Coronavirus: A Report
—from Ms. Terri’s Session E: Sleuthing for the Truth Journalism Workshop
How did the coronavirus start?
Nobody knows how the coronavirus actually started but most people thought it started from animals. Animals like bats and snakes were people’s big thoughts. People also thought that it started from a lab when scientists experimented with something and it wasn’t good.
How did the coronavirus spread?
The coronavirus can spread by people breathing into others because if the air inside the person breathing has the coronavirus. It can also spread by people touching others because if the person has the coronavirus, they will get it.
How did the coronavirus affect people?
The coronavirus is affecting people because of many reasons. First of all, it has stopped school so the students have to work at home. People at work don’t go to work all the time anymore because of the coronavirus. People go shopping less and stock up. When I saw people after they shop, they all said that they sanitize everything they bought using wipes. In restaurants that you might eat, some restaurants are closing and people are losing jobs. Even WORSE, the coronavirus is KILLING PEOPLE. The coronavirus is harmful and we have to keep safe from it.
How to stay safe from the coronavirus?
You can stay safe by washing your hands frequently. Cough and sneeze in your arm so your germs won’t go to other people. Masks and Gloves are very important to keep safe so less breathing in other people and less touching by own hands on other people.
Follow how to stay safe and YOU should be safe. If everybody does this, In about 20 days, there will be less people than before getting the coronavirus so everything can start again!
Ethan On FIRE
—from Ms. Katherine’s Session E: Dystopian Workshop
I never really knew much about my family. My mother died when I was three. I only remember her weak raspy voice when she let out her last breath along with her last words, “Adalyn, I will always be with you. Never forget.” and with that she was gone. My father disappeared a few weeks after that. I don’t know where he went or why he left, but I do know that I had been left homeless. Alone. The one word had echoed in my head like voices in a cave. Caves are empty and dark and at that point of my life, I was a cave.
I had nobody to help me with the electricity. I was a walking lightning bolt and no one knew. I didn’t even know until my father left me. When I found out my father was gone, a rollercoaster of emotions hit me. I felt betrayal, hurt, fear, and most of all rage. Fiery hot rage. It felt like I had a dam holding everything inside me for my whole life and suddenly it broke. I was being burned inside out, but it felt good to let it out and I welcomed the pain. Believe me, I regretted it later. I was electricity with legs and I was lethal.
The rebels rescued me off the streets soon after all these tragedies. I don’t remember much after that. After all, I was only three, but they taught me how to control the electricity and when I got older they taught me how to fight. At sixteen I was a trained spy. I’ve grown up in an environment that wanted equality and freedom from the tyrants, and everyone here knew what the risks were, if they were caught.
It was just another morning. I went to ask for the latest info we gathered. When I entered the office I was met with grim expressions on the people who raised and cared for me. My steps immediately faltered.
“What’s wrong?” I ask warily
One of them, Cassandra, steps in “The Phoenix’s have just released a speech confessing a few major details that they ‘forgot’ to tell everyone,” she pauses, as if she’s thinking of an easier way to say the nest sentence “they said that everyone in the royal family has powers, like you.” I froze. Where did all the oxygen go? Or were my lungs malfunctioning?
“What?” I ask in a strangled voice.
This time my father figure, Lucas, steps forward to speak. “Don’t freak out yet, this is the part that doesn’t add up. Everyone in the Phoenix family either has the power to shield themselves with their mind or heal almost instantly. You have electricity, which doesn’t make sense.” He frowns.
“Are you sure we’re collecting accurate info?” I ask in a calmer voice than I expected, don’t get me wrong, my voice was still wavering.
“Positive.” He responds without hesitation. I exhale a shaky breath.
“Well then,” I say with tremors of horror in my voice. “I want to go undercover in the castle and see what I can find out.” Lucas looked as if he was about to say a firm no, but I cut him off. “ I will go undercover disguised as a guard and I’m going to go whether you like it or not.” I make eye contact with each of them to show how serious I am and that’s how this adventure began.
