Day Terrors

It was pitch dark in my house, and my friend Duke Ellington and I could barely see anything beyond the flashlights from our phones.

“Did you hear that,” said Duke. A shuffling noise came from the hallway, then heavy breathing and saliva gurgling.

I jumped as a chain rattled from the gloom. “What the–” 

“Let’s get out of here!” Duke exclaimed as it rushed toward us.  

We grabbed each other and screamed as out of the shadows lunged…

a cute bulldog.

Sitting at our feet, it panted with a doggie smile only only a dog person would love. 

We grinned with relief.

Too soon.

Crack! The noise knocked us off our feet. The dog’s bones started to shift and its body began to morph into a hideous nightmare. Bigger and bigger it grew, secreting puss and shedding hair and skin. Its mouth stretched wide and snapped at its meal.

Us. 

“Nooooo!” I screamed and woke myself up. Just a dream, thank god.

My mom yelled up the steps at me. She’d gotten me a gift and it wasn’t even my birthday!

I hurried to see, skidding to a halt.

It’s that same face from my dream. The same bulldog.  

I screamed and ran to Duke’s house.  

~~By Tyler Domask, Class of 2020

The Squirrel

With a quick scurry he climbs the oak

Leaving the audience to gaze upon 

The miraculous height of his platform. 

Now quiet please, everyone. Quiet!

With a few peeks at the daunting ground below, 

He studies the neighboring pine, the electric wire strung between.

Concentration fills the atmosphere.

No safety net, no wires to catch him– 

No balance bar if he should slip.

A quick few steps and he pauses, frozen.

But not with fear.

With anticipation. 

With a hop-skip and a jump, he reaches the middle. 

His weight is almost too much, 

Bending the wire like the string of a bow 

One last leap and a shrill gasp from spectators,  

He lands safely on the other end.

With a quick bow,  

The magnificent tight rope runner disappears.

~~By Jason Young, Class of 2020

The Waves of Change

FADE IN:

INT. CAR – DAY

Vibrant, glistening waves crash against the sand, and seagulls fly around overhead, seemingly disturbed and agitated. Rolling, gray clouds meet, and the wind begins to pick up.

RADIO STATION

“Scared of my own image, scared of my own immaturity…”

LAYLA turns off radio and continues deleting her old posts from her social media, including literary quotes and family photos. She then posts a picture taken the day before at a party.

Enter LAYLA, a troubled teen with a “girly chic” look, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She is 5’6, and suddenly determined to change her persona from the reserved, smart girl to the outgoing risk-taker after an event that dramatically altered her life.

Enter JUDE, Layla’s best friend. JUDE is a 5’4 brunette with dark eyes. She is also reserved, but possesses different interests, and chooses to isolate herself from most (Layla being an exception, due to her kind heart). Because of this, Jude wishes to keep her safe, from others as well as Layla’s own, grieving heart.

JUDE

C’mon Lay, let’s just go home. The weather is shit, it’s not safe out here. We could get hurt. You were never like this last year… 

LAYLA

If you want to leave, go ahead, but I’m staying. I need some good pictures. Besides, look at the group of people over there, they look like fun! We should join them.

JUDE

You don’t have to do this ya know. Maggie-

LAYLA

Don’t bring her into this. Stay or go home, I don’t care. 

LAYLA exits the car and wipes a tear off her face before running over to the group of people by the ocean. As Layla is walking towards the water, her phone begins to ring, and she looks at the screen, seeing it’s from her mother. She declines the call, and the camera returns to the view of Jude.

JUDE

(deep sigh)

Oh Layla, if only you knew how worried we all are about you…

EXT. BEACH – DAY

Layla reaches the group of teenagers, and with a smile, 

introduces herself.

LAYLA

Hi! I’m Layla! D’you mind if I join you?

TEENAGER #1

Sure thing. We don’t mind, do we boys?

