Bluegrass Condo

Bluegrass Condo

September 2012…a time I will NEVER forget. Up to that point in my life I lived with my mother, Melissia, in my Pop-Pops blue row home house for years.  I was consistently bouncing between life with my mother in that row home, and my Nan’s Parkwood house with big purple curtains with my  father, Bruce. Melissia had met my now stepfather Ricky, and we moved into Bluegrass Condos in Northeast Philly. Condo number 11 with the white door was the perfect size for 3 people: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms,  a small box kitchen, and a good size living room with the dining room alongside it.  It was extremely comfortable and I always felt safe.  

Living in the condo, all I could think about is happy memories and how much love the house was filled with. Dull moments NEVER appeared in that condo. I was still young and a newborn was on the way.  Between how outgoing Ricky was and how funny Melissia thought she could be, there were always laughs and jokes flooding the house. It makes me happy to know I had the chance to experience living there and  creating memories. It is now upsetting that I will never be able to go back in time to that period of my  life. 

Me, Melissia, and Ricky… I was 6 moving in, Melissia was 26 and Ricky’s was 29. Melissia became pregnant before we moved in with my first brother Mason. She continued to work through her pregnancy until retiring from bartending at Stadium on Street Road, now called Jimmy’s, before going into labor. Ricky was a project manager, working for Villanova University for many years. I went to school at FitzPatrick Elementary School for kindergarten and first grade while living there. Mason decided to give everyone a Christmas miracle and be born right before our first Christmas in the condo: December 18th, 2012. 

Ricky and Melissia were supportive and always made times fun. Ricky has always felt more of a  positive and stable father figure to me even though my dad had been and is still in the picture. He taught me a lot about who I am as a person and has always pushed and motivated me to want to do better. Comforting me in times of need, he always took me in as his own child even though he  was not with us at birth. Melissia has always been a role model of mine. She has been through all the challenging times with me and taught me what it was like to have a mother figure in my life. Regardless  of how difficult it was to grow up with split parents, she always made it easy for me and supported me in my  choices and whatever I wanted to be. Melissia has never failed me as a mother, regardless of where we  lived growing up, always filling the house with love. Both Ricky and Melissia have taught me what  love and support should feel like without having to ask my whole life. No matter how big or small, the  things they have done helped create a million amazing memories I carry with me to this day, all from the brief time we spent together in the Bluegrass Condo.

Haley Keebler-Lentz is a senior at Franklin Towne Charter High School. This short story was inspired by her personal experience growing up and how it was learning to accept new people into her life at a young age. She now lives with her mom, step father and two brothers in Northeast Philadelphia.


Where Philly Never Falls Apart

Where Philly Never Falls Apart



When the sky started to fall,

it’s not the sirens, but it’s the screams 

that made the call:

Our universe was ripping at its seams. 


It’s not hell that’s broken loose,

but all of life, in just a single breath. 

It’s the universe’s final introduce, 

the final steps, to death.  



The walls of the world, 

come tumbling down.

This life’s last minutes unfurled,

in Earth’s every temple and town.  


City Hall’s on fire, 

but not one soul to pity it. 

The water climbs up and higher,

as the ground beneath me split. 


But even then, my feet ran 

over the shaking ground, 

past every dying woman and man,

through the city’s cries in surround. 


Every mother’s plea, a tale I’ll never know. 

And every home, a temporary grave. 



I was much too young,

when my heart was 25,

yet with the end among

I’ve grown to be a tall child, unready to die. 


I don’t know if there’s a sky, 

beyond this storm.

This could really be, 

where Philly falls apart. 



I breathe once more,

the moment I see you.

Even at the end of time’s score,

There’s only one soul mine belongs to. 



Running into your arms again, 

my only home,

I knew right then, 

I’d never let you die alone.



You weren’t down for forever,

and we were,

never meant for each other.

…but we face the end




The old song’s words,

nothing ever lasts forever.”,

But it’s the end of the world,

and we’re starting over.

For it’s not always the end that’s thus.

Because sometimes, the apocalypse is within us.



I climb into the dark, for you. 

hoping you’ll wait in the stars, for me.

