Durant High School Journalism

Sabina Khan increases diversity in teen literature

Khan modeled the story after her own culture.

Khan modeled the story after her own culture.

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Literature over the last decade has become more diverse as the world becomes accepting. An increasing number of LGBTQ+ books have been published in the last decade; in a study by Marinda Lo, the number of LGBTQ+ young adult novels rose from 54 novels published in 2015, to 79 novels in 2016. While the increase may seem insignificant, but when compared to 2010 when less than 20 LGBTQ+ young adult novels were published, progress is evident.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan is about teenage girl who is a Bengali lesbian. She struggles to gain the acceptance of her family as a result of their cultural beliefs. This book is more unique than others as the main character is a minority, as well as LGBTQ+, which is even rarer. Despite an interesting concept, there were also some things that made the book hard to get through.

There are unique aspects of this book that really serve to further the central ideas. In addition to having an LGBTQ+ focus, the novel is centered around a Bengali family. There are about 250 million Bengali citizens, but there are very few novels about Bengali people and their culture. The majority of books that portray Bengal’s culture are written in Bangla, the language of Bengal, limiting Western civilization’s exposure to these people.

In addition to portraying Bengali culture, the novel explains and shows the differences between Bengali, Urdu and Hindi. Bengali is a nationality, and is used to describe the language spoken and the culture in West Bengal. Hindi is a description of people and the culture  surrounding the religion Hinduism. Urdu is a language. It is the official language spoken in Pakistan but is also widely spoken in India.

These concepts are often times confused and interchanged within Western societies, as American students learn very little about geography and foreign governments so Pakistan, India and West Bengal are not clear and distinct. In addition to that, the majority of students in the U.S. are not taught in depth about Asian countries and their cultures, besides China, India and Japan. Thus Khan ensuring that readers understand the difference between the three concepts makes the book more powerful in regards to religious and ethnic representation as the main character is Hindi and Bengali.

Also making this book unique were all the real world scenarios that exist. Having a teenager who struggles with her family’s beliefs, some problems with the arranged marriage system often seen in Indian culture and interracial relationships. While arranged marriages impact less people, the other problems this book faces are universal, making it easier for more people beyond the LGBTQ+ and Eastern and South Asian audiences.

One of the things Khan does well is not overloading the novel with side-plots. While a lot of people are introduced, the majority of them are insignificant. There are three storylines which is a perfect number, one to deal with each problem the novel faces.

By organizing the plot structure this way, Khan ensures that the audience comprehends the purpose of the story. Plus the side-plots are not all happening simultaneously, making the story easy to follow and allows people to remain engaged with each side-plot.

Despite adoring what this book represents, there are some elements that if written differently would have made the plot more realistic, therefore more enjoyable. For example, throughout the book characters who have been best friends for years suddenly do not understand the situation she’s in with her family.

Truly good friends that have been around since elementary school would never suddenly think strict parents are going to change. These friends would be understanding and sympathetic. It is clear that Khan uses the characters’ shift to judgemental of her situation is to drive Rukhsana’s loneliness but this really does nothing for the novel, therefore making it seem unnecessary.

The novel also promotes unhealthy romantic behaviors. For example, Rukhsana and Ariana, her girlfriend, base their college plans off of their current relationship. This is not an idea Khan should portray to teenagers. Choosing a college should be for reasons beyond a current partner, the school has to be truly great because according to Brandon Gaille Marketing, only two percent of marriages are from a high school relationship, and the divorce rate during the first ten years for these couples is 54 percent.

The last major thing was that running from problems was a tragic flaw of Rukhsana’s. Khan established Rukhsana as a strong willed and passionate person who fights for what she believes in, but when it comes to dealing with familial issues, she runs away at the first sign of trouble.

There are other little things that are slightly irksome. I don’t regret reading the book, but I don’t think I would reread the book given the opportunity. I do think others should read this even if just to learn about another culture. The book is 326 pages, so it is not too long.

About the Writer
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Angelique Robinson, Web Editor

Angelique Robinson is a senior at Durant and is Web Editor for the PawPrint newspaper. She loves writing creative pieces, as well as more serious articles...

Selena Gomez ends musical hiatus with new album

The album has 13 songs, each song averaging about three minutes.

The album has 13 songs, each song averaging about three minutes.

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On January 10, 2020, singer Selena Gomez released her new album Rare. Back in 2015, with her album Revival she expressed that she would take better care of herself and she has come back stronger and putting her words into action with her new album.

Gomez took some years on silent as she was going through a rough time, but has found a new version of herself in which she has more self love and expresses this energy in her new songs. Gomez released her saddest energy before dropping the full album.

On October 23, 2019, Gomez released her lead single, “Lose You to Love Me”, that expresses her emotions with heartbreak and pain and getting through hard times as a way of cleansing herself from a relationship that didn’t work out. It deals with the singer’s journey to wellness and about learning to stand up for yourself to reach happiness. The song references , Sorry, by Justin Bieber and ended up becoming Gomez’s first number-one single in the United States. She earned her first Billboard Hot 100 chart topper and a spot on Vulture’s list of best songs of the year.

The last few years have not been eay for Gomez. The singer fought a battle with lupus which led to intensive therapy, kidney transplant surgery, and cruel internet speculations regarding her weight. Not to mention her high-profile breakups. She spent some time in rehab to work through her depression and anxiety.

