The previous winners of the Edgar Allan Poe Writing Contest can be found here. Read and enjoy. We have some talented young authors!

Monday, October 27, 2014

5th Annual Contest

Like the ashes of the Phoenix, the Edgar Allan Poe Writing Contest has returned again this year! In our 5th annual competition, all students, grades 7-12, are free to submit a short story that fits the following criteria.

-Stories must be submitted in paper or electronically (cfleming@eskymos.com) to Mr. Fleming by or on November 10th.
-Stories must be an original work of fiction.
-Stories can be of any genre.
-Stories must not exceed 3,000 words and include a word count.
-Stories should be in Times New Roman font, size 12.

Judging will be based on originality and professional quality. All student names are removed from the work prior to judging for unbiased results. All finalists will have their work published on the writing contest blog, ehspoe.blogspot.com. There will be consolation prizes for the finalists, and personalized Poe Awards will be given to the winner and runner up.

Thanks for your interest and good luck this year!

-Mr. Fleming

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The 2013 Awards

One of the gorgeous, three-pound, solid glass awards given to our top two this year. This is a real keepsake for our young authors. Congratulations again to our final four!

"Monster in the Mirror" -Marissa LaPorte


I could almost feel the snap. The splintering of the bridge of sanity I was so precariously perched upon and the rippling of the crimson river of rage as I tumbled into it. In some sick way I still knew exactly what I was doing when I snatched his spoon and dug his eye out with it. The dislodged eye fell into his soup and looked directly up at me, so I threw it across the room.

Trent? Trent, you just threw your spoon.” My spoon had landed and slid across the hardwood floor where Brian’s eye should be. No. Brian’s eye was where it was supposed to be, in its socket.

I’m sorry, I’ll be right back.” I begin to make my way to the restroom, feeling pairs of eyes on me from all directions. Nausea and panic is starting to take over and I can feel my stomach tying itself in knots. Closing the door and glancing around, I find the space unoccupied. The air I have been holding in my lungs rushes out in an exhausted sigh. In an attempt to regain my sanity I lean over the sink, tangle my fingers in my hair, and close my eyes. Why does this keep happening? When was the last time I didn’t want to maul my closest friend? No. I’ve never wanted to. I’ve only thought about it. I hope these visions are nightmares that never come true. They won’t. I’ve never even been in a mere fistfight, how could I gouge someone’s eye out in a public restaurant with a spoon? It’s impossible. Get yourself together, open your eyes, and look at yourself. Opening my eyes I was inches away from a twisted face of malice. I can feel the color draining from my face but the reflection in the mirror before me continues to smirk. I let out a terrified cry and to my horror the monster in the mirror places its index finger to its lips, still leering at me. Scrambling out the door I failed to gain my composure before being seen by everyone in the restaurant. A pathetic sight if I ever was one with Brian swooping in to my rescue.

The check is all taken care of, let’s just get you home,” Brian mumbles to me, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and leading me out of the restaurant while I stare at the floor like an embarrassed child. “Have you been having stomach problems again?” Of course he had waited until we were out of sight to ask me. He just has to be that considerate. I nod in reply. The last time I had a vision, I ended up throwing up in his sink, so he simply assumes I have a weak stomach. He’ll never know the issue is entirely different. My eyes don’t leave the ground; I can’t bring myself to look at him.

The autumn evening air is crisp and smells of dead leaves that lie on the wet pavement. Puddles are scattered about the road and sidewalk where there is uneven ground. I catch my reflection in the puddle I’m approaching and I swear I can see two bright red dots looking up at me. A shudder slowly creeps its way through my entire body. Out of frustration I walk through the puddle, dampening my shoes and distorting the reflection. It’s a quiet walk to Brian’s truck and it’s an even quieter ride home. I guess we don’t have much to say.

As soon as Brian drops me off I head straight to bed. As if I’ll get any sleep tonight. The house is eerily empty, even my cat has abandoned me. Maybe I’ll adopt a dog; they tend to be pretty loyal. I leave my bedroom light on and sink onto my empty queen sized bed. Staring at the ceiling all night, I could almost feel the bags under my eyes sinking deeper.

