Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Zombies, Teenagers, and Mr. Mittens

“Standing on the brink of discovery, he looked to Mr. Mittens to see him to the end.” Everyone stared eagerly at Paul, anxiously awaiting the brilliant climax. “And then,” Paul slowly continued, “the credits role.” A cry went out from Egypt. “AAAAAAAAHHHH, What?” It was a very angry cry. Thomas, a pudgy ginger who was supposed to co-write the group’s short film was the first to voice an intelligible opinion. “I hate it,” he bluntly stated. “How are we ever supposed to win the contest with a lame ending like that?”
“Okay, well I haven’t hear any other ideas,” responded Paul. “And whose idea was it anyway to write a short story about a zombie apocalypse and teenage underdog with eczema who tries to cure his girlfriend with his favorite stuffed animal?”
“Well it’s not like anyone else decided to help!” Screamed Thomas.
“Okay, guys… back to the drawing board.” Paul announced.
“NO!” Another cry went out from Egypt. Claire, a fellow group member put in charge of make-up and costumes finally piped in. “We don’t have time to make an entirely new story. We might have time to tweak a couple things, but we have to stick to teenagers, zombies, and a stuffed animal kitten. Plus, I’ve already spent most of our budget on fake blood and a fog machine.”
Complaints and hopeless moaning filled the air. “CALM DOWN, GUYS.” Thomas yelled. At least he was good at getting people’s attention. “Let’s just all brainstorm tonight and then we’ll meet again tomorrow and see what we’ve come up with.” Everyone begrudgingly agreed and sulked home that night, especially Thomas.
Film was Thomas’ passion, and he didn’t have very many of those.  A pudgy ginger since birth, Thomas got the feeling that not even his parents loved him. As soon as he learned to read, Thomas spent the majority of his childhood buried in books. Fantasy was his genre of choice, every since he decided that fiction was much better than reality. This happened to be around the same time in which his mother died, his father left him for alcohol, and his grandparents could barely afford to house him. Yes, that is when his dreams became better than reality. Unfortunately for Thomas, fearing reality had taken its toll. No friends, a senior film project that sucked, and no hope for a future filled with zombies, fairies, and Mr. Mittens was impossible. “Oh well,” he thought to himself. “At least I get another eight hours of dreaming tonight.”

By Jordan Wilson

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Revenge to Matthew Martin's Story.

Ever since I was 6 years old, I wanted a cat. I know, it is strange, a freckled maniac little boy, content with riding lawn mowers and setting bird houses on fire, obsessed with the idea of raising a feline from a kitten to a cat. But it was my dream and I have an old notebook with gum on the cover full of magazine cat cut outs to prove it. Unfortunately, both of my type-a, jello-making, polo-wearing parents were anti-mess. With me, a kid who would build mud fortresses under his bed, an extra source of entropy of any sort was not welcome.
So I waited.

High school came and went, I went to Prom with the 14th hottest girl in our grade, got elected class clown and almost wasn't allowed to walk at graduation due to an incident with a fire in the library.

College came and went, I date 14 semi-attractive women, majored in food science and was banned from all sports events due to an incident with a fire and the school mascot.

Years went by, and finally, I lived alone. With no anti-climactic parents, no dorm rules and no Hyper allergic room mates.

This was it, this was my time.

Palms sweaty from anticipation, tie thrown over my shoulder ffrom work, I pawed through my cat notebok to find the best breed. I wanted the perfect feline, one to cancel out both my flaming red hair and my boyish tendency towards flames. This cat would change my life, would be the answer to my parents prayers. I set about finding a kitten online. I felt as though I was cheating the system, like ordering a mail-order bride. No digital picture of a cat would ever effectively sum up the love this cat and I were going to have for each other. Well, that's waht I thought, until I saw her online. The sweetest little Russian Blue anyone will ever see, with sleepy kitten eyes and padded kitten paws. I contacted the seller, paid over the phone (by credit card, despite my despairing balance due to a certain incident with a taxi cab rolling over and was suddenly hit with the revelation that my home was soon to be inhabited by the most loved animal ever to exist.

The next few weeks were spent occupied in what expecting mothers and gay men adopting call "nesting". I bought equipment, cat toys, litter boxes, brushes, medicines and even little cat booties (the Japanese developed these so their cats could assist with the cleaning of their hardwood floors). When the day came that my Russian Blue would arrive, I would be ready. I decided to name her Cathy.

