WRITTEN BY CHLOE HAAPALA
WRITTEN BY EVA SZOCIK
Gun laws, abortion, health care, taxes
Controversies everywhere, without a consensus
Opinions scattered across with a plethora of basises of comparison
At the age of 18 a U.S. citizen can register to vote
But being politically educated is not in the criterion
Let’s vote for the candidate that has the least amount of syllables in their last name
Scrolling through social media and seeing candidates being put down sporadically
We might as well side with modern society, who can go wrong with that?
Voting for the least corrupt candidate
Settling, giving up for the sake of the primary election deadline
Good and bad, just or unjust
Who’s to know?
The sun never ceases to set, wiping away the possibilities of change from the hemispheres each night
Controversies everywhere, without a consensus
ART BY VALERIE MECHA
WRITTEN BY KATIE GILLINGHAM
A cool crisp breeze on the back of my neck
Wishing these nights with you would never end
Promises and jokes that linger in my mind joyfully
Bright lights and vivid colors
Streaming around these grounds
High up we go and see the skyline of the park
Forever going in circles it seems
Sand between my toes
Dipped me in the water and twirled me on your shoulders
Waves crash into me gently, as if I’m a child on a swingset
Dimly lit tents and starry skies
Staring up at the moon
Smoke rising up from the flames with
Smells of pine and sap
Neverending summer days and everlasting summer nights
Wishing they’d never end
Hoping that these next few months
Wouldn’t end up passing us by
infinity: level five
WRITTEN BY SHALEN TULLY
The End of a chapter - a short story
Author & Illustrator: Shalen M. Tully
The window wipers couldn't keep up with the downpour while I was driving, making it hard to see where I was going as I drove down the avenue to the building. I eyed over to my right at the passenger seat to see the bag I had zipped up, containing my “tools” that were soon to be used. I stopped at the red light that blurred with the water running down the front window and tried to make out what number and street was on the sign. But I couldn't make it out through the rain. In a hurry to get where I needed to be, I rolled down my window and peeked out into the storm. I was the only one that seemed to be out on the slippery streets, but I, myself, knew very well that someone else had driven down this street. They're expecting me to come and finally talk to them once more. Squinting my eyes through the rain, I was able to make out the street signs, 20th and Brooke.
I said to myself, “11 more blocks and then a left.”
I stuck my head back into the car, and quickly rolled up my window. My hair was soaked, along with my jacket dripping with water, and my jeans were soaked to the bone. I shook my head, ignoring the fact that I was wet and uncomfortable in the seat, wiping my hair back and watching the stoplight, surprisingly still red.
“Come on now,” I said to myself through gritted teeth. “They’re counting on me to end it.”
I kept staring at the lights that blurred through the window, with the red ones not changing to green. It made me more irritated, and it made them annoyed as well. I heard a sudden and loud ringing sound, and I clenched my eyes shut and on instinct, I tried to tilt my head to the sides to make the sound less irritating. Frustratingly, I knew that it wouldn't work. I felt something wash over me and heard one of them whisper aggressively, “Where are you?”
I forcefully opened my eyes to see the car in shades of black and white, the sound of rain and the engine of my car slowed down, along with the rain itself falling in slow-motion. I- still moving in normal speed. looked at the rear-view mirror and saw that my eyes were an ink-black, with no pupils visible. My clothing was also a bright white, with the streaks of rain across my jacket and jeans being a liquid black as well.
I closed my eyes shut again and said, “I’m coming soon enough- now get out of my head- now!”
The ringing sound appeared again, louder this time, and I covered my ears in the unexpected sound. It died down, and I uncovered my ears and opened my eyes to see that everything was in color and back to normal speed. I looked up at the light, and the neon red immediately switched to a neon green, and I quickly put my hand firmly on the wheel and put my foot on the gas pedal, speeding up to arrive at the location: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria.
