Archive for the ‘2013 — 5.2 (Spring)’ Category


23 Apr

by:  Megan Finsel

We are not amused! In this joke of yours

This reality you’ve made

Where the cost of popularity is higher than virginity

We are not amused

In your swag and your ‘tude

Yolo? Oh no! Mad bro? Ya know!

This reality isn’t real

Fake! Faux! False!

It’s a mirage in the desert distance,

A drink eluding your thirsty lips

We are not amused

In what you define as beauty

Beauty of skin, beauty on skin, injected in skin, and cut from skin

Or in what you consider stylish

It is appalling

How an open door, an open hand, a smile, a tipping hat

Has become so obsolete

We are not amused

In how you judge us, how you see us, how you hold us to paper cutouts, paper thin, and tell us: “look this way!” or “act this way if you want to be accepted!”

Do this! Do that! Cut this! Crimp that! Who are you to tell us how to be?

We are who we are the way we are for a reason beyond what your shortsighted eyes can view

We are not amused

How can I describe me? If you’ve seen me around campus I always have a paintbrush in my hair. I am an artist and a writer and (whether with words or with paint) telling stories is one of my greatest passions. I strongly believe that words can make a difference, and if my work can make at least one person smile, then I have done my job. I hope someday to be a Special Education teacher, but I know I will always tell stories. Now you know me 🙂

This is Where the Title Goes

23 Apr

by: Sammy Student


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse nec urna leo. Duis vitae nulla eget nisl tristique vehicula. Sed quam dui, pretium vitae euismod eget, feugiat eget sem. Vestibulum ultricies, mauris sit amet adipiscing condimentum, urna mauris dignissim purus, eu tempus enim ante at metus. Proin eget ante erat. Fusce quam ante, sollicitudin a semper in, cursus et quam. Aenean sollicitudin libero posuere erat rhoncus nec ornare libero iaculis.

Mauris erat lorem, lobortis ut consectetur vel, pharetra sit amet odio. Nam elementum massa non sapien ultricies viverra. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Praesent aliquet enim id risus aliquet dapibus luctus tortor rhoncus. Nulla quis tellus augue. Phasellus adipiscing aliquet laoreet. Vestibulum a turpis felis, sit amet facilisis nunc. Curabitur leo nulla, tristique quis bibendum non, placerat ac leo.

Praesent nibh metus, ultrices vel rutrum elementum, scelerisque id lacus. Curabitur et velit mi. Aliquam dolor ligula, gravida at feugiat nec, rhoncus eget purus. Praesent ultricies interdum purus, ac bibendum ligula volutpat in. Vivamus mauris quam, adipiscing non commodo ac, commodo laoreet eros. Fusce id tortor sem, non mattis est. Nullam dolor nibh, ullamcorper id iaculis eget, rhoncus ut mauris. Curabitur molestie vestibulum facilisis. Donec sed ligula risus. Aliquam ultricies ligula non leo malesuada ullamcorper. Aliquam metus erat, interdum vitae auctor vitae, rhoncus et quam. Quisque viverra, ipsum nec commodo vestibulum, nibh est volutpat magna, vitae semper velit eros sit amet nisl. Sed vehicula congue purus id bibendum. Maecenas risus nunc, pulvinar id convallis eget, molestie non turpis. Etiam vitae sapien vel arcu ultricies elementum accumsan sit amet dolor. Sed vitae massa odio, eu aliquam felis.

Morbi varius luctus iaculis. Donec eget neque leo. In tempus massa dolor. Morbi id tortor quis dolor feugiat vehicula ut et massa. Duis ut sagittis sapien. Maecenas at eros lorem, ac blandit risus. Donec sagittis feugiat dolor, nec condimentum eros ornare quis. Sed cursus leo vitae dui mollis a dictum neque luctus. Ut et magna eget dolor sodales adipiscing a ac quam. Vestibulum aliquam sapien sagittis elit ornare quis lobortis arcu iaculis. Proin lobortis congue imperdiet. Suspendisse ac vulputate erat. Sed lectus orci, rhoncus ut pellentesque eget, bibendum nec augue. Nam porta eleifend egestas. In sed mi felis, vel tincidunt leo.

Quisque a urna ut ligula condimentum suscipit. Duis diam ante, lobortis sit amet consequat nec, aliquam sed quam. Vestibulum sed commodo justo. Donec tellus dolor, varius consequat vehicula at, tempus eget enim. Vivamus eleifend, magna quis cursus faucibus, dui sapien interdum elit, non auctor dui massa vel augue. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Suspendisse luctus eleifend turpis vel mollis. Sed sagittis fringilla sagittis. Donec et porttitor urna. Etiam eu odio augue.


Bio: Sammy Student is a great student who does studious things in his studies.

Turtle Time

23 Apr

By: Elizabeth Ramos


My name is Elizabeth Ramos, and I have been pursuing visual art for the last five years. It is my ambition to one day become an Art Professor and encourage future generations of youth to express themselves and their ideas through their artwork. I am currently the Vice President of SCF’s Art Club, and enjoy working with students now too. This fall I will be transferring into the Illustration program at the Ringling College of Art and Design, and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for me.

Eternal Revenge

23 Apr


As it goes I seek revenge, not of the lightest kind, where as one has had a jest played upon him, but in the sense of avenging what has been stolen from thyself. I have been robbed!

Where be the armed guards with shackles as to chain this thief and remove him, so that he not rob others as he has robbed me. Is there no justice?

Oh, Ruby lips that look to be as soft as rose petals, hair as brown as autumn leaves, cascading down her back, skin like that of a porcelain doll, and a bodice so slender with curves of a well developed maiden. Thus, behold an angel that had fallen out of the skies, right into thy arms.

Yes, as soon as I laid my eyes upon her, I claimed her to be mine, having her devote her love to me.

Loyal, complimenting her uniqueness, pronounced loi-ale, had promised her love to me and only me. We were inseparable, and we had an indescribable love. Then he thrust himself into our lives, so unexpectedly, but as always the ways of a thief; coming and chilling you with the swiftness of the wind. A poor beggar boy, whose visage of youthful looks was to be admired, something of him she of course enjoyed; thus stolen glances would imply.

I could only find one way to repay him, to repay them both, for I had come to realize their love so great, that nothing simple could destroy it. It was all to come about perfectly on the warm afternoon day, in a far away meadow, where lovers could live and rest in peace.

“Dermutio and my dear Loyal,” I greeted the two, with the utmost glee. If only to hide the need to spit.

“Ah Sir Vintner, you have requested that I and my lady join you on this beautiful afternoon in this lovely meadow, might I add,” he replied as his eyes lustfully glided over the meadow, with a grin only thieves and beggars wore. As for thy lady, she were as beautiful as I remembered her. Though did not, I recall the look of content as she glanced at her husband.

“Yes, you and your lady. I have come to admire your love and passion for one another, and bare a gift.”

I watched as the two lovers looked to one another, an unsure look passing over their faces.

“Do not take my words as an insult to you good sir, but as you are a man of little means, I dote on the opportunity to aid you in seeing to the well-being of thy fare maiden.”

As he stared into my eyes, I could see he wanted nothing more than to achieve this, nothing more than to keep his sweet Loyal from departing from his side.

“We gratefully accept Sir Vintner,” he agreed, as I moved forward to their long lasting gift of happiness. “Only a lowly man would settle for vengeful deeds, but you reciprocate with kindness.”