I must have drifted off to sleep sometime during the day because I wake up to the obnoxious ringing of my cell phone, my heart flutters until I spot the caller ID: Brian. Don’t answer, just stay home. No. Get out of the house, you’ll feel better.

Hello?”

Hey! Are you feeling better?” Why did he have to sound so happy?

Yeah, of course.”

I’m inviting you to my Halloween party tonight and you’d better not say no. Be at my house at 8:00, it wouldn’t be the same without you.” Was it Halloween already? What kind of adult man throws a Halloween party?

Yeah, see you then.” My thumb slides to the END button before he has the chance to reply.
Halloween parties mean costumes, well, not for this guy. It doesn’t matter how out of place I’ll look. This is ridiculous, why did I say I’d be there? The last thing I want is to be surrounded by idiots who still celebrate Halloween. I might as well look presentable; I wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a poor homeless man with nothing to live for, even though I feel like one. I change clothes, making sure the jeans and t-shirt I pick out aren’t adorned with holes. I use my shadow as a reference for styling my wild hair; I’m certainly not ready to face another mirror after what happened last night.

I begin the ten minute drive to Brian’s house. I’ll only stay for an hour, maybe two. Try to socialize and have a good time, get your mind off things. You don’t have to work in the morning. Make some new friends.

When I climb out of my car I notice quite a few vehicles cluttering the street. It seems there are more pathetic childish adults than I thought. I walk in and see exactly what I had expected. Candy corn in decorative dishes on every table, a fancy stereo system playing at just the right volume to encourage social interaction, and last but not least, ridiculous costumes, everywhere. I zero in on an empty spot on the couch and don’t hesitate to take it.

Hey, what are you supposed to be?” asks a man dressed in a pirate costume, complete with an eye patch. I look down at my white t-shirt and blue jeans.

I call this “John Doe”.” The man squints in what seems to be confusion, grunts, and turns away. I’m not going to wander around like a lost puppy looking for Brian so I decide to stay right where I am and let him find me.

Not two minutes later he strolls in, holding a beautiful woman’s hand. There she was. My heart drops to my stomach and I hold my breath. Blood spatters the wall and the beautiful woman screams in horror as I beat her beloved boyfriend’s head in. I needed to leave before I actually beat his head in. Too late, they’re both coming over here. Fear consumes me, my pulse quickens and I break out in a sweat while cursing under my breath.

You made it!” Don’t make eye contact. How could you not assume she’d be here with him?

I have to go, sorry.” I push past them, clenching my fists and grinding my teeth. After rushing out the door I inhale deeply, repressing a sob. I dig around frantically in my pockets for my keys, tears beginning to escape from their ducts. I speed away without knowing what direction I’m heading.

Why are you running?” I almost jump out of my skin and glance around my car, but I don’t discover anyone. “Up here.” My head jerks up and peering down at me in the review mirror is the monster I’d encountered last night, I don’t remember it having red eyes and sharp teeth though. Struggling to stay in the right lane, I turn away from the smirking monster. “You can’t run from me, I’m everywhere.” The face then appears in the driver’s side window. My body jolts, causing my foot to tap the accelerator. “You want to kill him. I know you do. I know because I’m part of you. He stole her from you. Your best friend stole your fiancĂ© right under your nose. You introduced him to her because he was like a brother to you. You trusted him. She never would have met Brian if you hadn’t introduced them. Aren’t you sick of living alone? Stop fooling yourself. You want him dead.”

No.” I grip the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white.

It’s disappointing enough that you talk to yourself, but it’s just appalling that you disagree with yourself.” The laugh that follows the sickening insult chills me to the bone. I’m surprised I haven’t tucked and rolled out of my car by now. Swerving into my driveway I manage to slam on the brakes, shift into park, tear my keys from the ignition, unbuckle my seatbelt, and leap out of the car in less than five seconds. I sprint up the steps, through the door, and into my bedroom. I tear the sheets off my bed and cover the single window in the room with them. I’m an absolute mess, sweaty palms and shaking like a leaf. I can’t get myself together. I huddle up in a ball on my empty mattress and jump at the slightest noises, paranoia driving me mad all night long.