And into the plunge of light we go,

holding hands so tight, a forever-rope.



Because right here, in these two hearts

This is where, Philly never falls apart. 

Samrithaa “H.V.” Vadivelan is a student at Methacton Senior HS, vice president of Lower Providence’s Teen Advisory Board, and director of Zha Literary Arts Magazine. She is also the web admin for Element Literary Arts Magazine, and a certified staff writer for her school newspaper, The Windy Hill. 




Father returned from the military when I was in grade school. He looked at me with timid disdain that I had never seen him with before, and figured he just had a sad face. He visited for three weeks, during which time he spoke to me twice. The greeting was one. The second time, he came into my bedroom and saw his picture on the nightstand. He was blond and smiling and quite young. “That’s an old picture,” he said woefully, then turned off my lamp and left.

He spent his time huddled in his office, a room which had been locked my whole life. On the last night, before his scheduled return to the military, while Mother was asleep, I, in my pajamas, snuck quietly into the office. The light was off, and I heard a thud atop the desk. I crawled beneath and saw a leather sheath on the carpeted floor. Engraved on the leather were the words “US Army.” Next to the sheath was a shiny, slender knife, with a splendid wooden handle and a black blade. I picked these items up, held them to my chest, and slipped out of the room. I failed to see in the dark the blood on the knife, or Father slumped over on the desk.


Lanzano’s Butcher Shop was my first job. I lasted a month. Tony, the old man behind the counter who used to give me a slice of salami every time Mother and I went shopping, effortlessly hacked up whole pigs in an instant, could slice by hand thinner and more precise than any machine. I stocked the shelves, mostly, but wanted to learn the craft. I was a lousy butcher. The little scars on my fingers still show in the right light. I wanted to be the best with knives. I still had the Army knife, but had never told Mother.


I committed my first crime with the knife —after Luigi Canaveri, the older kid from the building next door, paid me two hundred forty-four dollars and seventy-two cents out of his pocket —prying open the mailbox for Apartment 2A to steal and bring to Canaveri the large, orange envelope. I didn’t think of it as a crime —that was the way things went in our neighborhood, Canaveri had an influential family, and I was glad to have the money. This wouldn’t make me a monster.


I walked Luisa home from the club, still giddy from the music and the fact that she’d agreed to see me, when an older man emerged from the shadows and started yelling at us in Italian. I had seen him before outside of the bar across town. Stepping in front of Luisa, I brandished the knife, cursing at the man, until he reluctantly left. Luisa squealed and threw her arms around me. I had never been happier. I kissed her at the doorstep, and she smiled and ran up the stairs.


I married Luisa on the seventh of November, in the church. No one objected; it was a perfect marriage, everyone knew. She didn’t look great in white, and I never looked great in a suit, but it was perfect. She grinned the entire day, and her grandmother, forgetting my name, kissed us both on the cheek. Her grandfather smelled of cologne and cigarettes. Mother, in a green wool dress, held me closely before Luisa and I hopped in the car and left. 

On the road out of the city, another car ran into ours. Luisa screamed. We had to be at the hotel by six. I slammed the door on the way out of the car and told the man this, and told him that I had a wife, still in her wedding dress, that he had made her cry. The man threw up his hands and said he hadn’t meant it. He wrote a check for the repairs and apologized, but I was young and excited and had just gotten married, and when he got back into his car and started to console the toddler in the backseat, I grabbed the knife and slashed his tires, and Luisa and I drove away.


As soon as Luisa left, in a huff, to sleep at her mother’s for the night, I pried the knife out from the wooden dinner table. It was stuck in there, and after a while, I decided to leave it and brew some tea before bed. My throat hurt from screaming.


I took the knife, sweat clinging to my forehead, separating my hair into vicious strands, and screamed, my throat ripping, and brought the blade down with such ferocity and abhorrence until it sunk into his flesh. Then I brought it up again, and back down into him, and again, until a splatter of his blood burned my eye, and I brushed it aside, and my face was wet with sweat and blood. I screamed again, and lifted his head, and slammed it into the floor, again, again. Luisa’s body still lay, half-dressed, face shocked, on his bed. I had only stabbed her once.


