Monday, May 15, 2006

On Holiday (Liv Carlson)

Green acres and purple sky
Yellow houses

Island of green hills and sheep
Rainy days

Steaming cups of tea
Uni students in a queue
The flat London sky

Train station
The big clock strikes one
Travelers run

Cloudy moors
Cliffs upon the ocean’s edge
Foggy Foothills

Black and rough volcanic ash
Many brick walls

“Bonjour, merci!”
croissant, baguette, escargot
Eiffel Tower

in Notre Dame’s shadow
Men selling art

Blood red sun
setting on the piazza
smallest country

Volcanic ash
Body cast in cement
At Pompeii

Ride down the canals
Smoke in the air

Dark beer,
Calico cat at my feet

Big fast cars
Large portions of food to eat
WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with poet's permission

Barbie’s Boyfriend (Amanda Dinmore)

(Apologies to Marge Piercy)

Another boy arose
Blue pajamas, blue booties
Dinosaurs and G.I. Joes.
He played football, it was his life.
Then one day his coach said,
You play like a girl, try ballet.

Intelligent from all angles,
Never even needed to study,
Yet he saw nothing in himself.
Nothing but a body,
A body he would never have.

Spent day in and day out trying,
At the gym, on the football field,
Alone no matter where.
People smiled as he waved
But never lifted a hand.
Never sought him out,
So he cut his hands off.

Teary eyed they came,
Never knowing why he left.
They gathered in a line
Each waiting their turn to
Finally lift their hands to him,
Only to fold them over his casket.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with Poet's permission

Friday, May 12, 2006

Desert Sestina (Rachael Noble)

In the heavy silence
Blood in the dust
And on a stone.
Bones already bleaching in the heat,
Life soaked into the earth.
Sun holds a vigil for the dead.

Sun sets, the sky is dead
Still there is only silence.
Blood-soaked earth,
No wind to stir the dust.
The heavy, crushing heat
And blood on a stone.

Blood, bones, and a stone.
All else is sand, stone-dead.
Madness born of heat,
Anger in the silence.
Death in the dust,
Blood drunk by parched earth.

Half buried in the earth
Almost like a stone,
Bones in the dust,
Sign of the dead,
Reveal nothing, only silence,
Burning in the heat.

A blow in the heat
Blood spilt on the earth
No reply in the silence.
Weapon made of a stone.
Now the dead
Lies in the dust.

Now wind blows the dust,
A sandy blast of heat.
The sky watches over the dead.
Bones covered by earth
Now there is only the stone,
And the silence.

Through the silence, in the dust,
By the stone, in the heat,
Under the earth there is the dead.

WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with permission of poet

Thursday, May 11, 2006

According to “The Experts” (Ruth Ann Hake)

(Creative non-fiction)

They spotted the little log cabins on a Sunday drive. The sign in front read:
She hoped they were as nice as they sounded.

They had two days together, and no one knew where to find them.

“I’ll wait in the car. I’m nervous,” she said. “What if they ask for identification?”

“We’re not doing anything illegal. And I have my driver’s license,” he answered, looking more like a teenager than a man as he made his way to the office to register.

This was the first time they had stayed in a motel.

“What was taking so long?” she thought. “I bet we won’t be able to get a room.”
They brought very little with them, an old brown suitcase for her and an army duffle bag for him. It was late, and a summer storm was brewing. The weatherman said: Severe thunderstorms.

“We have Cabin #5,” he said as he returned to the car just as the rain started.

She sighed with relief and he with anticipation.

It was easy to find; there were only eight cabins. As he opened the door to #5, a blast of hot air greeted them. When he found the light switch, a bare bulb shone from the yellowed ceiling.

“It won’t take long to cool,” he said.

The room was sparsely furnished; in fact, the bed was small and uninviting.

“Where’s the air conditioner?” she asked as she sat her suitcase by the door and glanced around the room.

They looked everywhere, but Cabin #5 didn’t have one.

“That’s okay,” she said. “Let’s just sit for awhile and watch TV. That might help us to relax.” Her hair was a little wet from the rain, and she wondered what she looked like.

There was nothing to sit on but the bed.

And where was the color television?

There wasn’t even a black and white TV in Cabin #5! But, there was a radio, a big old cabinet radio.

“We’ll listen to music. Maybe we can find something romantic to put us in the mood.”

She was easy to please even when she got upset. He said he liked that about her.

“This is unbelievable!” he said as he tried to turn on the radio. “This contraption needs quarters. I don’t have any. Do you?”

He was sweating. The heat was stifling. The rain pounded on the little cabin’s roof.

“No, but that’s okay,” she said as she headed to the bathroom, averting her eyes from the bed. “It’s late. I’ll take a nice cool bath, and we’ll go to bed.”

She took her suitcase with her. She brought a special nightgown.

The tension was mounting between them. Their getaway weekend was falling apart. She didn’t ask him to find the manager to complain. She was too embarrassed, this being their first time. And she suspected the manager was in bed in HIS air-conditioned cabin watching HIS color television.

“Honey,” she called. “There’s no bathtub, just a shower behind a plastic, mildewed curtain. I’m afraid I’ll catch something if I get in this shower.”

Maybe these cute, little log cabins trimmed in pink, advertising air conditioning and TV weren’t a good idea.

“I’ll just wash my face and be right there,” she said as she heard the bedsprings squeak.

She would lock herself in the bathroom for a little while to calm her nerves. She felt like she might throw up. Maybe he would fall asleep before she came out.

She didn’t notice when they first walked in, but now she did. There was only a ratty, plastic curtain for the bathroom door. And it didn’t even reach the floor! This was NOT okay! He could hear every sound she made. He would see her feet and know what she was doing. She would hold her bladder, all night if necessary.

“I’m coming out now.” Her voice quivered as she removed some clothing. Forget the nightie!

So in her slip, underwear, and a pair of socks that she brought along, she dashed from behind curtain number two to the bed. She could get through this ordeal if she covered up. She didn’t care how hot she was.

Where were the blankets? The bed was bare. Why didn’t she notice this before?

“What did you do with the blankets?” she asked as she turned her back to him and closed her eyes tightly.

“There aren’t any,” he replied.

She was on the verge of tears when he spotted the blankets hanging from hooks on the far wall. He retrieved one and covered her up to her chin.

“I want to go home.”

He turned off the bug-stained light and lay down beside her without even a kiss.

“It’s okay,” he said, keeping a distance between them. “We can just go to sleep. We have tomorrow, and the day after that. In fact, we have a lifetime.”

He was easy to please also.

A few hours earlier, they were pronounced man and wife, and this was their honeymoon in Cabin #5.
* * * * *

For the next thirty-nine years on her anniversary, she remembered Cabin #5. What a beginning! Maybe they should have waited until they had more money and honeymooned in Aruba, or even the Pocono’s. Cabin #5 was an omen!

Today while she waited for her husband to come home from work, she listened to Dr. Phil and his guest, a marriage expert. Did they marry too young? Would they have been happier if they had more money to start with? But they loved each other in spite of age and money.

As she watched and listened, she made his favorite supper, shrimp lasagna and apple crisp.

They greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek.

He looked tired when he finally sat down to the table.

It was her turn to say grace, and she added a postscript, “Help our table-talk to be productive. Amen.”

“Do I smell apple crisp?” he asked.

She shouldn’t have said anything until supper was over, but she didn’t wait.

“Our marriage needs help,” she said. She patted his arm.

As he bit into a shrimp, he sighed, “What have you been watching now?”

“Dr. Phil. And he had a lot to say about us. We never had a real honeymoon, and our fortieth anniversary is coming up in a couple of months. Remember?” she asked as she took the salad dish from him abruptly.

“Have I ever forgotten an anniversary?” he asked as he put his fork down with a clang.

“You came pretty close sometimes,” she said. “Dr Phil says that to keep a ‘long time’ marriage fresh and teeming with passion we need to be spending quality time together. New hobbies or a shared sport were two of the expert’s suggestions. A second honeymoon also might do us good. You do remember the first one, don’t you, dear?”

“Of course, I remember! Cabin #5, dear!”

“And we’d have to start sleeping together again,” she said. They hadn’t slept in the same bed for two years. That was a big problem, according to the experts.

However, something needed to be fixed before she considered going away with him and sharing a bed. She didn’t know how he would take her next request.

“If we decide to go on a second honeymoon, will you get the operation?”

His face registered fear and shock. The only sound was the ticking of the timer.

“I’ll never let a doctor touch me again with surgical instruments. How many scars do I have from the ‘simple’ gall bladder operation?” he asked. “I can’t believe you asked me that!”

“The surgeon apologized to you for his resident’s mistake of missing the gall bladder with his first incision. And it was the young doctor’s first operation.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” he said. “ I won’t go under the knife again, not even for a second honeymoon.”

“I’ve hardly ever said a word about our first honeymoon, but each anniversary brings back the memories of that fiasco. We could take pictures this time, get a tan, read, and reconnect,” she said.

“Is that one of the expert’s words, reconnect?”

“As a matter of fact, yes! I can’t reconnect with you until you fix the problem that only surgery can cure.” She stared straight into his eyes.

It was his turn to stare back. The timer ticked louder.

“According to the experts, is there anything else wrong with our marriage that we can fix with an expensive honeymoon? We might as well get this all out in the open while my favorite supper gets cold!” he said. He sat back in his chair.

“I wanted to talk to you while the show is fresh in my mind.” She sipped her ice tea before her next announcement.

“We failed the quiz!”

“What quiz?” he asked.

“The Will This Marriage Last quiz.”

“How could I fail The Quiz when I didn’t take it?” He leaned forward, elbows on the table.

“I knew what your answers would be, so I answered for you. Except for question number eight, I wasn’t quite sure.”

“And what was question eight?” he asked.

“I can’t remember exactly. It was something about nudity and lighting.”

“What was my answer?” he asked. “I’d like to know!”

She sensed his interest now. Interest was good! Maybe their marriage could be fixed.

“That question is the least of our worries. According to the experts, we didn’t get off to a good start. We had several strikes against us,” she said.

“I can name a few,” he said as he counted on his fingers. “We were too young, I was still in college, and my father hated you. And your dad thought I couldn’t take care of his first-born.