The idea of seeing a therapist crossed my mind, but I have a feeling I’d be off the couch and into a padded room wearing a tight jacket faster than you can snap your fingers. It would probably be best if I kept my distance from Brian for a while, best for the both of us.

Days drag on and turn into weeks. I ignore every phone call from Brian and that just so happens to be every phone call I receive. I attend my mundane job and I come home. That is all my life consists of now and I’ve never felt so alone. I lost my two best friends, possibly my only friends. They have each other and I have no one.

It’s while I’m folding laundry when I hear a car pull up my driveway. It was only a matter of time before he’d come see if I was doing alright. He cares about me. What was I going to do? I’m not ready to see him. I’m not ready to lose him either, like I lost her. I don’t have an escape route; I can’t run from him in my own home. I can hear him knocking at on the door and I’m terrified, terrified of myself.
I open the door and I’ve never been happier to see his goofy smile.

I just came by to see how you’re feeling since I haven’t seen you in a couple weeks. I brought us lunch.” There’s that winning smile again. What was he, an angel in disguise? Never mentioning my ignoring his calls or my strange incidents, just coming over to catch up and eat Subway. We sit down and talk for an hour about little things like the weather, nothing too serious. Just when I think he’s going to mention the time and take off, a strange look that I have never seen him wear before comes across his face. Is it fear?

I have to tell you something, I know we never talk about it and I know it’s difficult for you.” He looks me right in the eyes, his serious expression piercing straight into my soul. I start to tremble, and forget how to breathe, because I knew. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

Something snapped. Someone screamed, both of us screamed. He was on the floor and I had put him there. I was gouging into his chest, his face, his neck, with something sharp. Blood was slowly tracing designs on his skin as it trickled down. When his body stopped twitching I retrieved a sewing kit she had left behind. I threaded a needle and poked it through his top lid, closed his eye, then poked through the bottom lid, pulling the thread tight. I repeated the process until both of his eyes were tightly sewed shut. When I finished I laughed and told the corpse he’d never see her again. Who was I to disagree with myself? I wanted to kill him, he betrayed me and I hated him for it. I dug a hole in my back yard and dumped him in it. I didn’t regret a single thing other than the fact I hadn’t tortured him, or killed him sooner. He had taken what was mine and now he was dead. That was all that mattered. My conscious was clear and I laughed myself to sleep that night.

2013 EHS Edgar Allan Poe Writing Contest Winners Announced

Escanaba High School is proud to present the 2013 winners of the annual Edgar Allan Poe Writing Contest. Students craft a short story of any genre with a 3000 word limit. At left is Ayla Polfus. This is Ayla's second time in the top four. Her story this year "In the Wall" came in second place. Next is Marissa LaPorte. Marissa has won three consecutive writing contests. Her story this year, "Monster in the Mirror" placed first overall. In the middle is Escanaba Sr. High English teacher/writing contest coordinator Cody Fleming. Next is Michael Whitman. This is Whitman's first appearance in the final four, getting a runner up position, courtesy of his story "Old Man Moon's Curiosity". Finally is runner up Ron Boudreau. This is Ron's first appearance in the final four thanks to his short story "Hero". All four of these stories can be read in their entirety on this site. A big thank you to the students who entered this year. We look forward to next year's competition. Can Marissa make it four for four in her senior year? We'll see...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Undeniable" -Evan Murray