In the attic, I took the knife, newly cleaned, and carved her face out of the picture. She was smiling with crimson lips in her teal, two-piece swimsuit, her hair tucked into a modest swim cap of the same color, the bright pastel tones of the Italian coastline surrounding us.


Luigi Canaveri was my first visitor, before Mother even. He had gained weight in the past year; he looked like his father, small mustache and all. He held both of my hands across the table and laughed. He was always much more careful with his crimes, and had his father’s men to look after him when he wasn’t.

I never saw my knife again. I would think about it, though, sitting in an evidence locker, rusting, never to be used again, for good or evil. From the military to the suicide to the murder, it didn’t deserve what we had done to it.

Zooey Krezelak is a sophomore at Cheltenham High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. She enjoys writing on her own time, has previously submitted to other Philadelphia-based journals, and enjoys reading and writing. She has lived in Pennsylvania for three years.


The Tale of the Two Lovers

She deserved the world. She deserved me, he told himself. His love for the girl was beyond the heavens and earth, the stars in the galaxy – infinite. He craved her, she was everything he wanted and more; her smile was soothing like the ripples of the ocean, and her eyes resembled sweet honey nectar. They lived In the woods, in peace, the voices of the birds heard as they soared through the sky.

They were alone, with not a single being to be witnessed.  The naked trees that guarded the woods could be seen through the dark hole of the window as the gaps of moon light peered in. “I love her, she needs me, and what I did was good for her. She’s happy now, peaceful,¨ thought the boy. He knew that the girl lived an unfortunate life. Everyone would say how good  she was, how beautiful she looked, how funny she could be, and yet they´d hurt her and led her astray. He wanted to be the one to love her and put her out of her misery. 

He held her hand, his was endowed with warmth while hers was cold as ice, ¨I want to take you somewhere special,“ he whispered to the girl. She was silent and he took that as a yes. As he entered the woods, the night air carried something vile. He carried the silent being he loved most in the world as the cricket’s melody filled the air. Trees greeted them while the stars lit the two love birds through the darkened woods. The boy, madly in love, allowed his lungs to be filled with the moist, crisp air. He took the girl to the river near the stranded walnut wooden cabin. He always wanted to take her  there. It was beautiful, bewitching,and angelic just like her. He viewed her striking features once again. He listened as the river crashed against the rocks.

He held the girl close to him and gave her a kiss on her cheek. The moon hovered over the two and watched above as they held hands once again, his were warm while hers was cold. He simply couldn’t let go yet he knew it was for the best, ¨At last you shall be free,¨ he said to the girl as her hushed rotten corpse sank along the river stream. She was truly free….

Nahla Colon is an inspiring writer and poet who wishes to grant  her eternal passion of literature with others. She developed her love for writing from a young age by her fondness  of reading and using her imagination to escape to a world of her own.  She involves herself in hobbies such as traveling, writing, reading, and simply adores Mother Nature and all of her hidden beauty. Nahla, when she’s older, longs to live in a field of flowers with the one she loves most  and write away her feelings as the sun kisses her skin and the earth neighbors her.

Just a Small Town

The dark clouds boomed loudly, making a thump. I ran quickly into the gas station, splashing water into my shoes. The bell rang as I walked into the candy-filled store. Finally, a familiar face! “Uh- Aira! Didn’t know I’d see you..”, she looks down at the register. Blue shuffled awkwardly, putting her hands behind her back. I looked down, grabbing a white chocolate Hershey’s bar. I didn’t want her to feel awkward. I pull out my small pocket book, meticulously counting every coin. I’ll have to have ramen again tonight. Blue comes back from behind the counter. “Is that all?”, she asks, “Sure.”

I walk back outside into the rain, my apartment is just across the street. I run across, looking quickly for any cars. I glance behind me and see a shadow slipping into the darkness. The Ring doorbell,bright blue light, makes me remember I forgot my keys. Oops. Buzz. “Who is it?I hear in a monotone voice. 

“Ma- Aira. I forgot my keys.” I can never remember the new name. “Hey, uh, Mr.Webber it’s me.” I make an awkward laugh. “Could you use the spare I made for you?” 

