Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Jasper the Ghost" by Ani Terzian

"Hey, what are you doing over there?!" Bill asked.

Jasper was quietly sitting in front of the television, waching Ghostbusters for the millionth time, his pale fingers covered with crumbs. The enormous plate full of cookies was now empty. He put the movie on mute. "Nothing!" he called.

"Are you coming with us or not?"

Jasper looked over at the direction Bill's voice was coming from. There was nothing there.

"No, I think I'll just sit this one out again," he said dully.

Bill huffed. Jasper could imagine the annoyed glare his brother was giving him, even though he couldn't see Bill -- or indeed any members of his family.

"You've been so boring ever since the accident, Jasper. You're a ghost, you can't just sit around all day at home with all these helpless humans running around." A few moments later Jasper heard the door slam.

Jasper had a problem. Everyone called it a curse. He was starting to believe them. Unlike the rest of his family, he wasn't invisible. If he went outside, people would see him. This kept him from fulfilling his destiny as a ghost -- to scare people.

But as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man appearaed in front of him in his silent house, Jasper decided was tired of being teased by all the neighborhood ghosts. He was finally going to get out and engage in some ghostly business.

He put on his hat and coat, a weak attempt for a disguise, and left the apartment. Walking down the alley, he suddenly heard footsteps. It was the first sign of life he had seen in weeks (his technically dead family didn't count): a tall man dressed in thick clothes, slowly walking towards him.

The man's shiny leather boots caught Jasper's eye. Clickety clack. Clickety clack. The winter snow was still on the ground; there was no way to get around secretly. As the man came closer to him, Jasper jumped out of the corner.


The man fell over. He was trembling and hyperventilating. "Who are you? What do you want?"

Jasper hesitated. It had been a long time since he scared a person. It didn't feel good the way it used to. But his feet were freezing from walking out in the cold. So he told the man, "I want your boots."

The man took them off and gave them to Jasper. Jasper put them on, left his own shoes for the man, and continued walking down the cold alley. He didn't feel like being a ghost anymore.

From a workshop about ???? (I'm not sure), Glendale, CA, June 2011. - Ned

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Goliath" by Breanna Tucker

It's always weird when someone has the exact same schedule as you at school. It's like you've been selected at random to be best friends. I didn't really like this guy Johnny, but since we had all the same classes, we would see each other everywhere, and one day during third period I noticed him kept peeking over from behind his textbook.

"What?" I hissed.

"This is boring."


"Well," he said, "let's do something."

"Do what?" I questioned.

He had a look on his face like he was wondering if he should say what he was going to say. He glanced at Mrs. Richardson. "Let's ditch."

I considered it. Here we were, ambitious teenagers sitting in a pointless class, knowing that absolutely nothing significant was going to happen for the rest of the day. Probably the rest of the week.

"Okay." I smiled and I saw the excitement overtake him.

"Follow me." He got up out of his seat and walked out the door. I obediently followed, wondering why no one noticed.

* * *

Apparently his plan was to go to Magic Mountain, which he had two tickets to. It being a weekday, we got onto every ride in less than 10 minutes. We spun in teacups until we were nauseated; we ate disgusting, over-priced chicken strips; and we got soaking wet on a ride called "Tidal Wave." We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves -- and he even won a pink teddy bear for me. Actually he bribed the worker, but I'll say he won for his sake.

The sun had gone down, so we decided to go on just one more ride before completing our perfect, well-spent day.

"Which one?" he asked.

"Hmm..." I thought about it. "How about Goliath?"

Goliath had the steepest incline of any coaster in the United States.

No one was in line, so we picked the two front seats. As the coaster cranked up into the night sky, we saw the city light up below us.

"Today was fun," he said and smiled.

"Yeah," I replied pleasantly. When we reached the peak of the coaster, we heard a loud thump below us and our cart shifted to the right. Curious, I peeked over the side. The two front wheels were not aligned with the track.

Gravity started to bring us downward.

From the Feb. 2012 workshop on "The Cliffhanger" in Glendale, CA.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Conflagration" by Caleb Zachary

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Grant had woken me up by kicking the door of my room in as he passed by in the hallway. Thursday he kicked it open and tossed a bag of CliffsNotes onto my bed, aiming as close to my head as he could without looking like he was trying. Friday Dad left early, so Grant celebrated his freedom to torture me by blasting Rebecca Black from the kitchen while he had his cereal.

