Category Archives: Submissions and Contests

Places to submit and contests to try out, and my attempts at both of these things.

The Lost Mission

This is the entry for the second round of the NYC midnight short story challenge. I didn’t get passed on to the round three. I posted the feedback on my previous post. 

 

The Lost Mission

A man hears voices in his head, and one night in a Swiss Village they come for him.

When he awoke there were still no signs of human life. He felt at moments that there were people around him, like small flashes of life, but there was no one. There was no time, no past, no future. He was alone. They had taken them all, he thought. They came from the sky and took everyone. He wandered from kitchen to kitchen looking for food. He had been trapped in the hotel since the The Visitors had arrived. He sometimes tried to leave, but no matter which door to the outside he opened, it turned into another part of the hotel. It didn’t start this way, but he always knew they would try to come for him.

He had come to Montreaux on assignment to write a lifestyles article about the Jazz festival. The hotel was hard to miss. It was bright yellow with the name written in art nouveaux  lettering “Hotel Montreaux Palac”. It had been a five star hotel that catered to the rich and famous. The hotel had stood out to him, but it was the pretty Swiss woman standing outside who had really interested him. He had wanted to find a way to talk to her, and had asked her to take his picture in front of it. Her name was Maria. It seemed years’ ago that he had spoken with her, and tried to flirt with her to get a peak inside the Montreaux Palac. Now he was the sole inhabitant.

Life had felt relatively normal before his trip, and it was his first assignment in Europe. He had some troubles in his past, but his mind felt clear for the first time. Maria had worked in one of the kitchens and he had asked her to meet him for a drink after she got off work. He waited for her in one of the expensive bars. It was then as he was waiting that the voices returned. It was a buzzing insect chatter in his brain. “Come home. Your time is over.” He looked at the bartender wondering if he could hear the sounds in his head, but the bartender wasn’t looking at him. He was looking beyond the massive glass windows toward the water and the mountains. There were lights, round full brilliant lights, and many of them moving quickly toward the hotel.

He had always felt somewhat different in a way that he could never explain. When he was sixteen his parents had put him in a hospital for a year, because he believed he had come from the stars. They had said he was depressed and suicidal, but after some years of therapy and some medication he wandered through his life fairly stable and somewhat successful. Still, at times he would get this lingering feeling of being watched, and he felt like he could hear distant voices calling him. He never spoke of it because he had worried about being put away again.

 

He followed a small crowed of people outside. He forgot about Maria, and the bartender, and everything else.  The stars had appeared to grow brighter, closer, and stronger while the darkness began to pull away. It was the The Visitors. They had come before when he was young. They spoke to him, whispered they missed him that his assignment was over that he could come home now. He looked around to see the people staring into the lights. He screamed for everyone to run, but no one seemed to hear him. He covered his ears and closed his eyes. He ran back into the hotel and hid. He didn’t see them leave. He didn’t watch the darkness return and the stars fade back in the universe. He turned away from them.

He did not know how long he had been in the hotel he only knew that food was becoming difficult to find. Occasionally, he felt as if he would see the figure of a human passing through the halls of the hotel, sometimes he thought he saw Maria, but it was nothing just a whisper of a memory.

“He’s grown so thin.” The voice was genderless yet motherly.

The man spun around at the sound. He had not heard them speak, not since the first night they came from the stars. It frightened him that they were still here. Watching him. They were coming to get him. The last man! He ran through the halls looking for a place to hide. He ran from the reception to the luxury suites, until he hid in the grand pantry that once stored exotic and rare foods like fresh Beluga caviar and white truffle oil. He held his breath. His hunger replaced by fear. He waited.

“Come home son” it was like a faint whisper in his brain. Come home. He could hear the voice again, calling him to go home. There was crying, and he felt a great deep sadness.

“We send them here and then we can’t get them back.” It said. “Trapped between dimensions” it had said. “We have to leave him,” it had said. The Visitors were leaving.

Yes. He thought, yes, leave me. There were no humans left. Yet, he knew he was wrong. “Son,” it had whispered one last time, “You cannot stay here. You are nowhere.” He pressed himself even deeper into the pantry with the hope that the darkness and the corners would protect him. The door opened and a bright light washed over him he covered his eyes and began to scream.

**************

Maria, paused a moment. She thought she had heard something. A faint sound coming from the corner of the pantry. It unsettled her nerves. She thought about the man who had asked her out for a drink. The man who disappeared the night the lights came from the sky. He had called out to them. Take me home, he had said, and he disappeared, but for some reason, Maria felt as if he had never left.

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NYC Short Story Feedback

I didn’t make it past the second round of the NYC Midnight Short Story writing challenge. It is not too unexpected. I had a hard time getting into the theme. I knew it was disjointed and even though I sent it off I didn’t really like it. So, although it was a slight disappointment I wasn’t surprised.

A great thing about doing the NYC Writing challenge is that even if you do not get passed on to the next rounds they still will give you feedback on your writing. I find that the feedback is very helpful. Some of the stuff I am aware of other notes are new- it is all helpful.

Below is the feedback they sent.