I can hear his uneven breathing louder than a choir. He’s old. “Okay,”. I hear the click of the door. I pat off my shiny shoes. The mess of bright orange hair, Toney, the elevator guy, greets me. “Rainy day innit?” he says in a thick Irish accent. “Yeah.” I avoid contact with him, maybe out of habit, or disrespect. The ride is quick, an awkward smile is shared between us. “Bye”, I say, I wave. I hear him say “exiting ele-” and then this weird static when I leave. He’s probably just confirming I got off.  

My hand gets wet when I reach my hand back into my pocket to grab my Hershey bar. I rip it open, smelling the condensed milk. I take a bite, and it melts in my mouth. My eyes shut with satisfaction as memories rush back to me. I remember getting my first car with a basket of hershey bars. My inner peace is satisfied. After the 3 months I’ve had, I deserve it. I see the lump on the rug, and yell “Thanks Mr. Webber!” to the room next door. The door makes a satisfying click when it unlocks, I swing open the creaky door. I switch the light on, revealing my apartment. I’m annoyed at the boxes in the corner, I should’ve unpacked them at the beginning of my move. I’ll just do it right now. 

The pictures in the box brought back memories of everything: pictures of me and my dad, others of me in the pool, in my humongous room, and in the car. God, I miss that room. It wasn’t that long ago before everything changed. I still remember the smell of dollar bills, it was nothing compared to what I have now. My trashy apartment reminds me of the palace I had before. I remember scrubbing the blood stains out of the carpet, the musty smell of the old dish soap, and the bright alarming police tape. I should focus on the good memories. I remembered getting a new Louis bag, marveling over the shiny gold on the luxurious handbag. I should’ve had that, and more. If it weren’t for him… but now all the pictures with my family are worthless, I’ve moved on.  I grab a black trash bag and throw them out hastily, as to not bear another surge of jealousy for what I could have still had. 

I have to clean all of this, it’s a mess. I’ve been out for most of the day. I turn on the radio, it plays “Firework” by Katy Perry. I dance around with my eyes closed, feeling the beat. A moment of freeness and passion always comes in this song, between jumps during the chorus.The music lasts for a few seconds. “Ads… shoot”, I mumble under my breath. Could this day get any worse? I scroll on the radio, finding nothing on the FM channel. “AM it is”. Static. When I was just about to turn it off, I heard a voice. At first it was just static, going in and out. “In- the- apart- 306”. That’s my room number. I listen, furrowing my eyebrows. “Sir? When are we going to take her?”. I turn up the volume. “We’ll decide later. How much will we get, Blue?”. Blue? Blue, that’s my only friend! The only person who had been nice to me. The only one. “4 million, Sir, from dad’s-”, it cuts off. I click the button to turn the radio off, with tears in my eyes. I would never think anyone would betray me like this. Oh God, what do I do? I fall to the floor, bending against the wall. My arms curl towards my head while I sob internally. I can’t breathe! 

I need to call someone, my old best friend. She wouldn’t betray me would she? 

I pick up the phone slowly, dialing her number. My eyes gloss over with tears.  “Ellawyn?” I ask, my voice cracking. “Oh my god, M, are you okay? I haven’t seen you in so long, where are you?”, Ellawyn was always worrying about me. 

I cut her off. “They’re following me, I can’t- I just don’t know what to do.”, she seems confused. “Who’s following you? Are you okay? I know all the things with your dad, you know the court and the will. It was supposed to have you in it, but you’re doing ok…. Right?”. I dodge her questions once more.  “I know, that’s why they’re following me.”


“Look, I don’t know, okay?”. My head is racing, moving faster than a race car. “My dad’s debt, he had all the taxes, right? They must be here for that, he didn’t pay them.” I sob, trying to pull myself together. My head is hot, I just need to get it all out. 

“I know the money was a huge let-down for you, you wanted to go to Yale or whatever. Why are they following you? It’s not your fault, you didn’t make the debt. It went to you when he…you know. But I thought…. Why are they following you? You haven’t done anything!”

“Because I killed him, Ell.”

She goes silent.

