Poetry

Graffiti on the Berlin Wall – Alexandra Mayer

Another day passes outside the window of a plane
I cross dusk with 170 strangers who hold each other’s hands or thighs when the clouds quiver.

And I can’t stop thinking about your fingers running through my hair

or the way your eyes knocked into me that July.

You made me feel like feeling itself was cracking from my chest

and hurtling across the universe,

becoming every iron, nitrogen, oxygen, n’ sulfur soul that lost the sunset to the sunrise

in thoughts of “I want you”

Because your lips burn cosmic explosions into my skin:

a creation story.

Now, heads drape over the mountains

like the twinkle lights you hung out on the patio for Christmas–

You tried to play Claire de Lune on your harmonica

and remember that you loved me.

But you left 8 months later

on a Tuesday.

7:53 p.m.

The pool lights stained your words teal

and smeared my eyeliner into a glimmering sort of heavy.

You said “late summer’s nostalgic,”

noticed the fireflies had all gone,

and I could hear crickets whimper to the sun,

“don’t go.”

And I never wanted another falling moon or set of sandpaper hands to hang onto.

You said I felt frail

like a dandelion you were keeping

from the wind.

And then you just let go.

That night, I woke up laughing,

as 1,000 tiny suns sprouted from my lips,

already dreaming of drifting.

Crossing through purple skies

like telephone wires

rushing to the seaside.

Paris stole my lipstick.

smeared it across cheeks

and hostel sheets and wine glasses, Merlot,

turned my teeth violet and my heart

a violent sort

of love you,

maddened by the beauty of it all.

Like I could chase train tracks

into the self I wanted

into Budapest, or Berlin.

A decrepit sort of art,

like you could tear

my heart into dusty fallen parts

and I’d just become more,

and faces and feet would flood through me, paint

bucket lists on my thighs and think of freedom.
I was never meant to be kept from the wind.

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Essay, Flash Fiction, Prose

A Simple Thought – Aksel Taylan

We spend a lot of time in our short lives thinking about the long term. What’s going to happen to me in ten years? Fifteen? Thirty, even? In severe cases, we let this presumptuous worries diversely affect our everyday actions and choices. This principle has a number of glaring flaws, but the main one to focus on is that the future hasn’t happened yet. You are writing your own novel; you are the only one with a pen. In other words, it is fully within your capabilities to control most of what happens in your life. However, we fail to understand that not all of it can be controlled. People get in car accidents. People get deathly ill. People are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Why, then, should you let these worries take hold of how you express yourself if we don’t have absolute control? Sometimes, doing something wrong allows a person to grow, to become stronger, possibly even teach others the right way. The right way, which everyone hungrily seeks, cannot be found without failure. Take a left when you think you’re supposed to take a right, eat raw cookie dough, or even, if you’re feeling really adventurous, stay out an hour later! Fight the norm with all you’ve got, because succumbing to the proper choice makes for a dull, uninspired life. Need I remind you, you only get one of those. I think it’s in your best interest to make it count.

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Poetry

Her – Iman Messado

She didn’t move mountains–

she couldn’t swim rivers–
she didn’t know how to fly figure eights around the redwoods of California—
Her eyes weren’t romantic–
And the curve of her lips was rather sinister–
She wasn’t the least bit interesting–
the left pinky toe held more mystique than her entire head of thin brittle hair—
She walked like an old dog that knew no tricks–
Her voice was a high whine–
her hands were large, knotted and manly—
yet she was enough to drown me in the lakes of Venus—-
she was enough to singe my eyelashes in the heat of her gaze—–
she was enough to make me drink from all the moon’s glory——
her name was indistinguishable yet it is all I can mumble in my sleep——-
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Poetry

Regalities of Plainness, pt. II – Bryn Bluth

I gasped,

Over and over again I gasped.

Maybe he was in my lungs

And that’s why I had such a hard time breathing,

But he wasn’t there-

I know because I’ve always had bad lungs.

 

Perhaps that’s the reason I haven’t caught him,

My lungs gave out

When he took his leave.