Her heart beat vividly --irregularly-- as she bounded down the crooked hill into town. She had heard the twisted screams of deep agony, so deep they pierced her interminable sleep. As she converged on the town a dank smell furnished her clogged nostrils and along with it a silent fear began to crawl its way up her spine and settled low in the back of her head. Had she been deceived? For what she was about to witness was beyond anything unequivocal. Everyone she had known so well --all she had loved-- lay, phlegmatic, and strewn about the town. Arms here, legs there, some were wholesome, others were so dubiously distorted, she couldn’t help but stare and try to distinguish the languid figure that once was a human. --now torn to pieces-- She sat to make an attempt at interpreting the loathsome events that had taken place just minutes before.         
Just then she realized her mother and puerile sister had come to town not long before. All the pain and awe seemed to leave her at once, as she began to erratically scuttle about, in dire search for her family members. She came at once to the site she wished most not to see. --a most terrible sight at that-- Her mother lay, hand raised, facing her in what seemed to be a natatorium of her own blood. 
In a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, the girl --awestruck-- ran benevolently to her mothers side. The ambiguity of the situation slowly pieced itself together when she careened herself down, closer to her mother, and made an attempt at making out what she was trying to say. Just before her mother took her last breath and convulsed, she could make out but one word... “Him.”
She could hear the faint lamentation of what seemed to be a girl. She rushed towards the source of the sound only to find a hooded figure sitting cross-legged on top of a large well. 
“Come here.”, the figure ordered. 
From the sound of the voice she promptly identified the figure as a male. “No...”, She said. A grim smell lingered, more potent than when she came to town earlier. She couldn’t help but wonder in ironic amazement who this man could be. “Who are you?”, she asked.
“I am the one you people fear as death. The ever-living and undying emotion all things feel, that is what I am.”, It replied.
“But how can you be... there?”, She asked.
“Where?”, It questioned.
“Right there! How can you say you are an emotion, a feeling, if you are portrayed as a person before my very eyes?” 
“You will understand in due time, girl, for you have been chosen indirectly. I shall return for you”,  It said.
Just like that an unyielding wind tore through the town and the remnants of the harrowing massacre were swept away. There she sat, bewildered, her mind seemingly turned to mush. Not only was the content of the unconventional conversation that just took place primitive in her mind, but the images of what had happened. Her mother, so bloody and defunct. All the people she knew so well, cast into the abyss of death and here she was, breathing, vivaciously confused and still... alive. 
She could no longer sit and ponder the incredible envisage in her mind, she must do something. For she knew the inevitable and she was about to change that. Whatever that thing was, it was coming back for her and she had to do something about it. First, she rose to her feet and back down to her knees. As she prayed it was as if her very soul screamed out for something, someone to help her. She was to defeat Death, but how? How is it possible to defeat Death if the only thing defeat can lead to is just that? She rose to her feet again with a neoteric confidence. She began to walk towards the woods on the contour of town, but before she could reach the nebulous thicket, an immaculate light intruded through the sky and from where the girl could see, landed deep in the forest. She scorched the ground with her feet as she nimbly dashed through the woods, dodging trees and brush with each step. As she converged on the great light she could see a peculiar object protruding from the ground. She bent low to retrieve it and realized it was a book. “Time has taken it’s toll on you, friend.” She whispered. Just as she began to back away from the light it blinked away faster than it had come and she was engulfed in darkness, the sweet scent of pine and dew calmed her. A twig snapped and her heart began to race again, for the first time she became aware of the book she was clutching so tightly to her chest. She wiped the dust from it’s cover and read, “Vitam Aeternam,” she read, and the book produced an eerie scintillate. From what the girl learned as she read, if Death was after her, she must replace her own death with the life of another member of the family. She cried as the thought of her mother, so bloody and bowdlerized, for she knew the whole town had been slain. She wept so softly it hurt and began to permeate the images of the past day. Her mind was pierced when she remembered first entering town, and the first thing that came to her mind... her sister.