Adaline Sand is a 12 year old from West Philadelphia. She goes to SLA@Beeber middle school as a 7th grader while enjoying her time at Mighty Writers every week. Adaline has been going to MW since September of 2021.

A Fox, Snow Leopard, and iPhone 13

A snow leopard, named Snowy, lived in the Himalayan mountains while a fox lived deep down in the grasslands. The fox, named Nick, traveled up to the mountains. Once at the top of the mountain he saw the snow leopard. The fox at first was surprised and nervous but after Snowy smiled and growled at Nick, they both burst out in a huge laugh. They quickly became friends and decided to travel to New York. They started their journey by packing huge nutritious lunches.

Snowy said good-bye to his family and Nick wrote his family a good-bye letter. They were almost to New York when in Pennsylvania, an angry mob of Earth ponies ambushed them. The ponies appeared extremely angry and Nick and Snowy had no idea why. A pony named Hitch chased them to New York.

In New York they arrived in Madison Square Garden and saw an ad about the brand new iPhone 13! They turned to each other and said, “What is that? We have to have it!” Right after saying that, a person walking by dropped their brand new iPhone 13, and Nick swiftly picked it up! Snowy and Nick ran so fast but did not know where to go.

After running for what felt like forever (though it was really only 10 minutes), the phone began buzzing, and before they knew what was happening they were surrounded by the person who dropped the phone and zookeepers! Nick and Snowy were sent to the Philadelphia Zoo because they got caught with the item when the owner tracked their phone. What a costly and sad lesson Nick and Snowy learned and they never hoped to see an iPhone again!

Nusayb McCain, age 8

The Brand New Seat

For five years in Bangladesh, I attended a private, coed primary school. Every day when I came to class, I sat at the back with all the other girls, while the boys sat in the front row. Girls were given the old textbooks, whereas boys were given new textbooks. Also, when girls raised their hands to answer a question, most teachers would not call on them to respond.

The unfairness of this two-tiered system was lost on me at the time. As a girl in Bangladesh, I  understand this not as inequality, but as a conviction . It is an accepted practice to discriminate against girls  regarding many issues like education, health, and economic opportunities. I did not have the faintest idea  that girls were marginalized in many aspects of life in Bangladesh. We were made to believe that it is okay for girls to have fewer opportunities. I was taught that I can’t have the same freedom, resources, and opportunities as boys can have. As a result, a kind of inferiority complex took hold of me. 

A few years later, after arriving in the United States, I enrolled in school. When I walked into the classroom for the first time, I lowered my head, found a place in the back of the room, and sat on the floor. I shuffled timidly and looked toward Ms. James. She pursed her lips and frowned. I panicked. Did I do something wrong? Was I disrespectful? Did I obey the rule? My mind was racing.

“Umme, what are you doing?” she asked calmly. 

I didn’t respond. 

“Come sit at the front, next to Jack, okay?” She smiled and reached out her hand, pulling me forward and leading me to the first row to sit next to a boy, something I would never dream of doing back home. 

There, sitting at the front of the classroom, I felt an excited tingle in my stomach. This is where I wanted to be, this is where I belonged. At the front of the classroom, besides the boys and, of course, the girls. 

That brand new seat made me more confident and more motivated to face challenges and opportunities that in my homeland I was made to believe were meant for boys only.

Umme Orthy is a graduating senior at Science Leadership Academy at Beeber in Philadelphia, PA. She is headed to Haverford College this fall. She loves traveling, art, spontaneous weekend outings, and music.

Foxtail Hollow

Eliana dashed through the forest and around the barren trees; thorns scratched at her legs. Her yellow rain boots splashed the puddles on the trail as she ran. Eliana put a hand on her dark, green hat as a big gust of wind whooshed past, nearly knocking her over. 

A storm was coming and, in Foxtail Hollow, a storm was never a good sign. Every time there was a storm something horrible happened. The last time there had been a thunderstorm, three children in the village had disappeared. 

But storm or not, she had to face it. This was just like in her dream: the storm… the forest… The Fox. She had to believe that it would all work out and she could face her fear and get her spell book back from The Fox. 