In the album she wants to “Dance Again”, throwing a party for her new and happier self and being ready to let love back into her life. In some of her songs “Kinda Crazy” and “Fun” the artist is allowing herself to a little bit of danger and trouble into her life because she wants to feel strong enough to handle it and see everything with a positive mind. Her voice is assertive and soft and she delivers her lyrics with strong messages she trys to covey to her audience.

Rare celebrates Gomez peace and independence that she found in herself. “You don’t do the same for me, that’s not fair”. She talks about how she knows that she is special and doesn’t need anyone to treat her as if she is not rare. Although her songs celebrate the new version of herself, they don’t really go into depth about the war she went through to get to where she is now.

In an interview with Zane Lowe and Apple music Gomez talks about her struggles to speak up for herself and some of the setbacks she went through that prevented her to keep working. She explains that she was hurting and trying to take out the toxic in her life.

She says that when she released her single, Lose You to Love me, she felt like that was a special moment for her emotionally. Gomez says how the people she surrounded herself with challenged her and motivated her to speak up.

“I just needed to let my old self go. I was purging multiple different things but it was specifically who I was then I would like to say that this is a fresh start and I started with this album but I’m going to continue to just do better.” 

The artist is continuing to heal and embracing the progress she is making. 

About the Writer
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Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a junior at Durant High School. She was a staffer for the Durant yearbook and then became a Staff Writer for the Pawprint newspaper to...

Baby Yoda takes over the world

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Baby Yoda takes over the world

The adorable

The adorable "Baby Yoda" captured the hearts of Disney+ users, as well as the rest of the Internet. Social Media exploded with memes showing admiration for the creature

Oprah Magazine

The adorable "Baby Yoda" captured the hearts of Disney+ users, as well as the rest of the Internet. Social Media exploded with memes showing admiration for the creature

Oprah Magazine

Oprah Magazine

The adorable "Baby Yoda" captured the hearts of Disney+ users, as well as the rest of the Internet. Social Media exploded with memes showing admiration for the creature

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Disney Plus, the latest streaming service, has and continues to come out with many of its own original TV shows and movies, including High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Diary of a Future President, Stargirl, and many more.

One of Disney Plus’s more popular shows, The Mandalorian, has had a more attention than all of the other shows. The reason for all of this attention toward the show is because of one tiny aspect, a little character that Star Wars fans indicate as “Baby Yoda.”

The Mandalorian is the first live action Star Wars television show that takes place on the official Star Wars timeline between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and it is inspired by the classic Star Wars character, Boba Fett. This television show stars prior Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pasco, former mixed martial artist Gina Carano, and successful actor Carl Weathers. They all play such important roles in the television show, but the one character to pay attention to is Baby Yoda.

“Baby Yoda” refers to a character in the Star Wars series named Yoda, who was a wise master in the Star Wars franchise. In The Mandalorian, “Baby Yoda” is not the actual name of the character, it is officially called “The Child,” but with its resemblance to Yoda from Star Wars the Internet has taken the liberty to give it the name “Baby Yoda.”  From this television show, Baby Yoda has gone viral throughout the Internet creating videos, art, memes, and even merchandise. 

ShopDisney has taken this opportunity to create merchandise that is exclusively dedicated to Baby Yoda. On their website, shopdisney.com, when “Baby Yoda” is typed into the search bar, Baby Yoda shirts, water bottles, phone cases, plushes, bags, and even mugs will pop up for anyone to shop until their heart’s content.

Along with ShopDisney, big companies like Build-A-Bear Workshop are getting in on all the action. The CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Sharon Price John, has recently announced that Baby Yoda will soon be available at Build-A-Bear Workshops nationwide. Baby Yoda is inspiring almost every audience, whether it is someone making a meme, outfit, or baked good, everyone is able to be enthused by Baby Yoda.

Baby Yoda has taken over the Internet since The Mandalorian introduced this character to the world. This popularity for Baby Yoda has definitely made a big impact not only for the television show itself, but also the Internet. There are multiple things that make Baby Yoda wildly popular; he has power within him, a sense of mystery about him, and most importantly, he is a very adorable creature. All of this draws the viewer’s attention to Baby Yoda, thus outlining his fame. 

Baby Yoda has stolen the hearts of all of its viewers and has gone viral because of his lovable persona. With The Mandalorian exceeding the crowd’s expectations with Baby Yoda, there should be much more to anticipate out of the popular television show.

About the Writer
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Mattie Powers, Staff Writer

Mattie Powers is a senior at Durant High School and a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. Not only is Mattie Powers involved in the PawPrint, but...

Stars

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Every night I go outside and look at the stars

I hope that I can see you in the constellations

I remember that we would sneak out

And go to the park 

I would draw the sky on your back 

And you would put the moon on my head 

But tonight I go to outside 

And I don’t see you

I just see the stars 

And the little pictures they leave

Every night I go outside and look at the stars 

But this time I hope I don’t see you

About the Writer
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Jayleen Nunez, Staff Writer

Jayleen Nunez is a junior at Durant High School and is a Staff Writer for the PawPrint. When she isn't writing for the PawPrint, she participates in Mindfulness...

Durant Theatre Company shines with Brainstorm

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Durant Theatre Company shines with Brainstorm

The entire theatre company poses proudly with the trophy representing their Superior for Brainstorm.

The entire theatre company poses proudly with the trophy representing their Superior for Brainstorm.

The entire theatre company poses proudly with the trophy representing their Superior for Brainstorm.

The entire theatre company poses proudly with the trophy representing their Superior for Brainstorm.