 

”The Lost Mission” by Adrienna Ogin – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – ……Interesting ideas. I was most interested in the main character’s history, including his teenage belief that he had come to the stars…….The mystery is presented up front, which pulls the reader in.//The tone has a distance to it which helps the reader identify with the protagonist’s predicament……………………………….I really like the inter-dimensional aspect to this story – it brings a real sci-fi flavor, but it feels fresh. The story has a nice arc and feels complete by the time we reach the end. The shift in perspective for the final paragraph is handled well, giving us just enough information to leave a ghostly after-image, without over-explaining……………………….   WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – ……The scenes of this story feel structurally disconnected, and I wasn’t able to put it all together at the end…….There’s a switch of POV at the end — and those last lines are chilling and leave a strong impression. However, those lines would work much more seamlessly if there were some anchor at the beginning so that it’s an echo, rather than an out-of-the-blue POV switch.//When a story is rendered in the past tense, it’s important that anything which happened before the time of the story is rendered in the pluperfect…………………………….…Some of the descriptions were a little bland or too general. For example, “Life had felt relatively normal before his trip…” Normal by whose standard? Why “relatively”? And: “He had always felt somewhat different…” You can cut “somewhat” and double the strength of the statement. But even then, it might be better just to lean on the examples of his feeling different (hearing voices, needing therapy & medication) and trust the reader to know this means he felt different from other people. And: “…after some years and some medication…” How  many years? What medication? Getting more specific will help lift this story to the next level…………………….

Feedback from the Judges

I received some feedback on my first flash fiction from the NYC Flash Fiction contest. This is a pretty nice thing since you don’t always get the judges feedback on contests.

My story placed in the top 15. I had originally thought I had placed in the top five which was really exciting to me, but looking closer at their judging and scores I realized that it wasn’t 5 as in fifth place, but it was 5 as in 5 points. So if you got 14th “place,” well… you know.

I have to wait another month before finding if I made the next round. I’m going to guess that I probably will not make the cut on the next one. The second challenge just didn’t come to me and I just never felt that good about the story. And, now that I know my last story didn’t do as well as I had originally thought, I’m pretty certain my most recent entry is going to probably bomb. Hell, at least I’m writing. It’s hilarious that the only way I can now get myself to write is to pay someone else to challenge me to write. Seems to work. I grow broke, but I grow broke anyway.

So here’s the positive:

WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – ………………I enjoyed the fact you included action from the opening sentence, instead of building up to it. I think it created a stronger sense of suspense and engagement. This was an excellent premise, too!…Good suspense in this story — great pacing. The first person narrative works well, and I like the writing. ……………This is a very interesting take on biological warfare and some of the various things that could happen. There is a real sense of suspense. I like how you drop the reader into the action after it has already started. I always knew where I was and what was going on, which is a real achievement.

I think that’s some nice positives. I have to say the whole including the action from the opening sentence is proof that those writing classes I took in college paid off. So many times teachers told me I took to much time to get to the meat of the story. I really thought about that when writing this piece.

Now the negative or better put- the “still needs” work.

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – ………………I would have liked to know more about “the Doctor”, and how he had formed a relationship with Max, Steve and Clair – just a little bit of background here could really round out the narrative….Watch some of your descriptions and try to make them carry more weight. Here, for example: where they left Clair’s stiff, but living body… Why is it stiff, but still living? Be more specific with your descriptions. ……………This story needs another edit for spelling and grammar. In some cases you have used the wrong word, e.g., effect instead of affect. Pay attention to these details and it will make your writing stronger. ………………………………

Oh my god, so much of this is the bane of my writing existence. The reasons I often don’t bother sharing my work.
I’ll begin with the non bane part. I’d like to know more about the doctor too. In all honesty the story wasn’t fleshed out at all. I was in China at the time I wrote it and got completely confused about the time difference and at how much time I actually had. I ended up writing the story and sending it in within eight hours of getting the assignment. There wasn’t any real editing or back story- na-da. It wasn’t until after I hit the submit button that I realized I had a whole 24 hours left to work on it. I was bummed, but I still got some points so I’m doing something half right.
The descriptions carry more weight comment is so important. I know this. I get this. But, I have trouble with this. I’ve always dreamt of being a poet and poets are the masters of using the less words to have the most impact. Hemingway was amazing at this. It’s because I am not a master of my own language. I’m not even an apprentice. I’m behind. And speaking of behind, let me get to the bane part.
Oh my spelling and grammar. Will I ever improve? I’m not lazy about it I’m really not. I try to improve, but obviously something is wrong with me. The affect vs effect- I’ve seen the aardvark example so many times- but the skull is thick with this one. I could say, in my defense I wrote and sent the story in with only eight hours worth of work time, but why bother. I’m not a strong writer. If I had done at least one slow edit maybe it would have been a little better, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, I’m glad to get the feedback. I think it’s helpful. Unfortunately, I sent in my second story before seeing my weaknesses so I’m sure I repeated some of them.

If you want to read the draft you can read it here.

The Doctor’s Orders

(I’ve once again entered the NYC writing challenge. It is amusing that I write “once again” which implies I have done this many times, and that is simply not true. It is only my second time playing this game. Posted below is my first entry. I was given the genre of Action/Adventure, the setting; A Train Yard, and I had to use the word Peach in my story. I had 48 hours to write 1,000 words. I received five points which put me in the top ten in my heat. I think that’s pretty cool.)