“Oh my dear friend, I would do nothing of the sort, revenge, what a wasteful deed, indeed. I seek only to aid your love in blossoming, to something more beautiful than what is.”

“Indeed Vintner.” I leered at him, as he informally addressed me. Then fought against my discomfort when Loyal leeched onto him with such love and compassion.

“I care dearly for my Loyal,” Dermutio doted. “She is my light and my peace, she is my happiness. A wonderful life can only come to me with her presence.”

“Oh how you drown her in compassion, oh what dying love. I only ask that you let me do the same onto you both.” I interjected, as I heard the stream that signaled our nearing to the lovers hut.

As we approached the hut, Loyal gasped her excitement, I could not help but notice as her supple breast moved with the gesture.

“It is to your liking Loyal?” I asked her, as I assumed she would. Woman always pursue treasure, but not all treasure is silver and gold.

“Yes, oh yes,” she replied.

Her eyes traveled over the stream that flowed beside the hut, and smiled brilliantly when a fish would fly up from the stream to greet us.

“Dermutio, if you’d please indulge me with your perception of revenge.” I welcomed him,  opening the door to the hut allowing them to view it with looks of pure pleasure.

“Oh Vintner you have out done yourself, as for revenge, it is disgraceful. How one can stoop so low, hmph, I will never know. A man of poor status indeed.”

“Poor status?”

“Poor status,” he confirmed, as we moved to a far back door. Which held their true gift.

“Oh but my friend, even the wealthiest of men could resort to such an act.”

“Rich in earnings and belongings, but broken and poor at heart.” In hearing this I caught his eyes and there I gave him a luring look of understanding. I could not deny him of how true his words were.

“In that my good and wise friend I must say I agree. Now, let us all continue this way then. I have built a cellar for you.”

“A cellar?” Loyal questioned.

“A cellar,” I confirmed, “You both know well that I birth the best wine there is to be created. So I gift you with plenty. Unless you are those who do not welcome the act of drinking.”

“I apologize in saying I do-”

“Oh no we’d love to gaze upon your kind givings,” Loyal interjected with greed, and hesitantly her dear Dermutio agreed.

We moved forward into the dark dank cellar, and my pulse quickened at the sound of water droplets dripping crashing to the ground like 2 ton boulder. The periodical drops making a sound as if to say time was running out, and that the moment was coming. I quickly grabbed a flambeaux, and continued forward. As we passed many bottles of wines, the sound of droplets rung in my ears.

“Vintner, how on Earth do you keep thieves from getting a hold of these bottles?” Dermutio questioned curiously. I reached into my cloak and pulled out a sturdy lock.

“With this my dear Dermutio,” I answered positioning the lock in the glow of the flames, he nodded with his mouth taking form of an “O”.

“Lock the doors with this sturdy lock and nothing enters,” he replied.

“Do not forget my friend that nothing can exit as well. I should indeed thank the smith for aiding me this very day.”

I waved them forward, toward the end of the cellar where there was a small opening embedded in the ground, the gate-like opening purposely left open.

“Take this flambeaux and descend, indeed what you see will be to your liking,” I beckoned Loyal. She of course quickly grabbed onto the the flambeaux and entered the small room below, her trust encouraging me to move forward with this. As for Dermutio who lingered like the cunning fool he was  at the top, I gripped tightly onto the lock in my hand and quickly struck him on his temple, causing him to tumble into the opening, and hitting the ground with an animal-like groan. Loyal was horrified and released and awful fear stricken screech, realizing too late that there were no such bottles of wine in that room below.

I shut the gate and clamped it shut with the lock. There were two clicks, and I watched as with perfect timing the water from the stream began to pour in from a well carved whole in the wall, with pressure from the fast flowing stream above. Loyal ran past her unconscious love, and moved toward the opening of the small room.

“Vintner what is the meaning of this?” she questioned me with a satisfying look of terror.

“Why it is your gift dear Loyal,” I answered her with a smile, as the water now reached her well above her knees, and I noticed yet again that she did not tend to her dear beloved, who was now drowning in the deep depths of the murky water below.

“Gift?” she asked grasping the bars.

“Gift,” I confirmed. “This is my gift to you in honor of your love for this man,”

She shook her head, “I will be with you, I would very much like to be with you. I feel nothing of the sort for him,” she replied. This aroused something dark and horrible inside of me. How dare she play me for a fool? How dare she not accept this glorious gift I am presenting to her?

As now the water reached her bosoms, at last I answered, “Enough!” I reached in toward her, but she recoiled. “Oh my dear Loyal, if only you had been to me what thy name suggest,” it flowed now at her beautiful neck, “then and only then would we be happy…”

“Please!” She stared at me terrified, thrashing and wildly shaking the bars that would not loosen, as now the water began to engulf her face, and I stood quickly making my way to leave this cellar, as I could hear the water flowing behind me.

“But now, dear Loyal, may you both drown in each others eternal love.”

Bio: I got my inspiration to write this from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe called “The Cask of Amontillado” that I read in my ENC 1102 class this year. I feel like this was written to the best of my efforts, and I hope that I not only get this published in the magazine, but also that whoever reads this enjoys it. Also the format or the story should be kept the way it is, because some words italicized in the story has meaning.


Falls Park, Greenville

23 Apr

By: Woody McCree


The Shedding of Love

23 Apr

The heat of summer soaking through her uniform, Morgan waited on the school steps, tiredly scraping a stick into the pavement cracks. The beige colour reminded her of sand and holidays at the beach years ago, of sticky ice cream and small rocks that scratched her feet and her mother’s smiling face. She jammed the stick in-between the slabs forcefully.

A body heaved itself down to the steps beside her. Blinking, Morgan looked over.

“Bit hot, don’t you think?” asked the rotund girl, her cheeks pink and her mousy brown hair pulled into a ponytail, gleaming with sweat.

“It’s June,” Morgan replied tonelessly.

“But still,” the girl insisted, “It’s hot, isn’t it?”

Morgan shrugged. “I suppose.”

The girl leant forward, resting her elbows on her bare knees. She’d arrived at Harigate Primary school a few months ago, but Morgan only once recalled speaking with her in P.E. class as they dutifully tossed floppy beanbags to one another.

Morgan dug the stick in deeper, pushing up little heaps of mud. She wondered if there’d been anything alive in that ground, if she’d killed it; a ladybug, maybe, or something similar.

“And that’s Chester’s mum…oh, and there’s your dad.”

Morgan’s head snapped up.

She followed Sophie’s line of sight, peering through the crowd of suddenly faceless people, and then she saw him too. He was just like she remembered: balding brown hair the hue of her own, his cheeks oddly grey from a shave. Morgan felt her heartbeat slow as he neared.

For weeks and weeks she hadn’t seen him, nor heard a word. He hadn’t sent her a letter or rung her up on the phone. But, Morgan thought, it must be because he’s been so busy.

Sophie’s voice was suddenly loud in her ear. “They make such a nice couple, don’t you think?”

Distracted, Morgan gazed at the girl in bafflement, shaking her head as she turned back to her father. But then she saw what Sophie had meant.

Her father was not alone.

Chester’s mother, small and blond and beautiful, was at his side. Chester was talking to him, animatedly gesturing about something that Morgan couldn’t understand but which made him laugh. Chester, who’d once been her best friend, who’d lived in the flat above Morgan since the time they were small, toddling around in rainy puddles together and chasing imaginary creatures in the dewy grass of Morgan’s garden.