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Before Thanksgiving Break, the Durant Theatre Company performed “Brainstorm: A Journey Inside the Teenage Mind” for Durant students, family, and faculty.

“Brainstorm”, a one act play, was written by Mr. Arment and his students, making the show personal and unique to Durant’s production.  Sydni Burge, a sophomore and actress for the Durant Theatre Company, said, “Every production of “Brainstorm” is different, because we play ourselves and our parents.  Everyone has a unique relationship with their parents and the show highlights that.”

The script, originally formulated by Ned Glasier, allows the school using the idea to fill in their own characters, based off the students of their drama club, and personalize it with interesting facts about their unique cast.  Mr. Arment commented on the development of the script, saying, “We had to do a lot of initial work on the background of each of the cast members. We really had to dive in through worksheets and conversations and collaboration to discover what has gone on in the lives of these kids.”

The play explained the teenage mind to the audience through comical and interactive scenes.  “Brainstorm” portrayed each student’s fears of growing up and the struggles they face as a teenager, such as those that come with homework, chores, and extracurriculars, all while trying to maintain healthy relationships with their parents. 

Jordan Maddock, a stagehand for “Brainstorm”, said, “The [on stage] survey [with the cast] shows how the teenage brain functions.” It also showed how many of the cast’s teenagers struggle with the challenges that come with being a young adult. 

Each student had the opportunity to portray one of their parents, resulting in laughs from the audience, but also showing how teenagers view their parents.  Isabelle Hoofnagle, an actress for the Durant Theatre Company, said, “[The portrayal] actually took a fair bit of preparation too. I had to watch my dad and study his mannerisms and his voice.” 

Burge said, “Our portrayals of our parents are a way to lighten up the show, but also to say things we’ve never gotten to say [about our parents] before.”

The cast then played Never Have I Ever with the audience to show them that they are just like the cast of teenagers.  Never Have I Ever also allowed the adults in the gallery to remember parts of their teenage years and reminded them of the similar struggles they faced.

The show concluded with the cast showing letters they had written to their parents on poster boards.  Mr. Arment said, “The cast was coming from a place of such honesty and bravery that it really just set the play apart from other plays that I have done.”

On December 4, the Durant Theatre company took their One-Act to the District 9 One-Act Festival at USF.  The cast performed a revised version of “Brainstorm” in order to fit the 40-minute time limit. The Durant Theatre Company received a “Superior”, the highest score achievable.  “Brainstorm” proved to be another successful production of the Durant Theatre Company.

About the Writer
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Lilyann Belcher, Staff Writer

Lily Belcher is a sophomore at Durant High School and she is a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of Durant’s Flag Football team,...

Online shopping overtakes local malls

The online shopping phenomenon is the new dircetion of holiday shopping. This could lead to a decrease in comercial malls.

The online shopping phenomenon is the new dircetion of holiday shopping. This could lead to a decrease in comercial malls.

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In an era of convenience, it’s not shocking that people prefer sitting on the couch eating lunch while they order their loved ones’ Christmas gifts. This is especially ture after a long Thanksgiving Day, for many it is easier to take advantage of Black Friday deals without waiting in lines, getting ran over by rabid shoppers, or even camping out fir the hottest items of the season. Simply click a button and your gifts are on their way to your house. 

So when the news broke that online shopping overtook a major part of retail for the first time ever, unless people were living under a rock, no one was surprised. The main disadvantage of online shopping is waiting for items to be shipped. Amazon eliminated this issue when they introduced Amazon Prime, a service provided where if you pay a small yearly fee you get  quick shipping.

Malls have too many obstacles to climb for the short attention span of this new generation. There’s the ridiculous traffic to fight through, the insane walking patterns, the people and of course the infamously rude shop clerks, one of the few stereotypes in this world that holds up. Why deal with that when you can just click a button in between games of Call of Duty? There’s a reason Amazon has been so profitable, it really doesn’t give the malls a chance. 

It’s the same reason why platforms like Netflix and Hulu profit so much and take customers away from cable and the movie theaters. It’s just, you guessed it, convenience. Why deal with the ridiculously priced popcorn or cable bills when you can pay a monthly fee and watch all the movies and shows you want. You can watch as much as your heart desires, making it easier to enjoy your favorite TV shows.

Even Black Friday, which ropes in shoppers from all around to get those ridiculous deals, online is beating out retail stores. What used to be a crazy day for stores like Walmart and Target have turned into massive amounts of clicks for websites like Amazon. Do not not be concerned, as retail stores like Walmart aren’t going out of business anytime soon. However, to say that online shopping can’t compete with those same stores would be a blatant lie. 

Simply put, online shopping is the future for shoppers looking for the maximum amount of convenience. No lines, no people, no hassle. Just a click and your holiday shopping is done. This is just the beginning, sites like Amazon will only grow bigger and slowly but surely beat out stores such as Target. It’s all about convenience and Amazon has it.

About the Writer
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David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

The rap industry loses another artist

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The rap industry loses another artist

Juice Wrld gained immense popularity from his single

Juice Wrld gained immense popularity from his single "Lucid Dreams."

TMZ

Juice Wrld gained immense popularity from his single "Lucid Dreams."

TMZ

TMZ

Juice Wrld gained immense popularity from his single "Lucid Dreams."