The day that craigslist user cathoarder347 brought Cathy to my door, I called in sick to work. What else could I do? Nothing could remove me from her twitching tail, her button nose or her frisky ears.  I followed her everywhere as she explored, camcorder rolling. That night she fell asleep in my arms, and the feelings of choking elation in my chest must have been love. I just know it.

The next three years are a happy blur, and I have a fur covered scrapbook that meows when opened to prove it.
But then something changed. Cathy started nipping my ankles. She wouldn't let me bathe her in the kitchen sink anymore. Instead of helping me pick out her bonnet and booties to wear for her daily picture, she tore them off with her sharp little teeth, and I swear to the Heavens, she was chuckling.

Cathy wasn't my baby kitten anymore. Cathy was a Cateenager.

She turned into a hunter. I would wake up in the middle of the night to her pouncing on my face and clawing at my nose. She would stalk my legs as I walked to the bathroom, and I swear she once ate one f my toe nails in a vicious little game of "catch my toes". I began to show up to work with scratches and on little sleep. Ho could I explain to my co-workers that the love of my life was not so sweet anymore? They would never understand a grown and brawny man taking abuse like I was. But I loved Cathy.

Once I swear I tied to have her de-clawed, but in an attempted to get her into her kennel, she clawed and bit and scratched so hard I feebly gave up. Cathy was the boss. I could never hurt that darling, but she could hurt me.

Things got worse and worse until the day she left. I sat trembling under my kitchen table while the cat stalked around the kitchen floor. I noticed her wide cat eyes watching the window. Her tail beckoned me forwards and I crawled towards her, limping. She looked me deep in the eyes and her cat fangs retracted. I knew. Cathy wasn't mine anymore at all. She was a wild housecat, an animal, and she needed to be hunting in the outskirts of my small suburban development. I crawled forward and opened my kitchen door to the wild for Cathy. Her cat lips parted in a smile, she slunk past me and, parting to sniff and give a sand-papery lick to one of my neck wounds, was gone.

I watched that cat's tail until it was nothing but a sliver in the distance. I never saw Cathy again.

The next 3 weeks were spent drunk. Often times I could be found laying face down on my own lawn, (my only showers at that time? the morning sprinklers) slurring and sobbing and crying and calling out that cursed creatures name. "Cathy! Cathy!"

Things shaped up, of course they did. How could they not? You can't let your life go to pieces over the fickle love of a flighty feline.

I shaved, experienced the 3 corresponding weeks of hangover and made myself a profile on

When asked about Cathy these days, I get a far away look in my eyes and reply "I would have loved her if I didn't hate her so much".

The ladies eat it up like fancy feast.

The Mongoose and the Mustache

“A man without a mustache is like a mongoose without pants,” said my stylist, but I don’t think he quite grasped the concept of a mongoose. I decided to just ignore it, but as he finishing drying my hair, he kept going. “A mongoose, you see, is nothing without its pants. Do you understand me?” I almost nodded, but then realized that his scissors were placed precariously enough so that if I did, I’d suddenly look like a 10 year old boy. I’d already tried that look once, and it was not something I cared to repeat—Shelo Neyda, i’d told myself when it finally grew out—“May we never know such sorrow again.” Head still, I replied, “I know exactly what you mean. That’s beautiful.” He looked pleased, and went back to his deep focus on my hair. I could always count on him for that.

An hour later, I left his swivelly chair, hair considerably lighter, but mind still weighed down by the idea of a mongoose wearing pants. “What could he have meant?” I asked myself over and over again. I tried to remember the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi movie I’d watched incessantly as a child, but the only part of it I could recall was something about a bird building a nest and something that I think looked like a capybara. And the fact that Rikki-Tikki-Tavi never wore pants.

I thought about all the men with facial hair I’d known, seen or loved. There was Ricky (who was, of course, the first to come to find, despite the sad fact that his last name was not Tikki-Tavi). He’d sported a razor thin mustache, that while many could mock it forever, I had found entirely endearing. He looked like some kind of Italian jockey, though thankfully with better fashion sense. Then there was Charles, who’d worn what he referred to as the Chaplin, but what I’m sure you would recognize on another, slightly more infamous, character. He was so dedicated to it that he even dyed it black, despite the fact that his hair was naturally almost platinum blonde.