Still, Morgan waited for him. Surely he would glance around – searching for her, certainly – and see her. Then he would rush to her and hug her and he would be so happy he’d tell her how much he loved her.

But he didn’t turn around. She desperately wanted to go up to him, to force him to face her, but she was scared, for he was like a stranger to her now, someone she’d had once but had since lost, who’d gone away and never came back for her, a foreigner with a familiar face. It seemed improper to approach him now, rude even, as unwelcome as if she was thinking about someone else’s father.

Morgan watched as they walked away. He’d known that she was there, known that they attended school together, and he hadn’t looked for her.

Morgan focused on Chester’s golden head.

It was her fault, Morgan knew. She’d always shown Morgan up, ever the perfect daughter, the pretty, sporty, sunny Chester White over the plain, boring, quiet Morgan Evans. If only she hadn’t existed, Morgan knew things would be different.

When her mother finally arrived to pick her up, Morgan was alone on the steps. She didn’t say a word. It was only when she rose to her feet that she realised her stick had snapped.

She laid in wait in her dark bedroom, the light switch flipped off and her curtains partially drawn. The darker it was, mused Morgan, the easier it would be the see her father’s car lights as he dropped Chester off back home.

When the light came, glowing through her glass window and shifting shadows on her walls, Morgan remained still. She listened for the slam of the car doors, the soft mumble of words. Anger coiled in Morgan’s stomach, burning like acid, but she soothed it with conjured images of what the night would bring.

She waited half an hour to be sure that Chester was in her room and her father gone. Crawling out from under the comforting embrace of her covers, Morgan opened the bottom drawer of her bedside table, pulling out the thick sock and tying the end in a knot. Slowly, she opened her door and manoeuvred her way down the darkened hallway. She unlatched the lock of the outside door, stepping down into her garden, relishing the cold tickle of the grass on her bare feet.

Pacing half the garden back, Morgan turned and stared up at Chester’s window. The light wasn’t on anymore. Curling her fingers around the small stone she’d hidden in her skirt pocket, Morgan drew it out and flung it at Chester’s window.

Soon enough, as she’d expected, Chester’s pale face appeared on the other side of the glass. Her frowning features cleared as she spotted Morgan.

Morgan pointed to the shed behind her, at the garden’s edge.

Biting her lip, Chester nodded once and then disappeared from sight. Morgan headed towards the shed, patting her other pocket in reassurance.

The shed was old, but had spent many years under tender care. Morgan and Chester had loved this shed once, in awe of its bright pink shade and white shutter-windows. They’d spent other summers bunking in it over night, telling secrets in the dark, of Chester’s crushes and Morgan’s fears, their shared dreams, certain of these secrets’ safety in the immortality of their friendship.

Morgan had stopped coming to the shed since last year, since her father had decided he liked the mother and her daughters upstairs better than he did his own. In the glow of the moon, she saw that some of the paint had chipped away, that some of the shutters were missing pieces, and that the muck of the ground had risen up and tainted the lower portions of the shed.

Hearing the jingle of the door, Morgan twisted to watch Chester as she drew nearer, dressed in her white and purple pyjamas.


“Yes?” she whispered, ushering Chester into the shed. Morgan followed and closed the door firmly behind her.

“What are we doing out here? I mean,” she said, laughing nervously, “why did you get me out here? It’s the middle of the night.”

“No, it’s not. It’s not even ten yet,” said Morgan. She’d made sure of the timing of it, after all.

Chester rolled her eyes. “I know that, silly, I just meant… it’s a bit odd.”

“Why? It’s not like you talk to me at school anymore,” replied Morgan bitterly.

“I can’t. What, would you like people to spread more rumours about everything?”

“I’d like you to act as though you were my friend.”

Chester’s face crumbled. “I am your friend,” she said timidly.

“Well, a right sort of job you’re doing of it, then,” said Morgan, her tone mocking, “What with stealing my dad and all.”

“I didn’t steal your dad!” Chester said through gritted teeth, her eyes flashing angrily.

Morgan glared at her coldly. “Don’t lie.”

Chester huffed, shaking her head as she sunk down to sit on the lower bunk bed. She fingered the moth-eaten fabric, curling it around her long-nailed fingers.

“I don’t see why you got me out here if all you’re going to do is shout at me,” she muttered.

Titling her head, Morgan asked, “Aren’t you even the least bit guilty?”

“About what? The fact that my mum is prettier than yours and your dad likes pretty women? How is that my fault?”

Morgan stepped closer to Chester, discreetly pushing her hand into her other pocket.

“Don’t you ever talk about my mum,” she warned.

“I don’t see why not. Everyone in school is talking about her.”

“Just don’t.”

Chester stared at her. “You’re so ridiculous, Morgan,” she said finally, disgust coating her tone. “You think this all about you, as usual, so you blame everyone else just because your dad doesn’t love you.”

Morgan tightened her lips. “That’s not true.”

“It is true,” said Chester, turning her head to look at one of the abandoned colouring pictures still tacked to the shed’s wall. “You’re just too stupid—”

Grasping the sock tightly in her pocket, Morgan quickly pulled it out and smacked it against Chester’s head. The heavy load of the pebbles inside, pebbles that she and Chester had collected years ago at the seaside, cracked loudly as they made their target at her former friend’s skull. The blood rushed out faster than Morgan expected; in the movies, the death scenes always took so long, but Morgan thought Chester might be dead already.

A low moan interrupted her thoughts.

Morgan watched as Chester attempted to move, her limbs flailing as they sought purchase on some solid surface. She reached for the bedpost, but Morgan pushed her to the floor. A gasping cry broke through the quiet air as she smacked against the hard ground, small pitiful sobs jerking the girl’s body.

Chester turned her head slightly, her pale eyes seeking out something.


Bending down, Morgan once again aimed the pebble-filled sock at Chester’s head. Blood spilled out slower this time as Chester stopped her movements entirely, lying there limply, as floppy as those beanbags in P.E. class. Ruby red liquid trickled from her skull, vivid against the stark white of her neck. It darkened her golden hair, the strands clotting together, staining the wooden floor as it dripped to the ground.

For a while, Morgan felt frozen, unable to move as the body before her passed into rigormortis. She sank down on the floor next to it, drawing her knees to her chest and curling her bloodied arms around them tightly. Rocking back and forth, Morgan stared out ahead, unseeing.

Feeling something slide down her face, she raised her hand to wipe it off, expecting a splatter of blood but instead finding the clear liquid of tears. Her rocking increased then, as a howl of misery sought to tear itself from her throat, which seemed to close tighter and tighter as she tried to breathe—

But Chester would never breathe again. Morgan had taken that from her.

She sobbed then, the racking kind that seemed fit to bludgeon the heart, until her cries rose to screams but she couldn’t hear it because the pounding in her ears was too loud and the last echo of Chester’s plead ran through her head like a siren that just kept bleating


Her throat still tightening in a scream, Morgan looked up to see her father silhouetted in the shed’s doorframe. His horrified gaze shifted between the two girls, both equally bloodied, though one was dead and the other alive. Morgan stared at him blankly, as though for the first time, realising that he must have been here the whole time. Morgan barely resisted the insane urge to laugh, for it was all too much, suddenly.

Because Chester was right.

Morgan knew it as she watched her father’s face crease in repulsion, knew that there was no point mourning the loss of her father’s love because she had never had it in the first place.