CLARA

Umm, in case you’ve forgotten, I’m here too. But yeah, sure, let blondy join us. She seems fun. That is why you wanted her to stay, isn’t it?

Clara gives a sly smirk as another one of the boys is caught staring at Layla’s slender figure.

TEENAGER #2

(clears throat)

Uhh, yeah, totally. I like your outfit by the way. Not many girls look good in floral, but you are the exception.

CLARA

Hey! I’ve worn floral outfits before and you’ve never noticed!

TEENAGER #1

Oh we’ve noticed, you just don’t look as good in it.

The boys laugh and tease Clara as Layla giggles, noticing the joking tone behind the tame insults. Clara and Layla then look at each other, and smile.

JUDE then exits the car, and begins to head in the direction of the group.

JUDE

Layla!

LAYLA

Oh, you decided to join us. Guys, this is my friend Jude.

TEENAGER #3

(smirks)

Hey. Lucky for you, I like the whole “edgy” look. You single, sweetheart?

CLARA

Ilugtch! Would you mind not being completely revolting for one second?

JUDE shifts uncomfortably, the toe of her converse twisting in the sand as she darts her eyes downwards.

TEENAGER #1

Leave her alone, dipshit. You make every girl wanna puke.

The group laughs before he speaks again.

TEENAGER #1

Hey Lay. We were gonna head up to Drifter’s Peak. D’you care to join us?

LAYLA

(Glowing)

That sounds great! Exactly the adventure I was looking for today!

JUDE

Umm, Layla… Don’t you think that sounds a little dangerous? It’s a free climb, there’s no ropes, and you’ve never even climbed a tree…

CLARA

Aww c’mon Jude! You’re not scared, are you?

JUDE

Actually, yeah, I am. It’s not safe, and not to be rude and all, but we barely know you…

LAYLA

Jude, that’s enough. If you want to watch from the ground, be my guest, but I’m not letting you ruin my fun. You know I love you, but you need to stop being such a buzzkill all the time. It gets annoying. 

LAYLA turns away from Jude and runs to catch up with the group, who had moved further up the beach towards the rocky cliff.

JUDE

(Audibly exhales)

Wait up!

The girls then catch up with the group at the bottom of the steep rock.

TEENAGER #3

Aww hey look! Little Miss Sunshine and The Rebel are going to join us after all!

CLARA

Oh shut up, would you? Sheesh, it’s like you try to drive away any girl within a five mile radius!

TEENAGER #1

Alright you two. Enough bickering. I think it’s time we embark on this adventure, don’t you? Who wants to lead the group?

He pauses and looks around at the silent group before speaking again.

TEENAGER #1

No volunteers? Okay then, I guess I’ll go first.

The others follow closely behind, with Clara second, Teenager #3 third, Layla fourth, and Teenager #2 last. Jude does not go with them.

JUDE

Layla, are you sure about this? The rain only stopped an hour ago, and it looks like it’s going to start again any minute.

A hint of worry crosses Layla’s face; Jude sees the fear written in Layla’s eyes, before she quickly composes herself and responds.

LAYLA

I’m climbing this rock, Jude. Feel free to keep watch if you’re so worried, but you’re the one making the stupid decision, not me.

LAYLA and the others begin the ascent while Jude watches nervously from below. The group scales the first half of the rocky cliff with ease, but as the clouds darken further, the damp grit remains unevaporated the more elevated the five become.

TEENAGER #2

This is getting kind of boring… and my hands are getting scraped up. Maybe we should just bag it… 

CLARA

No way loser! We’re more than halfway there! We can’t give up now!

LAYLA

I don’t know… it might be best to turn around, the wind is picking up, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt.

CLARA

(teasing)

Aww c’mon girly! Don’t betray me now!

TEENAGER #1

Yeah, don’t worry about it. You’re safe with us.

The group continues on, and before long, the top of the cliff is within view. However, just as TEENAGER #1 makes it to the peak, it begins to slowly rain.

