Every week we feature essays, poems, or comics from our posse of young writers. Some are from current students, others from our published anthologies. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
Special thanks to this week’s contributors, Simon and Uma – thank you for sharing!
From Battle in the Yukon by Simon C.
I am face first in yellow snow. If it’s any consolation to you, I made it yellow myself. I hadn’t been planning to sit in it, though the situation suddenly altered approximately five seconds ago, when someone body-slammed me to the ground just as I was re-buttoning my pants. This is a look that is hardly becoming of a special operative of the US anti-Canada task force. But no matter. I haul myself to my feet, only to be sent tumbling back down with a kick to the side. I am mercifully face up now, and I can see my attacker. Not good. Her uniform identifies her as a member of the People’s Canadian Army, specifically of the elite special forces unit known as Theta Force, and if she reports my presence here in the Yukon, this never-ending American-Canadian cold war will become an invasion.
Thankfully, on this very expedition, no more than twenty-four hours ago, I discovered where the warriors of the Theta Force conceal their transmitters. I snap up into a crouching position and lunge forward, my knife springing almost instantly into my hand from its hidden sheath in my sleeve. In an instant, I have made a small, but crucial cut in her boot, and the radio she keeps there is irreparably destroyed. Shocked and tripped by my rapid movement, she flails down at me with clenched fists, which are shining, I realize, because of the brass knuckles the fierce Canadian fighter is wearing. I just manage to block one of the blows with my knife, take my split-second opportunity, and bolt.
As I run across the snow, slipping and sliding, I wonder how she might have found me. Last night, as I took my leave of the Theta Force headquarters, I checked carefully to see that I was not being followed, but this woman somehow managed to track me. It is true that I may have been not entirely diligent in my evasive maneuvers, as I assumed the whole force had died in the utter destruction I set off in the seconds before I snuck out. Apparently, one Theta warrior managed to escape, which is quite extraordinary given that the base is, or rather, was, hidden in a cave upon which I collapsed most of Mount Logan.
But no matter. The most immediately relevant issue is that I am being pursued by a very competent fighter. Normally, I would have an enormous advantage in the form of my functional radio transmitter, but one thing I discovered during my past several months exploring the far Yukon is that the Canadians have built very powerful jammers. The only thing I can hear in my receiver is Canadian communist propaganda, blaring round the clock. “Hail Trudeau!” they say, and “O, Canada, our home and native land!” They’ve clearly caught on to our frequency-switching system, so transmitting, even for a split-second, could tell them my exact location. Calling for help is not an option.
She is right behind me now, and I can tell from her stride and ease of movement that she is a trained snow runner. I’ll need some sort of trick to drop her. And there it is. A tree with many snow-covered limbs. If I can drop it all on top of her, she will not be buried, I don’t think, but it will buy me some time. So I make for the great sub-alpine fir a few hundred yards away. No, not meters. Meters are the tool of the enemy, as they say. As I approach it, the Theta’s footsteps get louder and she closes ground between us. Just as we reach the tree, I deliver a tremendous kick into the truck.
From the Summer 2020 Workshop, It’s Your Thing
From Charlie & Alicia by Uma C.
Charlie Ridgeway was sitting on his small bed in his small apartment in his small neighborhood thinking about his small life when the idea came to him. The idea that would change his life forever. And let me tell you, it was not a small idea. Like most ideas, it was born at a late hour when Charlie’s mind was at its best. You see Charlie was a very shy man, he kept to himself. So when the idea came to him, he wasn’t sure what to do. He considered telling his friend Watson, but at this hour Watson was probably out drunk with his golf friends. He picked up his phone to call his wife at work, but decided against it. She would be home soon anyways, he could just tell her then. Charlie opened up his dresser and reached into the back of his sock closet. He pulled out his small leather bound diary that he had had since he was ten years old. He only wrote the really important things in there.
Saturday, May 5th, 2015
I had a brilliant idea today. Oh you wouldn’t believe it!
It’s for this great invention…
Charlie’s pen ran out of ink and the rest of the page was full of smudges. Charlie paced the room, as ideas flooded his brain. He picked up his notebook and began to write everything down. Charlie was so immersed in his ideas that when his wife got home he didn’t even notice that he had been writing for nearly two hours. Naturally Alicia was exhausted when she arrived, so when she heard that Charlie had an idea, she rolled her eyes and ignored him. Alicia climbed into bed and turned off the lights, she pulled the sheets around her and tried to ignore her husband’s excessive pacing. Finally Charlie crawled into bed as well, and tried to fall asleep. But he couldn’t. He sat up and turned on the side lamp. Alicia groaned.
“Charlie, why…” Alicia said as she rolled over and stuffed her head into her pillow.
“I have this idea…” Charlie replied, as he pulled out his notebook to show her. Alicia had no intention to listen to whatever Charlie had to say. But when Charlie opened his notebook to show her his thousands of little notes and drawings, she had to look. It took two full hours for Charlie to explain his idea to Alicia. When they were done, it was nearly 4 AM. But Charlie wasn’t finished, he wanted to share his idea, and he wanted to really create it. He knew that he could make millions of dollars, he could leave his awful small life behind, he could even be famous, but that bothered him. Fame. He was shy. Too shy to go out in public and talk about his idea. Too shy to create it. Too shy to have all those people watching him. Too shy for fame. Alicia knew that. The gears turned in her head, as the perfect plan mapped itself out in her mind. Yes, she thought to herself. This was good, this was her chance to turn her crappy life around. Alicia turned to Charlie, but he was fast asleep.
Now it was Alicia that was up pacing all night.
From the Summer 2020 Workshop, It’s Your Thing