It took a few days for me to receive my letter that I had been accepted into guard training. I went and excelled every test they gave me,so it took me no time to finish training and become a guard. I forgot to mention the small fact where I had to sit through a very boring speech that basically told me if I were caught conspiring against the royal family I would be executed. That’s how they keep everyone in line. Fear is a great motivation, but it isn’t the best motivation. Everything can easily fall apart without trust and I plan on exploiting that weakness and having the front row seat when everything falls apart.
I was assigned to be one of the eight guards of the older prince, Prince Liam. It seemed too good to be true. Apparently, it was because they were on to me, and I didn’t know.
To be continued…
—from Ms. Katherine’s Session E: Dystopian Workshop
“What is the earliest memory you have?”
The earliest memory I have is from when I was 4. I was with my friend, Mary, and we were arguing over a small toy truck. We were separated and reminded that when we were 12 everybody would get the same things, and that soon life would be fair. She separated us and gave me another truck exactly like the one clutched in Mary’s fist.
“Do you remember anything else?”
After that, most of my memory is a jumble of lessons, learning about the past, the present, the future, and how they were all the same. I wouldn’t remember any of it if it weren’t for the mantra they would make us repeat before and after class, our hands over our hearts. ‘We are fair. We are the future. We are the past. We are now.’ Sometimes I wish that they had let us write things down, but, as we learned when we were 8, anything recorded, no matter how small, could bring the equality to its destruction. ‘What if you got a picture of someone that they didn’t want you to take, or wrote down something somebody said without consent? It would be chaos!’ the caretaker told us these words, and somehow, I never forgot them. Ever without the use of paper and pencil, they stuck in my mind. Something about it doesn’t seem quite right, but everything else they taught was only for our own good, like how we were assigned marriages and homes when we were 12, so that nobody made the mistake of making the wrong choice.
“What happens if somebody is not corrected?”
Every assignment made is a path on the road to perfection. All that matters is that every person gets treated exactly the same, unless they don’t to us. Anybody with an imperfection, whether mentally or physically, is recycled. Nobody really knows what being recycled is like, but all we know is that though they look the same, perhaps with a few blemishes or imperfections eradicated, they are a model child. They obey every order without hesitation or question, and they never argue when they don’t think things are fair.
“What do you remember most vividly about your past?”
When I was just 9, a boy fell and broke his arm. After it healed, it was pointed at an unusual angle, with his thumb perpendicular to his hip. He was the first of any of us to leave our nursery. We had only ever been to the bedrooms, the kitchens, the gym, the classroom, and the fenced in yard where we would go for safety drills. Not that we needed them. Ever since we learned to control weather, about 100 years ago, there have not been any natural disasters. We saw a real car, which we had only ever seen as small plastic toys, harmless and fist sized. It pulled up soundlessly, not even a single squeal of tires as it coasted over the crackless cement that covered every outside floor. It’s color matched that of the once blue sky, now obscured by grey thunderclouds, doomed never to rain. The car was white, nothing fancy, and the only mark on it was a large, gentle green colored sun shape, with blank spaces that looked like leaves falling. Inside, there was no map of any kind. Nobody needed directions to the 3 places they would go in their lifetime, plus an occasional fourth. Why would people need directions to their own homes, or jobs, or nurseries? And though barely any have experienced this, when one is in need of a visit to the government building, they are escorted by a car just like the one Juno was climbing into now. No adults accompanied him. Just little, 9 year old Juno, with the buzzed hair and dark brown eyes of all the other boys, the white shirt and black slacks indistinguishable to the others’. The only thing remarkable about him was the reason he was climbing into the car.
I could see his lip quiver, but he didn’t cry. Nobody cried. Except for one person, but he had been taught a very strict lesson.
“When was the first time you saw somebody cry?”