Lost in my facial hair fantasy, I somehow found myself in front of a pet store. It seemed out of place in the middle of downtown, and it felt both timeless and brand new. I hesitated at the door for a moment (I could feel my hair beginning to frizz in the humidity and thought maybe I should just go home), but then I felt the  handle turn under the weight of my hand. I walked in, blinked a few times to adjust to the dingy atmosphere, and realized that my sleek hair was now just a distant memory—it felt like the snake room at the zoo. There was no one at the desk, so I started making a slow circle around the shop. What kind of pet store was this? I saw all sorts of creatures I’d never even known existed. There were birds with lizard tails, guinea pigs the size of bears, and cats who liked me.

I bumped into a box as I turned a corner, and immediately a man emerged from the shadows. Finally, at that moment, I understood what Javier had been trying to tell me in the salon. On this man’s face was the largest, most elaborately styled mustache I’d ever seen. And on his shoulder sat a mongoose. Wearing pants.

“A man without a mustache is like a mongoose without pants,” Javier had said. They were both perfectly acceptable, I realized, but why settle for acceptable when you can have perfection?

By Alyssa Herzinger

The Runner's Anthem

He shook his head and sighed, and silently vowed to himself that he would never bathe in jell-o again. He had heard that it was an old folk remedy for helping with sore muscles after running, but instead it just left him sticky and slimy in addition to still being sore. This last run had been so intense that he had almost pooped his pants—don’t believe it doesn’t happen, because it sometimes does. Lately he had gotten a new gadget that tracked his running speed, and his passion for running had lately turned into an obsession. He watched the small meter as he ran ticking endlessly, tracking him, measuring him, challenging his pride. He felt like he had never run harder before, and he felt like he had never been more sore.
Today, he decided whimsically to run as fast as he could. That is, he decided to run a half-marathon as fast as he could, showing up all of his other runner friends. No longer would they mock and torment him for not being able to run as far as a girl. He had tried once, tried and failed. Not that his spirit failed, but his blasted ankle which gave out at mile 19. She had run farther, and the idea tormented him day and night. By doing the half as fast as possible, he would regain some of that manhood that had been lost.
He started out reasonably, full of spirit and energy. The day was overcast with low-hanging clouds that stared sullenly at the runner. The path was like an old friend that he hadn’t visited in ages, and he fondly remembered the slight twists in the track, the gentle rises and falls in elevation, and even the types of trees that lined the path. The first half was tough but manageable, and he looked up with satisfaction after every glance at the meter at his side to see that he was well on target. He ran out to the first point still on land overlooking Utah Lake and admired its expanse, felt the blood coursing exultantly through his veins and the endorphins yelling loud congratulations in his mind.
But then, slowly, he turned home, still 6.5 whole miles left to face. He slowly became conscient of a nagging pull at his stomach, a small tweak in his ankle. Still, he pushed himself forward, frowning at, then glaring at, then cursing at the tracker that was slowly and inevitable inching its way up. The course seemed cold and unfriendly, not an enemy necessarily but an uncaring, neutral entity that slowing was sapping away at this strength. The once vibrant body now required constant goading from his mind, and even his mind was fatiguing.
He stumbled home, his target mile pace shot by 20 seconds, his mind frustrated, and his body aching. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to puke, poop, or both. He lay on the grass, miserable and tried to curl up into a ball, but his body would have none of it. He was angry. He hardly felt redeemed. The endorphins had seemed to have changed into soldiers of doom that stabbed and ate at his poor muscles. Gradually, a headache dawned on him and lasted the rest of the night, effectively preventing him from accomplishing anything more than sitting on the front porch and watching random documentaries on saving the American school system or the love-hate relationship between George Lucas and Star Wars fans. The jello hadn’t worked, the ice pack to calm his raging muscles had long become lukewarm, and his stomach still hadn’t settled.
Two days later, his body was back, craving it all again—the speed, the sense of freedom, the feeling of accomplishment. But this time without the Jell-o.

By James Juchau and Jenessa Baird 

Hypothetical Metaphysical Nonsense and Harry Potter

(by Chris Wei)

One Black Friday, Harry Potter went to Walmart and got trampled by a crazed crowd.  It wasn’t really Harry, of course; it was Daniel Radcliffe.  The real Harry Potter has never been to Walmart.

You might think me mad for suggesting that Harry Potter is real.  You might think it a foolish idea that Harry exists independently of the imagination of J. K. Rowling—the British woman who invented him in 1990.  She liked to be called Jo Rowling then.  Jo was riding a train from Manchester to London when the idea of a spectacled scar-faced wizard boy came to her mind.  She didn’t know at the time what sort of phenomenon Harry Potter would become.  She didn’t know that, seven years after that train ride, the character she’d created would spawn a decade and a half of books and films and merchandise.  She didn’t know he’d become an international celebrity.