EXT. CLIFF – DAY

TEENAGER #1

What’d I tell you! This view was well worth it! Hurry up losers, before the clouds cover up the sky completely.

LAYLA

Woah…

LAYLA looks across the expanse of the beach and out to the ocean, before turning towards Jude looking upwards wearily from the ground.

LAYLA

Jude, you should be up here! It’s amazing!

The others hoist themselves over the edge and gather together to admire their hard work. Layla takes her cell phone out of her bag and snaps a few photos, while the boys discuss ways to tackle the descent. Suddenly, Clara loses her balance.

JUDE

(screams)

CLARA

AAHHH! Help me!

The boys scramble over to Clara, where they find her dangling off the cliff, trying to grip the edge of the rock. They reach over and clutch her arms, trying to pull her back to safety. As a team, the guys manage to lift Clara over the ledge and onto the firmness of the peak, while Layla watches in horror.

TEENAGER #2

(breathing heavily)

Are you okay…? 

Clara

(shakily)

Yeah… I’m fine… Just a little cut up from the rocks, but a little blood won’t kill me. Thanks guys… 

TEENAGER #1

C’mon crew. I think we should make our way back down, before the rain makes the cliff any slicker.

A silent agreement is reached between all but Layla, who sits quietly crying and shaking on the cliff.

TEENAGER #1

(softly)

Hey Lay…? Do you think you can make it back down…?

As the rain begins to lessen, the sun begins to shine through the clouds, forming a rainbow beside the group. Layla manages to compose herself, and slowly makes her way down with the others. After about a thirty minute trek, everyone’s feet are met with the sand, and Layla crumples into Jude’s open arms.

EXT. BEACH – DAY

Clara and the boys begin to say a quick goodbye, checking to make sure Layla is okay. Jude confirms that there’s nothing they can do to help, and the group leaves. Layla cries into Jude’s shoulder.

LAYLA

You were right… I’m so sorry for doubting you… I can’t do this. I can’t keep pretending everything is okay. Like my sister didn’t die, and that I didn’t watch her bleed out in front of me… Jude, it doesn’t even feel real. Life without her. She was always there, and now she’s just not. There are moments at night when I close my eyes and see her, lying there, her blood on my hands. I jolt awake because I can’t breathe, the memories are suffocating… and it’s all my fault.

JUDE

No, that is not true. It was her decision to go out on the ice. Just because you were there and witnessed it doesn’t mean you killed her.

LAYLA

But I should’ve done more, held onto her, called the police… I knew she was intoxicated… I could’ve done more… 

JUDE

You did everything you could to help her, to save her. You don’t need to change your life to live out Maggie’s, especially if it forces you to step outside your comfort zone or to put your own life at risk. Your sister was a great girl, and she loved you, so much. She wouldn’t want to see you like this…

LAYLA

I know you’re right, but I miss her Jude… It’s like I’m living in a nightmare, and I can’t escape. It’s hard to admit that she’s really gone.

The girls embrace, and Jude wipes the tears from Layla’s face.

LAYLA

Will you excuse me? I’m sorry, I just need to do something really quick.

JUDE

Don’t worry about it! I’ll meet you at the car when you’re done, okay?

LAYLA

Okay. Thank you Jude,  for everything.

JUDE

Of course. I’m always here fore you.

LAYLA then walks a few feet away, towards the edge of the water, and pulls out her phone.

LAYLA

Mom? Yes, we’re fine, we’re heading home now. I’ve decided to take your advice. I want to see the therapist… Yeah, I’m sure. I miss her Mom, so much… It’s been so hard, and I’m sorry for making it worse for you… I want to be myself again… For her… I’ll see you soon… Oh, and Mom? I love you.

LAYLA ends the call and puts her phone in her back pocket. She then turns and heads towards the car, and smiles at Jude, a tear sliding down her face. They both silently enter the car.