If she could find her sister she could elude Death. Back through town she went, tears rushed from her eyes as she retraced her steps up the crooked hill. If her sister was still alive, she knew all of her hiding places. The girl barged through the door and went unswervingly to the wardrobe her mother kept her nicest clothes in. She danced about the house in a most queer manner, almost hysterical, as she ravaged her house for her younger sibling. Just before the animosity of the situation took over her she heard a low whisper coming from the cupboard beneath the sink. 
“Emma... is that you?” it whimpered.
“Caroline... have you been hiding all this time?
“Yes... why are you clothes torn, sister?
“Do not ask questions now.” Emma said soothingly. “You must come with me.”
“Well... ok, are you alright sister? You look quite pale...”
“Enough questions Caroline, come with me now.” 
Emma grew impatient at the sight of her sister, so innocent and pure. Survival was imminent and Emma knew what she must do. 
“Ow, Emma! Stop it you’re hurting me!” Caroline cried. 
Back out the door Emma dragged Caroline by her hair towards to cliff across the field from her home. Their home. It began to rain, the crisp smell of moisture rose swiftly and the fresh scent of poppy and pine grasped the air. Emma dropped her sister on her knees and, gripping her tightly, began to cry. She cried harder and hugged her sister. 
“Why are you doing this Emma!?”cried Caroline. 
“I must, sister, I am sorry...”
Emma hugged her harder now and continued to cry. 
“Please sister, was it something I did?”  If it was for taking your brush this morning I’m sorry.” Caroline protested. 
“Please sister don’t apologize, you did nothing wrong. Close your eyes Caroline, take a deep breath. Do you feel him?” 
“Do you hear a girl crying sister?” Caroline asked innocently.
And with that Emma jolted her hand outward viciously and gasped as she watched her sister fall silently to the rocks below. She sat back on her knees and looked up towards the sky. She took a deep breath then and rose to her feet. A newfound confidence slowly rose in her chest as she turned on her heels and strode back towards her house. 
Years passed and the girl continued on with her life, branded by the memories of that day so long ago. 
“Girls, Michael, I made breakfast.” Emma said.
Her two daughters came running, smiles radiating their faces. Her husband strode quickly at their heels.
“I have to go hun, I’m late for work already.” He bent and kissed her lightly.
The door closed slowly and a brief gust of wind stalled the door momentarily as it closed with a quiet thud. 
“Have a good day at school girls!” yelled Emma. 
She walked back into the house and set to cleaning up breakfast. From where she sat she could see the corner of a book sticking out from the oak bookcase. She walked quietly across the room, a sense of tranquility gripped her then and she set the book back in it’s place and continued on with her task. As she hung her apron up and set in her rocking chair, she heard the faint lamentation of what seemed to be a girl. Her heart raced as she ran to towards the source of the noise. There it sat, calmly cross-legged on top of her mothers blanket chest. 
“So we meet again, Emma.” it hissed.
“What do you want from me?” 
“Oh nothing, just your life...” it answered impassively.
Emma ran from her house, through the field towards the cliff. She stopped abruptly as Death appeared in front of her. 
“You cannot escape the inevitable, Emma.” 
“Please, the book said my life would be spared at the sacrifice of my own blood.” cried Emma.
“What you did those years ago did nothing to save you, it simply... added time to your clock, so to speak.”
Emma flung herself from the cliff then and stared up towards the sky as she fell, silently, without so much as a scream. 
“I’m sorry Caroline...” she whispered before she hit the rocks below.
Nothing can deny the inescapable truth, for in the end, Death comes for us all.