Which I’m okay with- 

You can’t run very far without a spine.

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Short Story

Existential Angst (Act II) – Esteban Mayorga

3 months later…

Act 2: A Whole New World

Well, hello there. It’s been awhile hasn’t it? A great deal of shenanigans has been going down, and I haven’t really had time to tell stories.

But, the final push is planned for tomorrow, and there’s a break in the fighting as both sides prepare; so I guess i’ll just have to take this time to tell you what’s happened so far.

I went back to Valentina and told her about my change of heart, and she lit up like a christmas tree. She actually hugged me. I’m not saying it wasn’t nice, but it was just such a sudden shift from her usual stony demeanor, it caught me off guard.

She really believed what she was doing was right. With all her heart, you could see it in her eyes. She gained my respect right then. She started talking about her plans to free the rest of us, and what she would do after we won, and she said it all with a smile on her face. Admittedly, the smile was a little disconcerting when she went into details about how to best massacre government forces, but the sentiment was still there.

So I asked her, “what now”? Her response? “You have no idea what you’re in for”. And she was right.

Every day, instead of going to our lonely apartments after school, we met somewhere on the city. It was usually either an abandoned building, set to be torn down soon, or at some of the larger apartments owned by members of our little army. We trained, and we planned, and we gathered equipment in secret, preparing for war. There were only about 20 of us in all, and most of us were college aged or seniors in highschool , but there were only about 200 government officials all in all, and the majority of them weren’t powered.

Training was hard at first, and I wasn’t exactly trusted by the rest of the group. After all, would you listen if some supposedly crazy powerful kid showed up and you had to treat him as a leader? Of course not, people have to be shown their leader’s capabilities. Well, after our first raid, they never questioned my ability again.

We had been preparing for our first operation for about 2 weeks; a small raid on a supplies warehouse. If all went well, it would look like some Private Military Company or Research Corporation had ransacked the place, and the government would have no idea they had a revolution on their hands yet.

Unfortunately, things did not go well.

A security guard went for a bathroom break at exactly the wrong time; he found davey and I climbing in through the ceiling vent. I knocked him unconscious in less than half a second, but the government are clever bastards, as it turns out. They had these implants put into all the guards, and if any of them experienced excessive physical trauma or unconsciousness, an alarm would be set off.

So the alarm went off, and the stealth operation turned into a war zone. Everything was on fire, then it was all frozen, then electricity flowed through the ice and metal support beams like a raging river. We used our powers without control, causing maximum damage to everything around us. I didn’t kill anyone, but i’m one of the few that can say that. The whole world was chaos after we got rid of all the guards, and we knew there were more coming, but half of us couldn’t even walk. My legs were fine, so I had to carry each person individually back to one of our hideouts, and then run back for another. In the end I carried all 19 other members a mile back to base, and then I threw up and fell over.

When I came to, Valentina gave me a rundown of what happened after I passed out.  We won, but all of us were injured in some way, and our excessive display of force caught the eye of the government. They didn’t know exactly who we were, but they knew someone was planning to take them down.

“But hey,” she said, “at least no one is going to give you crap about being a kid anymore”. And she was right. Finally, they accepted me as one of them. It was pretty wonderful. The only short jokes I heard were affectionate, and I felt like I finally had a family.

So we carried on. We refused to give up, instead, we declared full scale war on the government that oppressed us. We got sympathisers to set put up posters advertising the movement when no one was watching, we took territory on the edge of the city for ourselves and stopped going to school altogether. The government tried to label us as terrorists, but it wasn’t working. We were winning the hearts of the people over, and our numbers were growing. The total student population was only about 2000, and the members of our little club swelled from 20 to 30 to 60 to 100 quickly. That doesn’t mean we weren’t without our losses. Davey got killed early on, and Valentina only has her left arm still attached now. There have been others, but I don’t want to go through their names. It still hurts.