Soon there were more people than her father around her and at some point someone came and took Chester’s body. There was screaming and shouting and sirens but Morgan couldn’t understand any of it.

Eventually, though, someone came for her too.

Tears clouded her vision once more as she was thrown over one of the people’s – a man’s, she thought absently – shoulder.

They took her outside, leading her away to somewhere she knew not, but to Morgan’s eyes, everything was blurry except for the broken shed.


No Crime Was Committed

23 Apr

By: Keith Cranmer

Toss…turn….flip….flop….adjust….fidget…I can’t sleep. I can’t help but think of all the things that I have got to do. Moving to Venice from Orlando was not a decision that I made, but one that was made for me. Working four jobs after the tornado destroyed my house and living with that lesbian Jackie, who was the founder and president of the National Man Haters League, made it impossible to have any kind of life to even talk about. When she kicked me out because she had other lesbians moving in, who hated men just as much as Jackie did and were more than happy to join her league, I had no choice but to move in with my parents. Not having a job, little money to work with, and more bills than resources seemed to be getting to me. I decided to go to the beach and work off some of this energy. I find that the sound and the feel of the environment tend to relax me and put my mind at ease.

Getting out of bed and putting on some clothes takes no time at all, and then I sneak out of the house as quietly as I can. Sliding into the driver’s seat of my 1986 Mercury Grand Marque I start the engine. Even though the car has been in the shop a few times, it has served me well. I pull out of the drive way with the windows down and light a cigarette. Smoking is the only vice that I have other than eating. The two are not really a great combination as I am overweight and smoke a pack a day. The doctor says that I am out of shape and need to quit the smoking and lose weight fast. On the way to the beach, I stop at a local convenience store to get a bottle of soda for my evening walk.

I had been to Caspersen beach in the daylight hours a couple of times since I came to Venice. My mother, aunt, cousin, grandmother, and I would go first thing in the morning to look for sharks teeth and I find it to be quite beautiful. It is quite striking with its’ black sand and sea grass next to the road to prevent beach erosion. I also like the fact that there is such a sense of conservation at this beach. When the sea turtle season comes, people find the sea turtle nests and cage them so they are not destroyed. You can even see when the eggs are expected to hatch and come to the beach to witness that wonderful occurrence.

Driving down the single road that lead to the parking area is enchanting. The beach and its sand are to the right and the woods to the left. It seems as if I am the only person on the face of the whole planet. The road ends in the parking area providing one way in and one way out. My car is the only one there, as I thought it would be. Who else would be up at this time of night hanging out at the beach? I park my car in the sandy parking area. I get out of the car and locked the doors while making sure I have my cigarettes with me. I cross the road and mount the board walk that runs between the sand and the access road.

Lost in my thoughts, I barely notice the cool breeze coming off the water and brushing against my face or the pleasant scent of the moist salt water in the air. Before I could take note of any of the wondrous miracles of God represented in this place, I found that I was at the end of the boardwalk. I turn around and retrace my steps to continue my stroll. By the time I get half way back to the bridge that crosses the street to my car, I hear a loud vehicle coming down the road. It was so loud that it caused me to stop to see if I could figure out where it was coming from. Soon enough, a white Ford truck comes barreling down the road with the radio cranked so loud that it almost eclipsed the shouting coming from the back of the truck. I focused on the people in the back of the truck and my survival instincts kicked in noting that there were six young men who appeared to be high school students in the back of the truck. As it passed me I also noticed that there were two more in the cab. I realize that it may be time to go as I am not looking for any trouble and this situation has trouble written all over it.

The truck entered the parking lot, and the young men piled out of the back of the truck and the cab. They all had large paint buckets containing fishing poles and assorted tools used for that purpose. I thought to myself that it must be the way young men pass time here in sleepy old Venice, but I still think that I should get out of here. I watch the young men as I walk calmly down the rest of the board walk to keep track of where they are going. Two of them stepped onto the boardwalk with their fishing gear and headed in my direction while the others fanned out.

I saw that there was no way to not be noticed, as I am six foot four inches tall and weigh over three hundred pounds, so I put my back straight, my shoulders back, and my gaze forward. The two young men came upon me quickly. When I got about ten feet from them one of them said to me:

“Hi, how ya doin?

“Fine how are you?” I replied.

“Fine you friggin faggot.” He said in reply.

I was in such shock that I could not think of anything to say. I also realized that my initial assessment of the situation was correct. These boys were here to have fun, but not the kind of fun that was going to be beneficial to my health. Another thing hit me at this time, I may be a big guy but I know that I can’t dispatch eight young men, all of whom are well-muscled. I continue to calmly walk without showing any sign of concern. It was then that I notice where the others had disappeared to. At the end of the bridge, leading to the parking area where I had left my car, were two more young men just waiting for me. It seems like they almost knew I was parked there from the start. I thought at that time that I would just continue walking down the boardwalk to the next bridge further down.

I pass the first bridge and the young men stay where they are, almost like statues. I am a little concerned by this, but I have no time to wonder about their actions so I continue on. Up ahead of me there is a curve in the boardwalk that is slightly masked by a huge oak tree. Its branches are bent over the boardwalk and I can’t see beyond it. As I approach the curve another young man steps out from behind the tree. This one is shadowed, but seems to be of a bigger build that the others and I am not sure, if it were just him and me here, who would be the victor in a fight. When I get a little closer to him he calls out to me saying:

“Hi, how ya doin?”

I reply to him ”Fine, and you?”

And he replies “Fine you friggin faggot.”

As he says this to me he throws out his foot causing me to stumble but not to fall. My head is reeling; I don’t know what to do. The one thing I do know is that I need to stay calm. I can’t let these guys get into my head. That would give them a huge advantage. I continue walking like nothing had happened. My giant of a foe turned around and said:


I turn to look, but continue walking. He grabs his crotch and says “I’m gonna rape you!”

Without batting an eye or allowing any time to pass I respond to the threat “Not with that little dick you aren’t.” and I keep walking. He pauses for a minute and starts following me.

“Oh! You are a big man! Why don’t you stop and show me how big of a man you are? And I reply “Obviously bigger than you are…peewee”

On the boardwalk I hear a cacophony of footsteps being made by all the other boys. I turn and run for all I am worth. I was never the slowest kid in school. To be honest I was pretty quick, but I haven’t had to do this in years. I ran to the other end of the boardwalk where I saw a homeless man with a bicycle leaning against the rail of the boardwalk. I stopped long enough to tell him to hide because these guys were chasing me to beat up a fag. He got on his bike and rode away into the night. I can hear them coming again so I leap over the side rail of the boardwalk and onto the powder sand of the beach. I double back in an attempt to get to my car and my pursuers are hot on my heels. I come upon stairs leading back to the boardwalk and the access bridge that goes back to the parking area. I fly up the stairs and onto the bridge. The young men who had been waiting like ominous statues earlier, were now gone. I hear one of my pursuers comment “Damn, this faggot can run!”

I am so out of breath, I think my lungs are going to explode. I can hardly hear anything over my racing heart and my ragged breathing. I can see my car and I know that I can get to it. I also know that I don’t have the time to cover the distance, get my keys out of the pocket of my jeans, unlock the door, start the car, and pull away before my stalkers are upon me. Next to my car, another had appeared. As I come running to my car, the car parked next to me starts to pull out. I run to the passenger’s side door, open it up, and jump in. I scream at the driver “Go! They’re trying to kill me”. The driver of this vehicle, who was not a day under eighty, hit the gas and off we go. I am heaving uncontrollably and I can’t seem to catch my breath. The driver of the car asks me where he should take me. I ask him to take me to Sharkey’s Restaurant so I can call the police.