“Am I right?” he asked as he held up four fingers.

She nodded and added, “Our first baby was born too soon, you quit school, and we had to rent a house from my dad.”

Now they were up to seven reasons.

He continued, “I made barely enough money to support us, I worked an extra job in the evenings, and two more babies came within three years.”

“Why didn’t we know we were in trouble?” she asked.

It was his turn.

“And then for the next thirty-five years, we took care of a handicapped daughter who zapped our energy, our hopes, and our resources. It should have been obvious at that point, that our marriage was doomed, don’t you think, dear?” He ran out of fingers to hold up.

“So I wonder why we are still together, against all odds, dear?” she asked.

“Probably because we didn’t have as many experts back then as the world has now. Stop listening to the experts and listen to your heart.”

That’s all she needed to hear.

“So about our second honeymoon. Let’s see if the cabins are still there,” she said, happy once again.

“If they’re still there, we’ll drive right by!”

They picked up the silverware since the crisis was over. Neither noticed if the food was cold.

“Forget that I mentioned your operation, I’ll keep sleeping in the extra bedroom, just don’t tell anyone. If we go on a second honeymoon, I’ll use earplugs and you can try breathing strips to stop your snoring.”

“And no more quizzes!”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

The timer rang. Dessert was ready.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with author’s permission

The Promise (Christy Torres)

(Short Story)

Cancer…Cancer…the word resonates in Tracey’s mind. It bounces back and forth and cuts the breath from her lungs. Cancer, it feels like a death sentence. She stares at the doctor, numbly nodding as he explains everything. As the doctor leaves the room, she closes her eyes, steadies her breath, and drifts back in time.

It was 1987. Tracey was seven years old. She lay outside in the grass, and stared at the clear blue sky. The sun was shining. Its warmth caressed her skinny arms and legs, and it kissed her freckled face. The blades of grass swayed in the wind, and tickled her neck. She watched the cotton-ball clouds float by. Her eyes fluttered shut, and her body twitched toward imminent sleep. Suddenly a huge gush of frigid water poured over her. She sat up gasping to steal back the breath she had just lost. Goosebumps immediately popped up covering her arms and legs as the scream reached her lips.

As the sound of Tracey’s discomfort echoed throughout the yard, a new sound joined it. High-pitched laughter poured out of Ted’s mouth. He laughed so hard that tears ran down his face, and he clutched his stomach. Tracey jumped up with a yell, startling him. Wide-eyed, he watched his twin sister run full force at him. He had no time to move, duck, dash, or even think. She tackled him to the ground.

Tracey stares out the window of the hospital as the nurse enters the room. “Are you ready?” the nurse asks. Tracey stares at the vials lying neatly on the table, and swallows hard. She nods and lies down on her back on the hospital bed. The nurse wipes her arm with an alcohol pad. The smell stings Tracey’s nose and the prick of the needle fires hot pain up her arm. She clenches her teeth and looks out the window. “I am all done. I am going to take your blood to the lab so they can compare the DNA to see if you are a match. Try to rest; the surgeon will be in shortly to talk with you.” The nurse smiles and leaves the room. Tracey gets up and walks to the window and stares at the world outside. Her mind continues to drift.

It was 1988. Ted walked into the living room. He wore a Detroit Tigers baseball cap and a jersey. He had a huge smile on his face, and cradled something in his hand. “Whatcha got there?” Tracey asked from her seat on the worn-out couch.

“It ain’t anything for you. Daddy got it for me after the game. It’s a baseball card to add to my collection. Ya know it’s probably the best card I got. It’s an original and everything!” The excitement in Ted’s voice piqued her curiosity. She sat up from her reclined position and took her feet off the coffee table.

“Well, can I see it?”


“Please, I won’t hurt it.”

“No. It’s mine!” Ted yelled. Tracey got up from the couch and lunged for his hand. Ted jumped out of the way, causing her to lose her balance. She stumbled forward and tripped over the coffee table; she tumbled to the floor. She sat up stunned. She rubbed her head and tried to fight back the tears stinging her eyes.

“Ha, ha, that’s what you get,” Ted said. He continued to laugh as he walked down the hall to his bedroom. Rage filled her, and her body trembled. She got up and raced down the hall to Ted’s room. She burst through the door and grabbed his new baseball card from his hand. Before he could take it back, she took Ted’s baseball card, an original 1909 Ty Cobb, ripped it into small pieces and ate them.

Ted stood there in shock. His mouth was gaping open, his eyes were glossy with tears; he was clenching his fists so hard that his fingernails drew blood in the palms of his hands. In a split second he tackled her to the ground.

Tracey turns her head toward the door at the sound of a soft knock. A doctor walks in and flashes a toothy grin. He sits on the edge of her bed and extends his big hand to her. “Hi, I am Dr. Smith, your surgeon. You probably don’t remember me, but I helped take care of your family in 1989. Of course I was just an intern then. Anyway, back to business, we got the results and you are a perfect match to your brother. Twins usually are. So, do you have any questions for me?”

Tracey’s mind races, he helped my family? She thinks. She takes a deep breath and clears her throat. “Well, after surgery, will his cancer be gone? Will I be okay with one kidney? Will he be okay with only one?” The doctor pats her shaking hands and nods his head.

“We caught your brother’s cancer early before it had time to spread anywhere else. You are both young and healthy and will do very well with only one kidney. After surgery, I am optimistic that you will both make full recoveries. The best thing is that Ted will be cancer free. I want you to know that I think this is a very brave thing you are doing for you brother. Try to rest, surgery is in the morning. Tomorrow evening you’ll both be right as rain.” Dr. Smith smiles and leaves the room. Tracey sighs and turns on the television. Lost in thought, time fades away to the past.

It was 1989. Tracey and Ted were sitting in the backseat of their parent’s car, thumb wrestling. They were on their way to Disney World. It was the family’s first real vacation, and they were all really excited. Ted had been nagging their parents to go there for years. He was so excited that he could barely contain himself. Their father was driving and their mother hummed softly to the music playing in the background. “Are we there yet?” Ted asked.

Their mother turned and smiled, “We just left home, Teddy. It is going to take us a few days to get there. Be patient, and we will be there faster than you know it.” She turned in her seat and smiled at her husband. He reached over and patted her leg.

“Eww…they’re getting all lovey-dovey again.” Tracey giggled. She turned and looked out her window. They were entering an intersection, and Tracey saw a truck barreling toward them. “Daddy?”

Tracey woke up with a sharp pain in her side and her leg felt like it was on fire. She looked beside her at her brother. His head was down and he looked like he was sleeping. She craned her neck and looked at her father in front of her. He looked like he was sleeping too. Then she looked at her mother. “Mommy?” she asked.

Her mother looked back and smiled. “Don’t be scared honey. The truck hurt the car, but help is coming. We’re going to be okay. Mommy and Daddy love you so much. Be a big girl and always be there for your brother. Okay, honey?”

Tracey was confused, “I love you too Mommy, and I will watch Teddy if you want. I feel sleepy and my leg hurts.”

“It’s okay, baby. I love you.” Tracey closed her eyes and the world slipped away with the sound of sirens in the distance.

The nurse walks in snapping Tracey back to reality. She quickly wipes the tears from her checks. “I’m just here to take your temperature and blood pressure. We have to make sure there isn’t any sign of infection before surgery,” the nurse says. She finishes and charts the information, and then she leaves the room. Tracey turns off the television and then the lights. She closes her eyes and falls into a restless sleep full of haunting dreams.

It was 1989. It was a dreary day, full of dark clouds, fits of rain and rolling thunder. Tracey stared out the window of the car as it drove through the cemetery. Rain splashed off the car, rolled down the windows, and distorted the tombstones that danced by. The car pulled up behind the hearse and sputtered to a stop. She turned and looked at Ted sitting beside her. His eyes were red and bloodshot, his checks were stained with tears, and his lips were bright red from chewing on them. There was a bandage over his right eye covering the stitches he needed from the accident.

Tracey took his hand and opened the door. They slowly walked hand in hand to the two coffins resting side by side. Family and friends surrounded them to offer their condolences; but Tracey and Ted were oblivious to those around them. Ted sobbed and his whole body trembled. Tracey turned and hugged him tightly. “I want Mom and Dad back,” he said in her ear. Tears welled up in her eyes and she blinked them back rapidly.

“I do too, but they’re gone. It’s just you and me now. I’ll watch you, I promised I would. I’ll be there for you always, whenever you need me.” Ted continued to shake in her arms.

Tracey wakes up to the gentle touch of the nurse. She opens her eyes and knows it is time for surgery. She remembers her long-forgotten promise that she made to her mother and brother. The nurse wheels her down the hall to the surgical suite. She watches the lights flash by overhead and the butterflies in her stomach threaten to overcome her. She closes her eyes and sees her mother’s face smiling at her.

Once in the operating room, they prep her for surgery and the anesthesiologist begins to put her under. The drugs wash over her and her fears fade away. She knows that she is about to fulfill her promise to her mother. She is going to be there for her brother in his time of need, and she is comforted in that fact.

Tracey opens her eyes. She feels groggy and tired. She looks over and sees Ted beside her. His handsome face is pale from the surgery and chemotherapy. She tries to speak, but can’t yet talk. She clears her throat. “Hey there Teddy,” she says. His eyes open slowly and he smiles at her.


“Looks like we both made it.”

“Yeah, I guess we did.”

“How long do we have to recover?”

“A week, maybe, why?” he asks.

“Just wondering,” she closes her eyes and goes back to sleep, dreaming of the past.

It was 1990. Tracey was ten years old. She was sitting on a tire swing tied to a huge oak tree in her grandmother’s front yard. She looked down at her white shoes and slowly swung herself back and forth. The autumn sun glowed low in the sky, and leaves fell lazily to the ground. Ted walked up to her on the swing. “Can I have a turn?” he asked.

“No, I was swinging first.”

“Come on, please, let me.”

“No,” Tracey said and smiled while she swung higher. Ted started picking up pebbles and throwing them at her. She laughed as they missed her. Ted sat down and pulled his knees to his chest and put his head down. Tears rolled down his checks and he sniffled. Tracey stopped and got off the swing. She went over and sat down beside him. “What’s wrong?” she asked softly.