INT. CAR – DUSK

JUDE

You okay?

LAYLA

Yeah… better than I’ve been in a long time… 

LAYLA then turns on the radio, and the camera focuses on the setting sun.

FADE OUT

~~By Alyssa Rimanthe-Schweiger, Class of 2020

What Inspiration Does

We all looked up to you,

The one who made it out.

So we wanted to be like you,

Seen and admired in every house.

Then you showed us what it takes,

And some of us began to doubt.

But some stayed.

Calmed their minds, 

stilled their thoughts, 

disciplined their bodies, 

and listened to your wisdom.

Yet in this group of dreamers, 

A bigger dreamer was amidst them.

Someone who clinged to every word that exited your mouth,

Every idea that left your mind.

And, on his own time, he began to start his grind.

His view on life changed and he knew what he wanted from it.

And he planned every day, every night with a great mapping

And he knew, no matter what, his hunger to be great would lead him to the summit.

And with this peace of mind, he was truly happy.

And then you passed away.

And the world mourned your name.

But everything would be okay.

Because when your idols turn idle

And the composer is decomposing

And the athlete is descending from his dunk

And the king bows his head

And the philanthropist is dead.

Your name will live on in the people that you touched.

Rest in Peace Kobe & GiGi Bryant

By Bishop Coleman, Class of 2021

Me, Myself, and I

Kaylee—

Athletic, caring, happiness, determined

Sister of Allie, Evan, Kaitlyn

Lover of the Eagles, my puppy, and soccer

Who feels joy playing soccer, nervousness in the dark, and boredom reading bad books

Who needs happiness, kind people, and sports

Who gives laughter, support, and happiness 

Who fears the dark, spiders, and bandits

Who would like to see cancer vanish, equal pay for women, and love for others 

Who lives at the end of the road in a small town

—- Shaw

By Kaylee Shaw, Class of 2023

Bee in the Bonnet

I could see his face was shinier than porcelain as it dripped with reflective beads of sweat. They continued to ask me questions about it, but how could you reply to the fact that your dad was a murderer? He sat there still trying to dig the blood from under his nails and on his palm. His face looked overwhelmed by the events of the night. He had gone from being Raven Mortuus to Raven Mortuus, “The Murderer.” I sat staring blankly at the officer in front of me wondering why her hands were so stiff, as if struck with rigor mortis. What was I supposed to do? Just forget it happened? The magnitude of events slowly and surely ate away at my conscience. 

The approaching investigator came and took a seat across from me. He attempted small talk to ease the tension in the room, but it would not work. He asked me how long my dad had been drinking. 

The words oozed out my mouth ever so slowly, as if afraid to escape, until I could finally muster the strength to speak. “Fourteen years,” I said.

That poor little boy was on his way to school.  Dad, why did you do it? I knew it was bad, but never like this. Why did you have to force me into the car with you and give me that sweet pity talk you give after you’re done cussing out mom and beating her like a rag doll? Those two seconds were the fastest of my life. Hearing the loud thump on the car bumper and seeing that poor innocent boy’s head flick backwards in a motion faster than my eye could ever keep up with. All the blood could fill a pool, and the streams of tears I cried could fill another. Oh god if only you could see the boy’s face. I kneeled down to see if he was still breathing. I prayed to myself that he was still breathing. My hands were the color of Mars, a bright crimson, and I tried to wipe the blood off on my shirt as I cried. But even through all my remorse, you sat there untouched, undamaged, and unbothered. How could you hit that poor little boy and even worse, not even feel guilty about it? Through the waterworks in my eyes I turned towards my dad and no longer recognized the person looking back at me, for all I could see were a pair of eyes, dark circles of the abyss. I directed my attention elsewhere, to the side of the little boy’s bag. There lay a beautiful, awe-inducing flower: a lotus. I picked it up and for that instant, I was drawn in by its beauty. It was so precious and delicate. I was immune to all external, for nothing was more important than this lotus. Soon after, the flower withered away in front of me and all at once, reality came rushing back in. Of course, I thought. Death often induced more death. Why was death like this? So abrupt and solemnly devastating. 