Snapping the buckle in place on my holster, I turned to the passenger seat and reached for the straps on the bag, and hoisted it into my lap. I unzipped it and eyed around at the contents inside, looking at what I might bring. I saw the flashlight, and immediately slid that in the right holster slot on my belt, then continued scavenging in the bag for what else to bring. I eyed a wrench, a variety of screws, a screwdriver, a nail gun, an ax, and then the hand-crank. My eyes opened boldly for a second, and I carefully took out and examined the hand-crank I had forgotten about; the paint peeling on the edge to reveal the exposed, rusted metal, but overall still in pristine condition. But I focused on it because of what it was used for, and what is may be used for tonight. I shoved the bag off and angled my hip away from the door to slide the handle into the other slot. Then I looked out the window, through the rain- which died down, at the front entrance of the pizzeria.
I looked back for a moment and stared out the window, past the street at the houses that lined the street. The nice, neat houses with their vibrant and colorful bushes and flowers swaying in the wind. I paid more attention to the windows though, and saw the warm and inviting lighting, with a family inside passing the time by playing a board-game at the living room table, while in the background keeping watch of the weather on the news channel. I turned my head to look back at the pizzeria: covered in ivy and graffiti on the walls, boxes stacked adjacent to the wall, and the glass door cracked and now translucent.
I looked up and banged my head on the back of the car seat and said, “Jeez… what am I- of ALL people, doing here? I mean, I could’ve had a life like them,” I said, turning my head and gesturing at the family across the street. “Instead,this… is my life,” I said, turning my head the other way and gesturing to the state of the pizzeria.
My hand dropped to my side, and I kept on looking at door, knowing what was to happen in there, or at least what I hoped would happen, but I didn’t want to confront him. I quickly pulled out the hand-crank again, looked down, and fumbled with it between my hands, remembering all that it’s been through. I looked at the nub that went into the back of the suit, and noticed the crimson stain splattered on it. It wasn’t from one person though. I clenched the handle more aggressively, but a sudden whooshing sound from behind caught me off guard, and I looked up and saw a small transparent figure sitting in the back: Jack.
“Hey, big brother,” he said, his voice still high-pitched.
“Hey,” I sighed out, laying back down into my seat. “How you doing?”
“Well, still stuck here,” he said annoyed, gesturing to the world around him. “Not freed… so, how about-”
“I don’t know if I can do this,” I said, holding the crank near my lip.
“What?!” Jack said aggressively. He came through to the passenger seat, knocking over the bag. and gave me an angered look. “You have too if you want to end this!”
“I know!” I yelled back at him, throwing the handle at him, but it instead going through him and ramming into the door. “But, you know who’s in there- and he was there for me! I can’t just- you know?!”
“Did you take your pills?” he joked.
“ Jack, don’t mess around! This is serious- more serious than what we did to him… ya’ know?” He gave me a worried look, so I said sarcastically, “No, I did not take them, by the way.”
Still looking concerned, he said, “You can leave all this behind right now Thomas, or you can go in there and end this. I don’t know what you're going to expect if you do enter, but just make sure you end it.”
I looked down on the ground, passed Jack’s foot to see the hand-crank lying there, and it suddenly made me feel something, something that he inside would never have: control.
“I’ll be inside in a minute-,” I said, looking up to where Jack was, but was surprised to see that he vanished, without making a sound. I frantically looked around the car, but to no prevail.
I leaned forward to grab the crank, and put it back in the slot on my holster, then grabbed the bag and pulled out the ax as I opened the door and stepped out into the rain. I slammed the door shut and strutted my way over to the door, and stopped in front of it for a moment. I tried to peer through it, but the dust and tint of the door made it hard to see through. I switched the ax into my left hand and turned the knob, and turned it. It opened with ease, and a gust of wind blew the door inwards, making the bell above it ring loudly into the dark and foggy location. I equipped the flashlight into my right hand, then switched the ax and the light into opposing hands and entered.
I peered around with the light to try and see into the fog, but the light wasn’t cutting through it, making it hard to see. Although I from experience remembered the layout all too well after spending countless nights, weeks, months, years even having this place’s layout imprinted into my brain. I walked forward slowly, ax raised and light still on in case it’s needed.
A boom of thunder echoed throughout the air, the light from it shining down from the holes in the ceiling to reveal the abandoned tables and chairs in the party room. The rain broke out into a downpour, and drops poured through the holes and the door. I quickly spun around and closed the door, but heard something drop down a nearby corridor. I spun around, but couldn’t see what was on the other side of the haze.