“Nothing, just leave me alone.”

“Well, why are you crying?”


“Because why?” she asked scooting closer to him.

“Because you are always mean to me. You never do anything nice for me. Remember when you hurt my baseball card that Dad got me? That was my favoritest thing ever. And now you won’t let me swing on the tire. I wish I would have died with Mom and Dad.” Tracey sat there stunned. She did not know what to say. Tears filled her eyes and she felt terrible.

“I’m sorry Teddy,” she said softly, “You can swing if you want. I promise I will do better. Someday I will get you a good baseball card. Heck, someday I will take you to Disney World. I promise. I’m glad you didn’t die with Mom and Dad.” She got up and walked slowly to her grandmother’s white farm house. She looked back at her brother crying softly in the yard and renewed her vow to him.

A month after leaving the hospital, Tracey drives to Ted’s apartment to pick him up. She honks the horn and he comes out with a suitcase in hand. He pulls open the blue car door; throws the bag in the back seat and gets in. “So where are we going?” he asks.

Tracey smiles and reaches over to open the glove box. She pulls out a small box wrapped in blue paper and hands it to Ted.

“Let’s just say I had a lot of time to think while I was in the hospital,” she says as she turns onto the highway. He pulls off the paper and opens the box, inside is a baseball card, an original 1909 Ty Cobb. He looks out the window speechless, tears in his eyes, and sees a sign that says Disney World 1100 miles.

WRT310 Creative Writing, Spring 2006
Published with author’s permission

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Daddy's Little Girl (Danielle Fugate, Ashley Reid, Stacey Pusey) (Group Project)

These three writers developed this poem based on the following prompt: In a similar style to Sylvia Plath's "Daddy," write a poem called "Daddy's Little Girl"; thus, the speaker of your poem is the father or estranged husband of Plath's speaker. The writers had about 25 minutes to write the poem. After working on various exercises, the entire class listened to Sylvia Plath reading her poem "Daddy."

You do not do, you do not do
You never did, you always knew
What I was, a man of
passion when love was new.

I didn't have to kill you,
you did for yourself.
Cold to the core, burdened by two,
Not strong enough. It all fell

If I am a vampire, you are
my cross. The very image of
you burns and sears.

A broken soul before me,
but I gave you my sanity.
You only borrowed; didn't
you know I'd need it

My darling wife, you
hollow being, I'm through.

LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Published with writers' permission

A Pet's Love (Hank Weikel, Michelle Miller, Colleen Pisano) (A Group Project)

These three writers developed this poem based on the following prompt: In a similar style to Ted Hughes' "The Lovepet," write a poem called "A Pet's Love"; thus, the speaker of your poem is the estranged wife of Hughes' speaker. The writers had about 25 minutes to write the poem.

Is he a blessing or a curse?
it overtook my life
He watched it passed by
I nourished it
hoping for healthy growth
looking for signs of life
He paraded around with others
I waited
it overtook my emotions
He ignored it
It started to fade away
I held it tight
off again it went
I lingered a moment
waiting for return
then off I went
finding another way
to pull him in tight
I watched its sickness spread to our children
So I tried to heal it
But I felt it dying in him
It overtook my life
As it left his


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Published with writers' permission

Thursday, March 23, 2006

So Muslims are Terrorizing Americans (Dera Nevius, Ryan King, Lauren Wollschlager) (A Group Project)

(This poem was created by students participating in an in-class writing excercise. Their assignment: to respond to Jimmy Santiago Baca's "So Mexicans are Taking Jobs from Americans" by writing their own poem. They had about 25 minutes to plan, edit, revise, and write the poem, just as it appears below.)

September 11, 2001
A plane went down,
and you're on the run.
When the plane crashed,
our guns went up.

To your land we went,
to run amok.
Your sand is now our grass.
Your back our bullets grasp;
we bury the last of the last.

Nuclear weapons won't help you now,
No mushrooms will be seen in the clouds.
Chemical gear to be worn by troops,
From plastic helmets to plastic boots.
Communism stops in all the lands.

Freedom of speech,
and religion for all.
Death to the ones,
Who try to stand tall.
Oppose the U.S. and you will fall.

No armies left
To stand against us.
We just so happen to be the power
In NATO's crutch.
So Muslims are terrorizing Americans.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Posted with writers' permission

For My Husband, Leaving His Lover (Michelle Miller)

(This writer responded to Anne Sexton's "For My Lover, Returning to His Wife," by writing a poem from the wife's perspective. I titled the poem.)

I sat waiting...
supper on the table
Dirty pots flung about the room;
it's me, I'm not stable.

The phone rings, and it's you.
I sit awaiting your excuse,
Your children cry.
To you I am the one to misuse.

I clean up the table,
knowing deep in my heart
work has not kept you late
you're with her looking at art.

I hear from friends,
about your damn parades
all over town.
Not even taking cover under shades.

I am your wife;
I've given you three children
We're supposed to be your life
And will once again

For I know her kind,
just for the moment.
She'll be gone soon, and to me,
to me, you'll come for consolement.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Posted with writer's permission

Whiten the Earth (Ashton Paul)

(This writer responded to Stanley Kunitz's "Touch Me," by writing a poem from a different perspective.)

Winter never comes, I fear
The chill in the air never occurs
Just last year
When I could play in the snow
and bundle up until I could barely move
then come in late at night to sip hot cocoa
of the steaming drink of heaven
to warm my heart when my body was cold
it was my favorite thing about York, PA
the seasons brought so many new feelings
The hazy sky told tales of white flakes
soon to fall upon the land
I gazed outside from the warm fire
heating my cozy living room
and for the first time I really appreciated life
The roads were closed
I was off school for the day
I long for the wonderful season
I will no longer experience in Florida
Remembering, remembering, remembering
That part of my life that's now gone
One season each year
but now, never again.
So let the white pieces of heaven
fall from the sky in York
and bring happiness to the children who
may truly appreciate the beauty of winter
Fall upon me, don't you remember how
we used to play?
Whiten the earth! Remind me of my youth.
LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Posted with permission of writer

Gun Crazy (Casey Rose)

(This writer responded to Dorothy Allison's "Gun Crazy” (non-fiction) by Dorothy Allison by writing a poem with the same title.)

My uncle, Bo, was the shootin’ kind
He’d sit and clean his guns, with nothin’ else on his mind
“You gotta sit still, perfectly still,” he’d say of the great outdoors,
Still sittin’ cleanin’, tippin’ back a Coors

Come to find out, Bo ain’t never shot nothin’ in his whole life
We heard it all from Nessa, his dear wife
“Let me help you,” I begged Bo to help me help one night
He laughed in my face, and maybe he was right

I just wanted to learn to shoot a gun
I don’t know why, maybe just for fun
Maybe I should ask Uncle Jack, maybe he’ll teach me
Just you wait, Uncle Bo, just you wait and see

High school came along, Anne was my best friends
Best friends, I say, friends ‘till the end
One Sunday we were bored and she invited me to go plinking
“Plinking?” I said, what’s plinking, I was thinking

“You know, shootin’ bottles and cans,” Anne said
And over to the woods behind the mental hospital we went, Anne led
“You got a gun,” I asked Anne wonderin’ where she got a gun
“Mama got me a rifle for my birthday,” and then it was done

Anne’s mama was somethin’ special, I believe
A nurse with a dead husband, and when mentioned would leave
She’d drink cocktails everynight sittin’ in her Lazy-Boy
She was a lot of things, and one of them was certaintly not coy

So Anne shot at a couple bottles, and I watched her carefully
I was so envious, so excited, so simply filled with glee
I wanted to be taught, and Anne wanted to teach me
So I shot and shot again, “Goddamn!”, I shot a gun, ME!


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Posted with writer's permission

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I Want a Wife (Stacey Pusey)

(Note: This poignant poem is a literary journal response to Judy Brady's feminist essay "I Want a Wife.")

I am a wife
I want a wife

I am a feeder
I want someone to cook for me

I am a worker
I want someone to work hard to help support the family

I am a lover
I want someone to care for me always and take care of my needs

I am a maid
I want someone to clean after me

I am a gardener
I want someone to help make my home appealing

I am a shopper
I want someone to drive out for last moment items

I am a mom
I want someone to take care of my kids

I am a doctor
I want someone to care for my family, as well as me, when we are sick

I am a shuttle
I want someone to rush around to make sure everything gets done

I am a motivator
I want someone to push harder to ensure success of my loved ones

I am a receptionist
I want someone to be organized and make sure all tasks get completed

I am a dictator
I want someone else to take the blame for punishments

I am an emergency call
I want someone to be there for me when I need help

I am a wife
I am alone
I want a wife


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Printed with poet's permission

Friday, March 17, 2006

Beautiful Martyr Mother (Danielle Fugate)

(Note: the author wrote this poem as a response to Amiri Baraka’s “Beautiful Black Women.” Baraka’s poem brings to mind her personal remembrances.)

Beautiful martyr mother, fight, never break. Love them, win.

They’re of your blood, bring them back. Love them, win.

Innocence, dry tears, fight back. Fight for them for family is

the basis of love, basic need. Win. Love them. Unfair

prosecution. Find the meaning of family values, win, don’t lose sight of

love, family is the bonding of blood, bring them back

to their rightfully deserved home. Beautiful martyr mother, roll with

the punches and keep on movin’. They need you. They cry for

family, they cry for their true home, they need you. Win.

They need you, fighting, unfair prosecution. These horrible judgments of

innocent, family values reign, the jury, win, they cry, and their tears

soon shall dry in justified justice. The tensions are high hanging in limbo, their

innocence and purity, the unfair prosecution, the fight for values, the loss of meaning

and absence of family. Family. Mothers. They need you. Closer to values

closer to justice, never give up fighting for your constitutionally justified values.