At 5, we had just started our lessons, and a boy got an answer incorrect. He had been called to the front of the class, and asked what the directions to the office building were. It was a hard question, as we had only learned it yesterday, and since no notes were allowed, he could not have studied. He made a wrong turn as he was leaving the nursery, and he was scolded. His punishment was to stand in the front of the class and repeat these words:
‘I have answered a question wrong and I will answer correctly the next time’
As the class emotionlessly stared at his face, tears welled up in his eyes. At first a few were scared.
‘Why are his eyes turning to glass?’ one asked fearfully.
‘Oh, don’t be silly.’
A few minutes later, another asked ‘why are his cheeks turning pink?’
‘He’s getting tired from speaking for so long. This is what happens when you hog all the attention and speak longer than is polite.’
Even later, another piped up ‘now his face is shiny. Why is this happening sir?’
Our caretaker caved. ‘He is crying. I hoped that he could hold it in, because no good man cries, publicly or privately.’
‘Sir, what does it mean to cry?’ I asked, quietly. I was scared of angering the teacher further, as his eyebrows were furrowed and his lips were pursed.
‘When you cry, your cheeks get red and your eyes leak salt water.’
‘Have you ever cried?’ a voice from the back of the classroom is loud and unprecedented in the hush of the classroom. The caretaker stiffened, and, his glare turned from the crying boy to the girl in the back.
‘Samantha. You know better.’ his voice was low and dangerous.
‘I – I’m sorry, sir! I was just… wondering.’ At ‘wondering’, her voice turned to a whisper and she looked at her desk.
I forget what happened after that, but Samantha never spoke out of turn again.
“Do you remember your 12th birthday?”
When I turned 12, there was no celebration. It was the same as any of my other birthdays. Quiet and a bit sadder than usual. No acknowledgment that it was a special day, but after 12 years of no recognition, I got used to it.
Though I was technically 12, I didn’t get my assignments until a month and a half later, because that was when it was traditionally done. Everybody dreaded May 19th, but didn’t dare tell. The caretakers talked about it like it was a blessing, though we were all terrified out of our wits at the thought of being separated permanently from these 10 siblings you’ve known since day 1.
There was no party when we got our assignments and left the nursery forever, only to return if we became caretakers. All that happened was that we were led into closed cells, each with a different man or woman, we were told our jobs, spouses, and homes, given directions, and sent on our way. No goodbyes, no heartfelt speeches about how much our caretakers had taught us. Just a 10-minute meeting with a person who you would never see again. It all happened like it was routine, like the checkups we get with the doctor every year or so.
The day that marked the end and beginning of life was punctuated with an early bedtime awkwardly lying as far as possible away from Julian, the boy I’d been assigned. And it’s been like that since. All 14 years of it.
“How did you find your notebook and when did you start to write in it?”
A few months ago I found a notebook under my pillow. I must have put it there years and years ago. I’d had it since I was a child. The memory of how I found it was burned into my mind. One day, I saw a caretaker writing symbols on a piece of paper. ‘A’ he wrote, making it’s sound as he wrote it. ‘B’ he continued. ‘C’. I hid, just my eyes poking around the corner of the room as he painstakingly did this. I’ll never forget what he used for a pen. He had a small stick of wire from the chain link fence surrounding the courtyard, and a cut on his inner arm. He was dipping the wire in it and tracing the letters in his own blood on the paper. When it dried, he reviewed it, and slipped it in a drawer in his desk. Then he left. I had to run to make it look like I had just finished up in the bathroom and was headed back to class, when in reality, everybody else was in the courtyard. He walked past me, barely acknowledging me, and when he had turned the corner, I opened the drawer. Inside were page after page of writing in the same dark crimson color, and some were even a bright vermillion, or ruby. There were the occasional splatter, but as I got deeper into the pile, they got more frequent. I couldn’t be sure, but this man was teaching himself to write. I was amazed. Wasn’t this rule breaking of the highest order? But I knew I would never say anything. Besides getting in a bunch of trouble myself, I wanted these papers. And I wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one who knew these things. That I wasn’t alone. I grabbed the stack, and under it all was a notebook, it’s thick cover sewn together, the intricate, musty smelling, oak colored fabric that was the cover was smooth, and I knew the word for it, though I had never heard of any sort of thing like it before. ‘Leather’. I tried out the new word on my tongue. It sounded strange, foreign, but I liked it. It sounded like home. I looked at the symbols etched on the paper. I remembered the sound that he’d made as he wrote them down, and mentally wrote ‘Leather’ in my head. I was proud. I’d never done anything like that before.