We get to Sharkey’s and they are about to close. I go inside the restaurant and ask the hostess if I can use their phone as I was just attacked at the beach. She is nice enough to bring me a cordless phone. I numbly dial the numbers 9-1-1 and wait for the operator.

“911 what is the emergency?”

“I am at Sharkey’s Restaurant. I was just at the beach and was attacked by eight high school aged boys.”

“Do you need an ambulance sir?”

Huffing and puffing I reply “No, just the police.”

“The police are on their way sir. Please do not leave the premises.”I thanked the hostess for her help. She asks if I need a glass of water. I thanked her for her kindness, but declined her offer. I went outside to wait for the police officer. As I exit the building I realize that my savior had left, he must not have wanted to be involved with the police. I sit down on the ground and start going numb inside. I still can’t breathe and all I want to do is to go home and get into my own safe bed. I was also worried about my car, the only asset that I have in this world, as it is back there with those criminals and I think that if they could not get me then maybe my car was going to be their next victim. Visions of smashed windows, flat tires, and ripped up seats blasted through my head.

Red and blue lights flash through my hazy awareness and I hear someone far away asking if I was ok. I look up to see an ambulance and I can’t believe that the 911 operator didn’t listen to me when I said that I didn’t need medical attention. They gave me oxygen as I still could not catch my breath and I hear someone say something about me being in shock. The only thing I could say was “My car! My car! They have my car!” The officer introduced himself and says that he is here to help, but the look on his face says otherwise. He asks me what happened and I went through the story in a mechanical way. He informs me that the beach at night is an attractive place for queers to meet and have sex and he asks me, in somewhat accusatory way, what my intention in going to the beach was. I assure him that the only reason I was there was because I could not sleep.

The ambulance team advises the police officer that I would be ok and the shock would have to wear off on its own. The officer takes me back to my car. On the way to the parking area he tells me that he knows that I am new here, but if he sees me at the beach at night again he will know that I am up to no good. When we get back to the parking area I find that my car is ok and that my attackers are nowhere to be found. The officer wants me to show him where it happened; he wants to see a walkthrough of the alleged crime. I am feeling really unsafe with the officer and I tell him that I just want to go home. I ask him if I could have a report number as I want to follow the case and make sure that everything was being done to ensure the capture of these young criminals. The officer look me dead in the face and tells me”You were not even injured and there is no proof to your claims. No crime has been committed here and no report will be filed.”  I respond to the officer “I come from a large city, and I can walk down one of the most questionable streets there with five hundred dollars in my pocket. I can be surrounded by hookers, and homeless people and never once worry about what will happen to me. I come here to a beautiful little sea side community, and I have to worry if someone is going to kill me simply because of what they think that I am doing. It doesn’t seem quite fair. Officer, if I were a woman, and this had happened to me, would I need to be beaten beyond all recognition before local law enforcement decided to do something about it?” I ask. The officer could not respond to that question and I responded to his resounding silence “I didn’t think so.” I got out of the squad car and got into my car. I started the engine and lit a cigarette. I put the car in gear and went home.

When I got home I found that the lights were on and everyone was awake. There was no way that I was going to be able to sneak back in without being noticed. I prepare myself for the onslaught of questions that I know will come from the women of the house sitting around the kitchen table, probably playing Yatzee or Phase 10, and I enter the house. My mom was there, at the table, along with my aunt and grandmother. They ask where I had been because they thought I was asleep. I sit down at the table and tell the story, yet again. When I was done my aunt commented by saying “see what happens when you go out like that?” I feel wonderful knowing that she thinks that I was there for nefarious reasons. I tell them that I just want to go to bed now and that I am tired. I get up to leave and my mother stands with me. She tells me to come to her. I walk over to her and she tells me that she loves me. I tell her that I love her too and go to walk away when she reaches out and grabs me in this bear hug that tells me that she is scared and doesn’t want to let me go. I am shattered into a million pieces like a mirror blown apart by machine gun fire. I start to cry and fall into heaving sobs, evidence that my shock has worn off. We stay like that for several long moments before I compose myself and go to bed.

My mother ends up calling the police department the next day, and she is informed that no report will be filed no matter what is said or done. Instead, she writes a letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald Tribune…she never heard anything from that communication. It will be about two years and I will be online, having a chat with someone I had just met. They will ask me if I was the one who jumped in their friend’s car that night at the beach. I will confirm that, and they will tell me that their friend wanted to let me know how happy they were to help me, but they could not be known by the police, because he is married and goes to the beach at night to find sexual entanglements with men while his wife sleeps. He will also inform me that these young men had become quite brazen in their attacks. They beat someone up pretty badly. They were arrested and convicted with a couple of hate crimes, but not the one against me. It will be several more years before the anger and hatred slowly stop eating away at my soul. I will pray to God for the strength to forgive the young men who terrorized me that night, and eventually I will, but I will never forget the crime that never happened to me.

Nice Guys Finish Last

23 Apr

A crash, sound of rumbling, a bang. Galvin’s eyes opened as he lay in bed, the sweat running across his forehead.

“What was that?” he thought, bringing his hand to wipe the small drops of liquid from his body.

Another crash, he got out of bed quickly, stumbling to the window as he tried regaining his senses; the sooner he could do that, the sooner he could comprehend what was going on. His hands rested on the window sill, grogginess causing his vision to only make out blurs, his hands quickly moving to his face to shake away the slumber he had just escaped, a bright glow coming through the window from the world outside. It was then he truly realized what was going on; the heat was apparent. The flames of the building beneath him spreading, the screams of confused children looking for their families. He raced to his door, smoke sneaking in from beneath it. Out of habit he instinctively reached for the doorknob, the metal too hot to handle as he pulled back in pain, the flesh of his palm seering and singeing, a layer of skin being left behind on the metal; a howl escaping his lips in utter horror. Pressing against the door did nothing; it wouldn’t budge. He was 26 floors up, escaping through the window wasn’t an option.

“what do I do!” the thoughts racing through his mind as he slammed into the door once more. Then it hit him– this could well be his last few moments of life. Galvin had always tried to do the right thing, bringing happiness to everyone’s life before himself , all that hard work of living a small simple life, going down the drain in a terrible accident.

“Veronica…” the word leaving his mouth in desperation as his back pressed against the wall. Smoke filling his lungs, the heat beginning to affect his barely clothed body.





“Veronica.” Galvin said as he stirred from his sleep. His lover laying in bed besides him. He looked over to her, noticing the beauty that his lover was; how she could make him feel. His finger traced her delicate collarbones, feeling her paper like skin before touching her silk hair, she rolled over, their eyes met as their arms wrapped around each other and their lips touched.

“Morning Beautiful.” Galvin said as he embraced her more, loving the way their bodies touched and felt together.





“Veronica.” Galvin’s breath hitched before finishing his sentence.

“Veronica, it’s not your fault that the baby wasn’t strong enough.” the worried expressions clearly showing his disappointment in the situation.

“Maybe I just wasn’t strong enough, maybe this is just a sign.” she said as a tear rolled down her cheek. Though it was true that they had been together for quite some time and were trying to start their lives together, something just always got in the way.

