Remember Me – Hope Walborn

“I’d like to propose a toast to-”

“Grandma, no,” I hissed, pushing the glass in her hand back down to rest on the tablecloth. “This is not a party.”

“Nonsense! Every party needs a toast!” she exclaimed, swatting my hand away and raising her glass of water again.

“Grandma,” I whispered impatiently. “I don’t think you understand. This is not a party. It’s a funeral. Nobody here wants to toast.”

“I’d like to propose a toast!” she yelled louder, causing every pair of eyes in the room to turn to us. She raised her glass higher, grinning happily. “To the death of Marcus! Begone with you! I never liked you anyways!”

Small gasps traversed the room, and, to my horror, one man stood up looking so angry I thought his head would fly off his body and steam would blow out his ears like in the cartoons.

“What did you say?!” he shouted loudly, pointing to my grandmother and knocking over a glass of wine in the process.

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Without a Trace – Hope Walborn

As soon as Emilie woke up, she knew something was missing.

At first, she couldn’t quite tell what it was. She got out of bed like she did any other day, swinging her legs over the left side and planting her feet on the wooden floor. Standing up, Emilie started down the hall towards her twin sister’s room. Margo often shared feelings with her, so perhaps she could help Emilie figure out what was going on.

The door at the end of the hall was closed as usual. Emilie knocked twice against the wood and waited. When no answer came, she knocked two more times.

Still no answer.

She decided to open the door anyways. Margo was a heavy sleeper, and Emilie figured her sister was still sound asleep. Besides, she needed to be woken up if she wanted to get to school on time.

Peeking through the open door, Emilie couldn’t believe what she saw.

All of her sister’s belongings had disappeared. Her bed was gone, and so was her desk and stacks of messy clothes on the floor. Even the walls were painted a different color than Margo’s favorite shade of blue.

In fact, the only thing in the now white room was a desk, a few cardboard boxes, and a dusty bookshelf.

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One Last Ride – Olivia Miller

The clock hit eight seconds and the buzzer sounded. “Next up, Parker Jones riding Kicker,” the judge announced. Parker buttoned up his shirt on his way to the dirt. He fixed his hat and tapped on Bobby’s shoulder.

“I’m ready,” he boldly stated. Bobby nodded, and he and the rest of his crew lifted Parker up onto Kicker. The bull jumped and kicked in an attempt to throw Parker off before the gate opened and the clock started, but Parker was determined to hold on.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” one of the judges began. “Please welcome Parker Jones and Kicker!”

Parker wrapped his right hand around the strap, and took a deep breath. “Let’s go!” he called. The gate opened automatically and the clock began counting. Kicker flailed around and did his best to throw Parker off, but Parker wanted one thing and one thing only.

Parker kept his right hand wrapped around the strap, and his left hand up in the air. Before he knew it, the clock read eight seconds, and Parker hopped off Kicker. He smoothly landed on both feet, and strolled back towards the barn. Another eight seconds was under his belt, and he had nothing to lose. After he changed and headed on his way to his little S-10 pickup truck, a reporter stopped him in his tracks. “Parker Jones,” she began. “How are you feeling after this very successful ride?” She shoved the recording device in his face.

“Well, I uh,” he stuttered. He was a smooth rider but his conversation skills needed a little touch up. “I obviously feel great. It was a smooth ride, and I can’t wait for next week’s,” he began to step away in hopes that the vertically challenged reporter would accept his answer.

“Any comments?” she pushed.

“Today’s ride was just to get me to my next. Next week, I take on Slugger, and Slugger, well, he’s my last hope. I made a promise to somebody very important, that I would be quitting after this year. All I want is to be on the Top Five Riders in the Country list. That’s all I’m asking for, that’s all I have ever asked for. With Slugger being my last ride of the season, I’m thinking more about next week, than today.”

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The Truth of Morbidity – Sara Guhl

“You’re quite morbid.” A simple statement, right? Wrong. In fact, the opposite. It was a statement of the utmost complexity: a divine question disguised as three little words. What did it really mean? You’ll see.

