One of the outsiders used to work here and sets us up for an emergency message.
“Rolling in 5...4...3...2...1...ACTION!”
“Hello, citizens. I am an outsider….”
The people start showing up at the capital. My message worked! They are all ready to fight, to prevent what ever was coming next. I didn't know it then, but the next few days would be the hardest ever. And the war coming would have more deaths than Um… the Civil War? I didn't go to school so I wouldn’t know. When I look back, I think of how many lives were lost. That I dragged them into this. We are the outsiders who made history. We saved and lost lives but, we succeeded our task. I never did figure out what Elijah was trying to find. I guess it doesn’t matter. We won the war. We became the new rulers and, let me tell you those sacrifices stopped and we ran things a lot differently.
Piece 5: "Almost Fresh" by Thomas B.
The year twenty fifty. Somehow even after nearly twelve years the gym floor still looked terrifying to Coby Fresh He walked to the free throw line with a basketball in his hands the others in the gym booing around him. After what seemed like hours Coby bent his legs and threw the ball, the ball flew through the air in a promising fashion but bounced off the rim and hit him in the face, everyone laughed, but Coby was used to it by now. Because this has happened every week for over 11 years.
Coby didn't like the system but that’s how it was. Coby wanted to be a doctor, but to be a doctor he has to shoot three hundred fifty thousand hoops plus one hundred dunks to even start training, and Coby has done zero of both. The system has been around for thirty two years. Nobody really knows how or why it started; they all forgot. Nobody even knows how the system works.
Coby left the gym and went into the locker room. As soon as he got in he started to run to his locker trying to avoid Lenoot and Sharmartoo but it's hard considering they are out to get him. He almost made it to his locker but Sharmartoo jumped out in front of him (clearly on purpose) and Coby ran into him.
Sharmartoo said “watch out where you're going,” then said a string of curses.
Coby said, “sorry,” then tried to walk away but he knew it wouldn't be that easy. Sharmartoo whistled and Lenoot approached. They hit Coby multiple times then knocked him into a bench. They had beaten up Coby before but never this bad. He noticed his head was bleeding but by this time they had walked away.
Coby got dressed and with his head still bleeding he began to walk home. He had probably only walked about ten feet when someone stopped him. He turned around to see who it was - it was Billy Cool. Coby hadn't ever really talked to Billy but he knew he existed.
“I saw you got beaten up again, why can't you manage to stay out of trouble for a few weeks,” said Billy. “You get beat up literally every competition.”
“I know but they won't stop no matter what I do I always get beaten up in the locker room,” said Coby.
“But why would someone hate you so much that they hurt you every day,” asked Billy.
“Well, I want to be a doctor and I'm smart enough to do so but I have to shoot a lot of hoops to do that. But the problem is Lenoot and Sharmartoo aren't smart enough to be a doctor and being a doctor pays well. They got jealous awhile back and are trying to bring me down so i can't achieve it.”
“Well, you know,” Billy pulled closer and began to whisper, “you can cheat the system. In fact most people who are actually smart do exactly that.”
“Really?” Coby wondered, “but isn't that illegal and like punishable by death?”
“Well, yeah but the system has to be cheated one way or another,” said Billy. “I’ll show you tomorrow but for now just head home.”
Coby walked home with a newfound hope in his heart that things could be different. The next day Coby woke up feeling better than ever knowing his life could turn out fine. But his good feelings were abolished when he bumped into Sharmartoo and his gym bag spilled. When he bent over to pick it up he felt the force of Sharmartoo’s foot hit his back and Coby’s face hit the ground. It was then he knew it was going to be a rough day. Coby got up, nose bleeding as Sharmartoo walked away. Coby heard someone coming and flinched but it was just Billy.
“Hey, why so jumpy… and why in the world is your nose bleeding? You look like you got hit by a car!”
“Sharmartoo,” said Coby, “but, nevermind that. Let's head to gym.”
When they got to the locker room Billy started talking about cheating the system but caught himself and lowered his voice to a whisper, “the control box that links to your tracer bracelet and counts how many baskets you've shot or how many dunks you've made is over there, but tomorrow if you come to the gym early, if you hurry you can put this into the system.” Billy held up what looked to be a flash drive but had a skull and crossbones on the body.
“What's that?” asked Coby.
“This is a kill switch. If you plug this into the control box, it will hack the counting system into thinking you have made many more baskets than you actually have.” Coby took the drive and thanked Billy to the best of his ability. Then they both went onto the court.
The day went by fast for Coby, who was eager to go to sleep and wake up early to begin his plan. His day wasn't all happy, though. He still got beat up by Sharmartoo, but he got up from it and walked home. When Coby got home he set his alarm to four o'clock instead of five, then he went to sleep.
The next day Coby woke up to the sound of his alarm going off, and jumped out of his bed to quickly get dressed. He grabbed the kill switch and ran out the door to the gym, and knew he was early enough because neither Sharmartoo or Lenoot were anywhere to be seen. Coby sped into the gym and picked the lock to the control room door and immediately his tracer bracelet buzzed warning him not to go into that area but he ignored it. He approached the control box with the kill switch in hand, he found the usb port and plugged the kill switch in, and a loading bar popped up. He waited a few minutes and as the loading bar reached fifty percent, the room spoke startling him, “what are you doing Coby?”
“IS THAT A KILL SWITCH?”
Coby stood up and ran because he knew that he wouldn't get away with this. Coby ran all the way down the street and passed his house because if he returned his room would recognize him as a fugitive. Coby panicked as he heard the enforcers coming screaming: “DESTROY!DESTROY” Coby ran into the woods the enforcers had heat targeting. But they aren't very good for off road missions, so if they hit a stick and got stuck they would explode. Just then as he was hiding behind a large rock his tracer bracelet hummed indicating an incoming call, he answered it, it was Billy.
“What happened?!” asked Billy. “All you had to do is plug in the drive.
“I know,” Coby said, “but when it was halfway done loading the room noticed me and alerted the enforcers. How did you find out?” asked Coby.
“The city sent out an alert that a criminal was on the loose.”
“What do I do?” asked Coby.
“Well I have a secret base in Sherwood Forest,” answered Billy.
“That’s where I am,” said Coby. “I’ll head over there now.”
“Ok, but you’ll need the password,” said Billy. “It's four five nine two.”
“Ok, I'm there, I think.” Coby typed in the password and the rock shifted over. It smelled like dusty lemons and it was dark, but as Coby went inside he could make out a waterfall, a computer, and lots of supplies. Coby closed the door, and and as the lights of the base turned on he realized his life was not going according to plan.
Writing Mindset Reflection: How can teachers merge creative and academic writing? How do we use BOTH genres to work for each other?