I had never written anything in the notebook, but I had read the entries over and over, tracing the words with my fingers, though I had already memorised the entire passage. The passages told stories that didn’t quite add up. Though there were many different colors of ink, many different handwritings, and many different writing styles, they all had so many things in common. There were people that changed faces, who were caretakers, or friends, or spouses, but who weren’t. There were places that were the same but for one detail, which wasn’t quite clear. There were dramatic changes, where the temperature was freezing, then suddenly sweltering, or the sky was a clear blue but then obscured by clouds. There were things that couldn’t possibly be true, like how they wrote things down all the time, creatures besides humans crowded the earth, and the sky was a rainbow of colors. I could see these things so vividly that when I finished reading, the world would seem very bland, and dry, missing all of the things that made these stories worth reading.
Soon after I started to read these stories, new ones, each more exciting than the last, would crowd my head when I slept. I would see entire cities made of rough brown stone and fluffy clouds of green. There would be creatures of enormous size, threatening to stomp me or rip me to shreds with their myriad of teeth, and there would be creatures of the smallest size, some big enough to sit on the tip of my finger. Some were furry, some slimy, and some were smooth and dry, like a rock. I couldn’t get these ideas out of my head. So I stopped reading. I stopped imagining, I stopped thinking about what I thought of as mirages. I pushed them out of my head, though I knew I couldn’t get rid of them all the way. They were a part of me, no matter how hard I pushed them down.
But soon I was 12. It had been over a year since I had touched the notebook, sitting at the bottom of my dresser, gathering dust. I packed up my stuff. I left. And I didn’t come back.
“How did you create your pen?”
Now that I was 26, and looking at this notebook of mirages, I felt a flurry of emotions. I’d never shared it with anybody, but I was ready to change. I wanted to learn to write. I wanted to share it with myself.
The first step was to get a pen. Since those don’t exist anymore, I had to fashion my own. First I needed ink. Beetroot has plenty of red dye in it, because there was absolutely no way I would have used my own blood. Next I needed something to keep the ink in. I got a straw, and stopped one end with chewing gum. I filled it with juice and realized that I needed a nib. I grabbed a cheap metal fork from our drawer. It was only one tine. Nobody will miss it. I placed it in the freezer for a day to make it nice and brittle, then placed the tines under my shoe. I stomped down hard while I bent the fork upward in a swift motion, and with a resonating snap, I held a perfect nib in my hand. I threw away the useless fork handle, put the nib in the hole, sealed up most of it with chewing gum so that just enough to write with using the point of the tine comes through, and sat down at the table. When I checked the clock, it told me that Julian should be back by 6, and it was only 3, so I had plenty of time.
I took a deep breath, surveyed the paper kingdom I have displayed in front of me, and began to painstakingly transcribe every letter onto the paper.
“What happened after that?”
Hours later, after Julian got home and we’d eaten dinner, he went to bed early. I had no choice but to follow him, as there was nothing much left for me to do. After hours of uncomfortably tossing and turning, I climbed out of bed. I wrote, shakily, my dreams from the last night. After I did, I felt a bit less tense, and I hid the notebook under my pillow and slept.
