Excerpts from students featured in the story ‘Education on Trial’
The Reclamation by Connor Bentley
He walked quietly through the ancient, memory stained forest. Max had always respected ancient creations, including the trees. However, as he made his way through the woods, something in particular caught his eye like the lights of a car. Could someone else be out here with them already? No, the light was not yellow or orange, but instead was a bright, almost neon blue. The marker. He picked up his pace to a faster jog, the soft crunch of dead leaves echoing out beneath his feet as he went. Not too far behind however, everyone else was following with their backpacks slung over their shoulders. Every single person out of the five felt as if they were being watched.
“Hey guys!” Max exclaimed out towards the direction he had come from, the remaining four running over with their equipment slung over their shoulders. “Seems we’re a lot closer to our destination than I had remembered.” He extended a hand out to shift their gaze from his form to the massive, dark as ink cavern entrance before them. A warm breeze left the entrance, almost like a campfire had been lit on the inside. Ever so slowly, two of the five begun to approach the ancient tomb like cave, until the stench of rotting flesh hit their nostrils.
“Oh god. What is that terrible smell?” Mindy, one of the two who had approached the cave entrance, reeled backwards with two fingers holding her nostrils shut. “It smells like something just crawled inside there and died!”
“I am not spending my night in a rancid smelling cave.” Sam added into the brewing mess of whining, all the while Harun merely sighed at the foolish complaining, plucked her nose, and went calmly walking into the shadow veil-covered entrance. She seemed to vanish the moment she entered the cave, and Max followed after her swiftly. Within the cavern, it was nothing like it had seemed on the outside. It was still a massive tunnel leading vertically downwards, but it was almost entirely lit by ominous blue and purple bioluminescent mushrooms and other fungi. One by one the remaining group members entered the veil covered gate of shadow, Mindy being the last to enter and gawk at the odd sight of the cavern.
“How in the world can it look pitch black on the outside yet be this bright inside?! We barely even went a few feet inside!” She exclaimed before attempting to rush over to the odd fungi, only to be stopped by Jack grabbing her.
“Hey, be careful Mindy. We don’t know that much about that fungus yet.” Jack spoke calmly whilst he held the over-hyper Mindy back, meanwhile Max and Harun begun to walk deeper into the massive stone tunnel. The walls were covered in odd spiral like markings, seeming almost be have been made by a form of drill — of maybe even claws? No, Max thought in silence as he eyes slowly followed the trail on the walls. Nothing on this planet has claws large enough or strong enough to gash the stone like that. The somewhat small group then began to follow their unannounced leader, only now noticing that he had been walking further into the unknown abyss. Their steps made heavy thuds on the hard stone, the echoing chitters of bats and other small creatures following as they proceeded farther inside. …
Quiet Nights by Rae Gahagan
It was a quiet night just like every other one. Her husband was working out of town for 2 days, so she would be alone for a few nights. Sarah felt the cool breeze blowing against her skin from the open window in the kitchen. She had just started reading when a notification popped up on her phone.The bright light startled her. She stared at it, knowing who it would be. Flipping over her phone she quickly unlocked it and opened the message. “I miss you Sarah.” She turned off her phone. Trying to forget about it she turned back to her book and started reading again.
After 35 minutes she stopped reading and headed up to her room for some sleep. It was 2 a.m. when she awoke to what sounded like some shuffling down stairs. She squinted her eyes and looked at her glowing red clock. Groaning, she slowly slid out of bed and onto her feet. Slowly creaking open her door she looked down the deep wooden stairs. The shuffling had stopped.
“Toast? Is that you?” She said very tiredly, assuming it was her cat messing around. No response.
She went downstairs and noticed it was very chilly. She closed the kitchen window she had left open earlier. She grunted and blew her wavy brown hair out of her face. She headed back upstairs and hopped back in bed falling asleep fast. She awoke the next morning with the sun glaring brightly in her eyes. She squinted and pulled the blanket over her head. She rolled out of bed and fell onto her soft blue rug. Toast creaked open her door and rubbed his soft black fur against her face. She got up and headed down stairs.
She headed downstairs and made herself some eggs and poured some fresh orange juice. After breakfast she resumed her book. She read for about an hour when she heard a knock at her door. She looked over and it was her friend Lily. Sarah motioned for her to come in.
“Hi! I missed you so much!'” Lily laughed.
“I missed you too,” Sarah smiled.
“I read your book, it was amazing!” exclaimed Lily.
“Thank you so much, you can keep it, I have so many copies,” Sarah said.
“Thank you! Anyways I better go I have to go meet my husband at a meeting for work, have a good day!” Stated Lily walking out the door. Sarah smiled and looked at the clock. It was 3 p.m. already.
“Man I slept late,” Sarah thought.
It was nearly 5 p.m. by the time she finished her errands. She unpacked the groceries and slumped into bed. She had a job interview tomorrow and wanted to get a lot of sleep. After 30 minutes of reading she went on her phone for a while and right before she put it down she got a text from an unknown number.
“Wanna play?” Her face turned pale and she quick locked her window and shut the curtain. She thought she was acting silly knowing this was a prank probably. She responded with “Who is this?” No one replied within 20 minutes. She again told herself it was prank of some kind, and set her phone down on her desk. She awoke to the same kind of noise she heard last night. She was more nervous tonight because of the text she had gotten. She turned on her lamp and got up. She slowly walked down the stairs. Shaking, she reached the bottom of the stairs.
She flicked on the light switch.
A shadow-like figure flashed behind the cupboard. She froze and her heart started pumping out of her chest. Slowly walking forward she quietly tiptoed toward the door. Right before she turned the door handle the tall figure arose from behind the cupboard. She covered her mouth with pure terror in her eyes. The figure didn’t move. He, or it, just stared at her. She uncovered her mouth and sprinted outside.
“Help!” she wailed out. She ran over to her car, and before getting in, she saw her tires were slashed. Oh, no, no, no! She slumped down behind her car crying and shaking. …