The Doctor’s Order

The whistle from a train woke Steve with a jolt. He winced from the pain in his side caused by the bullet. It had gone clean through him, but missed his vital organs. He pressed his hand to the wound and leaned up against the trunk of a tree. Flood lights from the train yard poured between the shrubs and bushes where he had been hiding. The last thing he remembered before passing out was Max yelling, “I’ll get the shit! Stay awake!”

The air was filled with smoke from the fire and blotted out the stars. He sniffed the warm night air. Chemicals. They were burning. Who knew what kind of shit was frying in that institution of horror. It needed to burn, the papers, the experiments, the workers, and especially the doctor.

Steve felt dehydrated. He remembered the peach that he grabbed from the ground from one of the doctor’s orchards where they left Clair’s stiff, but living body. He pulled it from his coat pocket and took a desperate bite nearly choking on the sweet juice. It was overripe and slightly bruised leaving a rotten aftertaste. He didn’t care he was thirsty, and in need of something to satiate his thirst. He threw the pit into the darkness and wiped his fingers over his pants. They were sticky. Sticky from peach and blood. He ignored this like he ignored the bruised fruit.

He heard yells and frenzied footsteps. Where was Max, he wondered. Their time was running out. He dragged himself through the dirt and shrubs till he could get to a spot where he could see and remain hidden. Through a space in some prickly bushes he could see men running around the train yard and jumping the tracks. He scanned the cargo cars for something, anything, that gave him a clue to where Max could be. They were dying all three of them.

Steve could hardly acknowledge the last thirty-eight hours as being real. The night before last they were having dinner with the doctor. Having conversations with his overtly charming wife and and his towheaded twins. Clair had leaned into Steven’s ear and whispered, “Don’t the children seem a little Step-fordy to you?” Clair had instinct. She always had had instinct. For years’ the doctor’s strange behavior had been chalked up to quirkiness and eccentricity. Clair had always suspected that there was something a little off with the doctor, but Steve had brushed her suspicions aside as being hypersensitive and judgmental, and now because of him, the muscles in her body were slowly turning into a cemented state, an agonizing metamorphous, till the last muscle, her heart would freeze.

A wonderful experiment in biological warfare. That’s what the doctor called it. Top-secret and military bound if his viruses worked, but he needed to test on people. After, secretly injecting the three of them in various ways, through food, or wine, or even a drink of water, the doctor took them on a stroll through his garden. I have something very special to share with the three of you, he had said.

His backyard was an animal graveyard. Horrible sounds of pain from the creatures that were still alive filled the yard like an opera of death. Dying had to be slow and painful, the doctor had said, in case they want to get some information out of a prisoner. There are of course antidotes, he said, somewhere in the train yard.

Real Dean R. Koontz kind of shit, Max had said after the three of them had watched the hospital explode. That’s when Clair began screaming. Her virus was beginning to take effect. It had all been a game for the doctor.

There was a terrifying yell from the train yard. It was Max. Steve shifted his body to look in the direction the scream. On the top of a train car he could see the silhouette of a man bent forward and clawing at his stomach. It was the disease. What the doctor gave to Max. A virus that effected the brain like a kind of schizophrenia causing the person to tear open their own stomach and remove their guts with their bare hands.

It’s Here!” Max managed to screamed.

Steve’s mind quickly jumped to Clair. He wondered if she was still alive and would they be able to save her. Shots fired through the air. Max’s body shuddered violently then collapsed onto the train car.

“We got him!” Someone yelled.

“Max.” Steve whispered. What could he do? He was injured, shot and loosing blood. His virus hadn’t taken hold yet, and the doctor never told him what it was that would happen to him. It seemed lost. He had to move. Steve prepared to haul himself up and braced himself to absorb the pain, but as he rose to his feet he felt nothing. He stood there for a minute waiting to see if he would pass out again or if the pain would return, but it didn’t, in fact he felt stronger, even somewhat energized. He lifted the blood soaked shirt to look at his wound. Nothing. His skin was crusted with dried blood but there wasn’t a hole just a red blemish where the hole had been. Self healing. Biological warfare. Something for the soldiers, he thought. A rage surged inside him burning his lungs and overwhelming his muscles. He felt Hulkish. It wasn’t too late the mission had not yet been accomplished. There was still a chance to get the antidotes and save Clair. The fools in the train yard were nothing to him. He lunged in the direction of Max’s limp hanging body. The antidote was there. He felt giant like a tank. He stormed into the floodlights as the barrels of multiple guns swung toward him, but he wasn’t afraid he was the monster now. He would leave his antidote in the train yard. He didn’t need it.

NaNo- Struggling to keep writing…

Time: 1986

Han Solo

Han Solo

“When are you going to be finished?” I whined.