"Fading Out" -Eli Mai

As the new widower slowly trudged from his dilapidated barn out to his ancient ford truck, he could barely move the weight of the blood stained burden across the brown and sun bleached lot that was his lawn. Although it made his eyesore of a property even more abominable than it was, one of his many new freedoms was that he no longer had to meticulously manicure the grass--that was a chore she made him do, in fact it seemed that all he could remember of her was that she was always squawking from the porch for him to mow the God-forsaken grass. The putrid stench that radiated out from this unholy bundle of tarp, blood and chain-link fence was almost unbearable and made him only want to be more rid of it.
When he finally made it to the rust-eaten four wheel drive, his muscles burned as if he had just been dropped in a hot frying pan, but what was even worse was that he still had to move this monstrosity into the bed of his pickup truck. After he had finally lifted the roll into his truck he painfully walked to the driver’s seat, his legs felt like stretched out rubber bands that were about to snap.
As he put the key into the ignition  and turned it, the old ford sputtered and stalled, then roared into life. On the radio “Beyond the Realms of Death”, a sad melodic song by a band whose name slipped his mind (although it sounded like one of the british metal groups his son always listened to when he was a teenager, it might have had the word “priest” in it he thought) was playing in the background. Driving down the old gravel road he observed the open country where he lived, the reeds by the side of the road, the tall grass, corn fields and tall trees, and realized that the shades of brown, gold and yellow he had once loved combined with the dreary and overcast sky now just reminded him of death. The changed leaves reminded him of his own life so far, the once deep green and living leaves gradually faded and blew away in the wind just like his health,physical, mental and social. He hoped that, after he disposed of the contents of his truck, his life, just like the leaves in spring, would be resurrected and his life would be full of color and happiness.
After what seemed like an eternity he arrived at a humble cabin on the edge of a small inland lake that his father, and his father before that, had owned. It was one of the few places that he could be alone, aside from the bar it was his last sanctuary where she couldn’t get to him. She never wanted to go anywhere or do anything outside like go to the cabin, just sit on the porch drinking her god awful tea and boss him around all day like he was her slave. He spent many hours out at this quiet solace when he would pretend to go to into town, that was days when she was pestering him worse than usual, which up until very recently had been happening all too often.
He drove down the gentle slope of the hill going down to the lake. He then backed the truck up to the dock to which his pontoon boat was tethered with only one small length of rope, the other dock line and two large rubber fenders lay on the floor of the boat . the boat was covered with a uniform maroon carpet that was faded from countless summers in the Sun, and also had a thin layer of green algae around the edges from being out in the rain. The seats were covered in a cracked, dry patent leather that was the same color as the carpet, but had an off white stripe  going straight across the middle. You could see on the metal pontoon a dent and a series of scratches where the boat banged against the dock because it wasn’t properly secured.
“What is my world coming to, that I can’t even remember to tie a few knots?”, the haggard, tired, grizzled old man thought to himself as he slowly and painfully stepped out of the tall cab of his truck (a combination of the intense work he had just done, a bad knee, and the dreary low-pressure weather that worsened his arthritis, seemed to be killing him a little bit at a time). He was disappointed in his carelessness. What scared him was that he couldn’t even remember why he had left it this way. He had been forgetting things more and more often, and that was one of the things she had been pestering and degrading him for. He supposed he was glad he didn’t remember any good times they might have had together, for this could have made it harder to their cold, dead relationship.
He let out a hoarse bark of laughter as he came to the disturbing, yet comical realization that she really was cold and dead now! He now unlocked the bed of his pickup and, because the truck was on a hill, was able to roll what was in it onto the dock. When it did fall onto the dock he realized he had made a terrible mistake as there was a huge crash that made the dock shake and the large bundle started rolling towards the end of the dock, leaving behind a slick streak of blood and mud on the white plastic slats of the dock. The only thing that prevented the disgusting roll of metal from bursting open was a few elastic cords and a chain. If the dock had been like the old wooden one that had stood in place of the current dock when he was a child, it would surely have shattered under the weight of this terrible blow. All this took place over a span of only a few seconds, as the roll of fence slammed into the metal poles that came up on the sides of the dock, which left it conveniently placed right next to the front deck that extended past the door on the front of his pontoon boat.
He then rolled it from the slightly higher deck to the boat by slowly pushing it with his foot to prevent himself from falling in and drowning (he couldn’t even remember if he knew how to swim), and also to prevent it from falling into the dark water and pushing the boat away from the dock. Once the load was securely on the boat he carefully stepped on too, went to the back of the boat and started the new Evinrude outboard motor he had gotten last year (or at least he thought it was last year, he couldn’t remember), untied the dock line and headed out into the middle of the small, yet very deep lake.
As he made his way out into the middle of the lake he remembered fishing with his only son on this very same lake, and he was glad that this one thing he did remember was a very happy moment, he also realized that she was not in the memory and had probably never even touched a fishing rod! This moment of happiness was short lived though, since he remembered his son had died in a car accident years ago speeding back to New York from their house after a pointless argument that he didn’t remember was about, only that she had started it and kept wouldn’t stop it until his beloved son had got stormed off without saying goodbye. He now wished that his memory would vanish completely and leave him as blissfully mindless as an infant.
Once he was at what he thought was probably the deepest point of the lake he cut the engine and waited for the boat to slow to an almost complete stop until he drifted in the water like a dead Autumn leaf does through the air. He got up after a quiet moment of listening to a flock of geese fly South overhead, and went to the end of the boat to finally dispose of the wretched cause of all of his suffering in the past years and past hour. Then, using all of the strength he had left, he shoved the heavy chain-link coffin that held his evil wife into the inky black water with a splash that drenched the front of his clothes.
But before he could watch it sink he saw that the dock line he had left on the boat was tangled up around the bundle of fencing, and looked down before he himself sank too to see that the loop on the end that goes on the dock was caught instead on one of his steel-toe boot clad feet. Before he could react he was plunged into the icy dark embrace of the cold, spring fed lake and instead of air filling his gasping lungs, water rushed in. It felt like a thousand frozen daggers inside his ribcage. He was terrified, but at the same time knew he would never have to face the pains of life again. Then as he closed his eyes for the last time what little sunlight was reaching down to his accelerating darkness was shut out forever, as was his life.
On the surface the Sun shined through the silver clouds as they rolled away, and the falling leaves were illuminated while they floated down. Some landed in the pontoon boat, which had drifted closer to the opposite shore of the quiet lake, others landed on the still idling truck’s windshield, still others were whisked away by the late fall breeze, never to be seen or remembered again.