I fast-walked forward, past the side of the tables with crinkled plates and tipped over cups and past the kitchen door, to the east hall that was also coated in fog, but a strange light illuminated on the opposing side. I quickly walked down the corridor, eyeing the cobwebs and pictures of kids drawings of their favorite animatronic characters, although one caught my eye; with a smiling boy standing next to a golden-freddy and golden-bonnie, both with white eyes staring down disturbingly at him. I gritted my teeth seeing that one, knowing who it was, and kept on walking with a tighter grip on my ax as I turned right into the office. I eyed around the room to see a very setting from last time I sat in here: a desk-chair placed in the middle, a tablet hooked up to the security system, the desk littered with used cups and hamburger wrappings, the tv monitors, and… the fan. The buttons on the walls were connected to the doors on either side of the office to close “in case of emergency” and to turn on the lights outside into the blind spots. Surprisingly, the room was pretty much intact, but what bothered me was where the light was coming from: the monitors and the tablet.
I bent down and looked at the tablet, seeing what camera it was displayed on, and to my surprise it was on the far end of the east hall. I looked up terrified out the windows that were next to the doors, but had trouble seeing into the hall. I raised my ax and aimed my light out the door to the east hall, then to the west hall. Thunder struck again, and quickly I noticed a shadow cast across the wall. I ran down the corridor, and slid on water into the next room, seeing the glimpse of the back of a man running through the clouds of mist. I chased after the man, running past the closed curtains with twinkling purple stars and a crescent moon, making my face crinkle up from being bothered knowing what's behind it. I ran past the stage, but noticed that the main cast was missing from their position.
A light appeared from my right, and I looked to my right, staring into a light being held by the figure standing in the mist. Thunder again struck, and revealed what the man looked like. Tall and slender, with the uniform too baggy for his size, holding a crowbar. A scar went down his right cheek, and trailed down to his neck. I recognized the scar.
I stood more tall, and said angrily, “Hi Mike.”
“Can’t you call me dad, Thomas?” he said, stepping out of the fog, his head tilting towards the hand that held the light shining in my face. He was smiling.
“You don’t deserve that title,” I said. His smile faded, and he clicked the light off. “You don’t even deserve to live.”
“Why’s that?” he said slowly.
“Because of what you did.”
“I did it for science.”
“You did it because you wanted to murder.” My father stared at me coldly, and his right eye twitched in reaction to what I said at him. I knew that he hated that word. Murder.
“I’m done with that,” he said. I tilted my head, but inside I was shocked that his response was more calm. “I wanted to end it too ya’ know. But Scott kept on pushing, but even as he was dying- which you remember how VERY well I think, he called me to ‘end this’- and then start over with my life.”
“Wha-” I said, having the image of Scott dead etched in my mind. “What did he tell you?”
“Well… he said when the time was right...” he said, turning to the side and gesturing into the mist. Although it was hard to make out, I saw metal plates and torn fabric strewn about the room behind him. My father eyeballed a bolt and slid with his foot in my direction, where it stopped right in between my feet.
“It’s over,” he said. “We can go home… we can start over now. You and me can walk right out that door together, as father and son.”
“See, I don’t think I could live with myself if I let you and I- let alone JUST you, walk out of this building,” I said to him. “And besides, that sounds like you’re asking me for permission so that YOU can kill me.”
“No… I want to give you love… like Scott… did.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot that love to you was codename: Kill all the children-”
“SHUT IT!” he yelled at the top of his lungs.
“There’s the murder act,” I said, seeing the flare in his eyes. “It’s all I see in you now.”
“SHUT… UUPPP!” he yelled, raising his crowbar and gripping it with two hands firmly.
“Jeez, dad, don’t kill me with that! That’s not the way you honor the ones for your little experiments- you gotta’ wear the suit, right? To actually kill me, you have to wear it because it makes you whole… it makes you able to be your true self.”
My father just stared at me with gritted teeth, but cracked his head and said, “Yes.”