We’ve taken more than half the city now, and the only thing left of any importance is the high school. About a quarter of the student body sided with the government. A couple people who hold their convictions high and believe they’re doing right. A whole lot of psychos that just love killing and see the government as their best possible employer. And a few that just don’t know anything else in their life or how they could get on without big brother watching over them. Those are the ones I really feel for. But nothing is going to stop us now. We’ve come too far, and I still haven’t taken a single life.

I’ve never wanted to kill, or even hurt others. I hold it as one of my highest moral achievements that I haven’t killed anyone in this bloody war.

But tomorrow, if anyone gets in my way, if anyone gets in the way of the freedom my family has died for, that my family has sacrificed life and limb for, I will put them in the ground.

And I won’t lose any sleep over it.

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Short Story

Existential Angst (Act I) – Esteban Mayorga

Why me?

Of all places.

Of all possible places, in all possible planes of existence, did I really have to be here? It’s not like I chose to be here, or was born as part of some centuries old legacy foretelling the horrible doom of the human race, or anything actually interesting. In fact, I was just dumped here as a baby 15 years ago and no one bothered to tell me who brought me or if I even have a family.

And if it ever crossed my mind to leave, I would simply be shot. Thank the shady, nameless, government organization that collects superhumans and stuffs them in a floating city for that. They say its because superhumans are too dangerous to be released into the “normal” population. Doesn’t make them sound any less like comic book villains.

Today is the first day of my sophomore year of high school. This is where they train us to act as everything from assassins and bodyguards to intelligence operatives and soldiers, depending on your skill set. No seriously, they’re actually doing that. The government is pretty much just a comic book villain, i’ve mentioned this already.

So the idea is generally that we’re supposed to make friends here and be all happy for a few years; before we become the world’s cutest little murderers that could at the tender age of 18.

Yeah, it hasn’t exactly gone well so far.

Well, freshman year started off well enough. My abilities hadn’t kicked in yet, so I might as well have been in training for the CIA or S.H.I.E.L.D or something like that.  My grades were good, I did well in combat training, and I generally pleased the all seeing big brother style governing body.

But then, something unfortunate happened. I started Doing very well in combat training. my reaction times got quicker and quicker, and so did everything else about me.

I started processing everything in split seconds, my body started reacting and moving faster than anyone could see, I started hitting harder than anyone else could, and they started telling me I was the most naturally talented fighter they had ever seen. I bristled with pride. I made friends, friends that respected me and looked up to me.

And then about halfway through the year, something happened so fast time stopped. I had been sparring with Daniela, the only person in class that could still beat me. I lost focus and the next thing I knew, her knee was flying towards my face like lightning, I instinctively threw a punch at her face knowing it would never have time to connect, and then…

Nothing happened.

Everything in the whole world slowed to a crawl, her knee sluggishly dragging through the air like so much molasses. I had already drawn my fist back to my face, and I realized that my strike had connected and she was dripping backwards, her knee following a new path.

I had discovered my power.

They moved me into the true school, the school for superhumans. I was classified as a speedster, rank 6 out of 10; 1 being Usain Bolt on crack, 10 being so fast you could smash atoms by snapping your fingers.

It was at here I discovered something truly, gut wrenchingly, terrifying. Teenagers don’t have souls. They are far too cruel and hopped up on hormones to have souls.

Superhuman hormones are what you would get if you threw normal hormones, crack cocaine, and the blood of a virgin in a blender and then fed it to an entire frat house. Except the frat kids try and outdo each other by seeing who can throw cars furthest.

Long story short, being the weedy kid with glasses, and being an irritating smartass in a school full of those people doesn’t mix well. I immediately started making more enemies than friends, and tensions heated until they boiled over and exploded right in my stupid, stupid face.

I got into a fight with the resident alpha jock, and we ended up demolishing the gym by way of him being a pyromancer/maniac, and I may have accidentally drunkenly made out with someone’s boyfriend somewhere in there, and there might have been some other stuff I greatly regret now…

Needless to say, Big brother was not pleased.

I was sent off to do hard labour in the worst parts of Russia for summer vacation, which was in no way shape or form fun. Or painless. Or free of head trauma.

But enough of the troubles of last year, let’s talk about how this year is going. You might say, “what could possibly go wrong? It’s only the first day after all”.