Keep on fighting. Bring them back to where they should belong. Win them. Mothers.

stop fighting, never, win them, dry tears, build values, keep fighting and

them, keep pressing for family values, their tears will be gone soon, justification is

nearly worth the wait, siblings, family values, never break


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Spring 2006
Printed with permission of author

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Empty Space On The Paper (Lauri Kubuitsile)

I remember how I sat huddled, my arm around my brother, on the corner of the sofa. The man who brought the news wore a black coat that held the cold from outside. His hat hung in his hands in front of him and dripped rain water onto the wooden floor. As the water collected in a little pool at his feet, he told my father that it was over. My father listened in silence because he had been told that was how grown up men accepted such news. He nodded his head until the man stopped speaking and turned to go.

“Thank you for coming in person, that was very thoughtful of you,” my father said at the door.

The man stopped. “I nearly forgot.” Then he came back into the house and stood next to me and my brother. He reached into the pocket of his cold coat and pulled out a folded paper and he said, “She told me to give you two this.”

We looked at each other, Thomas reached out his small hand and took the paper from the man. Then the man in black left.

I was twelve and Thomas was eight. We were old enough to know what was going on. We’d been waiting for the day for some time, everyone was. It wasn’t everyday that they hung your mother, especially in our small town.

A handful of reporters had been milling around our street for days. Most had gone up to Austin where the execution was taking place but a few, maybe the second string, the ones who might finally get their byline on page eighteen if only they could get a few good quotes from the family, milled around our neighborhood. When they first arrived, my father warned, “Don’t say a single word to any of them.” So with them outside and us holed up inside, we had waited.

When the man in black left, Daddy sat down on one of the straight back chairs at the oak dining room table. He sat silently with his hands hanging at his sides, staring straight ahead at the blank wall. I took Thomas’s hand and we went upstairs to my bedroom.

We sat on the edge of the bed and Thomas started crying quietly. “If Daddy hears you crying he’ll be angry, “ I said dry eyed. Daddy’s strict rules about girls and boys didn’t allow for crying from Thomas. I looked at the note still clutched in his hand. I was scared of it. What did she want to say to us? We were only children. I wondered if she had remembered that.

With shaking hands I reached out for the paper. I tried to think of Mama. It had been a long time since we’d seen her. Once her appeals were finished, she begged Daddy to stop taking us to the prison on visiting day. He’d go alone and we’d stay out at Aunt Carmen’s. He’d come home the next day, his face pale, his clothes smelling of beer. Aunt Carmen, Daddy’s older sister, always said the same thing.

“The trip go okay?”

“Sure did,” Daddy’d say. Then we’d come back home and it would be two or three days before Daddy’s skin would go back to its right color and he’d talk normal, not as if somebody had handed him the lines.

Sitting on my bed, with Thomas crying next to me, I tried to conjure up Mama’s face. I wanted a picture of her face in my mind before I read the letter, but it wouldn’t come. The only thing I saw picture clear were her hands. No matter how much I tried, only her hands were there. The short fingers with thick wrinkly knuckles. She always said they were the ugliest part of her. I never thought they were ugly, though, to me they looked friendly and used. Later, after the execution, I used to wish Thomas or I had gotten her hands so that I could see them once in awhile, but we had my father’s hands with long fingers and small, tidy knuckles.

It’s funny how little, irrelevant details remain. Things like the color of the paper. It was off white, almost yellow, with blue lines drawn on it, like a sheet torn from an old exercise book. The writing was slanted to the left and all of the letters were tall and thin, as if space were a problem, even though it wasn’t because most of the page was empty, only the one line across the top. I often hoped she meant to write more. Maybe someone stopped her, or she couldn’t find the right words and then it was too late to fill the page as she had intended. I think that when I’m being charitable.

I was thinking of Mama’s friendly hands when I opened the yellowed paper torn from the exercise book. I saw her picking up the pen and writing in the funny way she had. I read the words out loud so Thomas could hear them through his tears.

“Forget me and all of the sadness I brought to you.”

That was it. No “to my wonderful children” at the beginning or “I love you” at the end. I turned the paper over to check the other side. Nothing. I sat for a minute. I thought maybe it had not been intended for us. Maybe the man in black got it wrong. Maybe this note was for someone else and our note was somewhere out in the rain in the pocket of his cold coat.

As Thomas’s crying grew louder, I accepted that the man in black wouldn’t have gotten such an important thing wrong. I took the yellowed paper in both of my hands and I tore it in two. Then I tore it again and tore and tore and tore until it was nothing more than pieces. No more words. Just yellowed pieces with a few drops of ink, a spot here, a spot there; incoherent and harmless. Then I held the pieces above my head and let them rain onto the floor where they fell like confetti at a party.

The End


Lauri Kubuitsile is an award winning freelance writer and author living in Botswana. Her articles can be found on four continents if you search hard enough and her most recently published book is the novella The Fatal Payout (Macmillan 2005).

This story was an entry in Writer's Weekly Winter 2006 24-hour contest.

She can be reached at:


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Greenhorn (Matthew Knaub)

In a time aching for remembrance,
Ancient creatures lived, far beyond our grasp,
In a land enchanted by God’s old past,
Outside of man’s domain and repentance,
These beings with a holy innocence,
Could not know how man is always corrupt,
So when one man came, he interrupted,
Life looked above for divine transcendence,
To find only that he traveled too far,
A man, not evil, only oblivious,
Without warning, prediction to forlorn,
He came, a quest, a goal he was after,
Who knew the end would come out of his kiss,
He brought the demise, his name was Greenhorn.

Just as he determined, spoke a sparkle,
Seven feet forward, through a briar patch,
A glimmer of light made quite an eye catch,
He crawled, hands and knees, to the miracle,
With his hand he clasped the bushes’ barbed branch,
A jolt of pain as he began to bleed,
The thorn had pierced his flesh, a bloody bead,
Fell to the dirt, silent he took his chance,
With his arms he spread the bushes to see,
His blood now stained the thicket crimson red,
No matter as the vision came to sight,
In front of him rested the proof, his key,
Not the unicorn, something else instead,
Magic was proven, this sight was his light.

"You are right, brownie, but what do I do?
I don’t want my presence to alarm them,
Humans are forbidden in these parts," then,
Greenhorn waited for instructions how to.
The brownie came closer towards his ear,
"They will be kind to accept your presence,
Long as they believe that you are pleasant.
Look at me, big man," stood and proved no fear,
"I, Nudnik, have no fear of human souls,"
Standing two inches from his left eyeball,
"The rejuvenating water does good,
I doubt any of them would think to oppose,
Get naked and swim. There’s no need to call,"
Nudnik hopped off and back on the wood.

To eyes that have never seen a human,
Man sure appears interesting in ways,
And to lips that yearned to see how man tastes,
Never before known the bite of his sin,
Man circled now by seven blue beauties,
Toe touched his back, spiraled under water,
The sprite submerged deep as Greenhorn watched her,
In water they must be able to breathe,
Their aquatic blue figures were perfect,
One sprite came face to face with destiny,
She gave her hand to the man openly,
Her flesh felt as good as he could predict,
"Heavenly angel," he was stunned to meet,
"What shall I say?" he must remain friendly.

His vicious prosecutor was a beast,
It stood tall with seven heads and ten horns,
Each head and horn had a body of thorns,
To scorn the wicked with hell full of teeth,
To grind the sinners that turned 666.
The blessed and the cursed number of the Beast,
To guard the number, on sinners they feast,
The seventeen members made quite a mix,
A noble race created by the gods,
To protect the actions of the Goddess,
The number is the Goddess and his sin,
Ample recipe for creating Gods,
That are without sin and truly modest,
Now here to place blame onto Greenhorn’s sin.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Forever in our Heaven (Geneva Doll)

Above a life of vanity
Balanced in a starry sea, a world of love,
Clearly placed for all to see, though
Darling William, this world calls only to you and me.

Envious any man would be
For what I’m going to say is true.
Golden and bright as each star shines,
Hardly compares to you.

Indeed men may cry, the heavens were never made for
"Just one guy," although a
Knowledgeable men can not deny,
Lucky is the man, who is the universe in her eye.

Miles above the shallow hearts,
Neatly tucked into the evening sky,
Our world sits high, made of memories
Pieced together never to be torn apart, despite who may try.

Quite rapidly we soar into the unknown,
Reaching and collecting stars as we pass by.
Somehow I’m sure in this love we have both grown,
Taller and taller, together, until the day we die.

Under the stars we snuggle and gaze
Vast heavens above our heads, we only need to wait,
Wait until we rise to our heaven and happily live out our days.
Xanthippe I promise to never be, you’ll only receive all of my praise.

You and I have a love pure and true
Zealously I await my forever, in our heaven, with you


WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Continental Tapestry (Rasharria Emery)

How beautiful were your diamond minds.
How beautiful was your soul.
I spoke of you with brazen beauty,
when your heart was solid gold.
I laid within your land,
listening to echoing cries of pain and sorrow.
I watched as you reigned Queen, Africa.
The promise land.

You gave me the cold shoulder,
Still I longed for you.
Trapped in your glaciers,
I hold onto you.
Looking into your sky,
I am still head over heels;
Antarctica oh! How I want to return to you.

Piled high,
Across a sea.
No desert.
No dream.
No ice,
and no streams;
Asia! Asia! Depart from me peacefully.

Return with your lustrous greens,
your foreign accent,
your wildlife serene.
I equate you to peace found within.
I married you into my soul.
I promised myself the day I say I do,
Australia, my love, I shall never let you go.

But I did let go.
I failed in my attempt.
I crossed another sea,
and was swept off my feet.
Standing slanted.
My heart has forsaken my future.
Not comprehending your language,
yet in love with your ways.
Europe will love me ‘til my dying day.

That day has come.
My love has cast me aside.
Abandoned me at the stake.
Carried me out to sea.
Laid me by my flag.
Pledged my foolish pride.
North America picked up where my love had slacked.

Here is where I belong.
The land of my ancestors.
The place my father called home.
Where the sky meets the sea,
where wishes are turned into streams of endless dreams.
South America my true love has rescued me.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Rock Wall (Christine Deluca)

(Final Exam Essay)

Always keep going, keep looking forward for your next step. Don’t look down, don’t look back, and remember--there’s always something to grab hold of. I remember the first time I tried rock climbing, it was amazing. It felt like I was facing my fears--no--more like facing myself. Keep going--keep climbing--remember that there’s always something to grab a hold of. If you repeat those words to yourself to yourself you can make it to the top. Your team is always there with you, no matter what, and they will never fail you.