I was sitting in the library waiting for Roseland to finish her research homework. Her mom had invited us over to bake some cookies and to play some board games. Wendy was grounded as usual, and Angel had made plans with some of her other friends. I wouldn’t say that Angel was popular not like a normal kind of popular where all the kids want to hang out with you, but she had a group of friends, and those friends had no desire to hang out with the other popular kids. You knew they were the bad kids. Most of them were the younger siblings of older bad kids. Families that had bad reputations. I was never exactly sure why they had bad reputations it was just known that good kids did not hang out with them and if you did then you would turn bad and there was no going back to the good side. For some reason it all kind of sounded to me like the Star Wars movies. The dark side and the side that was protected by all the Jedi nights. Once you turned to the dark side that’s it you’re done. The more I thought about it though I started to get a little confused on who exactly was the dark side. Angel’s friends, hung out with older kids, and we knew those older kids did bad things like drink and smoke. Some of the twelve year olds even smoke. I think even Angel has tried smoking. I know some of the older kids have sex too which grosses me out to even think about, but I had heard stories about Angel, stories that she once lifted her skirt in the boys bathroom and showed off her underwear. She also wears a bra which is totally funny because she doesn’t have any boobs at all, and sometimes in her class she likes to let her bra strap show on her shoulder so that all the boys know she is wearing one. I had heard even worse things about her from some of the other kids. You usually get all of your information on the playground or when your waiting outside for the teacher to let you into the classroom or when you work in groups. You can hear all of the gossip even if you don’t hang out with the people gossiping. Probably the only kids who don’t know anything that’s going on at school are the kids that are the total rejects that have been left out so much they don’t even know that people are talking. If it wasn’t for me and Roseland that would be Wendy. I don’t even know why we talk about other kids. We shouldn’t care what other kids are doing, but I guess we just get bored sometimes.

Roseland got up and walked over to the card catalogues to look for a book and then disappeared into the halls of shelves. Normally I really liked the library. I liked it when the librarians shushed you like they really cared about the books and the quiet. I liked to be surrounded by the books and it was always quiet and the perfect temperature. Warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It was funny how none of the classrooms were ever warm enough or cool enough, but the library was always perfect just like baby bear’s stuff. I had read all of the Grimms Fairytales after my brother died. I already felt like I was an orphan because neither of my parents would pay any attention to me so I would just get lost in those stories and I could be anything. Sometimes I would be the princes or the prince even but lots of times I’d be the bad guy but in my head I would change the ending and I would win. I liked to pretend I was the wolf the most of all. I doodled a tiny R2D2, and thought back to my idea that our elementary school was like Star Wars. This dark and jedi thing wasn’t not working in my head. Like the dark side was supposed to be bad, and the kids Angel hung out with when she wasn’t with us were bad. Then the Jedi’s and the rebels where all supposed to be good, and who was that? Was that suppose to be all the normal kids the kids that I used to play with? But Angel’s friends were bad like they smoked and said bad words and hung out with older kids and didn’t study and I know for a fact that they sniffed glue because I saw some kids doing it on the bus once, but they were never mean to other kids. They just stayed by themselves and did there own thing. They were never mean to all the kids that didn’t fit in or to kids like Wendy. I didn’t think they ever wanted to be there at school at all. Then the good side which were my old friends all were mean and made fun of the other kids, they made fun of me and Wendy and Roseland all because we were a little different. They sounded more like the dark side. Maybe the school was the federation and all those kids were the federation soldiers all wearing the same clothes and looking and sounding exactly the same, and the bad kids were the rebels. But, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia would never smoke or sniff glue, so maybe they are all the aliens in the bar in  the first Stars Wars where they meet Han Solo. So, who was the Emperor and who was Darth Vader? A teacher maybe? Mrs. Crabtree? Sam Rider had to be a good guy like a rebel leader Luke Skywalker maybe after he gains the force.

Roseland sat back down with some books.

What about us? I kept on daydreaming. We didn’t fit with anyone we were our own group. Maybe we were the Han Solo team. They were criminals and so were we. Han Solo and Chewbacca smuggled intergalactic stuff and we egged the houses of old racist people. Heroes and criminals. I was really onto something here and I had to share my discovery with Roseland.

“If we were the main people in Star Wars who do you think you’d be? I want to be Han Solo.”

“Shhhh.” The librarian hushed us and gave us a quick glare.

I felt myself smile. I spoke loudly on purpose just to hear that wonderful shush.

Roseland began packing up her backpack. “I’d be C3PO.” She said.

“Really?” I asked. “But he’s always whining and complaining.”

“Yeah, but he’s smart, and I like his gold color and his best friend is R2D2.”

“But R2D2 is like the cool droid.” I said.

“Yeah, sure everyone likes R2, but no one really knows or is connected to R2 like C3Po and I think that is pretty special. C3PO is loyal and under all that whining is a faithful friend that would die for you.” She grabbed the books off the table. “And he’s a really pretty gold color. And I always just liked him when I was little cause he made me laugh really hard.” She walked over toward the library counter. “I have to check out these books and then we can go.”

“What is your report on?” I asked.

“I have to do a report on something about the California gold rush like the 49’ers and stuff like that.”

“Oh that sounds kind of boring.” I said.

“Yeah.” She said. “But were are working on California history and all the good stuff already got taken.

NaNo- Roughly 20,000 words to go….