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In the rap industry, it is difficult for upcoming rappers to gain fame. Nowadays, rappers are coming from small apps like SoundCloud or Spotify, expecting to become legends, although reaching legend status takes time, dedication, and effort. Many rappers now are writing more emotional lyrics to prove a point or be inspirational.  

For example, XXXtencion is known by young adults and teens for being more relatable and emotional. Sadly, there is a more twisted side in being a rapper. Many rappers involve themselves in salacious activities, ranging from drugs to gang affiliation. Even though XXXtencion was young, fresh, and on the verge of becoming one of the best rappers of the time, he was shot because of being involved in salacious activities.

But more recently, Juice Wrld, a young rapper as well, who had just recently signed with the major record label Interscope Records, died on Dec. 8 after suffering cardiac arrest at a private hangar at Midway Airport. 

Around 2 a.m., according to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said, “Paramedics were called to hanger operated by Atlantic Aviation.” 

Juice Wrld‘s real name is Jarad Higgins, passing away just six days after turning 21. Higgins died just after he arrived at Midway on a private jet. Higgins was immediately taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where they announced his death at 3:14 a.m.

It was determined that Higgins died after having a seizure. Many of his fans believed that he was faking his death. Not to long before his unexpected death, he posted on Instagram that his lifetime goal was to successfully fake his death. Juice Wrld’s younger audience believes that this was his doing to shine brighter and become famous, but he suffered a seizure and began bleeding from his mouth. The cause of his seizure is not yet known. The medical experts who examined the body, did find traces of drugs but more tests are required to confirm.

When Higgins was still in school, he left a huge mark in the schools he attended. The teachers and staffs always knew him to be highly creative and talented in what he does best, make music. Higgins was a very caring person even before he was famous, he would make sure someone was okay if he noticed something was wrong with them. His former teachers, staff, and classmates always thought he was a generous and hardworking; they are very devasted that Higgins is gone now, and he will be remembered by many people who looked up to him. 

About the Writer
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Rodnasha Williams, Business Manager

Rodnasha Williams is a junior at Durant High School and is Business Manager of Fundraising for the PawPrint Newspaper. When she is not taking pictures...

Universal Hollywood updates the Jurassic Park section of the park

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Universal Hollywood updates the Jurassic Park section of the park

The Jurassic World World ride replaced the old Jurassic Park that had been in place since 1997.

The Jurassic World World ride replaced the old Jurassic Park that had been in place since 1997.

The Jurassic World World ride replaced the old Jurassic Park that had been in place since 1997.

The Jurassic World World ride replaced the old Jurassic Park that had been in place since 1997.

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At Universal Studios Hollywood a new, fun, interactive ride was built for the enjoyment of welcoming visitors, Jurassic World the Ride. This ride includes many aspects that make it unique, such as a Raptor encounter where visitors can meet Blue the Raptor and other friendly new dinosaurs.

Another new feature to Universal Studios Hollywood is a display, which is an interactive play area for younger guests. If parents need a break from their kids, this would be the spot to send them. Another new addition is the new shop Isla Nu-Bar. If guests are thirsty from a long walk to the ride, they can stop by Isla Nu-Bar and get a refreshing tropical drink, they offer a large selection to please picky customers. To add, if guests’ appetites grow and want something to eat, well they can stop by the Jurassic Café and get a delicious meal for lunch and feast like a T-rex.

According to the official Universal Studios Hollywood website, the minimum height is 42 inches or 107cm, passengers 42 inches to 48 inches are required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information, the Universal website can provide more details.

To start off, the boat consists of four rows, each seating five people. The ride is like a flume ride therefore it floats on water with safety pads to prevent damages to passengers. The ride starts by going over a bump that may shake passengers up. Afterwards, the boat heads into a viewing of the mosasaurs tank with a speaker that will explain the mosasaurs background and their appetite, it is likely that guests will get wet on the ride.

Next guests head through a tunnel to herbivores section and get to see them in action feeding. Then the boat will enter the predator code section, and lucky enough, guests will get to enter the T-rex kingdom and guests get to see the king. After that, guests will travel through a tunnel seeing their favorite Raptors and the T-rex and the new Indominus Rex all in full conflict with each other fighting. Then guests head down a drop having water splashed all over guests, ending the ride. If guests enjoyed the ride, afterwards they can stop by the little store to grab a collectable or shirt or even jewelry

About the Writer
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Nick Travis, Staff Writer

Nick Travis is a sophomore at Durant High School and one of the Staff Writers for the PawPrint. He has an outgoing and creative personality. When isn't...

PlayStation 5 to release during 2020 holiday season

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PlayStation 5 to release during 2020 holiday season

Sony released promotion images providing gaming fans with their first look at the console.

Sony released promotion images providing gaming fans with their first look at the console.

Sony released promotion images providing gaming fans with their first look at the console.

Sony released promotion images providing gaming fans with their first look at the console.

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The PlayStation 5 will be released in between October and December of 2020 in time for the holidays. The PlayStation 5 will be a product to own once it releases in stores late next year. The PlayStation 5 will be a new piece of technology and will have many new features to it. The PlayStation 5 is designed differently compared to the PlayStation 4 as the middle of the new PlayStation will have a “V” shape and Sony is considering a cloud storage based video gaming console. Sony is planning to connect the newly designed controller to your internet system and to play games on a shared server online. This will be interesting on how the new console will work. The PlayStation 5 will also include virtual reality games and will feature a new virtual reality headset.