Every night after, I record my dreams after Julian falls asleep. I am always careful to write them down neatly, and to hide it. Tonight, while I write, I splatter beetroot ink all over my paper, accidentally spraying it all over the plain white bedcover. I am so tired, and all I want is to sleep, but my dreams last night were too vivid to go to waste. I write and write, until I fall asleep on my book. When I wake up, it is not to the light of the sun outside, but of being jerked around and yelled at. I’ve been found out.
“So you remember everything that happened last night?”
“Please tell me.”
Ok. Last night, Julian got up to use the restroom. When he turned the hall light on, he saw the splatters of red on the mattress. He thought that I was hurt, so he called the doctors. Then, he saw the notebook and the broken pen leaking ‘blood’ in a halo around my head. He called the administration. He camped out by the front door until they arrived. When they walked in, they turned the lights on and yelled for me to get up. When I blearily obliged, confused until I saw my most precious possession in their hands, they handcuffed me, and led me along to the white car I had hoped never to see again.
The seats inside were smooth and made of the same material as my book, but it didn’t have the same musty smell that I liked so much. As it started, there was no growl of an engine like I had imagined there would be. Wouldn’t a metal beast of this size need an extra push to start? How could it carry 2 men and a woman in it’s belly without collapsing? I was so curious that I almost forgot where I was going.
All of a sudden, before I could even realize what was happening, the world outside was a blur. I lurched forward and then left at a sudden turn. I gripped the seat, squeezing my eyes shut and clenching my teeth. I was certain that I would have died right then and there. But soon it glided to a stop and when I looked out the window, I saw a monstrous building I’d only ever heard of. I saw windows 30 feet up, and assumed that there must be 3 layers to the building! There were 7 windows on either side of the main doors, so it looked like there were at least 6 rooms on the first floor. As I walked in through the glass doors and cement walls, I noticed something unusual. In each corner there were small decorative creatures. They had 4 legs with paws for feet, and their graceful snouts lead to a necklace of fur that framed their faces. Though I was distracted by their other strange features, 2 things bothered me. The first was their familiarity. I knew I had seen them somewhere. Then I saw the notebook’s very first page in my mind. It described the same creature I had seen. And the night after I read it, I saw those very same creatures dancing through the cylindrical brown buildings. The other thing I couldn’t help but notice was their eyes. They did not match the rest of their bodies. They were flat, black, and empty. They reflected the LED lights above, and they seemed to follow me. I didn’t know what to make of it, but I didn’t like it at all.
After we had gone through many halls and into a small tin can that lifted us up faster than seems possible, we emerged onto a floor exactly like the one we had left. I was confused. Didn’t we just float into the air? Then I saw a window. We were so high up that I worried if I even touched the delicate windows I would fall and splat on the ground. I was jerked forward again. Soon we reached a door with a plate that read ‘re-education’. It took me a moment to realize that this was the first thing that I had ever seen that was written, and publicly displayed for all to see! Then the dread settled in. I didn’t know what it meant, but I didn’t like it one bit. When we walked in, I saw a hall with many small rooms. I read the plaques as we went by. Some said things like surveillance. We stopped by that one. Inside there were so many flat rectangles adorning the walls. On them I could see, like a diorama, scenes being played out. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. As I looked closer, I saw that the scenes were being watched from the perspective of the tiny lions in the corner. That’s what they were. Lions. I had been right to suspect. Nothing went to waste, and this was the opposite of waste. Maybe this was why we weren’t supposed to record things? Because we would recognize when we were recorded? That’s what all of those people with the boards that made scratching noises were doing when they came to class! They were writing our behavior down!