“You know that’s ridiculous. Things just happen and we can always-always try again.” He said slipping his arms around her waist as she placed her head on his shoulder.



The glow from the flames grew brighter and the air thicker with every moment that passed. Memories flooded Galvin’s mind as he continued to lay on the floor, his gaze becoming cloudier. He shook his head.

“Got to get up. Come on– fight!” he thought as he managed to get to his feet, dizziness from the lack of oxygen only causing more trouble.


“Veronica.” Galvin slurred stumbling into his apartment.

“Veronica! I’m home!” the intoxicated man said as he tripped over his own feet, sending him crashing to the floor. Looking up from his fall he noticed the engagement band she decided not to take when she unexpectedly left. His life had changed since then, the past few days he’d drowned himself in his own sorrow, not remembering what was right in his world and what was fabricated. He felt he lost the greatness that made him thrive. That paperskin, silk hair and now he would lose everything from her, he crawled the rest of the way to the table holding the ring, reached up, grasped it with his finger and studied it.

“I don’t need this, I don’t need you.” Galvin said in a hiss as he pulled himself up with the support of the table and headed to the kitchen, dropping the ring down the sink and turning on the faucet.

His mind wandered on what the reason could’ve been that she was now absent. They both had stable jobs and although it turned out Galvin was the weak link in reproduction, they said they’d work through it. Maybe he was wrong, maybe the conversation had gone another way. Maybe he said we could work through it and she didn’t respond.

“Most of those conversations went that way” he internalized as he slumped back to the floor, feeling the kitchen tiles coldness hit his skin.




Waking up every morning without her now had become a routine. He woke up, went to the bathroom, looked himself in the eyes and said:

“Make it a good day.”

After this he would undress, shower, wash his face, his hair, his body, get out– dry off and get dressed. Same color shirt, same color pants, same color tie. He would walk into kitchen, toast the same type of bagel and eat it.

His life has become such a routine that all the color in his life was gone. Yet, he hadn’t noticed, realized or even assumed these things. He was content and for some unknown reason everything felt right.

Galvin had changed, he found no resolution, he had nothing in his world, except for his suit and tie.


He stumbled fourth, getting to the window, the heat causing the ledge to clamp onto the frame preventing it to open. Thoughts crossing his mind as he pondered a solution. He moved to his closet, grabbing the lone dress shirt placed neatly on the wire hanger. Only a few moments passed before the shirt was tightly tied around his hand, using this as protection he moved back to the window punching through it.


The sound of glass breaking brought Galvin back from his daze, the t.v was on and company was over. He looked over to the corner of the room to see a picture frame on the floor.

“Galvin! Sorry man! But you really shouldn’t have pictures of Veronica out anymore bud!.” Eric said picking up the remains of the once framed memory and throwing it in the trash.

Six months had passed since Veronica left him, his routine had changed and he finally awoke from his depression to become the person he once was.

“Hey Galvin!” Michael, his other friend said patting his back.

“Excited to lose another match today!” Eric said laughing from the other room as Galvin protested.

“You know you only beat me because of those Gorilla hands of yours!” Galvin said with a laugh.

His friends pulled him from his slumber without Veronica, his life was back on track and finally everything was for the better. He realized that though Veronica did in fact leave, he could do better. He could love himself and have friends that loved him for nothing more but their friendship– he was happy. He often would find himself staring at the front door, waiting for her to walk through, smiling, her small frame running to his, the love they once had re-igniting. Though this would never be a reality again, he knew it wasn’t something terrible to think of every now and then.




The flames engulfed the rest of the building as everything around began to fall. The smell of the burning wood, concrete and cherished linen filled the halls and atmosphere. The fire department had yet to get there– though it had gone past the point of no return.

“Help! Help! I’m up here!” screamed Galvin sticking his head out the window.

“They can’t hear me… I’m too far up.” he murmured as his gaze dropped down to everything below. His life was finally in order, everything was back to normal and of course something out of his control, like childbirth, would happen, yet again.

The bodies of the people trapped in the building would be mummified in ash and copper, death being too quick to escape.

Galvin refused to end that way, he moved back inside and quickly turned around. The heat was becoming too dangerous to stand, the flames now entering his apartment, the smoke becoming thicker and Galvin’s body becoming numb. He fell back against the ledge, his sight blurring and his judgement almost out of his grasp. He went to move, but only ended up going backwards, his now exhausted body slipping through the frame of the window.

As Galvin fell those 26 stories only one thing crossed his mind. The sight of her small body, her smile, soft touch and the laugh she exuded when everything was right. She was his soulmate, his one true love and though she wasn’t with him now, she was in spirit as he hit the cold concrete at the bottom of his journey.

“Galvin, wake up honey.” the white form said.

“You’re home.”

Bio: Doug Kolakowski born and raised in Sarasota, Florida– picked up writing at a young age. With the help of his parents and the guidance they’ve always given him, he’s been able to follow his dreams thoroughly and accomplish many goals set forth.

My One and Only Escape

23 Apr

By: James T. Thomas III

The atmosphere of the Jacaranda Public Library is serene. Upon arrival, the patrons are greeted by the exotic display of indigenous plant and wildlife, merged with the modern architecture that coincides with the tropical Florida weather. One can imagine the aroma of the Gulf breeze as the sliding doors open. The structure mimics the inner chambers of a beating heart in the large gathering room, holding laughter and tears within the atmosphere from the annual public movie showing. To the left of the building is where the tombs of the creative minds are proudly housed.  As I glide my fingertips along the worn spine of countless novels, a rush of excitement fills my heart with the possibility that I will discover a tale begging to be read. Along with the printed word, other forms of media are given a place to be displayed. Films, audiobooks, and magazines are in bloom like a never ending literary garden. To the right of the building is where the nonfiction is stored. Each book, arranged by the Dewey Decimal System, holds every possible fact and opinion like a fountain of acquired knowledge. Walking down the shelf, I feel the eyes of the greatest minds are spying on me, judging if I am deemed worthy to adopt their recorded knowledge. Reference material such as local records and statistics are found here to provide an insight of what life was like on a local, state, or national level. Open one of these books, and the history that is suspended in time by paper and ink becomes animated. When I have selected that one item, that one piece of literary art that is ripe for the picking, where time transforms and takes me on a journey that only the author and I share, I am at peace.


James T. Thomas III is a returning first year student, majoring in General Associate in Arts. Born and raised in Florida for most of his life. His most valued life experience is living in Spain for two years as a child. He is the president and founder of the Anime and Manga Club at SCF-Venice. He currently resides in Venice where he shares a home with his mother, a dog, a cat, and a tidal wave of ideas.

The Labyrinth

23 Apr


This black labyrinth reaches into the endless chasms of the Earth to a destination known only by fate for each who pass through it. These walls have never seen stars nor felt the warmth of sunlight. They reach deeper and deeper into the darkness, housing a fate that each of its travelers seeks.

Alan had been seeking out his fate for over a 163,752 steps. Exactly how many more steps he had taken he couldn’t tell. Alan had lost all sense of time thousands of steps ago and only had the echoes of his footsteps to tell him how long he had been in the darkness.

The darkness was a black fog that reached deep into the bowels of the earth holding secrets that Alan forcibly tried not to think about. As he journeyed deeper into the labyrinth, the flames of his torch fought back the black for a few meters, though Alan knew it barely singed the darkness.