The games that can be played are going to be played with a disk with each disk having 100GB, which is double the storage compared to a 4K blue-ray player. The PlayStation 5 will also feature a new controller design, but it is unknown what the controller’s name will be, as the PlayStation 4 controller’s name was the DualShock.

Fans should expect the PlayStation 5 to cost more due to it being an entirely new product from Sony and the PlayStation 4 was only 399 dollars. The PlayStation 5 will be the most powerful video game console made by Sony when it releases. This puts pressure on Microsoft as the creators of the Xbox and their competition will be enhanced, due to the release of the PlayStation 5 late next year.

The PlayStation 5 is going to try to compete with Microsoft to try to be the best seller with this new gaming console and Sony looks to continue to be one of the best gaming and electronic manufacturers in the world. To wrap things up, the PlayStation 5 will have a virtual reality headset, over 100GB in every disk that will be played, a new controller with an unknown name, yet to be determined, and many more features. With new upgrades and new features, the PlayStation 5 will be a worldwide sensation to a lot of people who like to play video games.

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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

The Perfect Small Town

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“K2TV Reporter Chris Topling reporting live from Cheyenne, Wyoming where 26-year-old Janelle Davis was found in her home after ten months of the disappearance of her and her husband John Davis. Davis returned home in the family car but only recalls leaving by herself. Davis shows no signs of physical harm or malnourishment. Strangely, Davis has no recollection of the last ten months or of her missing husband. The last thing she remembers is heading for Yellowstone National Park to spend a week on vacation. The state troopers and local authorities are looking for evidence as to what happened to the Davis family, but so far nothing has been recovered, nor is there any information on the whereabouts of Mr. Davis. Back to the station.”

10 Months Ago

            Janelle and John Davis were preparing to leave for their vacation at Yellowstone National Park. They planned to camp at the park so they could hike, relax and enjoy nature with ease. The two were packing their car with hiking gear, camping gear, plenty of food and their luggage.

The couple left their home in Cheyenne at 6 am hoping to reach the campgrounds at about 1:30 pm, giving them plenty of time to set up their campsite before sundown. John got behind the wheel with Janelle providing navigation from the passenger seat.

The couple drove, sharing polite conversation, while listening to music on the radio. They stopped for gas two hours into the seven-and-a-half-hour drive. The couple refilled their coffee, used the restroom and continued on their way.

Another two hours in the car go by until a clicking noise is heard, “click, click, click.” John recognizes the sound as an engine problem and pulls over. John and Janelle get out of the car.

“What are we going to do? You don’t know anything about fixing cars!” Janelle worried.

“Don’t worry, this is what mechanics do. Calm down, and look at that sign, Lander is in three miles. We can search if there is a mechanic in tow n.” John pulls his phone out and searches for the desired information. “Look at the wonders of Google, there is a mechanic shop in town.” He shows Janelle the mechanic’s information before dialing the number. He engages in a very simple conversation with the mechanic, explaining the situation. “More great news, the mechanic has a tow truck and will pick us and the car up.”

“How long will it be?”

“About fifteen minutes.”

The couple waits for the mechanic by discussing the things they want to do when they get to Yellowstone. The fifteen minutes passes quickly, as the pair sees the tow truck approaching them. On the side the truck says, “Lander Auto Repairs.” The truck parks in front of the car and the driver gets out. The driver is a young man, appearing to be about 20 years old.

“How are you folks doing?” This confused the couple as the man appeared younger than them but spoke like a sixty-year-old.

“We are fine, just anxious to be on our way.” Janelle responded for the both of them. “What about you?”

“Good, just working. Speaking of, let’s get you folks to town to see what’s going on.” The man hooks their car up to the truck without another word to either of them. Once the car is secure the, the man beckons the couple to get into the truck. As soon as everyone is buckled, the man heads toward the town.

About five minutes later, the truck approaches a dainty town. No trash, no homeless people, no dirty walls, no smog in sight. Everything here seemed perfect, like a display in a shop window. As the truck drove through the town, there were very few people walking around. Those who were walking were all in similar outfits but looked nice enough. All the people seemed to wear blue jeans and white t-shirts. Even the driver was wearing dark blue jeans and a white V-neck t-shirt.

Another two minutes go by before the truck pulls into the lot of the auto-repair shop and everyone gets out of the car. The Davises stand to the side as the mechanic releases the car from the truck.

“From what you described over the phone; it sounds like a blown engine. It’ll take at least an hour to fix. If I were you, I would go over to the diner and grab some breakfast.”

“Thanks for the suggestion.” John says. He takes Janelle’s hand and they walk over and enter the diner. There are only four tables occupied. One with a middle-aged couple, one seating a woman, the third with a dad and two kids and the other with a group of teens.

All the diners turned and stared at the Davises with wonder. A waitress comes out to deliver food to the table with the dad and kids. She then takes note of the strangers near the entrance.

“Seat yourselves, I’ll be over in a minute.” The waitress calls over to the couple. They follow her directions and decide to sit near the woman dining alone. Each of them sat on one side of the table.

Janelle took notice of the décor, it was not very elaborate, checkered floors, red walls, black chairs and booths and white tables, very boring for a restaurant.

She also took note of the woman who was sitting alone. The woman was staring intently at Janelle. John began speaking to Janelle and her eyes promptly focused on her husband. The two spoke for only a few moments before the waitress appeared to take their drink orders.

“We didn’t get menus. We aren’t sure about what you have.” John explained.

“Sorry about that, small town, everyone’s familiar with the menu, not many visitors. We have milk, orange juice, apple juice, water and coffee.”