Time: 1986

 

We hid the bags of candy between some garbage bins that Angel’s house shared with their neighbors. She said the couple that lived there were really old and went to bed early so Angel knew that no one would see us putting them there. Then we set out on the streets to do some fake trick or treating. I thought it would be smart for us to look like we had really been trick or treating in case anyone wanted to know where we had been all night. Angel said it was our alibi. We stayed in a group of three taking turns with the one holding the bag of poop hiding somewhere. Once we got to Persons road we turned onto the next street so that we wouldn’t be seen trick or treating anywhere near the scene of the crime we were about to do. I didn’t think it was really a crime. It was those two awful people that Roseland said were racists that  did a crime. Roseland told us that racists were people who hated you and were mean to you because of your skin color. No one was ever mean like that to me or Angel because were were white and everyone in this town was white, but sometimes people who knew Wendy’s dad was an Indian called her all kinds of names. Her skin looked the same color as ours, but she got darker in the summer, but still they knew she wasn’t exactly like everyone else. I hated those people. I thought everything they did was wrong especially the old man and the woman who watched the church. How could they say they believe in God but wouldn’t protect a kid just cause she had dark skin. It made no sense and it burned me up to think that if the man in the red corvette had got Roseland and maybe killed her that those two people would be to blame, and no one would  ever know. It was hard to tell who was more evil the old racists or that man in the car. I think the man in the car, but it was going to take more than egging him to teach him a lesson. I thought that maybe Roseland was right about him he was a grown-ups problem. Only thing was the grown-ups didn’t know where he was. A few times as we trick or treated Roseland tried to talk us out of it. It was strange that she was the one that they treated so terribly and Angel and I were the most angry and wanted vengeance. I didn’t know, maybe I was just mad. Mad at the whole damn world and I saw these two people as people who just shouldn’t be in the same world as us. I just couldn’t stop myself from wanting to really do something to them. Angel was more determined to see it through to the end too ever since her fight with her mom, and Wendy, well Wendy just wanted to be with her friends. I couldn’t understand Roseland. It made me think we were about to do something so awful that maybe Roseland wouldn’t be friends with us anymore. But egging a house can’t be as bad as putting a hose on a kid that needs help just because you don’t like their skin color or was it? Roseland, made me think that maybe we were about to be as bad as them, but I couldn’t stop myself.

We ducked off into a cluster of trees that was behind the church and we quietly pulled out our supplies and went over the plan for the last time. We pulled the white sheets out of our pillow cases and put them over our bodies so we all looked like cheap costume ghosts. We all wore black gloves. Angel said you had to protect yourself from fingerprints. She had read all kinds of detective novels and fingerprints were the way that they always caught the bad guy. The day that I told them about my idea for Roseland’s revenge we had walked around the back of the church and we found a hole in the fence by the woods. It was probably made by some teenagers so that they could cut across behind the church to get onto Virgina Way that took you to the river instead of walking on Person. We made the hole  bigger so that we could slip through easier to make our escape. Wendy was the look out she would stand and watch the road and the church to let us know if anyone was coming. The rest of us would throw the eggs, the toilet paper and the poop. We were going to leave one at a time. Wendy first, then Roseland, then Angel, and then me. I had the least chance of getting in trouble. Although, I could be sent to a foster home if they caught me, but at least I wouldn’t get beat, and we didn’t want Roseland’s mom to be disappointed in Roseland, even though I think if her mom knew what these people did to her daughter she’d be the first to throw the poop. We left Wendy’s pumpkin and our pillow cases by one of the largest trees along with Angel’s witch hat and Roseland’s cat ears. We had to make sure we took everything with us or there’d be evidence Angel had told us. Roseland held the bag full of poop, I had the eggs, Wendy had the toilet paper and Angel carried her brothers bottle of fake blood. Then in our white sheet ghost costumes we snuck through the hole in the fence and tip toed onto the church property.

It sort of struck me as stupid that we were dressed all in white sheets instead of all in black sheets or dark colored sheets because the moon was out that night and it seemed like really thinking about it people could probably see us better, but I didn’t want to think about that because I was afraid I’d chicken out. The church was dark and quiet, and so was the little house were the two old racists lived. We weren’t exactly sure what they did for the church. Maybe he was a pastor or maybe he just took care of it but whatever they did they were allowed to live on the same property. On the porch was a God bless all little children sign.

“Unless their black.” Roseland whispered under her breath.

It didn’t seem right that a person could carry so much hate and meanness and be allowed to say who God loved or didn’t love.

The house was quiet and dark, but in the back window we could see a flickering light like a tv set flashing. Wendy stood behind a tree and watched the street as the three of us silently threw rolls of toilet paper over their house and on all the trees. We didn’t talk or whisper we just threw the toilet paper and watched the streams of white fall onto branches and dangle like twisted ribbons in front of their door and all over. Then Angel grabbed the bottle of blood and sneaked onto the front porch and dumped the entire bottle all over their white porch and their welcome mat. She gently set the bottle down right in front of the door. She tip toed back to us. We were both surprised that she had been so brave to walk up there like she did. That blood was going to be sticky and nasty. I felt excited deep in my stomach. She signaled for Roseland to give her one of the bags of poop. We had three plastic bags and Angel grabbed two. She dumped both bags of stinky dog poop all in the blood and all in front of their door. I had made up the plan, but Angel really knew what to do in the battle. Once we had set up the trap we told Wendy to go to the tree and take off her sheet, grab her pumpkin and to walk toward Main road where we had last been seen trick or treating. We waited till Wendy was out of sight. We all knew she was the one most likely to get caught. Once her white sheet disappeared into the woods. We each grabbed a couple of eggs. We looked at each other through the holes in our sheets where our eyes could be seen. I smiled and even though I couldn’t see their faces I think I felt them smile too. Then Angel threw the first egg and we threw the eggs as fast and hard as we could. They made loud crashing and popping sounds against the side of the house. The eggs burst and exploded leaving yoke and slime dripping from the door and the windows. I felt like something was exploding inside of me each time an egg smashed against the house. All of the lights came on and there was a thundering noise like the house was shaking. We knew the old man was running toward the front door.