Times were tough in my house during my last two years of high school. I had finally come out to my mother and father and they were none too happy, my sister had changed and I couldn’t really talk to her anymore, and my mother was looking into--of all things--conversion therapy. Coming out was one of the hardest things for me to do, and the fact that my mother was not handling it well didn’t make things easier. I tried telling them the "best" way possible, I tried to sit them down and explain that I was still their daughter and nothing would change that, but they wouldn’t have it. After many years of feeling like a freak I had finally come to terms with myself only to have that torn down by my parents. I felt like I had nowhere to go, but I tried to look on the bright side.

Then it came time to face the rest of my world, a.k.a. my friends. I hadn’t told a single one of them yet. We were all at the diner one night--as we always are--and the moment just felt right. I took a deep breath and dove in. "Guys, I have something to tell you." I was met with laughter of all things. I couldn’t understand why they were laughing! "Is this the part where you FINALLY tell us you’re gay?" my one friend asked. I was in shock. After agonizing over when to tell them, after nights of worrying if they would accept me or leave me, they knew! They explained to me that they had known since the day they met me and they were just waiting for the day I was comfortable enough with myself to tell them. I don’t think there has been any other moment in my life so far when I felt more loved and more safe than that night with my boys--my team.

I explained to them about the situation with my parents and how I was torn over what to do about it. I didn’t know whether to go along with my mother’s conversion therapy to make me happy, or stand my ground and be proud of who I was. My best friend, Radeeb, told me to meet him at his house the next morning fully packed for the weekend. He didn’t tell me where we were going.

I asked my mother if I could go and she reluctantly agreed. The next morning I met Radeeb and we got into his car. I was kind of worried to say the least. Radeeb and I have always been the more adventurous of the group, so I didn’t know what he had planned. After a few hours of driving we wound up in Fawn Lake Forest, Pennsylvania. We checked into the cabin we had for the weekend and he told me to get dressed in some warmer clothes and go outside for my beginner’s training. That’s when I saw the rock wall. It was HUGE with sharp edges and steep drops. It didn’t look fun. It didn’t look like beginner’s training. I decided I was not for dying any time soon so I went back to the cabin and sat on the comfy HORIZONTAL bed. Radeeb was furious. He came in the cabin and yelled at me. He told me to go on with "conversion," that I wouldn’t be able to stand my ground anyway so I might as well back down. I cried, he yelled more, and he finally got me up.

Beginner’s training was on the ground thankfully. They explained to us the dynamics of the harness and how to grab on to rocks properly (not that I ever thought there was a right or wrong way to grab a rock). Before we began the climb our professional Mr. Mallia hit us with the infamous pep talk. He began with a quote--"Courage consists of being able to hold on one second longer." He told us we had nothing to fear but ourselves and that as long as we put our faith in our team and our team’s ability to help us through the rough spots we would be okay--there would be no reason to turn back. That speech hit me harder than if I had fallen off the rock wall. I couldn’t not climb after that. It meant so much, and I knew I had to try this. It was hard. There were times we had to stop because the rocks were difficult, but we worked as a team and got through to the top. When we got up there I realized it wasn’t so high--well, it was high, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was just high enough for an amazing view. It felt wonderful. To know that we had earned that view was one of the coolest feelings ever.

While I was climbing I made up a mantra to keep myself going. "Keep going. Don’t look down, don’t look back, and remember there’s always something to grab on to. You can always rely on your team." Today those words are still with me. I decided to stand my ground with my mother--to keep going. I realized that even if it was rough with her there was always something to grab on to, my team--my friends. I don’t look back on the bad times anymore and I know no matter how rough it gets I’ll always have my team.

"Courage consists of being able to hold on one second longer," and I held on, I hold on. I learned that day that the only way is up and if you put your faith in your team and yourself it’s not always as high as it looks but it’s high enough for an amazing view.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2005

[Posted with permission of writer]

The following instructions were part of the final exam; students had 75 minutes to complete the writing task:

Alan Sillitoe’s novella "The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner" incorporates the sport of long-distance running as an extended metaphor.

Write a short story, or personal narrative essay (500-750 words) in which you incorporate an extended metaphor involving a sport (not long-distance running--Sillitoe has already done this, and you would be just echoing his story), such as baseball, basketball, swimming, football, etc., or other hard physical activity.

The Funeral (Shannon Arnold)

It hardly did justice for the man;
the absurdity of his folded hands,
and the stillness of the room.
The deep remorse of silence,
marred by coughs and tears,
the occasional quip of a child-like voice.

Attention soon turned to the sound of a soft voice,
the pastor stood rigid, a meek pallid man.
His presence stifled the torrent of tears,
soon to be wiped by moistened hands.
"Please, a moment of silence,
for the dead," he directed the room.

The people in the room
obeyed the doting voice;
bowing their heads they commenced into silence.
Each remembering the man
with absurd folded hands,
the rain outside poured down like tears.

"Dry your sadness and your tears,"
he said unto the room.
A weathered Bible was cradled in his hands.
"This is a celebration of life," announced the voice,
"for a father, husband, and God-fearing man,
whose soul has found eternal peace and silence."

"Eternal peace and silence,
safe from pain and fear and tears.
The body of this man
resides in this room,
but his soul was called by the Lord’s voice,
and carried away in God’s loving hands."

Upon reflection, I sat with folded hands,
a prisoner to the fleeting silence.
Suddenly a voice
full of pained tears
cuts through the room
screaming at the undisturbed man.

A gray-haired woman, with shaking hands,
dashes across the room, breaking the silence.
Her face is full of tears: "You left me," screamed her voice.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

The Squad (Eric Bowersox)

(Fiction Excerpt)

The building was in the middle of the park, yet no one knew it was there, at least no one but a select few. It was located within the giant rock formation that most people thought was just a monument to the founders of Brown Rock, Virginia. Little did Brown Rock’s citizens know that this rock served as the headquarters of the Squad, a group of government-sanctioned peacekeepers. Of course, if the public ever found out the truth about the big rock, they would all likely ask, "What’s the Squad?" Only a few higher-ups in the government knew of their existence, and even fewer knew anything else about them.

In the war room, five figures gathered around the table. There was one seat still empty.

"How much longer do we have to wait?" asked a young man in his mid-twenties. This was Jason Steed, the youngest member of the Squad. He was their technology expert, thus earning him the codename "Tech." He could hack his way into any system given enough time, but aside from that, he had little patience.

"What, are you going to be late for a cyber-date or something?" asked Michelle Lampton, a.k.a. Scope. She was the only woman on the team, and often very quick to make fun of others, especially Tech. But when it came to sniping, there was no one better.

"Very funny, jerk," said Tech, "but no, I just hated sitting in here waiting for who knows what."

"Just calm down. Even if we have a new mission, it won’t be anything we can’t handle with ease. After all, we are the Squad," said Chief, real name Patrick Sitfield, the Squad’s leader, due to his excellent tactical skills and quick thinking in the field. "We haven’t failed a mission yet."

"Don’t get too cocky," said Scope. "You never know when one of your plans might go haywire."

"Let’s hope that doesn’t happen," said a voice from the doorway.

"General Merden, welcome," said Chief.

"Thank you, Chief," said the General. "Sorry to keep you waiting."

"Well, you’re here now, so let’s get started," said Tech.

"Very well. Last night, at 0100 hours, a warehouse in D.C. was attacked."

"Attacked? I saw this on the news this morning, and they said it was just a break-in and nothing was stolen," said Barry Forbs, the team’s demolition expert, appropriately named "Bomb."

"That was just a cover-up," said General Merden. "The basement of this warehouse contains a biological weapons laboratory. Three of our chief scientists had been working there for the past fifteen months trying to develop a bomb that wound infect only the target race."

"What? Why would such a thing be authorized?" asked Chief.

"It wasn’t. We just found out about it two days ago. Apparently so did someone else. They broke in and stole the canister containing the virus."

"Was it completed?" asked Scope.

"Yes," said the General.

"What race was it designed to take out?" asked Billy Timson, also called Fist for his advanced knowledge of two dozen forms of hand-to-hand combat.


"Why would they want to infect my people?" asked Bomb.

"They didn’t," said the General. "They never intended to use it. They just wanted to see if it could be done. The other races they tested failed."

"Of course our bodies have what it takes," said Bomb.

"General, do we know who took the virus?" asked Chief.

"All evidence points to a white supremacist terrorist cell called Whites "

"‘Whites?’ That’s a really stupid name," said Scope. "Sounds like we’re dealing with brain dead terrorists."

"Despite their lack of an imaginative name, they have caused over sixty deaths over the past two years. We have not been able to get any leads on their base, which leads us to your new mission. We need to locate that base, retrieve the viral canister, and shut down the Whites before they cause any more deaths."

"Do we have anything to go on?" asked Fist.

"No, but I want Tech to see what he can find on the Internet. I want the rest of you to go to the warehouse and do a search of the lab. Maybe you can find something the Feds missed."

"All right, team," said Chief, "let’s do this. Tech, get to your station. The rest of you, be at the tunnel in ten minutes. Move out!"

* * * * *
The train whisked through the tunnel. Its four occupants sat silent, wondering if success was on the horizon. The Squad had always been successful before.

"We’re almost there," said Chief.

Chief was controlling the train. To help keep the Squad’s existence a secret, travel to local missions was done in a subway system that could only be accessed by the Squad and a few other military and government personnel. If they had to travel far, they would use a private jet, then some heavily accessorized vans they kept hidden in most major cities around the world.

"Okay, people, we’re here," said Chief. "Move quietly and stay alert."

The team got out of the train, climbed out the hidden tunnel access in the alley, and casually crossed the street to the warehouse.

"Fist, stay out here and watch the front door. Let us know if any Feds come back to investigate."

"Sure thing, Chief."

"Scope, go up on the roof and keep watch from up there. Bomb, come with me."

Chief and Bomb went around back. Bomb picked the lock, and they went inside. The building looked just like a warehouse. Boxes were stacked everywhere, a perfect place for a criminal hideout. Too bad it was government scientists committing the wrongdoings.