Eliana stopped for a moment and picked up a short and sturdy branch with a pointed end, and then continued until she reached the end of the path. She stood in a clearing in the woods waiting for it. She clutched the sharp stick to her chest. She was ready.

Eliana took a deep calming breath and swept her wild, auburn hair out of her face. She closed her eyes. She had to do this. She had to face her fear. There was no other way. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes again, staring out into the endless inky forest.

“Fox! she called. “I know you’re there, come out!” Her words echoed all around her.

The dead trees beside her cast a shadow like a spiderweb against the cool dirt.

“I said come out!” she shouted, her breath clouding in front of her eyes. 

Suddenly, she heard the crunching of leaves under foot. Eliana squinted against the dim light cast from the sinking sun. Then, she saw it. 

“Ahhhh!” Eliana shrieked, her voice cutting through the silent air.

“Shhh…” The creature soothed. 

Eliana took a sharp breath in.

“But… but…” she stammered, staggering backwards until she hit the ground.

 “You’re not The Fox!,” Eliana whispered, bewildered. Her chest tightened with panic.

The beast gave a cunning smile.

“I know.”

Then the beast let out a guttural cry into the twilight and a blanket of darkness covered the world.

Ada Busovsky is thirteen years old and loves to write novels and short stories. She has been writing since she was nine, and is currently working on a novel that she hopes to publish one day. She also enjoys baking and doing gymnastics. Foxtail Hollow is her first published piece of writing.

Good Night

“I’m…So…out…of…breath…” I struggle to say while being chased by loads of zombies. “My base is just around the corner…” Before I could even reach the corner, a zombie pops out and almost attacks me. “GAH!” I yelled, and I immediately punched it in its face and continued running, while still out of breath. I eventually made it home. “Ah, home sweet home!” I exclaimed in relief. I grab the wooden planks I got from some abandoned house across the street and nail them into my door, keeping the zombies out. 

I look through my backpack for the food I took in a worn-out store, and I end up getting a can of beans out. “That’s good enough. After all, I need to save most of my food.” I put the beans in a bowl, and then put them in the microwave. While waiting for it to warm up, I run upstairs to my room and jump on my bed. Under the covers was my laptop. I don’t really use it much, as it only helps me find more information about the infection…

“Let’s see…” I say as I search up more about the situation. “Hmp, it’s mainly news articles…Huh, what’s this?” I came across a website claiming it has a safe place for survivors and a large amount of food to share. I click the website’s link, and check it out. “Huh, it’s just a banner about where to find it, but should I really trust some sketchy people on the internet?” For all I know it could be some trap, and believe me, I’ve been in those types of situations before! “Well, there’s only one way to find out…”

I close my laptop and run downstairs with it. I force it in my backpack. My microwave starts beeping, indicating that my food has successfully been cooked. I open my microwave and rushfully eat my beans. In my mind I keep debating whether I should go or not. But no matter what it is, I’m confident in myself that I’d get right out of it. After all, it’s been months and look…I’m still alive, and well!

But then, everything in my room started turning black and melting. “WHA-WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” I yell. I sprint for the door but that turns into black goo also. I go for the windows but that’s blocked off too. Now, everywhere I look Is just black..There appears to be no escape. But then something speaks out to me. Someone’s voice…That I don’t recognize…

”It’s nice to finally meet one of the longest-living survivors of this infection..”

“Huh? Who’s there…?”

An entity slowly appears from thin air. It has a top hat that’s purple, with a purple suit. It also has a potato sack for a mask. It’s in some type of laying position, but floating! “Well Ethan, we’ve certainly met before.” It says. 

“Huh? What do you mean? What’s going on?” 

Amused, it continues talking. “Maybe your mind needs to be refreshed a little. Do you remember this…?” He points at the old man, who somehow predicted the infection.

“Yeah, I remember him. He’s the one who-” 

“Yes, that’s correct,” says the entity. 

“Wait, are you saying you’re the one who WAS the old man?”

“Precisely…now, why don’t we join forces, with your survival skills and my power, we can both rule the world! You can do anything as you wish, do we have a deal?” 