We passed more rooms until we reached a larger one at the end of the hall. ‘Dreams’ it said. And I knew it was talking about my mirages. They threw me down onto a bench, locked my handcuffs to a pole, and left. For the rest of the night I was alone in a windowless room. Then they opened the door. I started awake without realizing I had even been asleep. Before I knew it, there was another person in the room. I didn’t recognize her. I didn’t speak to her. But she spoke to me. She told me about her, and about what had happened. She told me that she had dreams too, and that she had asked her husband about it. Then she pointed out the multitude of filing cabinets that created a wall opposite us. I hadn’t even noticed them. She asked what was in them. I told her I didn’t know. So she decided to find out. While I may be locked into place, she was not. She slid one that was not locked open, and inside there were files. She pulled each one out and read it. On each one was a name, a date of birth, a caretaker name, and an interview. It asked questions about childhood, memory, dreams, everything. There was a stack of papers in each of which had been printed stories just like the ones I write, and that the woman wrote too. I think her name was Ava? I don’t know. We kept reading until we found two files with our names on them. Ava Brown. Lucy Grey.
We opened hers first, because the B of her last name was closer to A than mine. In it were all of the same things as the other files, but without an interview. She looked at me with wide eyes and gasped.
‘They’re going to interview us.’ I said, realizing it at the same time she did.
“I guess you were correct, then”
“You look dismayed. What has displeased you?”
Why am I answering these?
“Oh, because you want to, of course.”
But I don’t.
“Well then. Because you have to.”
“So, what happened after that?”
Well, we panicked for a while, but decided to look through more file boxes. She managed to untie my handcuffs from the pole and wrangled them off my wrists so that I could help her. As we took file boxes off of the walls, we noticed a mural emerge from behind them. It was all greens and blues, with red and yellow dots of what I had read were flowers. These were the great buildings I had seen in my dreams. These were the trees. I could see creatures flitting around in the light of the sun as it left warm spots on the grassy floor. The roots of the trees pushed up and made bumps in the ground, and we realized that we could hear the chirps of birds. We started to walk towards it, but it was just a mural. Nothing more. Until we saw a thin seam tracing a tree. We started to dig at it, trying to open it. We didn’t care what was inside, we just wanted it open. Soon we heard footsteps. We tried faster. Our fingernails were chipped and scratched, and our fingertips were raw and bruised.
Then it fell open. The footsteps were closer. We couldn’t waste any time, but we did, standing at that doorway. Then we ran just as the door creaked open with a final woman, and we instantly knew that she dreamed too. We screamed as we ran, knowing that we had to make it and that if we didn’t we would die.
“Did you make it?”
You know the answer to that. I’m here, aren’t I? Am I?
“Answer the question.”
I don’t think so. We were running, and the last woman was running after us, and we were so close, so close, and we reached out our arms and we were inches away from the outside, and we could see trees and birds and lions, and then I stopped. But Ava didn’t. She made it. She made it to the outside. And as long as there is a person out there, there is hope. There were many men, and I can’t remember any details after that. I just remember a vague shape of a walk down a hallway, and seeing everybody act like this was everyday business. There was a room. A chair. This room. This chair. And then the other women, they were thrown into identical ones, I could see from the outside, and strapped into chairs just like these. Then another person. Was it you? Sat down and started asking me questions. And I didn’t answer. But you were writing things down anyway. And I’m not answering you. I’m not saying anything. And you know exactly what happened. How? Are you reading my thoughts?
Why are you doing this? Why are you reading my thoughts and asking me questions and writing things down? Wasn’t I arrested for that exact thing? Writing things down?
“It can’t hurt to tell you now. It’s not like you’ll be able to tell anyone.”
What? Are you going to kill me? What about Ava? Or that other person?
“You were dreaming of the outside. We plant a single notebook in every group of children, and whichever finds it and writes in it will be found out eventually and arrested. Only one has ever found that door besides you. She didn’t make it either.”
What happened to her?
“I won’t tell you that! It’ll ruin the surprise.”
What are you going to do to me?
“Ok. that’s enough. Let’s go.”
Don’t touch me! No, I don’t want to go there. Don’t make me go in the–
Clara? Can you see this its Becca I wanted to ask if I could read your story