November 26, 2014

"I Would Rather Be Ashes Than Dust"

Dear Reader,

My journey began in math class last week, when I overheard some friends talking about tryouts for our school's basketball team. After considering their conversation for a moment, a radical thought came to my mind. Why don't I try out for the team? I decided I would give it a shot and gave my word to my friends that I would try out.

I'll be frank here, my dear Reader. Aside from 4th grade Physical Education class, I have had little experience on the court. Before going to my first open gym last week, I considered my strengths and weaknesses. "Can I make shots consistently? No. Can I read an opponent and determine what they're about to do? No. Do I have mad ball-handling skillz? No. But can I try my best despite my shortcomings? Yes. Yes, I can."

This last thought carried me through the entire tryout process. Did I miss a bunch of shots? Yes. Did I have to look at the ball as I dribbled? Yes. Did I make tons of mistakes? Yes.

But I powered through and did my best. Though I knew the odds of making the team were slim to none, I went hard to the very end.

These words, attributed to Jack London, help explain why I even tried in the first place.

"I would rather be ashes than dust! 
I would rather that my spark should burn out 
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. 
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom 
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. 
The function of man is to live, not to exist. 
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. 
I shall use my time."

Though I didn't make our school's basketball team, I am glad that I seized this opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. I would rather be ashes than dust. 

NM

(Congratulations to those who made the team! ROCK the court this year, y'all. Rock it.)


November 20, 2014

"The Couch"

Dear Reader,

My friend, Catelyn Critchfield and I have a study hall period where we use our time very wisely. Please enjoy this short story that we wrote, passing her computer back and forth for each paragraph. Also, enjoy any typos, because this art is UNEDITED! All the best, NM

A man comes home from work one evening to find that his couch is missing. Where did it go?

He fumbled with his keys at the door. When he had opened it up, he stumbled into his small apartment. He threw his bag over to the couch but heard a crash. “What?” He said. “Where the crap is my freakin’ couch?” He crouched down and studied the dusty outline of where his worn out upholstery had been before. That’s when he heard a noise.

When he turned around he noticed that the bedroom door was ajar. A scraping sound followed by a wooden crunch came from his room. He opened the door to find his window open, the breeze that smelled faintly like motor oil and couch stuffing filled his nose. He noticed a scrap of fabric clinging to the windowsill that matched his couch exactly. He poked his head out the window to looked down the three stories to the city street. That’s when he saw it, his couch scuttling down the sidewalk like it belonged there. But how had it suddenly gained the ability to jump out a window and onto the street?

In a flash he grabbed his keys and sprinted out of his apartment. He went for the elevator but it was down for maintenance, so he crashed through the metal door to the emergency stairwell and began sprinting down. People stared at him as he broke through the lobby at a dead run. Outside, his feet slapped the ground harder as the couch came into view.

He made a grab for the couch but it saw him, as well as any couch without the optical advantages us humans posses can see, and it scuttled faster. He’d managed to chase it to the street corner; people were staring at the strange scene and laughing, probably thinking that it was some elaborate joke. When the couch stopped at a red light at a cross walk he grabbed the cushions and catapulted onto the seat. The couch squirmed under his weight but eventually settled onto the pavement. He looked under the couch to see if it had somehow sprouted legs and noticed something glinting on the wooden underside of his comfortable couch he’d gotten for $5.99 at a yard sale in Oregon.

The next thing he knew, he was pulling himself up off of the pavement. What was going on? Why had the couch bucked him off? HOW had the couch bucked him off? He saw it further down the street and he drew his pistol. After the war, he never felt safe without his handgun. Dodging traffic, he bolted down the road and caught up with the runaway upholstery. It stopped when it sensed the weapon in his hands.

“Get in the alley.” He ordered the couch. The couch wiggled its arm rests in an attempt to surrender as it shuffled back into the empty alley. He advanced with his gun, the war flashed briefly in his mind… yes world war fifteen. It was hard to forget the war with google, the war they said could not be won with mere guns. He focused on the couch again, it stopped moving and sat there as a couch ought too, still and without somewhat demonic movements, a quality inanimate objects should not possess He pushed the muzzle of the gun against the plush back of the couch and felt something vaguely firm. He poked it again and felt whatever it was pushing back.

He didn’t even hear the ottoman sneaking up behind him until it was nearly upon him. In a flash he turned and emptied a clip into the soft leather of the ottoman. Each round entered with a dull smack and the job was finished well before he fired his last shot. When he turned back to the couch, it had vanished again. “I won’t let it get away.” He vowed as he loaded another clip into his pistol. With cold steel in hand, he started into the winding alleys of New York City.

The quickest way through NYC in 3045 was of course through the abandoned sewers. He opened the manhole at his feet and dropped inside, listening to the bustle above him. He heard a familiar scraping and followed it until he saw light coming through another manhole. He opened it and crawled outside to see his couch enter an abandoned warehouse nearing the edge of town. He thought he heard music faintly playing and He followed it at a distance and peeked in through a window. What he saw was both terrifying and awesome.

He tightened his grip on the pistol as he moved to an entrance to get a closer look. Once inside, he quietly climbed a steel ladder to the catwalk above the warehouse floor. He held his breath and watched the strange ceremony. Couches. Hundreds of couches. Moving in a circle around an object. But what? His foot hit a pipe and the noise echoed through the warehouse. All movement stopped and he knew what had to be done.

He backed up a few steps and launched over the rail and fell into the pile of ferocious and extremely soft couches. His gun was firing before he had a chance to think about it. He climbed to his feet and fired as he ran towards the object in the middle of the room. Couches went flying left and right as they tried to claw him with their tassels or softened arms. He barely reached the center of the room when he saw what they were surrounding. It was a statue standing proudly on a plush rug; all the couches fell into a hushed silence as they surrounded him.

One stepped forward. It was his own couch. He saw now that the metal he had seen before was a gun. “So.” He said softly. “It will end this way.” He slapped a fresh clip into his weapon and steadied himself. The other couches stayed far back to watch the duel. He and the couch ran at each other, wildly firing at everything and hitting nothing. But the couches last round caught him squarely in the shoulder. In a blind rage, he threw himself at the couch and started punching. The soft cushions absorbed all of his blows. When he went to pull back his hand, he couldn’t. The couch had grabbed him. He threw his other hand into the cushion but it got stuck too. In desperation, he cried out. “Have mercy!” Silence reigned as his voice echoed through the vast warehouse. “PLEASE LET ME G-“ His cry was cut short when the couches closed in and ended him.