“What the hell is going on out here!” He yelled. The porch light came on and the sudden light hurt my eyes. Right at that moment Angel threw her last egg and it splattered against the screen door.

He screamed out bad words I had never heard of before and he kicked open the screen. He made like he was going to run out after us but he tripped over the blood bottle and fell into the sticky blood and all of the dog poop. Angel let out a huge laugh and then took off running for the fence. I threw my last two eggs at him as her struggled to get up off the porch.

“What’s happening?” His wife yelled as she ran toward him.

“Call the police.” He cried.

Roseland ran forward toward the door. I almost called out to her but stopped because I didn’t want them to hear my voice. With all her strength she chucked her last egg right at the woman and hit her right in the middle of her forehead. The woman cried out in pain and then ran inside the house. The old man tried to get up but had sprained his ankle when he fell and he limped toward his lawn. He was covered in fake sticky blood and dog poo.

“You kids are gonna pa-” but his voice got stopped in mid shout as Roseland took that final bag of poop and threw it right at his face and right into his open mouth.

“You can eat shit and die you old bastard,” she yelled in a deep voice trying to sound like a boy.

I could hear the sounds of sirens in the distance.

“Come on! Come on!” I yelled sounding too much like a girl.

Roseland took off running across their lawn toward the fence and I followed behind her. We scrambled threw the hole and ran toward the woods. Roseland threw off her sheet and ran toward the two pillow cases that were left. Angel’s sheet was on the ground along with Wendy’s. Roseland grabbed a pillow case and took of running disappearing down the street. I could hear the sirens getting closer and I threw my sheet off and grabbed the last pillow case. At that moment I heard a sound behind me. It was the old man struggling to get through the fence. He screamed in my direction and I ran as fast as I could down the road toward the others. I was wearing a baby blue onesie and I was terrified he had seen me. I turned the corner onto Main, and ducked behind a tree. I could see Wendy knocking on someone’s door trick or treating for candy and Angel was standing next to her with her tall witch hat back on like they had both been trick or treating this whole time.

“Hey.” I turned to see Roseland who was out of breath. “I lost my cat ears.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. What if they find them and look for someone dressed like a cat?”

I put my hand in the pillow case and mixed with the small amounts of candy were her ears. “Here.” I said. “I have them.”

She put them on her head. “Do you think we’re safe?” She asked.

“I don’t know.” I said. “I think the old man may have seen me. He tried to get threw the hole in the fence but he was too fat and he got stuck.”

We both giggled. “But he might have seen me because I had taken my sheet off.”

“Let’s get home before the police start looking.” We walked out of the shadows and onto the street like we had just come from a house.

“Do you think they knew that we were girls?”

“I don’t know.” I said. “I kind of wish they did.”

“I wish they knew why we did it.” She said.

Wendy and Angel met us on the corner of the street toward her house. We watched  a police car drive by with a flashlight as it shined onto the bushes. The flashlight washed over all four of us.

“You girls should be going home now.” One of the police said to us.

“We are almost home right now.” I said, pointing to the house were Angel lived.

The police man looked at us. “You Rogers kids?”

Angel spoke up. “I am.”

“You seen your any of your brothers tonight?” He asked.

“Not since this afternoon.” She said.

“Well you tell them we may want to talk to them.” He said.

“Why?” She asked.

“Just tell  your mom and dad.” He said and they drove off toward a dark street.

“I hate that they just think it’s my brothers.” Angel said.

“I thought you wanted your brothers to get blamed.” Wendy said.

“Well yeah, but at least with some evidence. They just know we’re Rogers and then suddenly its my family. It isn’t fair. My brothers’ll probably will get blamed just because.”

“Well, you know.” I said kind of quietly. “There was a Rogers there.”

She stopped and looked at me. “Yeah, well it wasn’t a Rogers idea.” She walked ahead of us then turned around again. “And besides, it was for honor.”

“Yeah. I was just teasing.” I said. “I’m sorry that people blame you just cause of your name.” I was thinking about how I blamed her family for my brother’s death.  I knew they were all there, but was it their fault? I didn’t want to think about it.

“That felt great.” Angel whispered. “Like we did something right. Even though it was bad those people deserved it so much. I think we’re heroes.” She smiled.

“Secret heroes.” I said.

“Yeah just like the boys in the movies.” Said Wendy. “You’re right. We did it. We did something special and brave.”

“Yeah. I can’t wait till I see my brother this summer. He’s gonna be so proud.” Roseland said.

“Are you gonna tell him what happened and about the man in the red car?” I asked.

“Yep. Everything even not coming out from under the porch. I think he’ll think it’s okay. Because we won.”

“You told that old man to eat shit when he had shit in his mouth.” I giggled.

“You said shit?” Angel asked. “You never say bad words.”

“You got it in his mouth?” Wendy asked. “So gross!”

We snuck between the garbage cans and dumped the candy into each of our bags to make it look like we had made out like bandits during our trick or treating. The party was loud at Angel’s house. We could hear her mom’s laughter from the street. We all walked Roseland home but we went around the graveyard so as not to accidentally get attacked by dumb teenage boys.

“You can stay the night here.” Roseland said to Angel.