"When Darkness Falls" - Marissa LaPorte


Winter is quickly closing in and the days are growing shorter. I look forward to shorter days all year. Less daylight and more darkness, the darkness trumps the light in the winter. I gaze out the window and watch the sun sink lower and lower in the sky. As it sinks my heart beats faster and faster. The sun is hazy and red on this foggy evening. The image quickly twists and morphs to a cold corpse in a red pool of blood. Her throat is sliced and that is the only wound I inflicted upon her. However, fate was not so kind to her, she was born with a narrow spine and always experienced severe pain. I helped her, I ended her suffering, and she would thank me if she could. I have devoted my life to ending suffering. Animals kill the old, the lame, and the weak, and so do I.
Now that the body is cut up, the meat is stored in the freezer, and the rest has been properly disposed of, I can sleep for a couple hours before I have to head back to the locker plant I own. I help feed the healthy families of Jackson, Michigan. I walk to my room, slide off my boots, lie down in bed, close my heavy eyes, and wait to dream.
I am ten years old again. My mother is driving us to the doctor’s office. She hasn’t been eating and she always says her stomach hurts. I do a lot of medical research on my own. My friends say it’s weird so I stopped talking about it around them. I think mom has anorexia, doctors can fix anorexia.
The doctors let me go in with my mom for a little while. I was looking at all of the doctor’s tools when they told me I should go back out in the waiting room and that the nurse would watch me. I think they were just upset because I was getting my germs all over their fancy tools. I’m staring into the bright light on the ceiling and my eyes are starting to get heavy as it gets later and later. I’m starting worry, but I’m too tired to get up. Nothing bad could ever happen to my mom.
My eyes fly wide open and I’m at home. I silently tiptoe to my mother’s bedroom and I can hear her crying. She is on the phone with my dad. She says that she has pancreatic cancer and that the doctors can’t do anything for her.
The next year is hard as I watch my mother slowly suffer and die before my eyes. Her funeral is held on my eleventh birthday. Then I am sent to live with my dad and we move from Florida to Michigan. It takes forever to get used to the bitter cold weather and the snow. I make a lot of friends at school and I never tell anyone what happened to my mom so it’s like it never happened, even though I know it did. I watched it happen. When I graduate from high school I don’t pursue my dream to be a doctor, I make a promise to my mother that I won’t sit back and watch anyone else suffer.
I wake up to the sound of rain at four in the morning and wonder if it’s raining on my mother’s grave back in Florida. I sit up and look around my lonely house. It feels like forever since I had someone to keep me company.
The bell above the store’s front door chimes as I am talking to a customer and I turn to see my friend Paul. He’s wearing his police uniform and is holding a newspaper. He walks over and slams the newspaper down on the counter in front of me.
There are always people getting killed in Jackson. You would think they would learn to lock their doors before they go to bed,” Paul grumbles.
It’s really a shame, isn’t it?” I say shaking my head slightly.
The customer I was talking to before picks up the newspaper and skims it briefly. “Looks like she was born with a narrow spine, whoever killed her did her a favor,” he says while chewing on a toothpick.
Did her a favor? A favor you say? This is the third murder this month and if we don’t find out who is responsible, it is going to keep happening. People are going to keep dying. People who don’t deserve to die are dying. So you don’t mind coming to the station to explain why you have this sick opinion?” Paul growls at the shocked customer, who has almost swallowed his toothpick. Paul takes away the customer in the back of the police car. They are getting desperate for a suspect and if you say a few suspicious words they will question you for hours.
That weekend I saw a little boy, about five years old; he’s autistic and lives in a house a few miles from mine. After tonight he won’t have to suffer from autism anymore. I grab the bag with all of my supplies in it, sling it over my shoulder, and walk to my car. I drive slowly and silently around to the back of the house with the headlights switched off. I park my black car in the shadowy cover of the tall trees. Everyone in the house is sleeping and the silence is welcoming.