And there was a time I would have agreed with you. That time was before today.

As it turns out, i’m one of the highest ranking powered individuals in the world, and that tends to draw attention from time to time.

Today, attention came in the form of Valentina Valentine during first period, who is dedicated to damaging the vital organs of those who might question and/or insult her name. My kidney still hurts.

She sought me out  because she wants me to join a little unofficial “club” she’s starting. The objective of this “club” is to overthrow the oppressive government by way of excessive force and bloody revolution.

I told her to bugger right off and leave me alone, which she wasn’t too happy about.

Now, don’t get me wrong, i’m all for revolution, but does it really have to be so bloody? I honestly have no interest in becoming a murderer, that’s why i’m all for revolution in the first place.

She says she can’t do it without me. As someone of my power ranking, I would be a figurehead in this revolution. I would be a general, someone to rally behind. I would be responsible for all of the death and suffering and liberation and freedom and happiness it might cause. I don’t know if I can handle that.

Another option was presented to me during lunch, just 10 minutes ago.

Here I was, eating lunch by my lonesome on the roof of the school. I love it up here. You can see down to the ground below the city; and the horizon seems to stretch forever.

Sometimes I try to figure out where we are by looking at the land or the ocean. Sometimes I just think about jumping off that roof and landing in what looks like kansas. Living on a farm, learning how to herd sheep and milk dogs or whatever they do.

Anyway, my little game got interrupted by a government official, all bald headed and fancily dressed and the like. Turns out Valentina isn’t the only one who wants to put my powers to use.

The school wants to put me through an accelerated program, and turn me into an undercover intelligence operative by next year. I could be the best. I could get anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye, snatch classified information out of someone’s hands and put it into different, very wealthy and very generous hands.

So here I am, wondering which side will involve the least death and destruction, trying to choose between the lesser of two evils hell bent on destroying each other. Of all places, I had to be here?

My head sinks into my hands, fingers tussling and combing through dirty blonde hair. One of those little ticks I get when i’m stressed. While the government option isn’t exactly a moral victory, at least I wouldn’t be hurting anyone. Not directly anyway. I wouldn’t be doing any murdering.

But everyone else would. Valentina says she can’t do it without me, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try. What if she tries without me and fails because i’m not there? What if I cause her and those that follow her to die meaningless deaths? What if she fails and we keep going through this system, committing the worst atrocities known by mankind because we’re better at it?

Can I really sit back and let that happen?

No, I really can’t.

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Essay, Flash Fiction

My Favorite Place to Be – Alex Esterline

As I walked up to the brick building in the sweltering heat of the summer, I stopped on the hill to take a look around. I was surrounded by busy French streets and the smell of a bakery torturing those who passed by. Looking at the building, I saw a sign that read “Auberge Internationale de Québec”. When I walked inside I was greeted by a building as warm as the heat outside and with a glossy wooden interior. The building, itself, was an adventure. With no signs, except those in foreign script, each room was a mystery. After checking in, there was a strenuous trek up three flights of narrow, wooden floors that creaked endlessly. I endured as my suitcase became heavier, heavier, heavier, and lighter, finally. That night, after having reached the end of the hallway and located my room, the walls became illuminated by only the city lights and the glow of the moon. The buildings seemed to breathe and come to life with their phosphorescence. And although I had to get up early the next morning, I saw on my bed that faced a tall window. Through that window, the city lights could see my legs curled up into me as I watched without blinking. A bridge cast its glare on the river below. As cars passed through the city, their noises were barely audible over the music that blared from a stadium nearby. The city spoke to the music, as it’s heartbeat became the pulsing bass that could only be heard by those who were truly listening. Warm summer air poured through the windows and my eyes couldn’t part from the current view. Hours passed and sleep still eluded me. But I did not care that I had to wake up at six in the morning, because I was with my best friends- the stars. I did not care that I had to wake up at six in the morning, because the city wanted to see me. I did not care that I had to wake up at six in the morning because I had found complete comfort in this youth hostel 945 miles away from my home. 

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