Grant is my cousin, older than me by one grade, who moved in with my father and I for an indefinite period of time. He and Dad got along famously, trading witticisms and abstract trivia while also taking every opportunity to goad me, knowing I was born to be a comedy straight man.

While I've been going to a small private school since middle school, Grant enrolled at the local public school and he hates it with a passion. He had another week before his school got out, while I had started summer break two weeks before, thus his surplus resentment. I crawled out of bed and pulled on a shirt, bumping my way drearily into the kitchen to pull the plug on the "Friday"-blasting speaker. Grant didn't even look up, only pushed the cereal box toward me and mumbled a mouthful--something about clean spoons.

I wandered toward the wide window and yanked open the curtain, feeling a bit vengeful. I heard Grant groan as light flooded in onto the gleaming tile counters. I gazed out over the residential high-rises a few blocks away right above Grant's school, mirror images of the ones we lived in. (My father joked that if we lived in one of the other high-rises, Grant could rappel from our balcony onto the baseball field.) I left the curtain open, even though the brightness made me squint.

"What time do you get out of school today?" I asked.

"2:30," he said, "but I'll be staying a bit late to talk to Lena."

Lena was Grant's math teacher, who he had developed what I considered an unhealthy crush upon.

"If I'm not too busy partying it up, do you want me to meet you when you're done?" I asked.

"I'll be partying with Lena," Grant mumbled, knowing that I had absolutely no plans. "Meet me at Starbucks at three."

I grunted affirmation, trying to calculate just how late he'd be, and headed back to my room. While Grant might have to wake up at 7:15, I could sleep as late as I wanted.

* * *

I thought I was still dreaming when I rolled out of bed to the screeching, until the room shook and my eardrums popped, filling my ears with a dull whining sound. My head throbbed, and as I stood up the building shook again and glass broke somewhere in the apartment. My clock, jolted from its wall mounting to crack on the floor, was frozen at 11:28.

I stepped over the shards of plastic into the hallway, where paintings and pictures scattered the floor. The kitchen was where the destruction began. The window was shattered across the white tile, glittering in the sunlight that still streamed through the frame. Pots and pans littered the counter after falling from the hanging rack.

A cloud of smoke was rising to shroud my view from the window, but the remnants of the adjacent high rises were still barely visible, even as they crumbled to the ground across the school below. 

Across the road, buried in the third floor of the closest high rise, hung a wrecked passenger airplane.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"An Unusual Lunch" by Estefania Zavala

The screeches woke her up as they did every morning. They were screams of purest fear and abject terror. Her little brother, Henry, was having a tough time adjusting to kindergarten.

She scurried out of bed, hoping against hope that a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios swimming with orange juice (his favorite) would quiet him down. For once, the endeavor was successful and she helped her harried mother mangle him into a car seat.

She arrived at school early, tripping on the bike rack -- as she always did. The cut on her knee re-opened and she cursed/limped all the way to the office where she obtained a band-aid that was very grudgingly given.

She thought about the stinginess of the office aides and composed cutting speeches aimed at them for the rest of the morning.

For lunch, she chose the same kind of grilled cheese sandwich as always and thought the same kind of thoughts as always: she considered dyeing her hair; she dismissed the idea.

There was a silence within the cafeteria. The lull caused her to look up.

It was the most bizarre thing she had ever seen. It was some sort of a man, as near as she could tell. He was walking on his hind legs, at least. He appeared to have the head of a cat -- and the body of a bear. But he was a soft shade of purple. He had two giant black discs for eyes and no other facial features.

As extraordinary as this creature, however, was what he cradled in his giant lavender arms. Her little brother, Henry.

"Hello, Natalie," said her brother with imperial coolness not usually displayed by five-year-olds.

"Hello," she replied faintly.

"Please inform Mother that I won't be home for dinner tonight," he said. Natalie wondered where his lisp had gone. "I won't be home for quite some time, in fact. I enjoy your company and Honey Nut Cheerios but I have found the indignities of kindergarten too foul to suffer."

She nodded -- as though this was the sort of thing her brother said all the time. The monster's black discs glittered curiously.

"Well, I'm afraid Mr. Garrison and I must be leaving," Henry said. She realized "Mr. Garrison" was the monster clutching him. With a swift command from her brother, he began to lumber out of the cafeteria.

Her brother turned back to see all the panicking people and sent her a look of utmost pity. "I'll come back for you when I can," he said.