Alan stopped his march through the labyrinth for a moment, and held his torch up to the walls. He placed the edge of a long knife on the stone walls, sliding the blade down and across until he carved a thin star into the labyrinth wall. When he finished his mark, he flipped the knife in his hand and sheathed it at his hip, looking at the other marks on the walls.

There was a long streak of dark brown, probably the blood of another one of the labyrinth’s victims. There were claw marks, possibly from one of the strange animals that hunted within the labyrinth’s walls. There were chunks of stone missing from the walls, either weathered away by ages come and gone or broken away by a life now long lost to the labyrinth.

Each mark had a story to tell, a fate to find within the labyrinth’s endless dirt road. Alan wondered for a moment what his mark would tell to those who passed by after the labyrinth had gifted him his fate. Would it inspire them to move forward? Or would it be lost amongst the sea of stories these walls would tell?

Alan shook the thoughts from his head and pushed his legs forward, continuing his march even though his muscles ached with fatigue. It was best not to ponder on the future too long within the labyrinth. A man could go inside filling his head with such thoughts in this endless darkness. For Alan, there was only the now, and his Fate ahead.

He held his torch up high in a fruitless attempt to cast more light down the nebulous chasm. Each step he took echoed back at him throughout the long halls, chiming a lonely tune. A calm sadness washed over him as he listened to the echoes of his footsteps, imagining that perhaps they were an invisible man walking beside him.

For tens of thousands of steps, Alan had trekked through the darkness, seeking out his fate with the tenacity of a desperate man. He moved onward, alone in the dark, because he needed what lay at the end of the labyrinth. He needed to find his fate.

But the darkness had taken its toll.

Alan found himself thinking of his family outside more often now. The  only other life Alan had come across in the labyrinth were small rodents skittering across the ground, and the horrific sounds he heard during the few hours he rested. The rodents made a decent meal when he grew hungry–having run out of food supplies a few thousand steps ago–but the endless cacophony of sounds he heard made him afraid to put out his torch and sleep, keeping him awake for what seemed like eons.

Alan’s legs grew weak from his march, and he knew he’d have to rest soon. He stopped and sat down, resting his back against the wall, holding his torch up next to him. He was too afraid to put out the fires just yet.

He looked around, trying to predict what might come should he fall asleep, but the light from the flames couldn’t pierce the darkness for more than a few meters. After a few fruitless moments, Alan put the torch down on the stone floor in front of him and watched as the flames slowly dwindled. The darkness crept in as the light receded and as the black came closer, Alan found his hand reaching closer and closer to his knife. By time the flames had disappeared and the black fog had engulfed him, Alan’s hand firmly gripped the hilt of his weapon and he listened, and waited, for the sounds to begin.

Alan jumped when he heard a soft cackling like that of a bugs wings. The sound came closer and closer until it sounded as if it were right next to his head and he jumped when he thought he felt something crawling up his shoulder. He patted himself down, but felt nothing crushed under his palm. He brought his legs up to his chest, hugging them tightly.

A long howl reached through the darkness and into Alan’s ears. The howl was followed by a symphony of howls, and as one howl began to fade, another would rise in its place. It was almost like a song to Alan, but one that ripped into his very soul. He buried his face into his knees

His heart raced, but his eyelids grew heavy. The howls persisted through the darkness and though he tried to fight it, soon enough he drifted off into a deep sleep.

He dreamt of sunlight shining against dark red hair.


A low growl resonated in Alan’s dreams, jerking him awake. His eyes popped open and he looked from side-to-side, but the darkness revealed nothing to his weary eyes. He patted the ground in front of him, and his hand eventually landed on the hard wood of the torch. He gripped the torch in his hands and lit it. Flames burst from its head and light filled the small space around him, cutting through the darkness and burning his eyes with the sudden brightness.

He brought his hands over his eyes and held the torch out in front of him, trying to cast the light deeper into the darkness, but the darkness just pushed the light back.

Alan relied on his hearing instead, listening intently for the noise that jolted him awake. The world was silent save for the torch’s cackling flame and Alan’s own beating heart ringing in his ears.

Alan stood up from the wall, unsheathing his knife just in case. He moved forward slowly, cautiously, deathly afraid that his next step might be his last. His footsteps echoed throughout the halls as they always did, but this time their tune didn’t feel lonely. Alan could feel the presence of another life nearby, and while he found himself excited by the prospect, Alan knew that the labyrinth was not known for the gifts its travelers received during their journey.

Alan winded around a corner and three steps in he heard the growl once more. This time it sounded like it had come from in front him, and Alan stopped in his tracks. He held his knife in front of him and stared into the darkness as if trying to will the creature out from hiding. The growl receded and all was silent once more save for the cackling of the flame.

Alan stood frozen as the echoes of inhuman steps tracked around him. He followed the sound as worked through the darkness until it was behind him. Having had enough, Alan pushed his torch forward in his hand and this time, the torch’s light pierced the darkness just enough. There it stood. The creature of the labyrinth.

It stood on four long legs, each with a large claw digging into the earth below. Thick muscles bulged from underneath its oily, black skin and a long maw protruded from its cheeks, with lips slightly curled up to reveal sharp yellow fangs. Alan found himself staring into the creature’s face, but it had no eyes to stare back. There was only a thick slab of skin where its eyes and brows should have been

Alan found himself trembling. “What are you?”

As the last words slipped off his tongue the creature jumped, smashing into Alan’s body. The torch flew out of Alan’s hands and rolled across the ground, dousing the flames. He barely managed to throw his knife-arm up in an attempt to slash at the creature’s jaw, but only his forearm slammed into the creature’s neck.

Alan could feel the creature digging its claws into his shoulder and screamed in pain, desperately trying to hold back the monster as its maw snapped in his face. The darkness did not reveal the monster to him, but he could feel its neck straining against his forearm and smell the scent of decaying flesh on its breath. Each loud crack of its closing jaw ripped through the air and Alan could only imagine how close each snap of its mouth came to tearing of his skin.

The creature dug its claw deeper into his shoulder and Alan screamed louder. He could feel his fate slipping away from him, his journey falling into nothingness . . . just another mark on the wall. He could feel his death drawing closer in the darkness.

But from the rim of his sight a light pierced the blackness and he could once more see a half of the creature’s eyeless face. The creature snapped harder than before, and Alan pulled his head back, throwing his cheek into the floor while pushing his arm into the creature’s neck. The creature’s fangs cut across his cheek and he could feel the blood sink from the stinging wound.

The creature’s head shot to the side as Alan looked back up and suddenly a streak orange slammed into the creature’s skull. The creature let out a screech that sounded as much like pain as it did fury, and was thrown off of Alan. Fire engulfed the creature and it made a painful howl that could break through the silence of death

Alan watched the flames rise with a twisted joy until he felt a hand grip his shirt and pull him up. He scrambled up to his feet to follow the hand and looked up to see exactly what’s hand was grabbing him.

The light of a torch showed just enough. It was a man.

“Run. More will come,” the Stranger said before spinning around and breaking off into a dash.

Without hesitation Alan followed the Stranger into the darkness, adrenaline challenging his legs to run faster than they had ever run before.

Their running steps broke through the usual silence of the labyrinth and Alan tried to count each one, but he couldn’t keep up. The sounds of both his and the Stranger’s steps disrupted his count, and Alan felt lost without his only grip on reality.