Behind a big stack of crates they found a door that took them down to the lab. The place was a mess, broken glass everywhere and blood in a few spots on the floor. Bullet holes decorated the walls.

Suddenly Chief pushed Bomb back out into the hallway.

"What’s wrong?" asked Bomb.

"Security cameras," said Chief. Then into his radio, "Tech, fix the cameras so we can get in."

"I’m sending in a looped feed of the room just before you entered. You’re good to go."

"Thanks, Tech."

Now undetectable, Bomb and Chief searched the room. All hope seemed to be lost. They could not find a single clue that might lead them to the Whites.

"Chief," said Fist, over the radio, "There're three guys across the street. They're too obvious to be cops. They look like Skinheads."

"Keep your eye on them, Fist, we’ll be right up," said Chief.

"Wait, a black car just pulled up. They’re getting in. I’ll hail a taxi and follow them."

"Keep us informed of your location. We’ll get a van and track you down. Be careful, Fist."

"You got it, Chief."


WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

The War of Draenth–From Part I: Decay (Anonymous)



"Faster," the putrid Orcish Overmaster screamed, "or I’ll snap all your worthless necks in half!"

A whip cracked out over the heads of some hundred grimy, green and panting Orcs. Each and every one retracted and winced with the snap, but quickly went back to their work hammering and pounding the thousands of wicked red-hot glowing swords scattered about the room. Massive furnaces lined the walls, and for every piece of weaponry that exited their searing embers, three more were thrown in. A thick corrosive smoke hung in the air over the disgusting figures, obscuring the amazing architecture above and around their heads in the great Orcish citadel of Jil’Vug.

Only thirty years ago, the ground they now stood upon was a beautiful Elvish settlement, nestled sweetly above the ground in the ancient treetops. Tiny innocent almond-eyed children had played and frolicked here deep into the summer nights. Now their blood and bones fueled the great Orcish war-machine. Each and every blacksmith smiled the cruelest smile at the thought of lifting such a frail quarry above their head and crushing them in a spray of gore like the dry and worthless twigs that they were, then feasting upon their flesh.

"Vug’Krush will not be happy with your lack of effort!" he screamed again.

The very mention of the great Warlord’s name sent every Orc in the room into a frenzy. Most eyes grew wide with fear, some covered their ears and others began to whimper softly, for the great and terrible power of Vug’Krush the Hellspawn was known all-too-well by these Orc tribes, "The Uniter", as they called him; an all-powerful Orc of monstrous size and even more formidable strength. Most had never seen the great warlord with their own eyes, but those who had glimpsed upon their most worshiped commander brought back tales of horror. They spoke of an Orc more akin to a giant, twelve feet tall, with blood-red eyes and the flesh ripped from the side of his face, leaving only finely-polished skull where his cheeks and forehead should be. Krush wore the skins of his most formidable enemies as breeches; King Cassius of Larg, High Warlord Bhat of the Doomfist Tribe and the Troll leader Kama’Kun. His chest armor was a ferocious piece of jagged metal that fit his massive frame perfectly. Foot-long barbs covered every inch of the breastplate, and if one were to inspect close enough, one would find the rotting flesh and organs of his past victims still lodged between some of the spikes. On his head he wore a cage of metal, magically grafted to his jawbone and eye sockets.

If his visage wasn’t enough to cause even the most ferocious fighter of the Orcish horde to wet himself, then his weapon would do the trick. Strapped to his back was a blade six feet long that emitted a sickly acidic-green aura, illuminating and outlining the horrific image of Krush. Down the length of the blade were carved runes of ancient Orcish magiks, and, when Krush swung that blade and cleaved into his enemy, the runes would activate, unleashing a blast wave capable of ripping the very bones out of a victim’s body, leaving the poor defender as nothing more than a pile of skin and muscle.

"Bah!" one puny Orc grumbled to his partner in the corner of the room, clearly unimpressed with the threats of the Warchief, "Krush is nothing! I could wring him dead with my very hands!"

"Don’t say that you fool, Grug!" his horrified partner whispered, barely able to contain his fear of being heard.

"What? Are you afraid of that mangy beast, Krush? Have you ever even seen the bastard?" Grug asked.

"Watch your tongue! You’re new here, and you don’t know what happens to people who speak ill of the master! And no, I haven’t seen him, but I’ve heard enough to know that he could kill everyone in this room right now if he wished, no matter how many weapons we had!" Grug’s accomplice whimpered.

Grug looked at his friend in disbelief. Never had he heard an Orc cower in such a pathetic manner, especially towards another Orc. Where Grug came from, when you felt one of your tribesman was superior to you, you challenged them to a duel to the death. Grug had never lost a duel before, and was damned sure his pride would not be hurt by any other Orc, no matter how powerful others said he was.

"You are weak, friend. You have lost your will to fight. You are no better than a sniveling Elf!" Grug scoffed.

The other Orc simply shook his head and went back to hammering.

"Fine! If this fool won’t remember what makes him an Orc, will anyone else in this room?" Grug cried out.

The banging stopped and a silence filled the air.

"Who here still has a spine?" yelled the enraged Orc, glad to see he had everyone’s attention.

"Quiet, fool! Back to hammering everyone!" the Warchief screamed, incensed at such traitorous words. He cracked his whip in Grug’s direction, expecting to hear a scream of pain as the barbed-tip ripped into flesh, but instead all he felt was a slight sting in his chest. The Warchief looked down to find three tiny daggers sticking out from his heart. He suddenly felt very weak, and fell to a pile on the floor, dead.

Down below his perch, a very jubilant Grug laid spread out on the floor. Clearly his nasty little daggers had found their mark.

Grug urged the other smiths in the room to join him with a triumphant cry, "Come my brethren! Let us go and make waste to this supposed ‘leader’ of ours! Nobody can control the Orcish tribes!"

He grasped two newly forged-swords in both hands and began to back his way to the door, beckoning for the others to take up arms and follow, but none of them moved. The workers simply stared at Grug with disbelief and horror, unsure of what to do about the dead taskmaster and this defect from the great cause of Vug’Krush.

"What? None of you shall follow me to slay this beast that you call your ‘master’? No Orc shall ever have a master! Don’t you realize that?" Grug screamed louder than he had ever before, rage splayed across his face, grimacing with the pain of seeing thousands of years of pure breeding turned into a farce, as his brethren slaved over furnaces and groveled like pitiful dogs at the very mention of this "Vug’Krush", this joke of a leader.

Through his screaming, Grug was unable to hear the massive wooden door creak open on its rusty hinges behind him. He continued to yell, tears streaming down his face, falling deeper into the passionate cry for his kinsmen to follow him out of slavery. Only when he saw the look in the other Orc’s faces did his speech grow softer and less violent. In every set of eyes he saw a greater fear, something terrible, something indescribable. The Orcs in the room shuddered and whimpered, and Grug could see a massive shadow cover the ground around him. All was silent. Even the once omnipresent hiss of steam pouring forth from the furnaces seemed to recoil back into the glowing embers and quiet itself.

Grug’s muscles tightened. Every hair in his body stood-up on end. Deep in his puny brain, something clicked; an inherent warrior instinct ingrained into every Orc, a switch, that when flipped, brings a terrible bloodlust to the body of the warrior; a desire to kill, which blocks out every other emotion. Grug was ready to kill his quarry. He was ready to demolish the figure behind him. Slowly, he swiveled around to face and hopefully eradicate whatever it was that had encroached upon his moment of glory.

The figure was black, blacker than the blackest night in the blackest corner Illidian; twelve feet of demonic energy, nothing but a ghostly mist in the air. There were two eyes which seemed to hover atop the figure, crimson and furious, perfectly spherical and perfectly disgusting. Within the orbs swirled a viscous liquid that reflected the meager light playing upon them and made it seem as if they contained a sea of blood.

Grug dropped his swords and fell to his knees.

Vug’Krush the Hellspawn stepped into the room, the furious furnace light illuminating every curvature of his horrific figure. Twelve feet tall and in full battle-gear, the leader of all things violent raised his terrible zweihandler into the air. Krush looked straight into the eyes of the quivering, pitiful Grug, and down came the sword. A wave of perfect pain and pleasure washed over the proud but insolent warrior, and he felt every bone in his body tearing its way from his skin. He was going to join the gods of war. He was happy. His bones blasted in every direction, a thin spray of red mist following, splashing upon Vug’Krush and the other Orcs in the room. Bliss was the last emotion Grug felt as his brain melted inside his skull, and then he was Grug no more, just one more Orc that had made his stand against the unstoppable Vug’Krush and found his death quick and painless.

All eyes shot to the floor and each Orc dropped to their knees in reverence of the great warlord who now stood amongst them.

"Rise!" Vug’Krush cried, his unbelievably deep voice, as if magically amplified, shaking the very walls of the forge-room.

Some whimpered, some cried, some trembled, but all stood up straight, with as much spine and dignity that an Orc could muster.

Krush smiled.

"You have toiled long and hard in the name of the Bloodgut and all that which is glorious on the battlefield! You have shown me you are loyal to carnage! You have shown me you are willing to devote everything within your puny bodies to me!"
Vug’Krush drew himself up to an even more massive size, puffing his chest out and raising his arms to the sky.

"So tomorrow it comes! The dawning of a new era is upon us, brethren! Tomorrow we march for Draenth!"

A monstrous cheer rose from the crowd of petrified Orcs. They knew that their years of toil and work and planning were soon to come to fruition. They knew that their great leader would soon show them the way to true glory. They knew the glory of the Bloodgut tribe and the relentless Vug’Krush the Hellspawn would be known the world over.

They knew that in only a few short days, the great Elvish city of Draenth would lie in ruins.

WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

Hunting Season (Katie Winter)


It was high noon on a cold, brisk Sunday at the end of November. Tomorrow was the first day of deer season, and Colin was ready for it. He drove earlier to his cabin in northern Pennsylvania that was deep in the woods. There was nothing he looked forward to more then going to the mountains for deer season. Although he loved the thrill of the hunt, the peace and quiet was the part he loved most.