I looked into the broken glass mirror behind the investigator and gazed upon my shattered reflection. I looked through the window of the room door and saw a stroller. Nobody was standing near it, and it was just empty. My eyes grew wide and red, and tears leaked down my eyes as I remembered the little boy that dad had hit with the Suzuki. I pondered over the life that poor boy was meant to live and how I couldn’t ever give it back to him. An apology would’ve been fine for me, the chance to say sorry both for me and my dad. Just giving him the chance to see his mom and dad one more time would have sufficed.

Dad was still drunk and wasn’t aware of what was going on. He stared blankly past the investigator in front of him. His eyes were dark portals of macabre vision. The investigator pressed him for answers. However he was only answered by grumbling and groans. At this point, Dad was a lost cause.

When the police officer escorted me back to the house, Mom was sitting on the couch drinking a can of Budweiser. The smell of the house was reminiscent of weed and various beverages. A deep anger engulfed me and I quickly found myself screaming at my own mother. 

My eyes narrowed and I let the words take me over, “Don’t you know what Dad and I have just been through? What are you doing with your life?” I screamed. 

Why was she sitting here as if oblivious to the events Dad and I had just gone through? The sheer thought made my blood boil. She scolded me in a condescending tone, the same way Dad would when he knew he was in the wrong. That only exacerbated the situation further, and I became resentful towards the both of them. She’s just as bad if not worse than Dad, I thought, and soon after we continued the bitter rally between the two of us. 

Mom walked over to me in her discombobulated and meek manner. Her face was grey and her lips were cracked. She rested her hand on my shoulder and muttered that I go to my room. I shoved her arm off me and marched on to my room still in a frenzy.

As I walked upstairs I kicked one of my mom’s beer bottles on the ground and hurried off to my bedroom. I slammed the door so hard the knob came loose and the house rattled. I jumped onto the bed and pushed the side of my head into the dingy cotton pillow. My eyes began to water dramatically and my nose began to run. Several minutes of solemn weeping passed, and my vision became fuzzy through the blur of tears.

I turned my head to my window, and I saw a bee flying above me in my room. It flew around me in a graceful and effortless manner. It buzzed like it had a secret to tell me. My first instinct was to kill it, but after everything that happened I couldn’t muster the courage. Closer and closer to my body it got and I just laid there. I genuinely thought I was going crazy at this point. Was it weird to be jealous of a bee? It flew around so freely and purposefully, yet didn’t have much direction at all. My eyes widened and focused on the bee as I had no tears left to cry. I traced its every movement with my eyes and began to smile. I admired it and envied its beauty. The bee circled the room one last time and hurried out of the small tattered window it had entered. As I watched the bee exit,  I took a long, passionate, gaze at my book bag. 

I knew what I had to do.

By Alpha Bah, Class of 2020

The Longest Train Ride

December 11, 2017, began as a typical day in New York City and the rest of the world, but to me it was my birthday. I had never been the type to go all out for birthdays, so I got ready for school and walked five minutes to the C train like I always did.

At the station, I swiped my green, student metrocard and stood at the platform, blasting music through my ear buds and feeling a little more joyous as the lyrics and music enveloped me. The train pulled into the station relatively empty as usual, and I took my seat ready to head down all the way to 42nd Street.

This ride, however, my train stopped at 59th Street and stayed there. After around ten patient minutes of waiting, I heard the conductor address us passengers through his intercom. “This train will not be making any further stops. All passengers, please exit the train and wait for the one directly behind us. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

When you’re a New Yorker like me, you come to understand that most of what comes out of conductors’ mouths is false. I was fully aware there was no train directly behind us, so my next step was to try to find a different way to get to 42nd. Luckily, 42nd Street is one of those stops where literally every train heads, and from 59th Street I could easily transfer over to the 1 train.