Let me get something straight, I WAS ABOUT to shake his hand, but his appearance was shocking enough. The way he…or it…talked, the way this seeming entity looked. I know as a fact that I couldn’t trust this scammer. “No!” I say, forcing my arm back before shaking his hand. “Why would I want to trust some sketchy person like you? For all I know, you could just be using me for some kind of stupid plan to take over the world!”

The entity puts his hand back on his shoulder, disappointed. “Ethan, my beloved boy, are you declining my offer?” I’m doing this for your own good!”  

I hesitate to say a word, but I knew declining his offer would probably prevent the world from ending. “I don’t know who you really are, or what card you’re playing, but it ends here!” I say. 

“Hmp, they are always so stubborn at first. Then when the world comes crashing down on them, they’d come straight back to me,” it says.  “Fine Ethan, stay out of my business. I tried offering you the chance of your lifetime, and this is how you treat me?” 

I sit there in silence for a moment. I guess avoiding the offer was the bright idea.

“Fine…SO BE IT!” He says before disappearing into thin air. 

“Phew, that was close..” I say. Just out of nowhere, smiling faces start to appear all around me, slowly coming closer.  “What’s…going on!?”

I close my eyes thinking it’ll do anything. When I do that, all I hear is screams…screams of agony. Once I open my eyes, I’m back here..Like nothing ever happened. “I’m glad that’s all over…But who would’ve ever known that there is some entity attempting to make things even worse than it is. “What if another survivor makes a deal with that guy?” Hopefully they’re smart enough NOT to accept his deal!”

I start to hear banging at the top of the stairs. “What in the world is going on up there?” Quickly, I ran upstairs only to find a load of zombies trying to bash down my windows! Scared and frightened, I didn’t know what to do! I grabbed all my valuables and equipment and stuffed it in my even larger backpack. I run downstairs and continue collecting my things. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” I say, struggling to put the rest of my things inside my backpack. I hear a large bang coming from upstairs, and more specifically, in MY room! I hear a bunch of footsteps and bangs. Zombies start running down my steps. But they all had smiles on their faces…in fact, they were the SAME smiles I saw in the entity’s realm. He’s come back for revenge! But who would be this mad over someone declining an offer? I sure wouldn’t!  Well ok…I’ll admit, to be honest I probably would, but that’s not the point! 

I start running for the air vent, considering the fact that it’s the only escape that was in my house. But my backpack was too large, it wouldn’t fit!  Yet the only big thing inside of it was my laptop! It was holding most of the weight! “No! No! No! Not my laptop!” The zombies started coming, I knew what I had to do. I grabbed my laptop and threw it at a zombie’s face. It falls and they start walking on it. Breaking it. I finally get my backpack in the air vent and before a zombie could even get me, I successfully get in and close the lid. “Phew, that was close…But my poor laptop!”

I begin to hear banging on the vents…or more like crawling. My air vents are basically like a maze, and somehow I can actually fit in these. I look around for the exit…But then hear crawling behind me. Curious, I look over my shoulder just to see A CRAWLING MONSTER THING! I start to crawl faster as sweat starts pouring down my face. Every few seconds I look over my shoulder just to see if it’s behind me, and obviously it was! Every corner I turn I attempt to make sure it isn’t there anymore. Luckily, I eventually found the exit…”How’s that guy so powerful? What’s his true intentions? And what’s his weakness…” I start walking across the street, attempting to find another safe and secure place.

I start to hear groans behind me, when I look there’s a hoard of them, with that same smile…I start running even though I’m out of breath…”I’m…not…gonna get..infected…not today..not tomorrow…not EVER..” Eventually I ran into a dead-end inside an alleyway. It looks as if it was the end. The zombies start inching closer and closer as I guess I was supposed to just sit there and let them devour me.

“Welp, surviving three months in a world-wide zombie apocalypse wasn’t all great, but at least I made it here..I’m thankful that I’ve survived all the way up to this moment, the end of my journey…”

I continue watching as they get closer and closer..I close my eyes, thinking some kind of miracle would happen, but judging from the situation, there’s no way out. While my eyes are closed, I can hear a helicopter from afar.