***

The sky was a clear, serene, picturesque blue: the stereotypical kind a child would imagine when asked to draw the outdoors. The grass was of the same metaphorical origin: a bright green that was sharp on the edges and would cut you if you messed with it. I, on the other hand, was not vivid. The bright summer sky and lawn swallowed up my daydreaming figure. My glazed-over eyes ignored the drifting puffs of clouds. It felt nice just laying there: the sun on my sprawled out form and the slight breeze dusting by.

A few birds hummed their tunes, gleeful and oblivious. In the nearby distance, families on picnics laughed and a few delighted squeals escaped into the wind. I smiled to myself. They didn’t know yet, but soon, right? Of course. Soon they’d see the browned grass and the flattened blades of it. They’d follow the trail I’d left and find me. I couldn’t wait. Come find me, friends! Behold my horrific beauty and the iron laced liquid strewn everywhere.

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Unlock – Isabella Gibbs

“Your one minute begins, now,” the robotic voice prompted Sarah. Frantically, the young woman began searching the barren, yet pristine room for the brass key to the chest in the room’s center.

“C’mon, c’mon!” Sarah muttered under her breathe as she rummaged through the draws of the desk. Though the room had only the chair she was previously tied to, an empty desk, and a stout bookshelf with three large volumes on its top shelf, one minute was not an adequate enough time to thoroughly search the room.

The empty desk drawers held nothing but false hope, leaving Sarah to abandon it in favor of rummaging through all three books before overturning the bookshelf itself.

“Thirty seconds remain.”

Sarah screamed in frustration. She had to find the key. She had to open the chest in order to gain both her memories and her freedom.

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Devil Letter- Alex Volkov

I work in the complaints center. Usually, my job is nothing but standard protocol. I’ll sit on my little cloud, making geometric shapes out of post-it notes at my desk, when a piece of parchment will appear in a poof of glittering white smoke and feathers. A complaint. More often than not, the complaint is something trivial, filed by a creature who felt they did not get the attention they deserved. My biggest issues involve pixies (they send a ton of prank letters) and unicorns (they can never get enough attention). Today was… different. I received something completely unexpected.

The letter arrived in a cough of filthy black smoke and a few smoldering cinders. It was like a tiny nuclear explosion erupted on my desk, reducing my post-it note dodecahedron to a pile of ash. I had to wait until the letter stopped glowing red with heat before I could pick it up. After a minute or so, I carefully flattened out the parchment and looked over its contents. My breath caught in my throat. It said:

Mr. G,

I am requesting a private meeting with you in regards to the specifications of my job. I am displeased with the lack of rest opportunities I am given, in association with the amount of work I need to fulfill. Therefore, I expect us to reach an agreement on certain terms by no later than ten minutes after you read this message.

P.S. This is urgent. Hope you’re “dying” to see me!

-Mr. D

I looked up from the letter. Ten minutes? What did that mea-

All of a sudden, my chair burst into flame. I jumped up, flailing and swatting at the embers that caught a hold of my pants. Next thing I knew, my desk erupted with fire, my geometric shapes launching in every direction like flaming meteors. I shrieked internally. What if I burst into flames next?! A few workers sitting above me looked down and regarded my burning things with mild annoyance. They’d never really cared much for the complaints department. One worker, a guy in charge of constellation communication, asked if I needed help, or “something.”

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Chad the Outfielder – Olivia Miller

I grabbed my bat and began to take some practice swings before I approached the plate. Chad looked me in the eye to say, “You! I expect nothing less than a home run from you,” he smirked.

“I can’t make any promises,” I shook my head, self-conscious.

“You can make ‘em you just can’t keep ‘em,” he shot back. As I approached the plate I heard Chad’s words of encouragement from behind the fence. “Use your speed, bulldog,” he called to me. As soon as the ball hit the bat he was calling after me again. “Through the bag, through the bag!” I bolted over the plate and straight for first. I was about halfway there when I noticed the first baseman standing right in my baseline.

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