“No. It’s okay. I’m used to it. I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”

We then walked back to Angel’s house and sat on the porch till my grandpa arrived to pick Wendy and I up.

On the drive to our street I thought about what Wendy said. About how we did it that we were like the boys in those movies that we were heroes. I didn’t think it was enough. I knew getting back at those two old jerks was just the start. We needed to do something really big something we would remember for the rest of our lives. A real real life adventure. Something that would change us forever. We just needed an idea and a plan.

NaNo-Days behind, and unsure if I will make the deadline.

Time: 1986

“Without Wendy who are we going to have for our look out?” Asked Roseland. She was rubbing her arm because one of the boys who grabbed her pinched her skin right above her elbow. “I mean. It’s like we have so many things to have to watch out for. The mean old church people, the man in the red corvette, the police, other adults, Angel’s brothers and their friends- what are we supposed to do? We shouldn’t do this.”

“It will be fine.” I said, “In fact, it’s perfect because we can blame it on her brothers.”

“How?” Angel asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe we can get some blood from your brother’s costume and leave it there so that way they’ll know its a kid that was bloody, and we’ll tell your mom they are out there beating up kids and causing trouble.”

“Yeah.” Said Angel gleefully, “Let’s get them all back at once.”

“I don’t know.” said Roseland. “I’m scared.”

“It will be okay.” I said, “although having a look-out is important.”

As soon as we walked into the door of Angel’s house Angel began yelling to her mom about her brothers jumping us in the graveyard. Her mother was quickly moving around the house only half listening to her.

“Listen, Angel, She stopped moving and picked up a lit cigarette and took a quick drag then blew the smoke towards the ceiling, “I’m having some friends over tonight we are going to be having a little party, so I told your brothers that they could go out to their own party. Why don’t you and the girls go with them?”

“What?” Angel’s mouth dropped open.

Both Roseland and I stole glances at each other before looking back at Angel’s mom.

“Mom!” Angel was yelling, “We are twelve that’s a teenager party. And I just told you they grabbed us in the graveyard. Rodger totally pulled my dress up while Sonny held me.”

“He’s just flirting with you.” Her mother stabbed the ashtray and then grabbed a glass filled with ice and a brown liquid like a watered down coke. She took a drink and then carried it with her to the kitchen. She set the drink down on the counter and started putting cans of beer in the fridge and pulling down bottles of liquor.

Angel was yelling that type of yell that only kids can make. They kind where you are yelling and whining at the same time. My mom would say she always hated it when I used that whine and that I sounded childish. To which I would always reply, but I’m a child.

“He’s my brother. He can’t flirt with me. That’s totally gross.”

“I meant Sonny. Now get away from me Angel. I’m trying to get stuff ready for tonight.”

“But, what about me? You said you would take us trick or treating.”

Roseland and I glanced at each other again. We had no intention of going trick or treating with her mother.

“Angel.” Her mother gave her the stare that all mom’s do when they are fed up with their kids. “I never said that. I said you girls could stay here and sort out your candy and go trick or treating but I did not say I would go with you.”

“But, it will be loud here. And I have school tomorrow.” She gave out a final whine.

“Angel. Don’t give me this shit. I know that you can sleep through anything. Or you can stay the night at one of your girlfriends. We are not discussing this. I’m your mother, and I deserve to have a good time every once in awhile. Your useless father never takes me out and he’s off doing god knows what so I’m having a party and I’m not having a child tell me what I can or can not do in my own house.”

“It’s my house too!” Angel screamed.

“When you start paying the bills and putting some food on the table then it will be your house but until then you listen to what I say. I feed you, I clothe you, you get whatever you want. You’re ungrateful. And look at you starting a fight with me in front of your friends. Get out now. You either get out of my sight right now or you get out of those clothes tell your friends to go home and go to bed.”

Angel scrunched up her face. “I hate you!” She screamed. She spun around with her witch skirt twisting up around her knees and stomped off to her bedroom.

“I hate you too.” Her mother mumbled before taking sip of her drink. “Kids.” She said shaking her head at us like we totally understood her point of view. “Go girls.” She nodded her head in the direction of Angel’s room. We both ran to find Angel.

When we found her she was lying face down on her bed and crying. We sat down on the bed at her feet. “I hate her!” She screamed into her pillow and then kicked her legs hard onto her bed. Roseland and I moved out of the way of her tantrum. Angel lifted her head and looked back at us. Her green make-up had smeared onto her pillow and there were light green streams running from under her eyes wear her tears had fallen. “She doesn’t even care about me. She doesn’t even know or care.” She dropped her face back into her pillow.

Roseland sat back down on the bed and put her hand on Angel’s back. “You can stay at my house tonight. My mom won’t care.”

I looked out the window. The sun was quickly beginning to set. Kids had already begun to start trick or treating and we still needed to get our supplies.

“You guys. We have to go.” I said.

“Why do you care so much about doing this?” Roseland asked. “Let’s just stay here.”

“What? Don’t you want to?” I was surprised out of all of us I thought for sure Roseland would be the one who would want to do it the most.

“No. I don’t care.” Roseland looked down at Angel. “I don’t ever want to see those people again.”