Colin was young and full of life. When he was not out hunting, he liked to play baseball for his local college. He was about five-seven with pale creamy skin, dark shaggy hair and big brown puppy looking eyes. He was very adventurous and was not afraid of taking risks. He was easily excited, but what made him most excited was getting to go up to the cabin alone this year. Colin’s father usually came up with him but his work forced him to fly out to California on business.

Colin loved spending time with his dad, at least when he could get time to spend with him. His father was always at work or traveling somewhere. Deer season was the one time he could count on his dad being there but that had come to an end. Colin being twenty now, his father felt that he was old enough and responsible enough to go up alone.

After getting settled in the cabin, Colin decided it was a good time to take a walk through the woods to scope out some spots, and find where he wanted to sit in the morning. As he set off down the trail behind the cabin it suddenly hit him how cold it was.

"It must be twenty degrees out," he said to himself as he heard the crackling of twigs under his boots. Right now there were nothing but brown, bare trees and dead crispy leaves all throughout the woods. He really hoped that it would snow tonight, and leave a thin layer of powdered snow in the morning.

Colin had been walking through the woods for about an hour now, going up and down the mountainsides. He stopped at the top of the mountain and peered down into the valley. He had only seen two doe and a pheasant. He was not too pleased with all he saw, but he knew tomorrow morning would be a lot different. He decided to sit down on a trunk of a fallen tree for a little, and to take a break before he would head back to camp. Before he left, he had packed a peanut butter sandwich and a bottle of water. He sat there for ten minutes just taking in the fresh air and amazing scenery. He reached down to get the sandwich out of his knapsack. While he was bending over he saw a dark flash in the corner of his eye. He froze in his spot. He suddenly felt like he was not alone. He felt like there was something watching him.

"Is there someone else in the woods?" Colin thought to himself. Out of the right corner of his eye he could see a dark figure that was not there before. Colin closed his eyes for a few seconds and opened them in hopes that the dark shadow would be gone. To his disappointment it was not. He knew now that at this moment he would have to force his head to turn and see what this black figure was.

Colin realized at this point he was holding his breath. He closed his eyes and turned his head to the right and reopened them. Once he adjusted his eyes and saw what was in front of him he let out a long sigh and smiled. Right before him was one of the biggest bucks he had ever seen. He thought that it had to be at least a twelve point. He did the best he could not to move, so he would not scare the buck away. The buck just stared at Colin for a little then turned and trotted off.

"This is definitely where I am going to sit tomorrow."

Colin then realized that he should soon be heading back, so he quickly ate his sandwich, packed up all his gear, and got up to walk back to the cabin.

As Colin was getting close to the cabin he could see someone walking about one hundred yards away. He did not think the man saw him yet, because once he got closer the guy looked up and saw Colin. The man was about to turn, and go another direction, but Colin yelled over to him first.

"Hey, did you see a lot of deer?" yelled Colin as he started to jog over to him. The man seemed to realize there was no escaping Colin now.

Once Colin reached the man he felt a little uneasy. The man was about five-ten, and seemed to be very well in shape. He had black hair, and it appeared he had not shaved in weeks. He was wearing a flannel shirt, and a pair of overalls. Colin then noticed that his overalls were covered in a thick red substance that was obviously blood.

"Are you okay? What happened?" Colin asked the man. The guy did not seem sure how to answer. "Did you hurt yourself?"

"No, I was, um, walking through the woods, and saw an injured deer, so I, um, went to see if it was okay, but it was unable to move."

Colin saw the rifle he was carrying. Gesturing towards it he asked, "Did you shoot it?"

Seeming to forget he was carrying it, the man looked at the rifle, and then looked back up at Colin. "Yeah, I just did not want to see it suffer, you know?"

"Yeah, I’m Colin by the way. I am staying at the cabin right over that hill." He pointed to the direction he was walking earlier. "What’s your name? Do you come up here a lot?"

"Uh, I’m James," he said a little hesitantly. "I’m just up paying a visit to a friend."

Giving him one more look over, Colin felt that it would be better to leave. There was just something odd about James and it made him very uncomfortable.

"Well, I better head back. Good luck tomorrow."

"Oh yeah, you too." James said. Colin could tell he was a little unsure what he was talking about. Colin could tell when James realized he was talking about hunting when his face perked up a little like he had a bright idea. "I hope you get a big one."

"Thanks, you too." Colin said as he took off towards camp not daring to look back at James.


(Excerpt: Part 1 of 4)

WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005

Two Unicorns (Nicole Utz)


It was still raining.

The man leaned slightly over the edge of his small balcony and squinted, looking somewhere into the distance, looking for any sign of life. He saw nothing but gray clouds, gray water, and the top of one palm tree swaying uselessly two feet above water. He leaned further out and squinted harder, and as he wondered to himself if that was a person sitting on top of that building over there, he was promptly drenched by a torrent of rain. He cursed and took a step back, reminding himself that the balcony was indeed small and that the rooftop above it was even smaller.

He removed his glasses and wiped them on the edge of his shirt, turning as he did to peer back into his hotel room. The door separating his room and the balcony on which he stood was open—what use was there to a closed door right now? --and in front of the king-sized bed, a small television still stood blaring. He’d only turned this television on twice during the week he’d already spent in this room. The first time had been four days ago, when the local news station was all abuzz about a tropical storm approaching the Florida coast, one expected to bring strong winds and six inches of rain. The second time had been two hours ago, when he’d woken up from a sound sleep and found the ceiling leaking and every floor below his flooded.

The television really hadn’t been much use; everyone on it was too frantic to do any good. Things had already spiraled out of control, with the less practical newscasters proclaiming that the second coming had finally arrived and those who hadn’t sinned would be saved by Jesus. They’d all promptly been dragged off their air by their higher-ups, but the man wondered to himself if the censors could really give half a damn at this point, Jesus Christ or not. He’d watched all that he could stand and had found himself absorbing the news calmly, eventually lighting a cigarette when he realized that there was probably nobody left in the hotel to tell him he was a menace to society or a man with dirty lungs. He certainly couldn’t give a crap about lung cancer right now.

So the entire continent was flooding. The man put his glasses back on and squinted out into the storm. He needed to get his prescription changed; he still couldn’t tell if that was a person over there or not. Fleeing to the roof was probably a good idea at this point, considering he’d managed to sleep right through whatever evacuation there had been the evening before. He was the kind of guy who could sleep through an earthquake, and during a business trip to California three years ago, he had. But he figured that the twelfth of fourteen floors was close enough to the roof as it was, and the water still had to rise another foot and a half to get to him, so for now he was safe. Safe, but a little pissed off.

He grunted and reached into the pocket of his jeans, looking for the cigarette he’d previously placed there for safekeeping. When he found it he went back into his hotel room for his lighter, and as he lit up his eyes were inevitably drawn to the television again. Some big shot reporter was speaking now, at a desk under bright lights instead of "on location" as guys like him always wanted to be, and something about the dark circles under the reporter’s eyes told the man that he’d missed a lot in the past couple days. As he listened, he caught the word "apocalypse." He sighed, wondering if the entire population had lost its collective mind. Wasn’t the end of the world supposed to come with fire and brimstone? Hadn’t that Noah guy been promised that the world was safe from giant, humanity-destroying floods from 2000 BC onwards? Or had that been a lie?

The man snorted as he lit his cigarette. Somehow he could see how people could be panicking. If he’d read the Bible at face value and taken Christianity seriously as a kid, maybe he, too, would have been willing to believe that the world was currently being flooded due to the wrath of an angry god. But he was far too intelligent to think that something of that nature was possible. A storm was a storm, and the fact that it was currently causing a gigantic flood was unfortunate, but on its own… that proved nothing. He would believe in religion the day God himself walked into the room, shook the man’s hand, and told him his life story forwards and backwards.
He looked at the television, decided to keep the now crying newscaster in his thoughts, and turned it off. Regardless of what anybody believed, this had to be something like hell on earth.

There was no doubt about that.

He went back to the balcony and leaned on the railing as well as he was able, being careful this time not to poke his head out too far. The last thing he needed right now was another drenching. The usually strong scent of cigarette smoke was nearly drowned out by the overwhelming smell of rain, and the man inhaled only twice before tossing the cigarette into the water below.

Smoking was his one bad habit, and the only reason he had to enjoy it was the scent. It reminded him of his father and grandfather--both men had smoked and had died from it, but yet the smell was so inviting (and the activity so calming) that it all seemed impossible to avoid. But with all this rain around…

"Well, looks like I’m not the only one left after all."

The man started and turned, nearly losing his footing as he did so. He caught himself and looked into his hotel room, staring across the short space at a figure in the entranceway. He’d forgotten to lock the door that led from the hallway into his room--what would have been the use? --and so someone had apparently decided that this permitted entrance. He squinted and took a step forward and saw that it was a woman. As she came into clear focus, he could see that she was smiling, and that smile put him on guard. "Who are you?"

She laughed, somehow sounding fearless. "Does it matter? I was looking for some company… didn’t think I’d find any, though." Her voice was sweet and Southern, and she moved into his hotel room, crossing the floor to the door that led out onto the balcony. "You here by yourself, sweetie?"

He looked at her and wondered how someone who seemed so young could have the audacity to call him "sweetie." His great-aunt called him "sweetie."

"As far as I know," he answered, cautious. "I thought everyone else had left--"

"Everyone but the two of us. D’you have a death wish? A handsome fellow like you should’ve evacuated long ago." The woman came onto the balcony and looked the man over, then smiled again. "Trying to jump or somethin’?"

"No! … No. I wouldn’t do such a thing." He frowned at her, wondering how someone could simply walk into his hotel room and judge him in such a way. "What do you want?"
"You’re all questions! Sheesh, what a hardass. Got any more of those smokes?"

He narrowed his eyes at her. "How long were you--"

"Look, does it really matter? I’m amazed somebody can ask so many questions while the whole damn earth is flooding." She snorted and took her place beside him at the balcony railing, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "Maybe this’ll get you to shut up. I came here with my grandmother on a vacation, and she died last night. She wasn’t well enough to move out when the evacuations started, and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna leave her alone, so I stayed. S’far as I know, we’re the only two people left here. Grandma’s body is up in my room on the next floor, and there’s some guy laying in the hallway outside your room--I think he’s dead, too, or just layin’ real still. I’ve been looking around for any sign of life since this morning, since I figure drowning alone would be pretty crappy… y’know what I mean?" She took a breath, paused, and rolled her eyes. "I was standin’ there long enough to see you toss a perfectly good cigarette out into the goddamned ocean, so if you’ve got another, I’d be happy to take it off your hands."