“We will take two waters.” Janelle decided, ignoring the waitress’ explanation. John nodded in agreement. The waitress smiled and walked away. They had to wait for her to come back with their drinks before they could decide on what they wanted to order. Janelle glanced behind John to see the woman still staring at her. “Honey, I’m going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”

Janelle sped past the woman towards the bathroom. Immediately she locked herself in a stall to do some breathing exercises to calm down. She thought she was being paranoid about the woman staring at her. Then bathroom door opened.

Janelle did not want to leave the stall, but she worried that John would think something happened if she was gone too long. Reluctantly Janelle left the stall. Standing in front of the door was the woman who was staring at her.

“Leave.” The woman said bluntly.

“If you moved out of the way I could go back to my husband.”

“Not the bathroom, this town. Get out of here before it’s too late.”

“You make it seem like this is a horror movie, the only strange thing here is you. Now if you will excuse me.” Janelle motioned for the woman to step aside. The woman simply sighed and moved out of the way, shaking her head. Janelle ignored the woman and walked back to the table, but John was not there. The woman exited the bathroom. Janelle promptly turned to her.

“What have you done to my husband?”

“I didn’t do anything. He was sitting there when I left to the bathroom. Check the men’s bathroom before assuming the worst.” Janelle sped to the men’s bathroom.

“Johnnn!” She waited a minute before worrying. She repeated the sequence but nothing. She rushed back out to the table. The woman was enjoying her breakfast as a frantic Janelle approached.

“He’s not in there?” Janelle shook her head no. “Then it’s too late. Go to your car and drive.”

“The car is in the shop, that’s why we’re here! Plus, John has the keys. What is going on here?”

“Come with me.” The woman leaves the diner without any hesitation or leaving any cash. The two women run three blocks, into a building. The woman locks and bolts the door.

“Are we safe? Can you explain what’s going on? Do you know where my husband is?” Janelle asks frantically.

“Lander is a new and small town, but it has a dark history. This all started when geneticists figured out cloning. When the ethical debates about human cloning were rising, a group of scientists fled California and wound up here. They started doing tests on their family members until they made it perfect. All they need is a non-clone to carry the clone.”

“Are you saying that there are cloning experiments going on in this town?”

“Not experiments, the elites in town get clones, they get embryo cells and insert the DNA and then freeze them to keep them preserved until ready to implant. To not arise suspicion, each person only gets two be cloned twice. The poor people in town get to stay in their homes and alive if at least one child is able to carry the clones.”

“If they don’t have any daughters, only sons?”

“If the mother is past her prime age to have children, then the family is annihilated.”

“They just kill people?”

“No. People get a choice. They can either wipe all memory of this place and people can start over elsewhere or yes, they can choose death.”

“What are you, a clone or a carrier?”

“I am a carrier, I have carried one clone, it was almost two years ago. I am set to carry another in a few months, after that it is time for my annihilation. If I were part of a clone family, I would just choose to not be cloned, only one has chosen not to be cloned.”

“What does any of this have to do with me? Or my husband?”

“There are not very many women available to have clones right now. There are some who are pregnant with first-borns and others who are unavailable through contract.”

“There is a contract?”

“Yes, as crazy as it seems. To ensure the health of the carriers they are only allowed to be pregnant, naturally or with a clone, every two years. When they are almost out of carriers, they trap women passing through the town.”

“So, what did they do with John? What if I choose to just wipe my memory?”

“John is probably in a holding cell. The choice is only for the families who have no available carriers. You are an available carrier so you will either carry a clone, then get your memory erased or they will torture you and or John until you carry a clone anyway.”

“What will they do with John while I am pregnant?”

“John would be allowed to be stay with you. You will probably be given a place to stay until you give birth. John will most likely have to work around the town, like the rest of the people who are related to a carrier or are currently inactive carriers.”

“Where can I find the people, who would have my husband?”

“Probably at City Hall, it’s a front for the geneticists’ lab. The holding cells are also there. Before you go there, stop by the mechanics, ask about the car and then your husband. You don’t want to alert the city officials.”

“One last question, how do they erase your memory of this place only?”

“that’s a question for the scientists themselves. They must target a specific area of the brain. It may be similar to the way they transfer the memories of the clones.”

“They do what?!”

“Oops. Yeah, the clones don’t start over. At puberty they implant a chip that connects to the hippocampus, so the brain stores former memories as though this body has made all of them.”

“Oh my.” After getting directions to City Hall, Janelle leaves the woman’s home with a smile plastered on her face as though she just made a friend instead of learning the hidden darkness of this perfect little town. She walked back to thee mechanic’s shop to check on the car like the woman said. The mechanic was wiping of the car then his forehead as she approached.

“How’s the car doing?”

“Fine ma’am. All set”

“Great, as soon as I find John, we can pay you and be on our way. Have you seen him?”

“No, I would check City Hall, a couple of locals may have picked him up for a tour. They probably wanted to introduce him to the mayor. We don’t get a lot of new people around here.”

“I bet. Thanks, I’ll be back with John as soon as possible. Then we’ll pay and be out of your hair.” Janelle smiled at the young man and began walking toward City Hall. It only takes about ten minutes to walk there.

She enters the building. Unlike the diner, the inside of City Hall is just as pristine as the outside. Pinstriped wallpaper, chandeliers and modern furniture decorates the lobby. Janelle walks up to the receptionist who has been looking at her since she walked in.