So that’s what I did. But, when the crowded 1 train pulled into the station, I realized that something was not quite right. New Yorkers know that when a train is over-crowded, something’s wrong. I squeezed into the train car anyway, and after the doors closed, the train did something upsetting to any New Yorker: It skipped stations at 50th and 42nd, then went straight to 34th. Walking out, I could tell everyone felt as as flustered as I did. What was going on? I thought. Why today of all days should the trains be messed up?  

As I waited on the opposite side for the uptown train to 42nd Street, I checked my phone and knew I was going to be late. My friends were experiencing similar problems, some not even able to get on a train because of how crowded they were. I felt my face clench and every sound around me fade into the background of my own irritation. The train pulled into the station, and instead of getting on, I turned around and made my way above ground to walk the eight blocks to school.

As I approached 42nd, however, I became uneasy at the sight of so many police. I was smack in the middle of Times Square, so their presence wasn’t uncommon. However, something about this moment felt excessive. Everywhere the men in uniform stood stiff and unmoving, definitely more than your average street cop. Shields the length of entire human beings, masks revealing only their eyes, and assault rifles ready to engage at any moment. Unsettled, I walked past dozens of them surrounded by barricades and police tape that blocked my path to school. 

“Excuse me,” I said to one of uniformed men. “How can I get down to 11th avenue?”

“You’re gonna have to walk around, kid.”

I gritted my teeth and asked what I had been too scared to ask. “Um…What’s going on?”

The officer responded, “We’re trying to contain an incident that happened earlier today in the subway.” 

And with that my awful suspicions were confirmed.

Something worse than your average train delay had occurred. Certain that was the most information I would get out of him, I thanked him and worked my way around the barricades to school.

***

I arrived around 30 minutes into my 2nd period class to see that no one was there. My teacher let me leave, as there was almost no one in class, and so I headed downstairs to the cafeteria in hopes of finding someone I knew. There I encountered my friend Amy at a table in the far back by herself. Her attention was glued to her phone until she heard my footsteps. She ushered me to hurry over. 

We sat together watching a video on her phone. Everything happened so quick. One moment everyone was walking in the tunnel with their usual swiftness, and the next moment a smoke-filled explosion sent everyone running. As the smoke cleared, a man could be seen lying on the ground, and a flurry of armed cops stormed in. They inspected the man and cuffed him, after which the video stopped. Amy and I looked at each other with round, worried eyes, full of anguish like lost puppies looking for their owners.

Slowly throughout the day, more people entered the building. Almost four periods in, our principal came on to the loudspeaker and made an announcement. “Excuse me faculty and students, parents have been notified about the status of today’s earlier incident, and no one will be penalized for missing school today. If your safety is a concern, you may call a parent to escort you out of the building. Otherwise classes are cancelled and all students should take the time to catch up on anything that they might need to.” 

It wasn’t too long until most of our friends arrived, and the dreary worries of the attempted suicide bombing were overshadowed by the cheers and laughter from my birthday. It was as if it hadn’t really happened and everyone was ready to celebrate. Or maybe we were celebrating that no one was killed. Either way, as soon as I left those school doors that day, things cheered up as I reveled in another full rotation around the sun.

***

Later, we learned that there was an attempted pipe bomb attack at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street, a hotspot where many people travel between trains. When checking the times, I realized I was on the train right after the attack, which is why my train went out of service. The man claimed to have terrorist motivations, specifically ISIS motivated. There were no deaths, but four people including the attacker were injured. It made the world feel a lot smaller in terms of how safe I felt. And although nothing actually happened to me physically, the idea that the whole incident was so close to me makes me think about what could’ve happened. In the end, I am glad nothing too terrible happened. And that is the perspective I choose to look through when I think of the outcome of this entire situation.

–By Alpha Bah, Class of 2020