I silently cut the screen and lift the window open just enough so I can slip through. I quickly slide the window shut again so that the breeze doesn’t awaken the sleeping child. I slowly tiptoe over to his bedside with the knife in my right hand. With one skillful and swift movement I make a deep, long, painless, cut across the boy’s throat. His eyes only open for a second before the light leaves them. He finally looks at peace and he doesn’t have to suffer anymore. I pick up the boy’s light body carefully. We silently exit through the window leaving nothing but the blood on his sheets behind.
As I am closing up the store, I am thinking about how very lucky I am. I have committed many mercy killings and have not been sent in for questioning once. No one suspects me. I am also very surprised that this community hasn’t found out what they have been eating all this time. If someone were to ever find a human fingernail or tooth in their meat, then I would have issues, but no, I’m careful.
The next few days go by slow and the snow doesn’t stop. I am shoveling out my driveway every morning. I am reading a book when she walks through the door. She has sparkling, sapphire blue eyes and long, flowing, blonde hair. She shyly walks up to me and asks me, with a voice as soft and gentle as bells, if I could give her directions to the nearest gas station. I tell her there is one about a mile down the road and she gives a soft sigh of relief. I ask her if she is from around here because I haven’t seen her before. She smiles and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
It’s probably because I’m a vegetarian,” she says on her way to the door. I almost watch her walk away but I go after her and ask her if she’d like to have dinner sometime.
It’s been a year since I first saw her and we have been spending every moment together. I no longer care about the suffering of others, as long as we are together nothing else matters. I have been selling regular meat now at the locker plant and I don’t have to worry about the health inspectors anymore. I am also studying to be a doctor like I’ve always wanted.
We are driving to her favorite restaurant for our anniversary and I have an engagement ring in my pocket. She says she loves me and I kiss her hand as we drive through the four way intersection. A semi-truck drives through at the same time and crashes into the passenger’s side of my car and glass from the window cuts into her perfect skin.
I sit by her side in the hospital all night, she is going to live, but she’ll never be the same. She has a ruptured disk and she cried three times that night from the pain. It breaks my heart and I blame myself because I was driving. She had to have glass removed from her skin and I sat there with her and held her hand the whole time.
I take her to my house and while she is lying down I sit in the other room and hold my head in my hands. I know she is in severe pain and that she will have to take those pain pills for the rest of her life. I know that with a ruptured disk the pain can be severe and debilitating. It will also get worse as time goes by. I know I can’t watch her suffer and I know I can’t live with the guilt.
She has taken such strong pain medication that she cannot function properly. She is passed out in my bed and I am sitting in the living room, writing her suicide note, in her handwriting that I know and can duplicate very well. There is an aching, stabbing, twisting, pain in my chest and I am losing the ability to breathe. I pick up a cloth and then wrap it around my pistol and carry it to the bedroom. I set the note on the bedside table and set the pistol down. I sit next to her and stroke her hair for a while. Then I pick up the gun, move her hand so she is holding it, hold it to the back of her head, whisper “I love you” in her ear, and both of our fingers pull the trigger as tears silently run down my cheeks.
Now that I have tried my best to end everyone else’s suffering, it’s time I ended mine. I burn her foraged suicide note and write my own true story. This is the tale of my suffering and how I tried to save others from theirs. This is my story and we are drawing near to the end. Now that I have confessed to what would be classified as murders, but are really just mercy killings. I hope you all will understand. Her body is getting stiff now. I pull her body to mine hold the gun to my head and hope her, and my mother, will be waiting for me on the other side. I also hope that my mother will be proud of me as I squeeze the trigger.