“Hi, I was wondering if you had seen a new man walking around anywhere? He’s my husband and our car, which was at the shop, is ready.”

“Yes, he’s in the mayor’s office. It is the last door on your right.” The receptionist smiled at Janelle, whose stomach twisted in repulsion.

“Thank you, have a nice day.” Janelle all but ran towards the end of the hallway. She knocked on the last door on the right.

“Come in.”

“Janelle!” John exclaimed, happy to see his wife.

“John! Let’s go. The car is ready, and it is almost noon. We still have another three and a half hours to drive.”

“Nonsense, it is still early, sit and chat with us Mrs. Davis.”

“As much as we would love that, we really must be going.”

“Ah yes, I suppose that camping trip won’t take itself.” Said the mayor as he stood up and walked closer to Janelle. “Then again, you won’t be taking it either.” Before she could run or protest, he injected her with a liquid. Immediately she became dizzy and drowsy. Slowly Janelle began to black out. John stared in shock.

“You said she wouldn’t get hurt!”

“She was trying to escape!” The mayor said angrily. “I may look like I’m 18, but I am mentally 85; I know when someone is acting.”

“Still, I could have convinced her.”

“It is handled, just accept it. Pick her up and follow me.” John picked up his wife. He followed the mayor down the corridor and then down a flight of stairs to a laboratory. The mayor motioned to the chair in the middle of the lab. John laid Janelle there, he strapped her into the chair. The mayor guided John out of the room so the geneticists can begin the procedure.

Janelle woke up what seemed like minutes after she passed out. She felt fine, aside from a slight groggy feeling from just waking up. She was alone in this strange lab setting. She realized she could not raise her arms. She began to panic.

“John! John!” She screamed, hoping that her husband could hear and save her. John busted into the room. Worry all over his face. “Oh, my goodness, John, thank goodness nothing happened to you. Help me, we have to go.”

“We can’t go. I’m sorry honey. You are a carrier.”

“You knew!!!” Janelle screams in John’s face with a fury she never knew she had.

“I permitted this. We can be cloned later in life, if you carry this clone.”

“Why would I want a clone? This isn’t natural. We are not meant to live longer than one lifetime. It’s why we vow until death do us part.”

“So, are you going to try to terminate this baby?”

“I would never, but I will be leaving here as soon as I give birth. Whatever it takes.”

“So be it.” John looks defeated. His shoulders slouch and he bows his head while walking out the door.

“John? I don’t think you are meant for me if you thought I would do this to live longer. You clearly don’t know me as well as I thought you did.” John looks ready to collapse as he sees the look of hate and disgust in his wife’s eyes. As a tear falls, he walks out the room and never looks back.

In the next ten months, Janelle lives with the woman, Ginger. The two women became close as Ginger guided Janelle through her pregnancy. They began to act like sisters who have known each other forever.

Janelle confided in Ginger as she no longer had John. John had become an elite in society. Janelle only knew what spread as town news. He remarried some local elite woman and they are living happily.

Once Janelle went into labor, her countdown for returning home began. They would wait until she was fully healed to send her home. Janelle and Ginger prepared for their goodbye as Janelle wished she did not have to forget Ginger. A month after the birth Janelle was driving towards Cheyenne Wyoming with no idea as to where she was leaving or how much time had passed.

About the Writer

Robert Stanley’s Mission

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Earth, as we all know, is the only planet that contains life. For years humans and animals have evolved and changed overtime. Scientists, astronauts, and astronomers have always wondered if life exists elsewhere. Unfortunately, they had no luck in finding such place, until one day in another galaxy. The scientists found an exact replica of the Milky Way Galaxy.

In the Swirl Galaxy. the replica of the Milky Way Galaxy, lightyears away, there was a solar system similar the Milky Way’s solar system. Scientists from the Swirl Galaxy discovered the Milky Way Galaxy with their experimental robots. They created a human-like robot and named it Robert Stanley and programmed a specific mission in him. The scientists shipped their robot experiment through a teleporter that went straight to planet Earth. 

 The sky is clear and white for a second as the space shuttle comes crashing down onto the hard-rocky surface. Dust flies up from all around as the shuttle tumbles toward a huge rock. The shuttle comes to a stop and a boy crawls out from inside. He is about 15 years old with his protective suit, blonde hair and blue eyes. He quickly stands up wiping away the dust from his face and clothing. He takes a look around only to find himself in the middle of nowhere. He begins to walk down a rocky road. The boy walks for hours and hours and eventually spots a small house surrounded by only sand and a wore down swing set. He walks up to the house and knocks on the door. No one answers. He knocks again. Moments after an old man opens the door. The man is missing a leg and looks to be in his 70’s. 

“May I help you?,” he says in a raspy voice and slightly lets out a cough. A breeze of smoke lushes out from inside the house. 

“Yes. Hello my name is Robert Stanley and I need help. I don’t know where I am,” he said in a nervous but serious tone.

“If you go round back, you will see a motorcycle. You can take it and 30 miles from here you will find a village.” says the old man kindly.

“Okay thank you,” says Robert. 

The old man now coughing steps back inside and closes the door behind him. Robert quickly walks around the back and sees the motorcycle in its upright position. The keys dangle off to the side of the jet black motorcycle. He hops on and starts the engine. He has drove miles and miles, and it is becoming dark out. Robert then starts to see porch lights and trees in the far distance. He has finally arrived at his destination. Slowly, he comes to a complete stop and turns off the motorcycle. He takes a look around and suspiciously walks into the woods. 