Another thing Jo Rowling didn’t know was that Harry Potter wasn’t her creation at all.  He existed, and still exists today, totally independent of her.  Despite her years of labored creativity, she was not really a creator:  she was a medium.

It is like this with all narratives.  Stories are not just stories.  Stories are truths, unlocked and uncovered and given to the world.  Stories are a mirror to reality, and that mirror is sometimes more accurate than we’d like to imagine.  Some stories, like Harry Potter’s, portray another world that really exists but of which we had previously been unaware.  Other stories create worlds, and as soon as we are aware of them, they become.

Take, for example, the story of Shane Gunderson.  You don’t know Shane, and neither do I.  He is the main character of a fiction I am about to invent.  But as soon as I create this fiction, Shane will become more than words on a page.  Shane will exist.  Shane will take on reality, and at least in one Universe, he will have feelings.  He will have experiences.  And eventually, like all men, Shane will die.

On second thought, maybe I will not tell you about Shane.  Is it better to abort than to murder?

He threw a worried look behind him as he ran, and the "no trespassing" sign that should have been getting smaller seemed to be getting bigger all the time.

He wondered why he had ever decided to steal carrots from the farmer Jacob in the first place.

His regret turned into panic as a shot rank out and salt ripped through the leaves of a tree directly to his side.  The carrots quickly fell from his hand and from his list of priorities as his legs shifted into gears previously undiscovered.

"You… thieving…. Son…. Ofagun!" the farmer Jacob gasped out as he ran, tearing through the underbrush.

Jacob swept by the carrots, glancing as he passed, intent on catching more than just his property.

The thief, a 14-year-old by the name of Jesse, was a repeat offender, though by nature he was far from offensive.  He was just mischievous and with great capacity for eating.

As Jesse flew along, he glanced one too many times behind him, running headlong off an embankment into a creek bed, breaking his arm and bloodying his nose.  Despite the pain he tried to bury himself in the mud, panic still retaining a hold on his mind.

Jacob arrived at the creek bed wheezing, nearly tumbling into it himself.  Jesse's disguise hardly cold be considered camouflage, and he was easily spotted.

"Alright varmint, get out of there!" Jacob shouted, leveling his shotgun.

The mud didn't move at first. But then it started to shift and a sniffling boy rose from the filth, arm askew and face a mess.

When he saw the arm, Jacob's countenance changed and he lowered his gun.

"You…, you…, I caught you!" Jacob said haltingly." What's … wrong with your arm?"

"I think its broke," Jesse responded.

Jacob tossed his gun aside.  He suddenly recollected his own mischievous self at the age of 14, stealing onions from his farmer neighbor.  He cursed himself and his precious carrots.

He broke off two sticks and fashioned a makeshift brace for the boy's broken arm, then carried him back to his house and called the doctor.  While they waited they ate carrot soup.

Good Riddance

As the last of his strength slipped from him, he lost his grip on the edge and the sensation of falling swallowed him.  Fortunately, his prehensile tail grabbed on to the next branch and he was able to swing to safety.  Then he ate a banana and took a nap and wasn’t tired anymore.   M’kaka’poo’pee, or Rupert for short, was a spider monkey, and his life was just dandy.  He got to spend his days swinging around the upper canopy of the Colombian rainforest eating bananas and bugs, carefree in every way.  Well, at least he used to be carefree.  Two moons previous, his father told him “Wheee hooo ha haaa screee mukumuku booboo!” to which Rupert replied, “Sikisiki wa wa wa hoo hoo pee pee pee poo!”.  After that, his dad bit him on the leg and chased him off of the family tree branch.  Now, he was homeless.  He had nowhere to go.  So, he just spent his days swinging around, not accomplishing anything.  He had no prospects, no useful skills, and no tree branch with which to attract a mate.  Basically, he was going to end up a lonely spider monkey in a big rainforest. 
                Then, one day, Rupert heard a noise like a thousand angry jaguars roaring.  It came from the general direction of his former colony.  Even though he was an outcast, he still felt the urge to see what was happening.  He started to swing furiously through the forest, not even stopping when he knocked a trio of three-toed sloths off of a branch.  After a few minutes, he reached a seemingly endless clearing he had never encountered before.  In the place where his home used to be, hundreds of men and giant metallic beasts were eating trees. Somehow, he knew that his family was dead, as was the rest of the colony.  Rather than feel any sorrow, he just thought to himself, “Meekee pin pin sing poo”.   Or, in English, “Good riddance.”