The man took a moment to absorb this information and then walked back into his hotel room. He emerged a moment later with a pack of cigarettes, half-full, and a lighter. She accepted both items with a grin. As she lit up, her eyes seemed to twinkle a little. The man took a good look at her and saw a woman that could have been no more than twenty years old-she was average height and somewhat skinny, and her waist-length hair had been dyed bright red- it reminded him of a freshly painted fire hydrant. Her eyebrows were blonde, but something made the man think red suited her better than blonde. Maybe it was just because she was a loudmouth.

"So, sweetie," the woman said, and blew a cloud of smoke into the rain, "why’re you still sticking around? If you’re not killing yourself, you’ve got to have some reason…"

He leaned against the railing again and stared out into the rain. Something told him that there would be no use resisting conversation with this woman. If they were going to drown anyway…

"I was asleep," he answered, and heard her choke. "I didn’t wake up for the evacuation."

"You’ve gotta be kidding--"

"No. I woke up and found the hotel abandoned and everything flooded."

"And you didn’t try to--"

"To escape? How?" He glanced at her and shook his head. "There seems to be no use now. I decided to wait. If the rain stops--"

"The rain ain’t stopping’, sweetie. Haven’t you heard?" The woman laughed. "It’s the end of the world. The rain won’t stop until there’s nothing left for it to rain on."

"The end of the world?" The man looked at her. "Do you actually believe that?"

"Why wouldn’t I?"

"It’s--you can’t possibly think such a thing--" He stumbled over his words. "How could you think such a thing?"

"How couldn't I? Think about it." She kicked off the shoes she had been wearing, sinking two inches lower to the ground as they were cast aside. "Do you know," she began, stepping towards the balcony edge, "what the probability is… of all this happening?"

He remained looking steadily at her. "What?"

"The chance of there being rain falling on every square inch of this planet-the chance of a flood occurring everywhere all at the same time-is less than a ten thousandth of a percent. That’s really damn low. To put that into perspective…" She stopped to blow more smoke. "It’s more likely for every member of the United States Senate to spontaneously combust at the same time."

The man chuckled despite himself. "That’s an image to remember."

"I’m not joking, y’know. It’s almost statistically impossible for the entire world to flood. The fact that this is happening completely defies logic." The woman’s expression hardened. She swallowed, her eyes fixed on the burning tip of her cigarette. "I don’t know if you’ve seen the news lately, but even the atheists are screaming about the apocalypse now. The probability is just too low--"

"How do you know that?"

She sighed. "Before I came here, sweetie, I was a statistics major."

The man was caught off guard. He drew back from the railing and looked over the woman again, unsure now of his previous judgments about her. At first she had seemed like a wild Southern teenager, uneducated and brash, but a statistics major? He never would have guessed such a thing. After all, the students he had attended college with would have never dared to dye their hair bright red. There would have been consequences to such an action. But, he reminded himself, times had changed. So it was possible for someone so strange to be more accomplished than he had initially thought. Even so… He cleared his throat. "How old are you?" he asked.

Now she seemed to be the one off guard. "How old… why d’ya ask?"

"I want to know." He folded his arms. "If we are the last people left, we might as well get to know each other before we drown."

"Well, well!" The woman laughed. "Looks like you had a change of heart. Can’t say I expected to hear something like that come out of your mouth." She flung her spent cigarette out into the water and tossed back her hair, pressing her thin arms to the top of the railing. "I’m twenty-four."

"You don’t look--"

"I know. Save it; I hear that every day." She looked at the water instead of him. "You?"
The man forced back his surprise and answered her. "Thirty-nine."

"Woooow." She threw back her head and laughed. "You’re practically an old geezer. Man, and at first I thought you were my age. You take a dip in the Fountain of Youth or somethin’?"

He chuckled softly and reached into his back pocket for his box of cigarettes. "Such a thing doesn’t exist."

"There y’go again. You’re just resolved to be the most practical man alive, aren’t you? I bet you don’t believe in God, either."


"Well, you’d better start believin’ while you can, sweetie. Otherwise…"

"Otherwise," he began, lighting up, "what?"

She shrugged. "Otherwise you spend eternity rotting in Hell. Who knows, at this point. Like I was saying before, though-you can’t explain this flood logically. The only thing left to do is blame it on a higher power."

The man snorted. "A thousandth of a percent still isn’t very low. I’ll take my chances."

The man and woman were quiet for a while, and as the rain continued to come down in torrents, they watched. Suddenly the woman whirled around and faced the man, grinning like a cat would if it had cornered a mouse. "You ever read the Bible, sweetie?"

He nodded. "Once, a very long time ago."

"Ever wonder why the unicorns weren’t mentioned?"

"The unicorns?" The man blinked. "What are you talking about? Unicorns never existed."

"Do you have proof of that?"

"Well, no, but--"

"Look, just listen to me for a second." The woman shook her head, seemingly annoyed with his protests. "It’s said that the unicorns weren’t mentioned in the Bible because they managed to get themselves killed back when the Earth flooded. You remember the story of Noah’s ark, right?" She waited until he nodded in response to continue. "It’s said, sometimes, that the Bible excluded mentions of certain creatures that boarded the ark-creatures we’re not supposed to believe in. Y’know, faeries, elves, and so on…"

The man cleared his throat. "I fail to see how this relates to our current situation."

"I’m getting to it!" The woman glared at him, then spun around, turning her back on the rainfall.

"Unicorns kind of fall into that category--you know, nonsensical creatures. My grandmother always used to tell me that they existed, though, and that they aren’t seen anymore because they were too proud to board the ark. When the rain started and Noah gathered up his pairs of animals, the unicorns were stubborn and stayed behind. They thought they could wait out the storm-that it wouldn’t get as bad as that crazy old man was thinkin’. They thought they could just swim right through it. Noah begged and pleaded with them, but they insisted on staying right where they were. So all the other pairs boarded the ark, and the unicorns just sat by watchin’, thinking to themselves how smart they were, how stupid Noah was for believing that God guy would really wipe out all of humanity…"

He pursed his lips. "Then what?"

"What do you think? You know what happened, geez. It rained for forty days and forty nights, and everything and everybody drowned before a week had passed. Those stubborn unicorns didn’t make it past two days--Grandma always said they tried to cross a river and each and every one of ‘em slipped on the rocks and fell in. Hooves aren’t exactly the sturdiest things, y’know, especially when there’s water involved." The woman studied her fingernails, painted red to match her hair. "What I’m saying is this: we’re kinda like those two unicorns. Noah gave those two a chance to live through the biggest storm the world would ever know, and they turned it down. They just walked away and thought to themselves that they would be just fine on their own. And we know how that turned out…"

"Are you trying to say that the two of us are going to die?"

"What else do you think could possibly happen at this point, sweetie?" She shook her head slowly, her hair falling forward to shield her eyes from his gaze. "It won’t stop raining anytime soon--at least that’s what the weatherman kept sayin’--and even if it does, where are we supposed to go? What do we have left here? I only have enough food in my room for one more meal, and I doubt we could find an open McDonald’s anywhere around here." She smiled a little at her own joke. "I could really kill for a cheeseburger right about now…"

The man looked at the cigarette in his hand and swallowed back the sudden lump in his throat.

"Me too."

"Honestly, I don’t know what’s goin’ on here. If we’re to believe the Bible, God’s taking back his word about never flooding out the world again--and he’s really pissed at humanity, to boot. If we’re to believe logic… well, I’m not so sure we can believe logic anymore, seeing as this defies just about everything."

"The whole world’s ruined, either way."

"Now you’re cookin’ with gas." She threw back her head and laughed. "I mean, look at this. A hundred percent of the world is covered with water right now. There are no houses, no businesses, no buildings that aren’t filled with water to some extent. If the rain keeps coming, even the skyscrapers will be submerged. There’s almost no food, no drinkable water, only a couple places to sit or sleep in, and I’m sure people are panicking their asses off considering the death toll’s supposedly two million right now in the United States alone." The smile on her face was slowly dying. "Even if we do wait out this storm, what’s left for us? What’s left for any of us when the storm clears and everything we hold dear is underwater?"

The man flung his cigarette out into the rain and watched it fall to the ocean below them, his throat tight. Not even the smell of smoke could comfort him now. "Nothing," he said, mostly to himself, and closed his eyes. "There’s a very grim future in store for anyone who lives through this."

"Think it’s even worth living through?"

"I don’t know right now," he answered. "But I won’t know until I try."

"So you’re gonna cross the river?"

He chuckled. "I can swim very well."

"Well, if you’re determined to do that…" She turned and pointed across what had once been a beach, her sight set solidly on a taller, larger hotel. "We’ve gotta move to higher ground. There are balconies over there, too--we can climb up onto the nearest one and see if we can get into a room from there." She paused. "I was about to say that I wouldn’t wanna break in, but I guess that doesn’t matter much now."

"No." The man adjusted his glasses and squinted at the hotel--there was someone on the roof there, he was sure of it now--and sighed. "Do you think we’ll live?"

"You said you could swim well, didn’t you?" The woman was suddenly climbing on the railing, pushing herself up to sit on the top bar. "It isn’t too bad out there… nothing I couldn’t handle. I was on the swim team in high school, y’know…"

"Me too."

"Well, that’s just another thing we have in common, huh?" She winked over her shoulder at him, then slid a little off the railing. "C’mon, let’s get going. And I’m not saving you if you start to flail around, so you’d better be good at watchin’ your own ass."

The man bent to remove his shoes, smiling. "I can take care of myself just fine. I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?"

He waited for his answer and heard nothing-the woman was already gone. Sighing, he peeled off his socks, unbuttoned his shirt, and began to climb over the railing. Around him the rain continued to come down, relentless, as if it was determined to continue until there was nothing left but the sound of waves lapping against rooftops.


WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005