Robert reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pin shaped like a circle. He points it towards the sky. A bright blue light starts coming out from the pin. The light is so bright that it expands around the whole planet Earth. The blue light acts like a bubble surrounding the planet. Not long after, a huge black hole in the sky opens up and sucks in the planet. Blue light everywhere. Robert is now teleporting Earth to his own galaxy. Minutes after, the blue light fades and Robert places the pin back into his pocket. 

“Congratulations Robert, you have completed your mission,” says a voice coming from inside his ear. It is Goosenberg, the scientist who programmed Robert for his mission. 

The people on planet Earth step outside their houses and look around. Earth has changed colors, and everything seemed to be very different looking. People from all around the world look confused, then turn on their tvs assuming it was some type of natural disaster that the news would explain.. 

“Earthlings, it is I, Professor Goosenberg. Don’t be startled. For years every single one of you have wondered if life exists in another dimension. You see me and my crew have been experimenting because for years we have also been looking for another source of life. We have sent out robots through a teleporter in search for living humans and then they found it. We thought it would be better if we teleported the entire planet here to our galaxy. Not only have we brought you guys here but also saved you. As you may know years from now your sun would have devoured Earth as the star becomes a red giant. While a danger, this was not the only thing we saved you from. Other galaxies have also been searching for living humans and we know they are planning to destroy all the galaxies containing life. They are fierce and will stop at nothing to be the last life in the universe. They are aliens and they have been taking out all living planets in order for them to survive, they cannot be underestimated.

Welcome to the Swirl Galaxy, we have finally captured all the planets which contain life. Robots start your missions,” Goosenberg says as the tv screens turn off. 

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The Attic

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I’ve never been a fan of the attic. It’s dark, stuffy, and all around unpleasant. My brother would tell me stories of a creature. Not a monster he would assure me but always put emphasize on the not human idea. “It wanders the space above our heads,” he would say while gesturing his hands towards the ceiling.

My big brother, my role model, scaring me senseless, purely because he could. The idea of a creepy crawly thing living right above me, who would steal my socks as I slept, effectively terrified me as a child. This irrational fear of the unknown creature followed me into adulthood. Every time I came home to visit my family I caught myself glancing up toward the ceiling, secretly wondering if the creature of my childhood was watching. 

When my brother asked me to get the last box from up in the attic I hesitated. That uneasiness I felt during my childhood years resurfacing. As I trudged up the staircase to the second floor of our family home, my brain flew into a dozen impossible scenarios. Wondering if I should prepare myself, for the possibility of catching a glimpse of the creature, the unknown figment of my brother’s childhood imagination.  Every step my feet gained ten pounds, the pit in my stomach growing. I was reminded of the feeling you get while you’re in line for a roller coaster, your stomach rises it seems, then drops suddenly. Your brain can only think of the terrifying situation you’ve put yourself in, wondering why you were careless enough to agree to this senseless activity.

 I reach the apex point in the staircase; my brother calls up from below me. 

“What’s taking so long, afraid it’s up there?” I can see his look of amusement from the bottom of the staircase. ‘Yes, absolutely terrified’ I think to myself, but I would never give him the satisfaction.

“I am a grown woman; I am certainly not afraid of your made-up creature.” I retort pulling the cord to release the ladder leading to the attic. This little trip down trauma lane was at the expense of my parents. They had both retired and were moving to a lovely little house in the foothills of Tennessee. My brother and I agreed to assist in the consolidation of my mother’s lifetime worth of mementos and kitchen ware, alongside my father’s enormous collection of golf clubs and vintage car accessories.

This proved to be a more insurmountable task than either of us originally thought. We were on our 75th and final box, shoved into the back corner of the attic. Finally making my way to the top of the ladder. My eyes scour the room for the final box.  I could make out a dark silhouette of the box in the back-left corner, right below the oval shaped windowpane. Scrambling my way past the lip where the ladder connects with the ceiling, standing to my feet, brushing the dust from my knit sweater. I slowly start to move my feet towards the corner, dragging with every step. The floor creaks under my feet, sending me into momentary cardiac arrest. My hand over my heart, my breathing ragged, I continue my journey. 

Silently wishing for this ordeal to be over, I push the box with my foot, no one reaches to kill me, so I assume it’s safe. I begin to lift the box when something latches onto my wrist. I immediately scream, eventually my common sense overpowers my feeling of terror and I run. Sprinting to the hole in the ceiling I crawled through. I clamber down the ladder screaming for my brother. He’s already halfway up the stairs, frantically asking what’s wrong. “It’s up there, it’s real.”

I manage to get out. He shakes his head, smirking, and departs for the ladder, saying “I thought you were a grown woman who wasn’t afraid of my made-up creature.”

I decided I was not going to be here when he got down, in fear that it would follow him. I rushed down the stairs, out the front door, to my car. I was about a mile from the house before I could breathe properly again. Whatever grabbed my wrist was not human, that made it all the more terrifying. My attention drifted from the red light to my wrist. Red flowed down without ceasing, dripping onto my leg. It saturated my jeans and cascaded onto the floor of my car. It was an intrinsic view, every heartbeat pumped another small wave through the opening. I could taste the metallic copper scent perforating my vehicle, soaking into my taste buds. I was staring at it drip, drip, dripping, I could see the deep maroon color seeping from inside me, and then I saw black.  

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