He tried to focus on the light of the Stranger’s torch and followed as best he could. Soon, more steps joined Alan and the Stranger’s, but these were the inhuman steps of the labyrinth’s creatures. They had heard their brother’s dying howls and came to seek their vengeance on the men who stole his life.

“We have to hurry!” the Stranger yelled into the darkness. “I can feel the labyrinth’s pull, but they will reach us faster than our Fate if we don’t push harder.”

Alan only nodded in return, knowing that the man couldn’t see him. Alan wondered what the man meant by the “labyrinth’s pull” until he too felt the strings pulling on his heart, as if they were guiding him down a path. He felt hope in those strings, and he prayed that he wasn’t being led under false pretense.

The creatures’ growls cut through the darkness behind them and the Stranger ran even faster. Alan had to push harder too, but he found himself lagging behind. Would his Fate be stolen from him so easily?

“It’s not long now! I can see a door!”

Alan wondered how the Stranger could see through the black fog, but it wasn’t the time to question things. He simply followed, and hoped.

The growls were louder now.

The stranger’s light stopped.

“What are you–“ Alan cut himself short when he saw what the Stranger had stopped for. There really was a door.

It towered above them high along the labyrinth’s walls and the torchlight revealed a sea of inscriptions carved into the door. There was a single, long handle just at a man’s height and the Stranger was grabbing for it, trying to pull the door open.

“Come here and help me!” he said, and Alan obeyed.

Gripping the door handle with both hands, he pulled back with all his strength alongside the Stranger. The growls were close now and Alan looked behind him as he pulled. He could’ve sworn he saw shapes moving closer in the darkness and they compelled him to pull even harder.

The door broke free, creating a narrow open just big enough for a man.

“Get in!” the Stranger said, and they both squeezed through the door. When Alan made it through, the Stranger shut the door behind them.

It wasn’t long after when he heard the demonic barks of the creatures and their claws scratching at the door. The Stranger and he were safe . . . for now.

“We did it!” Alan said. It hurt his throat to speak. He hadn’t realized just how long it had been since he last spoke, but it felt good to no longer be alone.

The Stranger didn’t answer. Alan looked at him and saw that the Stranger was looking off into the darkness as if he had found something within it.

“What is it?” Alan asked.

“Look at her,” the Stranger said.

Alan turned to face the darkness and slowly the black fog receded revealing a dimly lit room with stone tiles. In the center there stood a woman, shackled to a stone pillar in the ground.

When Alan looked upon her, his heart beat so fast he thought it would burst from his chest. She was clad in a white dress that reached down to her ankles and her figure was frail. Her face was gaunt, but she wasn’t old at all. She must have been starving. Alan looked into her face and saw strands of deep red hair had fallen over her eyes. There was something familiar and powerful about seeing her. Like an ethereal hand was reaching out from her, pulling him in.

Alan then knew. She was his Fate. Finally, he had reached the end of his journey.

“Finally, it’s over,” the Stranger said. “I’ve found her.”

Alan’s hopes shattered and his heart seemed to slow to a dead stop. Was this Stranger feeling the same as he? Did he believe the girl to be his fate as well?

“No . . . “ Alan said, his voice frail and weak like the girl.

The Stranger looked at Alan with a confused face, but it quickly dawned on him what must have been. “You felt it too?” he said. “The strings pulling you down the labyrinth?”

Alan nodded.

The Stranger sighed as a look of sorrow filled his face. “Then go. Hurry! Break her bonds and get out of this place.”

He was giving her up. “But what about you?” Alan said quickly.

“I’ll be fine. Just go.”



Alan obeyed, running to the center of the room where the woman stood. She was thinner than he thought she was and her hair was dirty and dying. Her skin was drying and her wrists were covered in dried blood and bruises from where the shackles tore at her skin.

Alan grabbed the shackles to inspect them, trying to find if there was a way to pull them off, but he found nothing. No keyhole, or weakness in the metal. It was as if the shackles had been molded around the woman’s wrist. “What do I do?” Alan asked himself.

“Hurry!” The Stranger said from afar. “They’re breaking through the door!”

Alan heard the creatures throwing themselves against the stone door. A loud banging resonated within the room and he thought he could hear something crackling nearby the door.

He had to seize his Fate now.

Alan grabbed the shackles and started smashing them against the pillar. He threw them against the stone harder and harder, but he couldn’t even put a dent in the shackles’ chains. He tried again and again, but nothing came of it.

He pulled out his knife and in a desperate move tried to cut through the chains, sawing at the metal until the edge of his knife’s blade went dull.

He couldn’t break the woman’s bonds.

“I can’t do it,” Alan said to himself.

He had failed.

“Alan . . .” the woman moaned.

Alan’s eyes shot open. Was she calling for him? Did this woman know him?

“I’m here,” the Stranger said beside him. He pushed Alan out of the way and grabbed the woman’s hands.

The woman stirred a bit at his touch and Alan realized it had not been him, but the Stranger she had been calling for. Had they shared a name this whole time?

“I’m sorry,” the Stranger said as he gripped her hand tightly.

“What are you going to do?” Alan asked.

“Break her wrists.”

Alan heard a loud snap as the Stranger jerked the woman’s wrist against the shackle and she screamed into the darkness above.

Alan froze, jaw dropped in astonishment.

There was another loud snap followed by another one of the woman’s screams before the stranger started pushing the woman’s hands through the shackles, forcing her fingers to slide through the shackles’ tight openings. She grunted and moaned in pain. Alan just watched as the Stranger freed her from her bonds and she fell to the floor.

The Stranger crouched next to her and lifted her into his arms, turning to face Alan. The Stranger presented the woman to him, urging him to take her into his arms.

“Go now! This is your chance. Take your Fate and Go!” the Stranger said.

It was his chance. The Stranger had freed her for him and he could just take her and run away, leaving the Stranger behind. The woman would believe he had saved her and he could return to his family, to sunlight. He could leave this place and once again start counting days instead of steps. But, was it his to take?

“No,” Alan said, to both himself and the Stranger.

The Stranger looked confused. “What do you mean no?”

“She’s your Fate. Not mine. I’ll just have to find a new one.” Alan tightened his grip on the hilt of his knife smiling.

The light around them was fading away and the banging was getting louder, stronger. Soon the creatures would break through the door.

“Idiot, you need to take her away from this place,” the Stranger said.

“No! You do!” Alan thrust his knife ahead of him, aiming its tip at the Stranger. “You freed her from her bonds, now finish the job!”

The Stranger stood for a moment, but nodded, smiling ever so slightly. “I’ll come back for you,” he said.

“No. You won’t,” Alan said. “Now go.”

The Stranger held the girl in his arms and ran into the growing darkness away from the door, leaving Alan to stand there in the last bits of light the room held.

He would have to face the labyrinth and its creatures again. Perhaps he would have to face another hundred-thousand steps. It didn’t matter.

The stone door came crashing down in a thunderous roar and Alan could once more hear the growls of the creatures of the labyrinth. Light faded away, leaving only the darkness behind.

The creatures of the labyrinth surrounded him.

Bio: My name is William Hugel and I’ve lived in the Sarasota County area for my entire life. I began writing in early High School after being inspired by James Clavell’s Epic novel, “Shogun” and I would later be drawn into the fantasy genre by authors such as R.A. Salvatore, Brandon Sanderson, and Steven Erikson. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories and building worlds and writing has been my vent for this love.