“But, Roseland, they were awful to you. You can’t let them get away with that.” I said imploringly. In truth I don’t know why I wanted to do it so bad. Maybe it was if we got revenge on those people it would be like getting revenge on all the awful adults in the world. All the adults that didn’t pay any attention to us, all the adults who didn’t see that we were people too, all the mean kids that picked on other kids, and all the people who were terrible in the world. I didn’t understand how Roseland wouldn’t want to go after them. “Well… we can’t stay here. We should at least go trick or treating.”

“No we should just stay here and hang out with Angel.” Roseland said.

“We can’t. There’s going to be a grown up party here. A grown up party with Angel’s mom’s friends. Have you seen these adults? They’re like bikers, and dirty people and they drink.

“It doesn’t matter.” Roseland snapped at me. “You go. I’m staying here with Angel.

“No!” Angel yelled. She sat up and looked at us both. She wiped the tears from her eyes smearing more of her green make-up. “We’re going. And we’re sticking to our plan.” She stood up and looked in her mirror. “I need to fix my make-up, but we should get some of the stuff ready first.”

“Are you sure?” Roseland asked. She had her hands in her lap and was picking at her fingernails.

“Listen, Roseland, if you want to be a sissy that’s fine. They were mean to you so I don’t know why you don’t want to do this, but Brianna and I are gonna do this with or without you.”

“Maybe I can just be the look out?” She asked.

“That’s fine.” I said. “But you carry the poop.”

We had big white pillow cases as our trick or treat bags but inside our bags we had shoved toilet paper, and four white sheets, and bags of dog poop that we shoveled from Angle’s backyard. It was her brothers’ responsibility to clean the dog poop from their three dogs in the back, but they never did so we had plenty of poop. Angel’s mother had been so busy greeting her friends and making drinks that she didn’t notice us with the shovel and plastic bags. We stood in Angel’s room checking all of our supplies. Her bedroom stunk like a poo factory.

“Ugh. This is so gross.” Roseland said holding out her bag of poop.

I pulled out the extra white sheet. “I should pull this one out since Wendy isn’t coming.” I tossed it onto the bed.

“No we should take it with us and hide it so my mom doesn’t see a white sheet missing. If she finds out I stole her linen she’ll kill me.” Angel said.

“I don’t think we can ever give the pillows back. My bag is going to stink forever.” Roseland said.

There was a rapping on the window. We all jumped back. It was dark outside so we couldn’t see who it was. The rapping continued. We moved towards the door.

“It’s probably my stupid brothers.” Angel whispered.

“You guys!” We heard a familiar voice. “You guys, it’s me Wendy.”

“Wendy?” We said her name all together and stumbled over each other too get to the window. Angel opened the window and the three of us looked down on Wendy, still dressed as a hooker, and holding a huge bag of eggs.

“How did you get here?” I asked completely shocked to see her.

“I walked.”

“From our houses? That’s like so far.” I said.

“I know it took me forever.”

“You walked here dressed like that? On the road?” Asked Roseland. “How did you not get seen or picked up or what about your mom?”

“Oh my mom’s so stoned right now she doesn’t even remember she has kids. That’s what my brother said before he snuck out of the house. I snuck out after him so he couldn’t tell on me. I took the old Billie road. You know the one that no one drives on anymore. It goes all the way along the Pearson road, but it’s more in the woods so no one sees you.”

“Weren’t you scared?” I asked.

“Totally.” She smiled, “but I wanted to be with you guys.” She held up her bag. “I brought eggs.” She stuck her head into Angel’s room. “Man your room smells like dog poop.”

“I know. Get out.” Angel said pushing her head back out the window. “Did anyone see you?”

“No.”

“Good. Now we can make it look like four kids then adults who saw us out together will think there are only three of us.” She threw the final sheet out the window at Wendy. “Here.” She said. “Now shove that in your pillow case.”

“I don’t don’t have a pillowcase. I only have this pumpkin.” She held up a small plastic pumpkin.

The three of us groaned.

“Do you have the candy?” I asked.

“Yeah it’s under my bed.”

Angel pulled a box out and then grabbed two giant bags of candy. She gave them to Wendy who was standing outside. “My mom’s going to be so pissed when she sees all the halloween candy gone. She’ll totally think my brothers took it.”

There was a quick knock on the door and then it swung open and her mom stepped inside. “Woah! It smells like shit in her. Really bad. You girls need to check your shoes. Angel. You need to keep you window open.”

“We know. Brianna had some dog shit on her shoe and we just finished washing it off. We’re leaving to go trick or treating now.”

I shot her a dirty look. Why was I the one that was to take the blame for the room smelling like shit?

“Okay, well Brianna, I think you should leave through the window I don’t want you tracking that shit through the house.”

“Yes mam.” I said.

“Don’t you dare ever call me mam again.” She said.

I dropped my bag out the window and then climbed out. Roseland decided to do the same.

Angel looked out the window. “I’ll meet you two out front by the road.” She winked and then shut her window leaving it open a crack.

“Why doesn’t she want to meet all three of us?” Wendy asked.

“Oh just come on.” Roseland said grabbing Wendy by the shoulder of her pink t-shirt that she was trying to pretend was a hooker dress.

Angel walked toward us and stopped. She looked back at her house that now had cars and motorcycles parked on the lawn and people walking around laughing and growing louder. She lifted a jug from out of her bag. It was a full bottle of fake blood.

“If my brothers can somehow be blamed for what we are going to do then I will be  happy. Let’s go do some tricking.”