“Good, good,” I said. “Well then you can’t kill me because you don’t have the crank to use it- not that you’d want to get in it, I mean it’s framework is very fragile- especially with moisture-”
“You have it?!” my father interrupted.
“Oh… yeah. Here it is,” i said, pulling it out of the slot and waving it in front of him. His jaw hung as he stared at it, like it was the holy grail- the key to keep him alive- and in all honesty it was. Otherwise I’ll make sure he never touches this handle, or the one on the front door.
“Give it,” he said, still staring at it.
“No! Why would I give it to you of all people?!”
His flabbergasted face quickly turned to anger and annoyance as he yelled, “Give it- now!”
“Over my dead body.”
My father’s anger built up to fury, wanting to be whole again so that he can end this, and he rose his crowbar and charged at me. I stood there, not moving, as I heard a whoosh sound coming from behind. I looked up, and my father who was charging at me was thrown through the air and slid across the floor. His surprised expression was priceless, and it made me smile. I looked to my side to see the white ghosts of all those who died, including my friends.
“Oh, and you didn't free them by breaking the suits… you freed them from their vessel though.”
“Except one!” he said, grabbing a controller with a button and pressing it.
From behind I heard the flapping of a curtain, and a robotic growl that broke through the pounding rain. My smile suddenly faded into a face of horror, as I spun around to hear a swift leap off of one of the tables, to be met with an elongated snout with jagged teeth right in front of me. The spirits behind me backed away, and I raised my ax and grabbed it with both hands as it slid down into his mouth, and I was forced back. From grabbing the ax with both hands, I dropped the crank, and I watched as it slid into my father’s hand. He smirked with confidence, and then ran off to the left into a room. I glanced back at the issue in front of me, then the spirits next to me, confused on what to do.
“Keep in stuck in there!” I yelled at them. I knew that my father heard it, but the ghosts immediately vanished, and I heard in the distance my father say, “God, really?!”
Knowing that they had him, I put all of my strength into pushing the snout away from me, and then moved out of the way hearing the long metallic snout of the animatronic bash his head into the tiles. He turned his head to try and bite at my leg, but I pulled it back in time and swung at the neck. It smashed against the rusted metal, and the neck snapped off, making the body twitch. The lit yellow eyes died out, and the body twitched once more before going limp. I got a sick feeling in my stomach, knowing that thing once as a friend, and started taking deep breaths. I looked away at the body, bothered by it, and strutted over to the room that my dad ran through.
I saw the wall of the white ghosts guarding the door, all looking to the right, making me conclude that my father must be standing there, waiting to strike me down wearing the suit. I eyed around the back wall of the room, seeing three broken arcade machines resting all in a row, and adjacent to them were shelves filled with boxes and spring-suit parts. The rain poured through holes in the roof, and I watched as one of the locks on the shelve clamped, startling me. I walked forward, ax raised, being cautious, and then ran in and looked to my right, seeing not my father there, but the suit my father used to kill them in. I stared at it for a second, seeing how it was no longer had a golden-shine to it, but was a moldy green, hunched over and sitting in a pool of water.
I heard a yell from behind, and was about to look back, but was met with a sudden pain in the back of my head, and I spun into the water. I landed flat on my back, hitting my head, and looking up shocked at my angered father, about to slam the crowbar down into my face with one hand, and holding the crank tight with the other. I slid my body to the right as he crashed it down into the ground, and swung the ax directly at his leg. I was in reach to make a flesh wound on his ankle, and my father screamed in agony and dropped his crowbar and the crank, which bounced across to the cabinets. I quickly got up and ran to grab it, but was abruptly shoved forward into the cabinet and hit my face onto the screen, dropping my ax. Then my hair was pulled back in someone’s fist, and my head was thrust into the screen, which shattered instantly. My head was then pulled out, blood splattered across my forehead and pouring out of my nose, and I was thrust against the wall.