I didn’t think much of it, considering that it may be the police saving people, but what are the chances of them finding me.? For some reason I hear the helicopter coming closer to me…did they really come to save me? I hear a miracle. “Grab on!” a female voice yells. A ladder is lowered down to me. I grab onto it. It IS a miracle! “Look out!” she yells, and I look down as there are multiple zombies getting on the ladder.

The helicopter starts to ascend. I start kicking the zombies’ heads, so one by one they fall to the ground. Luckily, I got them all down, by just one foot. “Hang on, we’re flying you to our base! Can you hang onto that rope for a few minutes? Our helicopter’s kinda full!” 

I look up at her and smile. “SURE THING!” I yell. I watch as we fly into the night sky. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but this zombie apocalypse may be the funnest adventure I’ve ever been on! 

“Hmp, great job Ethan, you managed to survive my minions…however, once I get to make a deal with your friends, the world WILL be mine…just you wait….”

Demaur and Christopher are 12 years old and live in Philadelphia, PA. They like puzzles, art, architecture and writing. They’re still cooking up something special for Ethan’s continuation, stay tuned!

Academy of Palumbo

A school community can be anything you want it to be. To me, it is a place that I can show my inner colors and be myself. It is a place that I cannot be harassed. At Palumbo, I would not be embarrassed to ask for help. In some schools, you would be made fun of for asking for help. That would bring a person down- they would not be able to learn because of the fear that they would get bullied. 

We should encourage people who ask for help. In my ideal school community, there would be culture, social people, and sports I can play. 

At Palumbo, there are a bunch of sports available that I never had the opportunity to play in middle school. Time spent on athletics at Palumbo could lead me to have a career in sports; most of all, I would love to play basketball professionally.  

My ideal school community is one where I can be in a competitive environment because I enjoy having to work hard to get better.  This is because of my work ethic.  I tend to show the most growth when in a group that has to fight to get a spot. When there is a problem I need to overcome, I put more effort to overcome the problem. 

A school community should have people that support each other, but most importantly they should do so when times are hard. If other people thought about how their actions might affect others, it would greatly improve the community. We should also realize when someone needs assistance, We should provide it to them. 

Most importantly I feel like everyone should have a voice. Many people assume that students don’t have good ideas; however, I firmly believe that students are just as capable.

The biggest conflict I face is myself. I tend to overthink things that occur. This holds me back, because I can get stuck thinking about something so much that it can delay my completion of a task. 

In order to deal with this challenge, I look for ways to balance work and play. This way, I am reminded that if I work when I should, like on an essay or project, then I will be able to relax fully later knowing I did my best. 

Sometimes conflict leads to more conflict. I might be mad at someone and put some else in it, making them mad at the person. Like triangulation. 

For example, you are person X, you argue with person Y, and you tell person Z about it which drags person Z into that conflict. I get over this by admitting I was wrong and trying to do better. 

The conflict I am dealing with now is the pandemic. It is keeping me from talking to my friends and having the social part of a school I was missing.

I missed out on that part of a school for a long time. Being social is really important to me because that is how I show who I am. 

How I overcome the pandemic Is by wearing a face mask, washing my hands frequently, and social distance when I go out in public. 

The conflict that keeps coming back to me is the pressure of a lot of school work. It gets really hard to get a lot of assignments done in good timing. How I get over this conflict is by trying my best to lay out my schedule for the week so I can properly turn in all the assignments. 

When I use my schedule, I get my work in on time and I don’t have to stress about the due date and which work is more important than another.

Sometimes that doesn’t work and then I go and ask for help so I could get my work done properly and on time. Asking for help makes it easier to get what I need in an efficient manner. 

Throughout my education, I was always put to high standards. Due to that, I feel like in a community of learners like Palumbo I can shine. Palumbo has all the things I want in a school. I really love playing sports Like basketball and baseball. In my school now I really did not get a chance to be on a sports team to show my skills. 

In Palumbo, I would be able to play on a team. Lastly I want to go to a place where my ideas can be shared with my peers and become a better learner. Not only that, Palumbo Palumbois a really competitive school with a lot of smart people around it. That is why Palumbo is the perfect school for me. 

Musa Kane is a 8th grader at Science Leadership Academy Middle School.