My father picked up my ax from the ground, and swung it at my chest, but I used my remaining strength to grab it, and use the wall as support. He had a wide smile as he put more force onto the ax, bringing it closer to my chest. I started to panic, and started frantically looking around the room, seeing the white apparitions through the sweat and blood trying to get in, but something prevented them. I then looked over at the crank on the ground, but was caught off guard again by the ax touching my coat and pushing inward, almost lodged into my chest. I looked around one last time at the shelves, seeing the lock that went off moments ago, and the got another glimpse at Spring-Bonnie, and I caught on that it was wet, with rain-drops streaming into the puddle below it.
“Isn’t it nice?” my father asked with a grin, still trying to push it in. “It’s the other half of me, wanna’ see it?”
I looked back at it one more time, and then him, and said, “Yes,”
I let go of the ax and slid to the side, although it still penetrated the skin on my chest, and I screamed as I fell down into the ground, level with the crank. I gasped for air, and watched as my father walked over and aggressively picked up the handle.
“I hope you like him,” he said, turning around and walking to the suit.
I eyed him strut over to lift up the suit and put it upright, and then use the hand-crank and insert a slot in the back to open it up. He turned it, and the back opened to the sides, and he slid himself into the mascot suit, and then reached back with his right arm and closed off the back, then took out the crank. I looked at him, and saw how the golden-shine on the suit was now crinkled and chipped, with actual mold growing on it. Gears and joints stuck out of the elbows and knees, and his feet were exposed with all of the toe nubs and plating fallen off. The jaw of the mascot hung open, and the snout was chipped and worn on the rim. The ears were bent, with half of the left one lying in the pool, and then the eyes, silver in color, with my father’s appearing gray and glossy underneath.
He looked at me, and said through the long snout, “Get up.” I looked at him, and then put my strength to pulling myself up, even while being in my condition, holding my chest to try and clot up the surplus of blood that was staining my shirt and jacket.
“I hope you enjoy this as much as I will,” he said. “I really, really cannot believe you wanted this.”
“I did,” I said through my raspy voice. “I’m excited for what’s about to come.”
“You’re excited to die?” he asked, surprised. “Well, that makes me happy.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “You see, that lock on the shelf was clamped when too much water was on it, and I look at you, and you know what I see.” My father looked down at the suit, scared. “A wet suit with spring-locks ready to blow.”
“What?” he said, flabbergasted. “You let me jab your chest so that I would-”
“Dig yourself your own grave, dowsed in water,” I interrupted, smiling faintly.
He tried used the crank still in his hand to try and open the back up, but he couldn’t insert it into the slot because of how panicked he was. I heard the clamps start to strain, and my father stopped moving and looked down, then at me.
“Bye,” I said.
“Wait-” he said, but was cut off when the clamps give way. They crushed down on his skin, and blood splattered through all of the holes in the suit, the eye sockets, and through the mouth. He screamed in agony, but the amount of blood lodged in his throat made it harder to hear it. His body spazzed out, his arms held out and his legs trembling, and soon after he fell back into the puddle and made a large splash.loose parts of the suit flew off and landed on the floor around him as he continued to choke on his own blood while trying to spit out something. Then the sounds stopped, and the body glitched out in the blood-filled pool of water, his head twitching in random directions.
I just stood there, watching the corpse jerking in the water, and then I looked at the ghosts in the doorway, who were looking at each-other, then me. They waved, and I used my open hand to wave back weakly at them, knowing what was coming next. I looked over again at my father, sitting in his grave, and heard a whooshing sound, and I knew that they were gone. For good.
“Well… that’s the end of a chapter, and the start of a new one, right, Dad?” I said, staring at his mouth, with locks stabbed through it, waiting for it to move, but nothing came out.
“Yeah...” I said for him. “Couldn't have said it better myself.”
I stumbled out of the room, looking back at the chaos that just occurred in it, and then looked out into the diner. It was abandoned and dark, and honestly it made me happy to know that this place was forgotten. I stumbled past it, and continued to make my way to the door, and finally reached it. I opened the door, and noticed that the rain had finally died down to a light drizzle, and that the horizon line was lit with an orange rim. I looked back at the diner one more time, and as much as I didn’t want to leave it, I knew that it was finally time to let go and start anew.
“A new dawn, a new day, a new life,” I said, staring at it.
I let go of the door and walked over to my car in the lot, letting it slowly close.